Two Victorian Ghostly Tales

In the lead up to Halloween, I’ve been trawling the Victorian newspapers in order to find some original ghostly tales that have not been told for a while.

In time, I hope to add several of these spooky tales to my YouTube channel.

But, for now, I shall just published them here on the website.

Pall Mall Gazette – Friday 10 September 1886


BRAVO, Cheltenham!

A dead season without ghosts would be more phenomenal than an autumn without the giant gooseberry or sea serpent.

For about a week the Cheltenham ghost has been, as Artemus Ward used to say of Shakespeare’s bust at Stratford-on-Avon, a “success;” but before the scrutiny of a too anxious or curious inquirer that has now vanished into less than thin air.


The “Leckhampton Ghost,” as it was called, has for several days attracted a nightly crowd such as any metropolitan theatre might envy.

About 9.30, hundreds of people have been wont to gather outside a certain old workshop near Great Norwood-street, and stare aghast at a ghost which kept appearing and vanishing  – some seeing lights, others a shadowy white form, and so forth.


A Mr. E. Wethered has laid the ghost.

Last week he visited the awful spot, and, on examining the windows, found that the old panes of glass were set at all sorts of different angles.

He soon observed when the ghost appeared that by changing his own position he could cause it to vanish or reappear to himself at will.

This suggested a reflected light.

As the darkness deepened in the absence of the moon he came to the conclusion that even starlight was reflected on the panes, but he could not see the ghost well till a man in the crowd lit a pipe.

The luminous form then flashed out nobly behind the window, and a great burst of excited applause burst from the crowd, and it has probably “burst up” the Leckhampton ghost.


The lights were first noticed by the public about a fortnight ago, when the moon was full, but a man who has worked on the premises for eight years says he has noticed them all that time ago, and never thought anything of them.

“Alas, poor ghost!” ” ‘Tis true, ’tis pity – pity ’tis ’tis true.”


A lady just arrived from H–schloss (now a private residence, but formerly a nunnery), near Heidelberg, reports a very different ghost, which no examination or analysis has yet been able to unmask, clear up, or evaporate.

It appears that corpse lights about the garden and grounds are so frequent that most visitors may see then, but the heart of the mystery, which has not yet been plucked out, is the intolerable tramping of the ghost along one of the corridors during the months of July and August only in each year.


The slumbers of all whose bedrooms open on to this corridor are interrupted, and the lady of the house, being in delicate health, at last resorted to the plan of having the passage thickly carpeted.

The sound is now deadened, as the heavy footfalls seem to alight on the tufted carpet, but the ghost still walks.


It seems the restless spirit is in some way expiating the crimes done long since in the flesh.

It is said that he was a libertine soldier who got into the nunnery and concealed himself with evil intent.

The nuns, however, apparently took good care of themselves, and, in fact, after mature counsel concluded to wall him up and leave him to die of starvation, which they did, and he has ever since walked that fatal corridor in the vicinity of his horrible prison.


Modern scepticism, we are sometimes told, comes from Germany; but we are not at all sure that Emerson is not nearer the truth when he declares that Germany is still the “land of mystery and imagination.”

Perhaps Mr. Wethered, now he has laid the Cheltenham ghost, will step over to Heidelberg and try his hand upon the immoral and peripatetic warrior – in the absence of those nuns who knew so well how to deal with him in the flesh, but have left his spirit at large to worry the living.