September 19, 2020

Ghost Hunting in Debenhams

By aarondkey

I start this by saying I love Salisbury. I used to live in a poxy town half an hour away and went to Salisbury a lot, as the nearest centre of civilisation. I can’t believe that international politics has entered and poisoned this beautiful place though I hope it is recovering now.

These are memories from 20 years ago so don’t rely upon the accuracy of the data though I have done my best with google to make sure I am reasonably accurate but the idea is to generate a feel of the experience. This is a recollection of a guided ghost hunt I once did in Debenhams. I’ve said before I don’t believe in ghosts but I love a ghost hunt.
Firstly, we made our down the left hand of the store through to what was then baby clothes, (probably the best goods to be there as the mothers would be distracted by lack of sleep and babies don’t care about ghosts). There was a space on the floor that was pointed out to us as a place where they dug up a skeleton in 1838. And nearby was the very spot where the Duke of Buckingham was executed by Richard III in 1483. Because at this time this space was in the Market place probably near the stocks and whipping post, a general place for punishment in late medieval Salisbury. It is this unfortunate Duke who is held to be responsible for the majority of hauntings in this area. The general feeling is that it is unlikely to be the skeleton of the Duke dug up though, as Richard III was magnanimously supposed to have buried his executed prisoners in nearby Grey Friars, a Franciscan monastery near to the cathedral.
The Duke was supposed to have spent his last night in the attics above the Blue Boar Inn thinking about his unlucky fate. It was always unlucky to plot unsuccessfully against a king. Elements of the Blue Boar Inn still remain in essence in the Debenhams restaurant.
From this spot we went upstairs to the small area which was just recognisable as a gentleman’s waiting area in the Victorian and Edwardian Times. You can imagine the sofas, the cigar and pipe smoke. Apparently there was a ghost here. Not a very exciting one as I can remember nothing about it. I am imagining it was a man dying of boredom as his wife shopped for dresses.

From here we made a way to the most scary spot which was a stockroom at the back of the shop in which many staff members had refused to go due to their scary experiences at the hands of ghosts, one assumes. There was an wind that gusted by people, also unexplained tales in the morning when staff opened up, having just arrived, to be met by chaos in what should have been orderly racks of clothes and even a spiritual hand groping. It is interesting because this spot was quite close to the location of the original Blue Boar courtyard in which you could imagine also chaos happening.

I’ve just read that Debenhams is going to shut this store, and just hope that new tenants are sensitive to the historic nature of the building, and not sensitive to ghosts.