HERETIC bishops have been burned at the stake and soldiers shot down during the English Civil War so it’s not surprising Oxford is regarded as one of the most haunted cities in England.

But this spooky spectre took one tourist by surprise when it appeared in her photograph.

The grainy grey image appears to show a woman in historical dress walking along New College Lane in Oxford.

Sue Tomlinson, 50, was visiting the city with her sister-in-law Tina Bennett, 52, from Shropshire earlier this month.

They decided to brave Bill Spectre’s Ghost Tour to discover more about the city’s past and the lamppost caught Mrs Tomlinson’s eye.

She said: “I thought it looked so beautiful glowing with All Soul’s College in the background I had to take a photo.

“When I first saw it I thought it looked strange and wanted to get home and put it on the computer so I could see it bigger.

“I don’t know if it’s someone walking past – I didn’t notice because I was concentrating on taking the photo – or if it’s something wrong with my camera, but all my other pictures are fine.

“I don’t believe in ghosts – if someone else had taken the photo I would say someone had fixed it.

“It looks like someone carrying a bag or a basket and wearing a dress from olden times.”

Bill ‘Spectre’ Ritchie said: “I can guarantee I had nothing to do with this photo, she sent it to me out of the blue in an email.

“Interestingly, it was on that same lane, New College Lane, that a couple of years ago a Russian girl sent a similar slightly blurry photo.

“An Australian woman who claimed to be sensitive to the spirit world was on the ghost trail not long ago, and claimed that New College Lane was the most haunted place she had ever been.

“Another local woman said that at 2am last Christmas morning, she was walking along Holywell Street, which runs parallel to New College Lane, when she heard the sound of horses hooves echoing along the silent streets of New College Lane.

“You can imagine her reaction when I told her the lane was indeed haunted by the ghosts of Royalist Cavalrymen who would assemble there before battle.”

Oxford's top five haunted spots are said to be:

  • The headless spectre of John Crocker haunts the site of his tomb in the chapel at Exeter College. The Elizabethan scholar appears in a yellow jacket, gown and breeches.

  • In 1645, Archbishop Laud was beheaded for his belief in the church against Parliament and was buried beneath the altar in the chapel of St John’s College. The ghost has apparently been seen bowling its head towards the feet of anyone unlucky enough to meet it.

  • Magdalen College was founded in 1458 by Bishop Waynflete, Bishop of Winchester. The original site included the13th century St John’s Hospital whose buildings extended east as far as the river. Isis magazine reported on June 5, 1968, that very Sunday morning, a student who was walking across the college lawn saw with astonishment a black-clad figure moving from the cloisters towards him, without a head. He said that the figure glided rather than walked in complete silence.

  • The landlord of The Priory in Grenoble Road has had his fair share of encounters and believes the building, which began life as a dormitory for Benedictine nuns is haunted by their spirits. He has heard the sound of children running up and down his landing and often hears a woman in high heels walking past the pub in the middle of the night.

  • Empress Matilda allegedly haunts the stairs of Oxford Castle in her white gown. She began living at the castle in 1141 but it was besieged by her cousin King Stephen and she was forced to flee in the night, in white to disguise herself against the snow.