My parents have been friends with this quirky, eccentric couple since the early 1970's. These events centre around their home.
This couple's home is in a forest area. The house was built anywhere between late 1800's to 1920's. A couple of years ago I visited them with the intention of delving into their house history, they have a lot of records and photos of it's early years. But they were so preoccupied with their new collection of trinkets I couldn't get a word in edge ways. They go through collecting phases, and it makes them a bit mental. One day I'll find out about their house history. But for now, I'll have to rely on what I already know and a bit of guess work.
First a bit of a warning/disclaimer: Some of the themes in this narrative may alarm some. Please understand none of us kids were ever put in harms way.
This spans from the early 1980's to present day. There's a lot to get through, so put the kettle on!
Their land is about two acres of multi tiered manicured Victorian 'Gothic' style garden. At least it always seems Gothic to me, dark, damp, plants and trees for days, love it. The roof guttering/drainage is a multi headed dragon which spurts water from it's mouths after a heavy down pour. As a child I used to follow the dragon body, which was really just the guttering, to each of it's heads around the parameter of the house. The rest of the roof has gargoyles of various sizes, doing various things. The gargoyles can only be found from certain angles.
One day, when I was about four or five, I was out in their front garden looking for all the gargoyles. At the front gates is a garden forest of maples, magnolias, birches and other trees. There's no lawn in this area it's a mass forest style planting covered in leaves and moss. There's three concreted pathways to the house which are intercepted by steps here and there, leading up to the house. When you're in the maple forest area most of the gargoyles are hidden by the upward angle of the hill and house, but the 'dragon's body' length is visible from this angle. I was standing near the centre pathway trying to decide if the dragon was crawling on the roof or flying around it, when I heard some leaves crunch to the right and behind me about six meters away. The crunch came from the right path, at the right gate's entrance. (There's two front gates, two pathways for each gate. Two pathways meet in the middle of the front garden forming three pathways) I was looking to the gate for the source of the sound when I heard a single tap sound on one of the lanterns. The pathways have a few old cast iron street lanterns. The one that tapped was closest to me, at the start of the middle path. I decided now would be a great time to hide behind a tree and wait for that weird not alone feeling to pass.
As a stand alone event this doesn't amount to much. The leaves could've been a mouse and a bird could've landed on the lantern. But I've included it here as it might be connected to other events I'll cover later.
Their first eldest daughter is my age. Around the same time, aged about four, we were both riding around in peddle cars. Her Dad had either restored some antique peddle cars or made them from scratch, he's an utter engineering genius of a man. There were three, each looked like a vintage race car. The only place to ride them was around the back and sides of the house, where the path was flat. I was riding under one of the bedroom windows when the curtain twitched. Both our parents were happily chatting away outside with us. I didn't see anything more than the sudden movement of this curtain. It's also possible it was one of their pets, cat or dog. The peddle car I was in used to get 'bogged' in that the peddles would jam a lot. So I was 'bogged' at this window, but I didn't mind because I was curious to as to who or what was at the window. Nothing else happened though.
Years later when I was about eight I was out in the backyard, standing on the croquet lawn (this place is completely posh and hasn't changed much at all in over a hundred years. Just go with the poshness it's easier than if I run through the entire layout). The croquet lawn is about ten steps up from the back of the house. It's in line with the back of the house, aligned to the back veranda areas so when you're on this lawn you're at around the same level as the house roof. Being an old Victorian design the roof is pretty fancy. From this lawn more gargoyles are visible. The only catch is most of them are facing the front of the house, with their backs to you. To see most of their faces you have to explore the front. I used to play match the gargoyle a lot. Actually I still do, given the chance.
