Famous Haunted Houses and Places

Famous Haunted Houses and Places

In a Gallup Poll conducted in May 2001, 42 percent of the respondents said that they believed that houses could be haunted by ghosts or spirits of the dead. Psychoanalyst Dr. Nandor Fodor theorized that genuinely haunted houses were those that had soaked up emotional unpleasantness from former occupants. Years, or even centuries, later, the emotional energy may become reactivated when later occupants of the house undergo a similar emotional disturbance. The "haunting"mysterious knocks and rappings, opening and slamming doors, cold drafts, appearance of ghostly figuresis produced, in Fodor's hypothesis, by the merging of the two energies, one from the past, the other from the present. In Fodor's theory, the reservoir of absorbed emotions, which lie dormant in a haunted house, can only be activated when emotional instability is present. Those homes which have a history of happy occupants, the psychoanalyst believed, are in little danger of becoming haunted.

Psychic investigator Edmund Gurney put forth the hypothesis that the collective sighting of a ghost is due to a sort of telepathic "infection." One percipient sees the ghost and, in turn, telepathically influences another person, and so on.

In his presidential address to the Society for Psychic Research in 1939, H. H. Price, a distinguished professor of logic at Oxford University, put forth his "psychic ether" theory of hauntings. Price hypothesized that a certain level of mind may be capable of creating a mental image that has a degree of persistence in the psychic ether. This mental image may also contain a degree of telepathic ability by which it can affect others. Price's theory holds that the collective emotions or thought images of a person who has lived in a house some time in the past may have intensely "charged" the psychic ether of the place especially if there had been such powerful emotions as fear, hatred, or sorrow, supercharged by an act of violence. The original agent, Price theorized, has no direct part in the haunting. It is the charged psychic ether which, when presented with a percipient of suitable telepathic affinity, collaborates in the production of the idea-pattern of a ghost.

Ghosts, according to Price, may be manifestations of past events that have been brought to the minds of persons sensitive enough to receive a kind of "echo" from the past. These sensitive individuals receive impressions from those emotion-charged events that have left some trace of some energy in the inanimate objects at the place where they occurred. This information, or memory, may be transmitted as telepathic messages that can be received at some deep level of the human subconscious. These impressions then express themselves in the conscious mind in such a form as an uneasy feeling or a ghost.

Perhaps every old house, courtroom, hospital ward, apartment, or railroad depot is "haunted." Any edifice that has been much used as a setting for human activity almost certainly has been saturated with memory traces of the entire gamut of emotions. But it may be this multiplicity of mental images that works against the chances of a ghost popping up in every hotel room and depot lobby. An over-saturation of idea-patterns in the majority of homes and public places may have left only a kaleidoscopic mass of impressions that combine to produce the peculiar atmosphere one senses in so many places. It is only when an idea-pattern that has been supercharged with enormous psychic intensity finds the mental level of a percipient with the necessary degree of telepathic affinity that a real ghost can appear.

A ghost, then, in Price's theory, has nothing to do with the "supernatural." The appearance of a specter is an out-of-the-ordinary occurrence, a paranormal happening, but there is a "natural" cause for the manifestation of the ghost. Once science determines just how the energy released by intense emotions is able to permeate the matter of wood, stone, metal, and gems and just how the furnishings of a room are able to absorb these vibrations, it will be as easy to "dehaunt" a house as it is to rid it of pests. Medical doctors have learned to deal with the unseen world of viruses; physicists have learned to work with such unseen lines of force as electricity; so may it be one day with the "psychic germs" that infect haunted houses and the invisible field of force that dictates the mechanism of ghosts.

In the hauntings described in this chapter, however, there were no psychical researchers available who had the ability to negate the effect of the powerful psychic energies that had been released by entities from other dimensions, spirits of the dead, or unconscious psychokinetic projections of the living.

Delving Deeper

Bardens, Dennis. Ghosts and Hauntings. New York: Ace Books, 1965.

Carrington, Hereward, and Nandor Fodor. Haunted People. New York: New American Library, 1968.

Fodor, Nandor. The Haunted Mind. New York: New American Library, 1968.

Sitwell, Sacheverell. Poltergeists. New York: University Books, 1959.

Stevens, William Oliver. Unbidden Guests. New York: Dodd, Mead & Co., 1957.

Tyrell, G. N. M. Apparitions. New York: Collier Books, 1963.

Bell Witch's Cave

According to most accounts, the disturbances began one night in 1817 with mysterious rappings on the windows of the Bells' cabin near Clarksville, Tennessee. Twelve-year-old Elizabeth "Betsy" Bell began to complain of an invisible rat gnawing on her bedpost at night, and the entire family, including the parents, John and Luce, experienced the midnight confusion of having their covers pulled off their beds.

When the Bell family arose one morning, stones littered the floor of their front room and the furniture had been overturned. The children, Betsy, John, Drewry, Joel, and Richard, were goggle-eyed and spoke of ghosts and goblins. John Bell lectured his family severely. They would keep the problem to themselves. They didn't want their family to become the subject for common and unsavory gossip.

That night, Richard was awakened by something pulling his hair, raising his head right off the pillow. Joel began screaming at his brother's plight, and from her room, Betsy began howling that the gnawing rat had begun to pull her hair, too.

Most of the family awakened the next day with sore scalps, and John Bell reversed his decision. It was obvious that they needed help. That day he would confide in James Johnson, their nearest neighbor and closest friend.

Johnson accompanied his friend to the cabin that evening. The tale that Bell told was an incredible one, but Johnson knew that his neighbor was not given to flights of fancy. While he watched at Betsy's bedside that night, Johnson saw the young girl receive several blows on the cheeks from an invisible antagonist. He adjured the spirit to stop in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, and there was no activity from the ghost for several minutes, but then Betsy's hair received a yank that brought a cry of pain from her lips. Again Johnson adjured the evil spirit, and it released the girl's hair.

Johnson concluded that the spirit understood the human language and that Betsy was the center of the haunting. He met with other neighbors, and they decided to help the Bell family as best they could. A committee kept watch at the Bell house all night to try to placate the spirit, but all this accomplished was to bring about an especially vicious attack on the unfortunate Betsy. A number of neighbors volunteered their own daughters to sleep with Betsy, but this only managed to terrorize the other girls as well. Nor did it accomplish any useful purpose to take Betsy out of the cabin into the home of neighborsthe trouble simply followed her there and upset the entire house.

By now the haunting had achieved wide notoriety, and the disturbances were thought to be the work of a witch, who had set her evil spirits upon the Bell family. Each night the house was filled with those who sat up trying to get the "witch" to talk or to communicate with them by rapping on the walls. The disturbances soon became powerful enough to move outside the cabin and away from Betsy. Neighbors reported seeing lights "like candles or lamps" flitting through the fields, and farmers began to suffer stone-throwing attacks from the Bell Witch.

These particular peltings seemed to have been more in the nature of fun than some of the other manifestations of the spirit. Young boys in the area would often play catch with the witch if she happened to throw something at them on their way home from school. Once an observer witnessed several boys get suddenly pelted with sticks that flew from a nearby thicket. The sticks did not strike the boys with much force, and, with a great deal of laughter, the boys scooped the sticks up and hurled them back into the thicket. Once again, the sticks came flying back out. The observer cut notches in several of the sticks with his knife before the boys once again returned the witch's volley. He was able to identify his markings when the playful entity once again flung the sticks from the thicket.

The witch was not so gentle with the scoffers who came to the Bell home to expose the manifestations as trickery. Those who stayed the night invariably had their covers jerked from their beds. If they resisted the witch's yanking, they were slapped soundly on the face.

Spiritists, clergymen, reporters, and curiosity seekers had waged a ceaseless campaign to urge the witch to talk and declare herself and her intentions. At last their efforts were rewarded. At first the voice was only a whistling kind of indistinct babble, then it became boldera husky whisper speaking from darkened corners. At last, it became a full-toned voice that spoke not only in darkness but also in lighted rooms and, finally, during the day as well as the night. Immediately the charge of ventriloquism was heard from the skeptical. To put a halt to the accusations of trickery, John Jr. brought in a doctor, who placed his hand over Betsy's mouth and listened at her throat while the witch's voice chatted amicably from a far corner of the room. The doctor decreed that the girl was in no way connected with the sounds.

From the beginning of the witch's visitation, it had minced no words in its dislike of John Bell, Betsy's father. The spirit often swore to visitors in the Bell home that she would keep after him until the end of his days.

To a visitor's question concerning its identity, the witch once answered that it was a spirit who had once been very happy, but it had been disturbed and made unhappy. Later, the witch declared itself to be the spirit of an Indian and sent the family on a wild bone chase to gather up all of its skeletal remains. If her bones were all put back together, she would be able to rest in peace, the entity lied to them.

Later, the witch told the family with a merry cackle that she was the ghost of old Kate Batts, a woman who had been an eccentric recluse and who had earned the appellation of "witch" from the citizens of Clarksville. When the word spread that it was the ghost of old Kate who was haunting the Bells, the entire mystery became much more believable to several doubting neighbors.

The Bell home became crowded, indeed, when the witch's "family" moved in with her. Four hell-raisers named Blackdog, Mathematics, Cypocryphy, and Jerusalem, each speaking in distinct voices of their own, made every night party time during their stay with their "mother." The sounds of raucous laughter rattled the shingles of the Bell home, and witnesses noted the strong scent of whiskey that permeated every room in the house.

