Dr Caron Lipman has a PHD in Haunted Houses – now the historian with an eye for the paranormal is leading ghost walks in Stoke Newington.
For the past few years, the former journalist has been delving into the archives – going back to Victorian and Edwardian times and she has local stories to share that might just make your spine tingle.
She explained: “I did a PHD in human geography and chose haunted houses because I wanted to know what it’s like to live in homes which are unhomely – where you don’t feel completely at home because of strange things going on.”
Caron travelled around talking to people about their experiences – and she began to notice some common themes. Now, through her project Stores of our Streets, she’s sharing some of the local history and ghostly anecdotes she’s gathered.
She said: “People I spoke to always used to say they happened to look up – often they were in the midst of the most ordinary task, something repetitive and every day but they’d look up to see something – the monk in the doorway or a woman stroking a cat – and when they looked back it had gone.
“Most experiences are auditory – footsteps on stairs, people hearing their name being called from a different part of the building but no-one is there.
“People seem to be much more afraid of male ghosts than female ones.”
Caron has been open minded about ghosts ever since she had her own sighting at university.
She added: “I was woken up by a young woman sitting on a stool laughing at me. The top half of her was modern and she had short hair and when I looked down her skirt was Victorian. I didn’t know if it was psychological or neurological and it left me with these questions. When I came to do the project, I was very open and a lot more respectful of people who were going through the same thing.”
Caron’s work involves looking into the heritage of homes, who lived there before and their history. She’s researching the history of every street in Stoke Newington and finding interesting stories.
The walk in Stoke Newington features places where there have been reported ghost sightings and experiences of the ‘uncanny.’ Some of the experiences are described as ‘death bed visitations’, where people who don’t yet know their loved ones have died, experience a haunting.
Caron added: “It’s surprising just how many stories you can find in ordinary suburban streets.
“One theme that has come out of my research is that these ghostly and uncanny events seem to be triggered by major structural changes to homes – knocking down walls. One woman had an old Victorian greenhouse and decided to get rid of that – that was the trigger for seeing this ghost of a woman.
“A lot of people think the spirits have a sense of ownership and claim over places.”
Caron is a published author, with three academic texts exploring the heritage of the home, co-habiting with ghosts and the Sephardic Jewish cemeteries at Queen Mary University of London.
Caron has also been looking into the history of unseen objects in the area – from the archaeology of human remains that go missing to legends that there are tunnels underground here.
The Ghost Walk in Stoke Newington takes place on October 28th, November 11th and November 24th, with more dates to follow soon and costs £16.96.
Visit storiesofourstreets.com/walks/ for more information and to book.