The long and delightful tradition of going ‘wooooo’ in cemeteries to frighten passers-by is a rarely celebrated phenomenon. Yet, much like paranormal activity itself, there is evidence of its hilarious and often questionable impact around the UK and beyond.
The Paisley Ghost
In September 1895, Woodside Cemetery in Paisley developed a brief but terrifying reputation for harbouring a particularly vocal ghost. Emerging after dark with a loud moan, the spectre was said to have terrified servant girls who crossed the cemetery on their way home at night.
Annoyed by the undead irritant, the police were called to ease the fears of the frightened servants, but their efforts were – at first – to little success.
However, when the ghost became a little too brazen in his hauntings, one Saturday, a crowd gathered by the cemetery gates and the police had little choice but to turn ghost-hunters. With disappointing efficiency, the ghost was discovered, in part at least. Hanging between the headstones was a large white sheet, behind which a boy had been swinging a lamp and screaming ‘woooo’ at passers-by. While the ‘ghost’ itself was gone, the police soon caught up with the boy and although they didn’t press charges, the days of the Paisley Ghost were firmly ended.
[Images courtesy of Paisley Heritage on Facebook.]
[Image – Lafayette Cemetery No. 1 – President Rhapsody]
Couldn’t Fool Her
A report from Indiana’s Lafayette Courier reads that in 1865, a group of young people were walking by their local cemetery, chattering about their plans for the evening. Listening in to their excitable conversations from within the cemetery walls was an undead eavesdropper, who was primed for mischief.
As the group continued past the cemetery, a ghost dressed in white suddenly appeared and ran towards them. The group scattered in fear, save for one ‘sturdy woman of the strong minded class’ who remained stood until the ghost was nearly upon her. Suddenly, she grabbed the ghost, roughing him up and pulling the white cloth from his body. Dragging him back for punishment, when asked about her courage, she simply replied “Can’t fool me, I’ve seen too many men in sheets to get frightened at them.”
A cemetery in Wisconsin received consistent noise complaints for a week in 1901 where people had reported noises and bizarre apparitions emanating from within the grounds. One night, three girls were walking past the cemetery and were terrified to see a small white figure that screamed and wailed like a baby. Having believed themselves to have seen the spirit of a deceased baby, they fled, terrified and news soon spread of their experience.
Following the young girls’ claims, members of their community went to investigate the cemetery and, upon their arrival, were not faced with the undead, but a small monkey. The creature, dressed in a tiny hat and jacket, evaded capture attempts but was not seen in the cemetery again.
Most recently in 2014, a man was arrested in Kingston Cemetery, Portsmouth for (in part) ‘pretending to be a ghost.’ The 24 year old man had been drinking with friends before deciding to take a trip to the cemetery to play football. This in itself was inappropriate for the surroundings, but his behaviour soon escalated. When confronted for his rowdy behaviour, he repeatedly threw his arms in the air and screamed ‘woooo’, imitating a ghost. For his troubles, he was taken to court, fined and charged with using threatening or abusive behaviour likely to cause distress. Yet, I’m sure we can all attest that the true crime here, was that the man didn’t even have the good grace to wear a sheet.