Monday 1 May 2023

Do you believe in Ghosts?

Building was huge and occupied a large plot of land and car park, standing alone on a main dual carriageway which bypassed a small village. Part of the building dated back to C18 when highwaymen were not uncommon on the road and the inn (as was then) was used by travellers from London to the north and vice versa, it was also a meeting point for some local folklore traditions dating two hundred years earlier. Quite a history and a fair amount of it is traceable.

Earliest experience we had with 'things' was when we employed a Scottish chef who took a room in the staff quarters, at that time he was the only occupant in that part of the building (there were 6 staff bedrooms and a common lounge) and within days he asked us if there were any old members of staff who still had keys to access the premises. We told him not as far as we knew and asked him why he wanted to know. He said he heard people moving about some nights. P visited that part of the property a few times at night after that but never heard anything, we had the external access door lock changed just in case. The chef continued to report noises from time to time, he was with us for 3 years, other members of staff took up residence too and some said they felt uneasy when on their own. One evening the chef came bounding down the stairs into the pub lounge after closing time where we were having a drink with friends and P's brother, he made a lot of noise and was ashen when he flew into the lounge (I better not say he looked as though he'd seen a ghost:)). He said he'd encountered somebody when he went to use the loo, he physically touched them, he didn't have the landing light on just the glow from the car park lights, he panicked and said sorry but got no answer and it was just wrong and down he came. P went upstairs with his brother and another guy, they didn't find anyone and all doors and windows were locked, there were no other staff in that evening. Anyway Tom (the chef) wouldn't go back to his room until P's brother said he'd sleep up there in one of the spare rooms and I went and made a bed for him.

After that there were quite a few incidents of things happening inexplicably and a few 'sightings', two of which I can attest to personally and one of which P actually admitted to seeing a dark shadow pass along the corridor leading to our main entrance doors at the front of the building. I'd seen the same thing but to me it was a tall figure, P didn't want to acknowledge more than a dark shadow.

The thing that triggered us to get some outside help/opinion was a series of incidents involving our cleaning staff, three ladies who came from the village, they were good workers, they let themselves in early in the mornings often before we were around because we had a disco side to the business and often worked into the early hours. They started reporting weird things, cleaning materials getting moved around, doors opening and closing when no no-one was there, we laughed it all off but then a couple of times a cleaner got trapped in one of the toilets and couldn't get out until one of the others heard her shouting and went to see what was wrong, She opened the door easily and let her frightened colleague out. The same thing happened a few weeks later but this time the door opened itself when a colleague went to the rescue but before she actually got to the door. To cut it short, the cleaners asked to see P later that day, he sat down with them and said he couldn't explain things and he was always last to bed at night and never had anything strange happen when he was doing his rounds locking up but the girls weren't satisfied. One of them said she was going to look for another job, P thought we might lose them all and it was really hard to get good staff out there. So he promised he would get experts in to examine the premises and that placated them.

He kept his word and got in touch with Paranormal Research something-or-other, they spoke over the phone for ages. They didn't charge fees but preferred a 'contribution' to their costs. P had to get in touch with the company we worked for to check if was OK to book paranormal expenses against his weekly takings. The company thought he was joking at first then told him he couldn't, then called him back later and told him he could, after P had had a quiet word with an area manager and told him he seriously thought we could lose our entire cleaning team and temps would cost a fortune. So 'Ghostbusters' as I call them, travelled up from London, set up a load of equipment and one of them remained on the premises overnight, the other two put up at a local hotel. They spent a couple of days with us, interviewed the cleaners, some long standing customers, had already done some historical research and they had their readings which P was dubious about. Anyway they sat down with us before returning to London and sketched out what they thought and what they had deduced. They told us some things which they could not possibly have known. One of them was a clairvoyant apparently. They also, out of interest, said that P had the ability to see things if he allowed himself to, he didn't like that.

Our cleaners were relieved by what was said and as importantly that P was taking them seriously. Apparently the experiences they'd had had been playful not malicious and they had nothing to worry about but they did reschedule their duties so that no-one was ever isolated and always within easy calling distance. Incidents still occurred but less frequently or at least were reported less so maybe their confidence had just grown and they'd learned to accept them.

I did the cleaning jobs myself occasionally to cover for illness and holidays and I never had anything weird happen although I did in other areas.

Now some of the things Ghostbusters told us which we had not told them and they could not have learned from staff :-

At Christmas time we decorated the lounge with fairy lights. Every year without fail one precise area of the lights would fail. Replace the lamp it would light but then fail again. Replacing the wiring, the same thing happened. No matter what we did, it always happened. One of our door staff was an engineer, he couldn't find a reason. They told us no scientific reason would be found because it was a little girl who'd died on the premises generations ago fascinated by the lights and playing with them, always in the same place.

They asked us about our own accommodation and the corner of the building, had we ever noticed anything strange. We had not, except for the fact that our dog, a highly intelligent German Shepherd, used to sit looking into the corner of our lounge sometimes and cry/whine for no known reason and no instruction would stop her until she was ready to stop. They told us an unfortunate deed had been committed some time in the past when the entrance had been near there and it had not been settled. WTF are you supposed to make of that, they wouldn't go into it but said we had nothing to worry about and animals were very sensitive and our dog was clearly not stressed and we didn't need to be either.

They told us they had detected various presences in the staff quarters, nothing specific and nothing anyone should be worried about. P said we wouldn't be passing that on.

