With Halloween just around the corner, we thought we would try and find out where the most spooky place is in and around Dorchester.
Dorchester has an incredible history, and with a great mix of seventeen century buildings and talk of tunnels all round the town, finding a few ghostly stories shouldn’t be too hard to find.
So here’s our top list of Dorchester Ghostly Spots.
The Oak Room, Tea Rooms Antelope Walk
The Oak Room dates back to 1589 and was famously used by Judge Jeffreys as the courtroom of the Bloody Assizes when in September of 1685, 302 cases were heard, of which a total of 74 of the accused were executed, 175 transported, 9 fined or whipped and 54 discharged. Jeffreys didn’t believe in half measures and hanged, transported, whipped and fined hundreds of the unfortunate accused.
During this period Judge Jeffreys lodged at 6 High West Street (now the Prezzo Restaurant, Judge Jeffreys), and for his own protection used a secret passage linking his house with the Oak Room of the Antelope Hotel. This tunnel is wide and high, with enough room for two to three people to walk side by side.
The ghost of Judge Jeffreys is said to haunt the Antelope courtyard that is now Antelope Walk.
Judge Jeffreys Restaurant – Prezzo, High West Street
The ghost that reputedly haunts this building is one of many that the Judge had hanged.
Opposite the restaurant is St. Peter’s Church. It was outside the church that the heads of several of the Monmouth rebels were displayed on spikes to strike terror into the local population and discourage them from further acts of rebellion.
Rumours of tunnels under Dorchester have been widespread for decades – and although there isn’t much known about their location, every now and again a new one is discovered which sparks a lot of interest.
There appears to be renewed interest to explore the maze of tunnels under the town.
If you want to see more information about the Dorchester Tunnels check out the Urban Explorer’s website at http://www.theurbanexplorer.co.uk/ancient-dorchester-tunnels/
Dorchester County Museum
The County Museum is said to be haunted by Jeffreys’ ghost, and in 2010 paranormal investigators captured a photograph that they claimed showed the ghostly figure of the Judge stalking the corridors of the museum.
The Weymouth PIT (Paranormal Investigation Team) group claimed to have photographed two ghostly figures within the museum in 2010. The team used infra red cameras, barrier alarms and EMF meters during their investigations and managed to photo two apparitons which they believe to be of “hanging” Judge Jeffreys and local fossil collector Mary Anning in the museum’s main hall.
The photo of a woman with a cape going round her shoulders, was headless!
The area around Icen Way and High East Street used to be the site of the old prison from where prisoners that had been condemned to death by Judge Jeffreys started their journey to teh gallows. On dark Winter nights, the sound of horses dragging prisoners to their execution site are said to be heard along this road.
Martha Brown became the last woman to be publicly hanged in Dorset for the murder of her husband. She is largely remembered as the inspiration for Thomas Hardy’s famous novel “Tess of the D’Urbervilles”. She was hanged in front of a large crowd at the gallows that were erected over the gates of Dorchester prison, on what is today the old prison car park in North Square.
A phantom figure seen around the site where the gibbet was stood is thought to be either a Tudor woman or the ghost of Martha Brown.
The old Antelope Pub (now being redevloped)
Said to have a figure in motorcycling gear that would appear by the fireplace – thought to be Laurence of Arabia who used to frequent the pub.
HMP Dorchester Prison and the River Walk
An prisoner is said to have tripped and drowned along the towpath near Hangman’s Cottage after he escaped from the Victorian prison.
One dark night in the 1880s the escapee hurried over the footbridge, missed his step and stumbled into the deep pool of water and because of the weight of his shackles and leg irons he drowned.
If you stand a listen carefully enough the sound of rattling chains is still said to haunt the area.
Dorchester Former Hospital, Prince’s Street
Nicknamed Kitty by other staff members, this phantom nurse was said to appear to patients who would pass away soon after.
If you are aware of any other spooky goings-on around the town please let us know.
A Scary Halloween in Dorchester
If you are after a real scare this Halloween – why not take part in the Dorchester Ghost Walks and experience first hand what the ghosts and ghouls of Dorchester really do have to offer!
Start time 8pm and there is no need to book. Just turn up at the Kings Arms in Dorchester – price £6 per adult, £3 per child.