Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Hearing Ghosts?

The closest I have ever come to an authentic ghostly encounter happened whilst staying in a 16th century manor house near Tintagel, Cornwall on a blustery early April night. Of grey stone and ivy covered, the old house was surrounded by tall trees that sheltered the strangely dramatic nests of vociferous rooks, whose continuous shrieks lent a rather macabre air to the atmosphere, even on the sunniest of days. Sumptuously decorated, our bedroom allowed views out over wind-swept fields, all the way to the sea.
I had caught a most devilish cold in damp and chilly Bath and carried it with me to the Cornish coast where, undeterred by fever, I had scampered up
Tintagel Castle hill and stood out on its seaside bluff conjuring to my memory long cherished passages of Arthurian legend, in which Tintagel Castle plays a decidedly seminal role. A grand experience, and one I would never regret, but pay for it I did, with high fever and chills greeting me that night. As I lay in bed, sleepless and miserable, around three in the morning I heard a most unusual and unsettling sound, almost a Poeian cliche. A persistent, thundering knocking; a booming thump-thumping that seemed to come from everywhere and nowhere at once. The Songwriter sat up, fascinated, to listen, as on and on it went, for what seemed like hours, but what was in actual fact only minutes, I’m sure. The rest of the old stone house was silent, no one stirring. No one of the living variety, at least. Anyone who had ever seen the spookiest of sixties movies,
The Haunting, would surely remember poor Julie Harris in exactly the same situation as we found ourselves now, as we listened from our four-poster in Cornwall. I suppose the normal reaction would have been to wonder if perhaps poor Julie's fate could be mine also, and I have since often wondered how I would have reacted if I had felt well, and quite my usual self. As it was, however, I
wasn’t the least bit frightened, and frankly, could not have cared less, a fact I most definitely attribute to illness rather than bravery.
I have stayed in places most ghost-worthy, where the wind howled relentlessly all night and the shadows were deep enough to hide all manner of creature. I have burrowed in bed with one eye open, half in fear, half in hope. But alas, no apparition ever ventured my way, no spirit slid under my door. However, I’m young yet, still open minded, and there’s still time. I do wonder if I’m visited again if I’ll be quite so sanguine about it as before. We will just have to wait and see.

"Once upon a midnight dreary, while I pondered, weak and weary,
Over many a quaint and curious volume of forgotten lore,
While I nodded, nearly napping, suddenly there came a tapping,
As of someone gently rapping, rapping at my chamber door.
" 'Tis some visitor," I muttered, "tapping at my chamber door;
Only this, and nothing more.".....
from The Raven by Edgar Allen Poe


  1. One never knows, Pamela. Perhaps you've been visited many times, but didn't know it!

  2. Cornwall (and Tintagel) and ghosts seem a natural.

    A radio producer friend of mine is running interviews with a 'local ghost expert' who does Haunted Seattle tours - but not the cheesy, touristy ones. The authentically creepy, only in October ones. Usually this sounds fun, but from her reports, I think these locations sound wise to avoid (old houses and theaters where extreme cases of murder and mayhem have taken place). I'd rather run into kinder, gentler (older?) places of hauntings...

  3. I feel an uncontrollable urge to say muhahahah!

  4. Pamela, there were several old establishments that we stayed in whilst in Britain that gave us sudden goosebumps. Lots of bumps in the night too. And one sighting of a night in armour....though my husband has now convinced me that I didn't see it.

  5. Scary! Your fever kept you from being scared out of your wits - illness lends a certain savoir faire to one's conditioned responses. Oh, and like Stevie said: Muhahahaha!

  6. Sometimes old houses have mice, rats or squirrels living under floorboards, above plaster boards etc. They can make a surprising amount of noise when they jump and drag stuff about. This happened to us once when we lived in a farm house. The field mice came inside when the harvest was gathered and somehow they got inside the cavity between the ceiling and the floorboards, such a din they made, it sounded like furniture being dragged about! Also birds scratching about in guttering can make lots of noise.

  7. My 100+ year old house is supposedly haunted by the spirit of one who died a violent death in it. I have never encountered the ghost, but perhaps my cat has.

  8. I'm sure many spirits are roaming the moorlands and rugged coasts of Cornwall.
    I have never seen a ghost, but I believe both of my children have. My son from the age of 2-5 saw an old man in the garden at our old house which was dated from 1700. My daughter at the age of 4 clung to me and pointed to a lady stood in the kitchen (in this house)
    I think children are possibly sensitive and able to see things when they are young, then they grow out of it from the age of 6/7.

