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Ghost Stories From The North Of England
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RhinoHornOffline
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PostPosted: 07-11-2013 15:31    Post subject: Ghost Stories From The North Of England Reply with quote

Has anyone else bought this book? I was intrigued as I am from the York area, and while it features many familiar stories (The Croglin vampire, the Burton Agnes Skull, Lady Gerrard of Darlington etc.) most of the others are unknown to me. Is there anyway to confirm the veracity of the tales especially the more recent ones which seem to have eluded most ghost researchers Sad
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JamesWhiteheadOffline
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PostPosted: 07-11-2013 17:06    Post subject: Reply with quote

At best, the veracity will amount to names, professions, ages, dates, places. You may find yourself saying, "Why would such a person make up a tale like that?" though it leaves out the perverse joy people do get from pulling legs.

With the earlier tales, we can usually trace them back to Victorian sources and they may lend themselves to analysis as literary constructs. The Croglin Hall tale, for example relies for much of its effect on the fashionable Gothic architecture of the hall. In reality, Croglin Old Hall was a very traditional farmhouse with none of the large leaded windows which are a particular focus of the chills, when the vampire picks at the lead to gain access! The distinctive pistol-ball retrieved from the leg of the withered corpse is rather too redolent of Varney the Vampire to be be taken seriously. Mere mention of Croglin Hall scared me stiff as a kid, however!

I have stacks of uncollected tales picked up from both adults and children over the years. From time to time, I make a start on classifying them but I am well aware that the analytic approach is more a literary strategy than a serious attempt to prove anything. Many are fairly generic and refer to houses it would be hard to identify but there is a chapter to be made of oddities - such as the boy who was haunted by the ghost of a lung! I must write that section at least! Shocked
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PostPosted: 08-11-2013 08:13    Post subject: Reply with quote

We'll need to hear about the boy who was haunted by the ghost of a lung, please, NOW. Shocked
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PostPosted: 08-11-2013 10:07    Post subject: Reply with quote

I hope you are sitting comfortably . . .

It's as brief as it is strange, though I've no detailed memory of the boy who told it me. I certainly don't think I had told any story that could have prompted it. In recent years, I have taken an interest in very curious ghosts which never seem to have been animate at all: the sci-fi-like cylinder which appeared in the Tower of London for instance or the ghost of a bag of soot which haunts a lane in Crowborough, Sussex. I don't think I have heard any other stories about the materialization of spook internal organs.

The story emerged from a question the boy asked, "What do you call it when you go to sleep in one place and wake up in another?" Oddly, I have been asked that question quite a few times over the years. I am tempted to reply, "Kidnapping!" but it's probably a memory of dozing children being carried from room to room by parents.

Then he said he hadn't seen "a proper ghost" - only a thing that used to appear near a wardrobe. I don't remember any detailed physical description. Probably there was none - the whole thing was related in a matter-of-fact way, as if I might be able to clarify an issue that had puzzled him. The key point was that the object grew larger and smaller as he watched. "It said it was called Lung."

The boy was asthmatic, so it was possible to ascribe these visions - he said they were recurring while he slept in that place - to feverish dreams where his laboured breathing was manifested externally. It may also have owed something to a sickly child's awareness of medical terms or illustrations from doctors' surgeries, textbooks or hospitals.

I have heard since of phantom cold feet which pester sleepers by sharing their beds but these are only felt not seen. There are also familiar tales of incomplete bodies cropped of heads or lower legs but I am hard-pressed to find stories of internal organs appearing. If there are any ghostly hearts and spleens out there, I would be interested to know but I think it is only the lung which could - almost plausibly - find the voice to tell you its name!

edit: "ascribe . . . to" not "ascribe . . . as!"


Last edited by JamesWhitehead on 10-11-2013 13:31; edited 1 time in total
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RhinoHornOffline
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PostPosted: 08-11-2013 11:07    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks for your replies. Most of the stories in the book are contemporary tales (so, say 1970s/1980s) and are written in the first person. I doubt that the original witness was asked to write the chapters, so I suspect the author placed themselves in the role to "sell" the story. The latter day accounts do have a dearth of sources but in some instances they do say that this is to protect the identity of the people involved.

The Croglin Hall Vampire I remember from a talk given by, I recall, Lionel Fanthorpe about ten years ago. He'd found some evidence to suggest that, if it did happen, it was much earlier than the commonly accepted timescale - perhaps putting it back to the 15th or 16th century.

Despite all this, I'd recommend the book. Some of the tales are quite frightening.
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PostPosted: 08-11-2013 20:16    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
I have heard since of phantom cold feet which pester sleepers by sharing their beds but these are only felt not seen.


