It’s behind you! Ghostly sightings through the ages in Basingstoke

Written by Kaia Vincent
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‘Tis the season for ghostly tales and things that go bump in the night! We’ve sourced a few local Basingstoke tales to send shivers down your spine.

Why Halloween?

But first, did you know that Halloween is a contraction of All Hallows’ Evening? It’s actually a Christian event, celebrating the feast of All Hallows’ Day that remembers the dead including saints (also known as hallows), martyrs and the deceased.

UK Halloween industry worth in excess of £400 million

As seventies and eighties kids, the Brevity team spent many an evening hiding behind a floral cushion watching scary movies such as Poltergeist and Nightmare on Elm Street. So it comes as no surprise that marketing finally sunk its fangs into the trend and turned Halloween into a commercial money-spinner. Halloween is the third most lucrative event for retailers behind Christmas and Easter, with us Brits alone spending in excess of £400 million on Halloween merchandise.

The biggest spenders are of course our friends across the pond, but you may be surprised to learn the origins of trick-and-treating. Our marketing team were convinced that trick-or-treating came from the USA, but in fact it only became a tradition in North America during the late 1920’s. Going house-to-house, in costume, collecting food at Halloween actually started in Britain and Ireland during the middle ages.

Rather than today’s plastic pumpkin bowls filled with sickly, sugary treats, soul cakes would be given (known as Souling). Even the great Shakespeare speaks of the custom in his play The Two Gentlemen of Verona (1593) when Speed accuses his master of ‘puling like a beggar at Hallowmas’.

During the 19th Century, verses would be recited in exchange for food, sometimes warning homeowners of misfortune if they were not welcoming; but stating “Trick-or-Treat?” first started in the 20th Century.

Basingstoke’s ghouls

If you’re planning on joining in the Halloween festivities on Sunday evening in Basingstoke, be sure to keep an eye out for our local hallows and deceased. Here’s what you may encounter:

The Haymarket Theatre in Basingstoke town centre is said to be haunted by several ghosts of old performers, though no one can say who, when or why

A particularly hostile entity in a grey, monk-like cowled shade reportedly attacked at least two witnesses in the 1960s on the Kingsclere Road, near the Holy Ghost Ruins, in Basingstoke and tried to take possession of another’s body

Basingstoke, Mid Nineteenth century, The Swallows private house, on the outskirts of the town (no longer standing). Apparently this house was haunted by a large baboon and a huge dark cat, forcing the owners to leave when screaming started coming from the attic. The building was pulled down when no one could be found to move in

On the south side of the A30 near Hook, a Civil War soldier has been sighted wearing a long cape and wide brimmed hat, holding a broken sword in his hands. One theory is that the man was a messenger caught and killed by Royalists

Going horseriding in Oakley? On Sheardown Lane, a ghost runs up to horse riders and carefully stares at them before turning and vanishing

At Odiham Castle, a phantom voice accompanied by a stringed instrument is sometimes heard. Balls of light and wispy figures have also been reported drifting around the site

Even our Director, Kaia, is convinced she once saw a ghost of a small child, wearing a red and white checked shirt in her bedroom in the early hours. (mmm…was that too much ‘red’ or ‘white’, Kaia?)

Got you own Basingstoke ghost story?  Share it on our Instagram or Facebook posts.

If you’ve got a great idea and think you could turn it into a money spinner then talk to Brevity Marketing. A local Basingstoke marketing company, we help small businesses without a marketing resource reach their potential…we promise no hair-raising experiences! Give us a ring on 01256 536 000.