Wednesday, October 31, 2012

October Haunting - The Most Haunted Castle In Ireland

Leap Castle

Standing upon a vast throne of solid rock, Leap Castle is an Irish castle it was built in the late 15th century by the O'Bannon family and was originally called "Leap of the O'Bannons." The O'Bannons were the "secondary chieftains" of the territory, and were subject to the ruling of the warlike O'Carroll clan.

The Earl of Kildare, Gerald FitzGerald, tried unsuccessfully to seize the castle in 1513-14. Three years later, he attacked the castle again and managed to partially demolish it. However, by 1557 the O'Carrolls had regained possession. In 1558 the castle was deliberately set on fire and ruined to prevent it being captured by Elizabethan forces, who decided to occupy the castle anyway. It was recaptured by the O’Carrolls less than a year later.

The ruined section of
Leap Castle - inside view
The O’Carrolls and its eventful history is mostly written in their blood. In the 16th century, O'Carroll of the Leap held a lavish banquet at his family fortress and invited a rural branch of his own sept to partake of his hospitality. No sooner had the guests sat down to dinner, then he massacred everyone of them. Inner clan bloodshed was a common occurrence and members of the tribe attended family get togethers or re-unions at their peril.

Following the death of Mulrooney O' Carroll in 1532, family struggles plagued the O'Carroll clan. A fierce rivalry for the leadership erupted within the family. The bitter fight for power turned brother against brother. One of the brothers was a priest. The O'Carroll priest was holding mass for a group of his family (in what is now called the "Bloody Chapel"). While he was chanting the holy rites, his rival brother burst into the chapel, plunged his sword into his brother and fatally wounded him. The butchered priest fell across the altar and died in front of his family.

In 1659, the castle passed by marriage into the ownership of the Darby family. The castle was altered during the 17th century. They extended the castle and added the Jacobean house to the N face of the tower house. A later Georgian house was also added. However in order to pay for these extensions, rents were raised and much of the land accompanying the castle was sold. The castle was finally destroyed by 30 bombs and 20 cases of petrol in 1922 during the civil war.

Many people were imprisoned and executed in the castle, and it is supposedly haunted by several specters  the most terrifying of these beings is a small grey humanoid with a decaying face with black holes for eyes. The apparition is said to be accompanied by the stench of a decomposing corpse and the smell of sulphur. Some call this an Elemental and its name is 'It!'

The ruined section of
Leap Castle -outside view
Its haunted reputation goes back to the 17th century when servants of the Darby's would not enter the upper parts of the castle because of ghosts associated with the O’Carrolls, who, according to local legend, would throw enemies to their deaths from the top of the castle.

One account from the 17th century from Mrs. Jonathan Darby and her alleged encounter with a type of ghost called an “elemental”. It runs as follows:

“The thing was about the size of a sheep, thin, gaunt and shadow in parts. Its face was human, or to be more accurate, inhuman, in its vileness, with large holes of blackness for eyes, loose slobbery lips, and a thick saliva dripping jaw, sloping back suddenly into its neck. Nose it had none, only spreading cancerous cavities, the whole face being a uniform tint of grey. This too was the colour of the dark coarse hair covering its head, neck and body. Its fore arms were thickly coated with the same hair, so were its paws, large loose and hand-shaped and as it sat on its hind legs, one hand or paw was raised, and a claw like finger was extended ready to scratch the paint. Its lusterless eyes, which seemed half decomposed in black cavities, and looked incredibly foul, stared into mine, and the horrible smell which had before offended my nostrils, only a hundred times intensified, came up into my face, filling me with a deadly nausea. I noticed the lower half of the creature was indefinite and seemed semi-transparent at least, I could see the framework of the door that led into the gallery through its body.”
The Bloody Chapel

While renovating a hidden dungeon was found off the bloody chapel. It was a small room with a drop floor. Those who were forgotten within this room suffered unimaginable pain and misery until their death. Prisoners would be pushed into the room to fall through the floor and land on a spike eight feet below. If you were not lucky enough to die quickly on the spike, you died of starvation in an odorless room while the aroma of food and the sounds of merriment drifted up from the rooms below. A narrow window would let you watch those who came and went in freedom from the castle.

