In October 1897, the ‘Plumstead Ghost’ appeared in Plumstead, near Woolwich, around St James’s Church and the school. The local papers were full of stories about young girls fainting on being approached by the ghost, even according to the Daily News, having to take to their beds due to nervous exhaustion. Even a schoolmaster was frightened out of his wits when the ghost suddenly shouted ‘Boo-hah!’ at the top of his voice and grabbed him from behind. Well, he was convinced it was the ‘Plumstead ghost’. 

This went on until another schoolmaster, while taking his large Newfoundland dog for his evening walk, heard rustling in the hedges, then a shout of “Boo-hah!” Immediately, he let his dog go, who rushed after the ghost.  He then heard the ghost give a cry, as his dog bit into his buttocks.  Now convinced him that the Plumstead Ghost was flesh and blood he suggested to the other masters and the schoolboys that they teach the ghost a lesson when they next came across it. 

The schoolboys decided to try and one evening, when they heard the ghost was about, a hundred schoolboys, stormed the churchyard. He was there, so shouting and yahooing, they pelted him with stones, none hit, he disappeared into the hedges.  Unfortunately, for them their stones broke the church’s valuable stained-glass windows, so the police were called.

Two schoolboys were arrested and taken to Woolwich Police Station, which meant that the school master had to go to the police station and explain everything that led up to what the police described as a riot.  The boys were discharged. The next evening, the Plumstead Ghost was seen in the grounds of a big house, sitting in a tree wearing a grotesque mask, shouting “Boo-hah!” to frighten the female domestics. The house owner was not at amused, sent for the police and the ghost was arrested.

It turned out that the ghost’s white garb had been torn, his buttocks were badly bruised, from his encounters with the fierce Newfoundland dog. He was in fact a local engineer who they placed under restraint in an asylum.

The Plumstead Ghost was laid to rest.

Isn’t Victorian History fun?