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Some Noted Haunted Houses

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In Great Britain there are many houses that either are or have been traditionally believed to be haunted, a larger percentage, perhaps, in proportion to its size than in any other country, and, therefore, only a few, selected chiefly from those that have stood the test of time and are still alleged to be haunted, will be dealt with in this chapter. The phenomena stated to have been experienced therein will be faithfully recounted and described, and no attempt will be made either to prove or disprove the popular belief that the said phenomena, being unaccounted for by anything physical, can only be attributed to the superphysical.

Undoubtedly the best-known haunted house in Great Britain is Glamis Castle, the seat of the Earl of Strathmore, which has acquired a wide-world reputation for its mystery room. Hidden away in the oldest part of this old, old building is a chamber alleged to contain a secret so grim that the facts relating to it have never been made public, but in every generation have invariably remained unknown, saving to three persons, namely, the Earl of Strathmore, his heir (to whom the dread knowledge is imparted upon the attainment of his majority) and his steward. Furthermore, three persons exact where-the chamber, it does not actually contain the secret in a literal sense, is at least intimately associated with it.

In addition to the ghostly sounds which proceed periodically from that portion of the castle in which it is believed the mystery room is situated, Glamis lays claim to cer-. tain other supernatural happenings. A pale face with large sorrowful eyes, the face of no earthly denizen, has been seen peering out of one of the windows of the castle; unaccountable sounds, as of a scaffolding being erected, have been heard issuing from the courtyard, whilst a huge figure in armour, said by some to be "Earl Patie," is both seen and heard tramping along corridors and up and down the stairs.

In Rushen Castle, Isle of Man, there is also a room the exact locality of which is unknown; and this room, situated somewhere in the subterranean precincts of the castle, is said to be haunted by the spirit of one of the giants that, according to tradition, were driven out of the island by Merlin.

Another castle in Forfarshire far-famed for its haunting is Cortachy, the seat of the Earl of Airlie. According to tradition, many years ago a drummer at Cortachy having the misfortune to incur the jealousy of his master, he was by the latter's order thrust into his own drum and hurled to destruction from the highest point of the castle turrets. Ever since then the ghost of this drummer, so it is said, has haunted the castle and its precincts, only, however, demonstrating its presence immediately before the death of a member of the Ogilvy family. During the last century, on several occasions, ghostly sounds, resembling the beating of a drum accompanied by the shrill noise of fifes and the steady tramp, tramp, tramp of marching soldiers, were stated to have been heard by quite reputable people, and quickly following upon each of these occasions the death of an Ogilvy occurred.

A somewhat similar haunting to that of Cortachy, inasmuch as the ghost is that of a soldier, occurs at Dumbarton Castle. On fine moonlight nights this ghost, which is in the form of a headless but in other respects attractive-looking sentry, may be seen pacing up and down the historic castle terrace.

Fyvie Castle, in the north of Scotland, is one of the numerous places tradition declares to have been cursed through the sacrilegious act of some former owner. Like Glamis and Rushen, it has its mystery room; but in this case the room is kept sealed, owing to a superstition that some dire misfortune will overtake the owners of the property should it ever be opened and its secret disclosed.

The hauntings attributed to Ballechin House, Perthshire, appear to be modern, or at least comparatively so, for none seemingly occurred prior to the death of Major Stewart, the owner of the property, in 1876. Since then various phenomena, both auditory and visual, are alleged to have taken place there, the said phenomena consisting for the most part of shuffling footsteps and loud, angry voices; and also the appearance, causing considerable alarm, of a gliding hunchback and black spaniel, the latter sometimes choosing to demonstrate its presence by manifesting only its paws.

In any survey, no matter how brief, of Scottish ghosts some mention must be made of what has often been described as Scotland's worst, worst in more senses than one, haunted place, namely Hermitage Castle in Liddesdale. Hermitage was at one time the property of that past-master in Black Magic, William Lord Soulis, who, as the result of many evil deeds, suffered a terrible death. Seized one day by his long-suffering but at length exasperated neighbours, he was taken by them to a place called the Nine Stane Rig and there thrust alive into a cauldron of boiling lead. His punishment, one must admit, was sufficiently severe; but if he really committed even a tithe of the terrible atrocities attributed to him, one cannot wonder that his spirit, accompanied by others equally abandoned and diabolical to the last degree, should return at times to the old castle, and revel there amidst the scenes of their past wickednesses.

