MANY of the tales uncovered by author Jim Reeve reveal a ghostly and sometimes gory side of Chelmsford many of us will not be aware of.

In his new book, Secret Chelmsford, great-grandfather Mr Reeve, 80, writes that between 1827 and 1914, 43 men and women, some as young as 17, were hanged over the front entrance of Springfield Prison.

The chapter, titled Hang Them High, reveals how 30 of them were executed for murder, two for assault, five for arson, two for horse stealing, one for robbery, one for an “unnatural” crime and one for highway robbery.

Mr Reeve also writes how, as a regular visitor to Great Baddow’s the White Horse pub, he often suspected ghostly visitors, and adds that he was not disapointed by his research, which revealed a murderous former landlord and ghostly happenings in the guest rooms.

As well as the murderers and ghosts, Mr Reeve tells the tale of draper Thomas Watts, in 1555, who was burnt at the stake in the city for refusing to attend the Catholic church.

Mr Reeve’s book, Secret Chelmsford, can be purchased through Amberley Publishing at £14.99.

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