    I am off to Cornwall on Tuesday, so will let you know if I encounter anything! :)

  9. Well,you never know...and I am a believer! Not that I would name the wandering spirits Ghosts!They really are spirits,souls,lost in time..Maybe, someday I wil make a post ..About the spirit of my Grandmother..There is a picture of her on my blog..follow.. family!

  10. That looks natural enough to me. Eerie! Mention of Tintagel brings back memories of cycling to it an d climbing the hill as you did,, and looking out on a windswept-scene. Wonderful. Thanks for that.

  11. I would wager that you've been visited quite often...Thank you for the deliciously haunting story from Cornwall... Your gifted ability to illustrate through words never ceases to amaze me...My dear Pamela, you are a marvel.

  12. Ah, Tintagel Cornwall, so near to my original home, twas perchance Arthur or even old Mewrlin himself that was a visitin' you that night...

  13. What a scary tale! That would have sent =^..^=Ellie May, =^..^=Polly and =^..^=Brody on red alert!

  14. Hi Pamela,
    I hope the ghost came to scare the cold out of you!! Did it work?
    Well woof woof you your assistant and may you both have a Regal day in your fine manor.

    Thanks for dropping by. You brightened my day.


  15. I have always wondered what it would feel like, how I would react in a situation like that. Alas, not even a whimper of a ghost so far.
    Lisa & Alfie

  16. Tintagel is a magic place Pamela - that and a high temperature must have contributed to your experience.

  17. Not too sure I would want to meet up with a ghost. I do however know for certain that my favorite aunt's spirit came to me at night after she died to say goodbye. I have never seen her again since then.

    You have two furry dogs? I only know about one ~ Edward.

    Hugs ~

  18. I'm quite convinced that certain places have quite a strange and distinctive 'feeling' about them.
    Some positive and happy and some much less so.
    We had a 500 year old cottage in Cornwall where we spent holidays as a child. I never spent any time there alone.......

  19. Isn’t Tintagel Castle just magical? I’m not surprised it stimulated your imagination. It’s a ghostly story, just right for this season. Your Poe quotation is so fitting. That’s so sweet of you to create something special for your blog friends in your post below. We do have many blog buddies in common.

  20. I once read that the vast majority of people will actually see a ghost during their lifetime. Fortunately or unfortunately depending upon how you look at it most of us will be completely unaware of the ghost. eg.It could actually be a ghost walking in a busy shopping centre looking like all the other shoppers.

  21. I've never actually seen or heard anything quite like that - but I have visited places where just one room has bothered me and I've had to leave quickly - a place called Oxborough Hall,Norfolk,UK, - springs to mind. I've also had very strong 'deja vu' experiences in some places but these are usually pleasant rather than unsettling. I've been walking with someone in a churchyard and their dog refused to pass a head stone and grew quite distressed so we had to turn back and walk another way.

  22. I love the rhythm of that poem. I think the Alan Parson's Project put it to music.

    Lovely evocative words.

  23. Just dropped in to say hello to you and Edward and thank you for your comment. I haven't been around as my husband has been quite ill in hospital, he suffers from CML.
    I have never seen a ghost either and being a big coward would have been terrified if had been you! Next time you are over in the Lakes you could stay at the very haunted Muncaster Castle! Best wishes to you and a big pat for Edward.

  24. What a fantastic place to travel! Your description reminded me of the House of Seven Gables!

    My mom and sisters and I usually stay in a haunted hotel in a tiny mtn town once a year. Havent seen anything yet, but gosh it's fun to look for it. :)

  25. Oooh, deliciously creepy!

    I've tagged you on my blog, but only if you want to check it out :)

    Kim x

  26. Verily, verily ...seminal role? hmmm, I'd say rather!
    I would have liked a little more time on that blustery crag alone at sundow with a rising mist, to really steep myself in the legend.
    I think you probably needed a mustard plaster rather than a hammering ghost. I admire your fevered courge in the face or otherwise of such a presence, and your post of course.

  27. I went to Tintagel castle at dusk when I was a child, that had a ghostly feel (it is meant to be haunted).
    I must blog about my one and only ghost sighting soon (well two actually as she appeared two days running)(in Hereford).

  28. I remember that movie, and have it on my list of scariest movies I have ever seen. That and "the Blob" with Steve McQueen both had the young girl I was then curled up in a sleeping bag to sleep on my parents floor for weeks.

  29. Wow! Creepy! Good Halloween story, too.


I love to read your comments! Each and every one! Though I'm always reading your comments, I may not respond in the comment section. If you want to write me directly, you may do so at pamela@pamelaterry.net. Thank you for reading!