The castle workers discovered human skeletons laid piled on top of each other. It took three full cart loads to remove all of the bones. Among the bones workmen found a pocket watch made in the 1840's it is unknown who it belonged to. It is not certain if the dungeon was still in use then. These series of spikes are now covered with a vast amount of twigs, grass and dirt, to protect anyone entering it.

The Oubliette
In 1991, Seán Ryan a world-class musician, and along with his wife Anne purchased the property and began restoration work. Leap Castle's Bloody Chapel was the christening of the owner's baby daughter. For the first time in centuries the "Bloody Chapel" was filled with music, dancing, laughter, and most of all love. The day had been a "happy, pleasant, wonderful day". If the troubled spirits of Leap Castle did not leave, maybe they have finally found some peace.

However in May 2002 Sean Ryan, , found a ghostly old man sitting in a chair by a downstairs fireplace. Having bade his phantom guest “good day”, Sean continued about his business. After all, a new ghost dropping by unannounced, is just part of life’s rich tapestry, when you happen to live in what has long been considered Ireland’s most haunted castle.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

October Haunting - Poveglia Island‏

Poveglia Island is one of many island in the lagoons of Venice, Italy but instead of being a place of beauty, the island is a festering blemish in the shimmering sea and is not only regarded as one of the most haunted locations on the planet, but also one of the most evil places in the world.  Today no one visits save to harvest the vineyards.  Fishermen even steer clear of the island for fear that they will catch human bones in their nets.

The dark history of Poveglia Island began during the Roman Era when it was used to isolate plague victims from the general population.  Centuries later, when the Black Death rolled through Europe it served that purpose again.   The dead  were dumped into large pits and buried or burned.  As the plague tightened its grip, the population began to panic and those residents showing the slightest sign of sickness were taken from their homes and to the island of Poveglia kicking and screaming and pleading.  They were thrown onto piles of rotting corpses and set ablaze.  Men, women, children... all left to die in agony.  It's estimated that the tiny island saw as many as 160,000 bodies during this time.

The island has become a putrid area indeed.  The soil of the island combined with the charred remains of the bodies dumped there creating a thick layer of sticky ash.  The core of the island is literally human remains that has given the island a loathsome reputation, but appears to be very good for the grapevines that are planted there.  Think about that next time you partake of Italian wine!

As if the story was not disturbing enough, it gets worse.  In 1922 the island became home to a psychiatric hospital complete with a large and very impressive bell tower.  The patients of this hospital immediately began to report that they would see ghosts of plague victims on the island and that they would be kept up at night hearing the tortured wails of the suffering spirits.  Because they were already considered mad by the hospital staff, these complaints were largely ignored.

To add to the anguish of the poor souls populating this island hospital, one doctor there decided to make a name for himself by experimenting on his subjects all to find a cure for insanity.  Lobotomies were performed on his pitiable patients using crude tools like hand drills, chisels, and hammers.  Those patients and even the ones who were not privy to the doctor's special attentions were taken to the bell tower where they were tortured and subjected to a number of inhumane horrors.

According to the lore, after many years of performing these immoral acts, the evil doctor began to see the tortured plague ridden spirits of Poveglia Island himself.  It is said that they led him to the bell tower where he jumped (or was thrown) to the grounds below.  The fall did not kill him according to a nurse who witnessed the event, but she related that as he lay on the ground writhing in pain, a mist came up out of the ground and choked him to death.  It's rumored that the doctor is bricked up in the hospital bell tower and on a still night, the bell can be heard tolling across the bay.  The hospital closed down.

For a time, the Italian government owned the island, but it was later sold.  That owner abandoned it in the 1960's and was the last person to try and live there.  A family recently sought to buy the island and build a holiday home on it but they left the first night there and refused to comment on what happened.  The only fact that we do know is that their daughters face was ripped open and required fourteen stitches.

Today Poveglia is uninhabited and tourism to island is strictly forbidden.  Every now and then the lapping waves on the shore uncover charred human bones.

