The college’s most beloved ghosts, ghouls and secrets
August 21, 2009
Seeing as the College of William and Mary is the second oldest in the nation, it has its fair share of history. But with centuries of students comes centuries of gossip, which, over the years has turned into legend. Whether fact or fiction, each such story must be taken with a grain of salt. You should feel free to investigate the truth and rumors behind them.
Arguably the most famous campus ghost, this haunt visits students who choose to pull all-nighters in the classroom on the third floor of St. George Tucker Hall. The ghost’s identity is yet unknown, as it has been rumored to be anyone ranging from a resident of Colonial Williamsburg during the Revolution to a disgruntled or suicidal student at the College.
Students reportedly began hearing mysterious footsteps in the Wren Building shortly after the Revolutionary War. They claimed that the ghosts were French soldiers who died in the building, although nowadays students maintain that it is Sir Christopher Wren himself, roaming the very building he designed.
The spirits of students who were forced to attend the Indian school that was housed in the Brafferton are said to run across campus at night. The best time to sneak a peek is on misty night in the Sunken Garden. The ghosts run a few feet above the ground down the length of the Garden.
Underground steam tunnels exist on both Old and Ancient Campus. The tunnels are said to connect to the Wren Chapel burial vault, located in the basement of the Wren Building. In 1977, access to the crypt from the tunnels was blocked with the addition of a padlocked steel door to prevent vandalism. During that time, supposedly, it was popular for fraternity brothers to sneak into the crypt and steal a bone from the tomb of James Blair. It is rumored that secret societies use these tunnels to move around campus.
There are at least nine secret societies on campus, including The 7s, The 13s, The Alphas, The Bishop James Madisons and The Flat Hats. Look for signs of them throughout the year, particularly around the time of Homecoming and graduation. If they deem you worthy, you may be contacted by them out of gratitude for your contribution to the College community or even invited to join their closeted rankings.
The legend behind the Crim Dell is that if you walk across it’s bridge with your significant other and kiss at the top, you are destined to marry that person and be in love forever. If you break up, however, you will remain cursed unless one member of the hopeless couple pushes the other into the Crim Dell. It’s never agreed upon as to who should be chucked over the edge — girls will say it’s the boy who should be pushed, and boys will say it’s the girl. Avoid walking across it alone, however, unless you want to be doomed to a life of loneliness.
Less grave, however, is the myth surrounding the statue of Lord Botetourt. Allegedly, if you touch the statue, you’ll get a good grade on your next test. Couldn’t hurt to try, right?