Of haunted houses in England there is no end. Beginning with London, which has been described as "the cockpit of spookdom," we have the Tower. The phenomena that have been seen there from time to time include a cylindrical figure, like a huge glass tube, containing something said to resemble a dense white and pale azure fluid (this phenomenon, assuredly one of the most extraordinary on record, appeared to Mr. and Mrs. Lenthal Swifte, collectively, during the time Mr. Swifte was keeper of the Crown jewels, and actually "seized Mrs. Swifte by the shoulder"); an apparition in the form of a huge bear that appeared one night, with fatal results, to a soldier on sentry duty at the Jewel Office; and a procession of knights and ladies, led by a lady strongly resembling a portrait of Anne Boleyn. The last-named phenomenon has been seen, on various occasions, in the Old Chapel and other parts of the historic buildings.

As might be expected, some, at least, of the ghosts reputed to haunt Windsor Castle and its domains are those of royal personages. The phantom of a lady wearing a kind of black lace mantilla and said to resemble a portrait of Queen Elizabeth was seen in the castle one day in February 1897 by Lieut. Car Glynn of the Grenadier Guards, while a ghost, thought by those who saw it to have been the phantasm of George III, is also said to have appeared there on several occasions within the past few decades. Tradition ascribes to the park adjoining the castle at least two ghosts, one that of Herne the Hunter, rumoured to have been seen a year or two ago near the supposed site of Herne's Oak; and the other that of a white stag, whose appearance is popularly supposed to denote some impending crisis of a national character.

Very thrilling stories are told of the hauntings of Hampton Court. The ghosts of Lady Jane Seymour and Queen Catherine Howard are both said to haunt the precincts of the palace. On the day of her execution Queen Catherine Howard, breaking away from her guards, ran towards the chapel where Henry VIII was attending mass, hoping, as a last resource, to plead with him for mercy. Her custodians, however, much as they may have pitied her, dared not allow her to disturb her royal spouse at his prayers, and, consequently, they dragged her, shrieking and expostulating, through what is now known as the Haunted Gallery to her doom. Her ghost, it is stated, still haunts the scene of the above incident, and on certain nights in the year re-enacts the part its once material self played in it.

The phantom of Jane Seymour, despite all alleged attempts to lay it, would still seem to pay nocturnal visits to the Silver-stick Gallery, bearing a lighted taper in one of her hands; whilst a third ghost reported to haunt Hampton Court is that of Mrs. Penn, foster mother and nurse of Edward VI.

Bisham Abbey, in Berkshire, is said to possess a ghost of a remarkable type. In the sixteenth century it was the seat of the Hoby family, and legend, if not history, relates that Lady Elizabeth Hoby, wife of Sir Thomas Hoby, ill treated her son, William, a boy of tender years, to such an extent that he died. Hence, in consequence of this cruel act, her ghost is said to haunt the house and to be seen gliding through a certain chamber, vainly endeavouring to rid its hands of bloodstains. A curious feature of this haunting is that those who have seen the apparition say that although to some extent it resembles the portraits of Lady Elizabeth, its face and hands appear to them to be black.

Much more pleasing was the ghost ascribed to the old Manor House, Creslow, Bucks. It was popularly supposed to be that of the beautiful but ill-fated Fair Rosamund, but the why and wherefore of this supposition is not apparent, since, as far as is known, Fair Rosamund had no associations with the house during her life on earth. It appears she is seldom seen, but not infrequently the swishings of her dress are heard on a certain staircase, and, at times, in a certain room there are sounds, all the more alarming because the agents are invisible, as if two people were engaged in a most desperate struggle.

Tradition has credited Newstead Abbey with many phantasms. Once the home of the Byrons, its best-known ghost is "the Black Friar," that at one time always manifested before the death of, or dire catastrophe to, some member of the Byron family. Other apparitions alleged to have been seen at Newstead, not only during its Byronic regime but in more recent times, are those of "Sir John Byron the Little with the Great Beard" and a mysterious lady in white. In former years a portrait of Sir John Byron hung over the door of the great hall, and then it was said that sometimes at midnight this portrait descended from its frame and walked about the building. The white lady does not appear to have been quite so inconsiderate; for apparently she confined herself to one room, where she spent most of her time gliding in and out the walls. A truly ghostly, but not very edifying, occupation.

