*News Paper Article*
The Yarrow family lived on the premises, in a flat on the first floor in today what is part of the geology gallery – but it was to be a flat which was to chill their blood and give them the fright of their life.
In September 1931, Mr Yarrow went out for the afternoon taking his sons with him. His wife was left alone in the building to deal with the last few visitors and lock up at the end of the day.
This she did, then went back up to the flat in order to start preparing the evening meal ready for the family's return.
After about half an hour, she heard a noise out on the main staircase, which she assumed was her family returning and went out to greet them.
But when she reached the stair doors she came face-to-face with a young man coming up the stairs.
She described the man as being about 30, with brown hair, and wearing a green suit. Mrs Yarrow assumed he was a visitor she'd locked in by mistake.
But she soon realised he was no human visitor . . .
His footsteps were unnaturally loud, which were scary enough in themselves, apart from the fact that he was actually floating up the stairs.
The ghostly figure reached the landing in front of her, walked through the doors right next to her – without opening them – and down the corridor, and vanished into thin air.
Mrs Yarrow left the building as quickly as possible.
The ghost is thought to be that of a First World War Australian Soldier, Sergeant Thomas Hunter. Hunter was born in Newcastle in 1880, but emigrated to Australia as a young man, where he worked as a coal miner in New South Wales.
In 1914, at the outbreak of the war, he enlisted with the Australian army, the ANZACs, and served at Gallipoli and on the Western Front.
He was seriously wounded in June 1916, then treated in a field hospital. It was decided he needed treatment in a more specialised hospital in Britain, so was shipped back, then put on a train north.
Medical staff found that his condition was worsening, so the train was stopped at the next convenient station – Peterborough.
He was taken to the nearest hospital, which is now the museum, but by then it was too late. He died in the building on July 31, 1916
He is buried in the Broadway Cemetery, and his ghostly figure hasn't been seen since the 1970s, but a cold atmosphere may descend over certain parts of the building with no warning.
And people have felt the touch of an ice-cold pair of hands. And museum staff report that furniture is regularly found moved around overnight . . . *End of News paper article*
History of Peterborough Museum
Although the main part of the building as we see it today dates back to 1816, the first recorded house on the site was built in the 16th century for the Orme family on land given to them by Henry VIII in 1538. The house, named 'Neville Place' is marked on a 1611 map of Peterborough and can be seen in a 1731 drawing of the city. It is thought that stonework from this original building probably survives in the museum cellars.
The 1816 building took the form of a grand Georgian house for Thomas Cooke, Peterborough magistrate, who lived there until his death in 1854. It was sold to the third Earl Fitzwilliam, who allowed the mansion to be used as the city's first hospital, the Peterborough Infirmary, from 1857 until 1928. A fire in 1884 led to alterations being made, with new wings added and an extension to the rear. However, upon completion of a new hospital as a memorial to Peterborians lost in the First World War, the building was no longer needed for that purpose. It was opened as a museum in 1931, with an art gallery added in 1939 and a major refurbishment carried out in 2011.
Many of the building's Georgian features can still be seen today, as can traces of its use as a hospital - the modern conservation room is actually the old operating theatre.
Update 2012: The old operating theatre has been restored to its former glory during the recent refurbishment and is now a faithful recreation of how it would have looked during its heyday. It is very much hoped that this will encourage more paranormal activity!
Ghosts of Peterborough Museum
Peterborough Museum is regarded as the most haunted building in the city, and as such has been a popular venue for ghost-hunters for many years. In April 2005, Living TV's 'Most Haunted' team carried out a filmed investigation and encountered a number of phenomena, including an episode in the cellars where a door apparently slammed by itself - causing everyone to flee the area!
Perhaps the most well known ghost at Peterborough Museum is that of a grey figure, seen on the stairs or along the first floor corridor. It is believed to be the spirit of Thomas Hunter, an Australian soldier who died from his wounds when the building was a hospital back in 1916. It is said that a nurse who had looked after him actually saw the ghost shortly after his unfortunate death and was thus able to identify it as being him!
Thomas was seen almost immediately when the building re-opened as a museum in 1931. Mr. Yarrow was the caretaker and lived there with his wife and two children. Having gone out for the afternoon with the children, Mr. Yarrow had left his wife to close up at the end of the day. After bolting the door and heading upstairs to their first-floor flat (located in what is now the geology department), Mrs. Yarrow heard footsteps on the staircase and came out to greet her family. However, instead of her husband and children, she saw a young man coming up towards her. Initially thinking she had inadvertently locked a visitor in, she was about to call out when she realised that there was something wrong. The footsteps were unnaturally loud and when she looked closer she realised that the man was actually floating up the stairs. He passed her on the landing without so much as a glance in her direction, walked through the double doors on the first floor (without opening them) before promptly vanishing into thin air. Mrs. Yarrow can be forgiven for leaving the building in rather a hurry!
The general consensus amongst museum staff and ghost hunters seems to be that the cellar area is a definite paranormal 'hot spot'. Slamming doors, strange noises and a threatening male presence have all been reported on many occasions. Objects are also often thrown in the general direction of anyone investigating this area and a hooded figure has shown itself to astonished groups several times.
Other ghosts of Peterborough Museum include a dark male figure seen and felt by the recreation period shop, a roman soldier in the archaeology area, a little girl who roams the geology area, a kitchen maid who fell to her death on the back stairs and a white lady who is seen on the upper floor. During the recent refurbishment, builders reported hearing strange noises and the having the unnerving sensation of being watched. There are other tales surrounding this intriguing location which you will hear on the night during a guided tour by one of the museum staff.
During the investigation you will have access to areas not open to the public, including the old operating theatre and the back stairs. Peterborough Museum is considered by many groups to be one of the places you are most likely to experience genuine paranormal activity in England, so bring your cameras and camcorders and you never know - you may capture something extraordinary!