There were a couple of specific events, way after Ghostbusters had left us, which are worth a mention:-

One, which took place when we were with our assistant management couple on a Sunday afternoon in the restaurant. The place was closed, we didn't open all day way back then. We were chatting, her dad was quite ill in hospital and we'd told her to take the whole next week off if it helped. She thanked us and said she'd do that, they were just getting ready to go when we heard the back door into the kitchen open, then footsteps quite clackety on the industrial flooring then nothing. We all looked across expecting a chef to appear but no one did. P and his assistant went across immediately, the kitchen adjoined the restaurant so there was nowhere anyone could go. But there was no-one in the kitchen and the back door, which was only used by staff, was closed and bolted from the inside. Julie's dad died that evening.

Then another, a few months before we left the company and set up our own business, was the day of the Wroth Silver ceremony, an ancient tradition I mentioned earlier, when we'd been working more or less through the night because we'd had a disco the previous evening with a late finish but had to prepare full English breakfasts for 160 people for 6 am the following morning, (Toasts are drunk in rum and hot milk, and Churchwarden pipes given to everyone who attended) was always a crazy time. Anyway we did it as we always did, all went well and we got rid of all the dignitaries and company people by late morning and closed up which we always did on that day, not to open again until 6pm. P, myself and our head doorman were sipping coffee in the lounge bar chewing things over, how this or that could have been better etc when a figure went by the double doors which led out to the entrance. The doors had leaded coloured glass panels so we could see shapes through them but wouldn't be able to recognise a face. We looked at each other, we'd all seen it. There was no noise but then again it was carpeted, we expected to hear the entrance doors open, maybe it was a guest who'd fallen asleep letting himself out. There was no sound and after a minute, the doorman, got up and went across and opened the doors. He called out, no answer, then he checked in the toilets both men's and women's just in case, there was no one there. And the front entrance doors remained bolted.

Well that buggers me, boss, he said when he came back and sat down. I said are you sure, and went to get up but he stopped me and said trust him he knew what he was doing and there was nobody there. P said he thought we were all a bit over tired. It had been a long twenty-four hours but I looked over at our doorman and he didn't look tired and to be honest nor did P. I said it looked like someone wearing a top hat, P said he couldn't be sure. It was never explained.

Then a few weeks after that, we were making plans for our leaving and paying less attention to the pub, P was staying away some nights to supervise work on another property. Julie, the girl whose dad died, suggested holding a seance before we left to see if we could find out any more about some of the happenings we'd witnessed over several years. I kind of said OK but only when P was here, not if I had to stay over by myself even though we had the dog which was very protective. When P got back we asked him about doing one and he said flatly no and he forbade me to take part in one too. He said he was too busy for that sort of nonsense but that wasn't the truth and I found out much later that he'd taken part in one when he was a teenager, with actual results, which had frightened him at the time and he'd vowed never to take part in another although he said he would have been prepared to witness one but not be a participant.

Yes I do believe in ghosts.

What about, do you believe in ghosts?

Have a good week.



Roz said...

Hi Ronnie,

I do remember you sharing some of these stories before. Oh goodness, with all those happenings I know I would have got the heck out of there pronto lol. I think you and P were brave!

I really aren't sure whether I believe or not.


Hermione said...

I too remember this story. Yes, I believe in them. Whenever I watch "Escape to the Country" and the people are shown an old home that was converted from a pub or a coaching inn, I ask myself, "will there be ghosts when you move in?"


Prefectdt said...

I do believe that ghosts exist, but as a sort of strange recording of people or animals that occupied an area, not as conscious beings. I did see a TV program, a long time ago now, about areas of the UK, where ghost sightings were common. All the regions shared one thing in common, a lot of the same kind of rock, in the landscape. I cannot remember what kind of rock it was now, but perhaps that had some influence.


Sore is more said...

I do believe now, after reading your story! What's really strange, this posts about ghosts appeared on my blog roll a few days ago and later when I clicked on it, it wasn't there. A ghost post. But probably there is a reasonable explanation to it, like you published the post and then reverted it back to draft.

Bogey said...

I don't believe in ghosts, but I believe you.

Fondles said...

I totally do! When I was about 9 and my brother was in the airforce his room would be unoccupied during the week, as he would only be back home on the weekends.

Usually this meant around noon on Saturdays. One friday night as I was headed from my bedroom to the kitchen I saw a figure standing at his dresser, the way he normally checks "one last time" before heading out.

Only the light was off and I thought to myself, how is he supposed to SEE anything with the light off?!

I said to mum as I got to the kitchen, "He's back early this weekend, it's only Friday - AND he's already getting ready to go out again!"

Mum looked at me and said, "That was the 'penjaga rumah' (guardian of the house) you probably saw, your brother's not back yet." And she was so nonchalant about the whole thing too!

I think ghosts are a pretty widely-accepted fact in Asian culture!

Ronnie Soul said...

Roz - I wasn't nervous being there even after we were told of the happenings. Thanks.

Hermione - A lot of UK stately homes go back a long way and I would think there would definitely be things going on. Thanks.

Pref - Interesting. I'd not heard of the possibility that it could be landscape and a kind of rock. Have to see if I can find any info on it. Thanks, 

Sore is more- Ha a ghost post. I got the date scheduled wrongly. Thanks, 

Bogey. Thanks,  Even though you believe my story you still don't think there are any? 

Fondles - Gave me a little shiver. I didn't know that ghosts are widely accepted in Asian Cultures. Did you ever see it again? Thanks.


Fondles said...

Hi, no, it was the one and only time I saw it. And yes, we have all sorts of spirits, both in Chinese and Malay stories... and a bunch of different names for the different types of ghosts too!