The Wednesday Wondering – Hallowe’en Special

It’s the end of October tomorrow which means one thing … Hallowe’en. Mwah ha ha ha ha!!!!

We’ve therefore gone for the logical theme of all things spooky this week with a question from Alex:

Do you believe in ghosts? Have you had any ghostly or spooky experiences?

But, because I’m really nosy, I added in another question:

Will you be getting dressed up/doing anything for Hallowe’en this year?

Write Romantic Lynne has a couple of very detailed ghost stories to share with us. We discussed whether she should edit them but they’re interesting so I decided I should keep them in but post hers last to finish on a very spooky note.

Here’s what some of The Write Romantics had to say … if you’re feeling brave enough …

ALEX:

Growing up in York where there’s a ghost story attached to half the buildings in the city you’d have thought I’d have been a believer but for a long time I wasn’t. Over the years there have been places that I’ve visited where I’ve felt something that couldn’t be easily explained, like in Micklegate Bar in York where there’s a sense of despair or sadness which seems to be trapped in the stones.  Prisoners were held in Micklegate Bar for their final night before they were hanged just outside the city.  The sensible side of my brain dismissed that as my over active imagination.

However, over the past couple of years while I’ve been volunteering at Barley Hall I’ve changed my mind on this. Barley Hall is a reconstructed medieval townhouse in York.  A lot of people who work there have seen or experienced ghosts at Barley Hall and when I listened to them talk about these experiences I was pretty sure they weren’t making them up.  I’ve also seen photographs of the interior of the building with unexplained bubbles of light in them which I’m told show the presence of a spirit.   There’s too many of these light bubbles for it to be a coincidence or extremely bad camera work. Unfortunately I don’t have any of those pictures to show you but they are quite fascinating.

As to what I’m doing for Halloween this year, well as I’ve been in hospital recently having major surgery I’m having the staples taken out of my wound on Thursday. So definitely more trick than treat for me this year. Let’s hope it’s not too gruesome!

JAXX:

Afraid I don’t have any pics of me in scary outfits and I don’t really believe in ghosts, as if there were such things I feel they would be everywhere clamouring to be heard and causing mischief and mayhem all over the world. Really rubbish answer I know, but have never had any weird experiences, that I’ve taken seriously anyway.

HELEN R:

To be honest, I don’t really believe in ghosts. I do however remember going in the Haunted House in Blackpool once and I have to say I was terrified…there were actual people in there coming out of the darkness to touch your hair or your skin…I’ve never been so scared in my life!

This year we’ll be doing Halloween. It’s fun to see the kids all dressed up but there’s a limit to how spooky it can be Down Under, with the sun blazing! That said, they do love it and I’ve seen some amazing costumes around the local area and it’s always terrifying to see hyped up children on all that sugar 🙂

JULIE:

I believe in ghosts although I haven’t actually seen one myself. Mind you, a few years ago I had to travel to Cumbria with work and stayed in Dalston Hall Hotel which is reputedly haunted http://www.hauntedrooms.co.uk/dalston-hall-hotel It is one of those situations where you’re absolutely fascinated and want to know the information … yet you know you’re not going to sleep if you do. The owner showed us CCTV footage of orbs around the building which were captivating to watch. It completely freaked my colleague out; she didn’t sleep a wink! I was a bit perturbed but we’d been assured we weren’t in the haunted rooms.

When I was in primary school, aged about 10, we went on a school trip to an outdoors centre in a place called Carlton Lodge near Thirsk, North Yorkshire. There were dorms and it was reputed that ‘The Grey Lady’ haunted the girls yellow dorm. As a list was read out of who was in which colour dorm, I prayed I wasn’t in yellow. Guess who was picked for yellow? On the 2nd night, I woke up to what sounded like gravel being thrown against the window near my top bunk but there was nobody outside. That spooked me a bit and we asked some leaders a bit more about the ghost the next day. As we were discussing it, the emergency exit door in the yellow dorm burst open and a siren sounded. Nobody was anywhere near it. Cue twenty or so hysterical screaming girls!!!

Moving on to Hallowe’en, I’ve already done my bit. I’m a Brown Owl and, as Hallowe’en falls during half term, we had a party last Monday. It’s a great excuse for us leaders to dress up so here’s me in my face paints for the Brownie do.