I'm scared now! Shocked
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davidplanktonOffline
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PostPosted: 09-11-2013 16:59    Post subject: Reply with quote

JamesWhitehead wrote:
the sci-fi-like cylinder which appeared in the Tower of London


I believe this gets a mention in Alan Moore's 'From Hell.' Never heard anything else about it though, sounds bonkers.
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JamesWhiteheadOffline
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PostPosted: 09-11-2013 17:25    Post subject: Reply with quote

"One October night in 1817, the keeper of the Crown Jewels, Lenthal Swifte, had just sat down to dinner here, when his wife suddenly exclaimed, ‘Good God! What is that?’ A glass cylinder filled with a bluish-white fluid had appeared and was floating around the table. Swifte watched dumbstruck as it drifted behind his wife. ‘Christ, it has seized me!’ she screamed. Her terror moved the keeper to action and, leaping to his feet, he flung his chair at the apparition. It moved towards the window and vanished."

Stories from the Tower of London

In some anthologies, it is connected with a story from the same era when a Yeoman of the Guard was menaced by a spectral bear.

Sketchy Details Here.

I like these a lot more than Anne Boleyn, however. Smile
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MythopoeikaOffline
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PostPosted: 09-11-2013 17:50    Post subject: Reply with quote

The bear ghost is interesting because there was once a small zoo within the Tower of London.
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davidplanktonOffline
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PostPosted: 09-11-2013 22:02    Post subject: Reply with quote

Just checked the appendix of From Hell and the spectral cylinder in 1817, a "vague fog" in 1954 and and undisclosed shape that slides under a jewel room door (date unknown) are all described in J A Brooks' Ghosts of London: The East End, City and North (Jarrold Colour Publications 1982).
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davidplanktonOffline
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PostPosted: 09-11-2013 22:05    Post subject: Reply with quote

Sorry to the OP about going South with the topic, we should get back to Ghosts of Northern England.
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JamesWhiteheadOffline
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PostPosted: 09-11-2013 22:33    Post subject: Reply with quote

Oh, we're all Northern really!

Here's a page that puts the stories together.

E. L. Swifte, who was a keeper of the Crown Jewels in the 19th century, recorded one of the most interesting and fullest descriptions of a haunting within the tower. He and his family were sitting at a candlelit dinner in his room in the Martin Tower in 1817, when his wife spotted something on the other side of the room. She cried out in alarm and Swifte turned round to see a cylindrical object resembling a glass tube, filled with bubbling blue fluid. The strange apparition started to move and came round behind his wife, who was still sitting at the table. She cried out that it had tried to grab her, and Swifte let fly at it with a chair, which passed straight through the object. The cylinder then receded backwards and disappeared.

Swifte was also a confidant in another ghostly oft quoted sighting; apparently a sentry on guard in what is now the Martin Tower, witnessed the apparition of a bear coming from out of the Jewel Room. He stabbed at it with his bayonet, which passed through the apparition and embedded in a door, whereupon the bear promptly disappeared. The sentry died a few days later, possibly of shock, but he had already confided in Swifte and another sentry who verified his story. The sighting has been dated to January in the year 1815 or 1816.

End quote from Mysterious Britain site.

I wonder where Swifte's testimony was first published . . .

This may take a moment. Smile

edit 10:44 pm: Source may be All the Year Round Magazine in an article called London in Books

source: http://trove.nla.gov.au/ndp/del/article/75666518

A more readable version of the same story can be found in a Mexican paper:

Mexico Independent December 28th, 1865

My suspicion must be that the now retired and elderly Swifte was yarning in the age before pensions. But it was a startlingly original kind of ghost to invent! Smile
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JamesWhiteheadOffline
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PostPosted: 09-11-2013 23:24    Post subject: Reply with quote

It may need a thread of its own soon but the Tower of London thing seemed worth transcribing. I started today with a post about John Keel and remarked how wrong he was to assume that strange news did not travel fast in Victorian times. I am ending the day with a transcription from one of Dickens' magazines made possible because it was picked up (probably word-for-word) by a Mexican paper!

Here it is, then. Swifte's narrative from 1865:

Recently, Mr. Edward Lenthal Swifte, former keeper of the crown jewels in the Tower, has put forth an extraordinary narrative of an appearance which he saw in the Jewel House in the year 1817.

One night in October, about twelve o'clock, as he, his wife, their little boy, and his wife's sister were sitting at supper, his wife, when about to drink a glass of wine and water, suddenly exclaimed, "Good God! What is that?" Mr. Swifte looked up and saw a cylindrical figure like a glass tube, seemingly about the thickness of his arm, hovering between the ceiling and the table. It appeared to be filled with a dense fluid, white and pale azure, incessantly rolling and mingling within the cylinder.

