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Royal Grammar School, Guildford


The Grammar School in Guilford dates from 1509 and the will of a local grocer named Robert Beckingham who made provision for it. The original school was in Castle Street (then called Castle Ditch) and was built in 1520. Sometime in the early 19th century a strange experience was reported by a pupil there and recounted years later by the brother of a fellow pupil.

Albert Richard Smith (Born 1816 - Died 1860) gives the following account in ‘Wild Oats and Dead Leaves’ (1860). “Finally, I mentioned that I had a ghost-story, hitherto unpublished, to tell about Guildford. About twenty years ago, my brother, Arthur Smith,'was a pupil at the grammar-school in that town, under the Rev. Air. Bellin. The boys had been sitting up all night in their bedroom for a frolic, and, in the early morning, one of them, young M , of Godalming, cried out, "Why, I'll swear there's the likeness of our old huntsman on his grey horse, going across the whitewashed wall!" The rest of the boys told him he was a fool, and that they had all better think about going to sleep. After breakfast, a servant came over from AT 's family to say "that their old huntsman had been thrown from his horse and killed, early that morning, whilst airing the hounds."

The following is John Ingram's reprinted account from his 'The Haunted Homes and Family Traditions of Great Britain' published in 1897.

At the conclusion of an entertaining paper entitled "A Winter's Night with my Old Books," the late Albert Smith gives a short account of an apparition which appeared at Guildford Grammar School; and it is the more interesting from the fact that, having thrown discredit upon all the ghostly legends of the old writers, Lilly, Aubrey, Glanvil, and the rest, its writer adduces this as a story for which he can personally vouch. It originally appeared in Bentleifs Miscellany, vol. xxv. p. 100, and was reprinted in "Dead Leaves," a post-humous publication of the well-known popular entertainer and author. It should be pointed out, however, that in this latter work, the initial of the youth who saw the spirit of the deceased huntsman is given as "Young M," instead of as "Young K" as given in the present narrative.

I mentioned, remarks Albert Smith, that I had a ghost story, hitherto unpublished, to tell of Guildford. "About ten years ago my brother was a pupil at the Grammar School in that town. The boys had been sitting up all night in their bed-room for a frolic, and, in the early morning, one of them, young K , of Godalming, cried out, ‘Why, I'll swear there's the likeness of our old huntsman on his grey horse going across the white-washed wall!' The rest of the boys told him he was a fool, and that all had better think about going to sleep. After breakfast a servant came over from K's family to say that 'their old huntsman had been thrown from his horse and killed, early that morning, whilst airing the hounds.' "

Albert Smith adds: "Leaving the reader to explain this strange story, which may be relied upon, I put my old books back on their shelves, and lay aside my pen."


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