When two local preachers arrived to investigate the disturbances, the witch delivered each of their Sunday sermons word for word and in a perfect imitation of their own voices.

The Bell Witch was adept at producing odd objects apparently from thin air. Once, at one of Mrs. Bell's Bible study groups, the ladies were showered with fresh fruits. Betsy's friends were treated to bananas at one of her birthday parties. Although the father, John Bell, was the butt of malicious pranks and cruel blows, the witch looked after Mrs. Bell solicitously. Once when she was ill, the witch was heard to tell her to hold out her hands. When Luce Bell did so, a large quantity of hazelnuts dropped into her palms. When Mrs. Bell weakly complained that she could not crack them, family members and neighbors watched in wide-eyed fascination as the nuts cracked open and the meats were sorted from the shells.

Next to the materialization of fruits and nuts, the witch was especially fond of producing pins and needles. Mrs. Bell was provided with enough pins to supply the entire county, but sometimes the witch would impishly hide them in the bedclothes or in chair cushions points out.

John Jr., Betsy's favorite brother, was the only member of the family besides the mother who received decent treatment from the witch. The invisible force often whipped Joel and Richard soundly, and Drewry was so frightened of the witch that he never married, fearing that the entity might someday return and single out his own family for particular attention. John Jr. was the only one of Betsy's brothers who could "sass back" at the witch and get away with it. The witch even went to special pains to get John Jr. to like it, and the mysterious entity often performed demonstrations of ability solely for his benefit.

The cruelest act perpetrated on Betsy was the breaking of her engagement to Joshua Gardner (or Gardiner). Friends and family acclaimed the two young people to be ideally suited for one another, but the witch protested violently when the engagement was announced. The witch screamed at Joshua whenever he entered the Bell home and embarrassed both young people by shouting obscenities about them in front of their friends.

A friend of the family, Frank Miles, learned of the witch's objection to Betsy's engagement and resolved to stand up to the evil spirit on her behalf. He challenged the entity to take any form it wished, and he would soon send her packing. Suddenly his head jerked backwards as if a solid slap had stung his cheeks. He put up his forearms to block a series of facial blows, and then dropped his guard as he received a vicious punch in the stomach. Miles slumped against a wall, desperately shaking his head to recover his senses.

Frank Miles looked helplessly at Betsy Bell, who watched the one-sided boxing match. Reluctantly, he picked up his hat and coat. A man couldn't fight an enemy he couldn't see.

General Andrew Jackson (17671845), Old Hickory himself, decided to have his try at defeating the witch. An old friend of John Bell, Jackson set out from The Hermitage accompanied by a professional "witch-layer" and several servants. As his party approached the Bell place, Jackson was startled when the wheels of his coach suddenly froze and the full strength of the horses could not make them budge an inch. A voice from the bushes cackled a greeting to Jackson and uttered a command that "unfroze" the wheels. The general and his men realized that the element of surprise was lost. The witch knew they were coming.

That night the witch-layer fled in terror when the witch attacked him, and General Jackson's men followed him out the door. According to the old stories, Jackson told John Bell that fighting the witch was worse than having faced the British at the battle of New Orleans. Old Hickory wanted to stay for a week and face down the spirit, but his committee of ghost chasers had had enough, so he left with his men.

With the decisive defeat of her champions, Miles and Jackson, Betsy had no choice but to give in to the witch's demands and break her engagement with Joshua Gardner. On the night on which Betsy returned the ring, the witch's laughter could be heard ringing victoriously from every room in the house.

Shortly after the entity had accomplished the severing of Betsy's marriage agreement with her fiancé, it once more began to concentrate its energy on the destruction of John Bell. Richard was walking with his father on that day in December of 1820 when John Bell collapsed into a spasmodically convulsing heap.

John Bell was brought home to his bed where he lay for several days in a weakened condition. Even during the man's illness, the witch would not leave him in peace, but continued to torment him by slapping his face and throwing his legs into the air. On the morning of December 19, 1820, John Bell lapsed into a stupor from which he would never be aroused. The witch sang bawdy songs all during John Bell's funeral and annoyed the assembled mourners with sounds of its crude celebration throughout the man's last rites.

After the death of her father, the witch behaved much better toward Betsy. It never again inflicted pain upon her and actually addressed her in terms of endearment. During the rest of the winter and on into the spring months, the manifestations decreased steadily. Then, one night after the evening meal, a large smoke ball seemed to roll down from the chimney of the fireplace out into the room. As it burst, a voice told the family: "I'm going now, and I will be gone for seven years."

True to its word, the witch returned to the homestead in 1828. Betsy had entered into a successful marriage with another man; John Jr. had married and now farmed land of his own. Only Mrs. Bell, Joel, and Richard remained on the home place. The disturbances primarily consisted of the witch's most elementary pranksrappings, scratchings, pulling the covers off the bedand the family agreed to ignore the unwanted guest. Their plan worked, and the witch left them after two weeks of pestering them for attention. The entity sought out John Jr. and told him in a fit of pique that it would return to one of his descendants in "one hundred years and seven."

Dr. Charles Bailey Bell should have been the recipient of the Bell Witch's unwelcome return visit, but Bell and his family survived the year 1935 without hearing the slightest unexplained scratch or undetermined rapping. Charles Bell has written the official record of the mysterious disturbances endured by his ancestors in The Bell Witch: A Mysterious Spirit, or Our Family Troubles (reprint of pamphlet, 1985).

Today, the abandoned homestead of the Bell family is owned by a private trust, and no visitors are allowed to explore the property. The only site connected with the legends of the Bell Witch and open to the public is the Bell Witch Cave, which continues to produce accounts of unusual lights and eerie images on photographs.

Delving Deeper

Bell, Charles, and Harriet P. Miller. Mysterious Spirit: The Bell Witch of Tennessee. Forest Knolls, Calif.: Elders Publishing, 1985.

Carrington, Hereward, and Nandor Fodor. Haunted People. New York: New American Library, 1968.

Fodor, Nandor. The Haunted Mind. New York: New American Library, 1968.

Hays, Tony. "The Bell Witch Project." World Net Daily, June 14, 2001. [Online] http://www.worldnetdaily.com/news/article.asp?ARTICLE_ID=2312.

Norman, Michael, and Beth Scott. Historic Haunted America. New York: Tor, 1996.

Stevens, William Oliver. Unbidden Guests. New York: Dodd, Mead & Co., 1957.

Borley Rectory

The haunting phenomena usually began each night in Borley Rectory shortly after Reverend and Mrs. Smith had retired for the evening. They would be lying in bed, and they would hear the sound of heavy footsteps walking past their door. Reverend G. E. Smith soon took to crouching in the darkness outside of their room with a hockey stick gripped firmly in his hands. Several nights he lunged at "something" that passed their dooralways without result.

Bells began to ring at all hours and became an intolerable nuisance. Hoarse, inaudible whispers sounded over their heads. Small pebbles appeared from nowhere to pelt them. A woman's voice began to moan from the center of an arch leading to the chapel. Keys popped from their locks and were found several feet from their doors. The Smiths found themselves living in what Dr. Harry Price would soon come to call "the most haunted house in England."

In the summer of 1929, Price answered the plea of the haunted rector and his wife. Leaving London, Price and an assistant drove to the small village of Borley, reviewing what they already knew about the eerie rectory. The building, though constructed in modern times, stood on the site of a medieval monastery whose gloomy old vaults still lay beneath it. Close at hand had been a nunnery, whose ruins were much in evidence. About a quarter of a mile away stood a castle where many tragic events had occurred, ending with a siege by Oliver Cromwell. There was a persistent legend about a nun who had been walled up alive in the nunnery for eloping with a lay brother who had been employed at the monastery. The lay brother, who received the punishment meted out for such sins, was hanged. Inhabitants of the rectory, and several villagers, had reported seeing the veiled nun walking through the grounds. A headless nobleman and a black coach pursued by armed men had also been listed as a frequent phenomenon.

The rectory had been built in 1863 by the Reverend Henry Bull (sometimes called Martin in the literature of psychical research). He had fathered 14 children and had wanted a large rectory. He died in the Blue Room in 1892 and was succeeded in occupancy by his son, Harry, who died at the rectory in 1927. The building was vacant for a few months while a dozen clergymen refused to take up residence there because of the eerie tales they had hearduntil Reverend G. E. Smith and his family accepted the call in 1928.

Price, the well-known psychical researcher, did not have to wait long for the phenomena to put on a show for him. Price and his assistant had just shared a lunch with Mr. and Mrs. Smith when a glass candlestick struck an iron stove near the investigator's head and splashed him with splinters. A mothball came tumbling down the stairwell, followed by a number of pebbles.

Price busied himself for the next several days with interviewing the surviving daughters of Henry Bull, the builder of the rectory, and as many former servants as had remained in the village. The eldest of the three surviving daughters told of seeing the nun appear at a lawn party on a sunny July afternoon. She had approached the phantom and tried to engage it in conversation, but it had disappeared as she had drawn near to it. The sisters swore that the entire family had often seen the nun and that their brother had said that, when dead, he would attempt to manifest himself in the same way. It was their father, Henry Bull, who had bricked up the dining room window so that the family might eat in peace and not be disturbed by the spectral nun peeping in at them.