Several psychics have visited the island the abandoned hospital, but all of them left scared to death of what they had sensed there.  Every now and then daredevils dodge the police patrols to explore the island, but everyone who has made it there have refused to return saying that there is a heavy atmosphere of evil and the screams and tortured moans that permeate the island make staying there unbearable.

One report from a misguided thrill seeker who fled the island says that after entering the abandoned hospital, a disembodied voice ordered them, "Leave immediately and do not return."

They never did.

Monday, October 29, 2012

October Haunting Double Feature - The Queen Mary and Aokigahara: The Demon Forest‏

October Haunting Day 28 - The Queen Mary

The Queen Mary was in service for decades as both a World War II transport ship and a luxury liner. It wasn't intended as such at the time, but the Queen Mary was named "The Grey Ghost" during the war because of the color she was painted to make her stealthy in the war-time waters.

In her time, the Queen Mary carried seasick sailors, destitute stowaways and wealthy vacationers. With this kind of history it's not surprising she saw her own share of deaths, now a hair shy of 50. In fact, there are so many haunting that some parts of the ship are now barred from the public. But for the paranormally curious there are still haunted tours of the cabins and halls that housed death. You can also lodge at the Queen Mary but after reading this, you may have second thoughts.

The Engine Room
Of the numerous deaths, there was a young seaman by the name of John Henry who lied about his age to procure a position on the Queen Mary and was soon crushed to death while trying to flee a fire. To this day, knocks and bright lights can be heard around engine room 13 where the young man met his untimely death. Ịt's even been reported that the door to the engine room is sometimes hot to the touch or that mixed in with a ball of light is tendrils of smoke.
A girl from third class thought she'd have some fun and slide down the banister but a sudden wave upset her course and she broke her neck on the fall. She now wanders the pool area and nursery looking for her doll or mommy. She is not alone though. In the 30's and 60's two other women met their unfortunate deaths in the pool area and are seen periodically in that area.

War always brings atrocities but how about a cook that was cooked because the troops on board didn't like his meals? They stuffed him into the oven and burnt him alive as a lesson for bad cuisine. His screams still echo his horrible death to this day.

If you're still feeling brave enough to consider sleeping on the Queen, there was also a reported visitor that slipped a steward some cash in exchange for finding a 'willing' female passenger to keep him company for the night. After stowing his luggage, a female companion was found and they retired for the night. In the morning the man was missing from the dining hall so the steward went to find him. What they found instead was the corpse of the female companion! They could not locate the male guest, his registration information for that room nor his luggage, which people swore was checked and stowed. He simply vanished and left only a trail of blood and rumors.

The Queen Mary is home to 49 deaths but she was also surrounded by death. In an attempt to avoid enemy ships, she zig zagged her way into her companion ship, nearly cutting it in half, and was forced to leave 300 survivors in the water to be eaten by sharks or drowned. It is reported that mysterious pounding on the side of the Queen Mary is those men trying to signal to come on board.

The in-house psychic, Peter James, claims that he has communicated with over 150 separate ghosts on the ship. Peter gives bi-monthly ghost tours of the ship and claims to have made numerous contact with various ghosts, including a few mentioned above. From the sheer number and type of deaths that occurred, it seems plausible.

October Haunting Day 29 - Aokigahara: The Demon Forest‏ 

Located at the base of Mt. Fuji, Aokigahara is perhaps the most infamous forest in all of Japan. Also known as the Sea of Trees, Suicide Forest, and Japan’s Demon Forest, Aokigahara has been home to over 500 confirmed suicides since the 1950s. Called “the perfect place to die,” Aokigahara is the world’s second most popular place for suicide (the Golden Gate Bridge being the first).

Legend says that this all started after Seicho Matsumoto published a novel by the name of Kuroi Kaiju (Black Sea of Trees) in 1960. The story ends with two lovers committing suicide in the forest, so many people believe that’s what started it all. However, the history of suicide in Aokigahara predates the novel, and the place has long been associated with death. Hundreds upon hundreds of Japanese people have hanged themselves from the trees of Aokigahara forest.

