I’ve mentioned before that I have rather unusual taste in TV Shows. My current favorites include Say Yes To The Dress (about prospective brides picking out their wedding dresses), I Can’t Believe I Am Pregnant (self-explanatory), Too Fat For Fifteen (about a boarding school for teenagers battling obesity), and Celebrity Ghost Stories. Celebrity Ghost Stories features a celebrity (several from old TV shows) who tell of there experiences with ghosts. It isn’t as good as Ghost Stories, a Canadian show where ordinary people told their ghost stories, but it is not as scary as My Ghost Story, which is similar, but a lot scarier.
So I got to thinking….Did they tell ghost stories in the Regency?
I went to my favorite source for quick information that is specific to the period. Google Books, where you can search on key words from works printed in specific years. I came upon lots of fictional accounts of ghosts, but I was looking for the real thing. I finally discovered a couple of Regency Ghost Stories, but they all were similar to this one:
A Ghost (From The Cheap Magazine, 1814)
Some years ago, early on new year’s day rooming,, (when there had been a great fall of snow) three young persons in a country village set out to be first-fit to some of their friends a few miles distant. They walked cheerfully along the road, which is lined on each side with fences, till they came up to the parish church yard, which they had to pass, when suddenly their mirth was converted into terror at the appearance of a GHOST ! wrapt up in a winding-sheet, shaded with black, standing on a grave,
shaking its head and bowing to them as they approached!…Though they turned their backs upon the Ghost their agitation continued…they met a halfdrunk, hearty old soldier, whom they knew, and who was also bearing a hot-pint to some of his friends. They told him the dreary tale, and requested him to turn : He laughed at their timidity—determined to go on. When he came within view of the awful spot, he likewise saw the Ghost, as they had described it; taking a hearty draught of the hot-pint to keep up his courage, he proceeded, and the nearer he approached, and looking over the dyke at it, he was positive it had assumed the appearance of an old woman smoking a pipe ! — Determined to examine it, he sprung over the wall ; however, in
defiance of his resolution, fear made an invasion upon him : but still despising the idea of being a coward, pressed on, and with a few unsteady steps reached it; but instead of a terrific Ghost, it was only — a thorn bush waving with the wind, and clogged with the drifting snow !
Another story was about a man who claimed a dead man’s ghost came to him to tell him who the man’s murderer was. Turned out the murderer was the guy telling the ghost story.
I know the Victorians became very interested in spirits and seances and the occult, but these Regency folks are a skeptical bunch!
My question of the day….If you could see a ghost of anyone from the Regency, who would it be? And, if you dare, you can tell us if you have a Ghost Story of your own.