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Ghost May be Haunting Cambridge

December 19, 1997

CAMBRIDGE, England (AP) _ Is it a ghost? No one knows, but something is troubling the peace of Peterhouse College, the oldest and smallest of the undergraduate colleges at Cambridge University.

Noises have been heard in the pantry, and a shadowy figure scared two butlers ascending the spiral staircase to the Combination Room, where the fellows of the college _ senior scholars _ hold meetings. Andrew Murison, the college treasurer, had an encounter with something ghostly last month in the same room at the college, which was founded in 1284.

Now there’s talk of an exorcism or a Requiem Mass to soothe the troubled spirit.

``We’re just going to wait. I mean, that room has been there for over 600 years,″ the Rev. Graham Ward, dean of the college, said in a BBC radio interview Friday.

``This just happened in April, and the last one happened in November, so I want to build up one or two more incidents before I decide what I’m going to do.″

Two college butlers, Matthew Speller and Paul Davies, said they saw the ghost in April.

``We were chatting away when we both saw something move slowly across the room, about 15 feet from the middle to the window. I just looked at Paul and said, ’Did you see that?‴ Speller was quoted as saying Friday in The Times.

In November, butlers again reported loud knockings and an apparition, and the dean was summoned from dinner.

Murison said he also heard knocking when he entered the dining hall one night last month.

``At the point the hackles rose on the back of my neck,″ Murison told the BBC. Then, he said, he became aware of a presence and turned to see ``there was very distinctly a figure ... perfectly benign.″

The Times Higher Education Supplement, the weekly publication that broke the story, suggested the ghost is that of Francis Dawes, a former bursar who hanged himself in the college chapel in the late 18th century.

But Murison believes it is definitely a 17th-century figure.

``I think that it is probably a previous bursar come back to commiserate with me in the difficulties we are facing″ over government funding of colleges, Murison said.

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