House of spirits

November 6, 2014

The University of Cambridge’s Combination Rooms do seem to be fertile grounds for ghost-hunters (“Schools that have ghouls”, Features, 30 October).

The psychologist Sir Frederic Bartlett reported that after the death in 1922 of his colleague W. H. R. Rivers, the anthropologist and psychiatrist, he encountered him a fortnight later in the Combination Room of St John’s College. Rivers entered “alert and quick as usual”. Bartlett tried to say: “Rivers! It’s Dr Rivers!” Then Bartlett woke and found himself in bed at home emerging from a dream. Even then he was absolutely sure that Rivers was “there, in the deep darkness”.

Imagination can deceive us all.

R. E. Rawles, honorary research fellow in psychology
University College London

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