Three notes of death – the story of an evil entity in a Hove townhouse

three notes to death

In the early months of the twentieth century, the people of Hove, a vibrant town in the south of England, spoke of little else than that of a ghost who announced its presence by a particular set of three notes played on a guitar or piano.

The minacious spirit had chosen an ordinary two-floor house in a very ordinary street as its residence. An elderly woman, who formerly occupied the house, said that one evening she was startled to see hovering by the piano in the drawing room the figure of a woman. There was a terrible look on its face, but the apparition vanished before the terror-stricken owner could gather any further detail.

A gentleman highly regarded in Brighton circles, lived in the house with his wife and children for several months. Sturdy and military trained, with a partiality for boxing as a pastime, this gentleman, who was interviewed by local newspaper reporters, was certainly not the kind of man to suffer from nerves.

He reported that he had not seen the ghost, but a very peculiar thing happened in the corner of the drawing room where the figure was said to have appeared. “We had our piano there,” he said, “and over it hung a guitar. One evening, just as I had got into bed, the guitar suddenly played three notes in quick succession.”

“I exclaimed, ‘What on earth is that?’ and my wife and I walked up to the instrument and studied it. It was mounted on the wall as usual, but as we looked at it it gave out the same three notes again, and then a third time.”

“We removed the guitar from its bracket, and saw that it had not run down in any way. We could find nothing whatever to account for the sounds.”

“These were the notes,” said his wife, who was standing by the piano, and she played the notes A, C. E.

“On more than one occasion after that,” she added, “I heard notes played on the piano by an invisible hand.”

Guests who slept in the house spoke of strange noises they had heard and a servant declared that on one occasion she was awakened by what seemed to be the removal and dropping of a drawer of crockery outside her door. Towards the end of his tenancy the gentleman was visited by a clergyman, who informed him that the house was haunted, and that he knew of several previous tenants who had been driven away by the sights and sounds.

A barrister, who was living in a fashionable part of Hove at the time, was interviewed by a local reporter and commented that several years before he and a friend decided to sleep in the house and investigate. He took with him a revolver and his terrier. “During the night,” he said, “my dog became strangely agitated, and suddenly I heard my friend, who was in another room, shout out, ‘For Heaven’s sake, come here at once, Jack.'”

“I ran down, and in the room I saw, as clearly as I see you now a woman crossing the floor. I looked straight at her, and I can tell you that I shall never forget the sight of her face. Its look of age was awful. I could see right through the figure, which was completely transparent. I got the impression that she was wearing clothing, possibly a brown dress. She stepped towards the wall, and then vanished. We both felt that we had seen enough for that night, and we came out. It had a great effect upon our nerves.”

The haunting appears to go back to a time in the late 19th century when a young woman, driven mad by the cruelty of a man, hanged herself in a bedroom of this house.

But there is more to the story than this: for, in later years, no fewer than seven persons reported hearing the same three notes played on one instrument or another. There are few reports that expand upon this, other than to suggest that these are the very same notes that have endured within the house and forewarn of some impending disaster or death. However, there is one story that stands out above all others: the testimony of a woman who was involved in a horrific incident in the house in the early 1920s.

The woman, a recent tenant, declared that while lying in bed she was aroused by music and awoke to find a little old white woman, dressed in a faded brown dress, down-trodden slippers, and a bloodied handkerchief tied round her head, at the foot of her bed. Her dress was bound with a sort of reddish-brown tape, and her hand was long, translucent, and wrinkled, while on the fourth finger of her left hand was a unadorned gold ring.”

“The little old woman,” said the girl, “beckoned to me to rise, and impelled me by some strange power to tear my dress in strips, place one end of a strip round my neck, and tie the other to the window frame. I raised my feet from the floor, and fell. I thought I was dying, a thousand lights seemed to flash before my eyes, and I forgot all until I found myself in the room with the doctors and police surrounding me. It was not until then did I really comprehended what I had done, and was, I believe, under a kind of trance or spell at the time over which I had no control.”

This woman had never heard of the previous suicide in the house.

Some say that the ghost is supposed to be buried under the stone floor of the cellar and a flagstone, which normally cannot be moved is sometimes quite loose…

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