[England] Dickens’ Christmas Carol – Real Ghosts

Door knockerCharles Dickens’ story, A Christmas Carol, is a favorite among many people. But how realistic are the ghosts in the story?

Marley’s ghost rattled his chains as he appeared to Scrooge.

      “The chain he drew was clasped about his middle. It was long, and wound about him like a tail; and it was made (for Scrooge observed it closely) of cash-boxes, keys, padlocks, ledgers, deeds, and heavy purses wrought in steel.”

 -Dickens, “A Christmas Carol”

 Ghosts in chains

Today, we rarely hear of a ghost rattling chains. In fact, apparitions are very rare, and most of them are silent. More often, invisible ghosts are the ones that knock, rattle objects (including chains), and whisper or shout.

However, there are exceptions. In the first century CE, Pliny the Younger documented a ghost who was seen and heard by Athenodorus, at a villa in Athens. The ghost wore chains, and pointed to a spot in the garden before vanishing. The next day, Athenodorus had that spot in the garden dug up, and a skeleton in chains was found buried. They re-buried him in a proper cemetery, and the ghost never appeared again.

But ghosts in chains are not entirely in the past. Even today, a tall, evil-looking man appears on back roads and highways in Yorkshire, England, and jumps out to frighten late-night travelers. He’s known as “Jack in Irons.” Most people who’ve seen him comment that the ghost appears wrapped in chains.

Of course, Marley is not the only ghost in Dickens’ famous tale. There are the ghosts of Christmas Past, Present, and Future.

Old houseShadows without consciousness

As Scrooge is led through scenes of his past, his ghostly companion informs him, “These are but shadows of the things that have been…They have no consciousness of us.”

That’s a superb description of paranormal phenomena we call “residual energy hauntings.” These hauntings are like a hologram or video, played on a continuous loop. Events from the past appear to be played like a movie, over and over again. Most are probably mere images of people who took part in the events, many years ago.

One of the best examples of residual energy hauntings is the visions of war seen in the United States, at Civil War battlegrounds.

Less clear is the nature of the ghost of Anne Boleyn at London’s Tower. Some suggest that her spectre that roams the Tower is residual energy, but when she leads a procession up the center aisle of the chapel, she’s a sentient ghost.

More residual energy hauntings

Residual energy hauntings are a ghost hunter’s best opportunity to see a “ghost” that appears in human-like form. However, these forms rarely react to or interact with people viewing them. In fact, most ghost hunters believe that these hauntings are just energy imprints on the environment, replaying the events on a repeating and regular schedule.

In the United States, one of the clearest examples of a residual energy haunting is near Tiverton, Rhode Island on the Sakonnet River. Two or three canoes appear on the river, each carrying six Native people. Sometimes they fight, sometimes they simply row to shore and vanish, sometimes they continue on their journey down the river. These images have been reliably reported as recently as 1996.

However, in A Christmas Carol, we encounter more than just residual energy hauntings and a stereotypical Victorian ghost rattling his chains.

Photo credits: Lion face door knocker image courtesy of Sasha Davas.

Photo of Tudor-style house courtesy of Steve Knight.

[UK] Bath – Popular Bath Ghosts

Haunted stairway at BathBath is one of the loveliest cities in the United Kingdom. It features winding streets, superb museums, fabulous shopping, and a history including Roman ruins. Fans of ‘Pride and Prejudice’ will enjoy the famous Regency-era Pump Room as well as the Jane Austen Centre.

However, Bath’s memorable history isn’t merely marked with plaques and museums, but perhaps by the very people who lived in those historic times.

Bath is a very haunted city, and a perfect destination for an extended holiday or vacation.

Here are a few of Bath’s most famous ghosts:

The man in the black hat

Easily Bath’s most famous and most-seen ghost, the man in the black hat is dressed in late 18th-century attire and sometimes wears a billowing black cloak. He’s regularly seen around the Assembly Rooms. For the best results, look for him at Saville Row and Bennett Street. [ map ]

Freezing Hill

Several ghosts have appeared in the vicinity of Freezing Hill, just outside Bath. Most of these phantoms are from the 17th century, when this hill was the site of the bloody Battle of Lansdown.

The best opportunity to see these ghosts is from The Park, a 240 acre estate featuring a Jacobean mansion that is now an hotel. You can also enjoy a fine meal at The Oakwood Restaurant, and play golf at their Crown and Cromwell courses. [ map ]

The Royal Crescent [ map ]

Bath Royal CrescentIt’s not a movie that’s being filmed at the Royal Crescent when you see an elegant coach drawn by four horses. Instead, you’re witnessing a residual haunting, repeating the elopement of Elizabeth Linley of No. 11, with Irish playwright and politician Richard Brinsley Sheridan.

Sheridan was not Miss Linley’s only suitor. Captain Thomas Mathews (a married man) and Lord Sheridan fought two duels–with swords–over the lovely Miss Linley.

Sheridan may have won her hand in marriage, but he later proved unfaithful. Elizabeth contracted tuberculosis and died at age 38. A bronze plaque at number 11 Royal Crescent marks the address from which she eloped.

The Theatre Royal the Garrick’s Head pub, at St. John’s Place and Saw Close [ map ]

The Theatre Royal and Garrick’s Head are next door to each other. Their ghost stories seem to be interwoven, and the ghosts congenially wander from one building to the other.

At least two ghosts appear in this area. One is an unfaithful wife and the other is her lover, from the 18th century. The lover was killed by the husband, and the wife committed suicide. Look for a woman (some say there are at least two) in a grey dress. The lover is handsome and well-dressed.

A second anomaly is noted at the Theatre Royal: A tortoiseshell butterfly appears there during the pantomime run each year, which is not butterfly season.

The Garrick’s Head pub offers both smoking and non-smoking sections, and is less than a half mile from Bath Spa rail station. (It’s also near Popjoy’s Restaurant, listed below.)

For more info: Call the Garrick’s Head, tel. 01225 318368, or visit the website of the Theatre Royal.

Popjoy’s Restaurant, Saw Close, tel. 01225 460494

Many visit this former home of Richard “Beau” Nash for the fine food. However, the restaurant hosts at least two ghosts, both of them women. One is Juliana Popjoy, the 18th-century mistress of Beau Nash.

The other ghost is Janice (or perhaps Janet). She is more modern, dressed in attire best suited to the 1960’s. She dines alone and looks perfectly normal until she vanishes.

The Beehive Public House, 3 Belvedere – Lansdowne Road, at the corner of Julian Road

‘Bunty’, a serving girl from the Victorian Era or slightly earlier, appears in the kitchen of The Beehive, a popular Bath public house.

Crystal Palace Tavern, 10-11 Abbey Green, tel. 0870 3305191 [ map ]

A hooded figure — perhaps a monk — appears at this tavern when he is concerned that the structure may change, such as during repairs or redecorating. He usually appears briefly and is fairly transparent.

Julia, of Queens Square

This jilted bride has been seen strolling around the Square in her white gown.

References and recommended sites:

Ghost Walks of Bath, fast-paced information-filled tour sets off from near Garricks Head pub many evenings at 8 p.m. Call for details: +44 (0)1225 350512 Read review.

Join Haunting Breaks for real, paranormal investigations. They’re among the UK’s premiere ghost hunters.

For more ghost information, visit Mystical WWW’s Ghosts Today, and the Paranormal Database.

Bath travel info at Bath.co.uk  and VisitBritain.com.

———————————————————-

Photos of Bath, England are courtesy of Ingrid Rasmussen and VisitBritain.com.