Royal Vision by Brian Langston

Royal VisionAs a young Police Sergeant pounding the beat in the historic towns of Windsor and Eton in the 1980s I was amazed at the number of ghost stories that I came across relating to the twin towns which straddle the banks of the River Thames in Royal Berkshire. I began to collect them and promised one day to write a book about them. Unfortunately life and career got in the way, so fast forward 30 years when semi-retirement in Hérault finally gave me the opportunity to tick that item off my to-do list.

 

By the time we sat down to plan the book, my wife Jenny and I had amassed over 200 tales of paranormal activity and macabre goings-on stretching back centuries. Windsor Castle, which dominates the town, is home to many ghosts which continue to be seen by members of the Royal household who live there. In 1904 King Edward VII forbade all talk of phantoms at the Castle on pain of dismissal. This was not because he did not believe in them, quite the reverse; he had several close encounters with ghosts in the ancient corridors of the Castle. His actions were prompted by pure pragmatism, he needed 3000 people in the Royal household to run the Castle and sightings were becoming so frequent that domestic servants were resigning in droves, leaving certain parts of the Royal residence as no-go areas. His hard line approach continues to this day with all references to phantoms now removed from the guided tours.

 

Nevertheless the ghosts of at least seven Kings and Queens have been reported over the years including the ghost of Queen Elizabeth I who was famously seen in broad daylight by an officer of the Grenadier Guards in the Royal Library in 1897, a sighting which caused a sensation worldwide.

 

Queen Elizabeth II is said to be a strong believer in the supernatural and I was tipped off by a former colleague in her protection team that Her Majesty had ordered my book to add to the Royal collection!

 

Elsewhere in Windsor and nearby Eton College, the cobbled streets give rise to a wonderful array of witches, ghosts and ghouls including the "vampire" who stalked the town in Georgian times and lived in the Old Windsor Mansion now occupied by Sir Elton John. The mystery of the "Spring-heeled Jack" who terrorised Victorian women in a local graveyard was never satisfactorily explained either.

 

Tragically my darling wife died suddenly on the very day the book was published and so never did get to see the book we had waited so long to write.

 

True Ghosts and Ghouls of Windsor & Eton by Brian Langston is published by Halsgrove. £9.99 Amazon.co.uk.