Morpeth church bans ghost tours

IN THE DARK: Ghost guide Troy Murphie outside Morpeth's St James' Anglican Church. - Picture by Ryan Osland
IN THE DARK: Ghost guide Troy Murphie outside Morpeth's St James' Anglican Church. - Picture by Ryan Osland

THEY might believe in the Holy Ghost but members of the Morpeth Anglican Parish Council seem to have a different take on ghosts in their historic village.

In what has been described as "mean spirited" the council has asked Morpeth Ghost and History Tours owner Troy Murphie not to come onto the private grounds of St James' Anglican Church - a request which has left his business dead and buried.

Mr Murphie, who has been conducting the tours for 2? years after receiving permission from the church's former rector, said he was embarrassed and surprised when a person approached him during a Friday the 13th tour with 22 people and said he was no longer allowed on the property.

Mr Murphie received a letter from the parish council the following Monday which said the church, and in particular the columbarium and memorial garden, were off limits.

He said St James' Church was an integral part of his tour where many of his clients had experienced paranormal activity and found the visit a tour highlight.

He has also had to drop Closebourne House from his tour with the construction of aged-care accommodation on the site.

The letter said that Mr Murphie and his groups were "confined to an area not to exceed [six metres] from the perimeter of the church's outer walls".

The parish council also asked for copies of Mr Murphie's public liability insurance and said it needed to be for a minimum of $10 million cover.

A spokeswoman for the parish council said the church had not banned Mr Murphie but was asking him to be sensible and to conduct the tours around the edge of the church area and away from surrounding homes where there had been one complaint.

Mr Murphie said he and his groups always exercised the utmost respect.

"I've closed the tour instead of fighting this," he said. "I had bookings up to Christmas but I have cancelled them all. I can't run a business this way.

"Lately I have been getting the blame for things like people coming in on their own ghost hunting tours and hosting their own investigation nights in the local cemetery."

Long-time Morpeth business operator Trevor Richards said other groups had not been stopped from walking around the church and a group of schoolchildren were there yesterday doing a history project, including filming the church.