Ghost Tours of Hertfordshire and Essex
On a family holiday at the age of around 9 or 10, I purchased my very first paranormal book. It was a collection of true ghost stories and paranormal accounts from around Cornwall and I had to spend many days convincing my mother that this was definitely what I wanted to spend my precious ‘holiday pocket money’ on. To her, it didn’t seem like the kind of fun thing a child might want to take home as their souvenir from the seaside, but after I had read it from cover to cover several times, standing in the middle of the gift shop, she eventually conceded.
And so began my long obsession and endless fascination with these paranormal collections of ghost stories, myths, legends and unexplained encounters from different regions of the UK. Everywhere I visit I try to add a new book to my collection, and the library is building up nicely! So you can imagine how excited I was when publishers Austin Macauley sent us a copy of Ghost Tours of Hertfordsire and Essex by author Jenni Kemp, to review.
The title pretty much sums up the premise and highlights its appeal to us immediately, it’s exactly the kind of book I reach for before we set off to explore an area, so that we can tie in a many visits to haunted locations as we can possibly fit into our travels, although this title has a bit of a twist on the typical format used by these types of books.
The majority of these ‘ghosts by county’ collections organise their entries by town, so when I am researching an area I will trawl through all of these entries, get the maps out and plan our routes, by road or foot, trying to incorporate haunted locations into an order which allows us to make a tour out of them, which can be a lot of work, however, in Ghost Tours of Hertfordshire and Essex, Jenni Kemp has done the hard work for us! Each chapter of the book is organised into tours of an area, with multiple haunted locations of interest plotted along each route, with the ghost stories, legends, and relevant history detailed with each entry.
I love the idea, and I wish I’d had this book sooner. When we visited Colchester I spent a long time putting together an ‘on foot’ tour of all the town’s haunted locations and relevant information, but turning to tour twenty eight of this book, I see that all that information is handily summarised for me right here, together with a map.
As well as hand-drawn maps to accompany the tours, some entries include Ordnance Survey map references, which is really useful, and as a big old map nerd myself, I just love this extra detail. The only shame is that the hand drawn maps haven’t been reproduced that well and it can be difficult to read some of them.
Some of the longer tours are set out more as a list of points to check out whilst others delve more into the legends of the areas, and—to mix it up a bit—in some chapters the author has included some weird and wonderful snippets of history from the area which is very cool for all of us history buffs. I’m excited to get out and try one of these tours in future, I’m just having trouble deciding which one to go for first as there are sixty two tours to choose from!
It’s a shame that some tours don’t get more in depth with information on the paranormal occurrences, but it is already quite a chunky, weighty book and the main focus is the routes, rather than getting deep into each case individually. Other than that all I will say is that, at best, the illustrations included at the end of the book don’t add anything to the experience, honestly I would have preferred a selection of photos throughout the book to complement the tours. That aside however, I’m thrilled to add this to my growing paranormal library and can’t wait to take this title out for a test drive to guide me round some haunted locations.