When it comes to spooky terrain, Cornwall probably takes first prize. It’s a craggy, atmospheric, somehow secretive place – a feeling that’s enhanced considerably by the local sense of independence and county pride. It’s hardly surprising the Cornish people are so close-knit; the county feels very removed from the rest of the UK, and the change from lush rolling hills to barren heathland is very noticeable as you cross the border.
Penzance – A Pirate’s Dream
Like many old Cornish towns, Penzance had its fair share of smugglers and pirates. After all, the Cornish coastline was almost custom-built for illegal activities, with plenty of hidden coves to stash the loot, and many vicious rocks for ships to crash on.
It’s also a town that’s had its fair share of bad luck. It was attacked during the Spanish Armada, and believe it or not, once hit by a tsunami. Likewise, the arrival of the plague did a real number on Penzance, wiping out a good portion of the population.
Unsurprisingly for such a historic place, it has a wealth of ghostly goings on and spectral sightings. Here’s just a few of them.
Ghosts in Penzance
Chapel Street is an intriguing location, with a mish-mash of different properties lining it; from modern to medieval. By day, it’s a nice place to have a stroll, particularly when the sun’s out. However, by night it takes on an altogether different personality, leading many to claim they’ve seen ghosts there.
Some reports say that spooky funeral processions pass along the moonlit street, and others have seen an eerie stage coach pulled by headless horses. The most famous ghost story by far, however, is that of Mrs Baines.
Grumpy ladies and Shootings
Mrs Baines was a relatively well-off widow, who had an apple orchard in her garden. The local children used to scrump these apples, which drove her to distraction. Determined to catch them, she asked her servant, a man named Jan, to keep an eye on the orchard by night.
Jan (like any other rational person, you might think) obviously thought it was rather pointless, and regularly went to sleep on the job. Mrs Baines was angered by this, and decided to sneak out into the garden one night to steal some apples herself, thus making it look as though someone else had committed the crime.
As you might have already gathered, it all ended in tears. As Mrs Baines started to shake the tree, Jan, who’d been peacefully sleeping in the neighbouring hedge, woke with a yell and shot wildly with his gun. Unfortunately, the bullet found its home in Mrs Baines, killing her on the spot.
It didn’t end there, though. The lady’s obsession with apples continued after death, and to this day, people still report seeing a little old woman, wrapped only in a bonnet and gown, pacing restlessly around the house. She’s also been sighted in many other locations, including the local pub and the street outside, desperately hunting for the villains who stole from her. Seriously, Mrs Baines, it’s probably time to let it go now. After all, it’s only fruit.
The Spirits of the Dolphin Inn
There are many other spooky locations in Penzance, but another that enjoys a high level of activity is the Dolphin Inn. Visitors occasionally hear the noise of heavy items dragged across the floors, but when investigated, nothing is there. Bedding, pillows and chairs appear to have imprints and indentations, as though someone has been resting on them – despite the rooms in question being locked for ages.
The pub’s most famous resident is known affectionately as ‘The Captain’, and yes, he apparently appears dressed in full sailing attire (the stylish guy). Fortunately, this particular ghost is reputed to be friendly enough, though no-one knows exactly how he came to be there. He’s often seen and heard stomping around in the rooms upstairs or appearing on the stairs. Now, that’s a nasty shock for someone who’s had too many pints of local ale…
On Another Note…
Ghost stories aside for a moment (well, sort of) – it’s all getting very exciting here, as The Case of the Green-Dressed Ghost is fast approaching its release date. Come 7th March, it’ll officially become available – and as for whether any of the ghosts featured in it are real or not, I’ll leave that to your imagination…