Wataru Tsurumui’s controversial 1993 bestseller, The Complete Suicide Manual, is a book that describes various modes of suicide and even recommends Aokigahara as the perfect place to die. Apparently this book is also a common find in the forest, usually not too far away from a suicide victim and their belongings. Undoubtedly, the most common method of suicide in the forest is hanging.

Japan’s suicide rate is already bad enough as it is, and having this forest and suicide manual on top of it all is pretty terrible. It’s really sad. Despite many efforts to prevent suicide and provide help to those considering it, Japan’s suicide rate continues to rise.

Legend has it that in ancient times families would abandon people in the forest during periods of famine when there was not enough food to go around. By sacrificing family members to the forest, there would be less mouths to feed and therefore enough food for the rest of the family. Those abandoned in the forest would die long, horrible, drawn out deaths due to starvation. Because of that, Aokigahara is also said to be haunted by the souls of these abandoned people.

In addition, there are many other ghost and demon stories associated with the forest. It is said that these ghastly spirits glide between the trees with their white, shifting forms being occasionally spotted by unsuspecting visitors out of the corners of their eyes.

Japanese spiritualists believe that the suicides committed in the forest have permeated Aokigahara’s soil and trees, generating paranormal activity and preventing many who enter from escaping the gnarled depths of the forest. Aokigahara is not the kind of place you’d want to honeymoon at, that’s for sure.

The vast forest covers a 3,500 hectare wide area and the tree coverage in Aokigahara is so thick that even at high noon it’s entirely possible to find places shrouded in complete darkness. It’s also mostly devoid of animals and is eerily quiet. Hearing a bird chirping in the forest is incredibly rare. The area is rocky, cold, and littered with over 200 caves for you to accidentally fall into.

The discomforting forest is known for the thickness of its trees, its twisting network of woody vines, and the dangerous unevenness of the forest floor. All of this together gives the place a very unwelcoming feeling.

Further compounding the creepiness factor is the common occurrence of compasses, cell phones, and GPS systems being rendered useless by the rich deposits of magnetic iron in the area’s volcanic soil. I’m sure this fact has helped propagate the legend of the forest’s demonic habit of trapping visitors within it.

Besides bodies and homemade nooses, also scattered around the forest are signs put up by the police with messages like “Your life is a precious gift from your parents,” and “Please consult with the police before you decide to die,” in an attempt to discourage would be committers of suicide. Judging from the increasing number of suicides, these signs probably aren’t all that effective.

By the 1970s the suicides had become so infamous that the Japanese government started to do annual sweeps of the forest to search for and clear out the bodies. In 2002, 78 bodies were found within the forest, exceeding the previous record of 74 in 1998. By 2003, the rate had climbed to 100.

In recent years, the local government has stopped publicizing the numbers in an attempt to downplay Aokigahara’s association with suicide. In 2004, 108 people killed themselves in the forest and in 2010, 247 people attempted suicide, 54 of whom succeeded. But that’s just the number they found and reported. Who knows how many more there are that just go undiscovered?

The forest workers have it even worse than the police who comb and investigate the forest. The workers are tasked with the job of carrying the bodies down from the forest to the local station, where the bodies are put in a special room used specifically to house suicide corpses. The forest workers then play janken to see who has to sleep in the room with the corpse. Talk about terrible.

The reason for these strange sleeping arrangements is that it is believed if the corpse is left alone, it’s very bad luck for the ghost of the suicide victim. Their spirits are said to scream throughout the night if left alone, and their bodies will get up and shuffle around, searching for company.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

October Haunting - The Ghosts of Inverary Castle

The original Inverary Castle was built as a stronghold for the Campbell clan in the 15th century by Colin Campbell who was the 1st Earl of Argyll but it was burnt down by the Marquis of Montrose in 1644. The third Duke of Argyll build the Castle as we know it now in 1744. Early design drawings begin in 1720 and the first sketch was by Sir John Vanburgh who also designed Castle Howard and Blenheim Castle. He died in 1726 and his designs were developed further by Roger Morris. The original architect was William Adam, an esteemed Scottish architect at the time. It is an early example of the Scottish Baronial style of Castle with turrets and corner towers. The nearby town of Inverary was developed in the same era.

