By Rupert Matthews
I have heard a lot of stories about haunted museums, curses in museums (usually related to Egyptian objects) and so forth. Let's face it, museums can be spooky places with all that old stuff sitting around, and after they close they can be double spooking. The only first hand experience I have had concerned the Bridport Museum in South Street, Bridport. Here is what my report said about it:
"Considerably more welcoming is the genial old gent who haunts what is now Bridport Museum in South Street. The building is more than four centuries old, having been built as a coaching inn but later doing service as a bank, a club and a private house. It is the owner of the building from Edwardian times, one Captain Albert Codd, who haunts the place. He is seen dressed in what was his favourite smoking jacket of bright yellow hue and black trousers. Captain Codd loved his house, and left it to the town council to serve as a museum. He is presumably happy with the results for his ghost seems to be most at ease and relaxed. In 2006 he appeared to a member of staff in January. The old boy smiled gently, then turned and walked around a corner to vanish completely.
"The museum may also have a haunted fireplace. The chimney from the grand fireplace in the main room on the ground floor is blocked off and no fire is ever lit there, the building having efficient central heating. Despite this visitors sometimes see a fire blazing merrily in the grate and sometimes a young lady in Victorian costume warming herself by the flames.
"In 2005 the museum acquired a new and rather sinister exhibit in the form of a haunted dress. The beautiful 17th century gown was left to the museum and is undoubtedly a fine example of the work of local seamstresses. However it also attracts a young lady ghost who walks about the vicinity of wherever the dress is at the time. She seems to be rather protective of the garment, as if it holds some special memories for her. She is no real bother, except for the fact that she appears with startling regularity. No wonder the dress was bequeathed to the museum."
The member of staff did not want their name in print, so I left it out. She was actually the receptionist and was very informative. The sighting took place at 8.40am one morning when she was getting the reception desk ready for the museum to open to the public at 9am. She was pottering about tidying up the postcard display when she saw somebody enter the reception area from the door leading to the staircase. There were a couple of other members of staff in the building at the time and she assumed that the new arrival was one of them. She said something, small talk like "chilly this morning, isn't it", then she turned to see who it was. And there was this man she did not recognise. She was very surprised, thinking that a member of the public had got into the museum somehow. She was about to call out for another member of staff when the old man smiled at her and she suddenly thought that he was not threatening and seemed to belong there, not to be a member of the public. Then he turned and walked off. Only after he had gone did she think it might have been the ghost. She called her colleague and asked him what the ghost was supposed to look like - old man, yellow jacket etc - and she realised it had been the ghost.
Rupert Matthews is the author of the book "Poltergeists" which is available on Amazon and from all good bookshops. You can find Rupert’s website at www.rupertmatthews.com. He also maintains a blog about the unexplained at www.ghosthunteratlarge.blogspot.com.
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