Situated in the heart of Queen Street, the enigmatic British Schools Museum bears a haunting legacy from a time when it was known as Dead Street. Like an ancient sentinel, it stands as a grim testament to the black shroud cast upon Hitchin in 1349. A sweeping terror known as the Black Death. Its enduring legacy is an eerie echo, a spectral reminder stretching across half a millennia; a chilling warning of the ease with which the deadly pandemic reputedly killed every man, woman, and child in Dead Street during the 14th century catastrophe. 

The ‘Dead Street School opened in 1810 endowed by the generosity of local solicitor, William Wilshere. Designed to educate the children of the labouring poor, the unconventional teachings were based upon Joseph Lancaster’s monitorial methods. 

Tragedy struck in 1845, a devastating blaze known as the Great Fire of Dead Street, consuming the locale in its fiery wrath. Miraculously, the monitorial schoolroom bravely withstood the furious flames, weathered the inferno, and is the only remaining of perhaps 300 such buildings which once existed in countries all over the world. 

Beneath the boy’s school, buried within the bowels of the boiler room, one stumbles upon a space once repurposed as an air-raid shelter during the ominous days of the Second World War. Here immersed terror, mud, and imminent danger, young men from Dead Street answered the call to their country’s service. The sounds of warfare, most prominently the shattering symphony of artillery, echoes ominously in their recollections. 

Reports of sightings and eerie occurrences have surfaced over the years, painting a ghostly pallor over the museum. There are tales of a spectral baby observed by children. A long-serving volunteer vouched to have seen four Victorian children peering enviously at his lunch, their apparitions vanishing as inexplicably as they appeared. Numerous accounts surround the former Headmaster Mr. Fitch and his family, who inhabited the school from 1857 till 1902.

Visitors have sworn they spotted the figure  of Mrs. Fitch roaming her kitchen. Mr. Fitch possessed the title of the longest-serving headmaster. Upon his retirement, rather than leaving the school behind, he elected to remain within the house adjacent to the grand school building. There, cherished memories turned to silent whispers, as Mr. Fitch succumbed to the inevitable passage of time and passed away peacefully in the parlour. Since his passing, the house, echoing with the quiet solitude of emptiness, has reportedly been a hotbed of strange happenings and inexplicable occurrences. The still silence of the property is often broken by the faint patter of phantom footsteps, echoing eerily throughout the hushed rooms of the upper floor.

These unaccountable sounds mystify all who bear witness, as the floor above is consistently found to be devoid of human presence. Moreover, chilling tales, passed amongst staff and visitors alike, tell of a spectral figure, seemingly aimless in purpose, wandering the vacant rooms upstairs. These stories of the shadowy apparition, generally believed to be the enduring spirit of Mr. Fitch, infuse the house with an uncanny sense of foreboding and mystery. 

Haunting auditory phenomena have been frequent — phantom footfalls echoing through the desolate corridor above the infant school. Oral history from children attending school during the 1950s cemented these ghostly claims, attributing the sounds to Mr. Fitch, known for his clubfoot causing a distinctive limp. 

During our previous investigation at the British Schools Museum, through the spirit box we recorded a disembodied voice introducing itself as “David” and a voice whispering the words “they’re watching me”. An uncanny presence was distinctly felt in the Headmaster’s House, heightening when our cameraman felt something touch his arm. Join us as we continue our quest to unravel the eerie and enigmatic stories lurking within these historic and harrowed halls.