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Then it was another Hallowe’en party for me on Saturday. I do a beach-based bootcamp and we’ve been trying to get a social scene going so a couple of the bootcampers kindly hosted a house party. I dressed the same but changed my face painting. I think I preferred the one for Brownies though. Which do you like best?

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As for tomorrow, Hallowe’en itself, I’d normally have carved a couple of pumpkins and put them in the window to signal that we’re happy to receive trick or treaters, my little girl would dress up and we’d hand out sweets. She’s 6 and we don’t know many neighbours so we answer the door but don’t go out ourselves. However, I have a job interview in Birmingham during the day and won’t get home until about 6pm. That means no time to carve pumpkins although I may be home in time for the flurry of kids and an hour of door-answering.

RACHAEL:

I’m afraid I don’t have any spooky experiences to tell. Not that I don’t believe in ghosts, they have just chosen not to reveal themselves to me. Each time I go to old houses or castles I think of those who have walked there before me and wonder if any are still there. As a child I remember standing in the Haunted Tower at Warwick Castle on a school trip, hoping the ghost would show itself! The tower is said to be haunted by Sir Fulke Greville who was granted the castle by King James I in 1604 and died a lingering death at the castle after being stabbed by his servant.

As my children are older I won’t be dressing up on Halloween, but I have kitted them out in some great costumes in the past. Also being so far off the road, up a long tree lined and very dark track, I don’t think anyone will trick or treat us.

Several years ago I was driving back from Gloucester after visiting my grandmother and came across this incredible display of pumpkins.

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HELEN P:

I wholeheartedly believe in Ghosts. Over the years I’ve had many strange things happen. There’s my spooky white mist (see photo). I took that in the Abbey Woods when I was out walking the dog with my husband. There was no mist around whatsoever yet when I clicked the camera I noticed something. I took another photo immediately after and there is no mist in that one. Very spooky.

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But the one incident that really convinced me was the night my brother died suddenly, 18 years ago. I was lying in bed and couldn’t sleep and I sensed a white light to the right of me, I glanced over and saw the most brilliant white figure standing at the side of my bed. It was glowing it was so bright. I have to admit it terrified me so I shut my eyes and pulled the duvet over my head. Thinking back I’m sorry that I was so scared because I’m sure it was my brother coming to say goodbye and he would never mean to scare me.

This Halloween is the first one in seven years I won’t be working so were celebrating by going to Muncaster Castle which is about an hour’s drive away. They let visitors in after dark where the castle is transformed, every window has a ghostly glow. There are ghostly walks through the woods, a terrifying maze and all sorts of things going on. I’m really looking forward to it plus they do the best chips and mugs of hot chocolate in the courtyard cafe, there is a big blazing fire to sit around and it’s just such good fun.

JO:

I don’t know whether I believe in ghosts or not.  I would like to, though, as long as they aren’t the scary malevolent types, hell-bent on retribution for the torment of their past lives!  I am not sure if I have ever had a spooky experience, but I do think certain buildings have an atmosphere and there is a definite and distinct ‘feeling’ when you enter some churches.  I had a scary experience last week, however, as I am terrified of rats.  We were in a shop and my son suddenly said that a rat had come out from below the display cabinet.  I screamed in front of an aisle full of people and it turned out it was a toy one, planted there by my cheeky eight-year-old!

We have already done some things for Halloween this year, including going to a themed adventure park with Satan’s Circus, the Hob’s Pit and a Terror Train.  We will also be going out Trick or Treating on Halloween itself and I attach a picture of me wearing my scary mask – this year’s outfit.

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LYNNE:

I thought tomorrow being halloween and interest being in things that go bump in the night and all that I’d just tell you a couple of my true ghost stories, and it would be lovely to hear yours too.

One of my favourite things to do is to go and look around ancient buildings. I’m on the committee of the Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings in Gloucestershire, where we live. A fellow member arranged for us to see an Elizabethan cruck house and a barn dating from late Tudor times in Frampton on Severn then Wick Court, now very much occupied by children on holiday from London, many of whom had never been to a farm before. It was lovely to see the children running about and playing in the open air with not a tv or other electronic screen for miles.

