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Updated: May 30, 2021

Oldest college in Cambridge, England, dating to the 13th century, and site of a widely publicized hauntings that involved exorcisms.

In April 1997, a white hooded figure was seen floating toward a window in the Combination Room, and then disappeared. The apparition was witnessed by two members of the pantry staff, who were fetching food for an official dinner being held in the parlor upstairs. The episode was reported to the college dean. Subsequently, other staff members came forward and said they had experienced sharp temperature drops and heard knocking from behind wooden paneling in the same room.

In November 1997, the hooded apparition appeared in the same way again, terrifying members of the staff. The college dean, Dr. Graham Ward, was on the scene. He did not see the ghost but heard a violent knocking sound. It was noted that the window through which the ghost disappeared had been a door until 1870, when the lower half had been covered with brick.

In December of the same year, the college bursar went to the Combination Room to get some fruit. He heard a knocking sound a felt a cold, clammy presence behind him. He then saw the figure of a small man wearing unusual clothing, a wide-collared jacket, and holding a hat. The figure disappeared.

The haunting received international media attention. An exorcism was performed in April 1999, though some opposed it, saying the ghost was doing no harm.

The ghost was never identified. One possibility put forward was Francis Dawes, who had committed suicide in 1789 by hanging herself in the stairs turret next to the Combination Room. Dawes had once been the college bursar.

A more malevolent, dark figure was reported crouching outside Peterhouse, overlooking the cemetery of St. Mary's Church. Reportedly, a former college dean performed an exorcism.

(Encyclopedia of Ghosts & Spirits by Rosemary Ellen Guiley)

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