2009-12-29

016 - There Is No Death, by Florence Marryat: The Spirit of a Sailor

 

I cannot end this chapter more appropriately than by relating a very remarkable case of “optical illusion” which was seen by myself alone. It was in the month of July, 1880, and I had gone down alone to Brighton for a week's quiet. I had some important literary work to finish, and the exigencies of the London season made too many demands upon my time. So I packed up my writing materials, and took a lodging all to myself, and set hard to work.


I used to write all day and walk in the evening. It was light then till eight or nine o'clock, and the Esplanade used to be crowded till a late hour. I was pushing my way, on the evening of the 9th of July, through the crowd, thinking of my work more than anything else, when I saw, as I fully thought, my step-son, Francis Lean, leaning with his back against the palings at the edge of the cliff and smiling at me. He was a handsome lad of eighteen who was supposed to have sailed in his ship for the Brazils five months before. But he had been a wild young fellow, causing his father much trouble and anxiety, and my first impression was one of great annoyance, thinking naturally that, since I saw him there, he had never sailed at all, but run away from his ship at the last moment. I hastened up to him, therefore, but as I reached his side, he turned round quite methodically, and walked quickly down a flight of steps that led to the beach. I followed him, and found myself amongst a group of ordinary seamen mending their nets, but I could see Francis nowhere.


I did not know what to make of the occurrence, but it never struck me that it was not either the lad himself or some one remarkably like him. The same night, however, after I had retired to bed in a room that was unpleasantly briliant with the moonlight streaming in at the window, I was roused from my sleep by someone turning the handle of my door, and there stood Francis in his naval uniform, with the peaked cap on his head, smiling at me as he had done upon the cliff. I started up in bed intending to speak to him, when he laid his finger on his lips and faded away. This second vision made me think something must have happened to the boy, but I determined not to say anything to my husband about it until it was verified. Shortly after my return to London, we were going, in company with my own son (also a sailor), to see his ship which was lying in the docks, when, as we were driving through Poplar, I again saw my stepson Francis standing on the pavement, and smiling at me.


That time I spoke. I said to Colonel Lean: “I am sure I saw Francis standing there. Do you think it is possible he may not have sailed after all?”


But Colonel Lean laughed at the idea. He believed it to be a chance likeness I had seen. Only the lad was too good-looking to have many duplicates in this world.


We visited the seaside after that, and in September, whilst we were staying at Folkestone, Colonel Lean received a letter to say that his son Francis had been drowned by the upsetting of a boat in the surf of the Bay of Callao, in the Brazils, on the 9th of July – the day I had seen him twice in Brighton, two months before we heard that he was gone.

2009-12-28

Haunted Littlecote Hall | Socyberty

In one of Wiltshire’s most stately houses, that of Littlecote, a wicked man has left his ghostly marks in the old rooms. In the corridors and staircases you can still hear silent whispers of a secret murder. For more than two centuries Littlecote Hall, near Hungerford, was owned by the Darell family… who beghosted the house and the entire neighbourhood… 


Image Source




In the 20th century the Wills family was living in Littlecote. It was Major George Wills who told the tale of how his dog began to bark in the middle of the night, awaking the whole household. The animal stood in front of the bedroom door, its hair standing on end, quivering in terror – while the Major saw this woman pass by, wringing her hands, appearing to be looking for someone.


Read More:

Haunted Littlecote Hall | Socyberty

Tombstone Tales - 009: Battle of Souls, by Debra / Tower and Graveyard in St Andrews, Scotland

Old tower 

























 Tower and graveyard in St Andrews, Scotland




The night is dark, so very dark
The hour grows late, and I am weary
Soon they’ll come, one by one
Shiftless souls, from places, dreary...



