Sunday, 26 September 2010

Haunted House

I commented on someone's blog page recently that I know of a haunted house, and the reason that I know it is, is because it is me that haunts it. It is the one above, where I was brought up in Surrey, and although I have not been back to it in the flesh for over 42 years, I know that the current residents have felt my presence.

We moved there from another part of Surrey when I was 4 years old, and because - at that time - it came with a two and a half acre garden, there was plenty to explore, both inside and out.

A little broom cupboard in a corridor for the original servants had a curious inventory chalked up on the inside of the door. It read: Hand Grenades - 50. Rifles - 10. ammunition... This was because - during WW2 - it was home to a local platoon of Irish Guards and their officers. The place has had connections to Ireland since it was first built by an Irish Sweep-stake winner in 1907. He named it 'Derry Heen', which, I am told, is Gaelic for 'Beautiful House'. When he fell out with his wife, he built the wing you can see to the left of the photo, so that she could live there without being in the way, and a corridor lead between the two wings, illuminated by a dim skylight in the attic above. The corridor was blocked off at one end when I was there, but sometimes I heard the unmistakable sound of footsteps walking through it at night.

It seems that the original owner was keen on country pursuits as, up in the vast attic, yards of old, waxed, fly-line were still strung from the rafters. He also shot his Italian gardener dead one day, and was found not guilty of murder after he explained to the court that he had seen some movement in the bushes, and thought it was a 'rabbit'. The rumour was that the gardener was having an affair with his estranged wife.

There was a number of old glass houses tacked on the side of the house, and one day when I was fumbling about between the wooden roof timbers to see what I could find, my hand felt something cold and hard. It was the barrel of a gun. I kept feeling, and soon I had pulled out an entire Lee Enfield .303 rifle which had been entirely dismantled and hidden there. I never found out who hid it - it could have been the Irish Guards, or - more sinisterly - the old owner.

This house has permeated my dreams and fevers, ever since I was 4 years old, and sometimes it still does. I find myself walking down the dark corridors at least 3 or 4 times a year even now, and these are troubled dreams indeed, though I have not had a nightmare since I was a child.

When you are 4 years old or older, you think that all houses are just like the one you find yourself in, and there is nothing unusual about various doubts and misgivings you may feel about your home. As I got older and got out of the place, I realised that this was a very troubled house, and I had a very dark sort of childhood. My sister - who is 10 years older than me - eventually told me that she thought the place was unbearably spooky even then, but - since I was bound to live there for 10 years longer than she did - did not worry me at the time by telling me so. I had my own way of dealing with it as a child, and this was to embrace it with open eyes, even in the dark. I can't say that the place became my friend, but even then I knew that it must not become a feared enemy.

Sorry about the lack of humour in this post, but why not look at it as one of the revealing secrets that has been asked of us in the past by other bloggers? There were 6, weren't there?


  1. And you've never been back? Do you ever wonder who lives there now? What a riveting blog post. You should go back.

  2. That for me was one of the best blog posts you've ever done. Tom, thank you for sharing that piece of your life. I think houses, especially old houses do have a way of holding the past and the people who've lived in them, in their walls. I've found that in my life too.

  3. I agree with the others, this is an intense post. The picture gives me chills, as if someone is looking out from the upper windows.

    I used to have nightmares of my childhood home. The guy who bought it from us apparently raped a young girl and then killed himself in the garage. For years I would dream of myself walking through the house with a dark presence following me.

  4. I don't hold with ghosts or hauntings, but the house I'm in at the moment has the most wonderfully relaxed atmosphere. Almost every other house I've owned (in Wales and in France) felt as if evil people had previously lived there.

  5. I guess some kind of energy is trapped in the house. It's sad when kids have that kind of a childhood fobbed on them.

    Thanks for sharing Tom, it's nice to be able to know you a little better.

  6. I do go back, Brismod, but only in my dreams.

    I think that there IS really such a principal as Feng Shui, even though - in most other respects - the Chinese are utterly barking. "Yea though...." Cro? (I'm thinking of the John Lennon version)

  7. I would have to re-visit it Tom. It's history is grimly compelling. olive

  8. I would never go back Tom. I have 2 places that haunt me and I would never set foor in either again.

    That house looks so familiar to me. Don't know why, it's likely similar to many, but when I first saw it I thought immediately I had seen it before.

    Great post. I enjoyed the mystery of that.

    How about that. My word verification was revisitsk.

  9. I think that the house one grows up in is always imprinted on your soul. I still dream of mine.

    I do believe in ghosts. Categorically. And that houses have a bad feeling and a happy feeling. We have one in our house who saved me from being hit by a bicycle when I was 9 months pregnant. But I realise that sounds a bit mad so I will stop the story there.

  10. I have a feeling that the word-verification picks words or letters out of the body of the text, Raz - there are too many coincidences like that. A bit like the advertising which follows a post!

    I think you will sound even madder if you leave the story at that, Jane. Do tell.

  11. What an interesting post. I have definitely been in some houses where I have wanted to leave almost immediately because they don't feel "right". It's an odd thing.
    Love your writing.