A man who had served as gardener for the Bull family told Price that every night for eight months he and his wife heard footsteps in their rooms over the stables. Several former maids or grooms testified that they had remained in the employ of the Bulls for only one or two days before they were driven away by the strange occurrences which manifested themselves on the premises.

Mrs. Smith was not at all reluctant to admit that she, too, had seen the shadowy figure of a nun walking about the grounds of the rectory. On several occasions, she had hurried to confront the phantom, but it had always disappeared at the sound of her approach. The Smiths left the rectory shortly after Price's visit. They had both begun to suffer the ill effects of the lack of sleep and the enormous mental strain that had been placed on each of them.

Borley Rectory presents an interesting combination of a "haunting" and the phenomenon of poltergeistic activity. Harry Price maintained that approximately one-half of all hauntings include some type of poltergeistic disturbance. Henry Bull had 14 children who lived in the rectory. Phenomena began to become active about 10 years after he had moved into the rectory with his family. It is also interesting to record that the phenomena reached new heights of activity when the Reverend Lionel Algernon Foyster, a cousin of the Bull family, took up residence in the Rectory on October 16, 1930. The reverend brought with him his wife, Marianne, and his four-year-old daughter Adelaide. (Many accounts of Borley Rectory refer to the Foysters as Rev. B. and Marianne Morrison.)

The Foysters had lived there only a few days when Mrs. Foyster heard a voice softly calling, "Marianne, dear." The words were repeated many times, and, thinking her husband was summoning her, she ran upstairs. Foyster had not spoken a word, he told her, but he, too, had heard the calling voice.

Once, Mrs. Foyster laid her wristwatch by her side as she prepared to wash herself in the bathroom. When she completed her washing, she reached for the watch and discovered that the band had been removed. It was never returned. Reverend Foyster was quick to realize that the weird tales that he had heard about Borley Rectory had all been true. He could hardly deny them in view of such dramatic evidence. He was not frightened, however, as he felt protected by his Christian faith. He used a holy relic to quiet the disturbances when they became particularly violent and remained calm enough to keep a detailed journal of the phenomena that he and his family witnessed.

Marianne Foyster received the full fury of the haunting's attack from the beginning of their occupancy. One night, while carrying a candle on the way to their bedroom, she received such a violent blow in the eye that it produced a cut and a black bruise that was visible for several days. A hammerhead was thrown at her one night as she prepared for bed. She received a blow from a piece of metal that was hurled down a flight of stairs. Another time, she narrowly missed being struck by a flat iron, which smashed the chimney of the lamp that she was carrying.

In addition to persecuting Mrs. Foyster, the entity seemed determined to establish contact with her. Messages were found scrawled on the walls: "Marianneplease get help."

The entity may or may not have been suggesting that the Foysters once again bring Dr. Harry Price upon the scene. At any rate, that is exactly what they did. Advised by the Bull sisters of the famed investigator's interest in the Borley phenomena, Reverend Foyster wrote to London to inform Price of renewed activity in the rectory.

Price gained permission to stay in the rectory with two friends, and upon arrival, the researcher and his party once again examined the house from attic to cellar. The haunting wasted no time in welcoming the returning investigator. While he was examining an upstairs room, an empty wine bottle hurled itself through the air, narrowly missing him. The party was brought back down to the kitchen by the screams of their chauffeur, who had remained behind to enjoy a leisurely smoke. The distraught man insisted that he had seen a large, black hand crawl across the kitchen floor.

During conversation, Mrs. Foyster disclosed that she had seen the "monster" that had been causing all the eerie disturbances. Reverend Foyster showed Price the entry that he had made in his journal on March 28 when his wife had confronted the entity while ascending a staircase. She had described it as a monstrosityblack, ugly, and ape-like. It had reached out and touched her on the shoulder. Price later learned that others had seen the creature on different occasions.

The Foysters also told Price and his team that the phenomena had begun to produce items that they had never seen before. A small tin trunk had appeared in the kitchen when the family was eating supper. A powder box and a wedding ring materialized in the bathroom, and, after they had been put away in a drawer, the ring disappeared overnight. Stone-throwing had become common, and Reverend Foyster complained of finding stones in their bed and under their pillows as well.

Although Reverend Foyster was a brave man, he had never enjoyed good health nor the kind of stamina necessary to outlast a full-scale haunting. The Foysters endured the phenomena at the rectory for five years before leaving in October of 1935. After the Foysters left, the bishop decreed that the place was for sale.

In May of 1937, Harry Price learned that the rectory was empty and offered to lease the place for a year as a kind of ghost laboratory. His sum was accepted, and the investigator enlisted a crew of 40 assistants, mostly men, who would take turns living in the rectory for a period of one year. Price outfitted the place and issued a booklet that told his army of researchers how to correctly observe and record any phenomena that might manifest themselves.

Shortly after the investigators began to arrive, strange pencil-like writings began to appear on the walls. Each time a new marking was discovered, it would be carefully circled and dated. Two researchers reported seeing new writing form while they were busy ringing and dating another. It appeared that the entity missed Mrs. Foyster. "MarianneMarianne " it wrote over and over again. "Marianne prayersplease help."

The organized investigators were quick to discover a phenomenon that had not been noted by any of the rectors who had lived in Borley. This was the location of a "cold spot" in one of the upstairs passages. Certain people began to shiver and feel faint whenever they passed through it. Another "cold spot" was discovered on the landing outside of the Blue Room. Thermometers indicated the temperature of these areas to be fixed at about 48 degrees, regardless of what the temperature of the rest of the house may have been.

The phantom nun was seen three times in one evening by one observer, but was not noticed at all by any of the other investigators. A strange old cloak kept the researchers baffled by continually appearing and disappearing. Several of Price's crew reported being touched by unseen hands.

On the last day of Harry Price's tenancy on May 19, 1938, Marianne Foyster's missing wedding ring once again materialized. The investigator snatched it up, lest it disappear, and brought it home to London with him.

In late 1938, the Borley Rectory was purchased by a Captain W. H. Gregson, who renamed it "The Priory." He was not at all disturbed by warnings that the place was haunted, but he was upset when his faithful old dog went wild with terror on the day they moved in and ran away, never to be seen again. He was also mildly concerned with the strange track of unidentified footprints that circled the house in fresh fallen snow. The tracks were not caused by any known animal, the captain swore, nor had any human made them. He followed the tracks for a time until they mysteriously disappeared into nothingness.

Captain Gregson did not have long to puzzle out the enigma of Borley. At midnight on February 27, 1939, the "most haunted house in England" was completely gutted by flames. Gregson testified later that a number of books had flown from their places on the shelves and knocked over a lamp, which had immediately exploded into flame.

Borley Rectory has remained one of the most haunted houses in Britain, but in December 2000, Louis Mayerling, who claimed Borley was a second home to him until it burned in 1939, wrote a book entitled We Faked the Ghosts of Borley Rectory in which he claimed that Harry Price and the world had been taken in by hoaxsters. Mayerling states that he first arrived at Borley in 1918 to find Rev. Harry Bull and his family taking great delight in perpetuating local folklore about a phantom nun and other paranormal activity. According to the author, the Foysters were also in on the hoax, encouraging Mayerling, a teenager at the time, to walk around the gardens at dusk in a black cape.

Mayerling admits that there was one incident he was unable to explain. On Easter in 1935, the acclaimed playwright George Bernard Shaw; T. E. Lawrence, the famous "Lawrence of Arabia"; Sir Montagu Norman, Governor of the Bank of England; and Bernard Spilsbury, the Home Office criminal forensic scientistall believers in the haunting phenomena at Borleyjoined Mayerling and Marianne Foyster for a seance at the rectory. All at once, Mayerling recalls, all the kitchen bells clanged as one and a brilliant silver-blue light seemed to implode around them from the walls and the ceilings. From his previous experience creating eerie sounds and noises in the rectory, Mayerling knew that it was impossible to make all the bells sound at once and he had no idea what had caused the lightning-like flash around them. He was, in fact, blinded by the phenomenon and eventually recovered sight in only one eye. Shaw and Norman refused to stay the night after such a violent display of the paranormal, and Mayerling confesses in his book that memory of the experience still set his spine to tingling.

Mayerling's confession of pranks during the occupancy of the Bull and Foyster families does not explain the extensive phenomena reported by Price's team of researchers during its year-long observation of the rectory nor the manifestations noted by Gregson after he assumed ownership of Borley. Since the admitted pranksters were not present at the rectory during those years, the authenticity of the haunting of Borley will remain a controversial subject among psychical researchers.


Delving Deeper

Carrington, Hereward, and Nandor Fodor. Haunted People. New York: New American Library, 1968.

Hill, Amelia. "Hoaxer's Confession Lays the Famed Ghosts of Borley." The Observer, December 31, 2000. [Online] http://www.observer.co.uk/uk_news/story/0,6903,416556,00.html.

Price, Harry. The Most Haunted House in England. London: Longmans, Green & Co., 1940.

. Poltergeist Over England. London: Country Life, 1945.

Stevens, William Oliver. Unbidden Guests. New York: Dodd, Mead & Co., 1957.

