Mary King’s Close in Edinburgh
Mary King’s Close is an alleyway that is located under buildings in old Edinburgh, Scotland. During the 1600s, the Close was busy and lively with people buying and selling goods in this outdoor market.
In 1629, Mary King lost her husband. She supported her four children by sewing and trading in fabrics in the area that became known as Mary King’s Close. As it was rare for a close to be named after a woman, Ms. King must have been successful in her business until her death in 1644.
When the last outbreak of the bubonic plague insinuated itself into Mary King’s Close in 1645, there were about 500 poor people living and working there. Approximately half were suffering or dead from the disease.
According to Caroline McIntosh, PR Executive of The Real Mary King's Close, "The street was badly affected by the plague and it is thought that due to
this, it was hard to entice people back to live there once the plague was
over. At this time, the city wanted to build a fancy new market place
(Royal Exchange) in the city centre, so this is when it was decided that
they would use the existing buildings as a basis for the new structure."
In 1753, construction of the Royal Exchange began, on top of Mary King’s Close.
Naturally, there would be stories and legends to grow from this horrible episode in history. Stories and tales of hauntings and ghosts in the old Mary King Close have been told since about 40 years after the last plague outbreak in Edinburgh.
Annie is a little girl said to haunt Mary King’s Close. A psychic from Japan who visited in 1992 “felt sickness, hunger and a bitter cold envelop the room” when she entered a small room in the Close that has become known as Annie’s room. She also “felt the presence latch onto her leg.” Sadly, it is believed her family left her behind when she became sick.
Another apparition seen by many is called the Black Lady. She is always seen wearing a black garment.
The spectre of a nervous and worried gentleman thought to be the Close’s last resident, Mr. Chesney, is often seen pacing around the Close accompanied by the sounds of a crowd of partiers. He was a saw maker who lived in Mary King’s Close in 1892.
Footsteps are often heard on the uninhabited streets, and sightings of male figures that “disappear when approached” have been reported for many years.
In April of 2003, Mary King’s Close opened up as a tourist attraction. In 2008, an interesting image of an apparition was inadvertently captured on film by the general manager of the tour guide company, Stephen Spencer.
The image of the “rotund ghost” captured is believed by some to be the ghost of Major Thomas Weir, who was “strangled and then burnt at the stake in 1670 after publicly confessing to witchcraft, Satanism and incest.”
Some think that this image is that of Mr. Chesney. This image can be seen at http://seeksghosts.blogspot.com/2014/02/scotlands-mary-kings-close.html.