White ladies in the ghost world are by no means uncommon. Indeed, white would seem to be extremely popular with the feminine section of the other world. A white lady was reputed to haunt one of the rooms at Ashley Hall, Cheshire, while similar apparitions are said to have been seen flitting about the staircases and passages at Crook Hall, Durham; Skipsea Castle (now in ruins), in Yorkshire; Blenkinsop Castle, also in ruins, in Northumberland, Samlesbury Hall, in Lancashire; and the Old Lewtrenchard House, Devon. The Lewtrenchard ghost, said to be that of a certain Madame Gould, who died in her chair at Lewtrenchard House about the middle of the eighteenth century, and was, according to her portrait, wonderfully pretty, apparently did not haunt the house and grounds only, but often was to be met with miles away, where it would be seen, like a lorelei or an undine, seated on the banks of a river or stream, sometimes in the act of combing its beautiful long golden hair, and sometimes taking up handfuls of water and letting it trickle in sparkling drops through its diamond-decked, tapering fingers.

A variety in the colouring of the costumes of phantasms of the fair sex is occasionally to be found in British hauntings. For example, a brown lady haunted Raynham, the seat of the Marquess Town-shend, while a green lady periodically walked the ruins of Caerphilly Castle, near Cardiff, a similarly attired apparition haunting the ruins of Mearnaig Castle, off the west of Scotland.

Kimbolton Castle, in Huntingdonshire, the seat of the Duke of Manchester, around which centres most of the county's legends, possesses a very curious pair of ghosts, namely, the ghost of Catherine of Aragon and the ghost of that stern, hard-visaged old judge, Sir John Popham. The ghost of Catherine of Aragon is said to "float through and through the galleries and to people the dark, void spaces with a mysterious awe"; while that of Sir John is alleged sometimes to "sit astride the park wall," and sometimes to "lie in wait for rogues and poachers under the great elms." Catherine of Aragon, it will be remembered, not only died in the castle, but spent there the saddest part of her very sad life. A somewhat different kind of haunting, the haunting by a spirit in animal form, occurs at Peel Castle, Isle of Man.

The phantasm at this historic stronghold is called the Manthe Doog, and has been described as a great shaggy-looking spaniel with particularly terrifying eyes. It is said to haunt the old guard room of the castle and a certain subterranean passage under the church. An extremely blasphemous and bibulous soldier once saw it and was so terrified that he died from shock immediately after the encounter. And no wonder!

To name another variety of ghost, there is the "wild horseman," which is almost as common as the "white lady." At least three noted houses, namely, Wycoller Hall, Lancashire; Calverley Hall, Yorkshire; and Littlecote, Berkshire, have their "wild horsemen."

And not only are these ghosts similar in appearance, but the traditional stories associated with them are pretty well the same, a wild, reckless, spendthrift man and, in addition, a horrible domestic tragedy form the basis of them all.

Yet another kind of haunting is the haunting of the goblin or brownie order, and this has been ascribed to Hilton Castle (now ruins) near Sunderland. On July 3, 1609, Robert Hilton of Hilton, in a fit of temper, is said to have murdered one of his stable boys, Roger Skelton, and to have thrown the body in a pond. Afterwards it was believed that the place was haunted by Skelton's ghost, which in course of time became known as the "Cauld Lad." If the servants of the castle left the kitchen in order at night, they would find everything disarranged in the morning, but, if on the contrary, they left everything in confusion at night, they would find the place in perfect order in the morning. And all this was attributed to the "Cauld Lad " ghost.

There are hauntings, too, namely, by a "radiant boy," that is to say a phantasm in the guise of a very beautiful naked boy emitting a very dazzling light from all over him, that do not appear to be confined to any one house or locality. One such haunting is said to have occurred at Corby Castle in Cumberland, while another is reported to have been experienced by Captain Stewart (afterwards Lord Castlereagh) when he was on a visit to some friends in the north of Ireland. The radiant boy that haunted the house Captain Stewart stayed in was believed to appear only to those who were destined to die a violent death, and the fact that Lord Castlereagh finally perished by his own hand would seem to give a certain amount of colour to that belief.

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Pictures for Some Noted Haunted Houses

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