Friday, October 31, 2008

A TEA SOCIETY HAUNTED TALE

( A view from our parlor)

It has been such a treat for me, a certified ghost story enthusiast, to peruse my favorite blogs and read some wonderful tales of haunted manors, castles, and the like. With the season of ghosts and ghouls at its peak, I think it’s time for a little background history on our house here where many of the Tea Society gatherings take place.

My husband and I were newlyweds when we purchased our home in June of 1994. According to the deed records, the present structure was built between 1894-1896. We delved, like most new owners of such an old home, into past deeds and documents to uncover some interesting facts like that a water line was first run to the home in 1915 paid for by a Mrs. Henrietta Bedford and that at one point the room which is in fact our parlor was used as a kindergarten complete with a sand floor.We also know that the house has been struck by lightening and has withstood a tornado. All that aside, we know of some other unique attributes that the house holds. We purchased the house from the Estate of a Mrs. Hazel G. Adams and are in fact only the fourth owners of the house (an amazing fact considering many of the surrounding homes have been converted into apartments or duplexes at one time).

The question I hear most often since purchasing this old house is, "Is the house haunted?" My answer is, perhaps. I believe we have had a residual haunting where actions or significant events have been imprinted in time and repeat with no knowledge of us. I have never actually witnessed an apparition but I have smelled roses and lilac perfume in the dead of winter, usually in February, as have a couple of guests and a family member or two. This also seems to happen whenever we begin any renovation project and my husband frequently smells cigarette smoke, yet no one in our home is a smoker. I have heard what sounded exactly like a child running upstairs, so loudly that I would have sworn it was my son( around 5 years old at the time) only to find him sound asleep in his bed when no one else was in the house.

Not long after moving into the house, a friend from college spent a few days with us here. That first night of her arrival we had a late evening in the parlor reading aloud and enjoying some red wine along with the comforting companionship of our then only dog, a regal Afghan hound named Anastasia. Anastasia was a naturally aloof dog yet on many occasions I would catch her staring into the foyer at our stairs and she would begin whining for no apparent reason. I thought it odd that she would become so agitated but just assumed it was a peculiarity or some little quirk that she possessed. Yet, not until our friend visited did I truly realize that our hound may have seen something a little more unsettling to her keen canine sensibilities. Let’s return back to our evening of recitations and flowing burgundy. Well, to fully appreciate what I’m about to share with you, it might pay one mind to understand that my friend was not a spiritual or religious person in the least. She was in fact a self-proclaimed no-nonsense agnostic and she proudly touted that title. However, this particular evening at our house made her rethink her beliefs or lack there of. Whilst I was reading a portion of a story that I had been writing, I noticed my friend looking towards the French doors that lead from our parlor to the foyer. She stared intently and then suddenly became quite ashen. She looked at me and then looked to the floor and back to the foyer. She then,visibly quite shaken, said to me, “Rebecca, I just saw a woman on your stairs.” My husband and I quickly made our way to the French doors to find nothing at all there. We looked at one another in disbelief and then asked our friend what this woman looked like and asked her to describe to us exactly what she saw. She described a woman in a white dress. She said it looked like a very old-fashioned wedding dress. She said she seemed to glide down the stairs, turn at the French doors leading to our parlor and continue on through to the end of the foyer. My husband and I were speechless. Not because either of us had ever witnessed anything remotely like this but because we had never told our friend the history of our house. We had never told her that it was built by a prominent physician in town as a wedding present for his daughter and that she and her husband were in fact the first owners of the home. Was her image what our friend saw? Was it this presence or recording of a repetition that Anastasia the hound took notice of? And, is it the lingering aroma of her perfumed scent that we and others have smelt from time to time? I rather think it may be.

9 comments:

willow said...

Oh, Rebecca!! I am now covered with goosebumps! Especially amazing that your friend knew nothing of the history of the house. SpOOky! Thanks for the delicious case of "the willies"!

Happy Halloween!

Pamela Terry and Edward said...

Yikes. What a wonderful story!
On the nights when my husband is out of town, Edward will lie up on the bed with me and stare down the dark hallway, growling softly. It used to make me nervous, but I finally realized that he only does this when he feels that he is the one in charge. He also checks all the doors and windows before we go to bed, just like my husband does. It's actually rather sweet.

Happy Halloween to you!!

Lavinia said...

Riveting post, Rebecca! I do indeed agree (nodding quite vigorously) that the apparition your friend saw, was in all likelihood the physician's "daughter bride". As for the scent of rose and lilac, I would venture to guess that at the turn of the century, those scents were amongst the most popular for women. If you recall, perfume as we know it today (ie-blended scents) was not in major production until well into the 20the century. Prior to that, women wore predominantly flower scents, such as lilac and rose. Another theory might be that roses and lilacs were the flowers featured in the wedding and perhaps there were a great many bouquets in the house during the newlywed's first months in the home.

I too have heard that dogs have an extra heightened perception. Perhaps that is what was going on with my dog last night. I live very close to one of my town's most famously haunted sites, although my dog has not shown any unusual reactions while we have walked within that site.

Your story is perfect for this day...thanks so much for sharing it (along with other interesting history of the house, like the sand floor...).

rochambeau said...

Hi Rebecca,
Happy Halloween!
Did this experience scare you?
Hope your school is going well.
That you are well.
I will now go put on the kettle for some tea and raise my cup to you.

xox
Constance

Betsy said...

Very spooky, indeed!

Kim said...

Hi,
I love your blog, and what a wonderful ghost story. It's really nice to see such a great site about tea.

Kim

Patrick Lynch said...

What a lovely story. A classic tale of what seems like a residual haunting but it might just be a lower key intelligent haunting. The rarely seen bride, prefers not to intrude perhaps?

I once had a studio in a Victorian Gothic villa that was rather spectacularly haunted. Apparitions seen, footsteps down empty halls. At times, the scent of something like tea rose could be discerned, the occasional touch of a hand on my shoulder.

The personalities of those who haunt are the same as they were when they were alive. If you have the ghost of a lovely bride who gently haunts your house, then I would regard you as fortunate. I had mixed experiences in my studio both good and bad. My last apartment was unpleasantly haunted but when I bought my first home a typical 1880's Queen Anne cottage, I was gratified to find it free of ghosts.

Tea Time With Melody said...

WOW, very interesting reading. I would have loved to be your friend and see what she saw. I think it would be awsome. I bet your home is lovely and the history rich, many new owners of such homes don't take the time to truly know what they have and it is a shame. Thank you for sharing.

ZipZipInkspot said...

Dear Rebecca,

I shall see your stairs or hallway in the same way ever again. I am literally covered in goosebumps right now!

What's the difference between a residual and a lower key intelligent haunting?

Oh gracious, there goes another chill,

Natalie in Kentucky