I’ve always had a fascination with ghost stories which I suspect began with my mother’s tale of a ghostly encounter in a Youth Hostel in Wales. My mother is an extremely sensible woman and not one given to histrionics or flights of fancy. The story, as she tells it, is that she and a friend on a cycling tour of Wales in the early 1950s stayed the night in a converted castle that was now used as a Youth Hostel. She woke during the night to the sensation of a woman’s fingers brushing her cheek. She could clearly see a woman bending over her and as she watched the figure dissolved into the wall.
My own paranormal experiences have been far less impressive and really take the form of an emotional response to a place rather than ghostly figures. The most powerful occurred when I visited Warwick Castle in my early 20s and like all tourists went down to the "dungeon" below the castle. The feeling of misery was so overwhelming I felt as if I would suffocate. On subsequent visits to the castle nothing and nobody has been able to induce me to go down to those cells again.
|Ms. Stuart and friend at Warwick Castle in 2005|
The other haunted mansion is Grosvenor (close to Netherby) which served as Headquarters 4th Brigade when I first went there. Like Netherby it has long since been sold and is now a rather depressed facade to some particularly ghastly apartments. Grosvenor was far grander than Netherby and was reputedly haunted by “Esmerelda”, a young maid servant who had been found drowned in the swamp that is now Albert Park Lake. Esmerelda and I did have some firsthand contact and like Albert she is well chronicled.
I will save the stories of “Albert” and “Esmerelda” for later posts.
One of the more unnerving experiences occurred on a visit to Housesteads Roman fort on Hadrians Wall. No one has ever been able to give me a reasonable explanation of the mark ('the blur") that appears on this digital photograph. It's not present on the photographs taken just minutes before or after... so its not a smudge on the lens. The weather was fine so its not rain. Frustratingly I can't even say I felt anything...like cold chills.
|The "blur" at Housesteads Roman Fort|
|Hunting for ghosts - Underground Vaults, Edinburgh|
I have written at least two ghostly short stories and one these...THE PROMISE is freely available on my website. Both stories are in TOWER OF TALES.
Next month in "At Home with Ms. Stuart": I will share the sad tale of Albert, the ghost of Netherby. Watch this space.