Ghosts (?) in and Around Coventry Cathedral

Coventry Cathedral, facing south. 2019
Image courtesy of Gary Stocker

In the early 19th century, the north side of Coventry Cathedral was supposedly haunted by a ghostly monk. It got so frequent that a residents of Priory Row used to take pot shots of it with a musket and left musket ball holes in the wooden door.

Imprisoned for haunting

In 1822 (Coventry was actually a county in its own right then) there was a very bad haunting, again amongst the gravestones of the north side of the cathedral. It used to happen in the early hours of the morning. Pretty much everyone in Priory Row complained to the magistrate about it, so he told the watch to keep a special watch out for it.

One night they saw it, so one of the watchmen, a George Farmer, described as “a stout man with a stout heart”, approached it and it was …. a bricklayer called David Dry, with a sheet over his head. He could have gotten away with it too, if it hadn’t have been for those meddling watchmen. He did try to deny it, but the evidence was somewhat overwhelming! He spent three months in gaol for it – I think that a spell in a mental hospital would have been more appropriate!

Other hauntings

Another story tells of a police officer returning from Drapers’ Hall and chasing a ghost through the east end of the churchyard.

There are some printed letters in different magazines giving account of a one-off haunting inside the old cathedral. In the early 1890s, one of the churchwardens died. So the choir and organist were practising the music for the funeral. Whilst they were doing this, what appeared to be a ghostly figure with a lantern went to the pew where the churchwarden normally sat. Not surprisingly the choirboys were terrified. The adults present went running over to it, at which it moved to the western part of the church and vanished. A “rational” explanation was that there was some building work in the cathedral and the illusion might have been caused by two lit braziers inside the cathedral… although everyone thought that was not too convincing.

No recent ghosts

With the blitz though in 1940, which left the old cathedral an empty shell, no ghosts have been reported since (although one or two odd things have been reported in the cellar below the tower ticket office), which shows that man made terrors often outdo supernatural ones.

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