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Ghosts from Berkshire Places
Beginning with 'N'

Newbury

The Market Place was the site of the old pillory where criminals would be forced to stand and be pelted with abuse and vegetables (or worse). It is often stated in books on Newbury that, in 1538, one Thomas Barrie, a resident of the Donnington Almshouses, faced just such a humiliation for allegedly spreading seditious rumours about King Henry VIII's death. He apparently even had his ears nailed to the pillory and then chopped clean off. He died of fright and his ghost has been seen wandering about the spot ever since, moaning in agony. In fact, investigation, prompted by Dr. Nick Young of the Thatcham Historical Society, shows that Barrie (or Barne) was probably pilloried at Henley, while his fellow almsman, John Boxworth, suffered similarly at Newbury; but their was never any ear removal. So it seems that the supposed ghost in the marketplace, must be somebody completely different.

Newbury had an early theatre, built in Pelican Lane in 1802. One of the actors fell deeply in love with his leading lady, but she spurned his advances in favour of another. In a fit of jealous rage, he stabbed her to death one evening after the curtain had fallen on their latest performance. Years later, the theatre became a private house. Residence reported their candle being suddenly blown out while ascending the stairs at night, then mysteriously relighting. When electricity was installed, the bulbs appeared to blow at the same spot, but were later found to be perfectly good. One couple even witnessed a ghostly stain of blood appear in the room below where the actress had been killed; yet in the morning it was gone. The building has since been demolished.

At No. 73 Northbrook Street, the rooms above what used to be Bateman’s the Opticians, across the alleyway from the Oxfam Shop, are haunted by a certain Dr. Watson who lived, had his surgery and died there in the late 19th century. He appeared on the, now demolished, stairs – an old gentleman, dressed in a black cape and top-hat, carrying a black bag and silver-topped cane – but in the rooms he only appears from the knees upwards, for the floors have been raised. He has also been seen walking silently in the street outside, while a non-existent piano is also sometimes heard from an upstairs room in the building.

The Waterside Youth & Community Centre was built on the site of an old non-conformist chapel and its graveyard. The builders were exposed to a number of bizarre goings-on, including large amounts of steel being neatly moved over night and ghostly taps on the shoulder. A previous centre had experienced similar poltergeist activity involving pots and pans and mysterious footsteps. The original chapel had been demolished because tormented souls whaled in the graveyard and the congregation deserted the place. It was at the spot that a so-called witch was dragged from the Kennet after having been murdered by Parliamentary forces during the Civil War!

The offices of the Newbury & Thatcham Standard in Bartholomew Street have been the scene of a number of ghostly phenomena. Strange scraping noises have been heard from the loft as well as tapping in the corridors late at night. Once a pen lifted itself into the air and across a room.

What used to be the Vyne Inn, on the Black Boys Bridge, is haunted by the ghost a stocky old man wearing a white frilly shirt and brown jerkin. He is believed to have been an long dead ostler who worked at the tavern.

The ghost of a Quaker lady is sometimes seen in Cheap Street in the late evening. The old Quaker burial ground was on the site of the bus station.

A certain shop in the town, which used to be a school, has doors and windows which open of their own accord. A spectral child is also heard crying in a back room.

A ghostly gentleman has been reported in Newbury Broadway late at night.

 
 

    © Nash Ford Publishing 2001. All Rights Reserved.