The architects John and Robert Adam remodelled the Castle in the 19th century for the 5th Duke of Argyll and then again after a fire in 1877 which had destroyed much of the upper floors. They were the sons of the original architect of Inverary Castle. An Armoury Hall was built and external conical caps added to the corner towers.

Another fire occurred in 1975 and a major restoration took place in the 1990s by the 12th Duke of Argyll.

Famous visitors to Inverary Castle include King James V in 1533 and Mary Queen of Scots in 1562.

Inverary Castle can be found in Scotland between Glasgow and Oban. It sits by Loch Fyne. Inverary Castle has been the seat of the Dukes of Argyll since the 1400s and though some of the rooms and garden are open to the public in the summer months it remains a family home. Visitors can tour the gardens and the main reception rooms and some of the bedrooms. They may even get a glimpse of the Inverary Castle ghosts and see a haunting...

The Phantom Harpist

The first of the Inverary Castle ghosts is the phantom harpist ghost. The Duke of Argyll was driven from his Castle in the year 1644 by the Marquis of Montrose. But the Duke's harpist was left behind. Some sources say the harpist was left behind as punishment for looking through the keyhole of the Lady of the castle. The Marquis of Montrose found the harpist and ordered him to be executed by hanging. Since his death the harpist has been seen roaming Inverary castle, playing his harp and dressed in the Campbell tartan.

Others say that the harpist was killed during the siege at Inverary Castle.

Whatever the true origins for the reasons for his haunting the castle he is known locally as the Harper of Inverary. He is a friendly ghost that appears more often to women and is rarely seen by men. His music can often be heard in various parts of Inverary Castle, especially the Library.

Ghost Battle

The second of the Inverary Castle ghosts involve a major haunting of the sight of a ghost battle. It was first seen by Sir William Bart, a Physician, on the 10 July 1758. He was walking the grounds of Inverary Castle with two other men (a friend and a servant) and all three witnessed the hauntings. It was also witnessed by two ladies at a later date. All narrate the story of looking to the sky to see a ghost battle taking place between Highland and French soldiers. The Highlanders were retreating after unsuccessfully attacking a French held fort and had to leave many dead comrades behind.

Weeks later the news came from abroad that a Highland Regiment from a British force of 15,000 men had lost 1994 men, of which 300 were Highland soldiers of the Black Watch Regiment, whilst attacking the French held fort of Ticonderoga in Canada.

Ghost Ship Loch Fyne

A ghost ship has been seen on nearby Loch Fyne. It is a ghostly galley with three men onboard and looks like the ship that is pictured on the Campbells' coat of arms. Witnesses have seen it move up Loch Fyne and onto the shores and land and then disappearing into the land.

When the ghost ship of Loch Fyne is seen it is said to foretell the death of the clan Campbell Chief. It is thought that the ghost ship goes onto land to claim the life of the Chieftain. One Chieftain in the 18th century was said to have drunk poison after seeing the ghost ship come onto Loch Fynne.

Female Ghost

There have been sightings of a female ghost haunting Inverary Castle. This female ghost is thought to have been killed by a Jacobite soldier.

Friday, October 26, 2012

October Haunting - The Borley Rectory

An old photograph of the Borley Rectory

Borley Rectory was reputed to be the most haunted house in the UK. The rectory was built by the Rev. Henry D. E. Bull in 1863 near the river Stour, Essex, to house himself, his wife and their 14 children. However the rectory burnt down in a fire started in mysterious circumstances in 1939.

It's thought that the rectory was destined to be a haunted house from the start due to the events that had occurred on the site many centuries before.The foundation was an age old Priory on land that contained a 12th century Church, Caretaker's House and other buildings. A.C. Henning, the rector in 1936, discovered that the Doomsday Book told of a Borley Manor prior to 1066, so he concluded a wooden church was probably also built around that time. The foundations contained underground tunnels and a complex of vault rooms. The Rectory had 20 rooms, was about 3 stories high.