The house was a magnificent Gloucestershire manor house where Queen Elizabeth had stayed as opposed to was rumoured to have stayed. One of my learned friends told me she actually did come to stay here, because she was asked to see some wood that was to be used for her ships in the Forest of Dean, and she stayed at Wick Court when she visited. I saw the room she used, it’s magnificent. Two of the walls have windows which look over beautiful rolling farmland and plaster decoration is above the fireplace. It’s now full of pine bunk beds for the children.

Queen Elizabeth’s room is on the first floor. We looked around then I walked up the stairs with the housekeeper who paused to show me a detail of the stair rail as we reached the top floor. The housekeeper showed me the stair rails, where rumour had it that a bit had had to be cut out to get out the coffin of one deceased occupant and the mark was still left on the woodwork. As I turned around to look at the offending stair railing I saw a woman go into the bedroom, the room directly above Queen Elizabeth’s room, on the top floor and smaller. The lady I saw was in her 70’s and wore those cotton overalls that farmers wear. I saw her just as she was going into the room, it looked like she was making a hasty retreat from her visitors, but there was none of that tension you see in the posture of someone in a grumpy mood about something, but had she been able to speak I think she’d just have said ‘oooppss, time to go!’

We finished our look at the stairs and we went into the bedroom I’d just seen the lady enter. I looked around me to see her, anxious that we wouldn’t disturb her but there was no-one there. I looked all around the room and it was completely empty! There was just one door into the room and no other exit save for the windows, but we were on the second floor. A shiver went down my spine but I said nothing. Many of the members are architects and surveyors not generally likely to be sympathetic to tales of spirits. But downstairs I saw a photo of the lady I’d seen upstairs. This time she was facing, but her height, build and dress were unmistakeable. I was told the last occupants of the place were two sisters who lived here together when it was a family house. There were several photographs of the family and their wonderful home full of all sorts of eccentric items. I had no doubt that the lady I saw was the one in the photograph.

I asked the housekeeper if the place was haunted, ‘yes,’ she said, ‘but not in an unhappy way.’ I had to agree, it did have a very happy atmosphere.

I grew up not being particularly aware of ghosts, my mother thought they were a load of rubbish and so by default, so did I. But one day all that changed. By this time I had grown up and left home and was working as a nurse in Farleigh Hospital near Bristol. This collection of old buildings had been built as a workhouse in the 19th century now a hospital for people with learning difficulties. It was a very beautiful, if a little austere, collection of grey Victorian buildings with its own church, presumably to save the occupants the trouble of visiting the local church.

It was the area around the church where several of my colleagues reported having seen a man wandering around the old buildings in period Victorian dress, a large old sweeping cape around his shoulders and a stovepipe hat, similar to a top hat with a long, thin top, like the old Victorian stovepipes used in machinery. A few of us students spent a few meal times on night duty looking for this chap but he never appeared for us. So the experience was logged in the back of my consciousness together with a wondering as to what ghosts were all about.

It wasn’t too long till my queries were answered, to my mind without a doubt, when my mother booked a holiday with her sister to a little cottage they’d known as young women in the village of Branscombe, near Sidmouth, Devon. It was reputed to have been a retreat house for a local monastery before the reformation. The women were evacuated there in the war and knew the house they’d rented, it was called Margells and my aunt’s boyfriend, Terence, lived there during their early stay, but his family had since sold the place and Terence had gone on to work in Potburys, the local auction house.

Mum was delighted that they were now able to rent this house. It is ancient and has a wonderful medieval wall painting still in existence. The whole place is now lovingly cared for by The Landmark Trust and available for holiday rent. Terence had told them many years before that they place had strange spirits in it, he’d said that every night he could hear low chanting, a quiet muttering from the direction of his grandmother’s room. He assumed it was just her chattering in her sleep, but the ritual had continued beyond her death. Terence says a white bird appeared at her bedroom window as she passed on.
Mum and her sister dismissed it, they didn’t believe in that sort of thing.

