english ghosts


In January 1765, Mr and Mrs Ricketts, the new tenants of Hinton Manor in Hampshire, “became alarmed by the frequent opening and shutting of doors during the night”, a phenomenon that persisted even after all of the locks had been changed, and which soon came to be augmented by sightings of “a figure in a ‘snuff-coloured’ coat” and by the sounds of disembodied conversation between “a shrill female voice . . . and then two others with deep and manlike tones”. In 1695, the curate of Warblington, dispatched to investigate a haunted building, sensed “something in the room that went about whistling”. In 1879, a lady staying with “some north country cousins . . . at their house in Yorkshire” woke in the night to see “at the foot of the bed a child . . . a little girl with dark hair and a very white face . . .”, her eyes “turned up with a look of entreaty, an almost agonised look”. In 1682 in Spraiton, Devon, a shoelace “was observed (without the assistance of any hand) to come of its own accord out of its shoe and fling itself to the other side of the room”. A maid went to retrieve the thing only to discover that “it strangely clasp’d and curl’d about her . . . like a living eel or serpent”. In 1649, a party of Cromwell’s men, staying in “the Mannor-house of Woodstock”, were tormented by something “treading as they conceived much like a Bear”, which threw “a Glass and great Stones at them . . . and the bones of Horses, and all so violently that the Bed-stead and the Walls were bruised by them”. One hundred and fifty years later, Lord Brougham, reclining in his bath and “enjoying the comfort of the heat”, was confronted by the figure of his oldest friend, recently deceased but sitting, all the same, on a chair beside the tub, “looking calmly” at him.

more from Jonathan Barnes at the TLS here.