On Thursday 15th March 10 brave members of Capel Ladies met at 7.30pm outside St Stephen’s Church (the Tourist Office) in Ipswich. There to greet us was our guide, Ed Nicholls, and his lady assistant who was coming along for the experience as she was training to be a tour guide herself.
After introducing himself and telling us how the ghost tours began, he said that from various anecdotes and stories about different parts of the town we can learn a lot about the history of Ipswich over the years.
And so it proved! We trailed around the empty streets on what was a fine, dry night, stopping at various places of ghostly interest to listen to Ed’s stories of hauntings and mysterious happenings in buildings, churchyards, theatres, shops and pubs around the town.
We even managed to visit a couple of pubs! On entering “The Old Rep”, which used to be the Ipswich Arts Theatre, we struck lucky! Their new Menu had just been introduced, and a buffet of delicious samples was laid out for us! We sat eating at tables on what was once the stage and listened to accounts of barrels shifting about in the cellar and of the ghost of an old man who would sit in the stalls and watch rehearsals. Apparently he was a good omen, and it often happened that the play he had watched ended up having a long run!
After our supper, washed down with a glass of something, of course, we set off again, visiting St Mary le Tower churchyard and passing the magnificent timbered Oak House, once a private house and also a tavern, but now a solicitor’s office. At the end of Northgate Street we called in at what used to be “The Halberd Inn”, now “McGinty’s,” where we heard tales of several ghosts. These included the sound of a heartbeat, feet tramping up stairs which are no longer there, and a modern story of ten glasses found smashed on the floor at the front of the bar. These were discovered at 2 in the morning after the landlord was roused by noises which he thought was burglars. On entering the bar he found the glasses but there was no-one around, and nothing showing on the cc-TV either!
We ended our tour back at St Stephen’s church, which was built next to the site of a Saxon graveyard and the nearby Whitefriars Carmelite Friary, (now underneath the Buttermarket Shopping Centre), and where we heard the final story of the night about 2 lady organists who have sometimes been seen by staff in the late afternoon. It is believed they are the ghosts of 2 sisters who tried to save the church from being made redundant, and who were bitterly disappointed when their efforts failed.
Our Ghost Walk ended here and we thanked our guide Ed for giving us a very entertaining evening!