I’m delighted to announce that I have an interview featured in the 17th Edition of the Paranormal Press, a publication by Haunted Southampton. My sincerest thanks goes to Pete Collins for this opportunity. The whole publication can be read here:
A dear friend of mine, named Wilson was several years ago curate-in-charge of St Thomas in the village of Fair Oak, Hampshire and when he invited me to spend my six weeks’ vacation with him I gladly accepted. I found that he occupied a little cottage standing by itself, his only companions being his housekeeper and a rough-haired terrier, Jock. The wind howled and screamed around the house on the evening of my arrival, and the rain came down in torrents. It became so rough that the chimney crashed through the roof on to the bed where we two were sleeping, and we had to make up a bed on the floor of a small box-room, which, my friend laughingly told me, was haunted.
I was not at all displeased at this announcement, for I was hard-headed enough for any ghost and was glad that there was a chance of meeting one of those individuals. During the evening my friend, Wilson, was called away to an old parishioner, who was very ill and was expecting death. I went up the steps leading to the box-room, which only contained a small window high up, and got into the bed surrounded by old biscuit tins and other odds and ends. I was just dozing off when I heard a shuffling and saw the dog at the top of the stairs. It began to moan most dismally. I coaxed him, but he stood quite still. I put my hand out to him and was alarmed to encounter an animal as stiff as wood, with hair standing up like the hair on an angry cat’s tail. His eyes were glaring fixedly at the window, and looking round I saw just under the window the figure of a man dressed in sailor uniform. The shirt was wide open, and over the heart was a terrible gash, the chest and clothes being covered with blood.
It was the most awful moment of my life, and I did not know what to do. As I gazed at him, horror-stricken, he beckoned to me and put his finger into his horrible wound. He beckoned again, and, pulling myself together, I went towards him. I stumbled and knew nothing more until some hours afterwards the housekeeper found me covered in blood from a gash in the cheek. I carry the marks of that to this day.
I had come to stay for six weeks, but when the experience came vividly back to me I decided to pack up and go the same day. When my friend came back I told him of my resolve. At first he laughed, but seeing I was in earnest, he said “You’ve seen something in the box-room.”
I admitted that I had, but did not tell him what.
Shortly afterwards, I received a letter from my friend, saying that the old parishioner he had been called to see had since made a remarkable statement to him.
“Mr. Wilson,” he said. “I felt so wicked the other night that I could not tell you the story that has made my life a burden, and made me so unhappy that I could not even die. Forty years ago I was employed with another man in making excavations for the foundations of the cottage in which you live. We came across the body of a man dressed as a naval seaman, with a deep gash in his chest. Round his neck he wore a beautiful golden crucifix. We buried the body and sold the crucifix dividing the money. But the affair troubled both of us, and we bricked his body up in the walls of your house. My dying wish, sir, is that you will find the body and give it a Christian burial.”
I wrote back at once begging my friend to pull down the wall of the box-room, and telling him I would wager my life that they would find the body under the window.
And so they did. They found the body in a standing position under the window, in the middle of the thick wall, and they buried him with Church ceremony. The old man died just a few minutes after the funeral.
“Within lay the body of his lost bride, now a fleshless skeleton, wearing the beautiful wedding robes in which he had last seen her. The wedding dress was yellow and stained with age and corruption. Her fleshless hand was raised in a pathetic attitude as it trying to open the door of her tomb.”
‘There was something deeply troubling about that fireplace. Had it been the only illuminated feature in the room I could have grasped something tangible about its formidable presence, but this was different; the Bristol Room was permanently furnished and dressed for dining. Rather, its carved beauty had long been ignored; thoughtlessly surrounded by the apparel of catering for ever-increasing volumes of guests. Was this ignorance the source of my disconcertion? Whatever, I had run my hands over the cold carved stone an alarming number of times.’
An excerpt from ‘The Bristol Room’.
A bolt is thrust aside and one half of a stable door swings back. The sound of a sharp kick announces the peeling back of the second. A bulk of a man steps through carrying a thick meshed bundle of sticks and logs searching for a suitable spot to dump the damp load; his nose is held aloft, at a distance, enduring the sickly-sweet aroma of the mildewed bark. His face fidgets nervously until the wood is set down on a sheet of newspaper, neatly dragged into position by his foot. The dispatching of the load relieves his body, but his expression still retains the weary slump it entered with.
It is almost time for Manning to leave, a suitable moment to consider the sweet restorative powers of a few days by the coast. And with this thought, he finds his spirits lifting. It has been several years since he last visited Leet and walked its impressive shores; he has missed the place. No longer resisting, he succumbs to the pleasantness teasing his lips.
Perhaps you know Leet? It is a south facing sandy beach next to the entrance of the Beaulieu River in Hampshire, a landscape rich in character, with great stretches of open and unspoilt countryside.
But it is the agents of erosion that have defined this sea-place. The shore is littered with corpses: trees that have finally, but grudgingly, relinquished their fragile grip on the sandy soil, just a few metres above. Tendrils of seeping rainwater and the gnawing effect of the wind have gradually removed the earth, exposing roots to the mercy of encroaching elements. It is a natural decay, but not one that removes all evidence of existence; for old trunks lie entombed in wispy layers of sand, creating fragile barrows on the shore. In the early hours of a wintry morning, the landscape transforms into a surprisingly gloomy affair; the dead bodies of trees are thrust into the greyness, and any living thing roaming amongst the decay looks quite lost, as lost as a child. Continue reading
Listen …can you hear her?
Strain your ears, press them close to the soil and you will. That wretched wheeze; a drawn-out throttling of the throat that sounds like murder. Then comes the coughing; a diseased hack-hack-hack, like a seal gasping for air.
I am dying.
She is dying; but slowly.
What an odd place to die.
Tiny trickles of earth spill over the back of her legs; pathetic limbs angrily propelling her body through a plough-ravaged soil.
I will not let him win.
She has crawled this field many times before, every accursed March 25th for the past eight hundred years.
And crawl it she must, for without her spirit, and the curse that is renewed each and every Lady Day, Tichborne would be nothing more than a dream of the past.
So, let us bless the soul of Lady Mabella and allow her to tell her tale, for it serves to reveal the true terror of the place that was once her home. Continue reading