Next to the croquet lawn is an old sitting area under a big tree, I think it's an oak tree. The man of the house is into 'cloud pruning'. It shapes trees leaves and branches to form cool cloud type shapes. The lower branches of this tree are trained downward to create a canopy over the croquet lawn. One of their peacocks landed on a lower branch creating a breeze on my back. (yeah, I know peacocks, posh as) I turned around to watch the peacock and was confused to find a man right at the end of the yard, some distance away from me. He was wearing an orange shirt, sort of a dusty, creamy orange type of colour. His trousers were a beige colour. He was leaning against what I think was a shovel, looking down at me smiling. I was confused as to who he was. This couple don't trust anyone to their house or garden and do everything themselves. So the presence of someone working up the back was out of place. I didn't think he was a ghost though. He looked quite old but very fit. He was right at the entrance to the peacock house, like a chook pen, and looked like he was tending to it. I felt a bit weird that there was someone there who I didn't know, so I went inside and asked who he was. This couple are into ghosts and ghouls, the husband and my mother said he was probably an old gardener. They went to check, and didn't find anyone.
The house is large, single story, four bedrooms. Everything is original features and all their furniture is antique. Some of the furniture came with the house. I'm trying to think of anything modern in their house and can only think of the TV and computer. Everything else is like a time capsule. They're heritage enthusiasts, keen collectors too, track down all manner of antique odds and ends.
The husband is something of a technical engineering genius. He restores gramophones, jukeboxes, pin ball machines, record players, speakers, you name it. He's an electrician by trade. The wife is a wizard with a needle and thread. Her specialty is vintage style clothing and lamp shades. Her designs are just like the ones found here:
As their house hasn't changed, well, at all in over a hundred years, with alterations being all restoration in nature, I think this has contributed to some of their haunts. In particular the first one I ever heard about. The good old 'footsteps down the hall' trick.
Back and front doors to the house are positioned at the left and right sides of the house. The two front gates having winding paths to each side 'front and back' doors. Everyone enters from the 'back' kitchen door at the left side because they use their kitchen as an informal gathering area.
When I was little I used to listen to the adults talk about someone following them down the hall. It seemed to happen to everyone eventually.
The formal 'front' right side front door has round 'lilly pad' style steps made of marble with marble columns or pillars. There's an odd absence of sound at the front door. I think this is because of the marble, it's always fascinated me. When I was a kid I thought this cool sound trick was connected to the footsteps somehow.
Now for the boring part of every narrative ever: The house layout. 'Oh no not the bloody house layout.' We'll do it via the hallway for this doubles as the path of the phantom footsteps. 'Oh, alright, that's not so bad.'
The front doors are large. You then enter the hallway which has dark wood paneling up to the ceiling with old wall lamps lighting the way. The hallway goes right through the length of the house in an L shape. The right side doorways in the hall are all bedrooms. The left side hallway doors are all glass French doors. The house is very dark, and dimly lit with traditional style bulbs and lamp shades everywhere. The dark wood paneling is in most rooms and adds to the darkness. The trees also block a lot of natural light. It's more or less got all the characteristics of a classic Gothic haunted house, love it.
The first French doored room is a long formal lounge. Behind the second French door is a games room, or 'billiard room'. The third French door is larger than the rest and belongs to the ballroom*. The fourth is a dining area. Then you turn the corner right in the L shaped hall and find an old wooden 'swing' door which is the kitchen, another door next to that is the bathroom.
*We call it the 'ballroom' but it might not technically be a ballroom. Theirs is a large house but it's not a mansion. This might be traditionally a music room. It's a large room with a high dome shape ceiling decorated in fancy Victorian detail with a large chandelier. It has an elevated stage area at the end. It looks like a ballroom, but I'm unsure if it technically is one.
Everyone said the footsteps came from the front door and followed the hall all the way to the kitchen. In the hall at the formal front door entrance, next to the old coat hooks was a knight. As in metallic knight armour which 'greeted' guests if you entered through this way. These days the knight lives in the ballroom. But when I was a kid it was in the hall at the front door. I always thought the footsteps must belong to the knight and was keen to catch him out. The moment I had with the leaves crunching at the right front gate and the tap on the lantern, I've since wondered if this was part of the hallway footsteps ritual. Since the footsteps begin at the formal front door, maybe they actually start at the right front gate. Or maybe what I heard that day was simply wildlife.
