U is for unwanted visitors!

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Have you ever imagined what it is like to live in a haunted house?

‘The Cage’ in St Osyth, Essex (England), is said to be home to poltergeists responsible for assaulting, scratching and even BITING past residents. One owner said  “I’m not a religious man and yet I go to bed every night clutching a crucifix for my own safety”

Imagine this…The Cage itself first gained renown in 2012 when owner Vanessa Mitchell, 40, told how she was forced to flee the house when she spotted black shadowy figure standing over the cot of her infant son, Jesse.  Wouldn’t this be enough to make you pack your bags and make a quick exit.

It is no surprise there are strange goings on. The Cage itself has a sinister past, having once served as a prison that was in use until the early 20th century.Added to this, in  the 16th century 13 women accused of being ‘witches’ were chained there prior to their execution by hanging. The vengeful spirit of one these ladies, Ursula Kemp, is thought to be roaming the property still. Ursula’s undoing was a protracted dispute with a neighbour, Grace Thurlowe, a dispute that involved money. When Grace’s daughter, nearly three months old, “fell out of its cot” broke its neck and died, suspicion fell on Ursula.

Ursula Kemp was accused of witchcraft and was part of the Essex Witch hunt, and was arrested and interrogated on 20th February 1582 by the local landowner and magistrate Brian D’Arcy.. Ursula was promised favourable treatment by D’Arcy if she confessed. This she did and her 8 year old son, Thomas was also forced to give evidence against her. Her last appearance before D’Arcy was on 9th March when she was made to make a statement against a co-accused. In between these dates, Ursula and others were locked up in the Cage, where food would have been scarce,  only available when family or friends brought it. The allegations spiraled with several women accusing each other until a total of 14 were named. Recent evidence has come to light which shows that those found guilty were not hanged straight after the trial as was originally thought but brought back to Colchester gaol. When Ursula and Elizabeth Bennet  were hanged, it would have been normal for their bodies to be immediately buried without ceremony in unconsecrated ground. Since there is evidence to show that they were brought back to Colchester after the trial, they may have been hanged in Colchester or St.Osyth. It was not unheard of for convicted witches to be returned to their own areas for sentence to serve as a warning to others. So there you have it, a haunted witch prison.

You would probably laugh, if you heard there was such a place called Chillingham Castle, but yes it exists in Northumberland (Britain). The wonderfully named  Lady Leonora Tankerville, who lived there in the 1920s, reported many a paranormal sighting and wrote down some of her experiences.In one incident she said she was visited by the ghost of a young officer she knew at the moment of his death. ‘Before listening or even looking, my first impulse was to seize my dressing-gown and throw it over me.

‘Then, turning back, ready to hear what he had to say, he was suddenly gone. The room was empty and I stood alone.

‘I told my husband that our young friend must be dead, and we heard next day that he had died at that very hour.’

Since then there have been several other paranormal sightings. A frail figure in white is said to often appear in the pantry.

The pantry was where the silver used to be stored and a footman was employed to sleep in the room and guard it.

One night, when the footman had gone to sleep, he encountered a pale lady in white who begged him for water.

This same pale figure is said to be seen haunting the castle to this today, and it is thought the longing for water suggests she was the victim of poisoning.

I am at the point of buying a new property in Brittany, France, I hope to God, there are no uninvited visitors.

Francis H Powell is a writer. His recently published book is Flight of Destiny, a book of 22 short stories.

http://theflightofdestiny.yolasite.com/

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