Halloween has become an established ghoulish celebration of witches, trick or treating and fancy dress parties. Even Salisbury has its own spooky stories to tell so we’ve been getting the lowdown on All Hallows from Steve Sharp, Salisbury Customer Service Officer and Blue Badge Guide:
Most of us know the 31st October as Halloween, but it has many names including All Hallows and All Saints Day. The idea of Halloween actually originated with the ancient Celtic festival of Samhain, which was a major part of life across Europe even as far back as Neolithic times.
In Ireland, tombs were aligned with the sun rising on Samhain with offerings of food and drink left for the dead to appease spirits. Even back then people dressed up for the festival. They would wear a headdress and clothing to disguise themselves as animals to hide from their ancestors, who were thought to return to visit their former homes on Samhain night. They were said to be seeking hospitality, which is where the current tradition of visiting door to door reciting verses in return for food came from.
It wasn’t just Europe where they imagined the dead would rise. The Spanish found on invading Mexico, that the Aztecs already worshiped death through their various religious rites and culture. Nowadays the Dia de Muertos - Day of the Dead - is still a major annual part of the festival culture and celebrated every 1st and 2nd November. It is known as a much more joyful celebration of life and death, as family and friends gathering to pay respects and to remember loved-ones who have died.
In Salisbury, there has been a wealth of ghoulish stories and sightings recorded over the years. Stories such as the Duke of Buckingham’s ghost wandering around the former Debenham’s shop – what used to be the Blue Boar Inn. Buckingham was cruelly put to death by Richard III and his spirit is said to have caused many unnerving experiences for people working in the building and on the roof!
The Guildhall (seen at the top of the page) also has its spooky side. The building has been investigated by paranormal investigators over the years with some striking results, including a little girl called Emily who made herself known to the astonished team. Even a couple of exorcisms have been reported on, in and near the Cathedral Close, all adding to the intrigue and reputation of this historic city.
If you want to see the scarier side of our modern medieval city, make sure to book onto one of the Spooky Salisbury Walks.
The Classic Ghost Walks and Family Frighteners Walks will run between Monday 25th October and Sunday 31st October 2021.
If you have younger children then the Family Frighteners are perfect. They are geared towards families and adults with children of primary school age. So, they shouldn’t get too spooked!
Are you ready to be frightened?!
One of Salisbury's oldest pubs, The Haunch of Venison dates back to 1320, and is home to a mummified hand. Yes, a mummified hand!