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Spirits of the Caves Tour

30 January 13 words: Penny Reeve

We were warned that we may feel signs of spirits, such as an itchy sensation or chilly breezes even though the caves are at a constant temperature

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The last underground tannery site in the UK

It’s a Saturday in January, it’s dark and it’s snowing. Rather than subjecting myself to a torrent of rage as I wander around town, looking at all the Staceys and Sharons in their micro-minis and heels, I decided to head to a place where Dickens would have felt comfy and where the air is always a ambient 14oc. Yes, dear readers. I visited the City of Caves for its brand new tour, ‘Spirits of the Caves’.

I got to the Broadmarsh Centre for around half five and was promptly locked inside. Before this, I wasn’t feeling in the slightest bit spooked but of course being locked inside a shopping centre is going to bring to mind Dawn of the Dead. No worries, the caves are just across from Wimpy and a tonne of shops just begging to be pillaged in the case of a zombie apocalypse. Feeling calmer I took my place amongst the 19 other guests and eagerly awaited for our medium, Maria to take us in hand.

Having spent seven years as a medium and dispelling some of the more ‘Hollywoodesque’ rumours about ghosts from the get-go, I definitely felt that Maria was both passionate about her role and not a woman to be messed with, wherever the dead are concerned (she once fired a chap for being disrespectful to a spirit). Maria explained that the tour was not only going to be a ghostly one but would include a brief history of ‘The Place of Cavey Dwellings’ as Nottingham used to be known. As the lady herself says, “Without history there would be no ghosts.” We were warned that we may feel signs of spirits, such as an itchy sensation across our face or head or chilly breezes even though the caves are at a constant temperature and are blocked in, so there should be no drafts. Straight away, my scalp began to itch. Power of suggestion? A ghost? Something to do with the hard hat I’d just perched on top of my head? Who knows, but I was anxious for more.

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Maria - not a ghost.

We were led to the first 'hotspot' - a well where a young child is often seen clambering up and down – did he die while collecting water for his family? Although the story spooked a couple of people, the kid was trumped in terror by the grey monks of St. Benedict, who provided the group with their first ghostly experience. Cold legs; itchy faces, the whole kit and caboodle. We left swiftly, feeling the fear start to creepy through our veins and continued with the tour.

Now I’m not going to give the game away and tell you what happened for the remainder of our hour long experience but rest in peace (hah) that there were plenty more ghosts, including a rather frightening gent who used to sell young girls for sex. Not long ago, a medium decided to goad this fella and got a swift hit to the back of his legs; so much so that bruising occurred. Needless to say, we were all very nice to the energy that apparently surrounded us and all came away unscathed.

Whether or not you believe in ghosts it’s always good to go and test your possible psychic connection – something that Maria encourages – or just to find out more about the caves that we walk over every day and that actually stretch all the way to Sherwood Forest. Did you know that over 77 of the caves were used for air raid shelters during the second world war? Or that we have the only underground tannery site left in the UK? Well, if you didn’t then you really should have a quick reccy down in the sandstone and learn a thing or two. And if you spot a ghost while you’re down there, then all the better for it.

On the bus home that night, a man dressed in black and wearing shades stared at me through the window. Was it Papa Legba? Have my psychic powers come to the fore? I’ll keep you guys posted.

Spirits of the Caves will be taking place on a bi-monthly basis, please check the website for more details.

City of Caves website

Galleries of Justice website

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