Western Cape ghost stories

2012-11-02 15:54
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14 Ghost towns

Abandoned, forgotten and strangely beautiful. Check out this selection of the world's most arresting ghost towns.

Thanks to the sometimes ferocious ocean and the towering Table Mountain, Cape Town is a natural breeding ground for myths and legends.

But this doesn't mean that our man-made structures come without their own stories. A long and sometimes bloody history has left its imprint on the buildings of the Western Cape - an imprint that emerges at night and takes a rather ghostly form...

The ghosts of Cape Town Castle

Started in 1666, Cape Town Castle is one of the oldest buildings in the Western Cape. It was also home to many alleged criminals and a ‘donker gat' (dark hole) that served as a windowless torture chamber. The walls were witness to too many deaths to count and are scrawled with the graffiti of the damned.

No wonder it is haunted.

The Lady in Grey is the one ghost of Cape Town Castle who has made the most appearances over the years. No one really knows who she was, but it is assumed that some tragedy befell her as she is often seen with her hands covering her face, as though she is weeping.

The skeleton of a woman was found during excavations done at the castle - fuelling speculation that the bones belonged to the Lady in Grey. She has barely appeared since the bones were laid to rest, adding credence to the theory that she had finally been released from the castle's clutches.

Among the many beings said to haunt the Castle, the ghost of Governor van Noodt is one of the most infamous. During his time as the governor of the Cape in the 1720s, he was a harsh leader who believed in strict discipline and ruthless punishments for soldiers who disobeyed him.

Four soldiers, who made the fatal mistake of trying to escape his iron-clad rule, were caught and swiftly sentenced to a beating and deportation to Batavia.

Seemingly without warning or reason, Governor van Noodt changed the sentence - to death. Despite being called cruel, the Governor would not change his mind and didn't even pay the men the courtesy of attending their hanging.

As the final soldier was brought forward to receive his sentence, he loudly cursed Governor van Noodt and challenged him to appear before God to answer for what he had done.

After this last man was hanged, officers went to Governor van Noodt's rooms to tell him that the deed was done. But instead of the praise they expected, they found the Governor dead in his chair, an expression of absolute horror on his face. His ghost is said to still roam the castle, forever condemned by the dying soldier's curse.

The ghost of Tokai

Deep in the Tokai Forest Plantation in Cape Town's southern suburbs, lies the well-known Tokai Manor. This house was completed in 1796 and in the early 1800s was owned by Hendrik Oswald Eksteen, an exuberant and indulgent man.

Hendrik and his son were both fond of entertaining and New Year's Eve was an especially big night at Tokai Manor. The house's high stoep and its twin flights of steep steps were overflowing with guests. The vintage wine was flowing and it wasn't long before things got out of hand.

Hendrik's son, Petrus Michiel was prone to bragging, and was deep into describing what a fine rider he was when someone urged him to prove it. The wager required the young man to ride his horse up the steep steps, on to the stoep and into the dining room.

Petrus completed the task without too much difficulty, but as he began to celebrate, the horse took fright and bolted, slipping on the steep steps and both man and horse plunged to their deaths.

Years later, News Years Eve remains a frightening time to be in Tokai Manor. Drunken laughter and the neighing of horses can often be heard, carrying on the breeze from the nearby forest. Some even claim to have heard the sounds of thudding horse hooves and a sudden, high-pitched whinny before the air falls deathly silent.

Besides the ghostly stories, the only tangible evidence left of Petrus and his horse is one solitary hoof print ingrained in the dining room floor.

The ghost of the Lord Milner Hotel - Matjiesfontein

The year was 1899 when James Douglas Logan built the Hotel Milner - a hotel that still stands today and is said to be home to a myriad of ghostly beings.

Kate is the most poignant of all and can often be seen staring out of the window of the top turret, her white dress flowing in the breeze.

She was a young woman who worked as a nurse in the hotel's earlier days. She loved to play cards with the convalescent patients and was a popular young woman.

At only 19, she died suddenly without cause or reason in a mystery that is unsolved to this day.

At the top of the second floor, a steep staircase leads to a tiny room, known only as "Kate's Card Room" - here the noises of cards being shuffled and soft crying can often be heard.

Kate sometimes comes out of her room and be seen floating around one of the lower passages, always in her nurses uniform...

The ghost of Verlatenbosch

Even though it is mostly the buildings of the Western Cape that are frequented by ghosts, her national landmarks are not free of a spectre or two.

The ghost of Verlatenbosch (Bush of the Forsaken) is a mournful Table Mountain tale.The governor at the time made a mortal enemy of one of his citizens, who took the worst revenge he could imagine. Taking a beautiful flute, once used by an old leper, the citizen presented it to the governor's son as a gift. Within days the poor boy contracted the horrible disease and was forced into exile by his own family. A lonely hut in the forests of Table Mountain became his home until the day he died.

When the sun sets, the hauntingly sad sounds of this flute can be heard, carried softly on the breeze that rustles the trees on the slopes of Table Mountain...

Do you believe in the ghosts of the Western Cape? Let us know in the comment section below.

Find out more about South Africa's legends with GoTravel24:

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