Calvados Castle

The disturbances that took place in the Norman castle of Calvados, France, from October 12, 1875, to January 30, 1876, were written up and published in the Annales des Sciences Psychiques in 1893 by M. J. Morice. Although the master of Calvados kept a diary that could later be used as a documentary of the phenomena, he insisted that his family name not be mentioned in connection with the "haunting." He is, therefore, referred to in the narrative only as M. de X. His immediate family consisted of Mme. de X, and their son, Maurice. The remainder of the household consisted of Abbe Y., tutor to Maurice; Emile, the coachman; Auguste, the gardener; Amelina, the housemaid; and Celina, the cook.

On the evening of October 13, Abbe Y. came down to the drawing room and told M. and Mme. de X. that his armchair had just moved. He insisted that he had distinctly seen it move out of the corner of his eye. M. de X. calmed the abbe and returned with him to his room. He attached gummed paper to the foot of the cleric's armchair, fixed it to the floor, and told him to call if anything further should occur.

About ten that evening, the master of Calvados was awakened by the ringing of the abbe's bell. He got out of bed and hurried to the man's room. Here he found the tutor with his covers pulled up to the bridge of his nose, peeking out at him as if he were a frightened child.
M. de X. saw that the armchair had moved about a yard and that several candlesticks and statuettes had been upset. And, the abbe complained, there had been rappings on his wall.

The next evening, the manifestations did not confine themselves to the abbe's room. Loud blows were heard all over the castle. M. de X. armed his servants and conducted a search of the entire building. They could find nothing. It would be a pattern that they would repeat again and again as the haunting phenomena began its siege in earnest. Night after night, its hammering fist would pound on doors and rap on walls. The inhabitants of Calvados Castle would not know a night of unmolested slumber for more than three months.

The curate of the parish arrived to witness the phenomena and was not disappointed. Neither was Marcel de X., who had come to try to determine the origin of the manifestations. That night, the sound of a heavy ball was heard descending the stairs from the second floor to the first, jumping from step to step.

The parish priest was also invited to stay a night in the castle. He heard the heavy tread of a giant descending the stairs and proclaimed the activity to be supernatural. Marcel de X. agreed with the priest. He had quickly concluded that this ghost would be a most difficult one to banish and had decided to leave Calvados Castle to the noisy spirit. He wished M. de
X. the best of luck and returned to his home.

On Halloween, the haunting seemed to outdo itself with a display of phenomena that kept the household from going to bed until three o'clock in the morning. The center of the activity had now become what was called the green room, and the phenomena seemed always to either begin or end with loud rappings in this empty room. The ghost now seemed to walk with a tread that had nothing human about it. It was like two legs deprived of their feet and walking on the stumps.

It was during a violent November rainstorm that the ghost acquired a voice. High above the howl of the wind and the rumble of the thunder, the beleaguered household heard a long shriek that at first sounded like a woman outside in the storm calling for help. The next cry sounded from within the castle. The members of the household gathered together as if seeking strength from their unity. Three sorrowful moans sounded as the thing ascended the staircase.

The men of Calvados left the sitting room to carefully inspect the castle. They found nothing. There was no woman in the castle, and no sign that anything had entered the castle from the storm. They heard no more sounds until everyone was awakened at 11:45 the next night by terrible sobs and cries coming from the green room. The cries seemed to be those of a woman in horrible suffering. During the next few nights, the activity seemed to become intensified and the cries of the sorrowful woman in the green room had become shrill and despairing.

Shortly after the "weeping woman" had arrived to add to the confusion at Calvados, a cousin of Mme. de X., an army officer, appeared to pay them a visit. He scoffed at the wild stories the members of the household told him, and against all their pleas, he insisted upon sleeping in the green room. They need not worry about him, he assured them, he always had his revolver at his side.

The officer strode boldly to the green room, left a candle burning as a night light, and went straight to sleep. He was awakened a short time later by what seemed to be the soft rustling of a silken robe. He was instantly aware that the candle had been extinguished and that something was tugging at the covers on his bed. In answer to his gruff demands to know who was there, he felt a cold breath of air blow out the candle he had relit and the rustling noise seemed to become louder, and something was definitely determined to rob him of his bedclothes. When he shouted that whoever was there must declare himself or he would shoot, the only response to his demand was an exceptionally violent tug on the covers.

It was a simple matter to determine where his silent adversary stood by the sound of the rustling and the pull on the bedclothes, so he decided to shoot three times. The lead slugs struck nothing but the wall, and he dug them out with a knife that next morning.

The abbe fared the worst of any member of the household throughout the duration of the phenomena. Whenever the cleric left his room, he always made certain that the windows were bolted and his door was locked. The key to his room was secured to a leather thong that he kept belted to his waist. These precautions never accomplished the slightest bit of good. Upon returning to his room, the abbe would inevitably find his couch overturned, the cushions scattered about, his windows opened, and his armchair placed on his desk. Once he tried nailing his windows closed. He returned to find the windows wide open, and by way of punishment, the couch cushions were balanced precariously on the outside windowsill. Such pranks the abbe could bear with much more patience than the time the invisible invader dumped every one of his books on the floor. Only the Holy Scriptures remained on the shelves.

The most vicious attack on the clergyman occurred once when he knelt at his fireplace stirring the coals, preparatory to placing new kindling on the andirons. Without warning, a huge deluge of water rushed down the chimney, extinguishing the fire, blinding the abbe with flying sparks, and covering him with ashes. The tutor woefully concluded that such actions could only be the work of his satanic majesty, the devil.

The only other person who actually suffered physical pain dealt out by the haunting phenomena was Mme. de X., who was in the act of unlocking a door when the key suddenly disengaged itself from her grip and struck her across the back of her left hand with such force that she bore a large bruise for several days.

One night the invisible creature roamed the corridors as if it were a lonely wayfarer seeking admittance to the rooms of each of the members of the household. It knocked once or twice on the doors of several bedrooms, then, true to pattern, it paused to deal 40 consecutive blows to the abbe's door before it returned to thump about in the green room.

The weary household had its only respite during the long siege when the reverend father H. L., a Premonstrant Canon, was sent there by the bishop. From the moment the Reverend Father entered the castle until the moment he left, there was not the slightest sound from the noisy nuisance. But after the clergyman had made his departure there was a sound as if a body had fallen in the first-floor passage, followed by what seemed to be a rolling ball delivering a violent blow on the door of the green roomand the haunting had once again begun its devilment in earnest.

On January 20, 1876, M. de X. left for a two-day visit to his brother, leaving his wife to keep up the journal of the haunting. Mme. de X. recorded an eerie bellowing, like that of a bull, which bothered everyone during the master's absence. A weird drumming sound was also introduced and a noise much like someone striking the stairs with a stick.

Upon the master's return to Calvados, the ghost became more violent than it had ever been before. It stormed into the rooms of Auguste the gardener and Emile the coachman and turned their beds over. It whirled into the master's study and heaped books, maps, and papers on the floor. The midnight screams increased in shrillness and urgency and were joined by the roaring of a bull and the furious cries of animals. A rhythmic tapping paraded up and down the corridors as if a small drum and bugle corps were conducting manuevers. For the first time, the rappings seemed to direct themselves to the door of Maurice, the son of M. and Mme. de X. Terrible screams sounded outside his room, and the violence of the successive blows on his door shook every window on the floor.

On the night of January 26, the parish priest arrived with the intention of conducting the rites of exorcism. He had also arranged for a Novena of Masses to be said at Lourdes that would coincide with his performance of the ancient ritual of putting a spirit to rest. The priest's arrival was greeted by a long, drawn-out cry and what sounded like a stampede of hoofed creatures running from the first floor passage. There came a noise similar to that of heavy boxes being moved, and the door to Maurice's room began to shake as if something demanded entrance.

The rites of exorcism reached their climax at 11:15 on the night of January 29. From the stairway came a piercing cry, like that of a beast that had been dealt its deathblow. A flurry of rappings began to rain on the door of the green room. At 12:55, the startled inhabitants of Calvados Castle heard the voice of a man in the first-floor passage. M. de X. recorded in his journal that it seemed to cry Ha! Ha!, and immediately there were 10 resounding blows, shaking everything all around. A final blow struck the door of the green room; then there was the sound of coughing in the first-floor passage.

The family rose and cautiously began to move about the castle. The priest slumped in exhaustion, sweat beading his forehead from the long ordeal. There was no sound of the hammering fist, no raucous screams, no shaking of doors, no shifting of furniture. They found a large earthenware plate that had been broken into 10 pieces at the door to Mme. de X.'s room. No one had ever seen the plate before that night.

Although it appeared that the haunting was over, several days after the exorcisms had been performed, Mme. de X. was sitting at a writing desk when an immense packet of holy medals and crosses dropped in front of her on her paper. It was as if the ghost had but suffered a momentary setback and was announcing that it must retreat for a time to recuperate and lick its wounds.

Towards the end of August, soft knockings and rappings began to be heard. On the third Sunday in September, the drawing room furniture was arranged in horseshoe fashion with the couch in the middle. A few days afterward, Mme. de X. lay terrified in her bed and watched the latch to her room unbolt itself. M. de X. was out of the castle for a few days on business, and she was alone with the servants.

The duration of the phenomena was much briefer this time, and the restless ghost seemed to be content to play the organ and to move an occasional bit of furniture about the room of Maurice's new tutor. Eventually the phenomena became weaker and weaker until the only thing that haunted Calvados Castle was the memory of those terrible months when the haunting phenomena had run rampant.

Delving Deeper

Flammarion, Camille. Haunted Houses. London: T. Fisher Unwin, 1924.