When their daughter and I were about six we had an unexpected moment with one of her toys. It was goodness knows what hour of the night. This place has always been a bit of an open house for colourful characters. There were regular parties on the go, still are. There's always joints, bongs and hookahs passed around and this was considered safe around us kids. But when harder drugs were on the menue, we kids had to keep out of the kitchen in case we got any on our fingers or clothes. If we wanted anything we were to holler through the serving window in the dining room. This was one of those nights. The lady of the house was pregnant and my Mum was breast feeding, don't write me, they were both sober.
Their daughter's bedroom is opposite the ballroom. We were dividing our activities between the jukebox in the ballroom and her toys in her bedroom. I was walking back from the dining room serving window, walking down the hall back to the bedroom. Suddenly one of her toys, a duck puppet, stuck it's head out from the doorway and sort of jiggled about. I laughed thinking it was her and ran to 'catch' the duck. The duck 'ducked' back into the room (har har) before I could catch it. When I entered her bedroom she wasn't there, and neither was the duck. I turned around and she was in the ballroom punching in another song on the jukebox. I told her what happened and we both looked for the duck in her room, totally confused and a bit scared. You know how jukeboxes have a delay while they do their thing. Well in those short seconds we'd kind of forgotten it was about to play and when it did we crapped ourselves! Stuff the serving window, we rushed into the kitchen. Both our (sober) Mums came to investigate. After a bit of confusion her Mum said in a cockney voice 'O' toil and trouble, my pretties'. My Mum distracted us with the pinball machines in the billiard room. But after the duck weirdness we couldn't focus on having fun in the same way.
My brother was a baby at the time. He was sleeping in the nursery room that night which is the last bedroom down the hall, opposite the kitchen and bathroom. I don't know if this room was always a nursery but it's always been decked out as one. My parents had been tending to him and checking him all night. This was also the same room where the curtain twitched, a couple years before. He was in a cradle which had been handed down the generations of this family and was soon to be used by their unborn daughter. When it was home time I followed my parents into the nursery and there on a chair by the nursery door was the duck. We girls hadn't been in the nursery all night, except during the afternoon. Neither of us had put the duck in there after it's vanishing act behind the door. I've since wondered if my brother sleeping in their family cradle had something to do with it turning up in the nursery. I would also love to know how, specifically, the duck ended up there.
There's always been curious reflections in the French doors. But it only seems to happen through the glass of two or more French doors. I mentioned the French doors down the hallway leading to all those fancy rooms. Each of these rooms has up to three sets of French doors, one for entering from the hallway, another one or two for entering the next room/s. For example if you're at the snooker table in the billiards room you turn and see through the glass to the hallway, turn your gaze again to another French door leading to the formal lounge on one side, and turn the other way and see part of the ballroom through more French doors.
The curious part is sometimes, seemingly always at night, if you're in one room looking through the glass to another room, and to another room beyond more glass, sometimes I've notice reflections that don't 'fit'. Sometimes it's movement, or a colour or shape, sometimes it lasts, other times it fades out or disappears instantly. Only very occasionally, twice that I remember clearly, did I 'see' people in the 'reflection' who shouldn't have logically been there.
The first happened while I was in the billiards room I 'saw' a brief 'reflection' of a young woman wearing a white, what I think was a hair net, it looked like a bonnet. I only saw her face/profile and part of her shoulder, she seemed to be bending, reaching over a table. This 'reflection' was in the dining room. It's so hard to explain, it looks like a reflection but it's taking place in the other room, beyond the glass it's 'reflecting' from. It really feels like the glass is key to this phenomenon. I said before this house is like a time capsule, I must stress that point as literal and not a throw away comment. The glass on these doors is probably the original glass, or at least hasn't changed for a very long time. It 'feels' to me like this is connected. Possibly also the dim old fashioned 'ambient' lighting being the same or similar to how it was back in the day. I can't help wonder if these factors collectively produce these images.
