As the oldest cemetery in Boston, Kings Chapel has a fascinating past and is the final resting place of many of the city’s earliest and prominent residents, as well as heroes of the Revolutionary War. Founded in 1630, Kings Chapel was Boston’s only burial ground for 30 years and was established by Sir Isaac Johnson, who was also the first person laid to rest here.
“With such a long history, it’s not surprising that this ancient cemetery is believed to be one of the most haunted places in the city.”
Located at the corner of Tremont and School Street, Kings Chapel attracts many visitors. Some are just interested in viewing the many historic gravestones and others are in search of paranormal activity. If you’re one of the latter groups, you’ll find that this cemetery is more than just a burial ground – it’s home to several ghosts and a place where many have experienced supernatural events.
Many have heard the story of a man who was allegedly buried alive in Kings Chapel Burying Ground – although the truth was never actually verified. By the time they dug up his grave, he was, in fact, dead. Another report tells the tragic story of a woman whose grave was made too short for her. When the gravediggers realized the error, it is said they cut off her head and placed it between her legs to fit her in. It is her spirit that many believe they have witnessed – a tortured and angry soul lingering about the cemetery.
In 1810, history tells us that many of the headstones in the burial ground were moved; and a few decades later, the markers in the center of the graveyard were also moved. This lack of respect for the dead is said to be the cause of many paranormal occurrences in the cemetery. It is believed that by moving the gravestones, it confused the spirits and now they wander about desperately searching for their graves.
Another story surrounds Captain Kidd who was supposedly working for the Governor in search of pirates. Later, it seems, Kidd himself was arrested and hung for piracy and buried in Kings Chapel. Many have said they have seen his ghost and heard his voice while visiting the graveyard. Other haunted tales include the appearance of orbs of light in photographs, the sight of flashes of light, shadowy figures, and the disappearance of videos on people’s cameras.
“If you visit Kings Chapel at night, stay close to your group and be ready to feel the eerie sense that someone is watching you – because the spirits usually are.”
Also, be sure to see the many ancient gravestones, including those of William Dawes, the midnight companion of Paul Revere; John Winthrop, Massachusetts’ first Governor; Mary Chilton, the first Englishwoman to step ashore in New England; and Elizabeth Pain, whose headstone inspired Nathaniel Hawthorne’s description of Hester Prynne’s grave in The Scarlett Letter. You can discover all this and more on our Boston ghost tour.