Young volunteers from Kingston Museum led a ‘Creepy Kingston’ walk on the Friday before Halloween to show off some of the town’s darker secrets.
The museum’s Young People’s Board, which has organized other themed walks in the past, took more than 20 visitors on an alternative tour of the town, taking in the market place, Eden street and the museum itself.
The Kingston Courier went on the walk and learned the following spooky tales:
According to the board’s Iona Richardson, in the 1700s Kingston’s market was the location of the county jail, and the site of hangings.
“The marketplace was a gruesome space harbouring many gory stories,” she said.
“There is a record of a woman who came to Kingston to seek spiritual sanctification. She was burnt at the stake for witchcraft in 1681 and suffered the most brutal death. She cursed the city to be a part of various wars and misery in the future.
“There is another old lady with a dog who has been seen since the 19th century standing on the road near the square and is said to haunt people after she asks them for a lift.”
Very few know the story of Edward James Muggeridge, commonly known as Muybridge, who hails from Kingston. A famous photographer, whose talent even took him to the United States, he got away with the murder of his beloved wife’s lover on the grounds of justifiable homicide.
Muybridge died in 1904 of prostate cancer and his ashes were interred in Surrey with “Eadweard Maybridge” written on his grave. Many of his papers and collected artefacts were donated to Kingston Library and eventually passed to the Kingston Museum in his place of birth.
Staff say they can still hear footsteps at night, around the place where his photographs hang.
Another area thought to be haunted is Eden Street, formally known as ‘Heathen’ Street. This famous street is home to plenty of shops today. At the centre, there used to be a Roman sacrificial altar whose remains were uncovered in the 1800s.
Over the years, further excavation revealed a Romanic Celtic temple dating back to 350 AD. Excavations also uncovered a riverbed, where there were lead tablets found with curses inscribed on them.
Eden Street was the site of a prison in the 16th century, where the prisoners stuck their hand out for food when they were punished. If people weren’t charitable enough they would starve to death. Some of the criminals were enclosed in a metal box, left to rot and die inside. This is the macabre side of Eden Street.
Church Street, which is home to many pubs in Kingston, is reputed to be another haunted location. A local man who committed suicide is said to be still residing in the terrace of one of its homes.
Local tourist guide John Pink researched this place and found out that in certain rooms there was a chilling temperature, and that it seemed people were talking when no one was even there. If one does hear any spooky noises at this corner it’s probably not Kingston University students…
All Saints Church
All Saints church has been a place of worship since Anglo-Saxon times, although records indicate the construction of the church that stands today began in 1117.
When, in 1730, the unstable church building collapsed killing many people, it was believed that some of them did not leave entirely. Eighty years later two skeletons were found behind the church. Even today archaeologists are looking for bones.
Various ghost sightings have been reported on Portsmouth Road. A barman driving back from work late at night saw a woman wearing an eighties-style dress with a small boy. His car went right through her before it crashed. There have been numerous similar sightings of a woman who materialized and disappeared instantly.
The Druid’s Head is said to be the oldest pub in Kingston. Dating from the 1600s, it has lots of records of people dying from excessive drinking on the premises.
Soldiers were given rooms from the government in this very building in the 17th century, some of whom are said to have committed suicide. Strange noises and moving objects have been common occurrences since.
And downstairs, the cellar is said to be home to a woman who died a century ago.
Local shops around Kingston
Right across the marketplace there used to be a pub called ‘The Crown’, after which Crown Passage was named. The building, which has been renovated, is now a clothing store.
Something sinister happened in the Christmas of 1712. Local tour guide Julien Neiler said that local newspapers of the time reported a story about Angel Sparks, a drummer buried in All Saints church.
He said: “During a war, the soldiers in this pub were attacked and Sparks died while defending himself with two brooms in his hand. The previous owner filed complaints a few months ago of brooms being in different places every morning she came in.”