Derek Wray - master storyteller
A Colchester Ghost Walk
Colchester is Britain's oldest recorded town and as a result plays host to a lot of spirits who haven't quite managed to pass over. Why not go on a ghost walk around the town and find out which buildings are haunted? Follow us.
Colchester has a lot of ghosts in a lot of buildings. As Britain's oldest recorded town I guess it isn't surprising that there are a fair few buildings in the town with resident spooks!
The Red Lion Hotel
Derek Wray conducts ghost tours every Thursday around the north Essex town and tells many stories about who the ghosts are and where they "live."
The tour begins outside Colchester Town Hall. Making your way across the road you come face to face with the Red Lion hotel, a building that dates back to 1465. Here the ghost of Alice Katherine Millar, murdered in 1638, haunts the building.
Alice haunts rooms 5 and 6 in the hotel, disappearing through a doorway that was bricked up 200 years ago. She has also been seen on the stairs and in the kitchen.
Derek in Red Lion Walk
For over 200 years the hotel had an instant dismissal rule, for any employees caught mentioning the ghost, incase it scared customers off.
The window that Alice appears at.
Recently an assistant manager at the hotel woke up at 3am like a bolt of electricity had gone through his body. As he looked around the room a beam of moonlight landed on the rocking chair next to his bed. As he looked it began to rock backwards and forwards, slowly Alice appeared sitting in the chair. She spoke to him and asked "are you alright?" When he replied "yes", she just disappeared.
Spooked yet? You will be by the end there are many more stories to come. In fact Derek has to leave out more stories than he can fit in, as he has so many.
The haunted Chinese restaurant
It is in this area of the town we find a rather rude ghost. You maybe enjoying a Chinese meal in the Fulin restaurant, but if you go to the toilet beware! This building is haunted by a ghost called "His Nibs", he enjoys manifesting himself to people when they are sitting on the loo!
Walking back inside the castle walls, we arrive at the bottom of Scheregate steps. This area is bursting with ghost stories. One such haunting is in Greenlands vodka bar, built in the 1500's, you may be alarmed to know that upstairs the ghost of a woman walks along the first floor. The even more disturbing thing is the floor goes through her legs! From her knees down she appears to be imbedded in the floor boards. Nobody on the ground floor has ever seen her feet sticking through the ceiling though.
Travelling up Eld Lane you will end up on Head Street, Headgate was the main entrance for people going into Colchester. Steeped in history Colchester was a parliamentarian town back in the middle of the English Civil War. The leader of the Royalists, Sir Charles Lucas, set his offices up in what is now Ellison's Solicitors, back then it was The Kings Head Hotel.
A ghost soldier from the civil war has been seen walking in front of the doorway of Ellison's, people have even heard his hobnail boots clinking and clanking on the ground. However nobody knows if he is a royalist or a parliamentarian.
Time for a drink after all that, of course as you are on a ghost tour you have to go to a pub that is haunted.
The Fox and Fiddler pub, just a few doors down from the Playhouse, is home to a very cheeky prankster of a ghost. Her name is Sarah. She was a chambermaid who died in the 1640's.
Underneath the pub are ancient cellars which are linked to part of a tunnel system under the town. The highway men of Colchester used to come to this pub, and so did perhaps one of the most feared men of all time - Witchfinder General Matthew Hopkins.
The Fox and Fiddler pub
He found Sarah hiding, dragged her kicking and screaming to the cellar entrance where he then chained her to a wall and bricked her up alive. She has haunted this pub ever since.
Sarah has been seen by many members of staff, she has long blond hair, a lace cap, white pinnifore and a black dress. She doesn't like anything being moved in the attic - it used to be her room.
The people who own the pub now have a good relationship with Sarah. However when they went on holiday and left a friend in charge, she didn't like him. To make her feelings known Sarah distracted the people wiping up the glasses behind the bar. They went to investigate what the strange tapping noise was coming from the bottom bar and as they looked one by one they heard the glasses falling off the bar and smashing on the floor!
There are just so many stories Derek tells about Colchester, and that is just on his Thursday evening ghost tour, he also does walks around the Dutch Quarter of the town.
The tour goes from outside the town hall each Thursday at 7.30pm. It last for around 2 hours and there are many many more stories Derek tells. For more information you can contact Derek on 01206 852924.
last updated: 04/07/2008 at 09:32