12th November, 2017
Pictured: James Andrew as Dr Smalls on his Beverley Ghost Adventure.
For a number of years Hull-based tour guide Paul Schofield has led a monthly combined ghost and history tour alongside his other offerings such as a Beverley Town Walk, a Beverley Pub Walk and a town trail which highlights various medieval guilds and crafts.
Now actor James Andrew is bringing history to life in the shape of the eccentric and rather creepy character Dr Smalls for a weekly jaunt through Beverley’s ancient and bloody past.
Beverley-born and bred, James has launched the Beverley Ghost Adventure and adopts the persona of Dr Smalls as he enthusiastically retells stories of ghosts, poltergeists and headless soldiers.
Dressed in frock coat and top hat, the Victorian doctor leads tour parties on a route which takes in Beverley Minster, Highgate and the walkthrough alongside The Monk’s Walk, one of the town’s oldest pubs, Eastgate, The Friary, Minster Moorgate, North Bar and the Market Cross.
He says he spent 18 moths researching the town’s past and describes North Bar Within as Beverley’s spookiest street, particularly the area closest to St Mary’s Church. “The tours can last anywhere between 90 minutes and two hours and quite honestly there’s so much going on in that part of Beverley we could have devoted a whole tour just to that one street,” he says.
A former Beverley Grammar School pupil who studied at the Hull College of Performing Arts, James has always had acting in his blood. “I’ve done screen work and radio but have always found theatre the most gratifying,” he said.
“I spent two-and-a-half years as an actor at the York Dungeon, portraying all sorts of dubious and scary individuals, from a plague doctor to an executioner’s assistant to a Roman soothsayer and it’s during that time I formulated the idea of bringing history to life in my home town.
“People love finding out the history of the place in which they live and also occasionally like to uncover some of its darker side. My ghost adventures do that perfectly, but in an entertaining and fun way,” he said.
“There are dark stories about civil war and plague and spooky tales to make your hair stand on end. People especially like the story of the headless Danish soldier. Highwayman Dick Turpin was incarcerated in Beverley and I also like to tell his story. Dick Turpin is very much associated with York but I want to bring him out of the shadows in Beverley.”
Sadly, or perhaps thankfully, Dr Smalls is the one made-up element of the whole occasion. “He’s very strange and a figment of my imagination who just evolved as I did more and more research,” said James. “I knew I wanted a Victorian character and I had worked on a basic script, but it wasn’t until I uttered the first words from his mouth that he really came to life.”
James takes up to 25 people on The Beverley Ghost Adventure, which takes place on Wednesday evenings. Private tours can be arranged for special occasions. Visit www.beverleyghostadventure.com for information and bookings. Advance tickets cost £6 for adults, £4 for children or £7/£5 on the night.
Paul Schofield’s Ghost and History Tour usually takes place once a month and costs £4. “It’s a chance to discover the town’s shillings tales and gruesome stories with plenty of historical details thrown in,” he says.
More information on all his tours via www.tourhull.com Future walks are scheduled for: December 29th, January 26th, February 23rd and March 30th. Bookings via Beverley Tourist Information centre on (01482) 391672.