A Week of Greenwich Ghosts (1)

I don’t often do a whole week of things – I generally prefer occasional series of interesting oddities but this week, in honour of the time of year, I’m teaming up with local illustrator Aliyahgator to talk about some of Greenwich’s odder ghosts.

It’s a pretty well-worn path by anyone who’s ever written about the town – even I’ve covered ghosts on several occasions (and yes, I admit, I have actually been known to invent one or two in the past.) But as the mornings grow mistier and moistier, the sun gets lower in the sky and the evenings are darker with each passing day, revisiting ghost stories is like meeting old friends.

The problem with most of the ghosts that have been seen around here is that they very rarely fit a ‘story’ – they are ‘sightings’, not fiction. If you want a proper story with a beginning, middle and end, you’d be best nipping along to Greenwich Theatre on Thursday for The Haunted Bride. Instead we get ‘vignettes’ – fleeting moments when someone thought they saw something. One of the things I like about Aliayahgator’s illustrations is that there are no naff representations of the actual ghosts. Instead, slightly skewed images of places we know that might, you know, might just, have something else in there.

Today, we have one of my favourite mental images, gleaned from the archives of The Paranormal Database – the ghostly red-haired pallbearers of Crooms Hill.

The sighting was in 1934 – a woman in Greenwich Park watched a group of red-headed women, cut off at the knees, carrying a coffin to the Crooms Hill Gate, at which point they vanished.

Why women? Why red-headed? Why…well, actually, just why?

Don’t ask me. All I can do is suppose, but I can have a stab.

Apparently, in Irish folklore, red hair is a sign of bad luck (an altogether unfortunate superstition, given the number of people with that colour hair in Ireland…) after a flamed-haired goddess called Macha was forced by her husband to run a race, even though she was pregnant at the time. She won, but went into premature labour. She cursed Irish men who she blamed for making her race.

So where does this leave us? Well, the only church I can think of around Crooms Hill is Our Lady Star of the Sea, built for Catholic sailors, many of whom would have been Irish. But who these mysterious red-headed, footless women would have been, and who the corpse inside the casket might be is anyone’s guess. I’m struggling to think of things that would have been going on in 1934 that would have caused such a manifestation at that particular time and no other (other than the imbibement of a certain other kind of spirit.)

But what a fabulous mental image, eh?

the attachments to this post:

Aliyahgator Crooms hill
Aliyahgator Crooms hill

One Comment to “A Week of Greenwich Ghosts (1)”

  1. Jenny says:

    1934 was when Conduit House was built. From old maps, it was build on open land but must’ve caused quite a disturbance in the area as it was being built, rattling a few souls no doubt…