20 May 2009
Ghost in the attic? Figure of 18th-century servant spotted in the home of vaccine inventor Edward Jenner
By Daily Mail Reporter
Is this the ghostly figure of a servant in an old English home? Or is the spooky image a trick of the light?
A photograph taken in the home of Dr Edward Jenner, the man who invented the smallpox vaccine, has stunned experts.
Seen through the doorway of the attic, it appears a portly man is sitting in a chair between two beds.
The 'ghost' can be seen through the doorway in the centre of the picture, sitting between two beds
And in a picture taken four days later, there is just an empty space, and not even a chair, between the beds.
Staff at the house in Berkeley, Gloucestershire, believe it is the spirit of one of Dr Jenner's servants.
The image was taken by a BBC photographer who was visiting the Jenner Birthplace Museum. The attic where the ghostly picture was taken has never before been open to the public.
Photographer Chris Sandys said: 'I don't believe in ghosts myself but this is strange.
'As soon as I'd taken the panoramic photo, I reviewed the image on the camera, and straight away noticed this strange formation of light, shaped like a figure, through the doorway in the next room.
The panoramic picture, top, of the museums's attic which revealed the ghostly image in the left-hand doorway. The bottom image shows the attic with no 'ghostly' image
'Without moving I did a few takes to try and work out what had caused it but couldn't see anything. It was so weird.'
Cynics might question the timing of the picture's release as the museum has just launched a new exhibition called Ghosts In the Attic: From Smallpox To MMR.
But staff insist the ghostly figure is no fake.
'We are truly flabbergasted by the image,' said museum curator Sarah Parker.
The attic on a normal day: Four days later, there is nothing between the bedsteads in the other room
The home belonged to DrJenner for nearly 40 years
'We have graffiti from soldiers previously billeted in the attic rooms from the 19th and 20th centuries and perhaps this is one of them or even one of Jenner's servants.
'We have always thought of the "ghosts" as being metaphoric but maybe we need to think again...
'You can basically see through a doorway what looks like a figure reclining in a chair, only there is no chair there.
'I don't know whether I believe in ghosts or not but I've never seen a ghost, certainly not in the attic.'
The museum is now planning tours of the attic, including a night-time Halloween visit.
Dr Edward Jenner, who was born in 1749, is credited with inventing vaccination.
He lived in the Grade II-listed building from 1785 until his death in 1823 and it was here that he pioneered world-changing vaccination against smallpox.
Nearby Berkeley Castle is also said to be haunted. The ghost and screams of Edward II are said to be seen and heard at night. He was tortured to death at the castle with a red-hot poker.