There are many tales of ghosts in Ely, and many books that tell you their stories. Haunted Ely by Margaret Haynes and Vivienne Doughty is our favourite book that tells the stories of St. Etheldreda and the other ghosts that can be found here.
In this book, you can read about St. Etheldreda, the founder of the City of Ely. Her ghostly hand has been seen gliding up a staircase at King's School, Ely, by 'three mesmerised boys who watched ... as they shivered beneath their duvets on a warm summer night in 1995'. (Haunted Ely, 2003)
Haunted Ely is available from the Tourist Information Centre, please use the online enquiry form for further information.
Or you can read about the ghost dog, which is sometimes seen crossing the A10 between Ely and Cambridge, and takes a path leading close to where the graves of dogs from Saxon times were uncovered a few years ago. This phantom dog has the local name of 'Black Shuck' and is reported as being black, with shining eyes.
If you are feeling brave, you may want to venture on one of the ghost tours of Ely, led by the author of Haunted Ely. With a little help, and imagination, sometimes Black Shuck can even be seen as you are taken through the haunted sights of the City.
Beware the Benedictine Monks! They look so real to the people who see them, that the often don't realise they have seen a ghost - it seems these monkish ghosts have a sense of humour and come and go as they please. Sometimes they can be seen crossing the grass outside the Cathedral, or maybe you will see one on your ghost tour!
Ghosts in Oliver Cromwell's House
Although Cromwell died in London it is suggested that his ghost may still return to his old residence in Ely. A tour of the House takes in the bedroom and the ghost may well be spotted there, although modern technology might have a hand in those particular sightings!
A couple staying in the house in 1979 were given a guest room in the 17th Century west wing of the house. During the night, the woman awoke and felt herself to be in the room, but sensed she was present in a different era. The doorway of the room appeared to be in a different location. She was in the presence of a large, powerful man, who seemed distracted, as though he had a great decision to make, and he gripped her arm as he muttered to himself. The vision faded and the woman found herself back in real time. The doorway had returned to its original position, but the marks made by the man as he held onto her arm were still visible.
When she told her husband, he pointed out that part of the bedroom wall had been altered, and that there was evidence that, in the past, there had been a doorway in the place where she had seen it. That room is now known as the Haunted Bedroom, where you can still see the false door. Staff opening up the House in the mornings often make their way quickly through this room, as it can unnerve even those who believe none of the stories that they have been told.
Oliver Cromwell was well known as a practical joker in his lifetime, and in 1998, a guide working for the Tourist Information Centre may have become the butt of one of his jokes. The guide was sitting in a room in Cromwell's old house when he felt a draught around his feet. He looked down to see the laces of his shoe undone. Each time he re-did them, the same thing would happen. Was this Cromwell up to his old tricks?
There have been so many reported sightings of ghosts and odd happenings at Oliver Cromwell's House, that in 2003 the Cambridge Paranormal Group were invited along to carry out an investigation to identify whether there was any presence to be found within the House. Their fascinating report can be found on their website, and if you would like to send your thoughts on ghosts, especially those in Ely and Oliver Cromwell's House, please email us.