In Episode Three of the Ghostlore Podcast, we discuss more specifically the types of ghosts, how they fulfil the archetypal expectations through their form or activities, such as the highway man, the deviant femme, and even orbs and what are they.
Some of the earliest ghosts the guide introduces the tour group to are that of a married man and woman through a grim narrative of domestic abuse. The tour group at this point were stationed in the square in front of Lincoln Cathedral, which is surrounded by houses, in the middle of the historic city centre. The story went that the woman was often seen in public holding herself in strange ways, sometimes with bruises visible. It was unspoken local knowledge that her husband beat her. He was also a stone mason working on the cathedral; hence their housing was just adjacent to the cathedral itself in a worker’s cottage. The guide told us how one day, the woman took her husband’s masonic chisel and killed him with it in self-defence. Their ghosts linger there still because for him, his death was so brutal and unexpected, he didn’t see it coming. She lingers in the same purgatorial state due to her guilt of what she did as an Irish Catholic. This guide prefaced this story by drawing the tour groups’ attentions to the gargoyles of the cathedral, telling us that they exist in order to scare off evil spirits, hence their fearsome faces. She also told us that is was believed the evil the gargoyles failed to ward off could permeate the stone, leading to periodic closing of the cathedral for holy exorcism.
This tour guide enfolded the entire cathedral quarter into one chronotope by grouping the shared architectural features of the area through a narrative arc which connected spatial design with haunted goings on. The gargoyles, which are legion on the cathedral (fig.1), as well as present on the gateway of the house she then guides us to stand outside of (fig.2), are held up as proof in sight and in narrative of the evil doings and evil spirits which have pervaded the area. As discussed on Episode Two’s webpage, chronotopes are pockets of space-time which mark the borders of activities. The guide here stabilises the chronotope she has engendered by binding its real-world attitudes to the way they shaped and are literally set in stone dating from the era within the chronotope of the tour.
The ghost tours of this series each draw on the surfaces of the built historic urban landscape as a repository of tangible affordances representative of a by-gone time. By drawing out certain affordances, such as the gargoyles, it is possible to weave a time around a space we can stand in with the narrative, weaving plausibility with ghoulish-encounter potential. This makes the historic city centre, including Lincoln Cathedral Quarter, the ideal setting to engender spatio-temporal archetypes of the archaic, including attitudes to death, the structures which witnessed death events, and interconnected aspects such as religious and gendered attitudes, as demonstrated in this tale. The engendering of such a chronotope creates the ideal stage for the individual’s imagination, on which a collective interpretation of space is shared, including the empowerment of haunted potential, giving movement to the things in the shadows. The haunted narrative therefore has an explanatory value in that it is capable of explaining the spatial layout, and how it is reflective of past attitudes, beliefs and values. In this way, the narrative reveals the relevance of space and place on a ghost tour, and thus, all tours are at home in the historic urban landscape.
Lily and Pono talk at length here about the tangibility lent to the narrative when listeners can consider how such an evil man as the wife-beater in the story is known to have put his very own chisel to that stone and its potential to harbour his evil, just a stone’s throw from where he committed such a horrible crime, died for it, and remains today, haunting the same workers’ lodge. We went on to talk about how this may cause a shift in people’s perception of place, the cathedral appearing to be very beautiful and a testament to human creativity and engineering in dedication to their religion, but we find out, under cover of darkness, the murky depths of cruelty and acts of violence committed by the same hands used to shape this structure. The guide went on to talk about how two women who had recently been staying in the same worker’s cottage, came out and confronted her upon seeing her talking to a tour group whilst gesturing at their house. The guide went on to tell us that upon hearing the tale of the deceased couple, the women affectively confirmed all she had said by drawing the conclusion in front of her tour group that those must be the faces of the ghosts they had seen.
The podcast hosts also discuss how these women confirming the story in front of the tour group had a huge validating influence as independent witnesses, but also how they themselves were susceptible to the priming of the tour guide and the genre of the tour. As discussed in Episode Two, it is the cognitive phenomenon of pareidolia which guides people to paint reality with the brush of their expectations, and having a noticed something in the house, which they believed to be a reflection off the TV, to then be presented with a ghost tour and guide in cloak incorporating the house into the tour with a historically grounded tale of the deceased former residents, the women immediately accepted this more complete and more widely-known reason for the faces they thought they could see through the glass panelling. This leads us to discuss how the genre of the ghost tour in itself primes peoples’ imagination to perceive the spooky and paranormal, as it brings expectations and an authority figure equipped with knowledge of local history and lore.
Those who seek out, pay and go on a ghost tour are usually suitably invested in the experience as to understand what the genre of ghost tour entails and arrive ready to suspend their disbelief, which is crucial in maintaining an enchanted atmosphere for the chronotope to exist within. The use of common literary and media tropes such as the deviant femme, in this case embodied by the violent woman who ended her husband’s life, are curated to compliment the experiential template or memory schemata of the genre of the ghost tour, which through mnemonic associations is a tool of communication. The types of tropes used in this Lincoln ghost tour are particularly reminiscent of the York ghost tour of episode one, in which the guide made many media references to liken our experience to the horror genre. It is important that there exists a consistent thematological dimension to the narrative in order to engender a fictional world model. By weaving history and fiction together, a compelling narrative is born, grounded in a time and space we can share.
Similarly to the guide at Derby Gaol in episode two, although to a far lesser extent, this guide made effort to fold themselves into the chronotope by donning the classic garb of the time; the cloak. She was also therefore able to take up the position of someone drawing us into a different Lincoln to the one readily accessible to everyone else. The use of tropes such as the deviant femme and evil schoolmaster (York) in narrative help to maintain a consistent voice, which is important when the past has so many potential vocal candidates. This is aided by the affordances our physically-sensing bodies experiences, such as the cold, damp winter air, the moon-lit, old buildings, and the sound of footsteps ringing on the cobbles in the fog. All aids our perception of the space as a haunted place, because it is human nature to think that by changing the words, we change the thing itself, but actually just change the perception and therefore reception of the thing.
Such active participation through bodily investigation was discussed this episode in reference to the orbs. This was an intriguing part of the tour in particular as it stands apart from anything the other tours explored in this series. The definition of orbs is as nebulous as the things themselves, but our understanding here is that they appear as orbs of light either to the naked eye or in photographs upon review and are believed to be spirits. It was at this point that the guide left us and went to the top of the alleyway so that everyone could take their time and see for themselves if they were able to see an orb. I included the audio here despite it not containing narrative fit for a soundbite so that listeners can hear the tour goers discussing amongst themselves whether they have captured a ‘real’ orb on their phone’s camera or not. This added dimension of paranormal investigation was interesting as it seemed to give people a chance to determine the extent of their own buy-in in the scenario. It seemed that everyone entertained the possibility that they might see an orb, yet, as heard in the podcast, the orbs seen through the camera eventually did not appear to stand up to empirical testing.
To visit the tour website, click the link here: