Monday, 8 February 2010
A wee ghost story to start the week
I never used to believe in ghosts. I was, shall we say, open minded but sceptical. Not to say that I didn't find the subject - and other peoples' experiences - fascinating. When we viewed this house, back in the 1980s, we fell in love with it. That we would end up living here was no foregone conclusion as we had offered on other houses elsewhere, but after losing several buyers on our house in Dorset, it came to pass that this rambling old Welsh farmhouse was where we ended up. It was, in the words of estate agents at the time, ripe for renovation. In other words, it was semi-derelict . . .
We moved in here with our eldest daughter who was about 15 mths old then. Her bedroom (the nursery) was the little room overlooking the front garden where I sit typing this. Initially our bedroom was the one next door. Life was hectic as we began the first renovations - unblocking fireplaces, including the inglenook in the kitchen, and reclaiming the "garden" which was just grass with a path up the middle and a couple of apple trees.
It wasn't until I was pregnant with our middle daughter and we moved along the hallway to the big bedroom where we still are, that I noticed an atmosphere on the landing outside our bedroom door. It wasn't threatening or scary, it was just "there" and it was an unhappy feeling. I put it down to the hormonal fancies of being pregnant. However, when my husband had to go away overnight to see his elderly mother in Manchester, I was left here alone. To be honest, I got myself so worked up that I was scared to spend the night here alone, and I called some neighbours who brought sleeping bags and camped out in a spare bedroom. Our old bedroom - the one with the chain lock on the door . . . Several doors had these simple locks. We wondered why?
We would occasionally hear footsteps, but my husband (sensibly) put them down to it being an old house creaking, although there was one occasion when I heard his footsteps coming up the stairs (as did my m-in-law who was in a bedroom backing onto the staircase) and yet my husband was in bed beside me at the time! I had to invent a story about him going back downstairs for something to my m-in-law as she was very nervy and would never have visited again (as it was she expected aliens to abduct her from her bed as "flying saucers have been seen in Wales you know" . . .)
Over the years I came to terms with the atmosphere - it was just "there". Then I came home one day to find that my husband had taken a hammer and crowbar to the planks and doorway which had blocked the stairs to the (then derelict) attic - a doorway with the stoutest lock yet. With the dark doorway gone and the stairs returned to their original form it looked so much better - and then I noticed that the atmosphere had gone too. For some reason we decided to spend that Christmas in the big back room beneath our bedroom which is called the Morning Room. It enabled us to have a huge tree and the children (by then we had 3) thought it was great. However, I noticed . . . an atmosphere . . . and spent the entire day in there desperate to get away from its gloom. The room quickly became a junk room . . .
We gradually got to grips with the work to be done on the house and my mother came to live with us in what had been the dairy in the very bottom of the house (it's built into a slope so on 3 1/2 levels). We reclaimed the attic too, and all of a sudden the housework doubled! The children became teenagers and the ante was upped for the ghostie.
Now we had banging too, sudden footsteps on the floor above - 2 or 3 steps, then nothing. It seemed to keep Middle Daughter company, and although she is used to it, Eldest Daughter gets freaked and has asked can we please NOT have a haunted house next time! It began to move around a bit, and I think for a while, we ended up with two of the perishers, after buying two big cupboards from the very haunted Theatre of Adelina Patti at Craig-Y-Nos. Shortly after those arrived, I woke in the wee small hours one morning to hear the most beautiful woman's operatic voice singing down in mum's. My mum was very deaf, and sound asleep, and I am afraid I just pulled the bedclothes up over my head and didn't go and investigate! Just that one occasion . . . but the other cupboard which was in another junk room at the back of the house, also seemed to have an occupant, and my eldest daughter would never play the piano in there unless someone was in keeping her company as she complained that she could feel eyes boring into her back . . . Probably those of an angry Adelina Patti for the piano was TOTALLY out of tune! Those cupboards have now gone to auction and been sold and hopefully someone else has a haunted cupboard in their house! I got totally freaked out the night I watched Most Haunted and found it was from Craig-y-Nos though!!!
