Think "paranormal houses", and the
address 112 Ocean Drive probably springs to mind. This was the address
for the property which became the focus of Jay Anson's bestselling book
"The Amityville Horror", about a house seemingly affected by
the murder of six members of his family by Ronald DeFeo, Jnr. The
experiences of the Lutz family, who bought and moved into the house 13
months after the murders, are the basis behind Anson's book, which was
made into a film. Other books and films have been written, and while the
reality behind the story of the house has probably faded in light of the
paranormal experiences there's no denying it's one of the world's most
important paranormal residences.
Sharing a house with a supernatural or
paranormal being has given rise to some fascinating horror stories, and
the reasons it chooses to remain on the earthly plain instead of
"moving on" are often more interesting than how it manifests
Borley Rectory in Essex in the United
Kingdom has been called "The Most Haunted House in England".
The unearthly sightings at the property include a headless man, a woman
dressed in white, unseen footsteps and ghostly whispers, strange lights,
the sound of a horse-drawn coach pulling up to the front door... and the
ethereal image of a nun wandering through the garden, her head bowed in
sorrow. The visions apparently dated back to the 13th century, when
there was a monastery on the site. A young novice fell in love with a
beautiful young nun, and when the affair was discovered the lovers were
put to death - the monk was hanged and the unfortunate nun was walled up
alive in her convent. During the centuries that following many stories
were told by local folk of ghostly encounters on and near the property.
In the mid-19th century Reverend Henry Bull built the rectory,
disregarding warnings from local residents about the apparitions and
paranormal activity on the site.
It wasn't long before his daughters and
his servants began to encounter the "beings" - ghostly
knocking and rapping, the sound of footsteps and misty images became a
regular feature of life at Borley Rectory. None of this bothered
Reverend Bull - in fact he built a summer house, where he and his son
Harry would relax in the evenings, waiting for the sorrowful nun to
wander past them! Harry took over the rectory after his father's death,
and lived there in relative harmony with his ghostly guests until his
death in 1927. His successor lasted just one year, unable to remain in
the now deteriorating house and unwilling to put up with the ghosts. In
fact, a female skull was discovered in a brown bag at the back of a
cupboard soon after the family took up residence. Until 1930, when
Reverend Foyster and his wife moved in, the ghosts were relatively
quiet; perhaps relishing the absence of human companions. Paranormal
activity increased with the new occupants, and things became unpleasant.
Guests were locked out of their rooms, windows were broken for no reason
and furniture was moved around.
The worst of the violence was aimed at
Mrs Foyster, who found herself targeted by invisible assailants.
Household objects where thrown at her during the day, and at night she
was thrown from her bed. She was slapped by invisible hands, and once
nearly suffocated by her mattress. Messages directed at her began
appearing on the walls, addressing her as Marianne (her first name) and
asking her to "say Mass prayers" and "get help". The
renowned ghost hunter Harry Price believed one spirit was sympathetic to
Mrs Foyster, and her messages asking for help appeared to show a
Catholic lien. At a sťance contact was made with Marie Lairre, a French
nun who left her convent to marry Henry Waldegrave, whose wealthy family
had once owned a manor on the site of Borely Rectory. Her husband had
strangled her, and buried her in the cellar - unconsecrated ground. She
was doomed to wander the property, searching for eternal rest. Some
months after Marie Lairre's appearance, another spirit claimed it would
burn the house down and the unfortunate nun's body would be found.
Exactly eleven months later the new owner knocked over an oil lamp and
burned the house down.
Price found several very fragile female
bones in the cellar, and concluded they belonged to Marie Lairre. A
service was held for her at Liston, and her remains were interred in
consecrated ground. No further sightings of the young woman have been
While there is indeed evidence that Price
was perhaps not always honest in his work, the facts and stories around
Borley Rectory have all the elements of a classic haunted house, made
even more interesting because they date back for centuries. The fact
that the property was occupied by a "man of God" was no
deterrent to the ghosts, which goes against traditional beliefs. I chose
this example because there are so many elements to this specific haunted
property, and each one is an interesting story in its own right.
Writers have used haunted places to great
effect, creating a diverse selection of interesting horror stories.
Here's a brief synopsis of a few published stories featuring haunted
houses. Each one shows the only limiting factor is the writer's
The Overlook Hotel in Stephen King's
"The Shining" took on a life of its own, as a host to a
community of ghosts and evil spirits. The Overlook wanted to absorb
young Danny Torrance, because his psychic powers would give it more
power and strength.
Belheddon Hall in Barbara Erskine's
"House of Echoes" is an ancient house in Essex and no man has
ever inherited the property. The new owner Joss learns the house's
history - during the 15th century, a powerful witch cast a spell on King
Edward IV to make him fall in love with her daughter Katherine. 500
years later the spell is still effective, binding King Edward to pursue
Katherine's descendents, of whom Joss is one. At the same time
Katherine's angry ghost attacks any men living at Belheddon Hall.
