This post may be a little odd for some people, and others may not like it- it all depends on what you believe in, but believe me when I say that I am securely strapped to the fence on this one. This post will only be for people to either tell me of their own belief, or their own opinions on the situation, because it was quite the confusing collection of circumstances.
When my step father left us, me, me mother and my younger brother moved into a tall, four story house that had been plonked onto the end of a row of terraces next to a river.
It was a relatively old house, but the only one on the row that wasn’t a listed building by a margin of a decade or so.
We lived in an area that was at one point, not such a happy place- there had been a workhouse across the road from us- a gargantuan building of misery, illness and drudgery that was unfortunately still fresh in the minds of some of the more elderly residents of our village. It was built in 1792 to house the poorest members of the town, but was expanded in 1834 as part of the Poor law Amendment act to house people from villages far and wide. People from as far away as Ireland were housed here, with nowhere else to go.
The nurses and children housed in the ”daycare” centre of the workhouse.
This act in essence, ended the ”pauper’s palace” view of the workhouses of the time, a place of safety in a time of need, as it had been said by some that this was place for people to go to be cared for when they were too lazy to work. (Some comparisons could be drawn with the overall view of those on benefits today.) The new workhouses separated all of its inmates, men, women and children, even the elderly, and all of those who were deemed able bodied were cast out, or set to work. This new amendment was built to make the workhouse the last desirable option for people (before the river..) and life there was very unpleasant, an idea to be so feared that people would look for any other means of work before consenting to being detained therein.
Looking as austere as it does, you could imagine this building on the set of Sleepy Hollow..
A sunny view that seems at odds with the building itself. The tree in this picture still stands in the garden of a home made inside the only surviving piece of the workhouse (The section with the window arches on the far right.) A school friend of mine lives there with his family.
In the later years of its existence (the 1800’s), a chapel was added to the workhouse as a place to bury those who died of old age, destitution or the diseases and infections that are common amongst people living in such close cohabitation..
The chapel built at the back of the workhouse, where those lost there could be tidied away…
The workhouse burned to the ground in 1982, and was demolished as a result.
Bricks from the structure of this edifice of poverty were used to make up the fireplace in the house that we moved into.
A housing estate was later built on the lands that once held the workhouse, and involved them digging up many of those buried there over the years and re-interring them elsewhere.
Does this remind anyone else of Poltergeist? You’d think they’d have learned by now!
Now.. I wrote about the workhouse above for a reason- It has become part of a small theory of mine in the events that followed.
We lived in this house quite happily for a long time and nothing odd or anything of note happened, although a friend who lived on the housing estate built on the old grounds reported a lot of odd things in her house.
The things that went on in our house only happened about four years ago, but are morbidly clear in my mind.
It started with seeing things moving out of the corner of my eye- it was me who noticed them at first, but I stayed quiet because my mother doesn’t like this sort of thing (It frightens her!). She’s a nurse who has seen a lot of odd stuff in her time, so the thought that something might be in our house was one that she happily shut out.
Things got more and more noticeable with time, and the figure of a man started appearing at the end of the hallway- a friend who was house sitting said that he’d seen him while we were away and that it had terrified his poor sister. The dogs became restless and would often stare down the hall and growl at nothing, and the figure appeared more and more often and at the height of activity things were pushed from the shelves in front of our eyes.
I would hear something moving and look up, as soon as I looked the movement would stop, but I would always catch the last of whatever it was, shaking in its place on the shelf.
I have no explanation for these events, and I’ve never really been sure if I believe in anything in particular, but these things always made me wonder.
My best friend has always been a sceptic, but I even found him wandering around checking behind the doors and curtains because he thought he’d seen someone in the house..
These events carried on for around six months, coming to a head towards the end of the ‘happenings’ with a lot of activity- my mother was terrified and would bundle up on the couch with the dogs, refusing to look down the hall towards the front door. Nobody would go into the kitchen when the lights were off, and people avoided being in the house on their own.
Then, just like that- it all stopped, and we never saw the man again.
The fireplace at my mother’s, built with the bricks from the old Workhouse.
It was definitely a man- you could tell by the shadow-like figure, and all who had seen him agreed, but none of us knew what had happened.
It was a little while after this that I found out about the workhouse bricks in our chimney (see above) and life in the building that had once dominated the horizon through my bedroom window, now covered in little brick houses. It was the general consensus of all involved that the ‘happenings’ had been the work of a ghost.
I’ve spoken of Guillermo Del Toro’s work before, and the way that he often describes ghosts is a striking one. Apologies for using a quote from a previous post, but it does describe something heartbreakingly beautiful..
”When something terrible happens, sometimes it leaves a trace, a wound that acts as a knot between two time lines. It’s like an echo repeated over and over, waiting to be heard. Like a scar… that begs for a caress to relieve it. You are a good mother. Your pain gives you strength, it will guide you. But only you know how far you are willing to go to find your son. You hear, but don’t listen. Seeing is not believing. It’s the other way around. Believe, and you will see.”
From Del Toro’s ‘The Orphanage’- 2007
”What is a ghost? A tragedy condemned to repeat itself time and again? An instant of pain, perhaps. Something dead which still seems to be alive. An emotion suspended in time. Like a blurred photograph. Like an insect trapped in amber.”
From ‘The Devil’s Backbone’- 2001
”Do you believe in ghosts? .. When a corpse is left out the elements wither it, dessicate it, twisting it into a distorted figure that’s barely recognisable as a human being. A ghost is an emotion bent out of shape, condemned to repeat itself time and time again, until it rights the wrong that was done.”
From Del Toro’s ‘Mama’- 2013
Del Toro quite obviously believes in ghosts and things linked to pain in the past- a lot of ghost folklore would agree with this, apparitions of tortured souls forever doomed to repeat their suicide after their lover rejected them, or the last steps they took before a murder. There are examples of it in almost every old house and Inn in Britain.
I’m not saying that this is what happened to us- These sorts of things only ever seem to happen in films or to ”somebody else”, but we are someone else, to everyone else, so is there a chance that this shadow was something trapped, forever linked to the bricks of the terrible building that housed so many of the destitute over the last three centuries.?
If it wasn’t something odd, why did so many people see it, even if it hadn’t been mentioned to them?
What do you think about all of it? Has anything of this sort happened to you? Have you seen anything unexplainable? What do you believe?
I can’t wait to hear from you!