So for the last Folklore Friday of 2019 and in true Dickens style, it’s time for some ghosts of Christmas past. In December 1926 two policemen happened by St Peter’s Church in Hereford one evening. While out on their nightly patrol they were more than a little surprised to see a cowled figure saunter through some iron gates and then a thick oak door into the church. In disbelief at what they had witnessed they returned to the Police station. They recounted their story, leaving their colleagues both a little scared but intrigued.
The Vanishing Monk
As word spread the son of an organist who had once played at St Peter’s church shared how his father too had experienced similar occurrences. Apparently his father avoided being there alone in December. He had told him tales of a robed figure who would vanish through doors or into thin air. This he had witnessed on more than one occasion.
Many surmised who the ghost could be and shared their theories and tall tales. Walter de Lacy who had built the church for the monks in the thirteenth century was favourite. He had fallen from the tower of the church to his death and some folk thought it must be him. Others were convinced that it was the ghost of a monk known to have been murdered by marauding Welshmen at the altar.
Some years later a similar cowled figure appeared regularly in cathedral close. Intrigued by the sightings ghost spotting became a popular pastime. At its peak more than 200 people gathered on the green in the early hours to get a glimpse of the ghostly spectre. As you can imagine this became quite troublesome for local residents. They complained most vehemently. In a bid to quell the enthusiasm of the ghost hunters, the cathedral authorities rumoured that the apparitions were merely a prank. A practical joker was to blame apparently. Interest waned and life got back to some form of normality. However the cowled figure has continued to appear over the years from time to time, so keep a look out!
So for all the ghosts of Christmas past, we salute you, wish you well and thank you for your stories.
It has been an absolute pleasure to bring you these tales and quirky stories from our wonderful county this year. But fear not we will be back with more in the New Year.
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