The other reflection of a person was from the ballroom. It was a man leaning back on the door frame between the billiards room and the lounge/parlour room. He had dark hair, slicked back, he was laughing, holding either a cigar or cigarette.
Another apparition I saw through the doors seemed to be different, in that it didn't look like a reflection. It was, I think, the same man from the backyard. I was in the ballroom and he was in the lounge/parlour. He was standing at the fire place, with an arm resting on the mantle. He was looking down at the floor beside him and smiling at what ever he was looking at. As an adult I have the impression it was either a child or pet.
Being a kid, on this occasion I was looking for the 'alligator in the house' and rushed to see if he had found it. He disappeared as soon as I changed position. This house has taxidermy specimens strewn around. In front of the fireplace in the lounge is a leopard 'rug'. The head has glass eyes and exposed teeth, so the leopard has an aggressive expression. These days the leopard is draped over a chair next to the fireplace, to keep it clean. But back then it was on the floor in front of the fireplace. I used to pat the leopard all the time. It's really hard to tell what antiques this couple have collected over the years and what came with the house. But I could imagine another child through history patting the leopard, just as I did.
The illusive alligator was something we'd hear the adults talk about. They'd talk about being 'petrified to step over the alligator in the house' and 'keeping tabs on where it is at all times'. I always thought there was an alligator in this house somewhere, hiding from everyone. They have a lot of exotic pets so it seemed feasible. The alligator turned out to be a dealer's 'security system'. None of us kids were ever taken to the alligator house. I also have no clue how anyone would go about acquiring an alligator in Australia. But that beast became the stuff of childhood legend. It was like a really weird game of where's Wally, where one day a ghost showed up.
The couple have always had dogs. Usually two or more at a time, always exotic or posh breeds. The kitchen has a dog flap under the sink, the dogs come and go as they please. Every time I've ever been there all the dogs suddenly go mental at something. I never thought this could be paranormal, but in case it is I'll include it here. The dogs can be sleeping and peaceful in the kitchen with everyone. Then they'll all wake up simultaneously, start barking and rush outside. More barking from outside, then one or two will come back inside, and more barking. They look around confused as if they don't know what they're barking at or whether they should be outside or inside. They just seem all out confused. It happens night or day and I can never find any pattern to it. I've asked about this and no one really has an answer, only theories ranging from smelling wildlife outside, to paranormal causes. Maybe the dog flap itself is haunted, it looks as old as the kitchen. I don't know when dog flaps came to be, but it looks like it's always been there. All their dogs have done and continue to do this spanning, at least, ever since I can remember.
When I was about thirteen I saw an apparition which I now believe to be a living residual of the lady herself. The circumstances are quite amusing and unique, I was on the toilet! Their bathroom is a sunken room, one step down. It's dusty pink with small pink tiles, the tiles are all different shades of pink, about four tones. High heels make the nicest sound on these tiles. The toilet is in it's own cubical with a frosted glass door. The door has an image of a tree on it. The tree parts of the glass are less frosted than the rest. The bathroom door and the toilet cubical door are directly opposite each other, so when you're on the loo you're facing the bathroom door.
There I was doing my thing. I must have been looking at the tiles because I don't remember seeing anything appear. Suddenly I notice someone through the frosted glass, a bright pink mass looking in the mirror. There's an old fancy mirror hanging from a chain on the bathroom wall. The figure had their arms to their head like they were fixing their hair. Then it just faded out. I didn't hear the bathroom door open or anyone enter. But at the same time I wasn't scared and didn't feel the need to yell out that I was in the cubical. But I did position myself so I could see through the clear glass markings of the tree. But I couldn't get a good glimpse of what it was, just clearer pink.
I've come to believe this was part of her wedding preparation in the early 1980's. She designed her own wedding dress, it was hot pink. The shape of the silhouette matched what her dress looked like, a 40's A line style coat dress. The veil was also hot pink. The pink mass through frosted glass just looked like a pink blob with arms lifted up. I assumed it was a ghost's aura for many years. But thinking about it in recent times makes me wonder otherwise.
