Monday, March 30, 2009

Do You Believe in Ghosts?

The family went to Speke Hall, just outside Liverpool, yesterday. It was a gloriously sunny day; perfect for a browse around an historic house and gorgeous gardens, followed by a picnic lunch.

The original parts of the property were built during the Tudor period (in the 16th century). It is an amazing example of Tudor architecture, with outstanding interiors to boot. Really and truly a special place.

As is my MO, upon entering the main house, I asked one of the guides if there was a ghost in the property. She replied, 'Well, I don't believe in ghosts, but there is a story of a ghost upstairs in the bedroom with the cradle in it. The story goes--' I cut her short there and said, 'Please, don't tell me anymore. I want to see if I feel anything in the room.'

I am no clairvoyant, but I have occasionally had accurate feelings of people long passed in historical homes that I have visited. I am pretty sure that there is a ghost in the 275 year old house that we currently live in (televisions turn on by themselves, secure books fall from shelves in quiet rooms-- I've never had a creepy feeling, always peaceful, playful).

We walked through the ground floor of the house, the main public rooms. The whole place had a very pleasant atmosphere. We especially like the 'Great Hall'-- an amazingly, grand hall in the Tudor style, with a costumed man playing the lute-- very cool.

When we reached the top of the stairs leading into the bedroom hallway, I pulled my big girls aside and said, 'When we go into a room with a cradle in it, try and be quiet, listen to the first thing that comes to you. See if you feel anything special there.'

I walked into the bedroom, looked at the bed and immediately felt the name Caroline-- very certain and very strongly. My two big girls walked in after I did. I asked my oldest if she felt anything and she said she only felt a woman's name that began with the letter 'A'. In the room there was a guide, and I asked her if she could tell us the ghost story.

She said, 'In the early days after the house was completed, in the 1500's, the man who lived here with his wife and infant son, came home to tell his beloved that he had lost all of their money. They would, from then on, be penniless. Sitting in their bedroom, this room, his wife, overcome with dread, picked her baby son from the cradle and threw him out the window into the moat, where he drown. The story goes that it is she who haunts the room.'

The girls and I stood there, silent. After a moment, I asked expectantly, 'What was the woman's name?' knowing full well that it would be Caroline.

'Mary Norres,' the guide replied.

'Oh.' I said, slightly disappointed.

'But that ghost story is not true. We've done extensive research and found that both the woman and her son grew to be old and died of natural causes.' The guide continued.

'What was the origin of the story then?' I asked.

'We think that the story was started by the last owner of this house. She never married and lived here alone, save for servants, and wanted to scare people away from coming around the property. But, that is where the real ghost story is. Her ghost has been seen here as recently as this year. Another guide watched her walk out of this room, which was her bedroom in full riding gear.'

'What was her name?' my oldest daughter asked.

The guide replied, 'Adelaide. Adelaide Watt. She was the last to own this house and loved it very much.'

So, do you believe in ghosts?

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