He will give his angels charge of you,
To guard you in all your ways.
вторник, 27 ноември 2012 г.
Bizarre haunting of a Highland mansion
in Perthshire, Scotland, allegedly caused because the
wish of the house’s owner to return to life in the body of
one of his dogs was denied him. Hauntings were reported
at the house for more than two decades, until they broke
into public light in 1897.
Ballechin House was built in 1806 on property that since
the 16th century had belonged to the Steuart family, descendants
of King Robert II of Scotland. The mansion replaced
an older manor house which was demolished. In 1834, the
property was inherited by Major Robert Steuart upon the
death of his father. Steuart, who was posted with the army
of the East India Company and lived in India, let the house
to tenants. In 1850, he retired after a service of 25 years and
returned to the Scottish estate. He lived in a cottage for several
years, until the main house was free of its tenants.
The Major, as he was called, had a pronounced limp
and was known as a local character and eccentric. He
kept many dogs. While in India, he had become a believer
in REINCARNATION and transmigration, the ability of the
soul to inhabit nonhuman bodies. His wish was that upon
his death, his spirit would return to occupy the body of
his favorite black spaniel.
The Major was unmarried and for 26 years lived alone
at Ballechin House except for the company of his young
housekeeper, Sarah, who died suddenly and mysteriously
at the age of 27 in 1873. His only family consisted of two
brothers and six sisters, one of whom, Isabella, became
a nun. Isabella assumed the name of Frances Helen and
lived in a nunnery until her death in 1880.
In a will made in 1853, the Major left the house to the
fi ve children of his married sister, Mary. The eldest son
died without heirs, and the Major later excluded the three
younger children in a codicil to the will. When the Major
died in 1876, the estate was inherited by Mary’s second
son, John, who was married and had several children.
The family abhorred the notion of the Major coming back
to life in one of his dogs, no matter how preposterous,
and ordered every one of them shot. Later, the theory was
put forth that the Major was then forced to remain a disembodied
spirit, and he haunted the house to protest.
The Major was buried next to young Sarah. Almost
immediately after his death, strange happenings began,
including rappings and knockings, sounds like explosions
and the sound of people quarrelling. John’s wife was in
the Major’s study one day when she experienced an overpowering
smell of dogs. She also felt herself being pushed
against by an invisible dog. These and other events were
so frightening that servants and governesses would not
stay in the house.
Speculation arose about the relationship between the
Major and Sarah. She had died in the main bedroom,
which became the most haunted room in the house, and
it was said that the Major’s ghost could often be heard
limping around the bed.
Although the John Steuarts managed to live at the
estate for 21 years, John was forced to build a new wing in 1883 for his children to live in, outside the haunted
area. He allowed the cottage where the Major had lived to
be used as a retreat by nuns.
One morning in 1895, John was talking on the telephone
to his agent before leaving for London on family
business. Their conversation was interrupted by three
loud, violent knocks. Later that day, John was fatally struck
by a cab on a busy London street. Believers in ghosts took
the knocks to be a warning of doom.
By this time, Ballanchin House had gained the reputation
of a haunted house, as frightening tales told by former
guests circulated in the community. In 1892, Father
Hayden, a Jesuit priest, slept there in two different rooms
after hearing loud noises consisting of animal-like sounds,
raps and shrieks. The next year, Hayden met a woman who
had been a governess in the house for 12 years, but who
had left because of the strange noises heard in the very
same two rooms.
In 1896, a family rented the house for one year, but left
after only 11 weeks. Family members reported being terrorized
by poltergeist activity that included inexplicable rattles,
knocks, thumps, footsteps, bedclothes pulled off beds by
unseen hands, rustling sounds, groans, heavy breathing, an
icy coldness and even two apparitions—one in the form of
an indeterminate mist and one in the shape of a man.
Lord Bute, an avid ghost-hunter of the day, agreed to
sponsor an investigation. He rented the house for two
investigators, Colonel Lemesurier Taylor and Miss A.
Goodrich-Freer. On their fi rst morning, the researchers
heard clanging sounds repeated at two-hour intervals, the
sound of voices, footsteps, dragging and pattering, loud
bangs, thumps and knockings.
The investigators invited 35 guests to stay at the house,
all of whom were unaware of the house’s reputation. The
guests reported numerous supernatural activities, including
strange RAPPINGS and knocks, the sound of someone
reading aloud in the manner of a priest saying his
offi ce, a spectral hunchback seen walking up the stairs,
the apparition of a black spaniel, and phantom dogs’ tails
heard striking doors and other objects. Goodrich-Freer,
who had brought her own dog with her, was awakened
one night by its whimpering. Following its gaze, she saw
two disembodied dog’s paws on the table beside the bed.
A male guest reportedly saw a detached hand in the air
at the foot of his bed, holding a crucifi x. A maid saw
the upper half of a woman’s fi gure wearing a gray shawl,
seemingly suspended in the air.
The investigators conducted sessions with a Ouija
board and also received AUTOMATIC WRITING messages.
One message instructed the researchers to go to a nearby
glen at dusk. Doing so, Goodrich-Freer saw a fi gure
dressed as a nun move slowly up the glen and then disappear
under a tree. She saw the same fi gure other times,
either weeping or talking. Other reports described the
fi gure as a young woman with a pale face, long hair and
wearing a hood, and who disappeared quickly when people
approached. Some people speculated that the fi gure
was that of Isabella, who, for some unknown reason, was
weeping in the snow-covered glen.
The entire account of the experiment was reported
in The Times newspaper and was recorded in a book,
The Alleged Haunting of B-House, published in 1899. The
Steuart family raised so much opposition to the publicity,
however, that all proper names had to be excluded
from the story. The result was that hauntings had to be
reported as “alleged,” and the full story never gained credence
as a true haunting.