I love a good ghost story and nobody tells them better than Ailsa Tudhope, the Story Weaver in Prince Albert. I joined her for an entertaining evening stroll to find out more about the resident ghosts in what could be the most haunted town in the Karoo!
What is it?
An evening walking tour through the streets of Prince Albert where you’ll be captivated by tales of poker-playing ghosts in hotel rooms, ghosts who bake bread, a ghost who doesn’t like you to photograph his house, a ghostly hearse seen on misty nights and more…
Where is it?
Prince Albert, Western Cape
Can anyone do it?
Yes as the walk itself is an easy 1½ hour amble through the streets. However, small children may find the stories scary. Wrap up warm if you do the tour during winter months as Prince Albert can get very cold and it has nothing to do with the chilling tales you are hearing!
How much does it cost?
R60 per person.
With over ten resident ghosts, Prince Albert could well be one of the most haunted towns in the Karoo! This shouldn’t be surprising as Prince Albert is over 150 years old and has seen a great deal of history and many different characters living in the town. Some of whom clearly never left!
Ailsa Tudhope, known as The Story Weaver, has been sharing the ghostly sightings in Prince Albert since 2002. When I recently spent the weekend there for the Indie Karoo Film Festival, I took some time out from popcorn and the big screen to take a walk with her to find out more. It was one of the best tours I have ever done and Ailsa certainly knows how to captivate an audience with her stories, even if there is only one of you (or were there others with us?)
The walking tour starts and ends at The Fransie Pienaar Museum (picture above) and takes about 1½ hours. Here are a few of my favourite ghost stories from The Ghost Walk:
- A young girl is often spotted in one of the rooms of The Fransie Pienaar Museum. It is said she is the daughter of the original owner and she favours what used to be her dressing room. She is also known to play with visitors’ hair.
- A popular guesthouse on Kerk Street has a few resident ghosts, including a man who often appears in the dining room, the smell of baking bread (when no bread is being baked) and the sound of clattering hooves on the road outside (where there are no horses).
- When the new owner of a house in Bank Street put up a bookshelf, she would come home to find her books scattered everywhere. Turns out Charlie, the resident ghost, didn’t particularly like the bookshelf. After the owner had a few words with him, he left her books alone. However, he tends to take good care of things around the place including locking doors when people forget to lock up when they leave (which has resulted in a few calls to the local locksmith!) Charlie apparently doesn’t like having “his” house photographed as many photos of the house have come out blurred. However, I managed to get one (the photo above) after asking Charlie nicely if I could take one. I am hoping it’s because he thinks I’m pretty as apparently he likes pretty girls!
- The Swartberg Hotel has poker-playing ghosts, with guests sometimes complaining about a racket coming from the room next door. There’s also a haunted painting in the dining room – look out for two paintings of a girl standing next to a river. It is said she murdered her cheating husband and threw his body in the river. In the second painting (photo above) the river has been seen to turn red.
- On full moon a guard in uniform has be seen patrolling Bank Street, near the cemetary. It is thought he was the original bank’s guard and still sees to his duties to this day.
- A couple going to a popular local restaurant knocked on what they thought was the restaurant’s door, only to be met by an elderly lady who flung the door open and shouted at them. Turns out they were at the wrong house (photo below) and it was uninhabited at the time. The elderly lady has since been spotted occasionally in the garden.
There are also tales of a murderous coach house, a hearse that drives through the mist, a ghost in the Swartberg Pass and a doctor’s house where a negligee-clad young girl has been seen in the loft. But those are for The Story Weaver to share with you as nobody can do it better than she can!
The next time you visit Prince Albert and you only have time for one thing, make it The Ghost Walk. Not only will you hear intriguing spooky tales, you’ll also learn much about the town’s history, the town’s architecture and the interesting characters that have lived there. Just make sure you occasionally count the numbers in your group…
I spent a lot of time at The Bush Pub (pictured below) enjoying good company and good food. According to the owners, they too have a ghost! A jukebox-loving chap called Rudolph who likes to play Toby King in the wee hours, long after the last patrons have left the pub for the night.
Published July 2015 | Own cost