As we approach Hallowe’en each year, what do our imaginations conjure up? Parties, pumpkins, trick-or-treat and above all; the supernatural. The eerie atmosphere is often enhanced by darker nights, wind, gales, tales of restless wandering spirits, and a reminder of the onset of winter. Yet, for the Museum of Cambridge, the ghostly atmosphere may be even closer— indeed within the building itself!
In 1643 the present-day Museum was actually a pub, innocently enough called the White Horse Inn. It was owned by a rich innkeeper who was a Royalist. Yet Parliament had gathered an army in opposition called the Roundheads, led by Oliver Cromwell. These were sworn enemies of the Royalists, so when the innkeeper’s maid fell in love with a Roundhead soldier and visitor to the pub, the innkeeper decided to imprison her in an upstairs room. He even tried to force the maid into denying her love for the soldier.
One day, however, she believed her lover was downstairs and she saw him through a small window. Catching sight of her too, the Roundhead vowed to return that evening with a ladder to rescue her. Sadly, Fate intervened and the Roundhead’s army was instructed to fight which delayed the soldier’s rescue plan. There further complications because the Royalist innkeeper had taken his family on holiday, leaving the maid imprisoned and starving. In despair, she smashed the window and escaped.
Tragically, when the soldier returned to rescue her and broke in, he found that the innkeeper had blocked the door to the maid’s room with bricks. In agony and torment, he mistakenly believed that she must have died from hunger and thirst; nevertheless, he vowed to remain there for her. His devotion sadly resulted in his own death, but the room remained undiscovered until 300 years later when the inn became the present Museum.
The faithful lover’s ghost is said to haunt the building and anything is possible, especially on October 31st, Hallowe’en, when ghosts may stir…
This post was written by Paul, a Volunteer at the Museum of Cambridge.