So this is something that happened today (5-02-2014) at between 10am and 1pm. My partner Kevin works 5 days a week, 12 hour shifts from 7am to 7pm so usually he doesn't get to see our children during the week as their bedtime is 7:30pm and he doesn't arrive home until around 8pm. He has a week's holiday at the minute so he decided to take our 2 sons out to the park then for ice cream after (yeah, ice cream in February, I know right). Around 9:45 I texted him and asked if he had his keys because I decided to go for a walk. He said he did so off I went.
We live in a small town called Seaham on the coast northeast of England. Now, most people in England haven't even heard of Seaham as it's so small. So as a general indication of where it is, it's on the outskirts of Sunderland. Before Maggie Thatcher became prime minister, Seaham was a thriving mining town. Back in the 1800's a serial killer named Mary Ann Cotton had lived here for awhile. She has been rumored to have murdered at least 4 husbands, 2 lovers, her mother, a friend, around 5 of her stepchildren and at least 11 of her own children. She is said to have poisoned them all with arsenic and collected life insurance on them. She is somewhat a local legend around here, and has several nursery rhymes about her.
The reason I mention Mary Ann is because there is one local urban legend about her. The legend says that Mary Ann had 1 daughter who survived. She was supposed to have been born while Mary Ann was awaiting trial and was given to a cousin of Mary Ann's back here in Seaham. Mary Ann's daughter is supposed to have been thrown into a mental asylum at age 18. Some say when she learned of what her mother did, she went mad. Others say she was born evil, but of course it's just a legend, she may never have been in an asylum at all. The legend goes on to say she died at age 27 in childbirth at the asylum and still haunts the building. Anyway, on with my story.
So around 10am I left the house and decided to walk up to the small woodland near my home up by a smaller town connected to ours named Murton. I have walked and driven by the woodland thousands of time but never actually walked through it, so that's what I decided to do. I walked maybe a mile and a half through the trees and came out at the edge of a farmer's field. I could see a farmhouse at one end of of the field and didn't want to intrude so I turned left and walked towards more trees. As I got closer to the trees I could see a sign so I walked up to it and as I got around the corner there was a building around quarter a mile behind the sign. I realized I'd found the old hospital. I knew it was up that way but it had been closed closed long before I was even born so I'd never had any reason to be up there before.
I am a very curious person. Honestly if I was in a horror movie, I'd be the first to die because I'm the one who investigates the strange noises instead of locking doors and calling police lol. So, of course, I decided to go have a look at the hospital. I looked around outside for a while and nothing out of the ordinary just overgrown grass and brambles. I had a look in a window and it was just an empty old room, very dirty and in great disrepair. I carried on looking around for maybe 10-15 minutes, even tried a door to see if I could get inside but it was locked so I decided to leave.
I was halfway down the road towards the sign when I had a curious feeling that I should look back. I turned back and found my eyes drawn to an upstairs window when, just for a second, I saw a shadow cross the window. At first I thought maybe a bird was in there and I had just seen a shadow of it flapping about the room. I started to look at the other upstairs windows and they all just looked dark and a couple are boarded over. I couldn't see anything, so I was just about to continue my journey home when I looked back to the first window and I saw a young woman with her hand on the window looking down at me. I immediately felt a great sense of sadness when I saw her and after a few minutes she disappeared.
I walked back down towards the trees wondering if I'd imagined seeing her or even if it was a trick of my mind or something, but I still had a really sad feeling. As I walked out of the trees back at the farmer's field I saw a man walking his dog. He could see I was distressed so he asked if I was ok. I said, "Yes, I'm fine I just thought I saw something odd up by the hospital." He immediately said, "Oh, you saw the grey lady." I was a little stunned to what he said but I continued to listen as he told me that him and his family had lived in the farmhouse for generations and that his grandmother and some great-aunts had worked as nurses and cleaners at the hospital before it had shut down.
Before I could tell him where I'd seen her, he told me he often saw her in an upstairs window or in the old hospital garden and sometimes from his house saw her wandering around by the edge of his field. He then told me a story his gran had told him about a young girl whose aunt sent her there because she thought she was mad. Before she was sent off to an asylum apparently his gran, who was a nurse, had taken a liking to the girl and sort of acted like a mother figure to her while she was there. A few years after she was sent to the asylum she died and his gran said she had started to see the girl's ghost in her old room and other various places. He said the family referred to her as Mavis but he isn't sure if that's her real name.
I was walking home and I began to thing about the legend of Mary Ann's daughter and, although I never believed the legend, it sort of made a little bit of sense. I told my partner Kevin about what I'd seen but he, being a skeptic, said it could have been anything I'd seen, trick of the light or and old curtain that had blown in a draft or something. I suppose he could be right but I believe my eyes and I saw a woman.
I feel very privileged to have been able to see Mavis and although I felt great sadness, I didn't feel threatened. It felt more like a feeling of loneliness and a sense of being lost. I intend to go back up to see her as often as I can. Maybe I will be lucky enough to see her again. I will post when and if I see her again.