12th February 1829 - Just over two weeks after the execution of William Burke for the notorious West Port murders, a crowd gathers on Calton Hill. Bearing an effigy of Dr Robert Knox, they march to his house in Newington and there, after hanging their effigy from a tree in view of his window and setting it alight, stage a riot.
The twenty-eighth of January is a date very well-known to all my ghosts: it's the date when, in 1829, the notorious "Body Snatcher" (or more accurately, multiple murderer) William Burke made his appointment with the hangman's noose at Edinburgh's Mercat Cross, on The Royal Mile. The execution is said to have been attended by a crowd numbering in the thousands, with the cheer that arose at the fateful moment being clearly audible three miles away in the port of Leith.
You are invited to the next Loretto Lecture at The Painted Gallery, Pinkie House, Loretto School, Musselburgh on Wednesday 8th March 2017 at 7pm.
Our co-founder and the original Adam Lyal (deceased), Robin Mitchell, will chat about his 33 years as a 'ghost' on our evening walking tours. Robin co-founded the company in 1984 and has developed the business from walking tours to publishing books, producing films and writing plays.
Above: The Cadies Christmas card 2008. Photo by Neil Hodgins.
Although Christmas isn't a particularly spooky festival, it does tend to bring out the rather warped creativity of my ghostly ensemble. Over the years, the Cadies have blighted the letterboxes of a select few (hundred) close chums with some quite out-of-the-ordinary seasonal greetings-cards. Here we present a few of our favourites.
It's not every day you find eight pumas looking at you across the counter of our little shop, but that's the experience our counter-ghouls had this week when stars of the Argentinian national Rugby Union team (nickname: Los Pumas) arrived to meet my colleague Alexander Clapperton and friends for a tour.
As every ghost's favourite night of the year rolls around again, we have cooked up a delicious deal with our friends at three of the Grassmarket's best-loved eateries.
Adam Lyal (deceased) is already, by our reckoning, "big in Edinburgh"; but seldom does he get as big as this!
Last Sunday (7th August), Edinburgh Castle's walls, ramparts the Castle Rock on which it sits were illuminated in spectacular fashion, providing the "screen" for the Edinburgh International Festival's Opening Event: Deep Time, a dramatic projector display created by 59 Productions in association with The University of Edinburgh.
It's a familiar site in Edinburgh's West Bow to see visitors (and some locals) standing in front of our wee shop staring at the name above the door: The Cadies & Witchery Tours. Within seconds of spying our name, the front door creaks open and we prepare ourselves for the expected question: "What in the world is a Cadie?"
One does sometimes see some curious sights in the hideous heart of Edinburgh's Old Town, but this might just take the biscuit.
This morning as I pried up my cellar door and stepped outside to dispose of last night's gardy-loos, I was startled by a large, rainbow-coloured beach ball landing with a soft "poomp" right next to me upon the cobbles, as though having fallen from some height. Well, I thought, that's a funny time for a stag party to be out and about, but not unprecedented I suppose ...
Being the proud custodians of a calling-card case fashioned from the skin of the notorious murderer William Burke, we receive many intrigued enquiries from visitors. Such as: What precisely is a calling-card? How it is different from a modern business card? And why, precisely, would one think it a good idea to carry them around in such a gruesome device as that? Well, dear reader, we can answer most of these questions...