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City’s spooky past is revealed in new history book
Buy this photo » An Oxford Castle Unlocked ghost played by Andy Middleton
THE curious curse of Saint Frideswide is just one of the spooky Oxford legends revealed in a new book out in time for Halloween.
Historian Paul Sullivan has written Bloody British History: Oxford, a compendium of enthralling tales about the city’s most gruesome historical happenings.
Mr Sullivan said despite Oxford’s peaceful, academic reputation, the city has a long history of war and violence, and has seen civil wars, sieges and riots.
His book is packed with illustrations and information on the chilling events.
The 50-year-old is a history and folklore fanatic and Bloody British History: Oxford is his eighth book.
The Forest Hill resident said Oxford’s history has been surprisingly spooky — and bloody.
He added: “There are plenty of incidents of blood and gore throughout Oxford’s history.
“Most people are aware of the history of Saint Frideswide but they don’t know about her curse, which turned King Algar’s men blind and said no king visiting Oxford afterwards would prosper.
“Ghosts are mentioned throughout the book, particularly in relation to Oxford Castle, where numerous executions took place.
“And the very last story in the book features a bloody tale of wolves.
“Three wolves escaped from Oxford Zoo in 1937 and one of them ended up being shot dead by an Oxford Mail photographer.”
According to the author, Town and Gown rivalry frequently resulted in rioting.
Mr Sullivan added: “Oxford has a fantastic history.
“Prime Ministers, kings, artists, intellectuals and historians have all made their homes here.
“This means Oxford has been the turning point in so many key moments in history.”
The book also tells of Oxford’s terrible suffering resulting from disease.
The author added: “Cholera has killed more people in Oxford than all its wars, riots and bubonic plagues put together.
Mr Sullivan said he “loved” researching the book, and found out facts he did not know before about the history of Oxford.
Meanwhile visitors to Oxford Castle Unlocked off New Road are in for a Halloween treat, as staff including Andy Middleton take them on a ghostly tour.
And regulars at H Café near Berinsfield got into the spirit of Halloween on Monday by decorating the café and selling toffee apples to raise funds for Thames Valley and Chiltern Air Ambulance.
Cafe owner Richard Allen said: “Our Halloween bike night raised about £80.”
Police will be patrolling tonight to make sure Halloween trick or treaters do not cause any problems.
Area commander Superintendent Chris Sharp said: “My teams will be carrying out patrols in the evenings to make sure people who are trick or treating are doing so in a friendly manner and not causing a nuisance.” He said anyone who felt unsafe should not open the door unless they are sure of who is there.
A newly-established paranormal investigation team, GhostQuest UK, headed-up by lead investigator Ana Blunt, 24, is offering its ghost hunting services, free of charge, to Oxfordshire homeowners. For more information, call 07730 033368 or email: ghostquestuk@ live.co.uk