Things really came to a head, ghostwise, when we had some friends visiting, and the gentleman was a medium. He said yes, we had an entity here, but it wasn't a ghost as such, it was just "here" - that was my "Atmosphere". That night, after they had left, I was sat here typing away (pretty much as I am doing now) and I heard a heavy breathing behind me. Strangely I wasn't scared. It was the ghostie playing up again. My son, up in the attic, also heard the same thing. Anyway, I went to bed and at 3.20 a.m. in the morning, I suddenly woke. I was laying facing our big window, which overlooks the paddock and then a hilly field beyond. There is a trackway down off this field onto the lane, and sometimes this is used by a neighbour when he goes lamping for rabbits. As I lay there I saw a bright light. I assumed it was Jim out in his Landy with a couple of dogs and a gun. But the light didn't move left with the track, it came straight towards the window, which seemed odd. Then it burst through the curtains in the form of an orb and dissolved in front of my eyes! Again - I wasn't frightened - though I had no great inclination to go to the bathroom on my own that night . . .
The next morning, I was out on the landing by our bedroom, telling my husband and son what I had seen that night, but trying to explain it away. As we stood there, the strongest smell of peardrops surrounded us. We all smelt it. There was no explaining THAT away and it was the Atmosphere telling us it was still there, and perhaps asking when was the nice man (our medium friend) coming back again?!
It obviously picks up on emotions as I can remember spending a very restless night waiting for my son to come home from his School Ball. I was worried as the roads were icy. The hours passed slowly. I tossed and turned, and then, joy of joys, though I hadn't heard the door, I could hear his footsteps coming up the stairs, and then on the stairs up to his attic bedroom. I was SO relieved. Half an hour later, still awake, I saw car headlights past our bedroom window, heard the slam of a car door, the screech of the gate, and then D WAS home and walking up the stairs. Explain THAT!
It moved around the house after that, taking up residence in wherever was the quietest part of the house. That is currently the bit under the eaves which hides the water tank and next to where Middle Daughter has her bed. It occasionally bangs on the wall when she's home, and it has a great liking for anything electrical. It frequently turns on her computer in the wee small hours, and at Christmas it turned her alarm on at 2 a.m. (probably with great glee!) and she couldn't make it turn off again so had to unplug it. . . .
We think it is connected with the sad case of two occupants of the house from the 1881 census, who were adult, but had "IDIOT" written down beside their names in the Handicap section of the census. I don't doubt that they were locked in various places whilst their elder sister, who had charge of the farm after her parents' death, and the rest of the family had to be at work outside. I think they were usually in the attic, but probably sometimes in the other front bedroom too, the one with the lock (a simple chain link and catch with a peg through it). I know they must have been very lonely and unhappy.
By now, you probably think that this is purely the workings of a fevered imagination and yet, when some previous occupants of the house (a Dutchman and his wife) called last year, they happened to mention the Atmosphere too. She used to be scared to cross the landing in the middle of the night (if her husband was in the yard with a difficult calving), so our wee ghostie has been here quite some while . . .
I am now tuned in to the blighters too, as when a friend and I visited Breamore House a couple of years ago, we went into a bedroom and you could have cut the atmosphere in there with a knife. Something was in there and it did NOT want a gaggle of Dutch ladies in there with it (we had inadvertantly joined a coach party by mistake). I couldn't stand the atmosphere which said "GET OUT OF MY ROOM" as clearly as if it had been screamed, and I went outside. My friend, who felt it too, said she wasn't going to be pushed about by a ghost!
We passed into the next room - a beautiful pale blue room with a double aspect. Thank heavens I thought, what a lovely atmosphere this room has. I walked down to the far end to examine some embroidery. I was standing close to one of the windows. I became aware of the most dreadful draught and thought, with all the money they must be taking here, you would think they'd sort the windows out! Anyway, I stepped away from the window, but the cold followed me. It was icy now, and starting to invade my body from behind. I could feel it creeping into my legs and lower back. I shot across the room like a scalded rabbit and said to Trish, "Whatever you do, DON'T go by the window, as there's another ghost there." Anyway, the guide who was doing the tour, gathered the group down that end and inadvertantly Trish stood by the window. I could see by her face that she was feeling what I had felt, and indeed all the hairs on her arms were stood up on end and she was covered in goose-bumps. I can only surmise that the combined (happy) energy of all those ladies had been all that the ghosts needed to be able to manifest themselves. Odd - I've been to Breamore several times before and noticed nothing . . .