Hauck, Dennis William. International Directory of Haunted Places. New York: Penguin, 2000.

Sitwell, Sacheverell. Poltergeists. New York: Universi ty Books, 1959.

Epworth Rectory

One of the most famous cases in the annals of noisy hauntings is the one that visited the Reverend Samuel Wesley and his family at Epworth Rectory in 1716. Among the 19 children of the Reverend Wesley who witnessed the phenomena were John and Charles, the founders of Methodism and the authors of some of Christendom's best-loved hymns.

It was on the first of December that the children and the servants began to complain of eerie groans and mysterious knockings in their rooms. They also insisted that they could hear the sound of footsteps ascending and descending the stairs at all hours of the night.

Reverend Wesley heard no noises for about a week and severely lectured the child or servant who brought him any wild tale about a ghost walking about in the rectory. If there were any noises in the rectory, he told his family one night at dinner, they were undoubtedly caused by the young men who came around in the evenings. The reverend had four grown daughters who had begun to entertain beaus and suitors, and their father's veiled sarcasm did not sit at all well with them. "I wish the ghost would come knocking at your door, Father," one of them told him.

The girls were so angry with their father that they fought down their fright and vowed to ignore the noises until they became so loud that their no-nonsense parent could not help acknowledging them. They didn't have long to wait. The very next night, nine loud knocks thudded on the walls of Reverend and Mrs. Wesley's bedchamber. The clergyman thought some mischief-maker had managed to get into the rectory unnoticed and was trying to frighten them. He would buy a dog big enough to gobble up any intruder.

True to his word, the clergyman obtained a huge mastiff and brought it into the rectory. That night, however, as the knocks began to sound, Reverend Wesley was startled to see his canine bodyguard whimper and cower behind the frightened children.

Two nights later, the sounds in the house seemed so violent that Wesley and his wife were forced out of bed to investigate. As they walked through the rectory, the noises seemed to play about them. Mysterious crashing sounds echoed in the darkness. Metallic clinks seemed to fall in front of them. Somehow managing to maintain their courage, the Wesleys searched every chamber but found nothing.

After he called a family meeting to pool their knowledge about the invisible guest, Reverend Wesley learned from one of the older girl's observations that the disturbances usually began at about ten o'clock in the evening and were always prefaced by a "signal" noise, a peculiar kind of winding sound. The noises followed a pattern that seldom varied. They would begin in the kitchen, then suddenly fly up to visit a bed, knocking first at the foot, then the head. These seemed to be the ghost's warming-up exercises. After it had followed these preliminaries, it might indulge any spectral whim which appealed to it on that particular night.

"Why do you disturb innocent children?" Wesley roared in righteous indignation one night as the knockings in the nursery became especially violent. "If you have something to say, come to me in my study!"

As if in answer to Wesley's challenge, a knock sounded on the door of his study with such force that the cleric thought the boards must surely have been shattered.

Wesley decided to secure reinforcements in the fight against the "deaf and dumb devil" which had invaded his rectory. He sent for Mr. Hoole, the Vicar of Hoxley, and told him the whole story. The Vicar said that he would lead devotions that night and see if the thing would dare to manifest itself in his presence.

The "thing" was not the least bit awed by the Vicar of Hoxley. In fact, it put on such a good show that night that the clergyman fled in terror, leaving Wesley to combat the demon as best he could.

The children had overcome their initial fear of the invisible being and had come to accept its antics as a welcome relief from the boredom of village life. "Old Jeffery," as they had begun to call their strange guest, had almost achieved the status of a pet, and it was soon observed that it was quite sensitive. If any visitor slighted Old Jeffery by claiming that the rappings were due to natural causes, such as rats, birds, or wind, the haunting phenomena were quickly intensified so that the doubter stood instantly corrected.

The disturbances maintained their scheduled arrival time of about ten o'clock in the evening until the day that Mrs. Wesley remembered the ancient remedy for ridding a house of evil spirits. They would get a large trumpet and blow it mightily throughout every room in the house. The sounds of a loud horn were said to be unpleasing to evil spirits.

The ear-splitting experiment in exorcism was not only a complete failure, but now the spirit began to manifest itself in the daylight as well. The children seemed almost to welcome the fact that Old Jeffery would be available during their playtime hours as well as being an amusing nighttime nuisance. Several witnesses reported seeing a bed levitate itself to a considerable height while a number of the Wesley children squealed gaily from the floating mattress. The only thing that bothered the children was the creepy sound, like that of a trailing robe, Old Jeffery had begun to make. One of the girls declared that she had seen the ghost of a man in a long, white robe that dragged on the floor. Other children claimed to have seen an animal similar in appearance to a badger, scurrying out from under their beds. The servants swore that they had seen the head of a rodent-like creature peering out at them from a crack near the kitchen fireplace.

Then, just as the Wesleys were getting accustomed to their weird visitor, the disturbances ended as abruptly as they had begun. Old Jeffery never returned to plague Epworth Rectory with its phenomena, but the memory of its occupancy has remained to bewilder scholars of more than two centuries.

Delving Deeper

Edsall, F. S. The World of Psychic Phenomena. New York: David McKay, 1958.

Price, Harry. Poltergeist Over England. London: Coun try Life, 1945.

Sitwell, Sacheverell. Poltergeists. New York: Universi ty Books, 1959.

Stevens, William Oliver. Unbidden Guests. New York: Dodd, Mead & Co., 1957.

General Wayne Inn

Located on the old Lancaster roadway between Philadelphia and Radner, the General Wayne Inn has been in continuous operation since 1704 when Robert Jones, a Quaker, decided to serve travelers with a restaurant and a place of lodging. The land was purchased from fellow Quaker William Penn and was originally called the Wayside Inn. Because of the inn's location near Merion, the site of numerous battles during the Revolutionary War (177583), it was renamed the General Wayne Inn in 1793 in honor of a local hero, General Anthony Wayne (17451796). During the colonies' war of independence, the inn played host to General George Washington and the Marquis de la Fayette, as well as a number of their antagonists, the British Redcoats and their Hessian mercenaries. From time to time throughout its history, the inn has also served as a post office, a general store, and a social center for newly arrived immigrants.

No longer an inn, the three-story stone and timber building still serves meals as well as an extensive menu of ghostssome say as many as 17. When Barton Johnson bought the General Wayne Inn in 1970, he was well aware of its reputation for being haunted. In 1972, New Jersey psychics Jean and Bill Quinn conducted a seance in which at least 17 different entities declared their presence and provided a bit of their personal history. Johnson, his wife, and their two sons also participated in the seance.

When Wilhelm, a Hessian soldier who was killed in the Revolutionary War, identified himself, he explained that most of the time he liked to stay down in the cellar. His spirit claimed that it was restless because he had been stripped of his clothes at the time of his death so that another soldier might use them. Wilhelm had been humiliated by being buried in his underwear, so he was searching for a proper uniform to wear in the afterlife. The restaurant's maitre de had little sympathy for Wilhelm's plight, however. He had seen the ghost on so many occasions that he finally told Johnson that he would no longer venture down to the cellar.

In addition to Wilhelm, who manifested at the 1972 seance, there was a little boy ghost, who cried for his lost mother; two female entities who had worked at the inn and had died young under bizarre circumstances; eight other Hessian soldiers who had once been quartered at the inn and who had died nearby in battle; a Native American who seemed primarily to be observing the others; and an African American who was an entity of few words. Many customers and employees had seen the spirits of the Hessians over the years. Usually they played harmless pranks, such as blowing on the necks of young women, but one of their spectral number enjoyed terrifying anyone whose job it was to stay after closing and clean up.

Ludwig, the spirit of another Hessian soldier, materialized for many nights at 2:00 a.m. in the bedroom of Mike Benio, a contractor who also had psychic abilities. The entity appealed to Benio to unearth his bones, which had been buried in the basement of the inn, and give them a proper burial in a cemetery. When Johnson returned from a vacation, Benio asked permission to excavate a certain area of the cellar that was under the parking lot. Here, Benio found a small, unknown room that contained fragments of pottery and some human bones. After giving the remains a proper burial, the ghost of Ludwig was at peace and no longer manifested at the General Wayne Inn.

On one occasion, when Johnson wished to test the claims made during the seance that the Hessian soldiers frequented the inn's bar after closing time, he placed a tape recorder in the room. The next morning during playback, Johnson could clearly hear the sounds of bar stools being moved about, the water faucet being turned on and off, and glasses catching the water. Some nights later, on a Monday night when the bar was closed for the entire evening, a customer looking in the inn's front window claimed to have seen a man dressed in a Revolutionary War-era Hessian's uniform, sitting slumped at the bar.

Jim Webb and his partner Guy Sileo bought the inn in 1995. When Webb was found murdered in his office on December 27, 1996, and Felicia Moyse, a 20-year-old assistant chef, committed suicide on February 22, 1997, some people felt that the place had added two more ghosts to its roster. Others recalled that one of the General Wayne Inn's most frequent customers in 1839 would have found the growing ghostly and gory history of the place to be right up his alley. The guest in question was Edgar Allan Poe (18091849), who scratched his initials on a window of the inn in 1843.

Delving Deeper

Brown, Jennifer. "Legendary Inn Haunted by Ghosts, Aura of Death." Centre Daily Times, March 1, 1997. [Online] http://tristate.pgh.net/~bsilver/HAUNTED.htm.