Read More In: 


The Battle of Souls







2009-12-25

014 - There Is No Death, by Florence Marryat: The Spirit of the Man Who Commited Suicide


The Watcher in the Wardrobe

My sister Cecil lives with her family in Somerset, and many years ago I went down there to visit her for the first time since she had moved into a new house which I had never seen before. She put me to sleep in the guest chamber, a large, handsome room, just newly furnished by Oetzmann. But I could not sleep in it. The very first night some one walked up and down the room, groaning and sighing close to my ears, and he, she, or it especially annoyed me by continually touching the new stiff counterpane with a “scrooping” sound that set my teeth on edge, and sent my heart up into my mouth. I kept on saying: “Go away! Don't come near me!” For its proximity inspired me with a horror and repugnance which I have seldom felt under similar circumstances.
I did not say anything at first to my sister, who is rather nervous on the subject of “bogies”, but on the third night I could stand it no longer, and told her plainly the room was haunted, and I wished she would put me in her dressing-room, or with her servants, sooner than let me remain there, as I could get no rest. Then the truth came out, and she confessed that the last owner of the house had committed suicide in that very room, and showed me the place on the boards, underneath the carpet, where the stain of his blood still remained. A lively sort of room to sleep all alone in.

2009-12-23

015 - There Is No Death, by Florence Marryat: The Spirit of the Flemish Woman in the Cap of Mechlin Lace

 
Another sister of mine, Blanche, used to live in a haunted house in Bruges, of which a description will be found in the chapter headed “The Story of the Monk” (see "There Is No Death in Bruges-la-Morte”). Long, however, before the monk was heard of, I could not sleep in her house on account of the disturbances in my room, for which my sister used to laugh at me. But even when my husband, Colonel Lean, and I stayed there together, it was much the same.
One night I waked him to see the figure of a woman, who had often visited me, standing at the foot of the bed. She was quaintly attired in a sort of leathern boddice or jerkin, laced up the front over a woollen petticoat of some dark color. She wore a cap of Mechlin lace, with the large flaps at the side, adopted by Flemish women to this day; her hair was combed tightly off her forehead, and she wore a profusion of gold ornaments.
My husband could describe her as vividly as I did, which proves how plainly the apparition must have shown itself. I waked on several occasions to see this woman busy (apparently) with the contents of an old carved oak armoir which stood in a corner of the room, and which, I suppose, must have had something to do with herself.
My eldest son joined me at Bruges on this occasion. He was a young fellow of twenty, who had never practised, nor even enquired into Spiritualism – fresh from sea, and about as free from fear or superstitious fancies as a mortal could be. He was put to sleep in a room on the other side of the house, and I saw from the first that he was grave about it, but I did not ask him the reason, though I felt sure, from personal experience, that he would hear or see something before long.
In a few days he came to me and said: “Mother, I'm going to take my mattress into the colonel's dressing-room to-night and sleep there.”
I asked him why.
He replied: “It's impossible to stay in that room any longer. I wouldn't mind if they'd let me sleep, but they won't. There's something that walks about half the night, whispering and muttering, and touching the bedclothes, and though I don't believe in any of your rubbishy spirits, I'll be ‘jiggered’ if I sleep there any longer.”
So he was not “jiggered” (whatever that may be), as he refused to enter the room again.


013 - There Is No Death, by Florence Marryat: A Ghost Announcing His Death







My eldest daughter was spending a holiday with me once after my second marriage, and during the month of August. She had been very much overworked, and I made her lie in bed till noon.


One morning I had been to her room at that hour to wake her, and on turning to leave it (in the broad daylight, remember), I encountered a man on the landing outside her door. He was dressed in a white shirt with black studs down the front, and a pair of black cloth trousers. He had dark hair and eyes, and small features; altogether, he struck me as having rather a sinister and unpleasant appearance.



I stood still, with the open door in my hand, and gazed at him. He looked at me also for a minute, and then turned and walked upstairs to an upper storey where the nursery was situated, beckoning me, with a jerk of his hand, to follow him.


My daughter (remarking a peculiar expression in my eyes, which I am told they assume on such occasions) said: “Mother! What do you see?”


“Only a spirit,” I answered, “and he has gone upstairs.”


“Now, what is the good of seeing them in that way?” said Eva, rather impatiently (for this dear child always disliked and avoided Spiritualism), and I was fain to confess that I really did not know the especial good of encountering a sinister-looking gentleman in shirt and trousers, on a blazing noon in August. After which the circumstance passed from my mind, until recalled again.


