During the month of October, there is no better time to explore Boston’s burying grounds to enjoy a little history while also finding out for yourself whether or not they are haunted. Two great choices to explore are the Granary Burying Ground and King’s Chapel Burying Ground.
Granary Burying Ground
Dating back to 1660, the Granary Burying Ground is one of Boston’s oldest historic sites. Located on the Freedom Trail, the burying ground contains the remains of some of the greatest Revolutionary War heroes and other famous patriouts, including Paul Revere, Samuel Adams, John Hancock, Robert Treat Paine and five of the victims of the Boston Massacre. Due to its quiet location filled with famous patriots and revolutionary heroes, the burying ground is often referred to as the “Westminster Abbey” of Boston.
When visiting Granary Burying Ground, be sure to take care with where you step. IN January 2009, one Boston tourist who was visiting the ground suddenly felt the ground give way beneath her. She fell hip-deep into a hidden granite stairwell that led to an underground crypt about 30 feet from Paul Revere’s tombstone. Fortunately, the tourist wasn’t hurt, but the incident led to the discovery of an 8’ x 12’ crypt that may contain the remains of Jonathan Armitage.
In all, the Granary Burying Ground has 2,345 gravestones and 204 tombs, including those with 17th century stones carved with elaborate letters, fruits of paradise and death’s heads. As many as 8,000 people are believed to be buried in the cemetery, which is located next to Park Street Church at the intersection of Park Street and Tremont Street. There are no fees to visit the cemetery, which is open from 10:00 am until 4:00 pm daily.
King’s Chapel Burying Ground
Boston’s oldest cemetery, King’s Chapel Burying Ground is located just a block away from the Granary Burying Ground. This burying ground is the final resting place for many of the first generation of English Puritans who settled in Boston and served as the only cemetery in the area for 30 years.
Known for its intricately carved seventeenth century headstones that have been embellished with skulls and crossbones and depict Time wrestling with Death, King’s Chapel Burying Ground has its share of macabre stories. Among these is the story of a carpenter who made the coffin too short for the occupant and, in an effort to conceal the error, cut off the head of the deceased and placed it between her feet. There was also a time when a person was rumored to be buried alive at the cemetery, causing a mob to demand the person be exhumed so doctors could declare her dead.
King’s Chapel Burying Ground is also said to be haunted by Captain Kidd, who was hanged for piracy in 1701 after being tried without representation. According to legend, you should go to the cemetery at midnight – preferably when the moon is dark – and tap softly on the headstones three times while whispering “Captain Kidd, Captain Kidd, for what were you hanged” and Captain Kidd will answer with “nothing”.
King’s Chapel Burying Ground is located next to King’s Chapel at the corner of School Street and Tremont Street. Admission is free and the cemetery is open from 10:00 am until 4:30 pm Monday through Saturday and from 1:30 pm until midnight on Sundays.