Hauck, Dennis William. Haunted Places: The National Directory. New York: Viking/Penguin, 1996.

Norman, Michael, and Beth Scott. Historic Haunted America. New York: Tor, 1996.

The Gray Man of Hinton Ampner

The account of the disturbances that gripped Hinton Ampner was first set down by Mary Ricketts, who, with her children, servants, and her brother, witnessed manifestations of a most eerie and frightening sort. Ricketts was intelligent and widely read, and her reputation for truthfulness forever went unsullied. Her brother, John Jervis, was named Baron Jervis and Earl St. Vincent for his distinguished naval services. The Hinton Ampner case was published in the Journal of the Society for Psychical Research in April 1893.

In 1757, Mary had married William Henry Ricketts of Canaan, Jamaica, and they moved into the large country home outside of Hinton Ampner, England. From the very first there had been disturbances, the sound of doors slamming, the shuffling of footsteps. Ricketts had spent many nights watching for the "prowlers" that he was convinced had somehow gained entrance into the house. They had lived there for about six months when their nurse swore that she saw a gentleman in a drab-colored suit of clothes go into the yellow room. Such things as these the Rickettses tolerated for four years, firmly convinced that the noises were the result of wind and prowlers, and that the gray man and a once-sighted figure of a woman were the products of the servant's imagination.

For several years, Mary Ricketts accompanied her husband on his frequent business trips to the West Indies, but, in 1769, having now mothered three children, she decided to remain alone in England at the old manor house that they occupied. Because they were convinced of a natural explanation for the disturbances, William had no pronounced anxiety when Mary told him that she felt that she should remain in England with the children while he made the trip to Jamaica. After all, she did have eight servants to assist her, and it was quite unlikely that any prowler would try to take on such odds.

The phenomena seemed almost to have been waiting for William Ricketts to leave on an extended trip before it began its manifestations in earnest. He had only been gone a short time when, one afternoon while lying down in her room, Mary heard the noise of someone walking in the room and the rustling of silk clothing as it brushed the floor. She opened her eyes to see absolutely no one. She called the servants and a thorough search was made of the upstairs rooms and closets. The cook reminded her mistress that she had heard the same rustling noise descending the stairs on several occasions and had once seen the tall figure of a woman in dark clothes. Ricketts found herself being less dismissive of the servants' stories now that she, too, had heard the spectral rustling of an invisible lady.

Nocturnal noises continued, and, one night, as Mary Ricketts lay sleeping in the yellow room which the "gray man" had been seen to enter, she was awakened by the heavy plodding steps of a man walking toward the foot of her bed. She was too frightened to reach for the bell at her bedside. She jumped from her bed and ran from the room into the nursery. The children's nurse was instantly out of her bed, rubbing her sleep-swollen eyes and wondering what on earth had so upset the mistress of the house. The nurse became immediately awake when Mary Ricketts told her about the heavy footsteps. The rest of the servants were summoned and again a fruitless search was made to discover some human agency who might be responsible for the disturbance.

It was in November that the knocking and rappings began. A few months later, after the first of the year, Mary Ricketts and her household noticed that the entire house seemed to be filled with the sound of a "hollow murmuring." A maid, who had spent the night in the yellow room, appeared at the breakfast table palefaced and shaken over the dismal groans that she had heard around her bed most of the night.

By midsummer the eerie sound of voices in the night had become intolerable. They began before the household went to bed, and with brief intermissions were heard until after broad day in the morning. Mary Ricketts could frequently distinguish articulate sounds. Usually a shrill female voice would begin, and then two others with deeper and manlike tones joined in the discourse. Although the conversation often sounded as if it were taking place close to her, she never could distinguish actual words.

At last, Mary Ricketts appealed to her brother, the Earl St. Vincent, to come to her aid. Earlier, he had spent a few days at Hinton Ampner and had heard nothing, but now the urgency in his sister's letter convinced him that whatever was troubling her was realat least to her and the servants. When the Earl St. Vincent arrived at the mansion, he had in his company a well-armed manservant. The earl was convinced that some disrespectful pranksters had conspired to annoy his sister and her household, and he was determined to deal out swift justice. Captain Luttrell, a neighbor of the Rickettses, joined in this campaign to exorcise the spooks. Captain Luttrell was familiar with the old legends of the area and had accepted the possibility of a supernatural agency at work, but he had volunteered his services to determine the cause of the disturbances, regardless of their origin.

The three armed men were kept on the go all night by the sound of doors opening and slamming. Mary Ricketts's brother became a believer in the world unseen. He soon concluded that the disturbances were definitely not the results of any human activity. Captain Luttrell declared that Hinton Ampner was unfit for human occupancy and urged Mary Ricketts to move out at once.

The Earl St. Vincent agreed with his sister's neighbor, but he realized that she could not quit the house so easily. She needed a certain amount of time to notify her husband and landlord of her decision, and the necessary preparations had to be made to obtain a different house. He told Mary that he would stand guard every night for a week, sleeping by day and watching by night.

The brother had maintained his vigil for about three nights when Mary was awakened by the sound of a pistol shot and the groans of a person in mortal agony. She was too frightened to move, but she felt secure in the knowledge that her brother and his servant were quite capable of handling any monster.

When her brother awakened the next afternoon, Mary quickly questioned him about the struggle that she heard the night before. The Earl St. Vincent frowned and shook his head in disbelief. He had heard no shot nor any of the terrible groaning.

The earl himself was forced to experience the frustration of hearing sounds that no one else could perceive on the next day. He was lying in his bed, having just awakened from his afternoon's sleep, when he heard a sound as if an immense weight had fallen through the ceiling to the floor. He leaped out of bed, fully expecting to see a gaping hole in both ceiling and floor. There was not the slightest splinter, nor had anyone else in the mansion heard the crash. Even his servant, who slept in the bedroom directly below, had heard nothing.

The earl insisted that his sister leave at once, and, because he was unable to stay at Hinton Ampner any longer, he ordered his Lieutenant of Marines to the mansion to assist Mary in her moving chores and to maintain the nightly watch. Mary Ricketts gave notice to her landlord, Lady Hillsborough, and immediately set the servants to work packing trunks and bags. The night after her brother left, she and the entire household heard a crash such as the one that he had described. The crash was followed by several piercing shrieks, dying away as though sinking into the earth.

To disguise her fear, the nurse flippantly remarked how pleasant the sound was and how she would love to hear more noises such as that. The unfortunate woman was troubled with horrid screaming and groaning in her room every night until the household moved.

Mary Ricketts returned to Hinton Ampner only once after she had moved away. She entered the house alone and heard a sound that she had never heard before, a sound that she said caused her "indescribable terror."

Lady Hillsborough sent her agent, a Mr. Sainsbury, to stay a night in the house and to test the truth of the rumors about her manor. Mr. Sainsbury did not last the night.

In 1772, a family named Lawrence moved into Hinton Ampner. Their servants reported seeing an apparition of a woman, but the Lawrences threatened their servants not to make any statements. They lasted a year before they moved out. After their occupancy, the house was pulled down to be used in the construction of a new manor.

When Mary Ricketts resided in the mansion, an old man had come to her with a tale about having boarded up a small container for Lord Stawell, the original owner of Hinton Ampner. He had suggested that the small box might have contained treasure and might offer a clue to the haunting. Workmen discovered the container when they were stripping the mansion. It was found to conceal the skeleton of a baby.

When Mary Ricketts learned of this startling discovery, it seemed to offer the final key to the legend of Hinton Ampner. The villagers said Lord Stawell had engaged in illicit relations with the younger sister of his wife, who had lived with them at the manor. It had been the subject of ancient gossip that his sister-in-law had borne his childa child that had been murdered at its birth. When Lady Stawell died, her sister, Honoria, became the mistress of Hinton Ampner. The past wrongs began to form a chain of evil: The first Lady Stawell, wronged by a younger sister and an indiscreet husband; the innocent babe, born of an illicit union, murdered, its body boarded up in the walls of the manor. Lord Stawell, the perpetrator of most of the sins, was himself left on his bed in the yellow room to die in agony, while his family waited outside, ignoring his groans of pain.

It was shortly after Lord Stawell's death in 1755 that the groom swore that his old master had appeared to him in his room. The groom knew that it was the master because of the drab-colored gray clothing that Lord Stawell was so fond of wearing. From that time on, the "gray man" and his groans and plodding footsteps were heard in the corridors of Hinton Ampner. The lady was said to have been the phantom of the first Lady Stawell.

Delving Deeper

Price, Harry. Poltergeist Over England. London: Coun try Life, 1945.

Sitwell, Sacheverell. Poltergeists. New York: Universi ty Books, 1959.

Myrtles Plantation

According to the Smithsonian Institution, the Myrtles Plantation located three miles north of St. Francisville, Louisiana, is the most haunted house in the United States. Built on the site of an ancient Native American burial ground in 1794 by General David Bradford, the plantation has been the location for at least 10 violent deaths. Throughout the years, owners and their guests have fled the house in the middle of the night, terrified by the appearance of frightening ghostsand the entities continue to be sighted to this day.