The most popular story to the background of Borley was that in 1362 Benedictine Monks built a monastery on the site which would later hold the rectory. Legend told of a nun from the Bures convent, 7 miles southeast of Borley falling in love with a monk from the monastery. They had decided to elope to be together, but the elders discovered their plans. A friend of the monk was to drive a carriage to help them escape. On the fateful night they were captured by the elders. The coachman was beheaded, the monk hanged and the nun was bricked up alive in the walls of the vaults beneath the rectory. Their ghosts have haunted the site ever since.

Reverend Henry D. E. Bull became rector of Borley in 1862. He built a large, brick building the next year. Bull added a new wing to the already rambling building in 1875. The first reported paranormal sightings at Borley were reported by P. Shaw Jeffrey who witnessed stone throwing and similar poltergeist activity whilst visiting the rectory during 1885.

Unexplained events scattered throughout the early years of the rectory. A former headmaster of the Colchester Royal Grammar School reported seeing a ghostly nun several times during 1885. A series of pastors and their families who have lived at the rectory have all reported sightings of the nun. It was reported that during dinner parties guests saw the nun's pale face in the window looking in. It got so bad that they eventually bricked up the window.

Henry Bull died in the Blue Room of the rectory May 7, 1892. He was succeeded by his son, also named Henry. The younger Bull was called "Harry" to avoid confusion with his father. On July 28th, 1900, three Bull daughters reportedly saw a figure on a path, which later became known as the "Nuns Walk", to the rear of the rectory. They were joined by a fourth sister to help greet the stranger, but the apparition disappeared. Harry also told of seeing the nun, together with the phantom coach in which she had eloped.

Photograph of the nun or monk on the "Nun's Walk"
She was also seen wandering the grounds around the Rectory, in and out of the bushes, dressed in grey. There are reports of the Monk and Nun passing across the grounds. Several people said they observed "A lady in grey cloak" and "A gentleman with a sort of bald head, dressed in a long black gown."

On June 9, 1927 Harry died in the "Blue Room" of the rectory. Earlier, he had said he had "communications with spirits," and that he would throw moth balls after his death. The rectory was empty for several months after Harry's death. During the autumn of 1927, and while it was still empty, a local carpenter named Fred Cartwright said he saw a nun four separate times by the gate.

Reverend Guy Eric Smith and his wife moved to Borley on 2nd October, 1928. Soon after, he heard whispers and moans, including the words "Don't Carlos, don't." Henry D. E. Bull had been given the nick name of "Carlos". While living in the rectory, the Smiths apparently heard the loud ringing of the doorbell; experienced small pebbles being thrown, heard footsteps , noticed keys disappear and lights being turned on. A horse-drawn coach was also claimed to have been seen coming through the gates of the rectory.

Smiths contacted the Daily Mirror in June of 1929 asking for help. The newspaper, in turn, approached psychic investigator Harry Price. The Daily Mirror sent a reporter named C.V. Wall to the rectory June 10, resulting in the first published report of paranormal activity. Wall listened to the tales of the Smiths, and saw a "mysterious light" in the window during his visit.

On June 12, Harry Price arrived at the rectory for the first time, accompanied by his secretary, Miss Lucie Kaye, and by the reporter. They witnessed stones and other objects being thrown across rooms. Wall later said that he had seen the nun.

Price returned for a second visit 27th June. Various phenomena were reported, including the appearance of a Catholic medallion and other articles. There was also incessant bell ringing.

By 14th July, 1929, the Smiths moved out "owing to the lack of amenities and the nuisance created by the publicity of the newspaper reports."

During October 1930, Reverend Lionel Foyster, his wife Marianne, and their adopted daughter Adelaide moved in to Borley Rectory. This was the beginning of the most famous period in poltergeist history. It was referred to as "the most extraordinary and best documented case of haunting in the annals of psychical research" by Henry Price.

At least two thousand Poltergeist phenomena were experienced at the Rectory between October 1930 and October 1935 during the tenancy of Lionel and Marianne Foyster. In later years, Mrs. Foyster came up with explanations for how many of these paranormal events could have happened naturally. However there were some phenomena that she was never sure about, including various writings that appeared on the walls and on slips of paper that mysteriously appeared out of nowhere.