When you think of my mum and sister in that cottage, don’t think of them as meek and demure as two Jane Austen type ladies would be. Think Margaret Thatcher, strong and opinionated are more their style. ‘Ghost?’ they replied in response to my query about their forthcoming vacation, ‘we don’t believe in that sort of thing,’ they laughingly assured me.
It wasn’t long after that the couple changed their minds. They had loved having such an ancient building to stay in, they reported to me on their return, they looked in every room and thoroughly lapped up every detail of its age and antiquity, totally relishing the prospect of having it all to themselves.
Or so they thought. I’ll let mum tell you the rest of the story, except she left a bit off, I’ll add that at the end.

“My sister and I got to our holiday cottage and set about preparing a meal. Then we washed up the used dishes in the kitchen. While we were standing there something came between the two of us. It went from right to left very quickly, making a very loud swishing noise as it went. Then, having passed between us it
 came back the other way, again making this loud swish, swish, swishing sound. We could see
 nothing to explain this neither did we feel a draught as it passed close by us. My hair actually
 stood on end as we stared at each other in horror.
 We knew the house was reputed to be haunted but didn’t believe it. 
After that we decided to share a bedroom for safety. But hardly had we got into bed and turned
 out the light than the tapping began. It was a wooden uncarpeted floor and something began 
tapping first under my bed and then my sisters. Then it moved round the room, tapping in the
 corners and again under our beds and then over the whole room. It was quite a distinctive sound 
on the bare floorboards. Of course, we couldn’t sleep and the tapping continued until dawn.
 Then in the morning we heard someone come up the stairs. This was surprising as there was
 nobody else in the house, fortunately the footsteps went back down the stairs. Again there was
 no one there.

“Downstairs during the day we often heard footsteps on the stairs, going up and down, and then we
 heard someone walk across the bedroom floor above us. 
The next night we decided to sleep in the front bedroom, hoping that it wasn’t haunted. But it was.
 Again the tapping continued all night long until the dawn. And then, during the night, we heard the
bedroom door open. It opened with a heavy iron latch which clicked when lifted. We heard the 
latch click and the sound of the door opening, except that it didn’t open. Nobody came in. At 
least nobody that we could see when I switched on the light.

“Downstairs in the kitchen that morning the peace was shattered by the sound of a gun being fired. 
It was a very loud crack indeed, but there was nothing to be seen.
 Again that night the tapping continued until dawn and someone kept going up and downstairs. 
But this time while I was standing by my bed and undressing I heard noises coming from the sitting 
room or parlour beneath us. It sounded exactly as if a lot of people were having a party. I could hear 
the clink of glasses, lots of people chattering and suddenly they all burst into laughter. The sound
was peculiar, I heard it in one ear only, and I’m not deaf and it sounded just as though I were tuning 
into a short wave radio station which was coming from a very long distance away. There was neither 
television or radio in the house. Funnily enough the sound didn’t reach my sister whose bed was only
 a couple of feet from mine. Then someone began snoring in the space between our two beds.
 Very early the next morning we heard the front door knocker bang on the door. We looked out of the
window but no one was there and there was no wind, and the door knocker was a very heavy iron one.

“The ghost of a monk has been seen in this house previously and the previous tenants of when it was
a farmhouse verified our story with many more of their own as they had lived there for several generations. 
We did go there again but this time I took with me a wooden cross someone lent me and carried it
from room to room, and we heard nothing at all.”

This is exactly what happened and I haven’t added anything. On that last night when they heard snoring between the beds mum got fed up with it and said to her sister, ‘stop that!’ the reply was ‘I’ve been lying here all night listening to that.’  They realised that they were not alone in the room. Mum spoke first, ‘if you stop that noise we’ll go tomorrow and never come back.’ And the noise did stop, but they did go back. Maybe the ghost packed his bag the second time!

Do join in and let us know your ghost stories or your plans for Hallowe’en.

Julie

xx

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2 thoughts on “The Wednesday Wondering – Hallowe’en Special

  1. Some great stories on here Lynne, very spooky! Helen P I can definitely see skulls in your haunting mist and I just love the sound of Muncaster Castle – might have to pop up there next year 🙂 Julie, I have to say that I like the brownie face paint best too and you might be the best looking witch I’ve ever seen in that photo. Rachael your photo has reminded me to trek on up to the local farm to pick up a couple of pumpkins today. Not that we ever get trick or treaters here, as the houses are a bit too spread out, but it’s good fun all the same xx

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