The haunting began when Bradford's daughter Sara Matilda married a young judge named Clark Woodruffe. Although the Woodruffes were happily married and their union had produced two daughters, Clark began an extramarital affair with Chloe, one of the house slaves, when Sara Matilda was carrying their third child, who would also be a daughter. Although Judge Woodruffe had a reputation for integrity with the law, he was also known as being promiscuous. At first, Chloe tried to deny the sexual demands of her master, but she knew that if she fought against them, she could be sent to work in the fields. Eventually, the judge grew tired of her and chose another house slave as his new mistress. When Chloe saw that she had fallen from favor, she feared that she would also lose her position as a servant in the mansion and be ordered to the fields.

Chloe hoped that she might somehow win back Woodruffe's affections and not be in danger of being sent to the brutal work in the fields. One evening, as she stood nearby the judge and Sara Matilda, listening for any mention of her name and what she feared would be her dreaded fate, Woodruffe grew annoyed with her presence and accused her of eavesdropping on a private family conversation with his wife. Angrily, the judge ordered his overseers to cut off one of Chloe's ears as punishment. From that time on, Chloe wore a green headscarf with an earring pinned to it to hide her missing ear.

Wise in the ways of herbs and potions, Chloe came up with what she believed might be the perfect means that would guarantee her status of house slave and keep her out of the fields. She baked a birthday cake for the Woodruffes' oldest daughter and placed oleander, a poison, into the mix, scheming that the family would become ill and her services would be required to nurse them back to health. Tragically, Chloe inadvertently sprinkled too much oleander into the cake mix and Sara Matilda and two of her daughters became extremely ill and died within hours after the birthday party. Neither the judge nor the baby ate any of the poisoned cake.

Grief-stricken and ashamed of what she had done, Chloe confided in another slave that she had only intended to make the mother and her daughters ill so that she would be the one to take care of them. Chloe's choice of a confidante proved to be her undoing, for rather than keeping the secret, the woman loudly proclaimed to her fellow slaves that the death of the mistress of the house and her two daughters had not been due to some mysterious sudden illness. A mob made up of both the Woodruffes' slaves and their white neighbors chased Chloe into the surrounding woods where they caught her and hanged her. Later her body was cut down, weighted with rocks, and thrown into the river. Judge Woodruffe closed off the room where the birthday party had been held and never allowed it to be used again while he lived. This decree was relatively short-lived, for Clark Woodruffe was murdered a few years later.

Since that scene of mob violence in antebellum Louisiana, the ghost of Chloe has been often sighted both inside and outside of the plantation house. She is most often seen wearing a green headscarf wrapped turban-style around her head with an earring pinned over her missing ear. Her spirit is also held responsible for stealing earrings from many guests over the nearly 200 years since her hanging.

John and Teeta Moss, the current owners of the Myrtles Plantation, have converted the place into a bed and breakfast, and Hester Eby, who manages house tours of the mansion and grounds, states that the haunting phenomena continue unabated. Teeta Moss even photographed a shadowy image of Chloe standing near the house. According to Eby and members of the staff, resident ghosts frequently reported include those of the two poisoned Woodruffe girls, who are often heard playing and running in the halls. Many guests have heard babies crying when there are no infants present in the mansion, and a floating candle moving slowly up the stairs has been often reported.

Other ghosts include those of a woman in a black skirt who floats about a foot off the floor and who is seen dancing to music that cannot be heard by the living; a man who was stabbed to death in a hallway over an argument concerning a gambling debt; an overseer who was robbed and killed in 1927 and who angrily demands that guests leave the place and return to their own homes; an unseen pianist who plays the grand piano but who ceases at once if someone enters the room. There is another ghost of a young girl that seems to appear only when a thunderstorm approaches the plantation. The spectral image has long curly hair, wears an ankle-length dress, and is seen cupping her hands and trying to peer inside the window of the game room.

Many guests have heard the sounds of footsteps on the stairs and have seen the image of a man staggering to reach the hallway at the top. Hester Eby says that it is commonly believed that the ghost is that of William Winter, an attorney who owned the Myrtles Plantation in the late nineteenth century. According to the story surrounding his death, a stranger on horseback who claimed to be in desperate need of an attorney called him to the porch one evening. When Winter stepped outside to see how he might be of service, the man shot him and rode away. Fatally wounded, Winter staggered through the house, painfully climbed the stairs, and died in the arms of his wife.

Throughout the years, many residents and their employees have heard their names called by invisible entities. The haunting phenomena seemed to fade and flow, intensifying and then lessening in its manifestations. Now that the place is also a bed and breakfast hotel, Eby said that the staff knows when the Myrtles is having a bad night by the number of guests who call up at midnight and demand to leave the place at once.

Delving Deeper

Hauck, Dennis William. Haunted Places: The National Directory. New York: Viking/Penguin, 1996.

Norman, Michael, and Beth Scott. Historic Haunted America. New York: Tor Books, 1996.

Taylor, Troy. "The Myrtles Plantation 'One of Ameri ca's Most Haunted.'" Ghosts of the Prairie. [Online] http://www.prairieghosts.com/myrtles.html.

Turnage, Sheila. Haunted Inns of the Southeast. Win ston-Salem, Mass.: John F. Blair, 2001.

The Tedworth Drummer

The bizarre haunting phenomena that beset the family of John Mompesson of Tedworth, England, in March of 1661 had overtones of witchcraft and the fixing of a terrible curse. The "demon" of Tedworth is so much a part of the legend and folklore of England that ballads and poems have been written in celebration of the incredible prowess of the pesky ghost.

John Mompesson, a justice of the peace, had brought before him an ex-drummer in Cromwell's army, who had been demanding money of the bailiff by virtue of a suspicious pass. The bailiff had believed the pass to be counterfeit, and Mompesson, who was familiar with the handwriting of the gentleman who had allegedly signed the note, immediately declared the paper to be a forgery.

The drummer, whose name was Drury, begged Mompesson to check his story with Colonel Ayliff of Gretenham. The colonel would vouch for his integrity, the drummer insisted. Mompesson was swayed by the drummer's pleas that he not be put into jail, but he told the man that he would confiscate his drum until he had checked out his story. Drury demanded that his drum be returned, but Mompesson told him to be on his way and to give thanks for his own freedom.

Mompesson had the drum sent to his house for safekeeping, then left on a business trip to London. Upon his return, his wife informed him that the household had been terrorized by strange noises in the night. She could only accredit the sounds to burglars trying to break into the house. On the third night of his return, Mompesson was brought to his feet by a loud knocking that seemed to be coming from a side door. With a pistol in one hand and another in his belt, Mompesson opened the door. No one was there, but now the knocking had begun at another door. He flung that one open, too, and finding no one there, walked around the outside of the house in search of the culprit. He found no one on his search, nor could he account for the hollow drumming that sounded on the roof when he went back to bed.

From that night on, the drumming came always just after the Mompessons had gone to bed. It made no difference whether they retired early or late, the invisible drummer was ever prepared to tap them an annoying lullaby. After a month of being contented with rooftop maneuvers, the disturbances moved inside into the room where Mompesson had placed the ex-soldier's drum. Once it had established itself in the home, the ghostly drummer favored the family with two hours of martial rolls, tattoos, and points of war each evening.

On the night in which Mrs. Mompesson was being delivered of a child, the drummer was respectfully quiet. It maintained this silence for a period of three weeks, as if it were allowing the mother to fully recover her strength before it began its pranks in earnest.

The children were the ones who suffered most when the drummer terminated its truce. With terrible violence, the thing began beating on their bedsteads at night. It would raise the children's beds in time with its incessant drumming, and, when it finally did quiet down, it would lie under their beds scratching at the floor. The Mompessons hopefully tried moving their children to another room, but it did no good. The drummer moved right along with them.

By November 5, the ghostly drummer had achieved such strength that it could hand boards to a servant who was doing some repair work in the house. This was witnessed by a roomful of people, but Mompesson soon forbade his servant such familiarities with their invisible tormenter.

When the thing began to leave behind offensive, sulphurous fumes, the Mompessons took this as sufficient evidence that their unwelcome guest had come directly from the pit of Hades. A Reverend Cragg was summoned to conduct a prayer meeting in the house. The drummer maintained a reverent silence during the minister's prayers, but upon the last "amen," it began to move chairs about the room, hurl the children's shoes into the air, and toss every object that it could get its invisible hands on. A heavy staff struck Rev. Cragg on the leg, but the astonished clergyman reported that a lock of wool could not have fallen more softly.

The knocking had become so loud at nights that it awakened neighbors several houses away. The Mompessons' servants had also become subject to receiving nocturnal visits from the drummer. Their beds were raised while they attempted to sleep, and at times it curled up about their feet.

The ghost particularly delighted in wrestling with a husky servant named John. It would jerk the bedclothes off the sleeping man, throw shoes at his head, and engage in a hearty tug-o'-war with the man, who was trying desperately to keep the covers on his bed instead of on the floor. At times, the powerful entity would entwine itself around John and forcibly hold him as if he were bound hand and foot. With a tremendous effort of brute strength, the servant would free himself from the grasp of his invisible opponent and reach for the sword that he kept beside his bed. John had found that the brandishing of his sword was the only action that could make the thing retreat.

By January 10, 1662, nearly a year after its unwelcome arrival, the entity had acquired a voice and the ability to simulate the sound of rustling silk and the panting of animals. It had begun by singing in the chimney, then moved into the children's bedroom where it chanted: "A witch, a witch! I am a witch!" When Mompesson rushed into the nursery with his pistol, the disturbances ceased at once.

