Supernatural Britain, by Peter Hough, Piatkus Books, 5 Windmill Street, London W1P 1HF. $14.95 paperback.
Supernatural Britain takes readers on an eerie tour of some of the most unusual places throughout the British Isles. Subtitled ‘A Guide to Britain’s Most Haunted Places’, it tells the stories not only of famous ghosts, but also of witches, lake monsters, curses, and close encounters that have contributed to Britain’s reputation as a good place to hunt for ‘things that go bump in the night’.
Such monster hunters were uppermost in author Peter Hough’s mind, and he has made his book a travel guide for those with the nerve to visit the sites he describes by including instructions on how and where to find them. Even more helpful, at least in theory, is Hough’s checklist of useful tools no amateur ghost-buster should be without. (A Thermos flask ranks first among the items many readers might otherwise overlook, while ‘pocket cameras are virtually useless’, Hough warns.)
The book makes a fun read for stay-at-home types as well. And skeptics need not exclude themselves, either. Whether true or false, many of these stories of apparitions, hauntings, and other unexplained phenomena have become part of the vital ambience of Britain, and travellers lacking knowledge of them will miss out on some of the most colourful anecdotes connected with many historic sites. These tales include the apparition of Anne Boleyn, which some Yeoman Warders believe resides alongside them in the Tower of London; the horrible dark secret of Glamis Castle in Scotland; the friendly ghost that chats with tourists in Dover Castle; and the ‘cousins’ of the Loch Ness Monster who inhabit other bodies of water throughout Scotland.