The mysterious writings
During the first year of their tenancy, Lionel described many unexplained happenings including; bell ringing, the appearance of Harry Bull, glass objects appearing out of nowhere and being dashed to the floor, books appearing, and many items being thrown, including pebbles and an iron. After an attempt at exorcism, Marianne was thrown out of bed several times.

The Foysters lived at the Rectory for 5 years before leaving, and contrary to popular belief they were not frightened away from the rectory. They left only because Lionel's ill health made it impossible for him to continue his work. After the Foyster's left, the house stood empty for a couple of years, but the phenomena continued. Although the presence of Marianne seemed to precipitate the most paranormal activity, unexplained events occurred at Borley both before and after the Foyster residency.

Price said "Every person who has resided in the rectory since it was built in 1863, and virtually every person who has investigated the alleged miracles, has sworn to incidents that can only be described as paranormal."

Price was given the opportunity to study the haunting further when no one could be found to live in the rectory. He leased the rectory for a year, and advertised in The Times for "responsible persons of leisure and intelligence, intrepid, critical and unbiased", to form a team of investigators who would spend several nights in the abandoned building. The lease began in June of 1937 and little, if any, poltergeist activity was witnessed during this year-long study. The most common occurrence was the movement of objects out of their documented locations, and the sounds of footsteps.

A mysterious coat appeared, but no sightings of the nun were observed. Some witnesses felt a sudden chill outside the Blue Room, and certain parts of the house were consistently colder than others.

The photograph of the
brick allegedly rising from
the rubble
After Price's study group left the rectory, the house was eventually purchased by Captain William Gregson and his family who were the last people to live in the rectory. The rectory burnt down on the 27th February 1939 when Gregson overturned an oil lamp whilst stocking some bookcases. Witnesses who watched the blaze spotted ghosts in the windows. The site was demolished in 1944.

During 1944 LIFE magazine researched an article on Borley Rectory. Whilst photographing the final demolition of the rectory, the photographer took pictures showing a brick rise from the rubble in the doorway. Skeptics say that it was merely a brick that had been thrown by a nearby workman and accidentally captured by the photographer.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

October Haunting - Ancient Ram Inn

Outside of the Ram Inn

The Ancient Ram Inn possesses a genuinely chilling aura, and a reputation that is so menacing that many local people won’t even walk past it at night.

The building is thought to date from around 1145, and it has been suggested that the workmen who built the parish church opposite were lodged here.

It served for a time as a priest’s house before converting to an inn.

Its last pint was pulled in 1968.

 Once it had closed for business John Humphries, who is now the sole permanent living occupant, purchased the building from the brewery. He has been battling to save the structure ever since, irrespective of the endeavours by former residents to interfere as much as possible.

The Ram's Head
The moment you enter the old inn, an aura of dreadful foreboding envelopes you. The bare walls, creaking floorboards, steep stairs and mysterious shadows are sufficient to elicit the coldest of shivers; whilst the legions of ghost stories that come marching from its mist-shrouded past can chill the blood of even the most steadfast cynic.

‘The atmosphere was awful,’ is how one visitor put it, ‘I can only describe it as pure filth…dark and heavy.’

The first room that visitors encounter is the "Men’s Kitchen." This reputedly stands on the site of a pagan burial ground, and the disturbing sound of a baby crying is often heard here.

Photograph of mysterious mist
People ascending the steep staircase up to the first floor have been thrown up the stairs by invisible hands.

A photograph taken here in June 1999 showed a mysterious white mist, about the height of a human, ascending the staircase.

On the first floor is The Ram’s most haunted and terrifying room, the Bishop’s Room. A medium pushing open its door was once lifted off the ground and flung across the corridor. The atmosphere inside is oppressive and disturbing.

A ghostly cavalier has been known to materialize by the dressing table and stride purposefully across to the opposite wall.

The Bar
Two monks have been seen shimmering in one corner. Witnesses have heard the terrified screams of a man who was, reputedly, murdered here by having his head thrust into the fire.

A phantom shepherd and his dog have been seen near the door, whilst those who spend the night in the room have often attracted the lustful attentions of either an incubus or a succubus. ‘Rather a lot for one room,’ observed John Humphries to me with decided understatement.