On a slightly off topic note, my husband says he sometimes swears a trough we have is filled with dark liquid. He experiences this as a fleeting glimpse. We think it's a residual from when I made my wedding dress. I made a traditional looking 'mourning dress' out of three different garments, each bought white/cream. I wanted a dark brown wedding dress. I coloured it in this trough with fabric dye. Maybe there's enough emotion in designing your wedding dress to create a living residual. Oddly enough, when I saw the pink blob was around the same age, 13/14, that I dreamed up my own dark brown mourning style gown. I didn't make that connection until just now. Probably is no connection, but it's cool anyway!
In more recent years there's been, as my hardcore non believer stepmother puts it, 'faulty wiring'. Which the man of the house, Mr Electrician-Engineering-Genius, thinks is amusing. Well, 'faulty wiring' has caused an antique train set to go off by itself. The train set goes around the ceiling in the ballroom. There's a control switch by the door to turn the train on and off, change speed/direction etc. I don't know if the train came with the house or not, its the kind of thing he'd restore and install near the ceiling around that room. I've no clue who turns it on.
These 'faulty wiring' incidences are not his creation. Their pantry light, and it's impressive ability to turn itself on and off. I don't remember this but apparently when I was a toddler I crawled in the pantry to have a sticky beak. The pantry is one of those walk in ones and the door naturally swings shut behind you. So I was in there for a moment and then started crying. The light had turned off. It's a pull cord switch too high for me to reach. The pantry light is an ongoing thing.
I spent new years eve at their place a few years ago. My stepmother was also there, unfortunately she snuffs out any mention of ghosts. If she hears anything about this topic she turns into a three year old.
There were about ten people there that night. We were sitting around the kitchen table, my stepmother's seat was under the serving window, which was closed. There's a wooden shutter which slides across. I was sat a few feet away with this old friend of my father's, whose sense of humour is quite dry and sarcastic. So this noise started up which sounded like someone tapping on the serving window. My stepmother either didn't hear it, unlikely, or pretended it wasn't happening, more likely. It was like 'knock knock...knock...knock' every 30 seconds or so. This persisted for around a minute before Dad's mate piped up, in a matter of fact tone: "There's someone at the server". My stepmother replied: "That'll be the wood settling." To which he sarcastically replied: "Mmmm yeah. That'll be it". I tried very hard not to laugh because I didn't want to set her off. Of course it could've been the wood settling, but I don't think anyone had heard that before.
Finally, after all these years, a few days after that new years eve I experienced the footsteps down the hall. Their daughter and I had been dancing and generally arsing about in the ballroom for a while. We then regrouped with everyone in the kitchen. I'd left my cigarettes in the ballroom, so went to get them. As I left the ballroom I heard 'something' down the hall but didn't give it a thought. As I walked down the hall, back to the kitchen, I realized I was being followed by footsteps. After all these years this was way cool. So I stopped and looked around, nothing there, but the footsteps stopped too. They stopped after about two steps after I stopped. I started again, the footsteps did the same, so I stopped and after a step they stopped also. They were right down the end of the hall near the front door. This was afternoon, between 4 and 6 I'd say. Over the years I'd only heard of this happening late at night and was surprised it was happening then and there. Must admit it was a little spooky, but in a cool way. I couldn't take more cat and mouse stop and starting so I retreated to the kitchen and yeup, those footsteps followed. They were slow steps, like a meander.
I really wanted to tell someone but my stepmother was there and, yeah. I wish I could remember if the dogs went mental. They do their sudden confused barking thing so regularly it kind of blends in after a while.
Lengthy post or what? I've been putting off writing about this for ages because layout descriptions suck and this house is way complicated. I got excited after 'visiting' Val's ultra cool digital interactive Victorian haunted house. Gave me the kick up the pants I needed.
Jesus, after proofreading this I think I need a lie down!
Thanks for reading.