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Nottingham Ghosts

26 October 08 words: Ali Emm
illustrations: Michael Lomon

In the build up to Halloween we look at some pant-soilingly scary ghosts from Nottingham past...

Say 'Nottingham' to folk from not round these parts and they are likely to mention Robin Hood or Brian Clough (after they ask if you’ve ever been shot at, anyway). Rob and Bri are great, but they aren’t the only thing that did (or didn’t) happen in Nottingham’s past. Ours is a city steeped in history, with settlements dating back to pre-Roman times, and it has seen its fair share of action - with not all of it being that pleasant. Let's have a look at the pant-soilingly scary ones, starting with...

The Old Angel
Yep, that punky pub off Hockley actually dates all they way back to the 1600s, and was formerly a chapel and a brothel (but not at the same time, obviously). The former is represented by cellar caves that are hollowed in the shape of a crucifix, while the latter gave the pub a prostitute who was murdered 200 years ago, who still haunts the place to this day. It is also said to be home to a singing, fruitmachine-playing ghost which doesn’t seem too bad a way to while away your after-life. This is the best place in town to start your Ghostbusting activities, as the Guts and Gore ghost walk is led by Eziekel Bone from this venue on Wednesdays, a raconteur who revels in Nottingham’s darker past with his Bone Corporation.

Bridlesmith Gate
Just like us living types, Nottingham’s spectres need the occasional night out too. In the seventies, The Hippo Club (The Bomb, to anyone under the age of thirty) was said to have had regulars in the form of phantom Cavaliers and Quakers. They used to get right out of order at times though - certain revellers swore blind they had felt the sensation of invisible hands touching them on their nights out. Sadly The Bomb is no more, but the doors will be re- opening soon as the House of Coco Tang. So if you're feeling lonesome, it may be a good choice if you want to be touched up by the walking dead.

Galleries of Justice/Gallows Hill
Before the days of telly, people amused themselves by taking the family down to the Shire Hall (Galleries of Justice) or Gallows Hill (the crossroads of Mansfield Road and Forest Road East) to watch criminals get what was coming to them – death, in case you were wondering. Vantage points were so in demand that locals who had houses overlooking would hire out their rooms so people could get a better view. Bit like getting a directors box at the football really; better view, comfier seats but you miss out on the atmosphere. As you’d expect, with all the dying that took place, both these spots have had many reported ghost sightings.

Wollaton Park
The grounds of Wollaton Hall are a great place to take the family or just relax in the summer - but if you have a phobia of Noddy and Big Ears, you might want to give it a miss, seeing as there have been sightings of up to sixty gnomes in the grounds, driving around in little two-seater cars, ‘playfully’ chasing children. Apparently said gnomey cars make no sound, which means they must be pretty enviromentally friendly. On a less creepy note, a ghostly woman can be seen walking her equally dead dog along the lake at dusk and strange lights have often been seen in the Dovecote, off the stable yard.

Nottingham Castle/ Mortimer’s Hole
Like Doctor Who, the Castle has had a number of incarnations since being built nearly a thousand years ago, and has naturally been host to many battles, murders, and other palaver in its time, meaning it's a veritable ghostly Butlins. The castle’s most famous resident is Queen Isabella, French wife of Edward II and knock-off of Roger Mortimer, who actually deposed her husband and tried to set up his own Parliament in Notts before being dragged from her quarters by her own son, down through the tunnels (which now bear his name) to be imprisoned in the castle’s keep before being taken to the Tower of London to be hung, drawn and quartered. Although the Queen did not die in the Castle, her pleading cries to her son for Mortimer’s release can still be heard today. Sort of like an episode of Trisha stuck on a loop.

Foreman Street
Although Forest Road is currently the place to hang if you’re a Lady of the Night (or a sad bastard), Foreman Street (by the Cornerhouse) used to be the prime spot to indulge in a little bit of what you fancied. A notorious prostitute by the name of Nellie Banks used to turn tricks at number 23 (above what is now Prezzo Pizzeria), and former proprietors of the shop have reported frantic banging and knocking sounds from the floor above when there has definitely been no-one up there. One of the more popular explanations is that it's the ghost of one of Nellie’s regulars - a renowned judge - who died up there from over-exhaustion....

The Salutation Inn
As one of the oldest pubs in the country, The Sal has been around long enough to have gathered a huge gang of ghosts. A highwayman is said to draw his pistols and wander between the pub and the caves below, A playful four-year-old girl likes to move things around, a past landlord who may or may not have accidentally drunk poison still hangs about, and there's even a disfigured prostitute by the name of Jezebel. The Salutation is also where Nottingham’s regular Saturday night ghost walk begins and ends.

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