Climbing into the attic and crouching beneath the roof timbers, a feeling of intense melancholy appears to hang in the air.

The Bishop's Room
An innkeeper’s daughter is said to have been murdered in this roof space in the early 1500s, and people attempting to sleep in the Bishop’s Room below often hear the sound of ‘something heavy’ being dragged across the floor above their heads.

There is little doubt that the spirits and demons that reside within the walls of The Ancient Ram Inn are extremely active.

It is a place where nightmares abound, and is certainly not for those of a nervous disposition. But to cross its threshold is to step back in time, and the chance of an encounter with one of its many ghosts is not to be missed.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

October Haunting - Berry Pomeroy Castle‏

The Gatehouse

The castle, now a romantic ruin, is reputed to be one of the most haunted in the British Isles. It has numerous legends associated with it, and although now only a shell of its former glory, it retains an air of its troubled history.

The lands around the present castle were originally bestowed upon Ralph de Pomeroy by William the Conqueror, as reward for his loyalty and support during the Norman invasion, and the subsequent battle of Hastings. The Norman structure, still seen in the gatehouse of the present ruin, dates from the end of the 13th Century, when Henry de Pomeroy (the 9th generation of Pomeroy's) started the construction of the castle. The structure had been completed by Henry's death in 1305.

A spooky staircase
The castle remained in Pomeroy hands until the late 1540's, when the castle was bought or acquired by other means by the influential Sir Edward Seymour. Edward was the Lord Protector, and the brother of Jane Seymour, third wife to Henry VIII. Edward commissioned the building of a mansion house within the confines of the Norman castle, creating the resultant mixture of architecture seen today.

Edward Seymour made a lot of enemies as Lord Protector, and he was ousted by the Earl of Warwick and imprisoned in the Tower of London in October 1549. With 29 charges against him he was sentenced to death and executed on January 22nd 1552.

Somehow the castle remained in Seymour hands, and continued to be occupied by them up until 1688, when it was abandoned as an abode. There is some evidence that a proportion of the rooms remained inhabitable up until the reign of George the IV, and the castle has remained in guardianship of the Seymours, currently the 19th Earl of Somerset. In 1977 English Heritage took over the maintenance of the castle, and have continued to carry out restorations to the present day.

The inside of the castle.
The castle has been the scene of numerous ghostly sightings and strange phenomena. The most enduring ghosts seem to be the terrifying apparitions of a White Lady and a Blue Lady. The White Lady haunts the dark dungeons, and rises from St Margaret's Tower to the castle ramparts, where she has been seen beckoning to witnesses (as recently as 1987). According to the legend she is the spirit of Margaret Pomeroy, who was imprisoned in the dungeons by her sister Eleanor. Eleanor was jealous of both her beauty and her affections for the man she had designs upon. Margaret slowly starved in the dungeons, a long drawn out and painful death. Whether she is the source of the feeling of unease and horror some people experience at the castle is unknown.

The Blue Lady is not confined to specific areas of the castle and is supposed to lure people into parts of the ruin. Traditionally she is seen as the ghost of the daughter of one of the Norman Lords of the castle. She was raped by her father, who then strangled the resulting child in one of the upper rooms.

In other tales it is she who strangles the child, haunting the castle in anguish. When seen, her face is said to portray this suffering. She is regarded as a death portent to members of the Seymour family.

Sir Walter Farquar (Dr Farquar) is said to have seen the spirit while he was attending to the wife of one of the Stewards in the 19th Century. She died soon afterwards although she seemed to be making a full recovery.

Another popular tradition relates to the heroic fate of two brothers (Pomeroys), who were besieged at the castle at some point in its history. To save face from a long drawn out defeat, they dressed in full armour, mounted their horses, and rode off the top of the castle ramparts and precipice below. The area was known thereafter as the Pomeroy's leap, and is associated with anomalous noises such as screams and dull thuds. This story may have origins in a real life event, although the occurrence does not appear in written history.

Whatever the nature of the occurrences there is no doubt that strange events will continue to be experienced at the castle, and it is well worth the effort of making a trip to see the romantic ruin.