23 August 2012


Andrew Homer. Haunted Hostelries of Shropshire. Amberley, 2012

David Scanlan and Paul Robins. Paranormal Essex. Amberley, 2012

Interesting collection of memorates of haunted pubs and the like, illustrated with nice photographs. Drinking places seem to have taken over from historic homes as the places most likely to get a reputation for being haunted, a theme which seems to have first come to the fore in the 1970s. Clearly a portion of these are commercially produced fake-lore, but others are 'genuine' narratives in the sense that people actually have had odd experiences, or memories of experiences, in them. These include apparitional figures, odd movements of things, imitative noises, strange feelings, etc.
Whether it is a feature of how these stories are compiled, or of the narratives themselves, what strikes me is how, in comparison to UFO reports say, these experiences are rarely specifically located in time, it is not a case that on such a date at such a time, xyz happened, but that events happened at some indeterminate time in the past.

Sadly several of the hostelries mentioned here were already closed at time of compilation, and one suspects that more will have gone by now. 

Essex is a historic county and one full of ghost stories, lore and legend; so this contribution is something of a disappointment, being mainly the author's adventures as amateur ghost hunters, with the usual folk-spiritualist bias. The rest is made up of short, lazy chapters, filled with what Wikipedia calls 'weasel words' of the "it is said" variety. Faced with this one always wants to say “by whom, when and where, and sources please”. Of little value for psychical researcher, folklorist ot tourist alike. -- Peter Rogerson

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