That night it came to his bedside, panting like a large dog. The bedroom, even though lacking a fireplace, and on a particularly cold and bitter winter's night, became very hot and filled with a noxious odor.

On the following morning, Mompesson scattered fine ashes over the chamber floor to see what sort of imprints might be made by the incredible entity. He was rewarded by the eerie discovery of the markings of a great claw, some letters, circles, and other weird footprints.

It was at this point in the manifestations that Rev. Joseph Glanvil arrived to conduct his investigation. The phenomena were most cooperative for Rev. Glanvil and provided him with ample evidence of their existence from the very first moment of his arrival. It was eight o'clock in the evening and the children were in bed, enduring their nightly ritual of scratching, bed-liftings, and pantings. Rev. Glanvil tried desperately to trace the source of the disturbances, but could find nothing. He was momentarily elated when he noticed something moving in a linen bag, but upon scooping up the cloth, and hoping to find a rat or a mouse in his clutches, he was dismayed to find himself left holding an empty bag.

Later that night, when Rev. Glanvil and a friend retired for the evening, they were awakened by a loud knocking. When the clergyman demanded to know what the entity wished of them, a disembodied voice answered that it wanted nothing of the two men. The next morning, however, Rev. Glanvil's horse was found trembling in a state of nervous exhaustion, appearing as though it had been ridden all night. Glanvil had scarcely mounted the horse for his return trip when the animal collapsed. Although the horse was well-attended and cared for, it died within two days.

One night in the children's bedroom, the voice shrieked its claim that it was a witch over a hundred times in rapid succession. The next day, the harried Mompesson fired his pistol at an animated stick of firewood and was astonished to see several drops of blood appear on the hearth! The firewood fell to the floor and a trail of blood began to drip on the stairway as the wounded ghost retreated.

When the invisible thing returned three nights later, it seemed to vent its anger on the children. Even the baby was tormented and not allowed to sleep. At last Mompesson arranged to have the children taken to the house of friends. At this tactic, the drummer pounded severely on Mompesson's bedroom door, then quit its post there to show itself to a servant.

The terrified man told Mompesson that he could not determine the exact proportions of the entity, but he had seen a great body with two red and glaring eyes, which for some time were fixed steadily upon him.

When the children were returned to their home, the thing seemed to want to make up to them. The Mompessons and their servants could hear distinctly a purring, like that of a cat in the nursery. The contented purring, however, turned out to be but another ploy of the devilish drummer. Four hours later, it was beating the children's legs against the bedposts and emptying chamber pots into their beds.

A friend who had stayed the night in the haunted house had all of his coins turned black. His unfortunate horse was discovered in the stables with one of its hind legs firmly fastened in its mouth. It took several men working with a lever to dislodge the hoof from the animal's jaws.

About this time, Drury, the man whose drum Mompesson had confiscated, was located in Gloucester Gaol where he had been sentenced for thievery. Upon questioning, he freely admitted witching Tedworth's justice of the peace. He boasted that he had plagued him and that Mompesson would have no peace until he had given him satisfaction for taking away his drum.

Mompesson had the drummer tried for witchcraft at Sarum, and the man was condemned to be transported to one of the English colonies. Certain stories have it that the man so terrified the ship's captain and crew by "raising storms" that they took him back to port and left him on the dock before sailing away again. Witchcraft was a real thing to the people of 1663, and noisy hauntings were often recognized as the work of Satan. While on board ship, Drury had told the captain that he had been given certain books of the black arts by an old wizard, who had tutored him in the finer points of witchcraft.

By the time a king's commission had arrived to investigate the haunting, the phenomena had been quiet for several weeks. The cavaliers spent the night with the Mompessons, then left the next morning, declaring that the entire two-year haunting was either a hoax or the misinterpretation of natural phenomena by credulous and superstitious men.

Reverend Joseph Glanvil's frustration with His Majesty's investigators is obvious in the conclusion of Saducismus Triumphatus, his account of the Mompesson family's ordeal, where he stated that it was bad logic for the king's investigators to conclude a matter of fact from a single negative against numerous affirmatives, and so affirm that a thing was never done. "This is the common argument of those that deny the being of apparitions," Glanvil declared. "They have traveled all hours of the night and have never seen any thing worse than themselves (which may well be) and thence they conclude that all apparitions are fancies or impostures."


Delving Deeper

Edsall, F. S. The World of Psychic Phenomena. New York: David McKay, 1958.

Price, Harry. Poltergeist Over England. London: Coun try Life, 1945.

Sitwell, Sacheverell. Poltergeists. New York: Universi ty Books, 1959.

Stevens, William Oliver. Unbidden Guests. New York: Dodd, Mead & Co., 1957.

The Whaley House

The Thomas Whaley mansion, completely furnished with antiques from the days of early California, is also considered to be a haunted house. Immediately after its construction was completed in 1857, the mansion became the center of business, government, and social affairs in Old San Diego. The oldest brick house in Southern California, the Whaley house served as a courthouse, a courtroom, a theater, and a boarding houseas well as the family home of Thomas and Anna Whaley and their children.

Today, no one is allowed in the Whaley House after 4 p.m., but police officers and responsible citizens say that someoneor somethingkeeps walking around half the night turning all the lights on. Located at 2482 San Diego Avenue in Old San Diego, the Whaley House has been restored and is now owned and operated by the San Diego Historical Society as a tourist attraction. Often, while conducting tours through the old mansion, members of the society have heard eerie footsteps moving about other parts of the house when the rooms were visibly unoccupied.

June Reading, a former director of the Whaley House, told of footsteps being heard in the master bedroom and on the stairs. Windows, even when fastened down with three four-inch bolts on each side, would fly open of their own accordoften in the middle of the night, triggering the burglar alarm. People often reported having heard screams echoing throughout the second story of the mansion, and once a large, heavy china closet had toppled over by itself. Numerous individuals had sensed or psychically seen the image of a scaffold and a hanging man on the south side of the mansion.

According to Reading, 10 years before Thomas Whaley constructed his home on the site, a sailor named Yankee Jim Robinson had been hanged on the spot of what would later become the arch between the music room and the living room in the mansion. Whaley had been an observer when Yankee Jim kept his appointment with the hangman.

Some visitors to the Whaley House have reported seeing a gaudily dressed woman with a painted face lean out of a second-story window. In Reading's opinion, that could well be an actress from one of the theatrical troupes that had leased the second floor in November 1868.

The Court House Wing of the mansion is generally thought to be the most haunted spot in the Whaley House, due to the violent emotions that were expended there in the early days of San Diego. Many individuals who have visited the old house have heard the sounds of a crowded courtroom in session and the noisy meetings of men in Thomas Whaley's upstairs study. According to many psychical researchers, the fact that this one single mansion served so many facets of city life, in addition to being a family home, almost guarantees several layers of psychic residue permeating themselves upon the environment.

Many sensitive visitors to the Whaley House have also perceived the image of Anna Whaley, who, some feel, still watches over the mansion that she loved so much. And who, according to a good number of those who have encountered her presence, deeply resents the intrusion of strangers.

Reading remembered the night in 1964 when television talk show host Regis Philbin and a friend saw Anna Whaley as they sat on the Andrew Jackson sofa at 2:30 a.m. The ghostly image floated from the study, through the music room, and into the parlor. At that moment, Philbin, in nervous excitement, dissolved the apparition with the beam of his flashlight.

In the fall of 1966, a group of newspeople volunteered to stay in Whaley House to spend the night with Yankee Jim. Special permission was granted to the journalists by the historical society, and the ghost hunters settled in for their overnight stay. The wife of one of the reporters had to be taken home by 9:30 p.m. She was badly shaken and claimed that she had seen something on the upper floor that she refused to describe. The entire party of journalists left the house before dawn. They, too, refused to discuss the reason for their premature departure, but some people say the ghost of Yankee Jim, still protesting the horror of his death, confronted them. Since that time, night visits have not been permitted in Whaley House.

In addition to the sightings of the primary spirits of Thomas and Anna Whaley, Reading said that the other ghosts most often seen include those of Yankee Jim, who walks across the upstairs sitting room to the top of the stairs; a young girl named Washburn, a playmate of the Whaley children; and "Dolly Varden," the family's favorite dog. And then there are the screams, the giggles, the rattling doorknobs, the cooking odors, the smell of Thomas Whaley's Havana cigars, Anna's sweet-scented perfume, the sound of footsteps throughout the house, and the music box and piano that play by themselves.

Delving Deeper

Lamb, John. San Diego Specters. San Diego: Sunbelt Productions, 1999.

May, Antoinette. Haunted Houses and Wandering Ghosts of California. San Francisco: San Francisco Examiner Division, 1977.

Norman, Michael, and Beth Scott. Historic Haunted America. New York: Tor Books, 1996.

Smith, Susy. Prominent American Ghosts. New York: Dell, 1969.

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"Famous Haunted Houses and Places." Gale Encyclopedia of the Unusual and Unexplained. 2003. Encyclopedia.com. 26 Jul. 2016 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"Famous Haunted Houses and Places." Gale Encyclopedia of the Unusual and Unexplained. 2003. Encyclopedia.com. (July 26, 2016). http://www.encyclopedia.com/doc/1G2-3406300235.html

"Famous Haunted Houses and Places." Gale Encyclopedia of the Unusual and Unexplained. 2003. Retrieved July 26, 2016 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/doc/1G2-3406300235.html