Cambridge is renowned for its rich history, and as a historic seat of learning; it seems only natural then that the city would also be teeming with myths, legends and tales of ghostly sightings of long dead professors who still stalk the college halls.
Christ’s college was founded by Lady Margaret Beaufort in 1505, and is renowned for educating some of Cambridge’s most famous figures, including Charles Darwin and John Milton. With such a rich history it is hardly surprising that the college has its fair share of ghosts. One such spectre haunts a mulberry tree which stands in the college gardens. Mr Round, as he is affectionately known, is said to visit the college on nights of the full moon. He appears as a tall, elderly gentleman wearing a beaver hat. It is rumoured that in life Mr Round murdered the only doctor with the skills to save his dying girlfriend. Now his ghost stalks the area around the mulberry tree in deep regret.
Corpus Christi College
Historically Corpus Christi College is notable as the only college in Cambridge founded by Cambridge townspeople; nowadays it is, unfortunately, perhaps best known for the Corpus Clock. The clock is an odd device, which could be considered both hypnotic, and deeply disturbing – I am more inclined to lean towards the latter.
The college is also said to be the lurking place of the ghost of Dr Butts, who was found hanging by his garters in his room on Easter Sunday 1632. The image of Dr Butts is described as being dressed in white, and having a distinctive dark mark on his throat – evidence of his suicide.
Peterhouse is the oldest of the Cambridge Colleges, founded in 1284 by Hugo de Balsham, Bishop of Ely. The college is said to be the stalking place of the ghost of Francis Dawes, a former bursar of the college who hanged himself in the 18th century after an election scandal. Dawes took his life near the Combination Room, and is now said to prowl the area. It is said that a series of knocks can be heard before his spirit appears.
St John’s College
St John’s College was founded in 1511 by Lady Margaret Beaufort, the mother of King Henry VII. The college is said to be the home of one of the more unusual of the college ghosts. On several occasions in the 1990s the spectre of a large, black cat was spotted, lurking the in the college grounds. Sightings of the creature were reported by both a college caretaker and the groundsman.
Gog Magog Downs
The Gog Magog Downs are a series of low chalky hills running along the south-eastern side of Cambridgeshire. The downs are now considered to be a place of great natural beauty, with many people coming from the surrounding areas to walk through the woods and meadows. It was rumoured in the distant past that these hills were home to a phantom monkey, which could be seen darting through the undergrowth. I myself am a great fan of the Gog Magog Downs; I love to go on afternoon walks there. But I find the idea of a ghost monkey to be somewhat terrifying, inadvertently shuddering with horror each time I read over the legend.
The Fitzwilliam Museum
The Fitzwilliam Museum is the art and antiquities museum of the University of Cambridge, located on Trumpington Street in the heart of the city centre. It is an outstanding building to look at, made up of spectacular columns, mosaic floors and intricate decorated ceilings, and guarded by four majestic stone lions. It is said that should you be on Trumpington Street at the stroke of midnight you could bear witness to the great stone lions rising up from their guard posts at either side of the museums grand entrance, and making their way into the street, where they can be seen to briefly stop to drink from the guttering at the side of the road, before turning and proceeding back to their posts.
Newmarket Road is an unremarkable part of Cambridge, which is none the less said to be haunted by one of the city’s most remarkable ghosts. The image of a furry, waddling penguin has often been spotted in this area. In recent years, a local paranormal group have suggested that the ghost may be that of a doctor in a cloak, wearing a beak-like plague mask – but that’s hardly very exciting is it?
Arbury road is located on the northern side of Cambridge city centre. Legend has it that this residential street is home to an unlucky shuck – a giant, spectral dog. It is said that any person unfortunate enough to gaze upon its prowling form will be cursed with a spell of bad luck.
Special thanks for this post go to our resident office ghost Johannes.