In about two minutes it moved towards Mrs. Swifte's sister, then passed before the boy and Mrt. Swifte, and ultimately floated behind Mrs. Swifte, who instantly crouched down, covered her shoulders with both hands, exclaimed in the utmost terror, "Oh, Christ! it has seized me!" Mr. Swifte caught up his chair, and struck at the wainscott behind her, then rushed up stairs into the children's room and told the nurse what he had seen. The phantom had previously crossed the upper end of the table and disappeared.

The strangest part of the business is, that neither the sister in-law not the boy saw anything of this appearance. Mr. Swifte says that he is bound to state that, shortly before the event, some young lady residents in the Tower had been suspected of making phantasmagorical experiments at their windows; but he alleges that those windows did not command any in his dwelling, and on the night in question the doors were all closed, and heavy dark cloth curtains were let down over the casements, The only light in the room was that of two candles on the table.

Very shortly after this strange affair, one of the night sentries at the Jewel Office was alarmed by the figure of a huge bear issuing from underneath the door; he thrust at it with his bayonet, which stuck in the door, and he then dropped into a fit, and in two or three days died. The sergeant declared that such appearances were not uncommon. The sentry, it is alleged, was not asleep or drunk at the time, but he may have been on the eve of a fit from natural causes. and the vision may have been the result of the state of his health. Mr Swifte's vision is more difficult to account for, from the fact of its having been seen by two of the persons present, and not by the other two; yet one cannot very well give a supernatural interpretation to so absurd and purposeless an appearance.

Article quote ends.

This more complete account raises a number of new questions which I may go into when leisure permits. Smile
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JamesWhiteheadOffline
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PostPosted: 10-11-2013 00:22    Post subject: Reply with quote

Blow it! No time like the present . . .

1: I had imagined the cylinder as smaller than the thickness of an arm.
2: Is there any dense fluid substance that is white and pale blue incessantly mingling? I find myself thinking of those tilting displays in which oil and water mimic sea-waves.
3: The appearance of the thing to the husband of wife, while it was unseen by the sister-in-law and child is omitted from many abridged versions.
4: The object goes behind Mrs Swifte to seize her. A hard thing for a limbless cylinder to do but we could assume she meant some unpleasant sensation like a seizure?
5: The piece makes free with oaths, "Good God!" and "Oh, Christ!" which were often suppressed in polite literature.
6: Why did Swifte rush to the nurse and leave his wife at the mercy of the object? It suggests that the vision was mainly that of his wife in the grip of a spasm such as a nurse might understand?
7: Twelve o'clock, presumably midnight? seems a late hour for supper but perhaps there were duties for the keeper of the "Jewel House" which required this routine?
8: Phantasmagoria were early precoursers of the cinema. Strange images were projected on a cyclorama by magic lanterns. Hinges on the slides could mimic movements. Clearly Swifte was already aware of scientific explanations for illusions. He introduces the subject himself, as if to forestall objections that had previously? been made to his account.
9: Two candles were the only illumination. This detail is introduced as an objection to any idea of light from elsewhere causing mischievous projections into the room. Yet there is earlier no mention of light being emitted by the mysterious tube. We might ourselves expect it because we associate tubes with fluorescent light. The colours white and pale blue reinforce such an idea. But this was a much thicker tube and Swifte says nothing of it shining, which had it, he would have surely?
10: Most accounts of the bear story tend to omit the most startling detail - that it issued from underneath the door!
11: When the sergeant declared such appearances were not uncommon, he does not go so far as to say they were ever seen by anyone but the sentry.
12: Some sources remind us that the Tower was once home to a menagerie, which included bears. The article in All The Year Round begins with an even more horrid detail, "the mortar used in the original contruction was tempered with the blood of wild beasts."
13: While rare in supposedly true stories, the spectres of inanimate objects were not unknown in gothic literature. Walpole's Castle of Otranto features a giant sword and "casque" or helmet which fall from the sky, as if to put feeble mortals in their place. Such excess of scale seemed to excuse an excess of feeling and expression. The association of such emotions with ancient towers and fortifications seems to make the Tower of London an appropriate place for such a challenging ghost!
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MythopoeikaOffline
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PostPosted: 10-11-2013 13:00    Post subject: Reply with quote

JamesWhitehead wrote:
2: Is there any dense fluid substance that is white and pale blue incessantly mingling? I find myself thinking of those tilting displays in which oil and water mimic sea-waves.


Yeah, my first impression was that it was a lava lamp.

http://thumbs2.ebaystatic.com/d/l225/m/mTBx6ntDNt7Br-B4AugKTZw.jpg
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