Visitors should expect good audience participation on a new tour that explores Glasgow’s ghostly, gothic and murderous past.
Those who are skeptical will still find plenty to enjoy on this guided 2-hour city center walk, which takes you from Bram Stoker to Hollywood legend Cary Grant and Scotland’s last public hanging.
As we gather outside the wrought iron railings of Ramshorn Church, he gestures for a member of the group to help him as he demonstrates the macabre method of grave robbers or ‘steep lifters’. used to extract bodies destined for the city’s medical schools. Of which later.
Groups are encouraged to share their own supernatural experiences, but one visitor’s reaction surprised the charismatic Irish host.
It tells the story as we look down a dimly lit street in the city’s Trongate area.
On this dark, cold autumn evening, it’s not hard to imagine that Old Wynd lane, near the Panopticon music hall, has a sinister past.
“It happened about five weeks ago,” says the animator, says Vincent P (he is as mysterious as the subjects of his tales).
“We had a Russian witch, actually she was a white witch, on the tour. She was into tarot card readings and crystals and that sort of thing.
“It got to the point where I was about to tell the story of the area and this lady burst into tears.
“I thought maybe I said something that upset her,” he says.
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“She explained that she was a very psychic person and that she felt the presence of a young man who suffered a violent death in the vicinity.
This is Glasgow after all, the former crime capital of Scotland, so it’s not entirely surprising, but he says the details she provided were “very specific”.
“I hadn’t even mentioned that a young man had suffered a violent death there in the 19th century,” he says.
It refers to a gruesome unsolved case that dates back to 1870.
William Macewen, Glasgow Police surgeon at the time, was called to examine the body of a 25-year-old man who had suffered a terrible fate.
“He had multiple skull fractures, a six inch strip of scalp had been torn from his head,” the tour guide explains.
“But the neighbors have denied any disturbance and he remains a John Doe, no one knows who he was.”
His gothic tour in Glasgow attracts a wide range of people, he says, with a mix of locals and tourists.
Tonight’s all-female group includes Americans and Germans and a young woman from Liverpool who recounts how her grandmother would often bring a child home to play with her and her siblings. A little girl, she insists, was a ghost.
“For some people, seeing is believing and they want scientific evidence, which is good,” says Vincent.
“You have people who are somewhere in the middle – they would like to believe but I need to see something – and then you have people who totally believe and say, yes I have had experiences, I have seen things, I’ve had things done to me.
“Hopefully by the end of the two hours I’ve at least given people something to think about.”
We are told to meet outside the King’s Theater at 7.45pm and there is no mistake about our host. He is dressed in a fedora hat, black suit and overcoat and carries what looks like a doctor’s bag.
Bella Lugosi, the Romanian-born actor who played her, is said to have been buried in her Dracula cape.
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“Dogs won’t be entering the prop room,” our host said, apparently due to ghostly happenings in the 188-year-old theater and we wonder why they might be there in the first place.
From here to the foot of Hill Street and the Glasgow School of Art where Bram Stoker sponsored an award for ‘Best Imaginative Work of the Year’.
The Dracula author knew former director Francis Newbery and named one of the main characters in his book Renfield after the downtown street.
Further up the street we are introduced to former resident Dr. Edward William Pritchard.
The English doctor was convicted of murdering his wife and stepmother by poisoning them so he could flee with his young lover.
He was also suspected of murdering a servant girl, but was never tried for the crime and was the last person to be publicly executed in Scotland on July 28, 1865, as a crowd of 10,000 thirsty Scots watched. of blood.
As he wept at his wife’s grave, Dr Pritchard pleaded for the coffin lid to be lifted so he could kiss her lips one last time before she was lowered six feet into the ground.
The fake tears earned the killer the nickname “The Human Crocodile”.
Macabre tales are interspersed with interesting little nuggets about the stars of stage and film who have visited the city. We learn that Hollywood actor Carry Grant had a nightcap at the Lauders pub – in an area once known as ‘poverty’s corner’, while Maryhill-born actor David McCallum received more than fan mail than Elvis after playing The Invisible Man.
Outside Ramshorn Church, Vincent rummages in his bag and retrieves the first of many macabre accessories, an iron pole with a hook which he places under my friend’s nose.
It was used by grave robbers to drag bodies from their final resting place. Children, he said, were often thrown into the ground to open coffins.
Vincent moved to Glasgow from Ireland about a year ago, where he entertained thousands of tourists on the popular Dublin Ghost Bus Tour.
While Edinburgh has its fair share of walking tours exploring the darker side of the Scottish capital, he noticed a gap in the Glasgow market and spent a year combing through archives, newspapers, books and museum archives looking for interesting material.
“I found amazing stories and stories,” he says. The neo-Gothic churches and grand building, which drew Batman filmmakers to the city, make for a bustling nighttime visit.
“I was brought up in the 1970s watching old Hammer horror films and always had an interest in the supernatural and the macabre.
“I love Edgar Allan Poe and all the famous gothic books like Dracula, Frankenstein and Jekyll and Hyde.
“I started the tour in May this year and have been delighted with the response,” the guide says as the tour ends at Tam Shepherd’s Trick Shop, the world’s oldest family-run magic shop, where shoppers are always ready to queue for the spookiest. Halloween costumes.
To book a tour, cost £12, visit www.gothicglasgow.com