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Exeter ghost chaser turns attention on digging up real life oddities

By Exeter Express and Echo  |  Posted: February 14, 2013

By Mike Byrne

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EXETER ghost chaser Suze Gardner has turned her attention to digging up some real life oddities in Exeter.

And sharp-eyed Suze knows a thing or too about going underground to find out the sort of information which may have lain hidden for generations.

She spent 11 years researching Exeter as part of her job as a tour guide at Exeter's medieval underground passages.

It helped with a ground-breaking book on Haunted Exeter – and now she has come up with a new book which asks how much we really know about our city.

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Not a Guide to Exeter casts light on some of the lesser-known aspects of the city's history and culture – from museums and monuments, ghosts and green spaces, famous and infamous residents, statistics and street names.

With quirky facts, serendipitous snippets and 100 black and white photographs, it is no traditional guidebook.

For instance, who knew that fragments of bone lie just below the surface of Cathedral Green which was the site of a rather over-used burial ground for plague victims? Or in March 1891, a blizzard caused a train to become stranded in a snowdrift overnight? Passengers were rescued the following day by a train fitted with a snowplough. And in 1912 there were 225 cars across the entire city.

Exeter ghosts include a malevolent nurse, a black pig said to be Judge Jeffries, a noisy and pugnacious ghost in a pedestrian tunnel and a drowned man who reenacts his own death in the River Exe.

Suze previously worked at the Women's Library in London in the history book department. A self-proclaimed trivia nut, she lives just outside Exeter.

She said: "We have an assortment of very spoiled pets; our geriatric cats, six hens – who are allowed to live out their natural lifespan, no knocking them off when they stop laying – a tortoise and 18 very tame fish."

Not a guide to Exeter will be published in March by History Press, at £5.99 in paperback.

Read extracts from the book here.

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