Sea Stories

Ghostly Encounters

When five prominent British writers revealed their belief in ghosts they based their stories on personal experience.  Did they open themselves to ridicule?  Apparently not.

Studies show that 48% of Americans believe in ghosts.  Given that Britain is more ghost-friendly I would expect the British percentage of believers to be higher.

I never had a problem coming to terms with apparitions or the supernatural.  This may be due to their being self-evident.  As a child, mother would say, ‘it is the living, not the dead who harm you.’

An Ordinary Seaman on the MV Grecian, I recall a night time passage approaching Gibraltar. Entering the tool room far below the waterline two engineers chanced upon an Arab sitting cross-legged on an oil drum. Presuming the youngster to be a stowaway the pair approached. It was then they realised that the figure was an apparition. Horrified, both men fled to the upper deck.  I can testify to their extreme shock.

Only when the ship reached London did the captain reveal that the same spectre was evident during earlier voyages. It was that of a youngster who, on stowing away in Tripoli, was fatally sealed in a hold. 

A ship’s lookout will ring the fo’c’sle bell once if a ship is seen to starboard, twice if to port and three times if ahead.  Through the stormy night, the bell constantly rang accurately as we approached the English Channel. 

Only at dawn was it realised the lookout was situated nowhere near the bell but was standing on the upper bridge.  Sent to tie the eccentric bell, the lookout returned to say that it had been disabled the previous night.  Who then had been correctly tolling the bell’s warnings?

Before retiring to Spain I lived in an old manse.  Think of the television sitcom, To the Manor Born and you have it. The apparition there made no secret of its presence. We accepted each other and I christened her Casperette.  Rarely did I mention her to visitors but many guests were startled by her unexpected presence.

Widecombe Manor

Using the guest room one night, a lady colleague volunteered to stay overnight. Just as we settled down in our respective bedrooms we were shocked by an atrocious banging on both our bedroom doors.  Running to the landing we found it to be empty.  Neither of us made a big deal of it. However, I am convinced that Casperette was consumed by jealousy at the presence of my female guest.

On several occasions, I stayed at Widecombe Manor in Chagford, Devon. R. D Blackmore’s classic, Lorna Doone, was based on the manor’s 17th Century romantic tragedy.

My experiences whilst a guest would make your hair stand on end as they did mine. I do recall the roughly made door situated on the manse’s upper landing. I was told by the occupiers that the strange door led to the rooms under the eaves and roof.

It was explained to me that on an earlier occasion a tradesman, presumably a roofer, had entered the space to carry out some work. He had then disappeared for an hour or so. When he emerged he was dishevelled, staring wildly, quite mad and constrained in an asylum. He refused to relate his experiences whilst in the satanic room. 

The lady of the house told me that on occasion when tradesmen were needed there was an immediate agreement when the telephone call was made. However, as soon as she gave the address of the manse each tradesman called politely declined the work offered.

I scoffed and said I would not be fearful of going into the darkened space situated on the upstairs corridor leading to the manse’s bedrooms. With my then partner and hosts, we climbed the stairs to the wooden door leading to the forbidden room. Timidly, I admit, I cautiously opened the wooden door as my companions stood back to watch me. All were pensive as was I.

Opening the door I saw in the pitch darkness what I couldn’t actually see; confronting me was the evilest inhuman figure imaginable. With glaring eyes, the baleful figure challenged me to enter. Unsurprisingly, I slammed the door closed and conceded defeat.

Later, in the early hours of the morning, I lay in our upstairs 1650s bed suite needing to heed a call of nature. Common-sense told me I could not wait until morning. Reluctantly, on my own, I left the bedroom. Nervously, I took the L-shaped corridor, silent and lit only by very low lamps.

My passage to the bathroom passed several empty rooms. Refusing to look anywhere but straight ahead, I shivered as I made my way to the bathroom. Although some of the doors to the empty bedrooms I passed were open, I could not bring myself to look into any of them. I swear that every step I took on my way to the bathroom by unseen eyes was watched intensely.

These events occurred 25-years ago and still they haunt me.  Doubters are free to go to Widecombe Mansion situated on the bleak Dartmoor Moors if they wish to try their luck. They will need it.

As the great scientist, Nikola Tesla revealed: ‘My brain is only a receiver. I have not penetrated into the secrets of this core, but I know it exists.’ ~ Michael Walsh

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Related books The Leaving of Liverpool and All I Ask is a Tall Ship

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MICHAEL WALSH is a journalist, broadcaster and the author of RISE OF THE SUN WHEELEUROPE ARISE TROTSKY’S WHITE NEGROESMEGACAUST,  DEATH OF A CITYWITNESS TO HISTORY, THE BUSINESS BOOSTERTHE FIFTH COLUMN VOLUME I and IIFOR THOSE WHO CANNOT SPEAKIMMORTAL BELOVEDTHE ALL LIES INVASIONINSPIRE A NATION Volume IINSPIRE A NATION Volume II , SLAUGHTER OF A DYNASTY , REICH AND WRONG,  THE RED BRIGANDSRANSACKING THE REICH ,    SCULPTURES OF THE THIRD RIECH: ARNO BREKER AND REICH SCULPTORS  SCULPTURES OF THE THIRD RIECH:  JOSEF THORAK AND REICH SCULPTORS ,   SCULPTURES OF THE THIRD REICH VOLUME III Porcelain and Reich Sculptors, The Exiled Duke Romanov Who Turned Desert Into Paradise , THE DOVETAILS , SEX FEST AT TIFFANY’STHE AMOROUS GHOST AND ENCOUNTERS and other book titles. These illustrated best-selling books are essential for the libraries of informed readers.

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