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27th May 2008
Ghoulish tales and mysterious happenings in the local area are recounted in a new book, ‘Ghost Stories from around Ripon and other Dark Tales of the Past.’

Written by local historian Maurice Taylor and published by Ripon Civic Society, the book chronicles a multitude of odd events and ghostly appearances in the city. They include the white jockey seen in what was once the grandstand of the former Ripon Racecourse, now part of the Cathedral Choir School in Whitcliffe Lane; a khaki-clad World War I soldier who appeared in the projection box of the former Palladium Cinema in Kirkgate, and a hooded monk at St Anne’s Almhouses on High St Agnesgate.

There are stories of Ripon’s first Mayor, Hugh Ripley, appearing at the window of the Wakeman’s House, of clergymen and housemaids at the Old Deanery and of the Ripon Sin Eater who was summoned to the bedside of a dead person to eat a piece of bread and drink a tankard of ale placed on the corpse, symbolically taking in the sins of the deceased with the food and drink.

A poltergeist, experienced by Mervyn Usher of the former ‘Cobbler’s Corner’ in High Skellgate, is also featured in the book. Mervyn recalled that one day in 2003 ‘the plates started flying across the room. The middle part of the plate came out in a full circle leaving a big hole in the centre. The outer circle edge was a perfect circle, not out of shape or anything. It was as if someone had just cut it out . . . it just came flying across the room towards us. We got out of the way and the plate hit the wall. It didn’t smash, the middle piece just dropped out and stayed in one piece.’

‘Ghost Stories from around Ripon and other Dark Tales of the Past’ is the second book to be written by Maurice Taylor, a Vice-President of Ripon Civic Society, to celebrate the Society’s 40th Anniversary this year. Published by the Society, it is on sale from 6 June in local shops, and costs £7.50. Ripon Civic Society members can obtain it for £6.00 at members’ meetings.

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