Ghostly disappearing soldier makes hair on neck stand to attention

Castlecliffe House, St Andrews.
Castlecliffe House, St Andrews.

Local writer and ghost hunter Gregor Stewart dips into his archive for our latest tale for Hallowe’en:

“Castlecliffe House sits in a prominent position beside St Andrews Castle. Built in 1869 for prominent chemist Professor Thomas Purdie, this impressive building is now owned by the University.

“It was while in use as the Spanish Department that a reported sighting of a phantom soldier was made. A student making their way to the office of the Head of School noticed a man dressed in what appeared to be a WWI military uniform waiting at the door. As the student approached, the soldier simply disappeared but he has been seen several times since.

“In 2009, the St Andrews University Magazine ran a story speculating on the identity of this spirit. Although the building was used as an ancillary hospital during WW1, a more likely candidate would seem to be a long forgotten war hero, Sergeant John Ripley, who was awarded the Victoria Cross for his courage at the Battle of Aubers in France in 1915.

“Sgt Ripley returned to St Andrews after the war and worked as a slater. In 1933, while working at Castlecliffe, he fell from his ladder and died later that day from his injuries in the town’s Cottage Hospital.

Many ghosts are associated with tragic accidents and it is quite possible that the spirit that has been seen is that of Sgt Ripley.”