This account takes place in mid-1980's when I worked in an office on the attic floor of a converted Georgian terraced property in Northgate Street, Bury St, Edmunds, a town where tales of ghosts apparitions and underground tunnels connecting the Abbey with the town were prevalent, so it was no surprise that conversation in the office sometimes included stories of ghostly monks and haunted cellars.
The building which was once a palatial home possibly to rich traders, had a rear entrance which we staff used via a black painted back gate with a short pathway past a dilapidated garage with black painted doors, down a corridor and up two flights of stairs and into a bright airy office which did feel a bit creepy when daylight faded.
I shared the office with, amongst others, two ladies in their middle years. Carol was a bit shy but good company, Pauline was a bit older and of a nervous disposition. Her tea cup was always half full.
One particular day around mid-morning Carol stated in a rather dramatic fashion, "My mother is in the room." At that same moment a picture fell to the ground with a crash from the back wall, some ten feet away from us all. We all looked at each other, Carol said "it was nothing" and we got on with our day. I was aware as was Carol and Pauline, that Carol's mother had died some months before.
We finally spoke about the "mother" incident about a week later and like bunch of teenagers agreed to conduct a séance in our lunch break, although Pauline did take a bit of convincing.
Lunch break came and we really did not know how to carry out a séance and it was a bit jokey. We joined hands with me calling "anyone there" and "two knocks for yes, one for no" and even requests for next month's Grand National winner's name.
We were sitting casually around my desk in our wheeled office chairs, I was leaning back eyes closed almost in sleep mode, the ladies sat upright with their eyes closed, and then it happened.
Pauline rather loudly asked me, "Who was that standing behind you?" At the exact moment I had a vivid vision of coach driver like the design on an old Peek Frean's biscuit tin. A coachman in all his finery who had not long ago been atop his coach, but I was not silly enough to mention that. "There is nobody behind me," I said but Pauline started her description of what she had seen standing there.
"It was a man," she said right behind you "In like 1800's clothing, a coachman's hat, long grey hair, brown coat, like a coach driver, on a mail run maybe". I was dumbfounded that she had seen the same image as I had a few minutes before, but tried not to show it and told her she "must have dozed off and been dreaming as I nearly had". She was totally convinced what she had seen, but rather than make fools of ourselves we once again carried on with our day and did not speak of "The Coachman" again.
Some months later, I was talking with the building's landlord as we stood by the window looking at the dilapidated garage. I had decided, when I next saw him, I would ask if anyone had ever mentioned strange phenomena in the building and with some relief to me, he had replied in the negative, We spoke for a while until he said, "We're going to redevelop the coach house, make it into another office." A shiver ran from my neck and down my spine. "Coach house," I said looking at the old dilapidated garage. "Yes" he said, "This grand old house had a coach and driver in the old days and servants and they all lived here in this attic." I resolved never to tell the ladies!