Police in Peterborough have been called on to act as ghost busters by victims who feel they may have been targeted by thieves and yobs from beyond the grave.
Findings released by Cambridgeshire Police following a Freedom of Information request by The Evening Telegraph, show Peterborough police have been alerted on six occasions in the last three years to deal with ghostly apparitions.
And in an eerie twist, three of these sightings occurred on the same date – 9th September – in consecutive years.
Two sightings also happened on the same day – 21st February this year – in central Peterborough.
Police said that all reports featuring the word ‘ghost’ in the last three years had occurred within the county’s Northern Division which covers the whole of Peterborough.
The full list of ghostly sightings reported to police includes:
- On 9 September 2009: police were called to a report of a burglary in the PE1 post code area.
The caller told officers it was believed there was a ghost in their house but no trace was ever found.
- On 21 November 2009: a disturbance in a field adjoining a house in Thorney was reported.
Officers were told by locals that this may have been caused by the ghost of a child.
- On 9 September 2010: police were called to a home in Stanground one week after an attempted burglary.
Officers reported that a child had woken at night and believed that a ghost was trying to enter through a window.
- On 21 February 2011: officers stopped a “confused woman” in Peterborough city centre.
They noted that she appeared to be “talking to ghosts”.
- On the same date in the PE1 area, police received a call from a person who claimed to be hearing “ghost noises” as well as seeing hands coming over the top of a door.
The caller also reported a group of three males outside the property, one of whom was a white male.
- On 9 September 2011: a driver on the A47 in central Peterborough reported a person walking down a slip road onto the carriageway against the flow of traffic.
The driver was described to be in such a state of shock that it felt like they “had seen a ghost”.
In all cases police say that no further action was taken by officers.
A spokesperson for Cambridgeshire Police said: “Reports like these are extremely rare but where people have genuine concerns they or their property is at risk we will investigate if appropriate.”
However, the sightings have come as little surprise to Stuart Orme, who works at the supposedly-haunted Peterborough Museum and organises popular ghost walks through the city centre.
Mr Orme said: “Peterborough is an ancient city with a lot of history and tales get built up over time.
“We have an historic cathedral and other old buildings with links to hundreds of people from the past.
“There have been lots of ghost stories in the city over the years and we go through these on our walks.
“I would say that around 80 per cent of ghost stories can be explained with a rational answer.
“But it’s the remaining 20 per cent that no matter how hard you try to think of one, no logical answer exists.”
Among the places which are said to be haunted are the Queensgate Shopping Centre and the city’s museum.
The museum is said to be stalked by the ghost of a First World War Australian Soldier Sergeant Thomas Hunter, who was taken there in 1916 after being wounded.
Back then the museum was a hospital and Sergeant Hunter died there.
Since then staff have regularly reported furniture being mysteriously moved about.
Peterborough Cathedral is also said to be haunted by three ghosts.
The apparition of a little girl who was apparently murdered there in the 1860s is said to have appeared in a window in one of the building’s precincts.
The ghosts of a monk and a stone mason who also supposedly died there have been spotted as well.
The city’s Cowgate area is believed to be haunted following an incident of body snatching back in the 1820s.
Mr Orme added: “Although the museum is currently closed to the public we still have staff working here and some of those have heard mysterious footsteps when nobody else was around.
“There have been several ghost sightings at the Queensgate Shopping Centre over the past 30 years.
“The centre is built on an old residential area which used to contain shops and homes so people say the ghosts could be former residents there.”
So why are people so fascinated by ghost sightings and what should they do if they experience one?
Mr Orme said: “Ghost sightings capture people’s imaginations because they are linked to our fascination about what happens after death.
“I have met people who claim to have seen ghosts and some of them are the most down-to-earth rational men and women you could ever meet.
“But when they start telling you about the ghost they saw their belief is completely rigid and no amount of reasoning can change their minds.
“At the end of the day people are suckers for a good ghost story – even those who don’t believe in ghosts – and that’s never going to change.”
Have you experienced a ghost sighting in Peterborough recently? Contact our newsdesk on 01733 588728.
The grim activities of the body snatchers
At the end of Cowgate, there used to stand a graveyard, which was removed when the Queensgate Shopping Centre was built.
Eerily, it was one of the last places in the UK to be raided by grisly body snatchers who dug up freshly buried corpses and sold them to doctors for medical practice.
One evening in 1828 a cart was seen outside the cemetery with two men loading suspicious sacks onto it.
The alarm was raised and the men fled, with a cart chase ending near Norman Cross on the edge of the city. Here the men abandoned their getaway cart and fled over the fields.
But do their victims still wander Cowgate, eternally trapped and angry at their sad fate?