A few months later I had occasion to change the children's nurse, and the woman who took her place was an Icelandic girl named Margaret Thommassen, who had only been in England for three weeks. I found that she had been educated far above the average run of domestic servants, and was well acquainted with the writings of Swedenborg and other authors.


One day as I walked up the nursery stairs to visit the children in bed, I encountered the same man I had seen outside my daughter's room, standing on the upper landing, as though waiting my approach. He was dressed as before, but this time his arms were folded across his breast and his face downcast, as though he were unhappy about something. He disappeared as I reached the landing, and I mentioned the circumstance to no one.


A few days later, Margaret Thommassen asked me timidly if I believed in the possibility of the spirits of the departed returning to this earth. When I replied that I did, she appeared overjoyed, and said she had never hoped to find anyone in England to whom she could speak about it. She then gave me a mass of evidence on the subject which forms a large part of the religion of the Icelanders.


Margaret told me that she felt uneasy about her eldest brother, to whom she was strongly attached. He had left Iceland a year before to become a waiter in Germany, and had promised faithfully that so long as he lived she should hear from him every month, and when he failed to write she must conclude he was dead. She had heard nothing from him now for three months, and each night when the nursery light was put out, someome came and sat at the foot of her bed and sighed.


She then produced his photograph, and to my astonishment I recognized at once the man who had appeared to me some months before I knew that such a woman as Margaret Thommassen existed. He was taken in a shirt and trousers, just as I had seen him, and wore the same repulsive (to me) and sinister expression. I then told his sister that I had already seen him twice in that house, and she grew very excited and anxious to learn the truth.


In consequence I sat with her in hopes of obtaining some news of her brother, who immediately came to the table, and told her that he was dead, with the circumstances under which he had died, and the address where she was to write, to obtain particulars. And on Margaret Thommassen writing as she was directed, she obtained the practical proofs of her brother's death, without which this story would be worthless.



2009-12-20

Inside Looking Out | Authspot



In my war bonnet now
with all the feathers I’ve collected
For myself.


This strength.

I catch myself
Looking back to see a flash
of the gems in the reflection. 

I’ve only ever worn them
for this reason.


Until now.


Full poem by Nisa West:

Inside Looking Out | Authspot

Tombstone Tales 008: The Ballad of Resurrection Mary

Resurrection Cemetery in Justice, Illinois - made famous by the ghost story of Resurrection Mary. (Photo Wikimedia Commons.)
Resurrection Cemetery in Justice, Illinois,
made famous by the ghost story of Resurrection Mary. 
(Photo Wikimedia Commons.)



They say I am no more
than a ghost, just passing by -
but did you see me
grasping the iron bars
of the Resurrection Cemetery?


Did you see me pulling them apart
and blackening them with the scorch marks
of my infuriated fingerprints,
sealed in the green bronze?




The Scorched Gatebars of Resurrection Cemetery. (Photo via Wikimedia Commons.)
The Scorched Gatebars of Resurrection Cemetery. 
(Photo via Wikimedia Commons.) 







2009-12-19

Tombstone Tales 007: Night falls infinitely...


Highgate gothic remix





My oldest memory of the other

world where I lived

another life is a summer

evening and I am

7




and my mother

is a black widow sitting

by my bed in the last light

of a day that only brought

darkness and death and night

falls through the window

of the silent attic





when she sings,

no when she sighs slow

and sadly this madly

talking blues:





"Only what dies,

shall live, my son.

So I have to release

the immortal soul

from the body

that is a tomb."




And night falls

infinitely and forever

I will be

8




2009-12-18

Virtual Poetry: The Ghost / Pain

Here is a virtual recital of a poem called "Pain", written and recited by an unknown girl of approximately 9 years of age, somewhere in the early sixties. The precise diction sounds rather Victorian, so "poetry animator" Jim Clark has used a photograph of an unknown Victorian girl of similar age as the visual image of the reader.

2009-12-17

Tombstone Tales 006: Highgate Gothic - Until the Clock Strikes Midnight Again

Highgate gothic



Twelve o'clock and where once
the groom and his bride 
were murdered,
it's pitch black now and every
room is deserted.


Except the one where
a grand piano is playing
- do you see the pianist?


