Just because Halloween is over, it does not mean that going on a haunted trip and hearing about ghosts isn’t still a lot of fun. Instead of the usual walking tours, why not take a ride through the River Cam and hear spooky stories about Cambridge University that will put every horror movie to shame. This will make punting in Cambridge a lot more exciting, especially if you want a little more thrill rather than the usual stories about the architecture.
St. John’s College
This college is one where people have reported several haunted sightings and bizarre incidents. It was built on a Medieval hospital that was forced to shut down. You can ask your chauffeur about the ghost of Doctor James Wood, who was an impoverished student at the college. He could not even afford a light in his room while students today are spoiled with laptops, televisions, and mobile phones. Back in the day, he used to sit in the O staircase in the Second Court and use the light from other rooms to work through the night. Some people reported that his apparition is still haunting the same place at nights and surprised a few students by following them to their rooms.
Another famous ghost is James Ashton, who was brutally murdered in 1746 in the First Court next to the library. He was discovered stabbed in his room, and everybody suspected that his friend John Brinkley killed him. However, Brinkley escaped justice because his father had some very powerful lawyers. He fled after the murder, and Ashton’s angry spirit can sometimes be heard screaming loudly in the building.
King’s College is a very popular haunting site. This is because the founder, King Henry VI, had gone insane after prison when he was defeated in the War of the Roses. The chapel was used during the civil war by Oliver Cromwell to house parliamentarian cavalrymen. Students at Cambridge have reported noises coming from inside the chapel at night. You might hear horses neighing and soldiers scraping their feet. Even the police were called many times by students and teachers because they spotted moving figures on the roof.
Another unusual haunting story is that of Barret’s Coffin. A scholar named Barret was a very eccentric person and lived in the Gibbs Building while strangely keeping a coffin. People often heard him screaming loudly throughout the night but ignored him because of his quirky personality. One day, the screaming stopped, and when scholars entered his room, they found him dead, lying in his coffin with a smile on his face. For a long time, the Gibbs building was no
longer used for accommodation because people could not sleep and always complained about the random screaming. It was so bad to a point where the college tried exorcising the building. The exorcism did not work, and now people just continue to tolerate whatever happened in the building.
When you are punting in Cambridge, ask your chauffeur about the Black Widow of the Cam. Her name was Elizabeth De Clare, and she was married off to the richest man in England against her wishes when she was only twelve years old. Her husband died after the wedding, and Elizabeth had to remarry. Her second husband also passed away after getting married. Then she went on to marry a third wealthy husband, who perished from food poisoning. Elizabeth
became the richest woman in Europe and was unstoppable. Then the people of Cambridge formed a mob and tortured her until she confessed to murdering all her husbands. The local men tied Elizabeth to a boat and floated her until Clare Bridge, where she was then killed by burning arrows. She suffered an agonizing death, and her vengeful spirit continues haunting the River Cam.