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Paranormal Oxford and Paranormal Forest of Dean

From the publisher’s website: Join Ross Andrews on a paranormal journey around not only the city of Oxford, but also the towns and villages of Oxfordshire. A ghost hunter for over twenty years, he was chairman of the Parasoc society, the paranormal research society as well as running his own paranormal nights at St Briavel’s castle - the Most Haunted building in the world! So with this pedigree in the paranormal it’s no surprise he was drawn to investigate the historic spooks of Oxfordshire.  The book has a variety of aspects to it, there are ghost walks that you can do for free around the centre of the city, as well as telling you which spooks to spot throughout the colleges. There is also a large section on the surrounding areas of Oxford for you to go to, so that you can investigate for yourselves. He will offer rational explanations wherever possible, and if not then let you decide for yourself. There are also handy hints should you wish to follow in his footsteps and become a ghost hunter.  Ideal for anyone curious about the unexplained, or even for the tourist who wants to see something different on a visit to Oxfordshire. Ross has tried to concentrate on stories and places that you can have access to, pubs, streets, fields, castles, museums. and many more. So join him on a journey into the unknown and explore the paranormal throughout Oxford, and Oxfordshire.

A ghost hunter for over twenty years Ross takes us on an adventure through the heart of the Forest of Dean, this book concentrates on haunted tourist attractions so that you too can go into them and investigate for yourself. So join us and prepared to be scared as we venture through haunted castles, pubs, mines, and woodland in the Forest Full of Frights.  This book has a variety of aspects to it. Firstly, it takes you on a trip around the centre of the forest to several museums, castles and pubs. The second part of the book is a about what is possibly the UK’s most haunted building, St. Briavel’s castle, it tells you how to stay in some of the most haunted rooms, and even how to join in with a ghost hunt. The third part of the book is a further guide on how to be a ghost hunter yourself, giving you examples and experiments to do.  An ideal book for anyone curious about the unexplained, or even a paranormal tourist travelling through the Forest of Dean, this is a truly frightening glimpse into the unknown . Turn the pages if you dare, and join Ross on the adventure of your life….or afterlife!  

First Author: 
Ross Andrews
Reviewed for SPR by: 
Tom Ruffles
SPR Review: 

Amberley Publishing continues its series documenting the country’s paranormal heritage.  Ross Andrews contributes guides to Oxford and the Forest of Dean to add to his one on Cheltenham (reviewed for the SPR website by C J Romer).  Andrews has a great deal of experience as a ghost hunter, including involvement with the Gloucestershire group PARASOC, and his enthusiasm is palpable.  The emphasis in both these books is on presenting locations that can be visited, rather than accounts from anonymous premises, and they are organised into geographical sections making them ideal for the visitor with limited time.

The Oxford volume begins with a stroll round some of the city centre’s most haunted spots, including the site of the execution of the Protestant martyrs Latimer and Ridley, whose screams echo down history, the Sheldonian Theatre and Bodleian Library, and the Bridge of Sighs.  The second chapter moves inside, taking in the theatres, a pub and an hotel. The third chapter is devoted to haunted colleges, and Oxford Castle has its own.  A pair of chapters deals with miscellaneous Oxford ghosts and some further afield in the county.

Andrews notes that a lot of Oxford ghost stories hinge on town vs. gown, religion or the Civil War, so reading up on its ghosts is an opportunity to learn about the history of this beautiful city and the surrounding countryside.  One gets the impression though that he has not personally carried out investigations here as the volume is free of case reports, with the stories being collected second-hand rather than resulting from local group activities.

The Forest of Dean volume is different in that respect.  It covers mostly that part known as The Royal Forest Route, and unlike the Oxford book Andrews has first-hand experience of investigations in the area.  Two chapters describe a variety of haunted locations in the forest, then one focuses on Littledean.  Goodrich and Raglan Castles and Tintern Abbey have a chapter to themselves.

The meatiest section, almost half the book, is devoted to St Briavel’s Castle, which Andrews has examined extensively as a member of Phamtomfest, a non-profit group set up specifically to organise investigation there.  He goes into considerable detail, outlining a wide range of phenomena.  This is fascinating stuff, though it renders the book less useful for someone who wants a general guide to forest locations but does not have a particular interest in St Briavel’s Castle (and as he concedes, the level of detail provided may contaminate future reports).  Both books conclude with brief sections of advice for the ghost hunter.

As with other Amberley guides the physical quality of the books is good, but the copy editing on these ones could have been tighter.  Andrews writes clearly but the facetious tone does grate after a while.  Both are well illustrated, mostly with the author‘s own photographs.  If you want to have a handy and relaxed guide to the spookier elements of these places, Ross Andrews’ books are useful companions.

Reference Information: 
Paranormal Oxford and Paranormal Forest of Dean. Amberley Publishing, October/March 2010. ISBN 9781445600024/ ISBN 9781848685918