Edinburgh Ghosts – Vaults Tour – The First Ghost

Who was the ghostly “child number three?” Read about this lingering mystery, and ghosts beneath the streets of Edinburgh, Scotland.

(This is Fiona’s summary, continued from Edinburgh Ghosts, Part One)

First ghost encounter – The mother with “child number three”

The first room was reached by a stairway from the street level. The room had little lighting, part of the “atmosphere” created for the tour.

On one wall, I saw a fireplace. It had been the center of life in that room, as it seemed to hold considerable “psychic” energy. I knew it had been a rather smoky fireplace because the lingering image was so clear.

In front of the fireplace, I “saw” a woman, in a shabby linen-like gown and a soiled, austere cap of what seemed to be coarse white linen. From her clothing, I’d guess that she lived in the early 17th century, but I could be wrong.

I knew she’d been highborn, and her father was probably a doctor. She’d married someone far beneath her, and was living in relative squalor. It embarrassed her.

She was too proud to ask her family for help yet, and they were equally uncomfortable dealing with the situation.

Edinburgh lady ghost in vaults
The woman’s husband had been a fascinating and exciting man (in a mercurial way) when they’d met, but now he was quite mad. He slept on the hard floor, fearing “vapours” which he thought were poisoning him. In his madness, he believed that his wife planned to have an affair with a neighbor. The husband continued to work for awhile, but eventually lost his job and left his wife and children.

I don’t know if he died or just deserted them.

The family had at least four children.

Who was Child #3?

There was a baby in this room, and an older boy whom I call “Child #3.” The mother felt guilty about neglecting the baby, but her focus was on Child #3.

She was convinced that he had a future.

For some reason – and this is why I have the sense that her father was a doctor – she insisted upon holding Child #3 up to a small window, to let the light shine on his face. In an otherwise dark existence, this was often his only exposure to sunlight, especially in the winter.

I know that she and her children stayed in this underground dwelling for awhile after she was deserted by her husband. Then they moved away. I know that, after living underground, she became obsessed with light and warmth for her family. When her family lived in this room, she spent most of her time near the fireplace.

I think that the woman swallowed her pride and–with her children–returned to her father’s home.

I have the sense that Child #3 grew up to become someone who’s in the history books. Perhaps he was a politician. I think his family history will be noted in biographies. He can be identified.

Also in the room, to the left I “saw” a closet or some niche in the wall. It was where the woman kept a secret. It was a “good” secret, but something she wanted concealed while she lived there. Perhaps she hid money from her husband.

On the other side of the room, I sense a closet or niche that had something very bad about it. It may have been a damp area, and/or something with a horrid odor. The woman was alarmed by that, but not overwhelmingly afraid. She tried to keep that closet (or niche) closed up.

This story continues in Edinburgh vault tours – two ghosts

Edinburgh’s Ghosts – Part 1, Entering the Haunted Vaults

Edinburgh Castle windowThe ghost of a murdered little girl haunts Edinburgh’s underground vaults and passageways.

This 1996 story describes the original encounter with her. In fact, I personally guided many of the staff of Mercat Tours through the vaults shortly after they opened for tours in mid-1996.

I’m the one who provided them with the information about the ghost of the little girl.

Here’s the full, true story from that evening, told in four parts at this website.

On May 6th, 1996, my family and I visited Edinburgh, Scotland, my husband’s ancestral home.

For entertainment, friends said that we must take one of Edinburgh’s “ghost tours.” We chose the Mercat Tour because it was near the restaurant where we’d had dinner.

We expected a light-hearted evening. Our tour guide, Judith I. Mann, provided exactly that. Her theatrical skills made the evening a delightful experience filled with mock melodrama and hilarity.

Most of the tour was above ground. We saw places where people had been hung, sites where people were buried beneath the pavement, and so on. It was standard fare, and great fun as Ms. Mann told stylish – and clearly exaggerated – tales.

However, our last stop was “the vaults.” That’s an underground area. It had once provided housing and workplaces for some of Edinburgh’s poor.

Our tour was among the first to explore these dark rooms and corridors, which had been closed for over a century.

What lurks beneath Edinburgh’s streets?

From the moment I looked around the grim setting, I felt that we were not alone. Oh, we had about a dozen other tourists with us, but it was more than that. The room held a lingering sense of immense sorrow and hardship.