Adams, Tennessee is the location The
supposedly true story of a poltergeist is the theme of Brent Monahan's
"The Bell Witch: an American Haunting". In a twist on the
traditional poltergeist manifestation the being in this story attacked
John Bell in the family home while developing a more friendly
relationship with the rest of the family. At first the poltergeist
stayed true to its supernatural roots; throwing rocks on the roof,
chewing on bedposts and pulling covers off beds. However it soon changed
its attitude, and began integrating itself into the Bell family. It
would obtain news for the family about distant relatives, sang in four
different voices, rescued children in distress and allowed itself to be
touched. For three years it joked, debated about theology, allowed
itself to be touched and rescued children in distress. When Mrs Bell
fell ill it helped nursed her. At the same time it affected Mr Bell with
a variety of physical ailments, from nervous tics to palsy. Each illness
was more intense than the previous one, and the poltergeist did nothing
to easy John Bell's terrible suffering...
Harrow is a boy's prep school on a Hudson
River Estate in Douglas Clegg's "Nightmare House", the final
book in a trilogy based around the school. Suggestions of hi storic evil
and occult experiences in the first two books - "Mischief" and
"The Infinite" - are realised when Ethan Gravesend inherits
the estate from his eccentric paternal grandfather, who built the
mansion on supposedly cursed land. Almost immediately eerie apparitions
are seen lurking in Harrow's shadowy halls and gloomy grounds. A
boarded-up room reveals the proverbial skeleton in the family closet
that serves as the entrance for the supernatural forces to enter Harrow.
A good story about haunting will stay
with a reader forever. In the examples given above the spirit has its
own story; a reason for being in the building. And hauntings are not
restricted to houses, either.
On Mount Everest climbers claim to have
seen the ghost of a climber, believed to be Andrew Irvine, who
disappeared while trying to reach the summit with George Mallory in
1924. In 1975 two climbers said they shared a snow hole with the ghost
during their climb...
Since 1978 many people have died in car
accidents on Hong Kong's Tuen Mun Road, and the death toll is blamed
upon ghosts. It is said the ghost suddenly appear in the middle of the
road, causing drivers to swerve to avoid hitting them and crashing their
cars. The ghosts are believed to be those of past victims, and many
drivers say they've lost control of their vehicles for no obvious
If one stands in the Screaming Tunnel in
one of the woods near Niagara Falls, and lights a wooden match in the
middle of the tunnel at midnight a scream will be heard when the match
burns out. The scream belongs to a young girl who was burned alive by
her unhappy father after he lost a legal battle over her. Another story
claims the girl's ghost stalks the living, and anyone it catches will
die suddenly. There are also reports of her father wandering through the
wood, carrying a lantern...
Since opening in 1886 Melbourne
Australia's Princess Theatre has hosted several ghosts. Singer Frederick
Baker, who died in 1888 while singing the role of Mephistopheles in
"Faust", was seen by the rest of the cast taking his bow with
them at the end of the show. For many years a seat has been left vacant
for him in the dress circle, where his appearance during rehearsals is
taken as a sign the show will be a success...
Haunting at Ireland's Leap Castle began
during an argument between two princes over the kingdom. One day, while
the younger brother was conducting a sermon the older sibling rushed in
and stabbed him. The combination of fratricide and an unfinished sermon
damned the castle for eternity. The bloody chapel's name was earned when
the walls turned red for no reason. A seven year old princess died after
an inexplicable fall down the stairs. In 1924 a woman felt a hand on her
shoulder, and saw a being resembling a half-human/half sheep that stank
of sulphur. Terrified she fled the castle. Her husband never emerged,
and his body was never found...
Indonesian legend claims the daughter of
the Queen of the South Sea killed herself by leaping off a cliff into
the sea. Bathers are advised not to wear green when they swim, because
it is the queen's favourite colour and her daughter's ghost will pull
the offending swimmer under the water. Room 308 at the Samundra Beach
Hotel is supposedly reserved exclusively for the queen's use...
The reason Sarah Winchester built
Winchester Mystery House is San Jose in California was to protect her
from the ghosts of people killed by her deceased husband's famous
rifles. Today it is said she haunts the mansion...
The forest called Aokigahara at the foot
of Mount Fiji is said to be haunted by the ghosts of those who commit
suicide there - the location is a popular place for suicides...
During the hasty construction of the
Manila Film Centre in the Philippines in the early 1980s the ceiling
scaffolding collapsed, causing workmen to fall into the wet cement in
the orchestra pit. The cement was drying at the time, and in the
interests of haste (and apparently under the instructions of the wife of
the then President Ferdinand Marcos) no rescue would be undertaken and
the bodies must be covered by cement. Some of the workmen were still
alive when this was done. Subsequently paranormal activity was reported
on the site, particularly strange noises, ghostly voices and poltergeist
activity. Efforts have been made in recent years to appease the souls of
the entombed workmen, many of whom have moved on. But many locals claim
ghosts of the dead workers still remain...
In conclusion, it seems no place on earth
is safe from a supernatural being; be it a house, castle, film centre,
forest or highway. Inspiration is everywhere, and the only limit is YOUR
About the Author
The writer was born in Africa, and lived
there for the first 38 years of her life. She worked in the world of
public relations for over five years, running her own PR company and
dealing extensively with the world of journalism and the print media.
She is an author on http://www.Writing.Com/,
a site for Writers. Her blog can be visited at: http://www.writing.com/authors/zwisis/blog
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