Night after night
caught in a web of white light
he's playing the same
over and over again
- do you see him?


The keys are touched
by invisible fingers when
a ghostly band joins in on this



and disappears
into the fog,

forever


until the groom and his bride
return to Highgate and the clock

strikes midnight again.


2009-12-16

012 - There Is No Death, by Florence Marryat: Optical Illusions... or Spiritual Infiltrations?

Welcome to the Haunted Hotel






As I have alluded to what my family termed my “optical illusions”, I think it as well to describe a few of them, which appeared by the context to be something more than a mere temporary disturbance of my visual organs. I will pass over such as might be traced, truly or otherwise, to physical causes, and confine myself to those which were subsequently proved to be the reflection of something that, unknown to me, had gone before.


In 1875 I was much engaged in giving dramatic readings in different parts of the country, and I visited Dublin for the first time in my life, for that purpose, and put up at the largest and bestfrequented hotel there. Through the hospitality of the residents and the duties of my professional business, I was engaged both day and night, and when I did get to bed, I had every disposition to sleep, as the saying is, like a “top”. But there was something in the hotel that would not let me do so. 




I had a charming bedroom, cheerful, bright and pretty, and replete with every comfort, and I would retire to rest “dead beat”, and fall off to sleep at once, to be waked perhaps half-a-dozen times a night by that inexplicable something (or nothing) that rouses me whenever I am about to enjoy an “optical illusion”, and to see figures, sometimes one, sometimes two or three, sometimes a whole group standing by my bedside and gazing at me with looks of the greatest astonishment, as much as to ask what right I had to be there. 

But the most remarkable part of the matter to me was, that all the figures were those of men, and military men, to whom I was too well accustomed to be able to mistake. Some were officers and others soldiers, some were in uniform, others in undress, but they all belonged to the army, and they all seemed to labor under the same feeling of intense surprise at seeing me in the hotel. 

These apparitions were so life-like and appeared so frequently, that I grew quite uncomfortable about them, for however much one may be used to see “optical illusions”, it is not pleasant to fancy there are about twenty strangers gazing at one every night as one lies asleep. 

Spiritualism is, or was, a tabooed subject in Dublin, and I had been expressly cautioned not to mention it before my new acquaintances. However, I could not keep entire silence on this subject, and dining “en famille” one day, with a hospitable family of the name of Robinson, I related to them my nightly experiences at the hotel.


Father, mother, and son exclaimed simultaneously. “Good gracious!" they said, “don't you know that the hotel was built on the site of the old barracks? The house immediately behind it, which formed part of the old building, was vacated by its last tenants on account of its being haunted. Every evening at the hour the soldiers used to be marched up to bed, they heard the tramp, tramp, tramp of the feet ascending the staircase.”


“That may be,” I replied, “but they knew their house stood on the site of the barracks, and I didn’t.”

2009-12-15

The world’s most scary bridge legends

Places with dark and disturbing histories exist throughout the world. Read some really scary urban legends. Visiting scary places is all about going to locations where the spirits of the dead still roam the world. Even scarier are those places infested with other worldly spirits that are not human. Decide for yourself whether these stories are scary but true or just myths and hoaxes.










Bessie Little Bridge, Dayton


The ghost of a murdered girl named Bessie Little returns regularly to this bridge on Ridge Street. She was murdered there on August 27.1896. by her boyfriend, Albert J. Frantz. Bessie was pregnant and Albert didn’t want to have to marry her, so he shot her in the head and arranged the scene to suggest a suicide. For some reason, however, he shot her twice, so it was obvious that she hadn’t done it to herself. On November 19.1897. Albert J. Frantz #28896 was strapped into the electric chair at the Ohio Penitentiary in Columbus and put to death for first degree murder. Back in Montgomery County, Bessie Little’s ghost continues to haunt the bridge.





2009-12-14

Ballad of Christmas Ghosts

Here is a "virtual video" of the poet, novelist and literary critic Andrew Lang, reading his poem "Ballad of Christmas Ghosts". Andrew Lang (1844-1912) was a prolific Scots man of letters, and contributor to anthropology. He now is best known as one of the most important collector of folk and fairy tales.





