BY TOBY PORTER
Not many people believe in ghosts, now you can take a tour and see for yourself – is it true?
As the nights draw in and things go bump in the night, we tend to be a little moreopen-minded.
Still, as Halloween approaches, an only slightly scary walk around the haunts of Greenwich might lift your spirits.
This is a side of the borough you do not normally see. Spooks, ghouls, Poltergeists – and possibly cats that jump out of wardrobes just when you thought the danger was over.
Greenwich is famous for its grand buildings, world class museums, Royal
connections, tourists and the Prime Meridian of the World.
But it is not surprising that this long and illustrious history also comes with a darker, seamer side.
Streets with grand houses, hotels and theatres all have their secrets with stories of ghosts and murders.
One such pretty street lined with expensive homes is where a poor boy from the mid 1800s is still searching for his mother.
Even the impressive St Alfege Church was founded on a murder. The beautiful Greenwich Park is a different place after dark too.
The Old Royal Naval College, built as a retirement home for sailors on the site
of a Tudor palace is now home to the Greenwich University.
This is where a disgraced executed admiral, John Byng, stalks students – and who can blame him? – still noisily protesting his innocence.
He was executed in 1757 for failing to prevent Minorca from falling to the French.
French writer Voltaire memorably declared in his novel Candide he had only been shot by firing squad because the British believed “it is good to kill an admiral from time to time to encourage the others”.
The Thames at Greenwich is also the site of a major disaster that left hundreds dead and changed maritime history.
It was also here that the Great Eastern sailing ship was built by Brunel – at the time the biggest in the world.
She was, as the saying goes, launched in blood and was hunted for most of her time at sea.
The river may be cleaner today but it used to be a dumping ground for bodies in the 1600s and even saw a few dead whales.
If you do see some spirits, though – and not of the alcoholic kind – there is not much point in running away.
The ghosts have been walking these same streets for centuries so they are likely to know their way around.
They might not be able to give you directions to the loo, though – in other words, it’s just a plane, ordinary paranormal day out.
It’s one time when “getting to the other side” is not about the Woolwich Ferry.
So don’t go unless you are prepared to be scared sheetless.
Tours take place on Saturday, October 27 and Friday, November 2. Other dates are available for group bookings. Tours start at 7.30pm and last about two hours.
Tickets £10, over 15 years only. Places must be booked in advance.
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