The sensations in the rooms became more sinister as the tour continued. I could see the outline of figures, and the rooms threatened to transform into something dark and tragic.

I was troubled and intrigued, but it was still a jovial tour so I didn’t say anything.

At the conclusion of the tour, we returned to the street level, and entered a comfortable pub where we sat around and chatted happily about the different sights we’d seen that night.

A few of the tourists left for their respective lodgings, and then the conversation turned serious as we discussed “real” ghosts. I offered to return to the underground area and see if I could “pick up” any extra information, since I have seen ghosts in the past.

Ms. Mann led us back underground. She encouraged me to share what I saw, heard, and felt as we revisited several rooms and passageways. She said my insights would be useful for future tours in those newly opened areas.

I was delighted to be helpful. I’m still proud of the information I provided, especially if it improved other tourists’ experiences.

Even better, we were accompanied by several tour guides-in-training, who’d joined us at the pub. It was a rich, wonderful encounter with ghosts in the abandoned vaults.

The following articles describe what happened. It was beyond what anyone expected.

Our other articles in this series:

Could the Ghosts in Dickens’ Christmas Carol Be Real?

Charles 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.

Door knockerBut 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.

Another might be the ghost of Anne Boleyn and companions, in the Chapel Royal 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.

At Christmas, she appears at Hever Castle and – according to first-person descriptions – she appears to be alive and well and very real.

But, the clarity of the images in Dickens’ story – as well as reports of Anne Boleyn’s raise an interesting question: Are these really hauntings, or perhaps time slipsand is there a difference?

More residual energy hauntings

Ghosts of Dickens' Christmas Carol - ghost huntingRegardless of what causes them, residual energy hauntings are a ghost hunter’s best opportunity to see a “ghost” that appears in human-like form.

Keep in mind, you’re only likely to see them. Some also report sounds with the imagery, but many don’t.

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.

That fits Dickens’ story, because – though Scrooge feels like he’s in the scene – he’s not able to interact with the people in them.

However, A Christmas Carol, is fiction, even if it matches many genuine ghost encounters.

The question this raises is: Did Dickens make up the story from whole cloth, or had he experienced something similar, himself?

Recent research suggests Dickens was intrigued by ghosts, and perhaps fearful of them. As a member of the Ghost Club, he seemed obsessed with debunking every ghost story and seance he could. That level of preoccupation suggests a greater fear: that ghosts are real, after all.


Exhibition tells how Charles Dickens was spooked by ghost tale doppelganger, from The Guardian

Charles Dickens Was A Real Life Ghost Buster, by Bustle

Folklore on Friday: Chained Ghosts, by Hypnogoria

The Ghost of Anne Boleyn, from On the Tudor Trail

Athens and Ghosts, in Strange History


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

Photo of Tudor-style house courtesy of Steve Knight.

Bath, England – An Abundance of Ghosts and Apparitions

If you’re looking for a city with more reliable ghosts and apparitions than most, Bath, England may be ideal.

In fact, the biggest challenge may be how real Bath’s ghosts seem. Many look exactly like everyday, living people… in costumes.

Bath is one of the loveliest cities in the United Kingdom. It features winding streets, superb museums, fabulous shopping, and a history including Roman ruins.

If you’re a tourist and a fan of ‘Pride and Prejudice,’ you’ll enjoy the famous Regency-era Pump Room as well as the Jane Austen Centre.

However, Bath’s colorful history is documented by more than museums and plaques.

Its ghosts tell Bath’s story, too.

Around the city of Bath, ghostly figures and apparitions so commonplace, locals often take them for granted.

That’s why, especially for ghost hunters, Bath is 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 ]

Note: That isn’t the infamous “Hat Man” of popular folklore.

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 ]

It’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 and Garrick’s Head Pub

Ghosts and apparitions of Bath, England - ghost huntingThese sites are next door to each other at St. John’s Place and Saw Close [ map ]  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, and the site also reports what may be a cryptid.

  • 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

This haunted site is at 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

You’ll find this quirky haunt at 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

Less haunted than most, it’s still worth investigating. The tavern is at 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 appears briefly and is fairly transparent. Except that his appearances coincide with events in our time-space, I’d wonder if he was a time-slip.

Julia, of Queens Square

This jilted bride has been seen strolling around the Square in her white gown. The white wedding gown would mean she probably lived (and died) in the Victorian Era.

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.