2009-12-11

Tombstone Tales 005: Kiss of Death / Forever Breathless

J. Barba's statue dominates a tomb in the Old Graveyard of Poblenou (Barcelona).
Photo by EudaldCJ, on Flickr
And here is some music: Enchanting You - Listen while you read:






A black widow came to me


and said:






"As in ancient times,


crown thy head


with thorns and celebrate


this celestial body of mine


as I kiss you


to your Death.







Drink my blood-red wine



and enjoy the joy of my flesh


and the fresh flowers blooming


in my country flooding


of milk






and honey, run with me



through the woods and love me


forever






breathless."







Copyright by Patrick Bernauw, Memoirs of Lord Halloween.

2009-12-09

5 Strangest Ghost Stories - Weird Worm


No one is completely sure when mankind started believing in the existence of ghosts. It appears that many of concepts like the burials and funerals were early attempts to appease the spirits of the dead so they wouldn’t disturb the living.


ghosts get snapped



This first known recorded true life accounts of ghosts were also two of the strangest. Plutarch in the 1st century AD and Pliny in 50 AD detailed a couple of haunting spirits complete with chains, groans, and accusations of murder. Plutarch told of a home in one community that so plagued the neighbors they shut up the dwelling, but Pliny had a longer tale. 




Five really awesome ghost stories, featuring Pliny's story, the ghost of Catherine Howard (picture above), Borley Rectory, the ghosts of Shropshire and the Ouija-Board in:

5 Strangest Ghost Stories - Weird Worm

2009-12-08

Tombstone Tales 004: John Condon, Age 14

The grave of "John Condon, age 14", the youngest soldier to be killed in the Great War, is reputedly the most visited grave of the entire Western Front. According to recent investigations however, John Condon was not age 14, but age 18 when he was killed in May 1915, after only two months on the Western Front,  in a German gas attack at a place called "Mouse Trap", near Ypres. The  two unknown British soldiers exhumed in 1923, were misidentified as the privates Condon and Carthy. The true identity of the man buried in  the grave marked "John Condon" is probably rifleman Patrick Fitzsimmons of the 2nd Royal Irish Rifles.
Click on the title for the photograph, the poem and an awesome John Condon song.

2009-12-05

Tombstone Tales 003: A Little Night Music

Tomb of Mozart, Maincemetery Vienna, Austria
Tomb of Mozart, Main Cemetery Vienna, Austria 
by S. Ruehlow, on Flickr






The clock ticks away the hour


of midnight and in a web


of white light a piano


is playing a little


night music:




"Allegro!"




But where is the pianist?




Look at the keys, they go up


and down as the Rondo dances


through the deserted street


with this Lord and his Lady


dressed only


in her jewellery.




And the clock ticks away


the hour of midnight


when they jump


in the canal



as they always did



and always do


and forever




will.





2009-12-04

Tombstone Tales 002: Bruges-la-Morte


The poem was inspired by the short poetic novel Bruges-la Morte, by Georges Rodenbach. Listen while you read to this Very Slow and Spooky French Cancan...




The Grave of: George Rodenbach - Part Deux
Grave of George Rodenbach, Père-Lachaise (photo by Gus Hertzog)









Only the dead are dancing


through the living

rooms


when evening is falling

and grey people are put to rest

in peace


in houses
 

and shallow shadows
 

of past centuries
 


wondering stoned
 

as a statue.









 


Listen well

and hear a voice

whispering behind a hatch



about a past


tense not fully




completed







2009-12-03

Tombstone Tales 001: Paranormal Activity in a House Without History





You will hear my heavy steps
like boots, slow and determined
on the second floor and
you will not see me.




You will see
my tall shape in the bedroom
of your children: featureless
face in the dark
Dracula cape screaming and
you will not hear me.




Stay awake at night
after the lights go out
for no more than ten minutes
and you will hear me
moving, picking up things and softly
putting them down.




Take a shower,
I’ll scratch your back
and leave tiny scars
like claws and you
will not see me.




You will hear me
whisper in your ear:
“Melanie…”




You will hear me sigh:
“Hi!”







This Tombstone Tale was inspired by the article "Help! Our House Is Haunted"



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