Welcome. This is my blog, and you're my most coveted guest. If I seem a bit too intense, it's only because I have so much that I want to share with you, and I can see that you're eager to begin as well. So, please...make yourself at home, sip an East India cocktail (I blended the pomegranate juice myself), and sample some of my domestic and imported Arcana: useless, but fascinating information about Victoriana, Steampunk and other favoured topics; music which evokes that dark, lost Lenore sensibility; and other pleasant or, perhaps, unsettling non sequiters whispered in a darkened room. Linger long or short, leave a comment or refrain, but remember to come back soon to play a (shhhh) parlour game.
Velkommen. Dette er min blog, og du er min mest eftertragtedegæst. Hvis jeg synes en smule for intenst, det er kunfordi jeg har så meget at jeg vil dele med jer, og jeg kanse, at du er ivrig efter at begynde så godt. Så kan du ...føl dig hjemme, sip et East India cocktail (jeg blandetden granatæble juice mig selv), og prøve nogle af mine indenlandske o importerede Arcana: ubrugelig, menfascinerende oplysninger om Victoriana, Steampunkog andre begunstigede emner; musik der fremkalderdenne mørke, mistede Lenore sensibilitet, og andrebehagelige eller måske foruroligende, ikke sequitershviskede i et mørkelagt rum. Linger lang eller kort,efterlade en kommentar eller afstå, men husk at komme tilbage snart til at spille en (Shhhh) selskabsleg.
- I love my grown children, miss all the dogs I ever had, and I cry at the drop of a hat, I believe in true love, destiny, fairness, and compassion. If I could be anywhere right now, it would be the ocean. My favorite city is New York, but I am always longing for London and craving more time in Copenhagen. I'm drawn to desolate places, deserted buildings, and unknown byways. I don't care how society perceives me as long as my gut tells me that what I'm doing is right. I am interested in paranormal things, spiritual things, historical things, and things that glow at night. I like to drink, I smoke when I write, I can't stand small talk, and despite my quick temper, I would rather kiss than fight. I'm selfish with my writing time, a spendthrift with my love. My heart has been broken so many times that it's held together with super glue and duct tape. The upside is that, next time, I won't be tempted to give away what I no longer have to give. But I will let you buy me a Pink Squirrel.
Nocturne in G Flat major
Chopin, darkness, light, sand and wind, starlight tread. Beethoven, love, fear, madness, redemption in the night. Liszt, waltzing widows, desperate bargains, pleasure's secret plight. Now, then, before, always, forever. Promises made on lonely beaches, celestial summer's perfect kiss, passions quenched in salty breezes, the lure of distant mist-draped heights. Bitter interlude. Final, private nocturne. Burned down like a candle. Doomed bleeding beauty. Fated sacrificial night.
We love all things dark and mysterious, macabre and obscure, odd and unfathomable. Nothing is too strange or bizarre for our little blog. And although we would never presume to offer definitive answers to the great questions of life, we shall do our best to enlighten, inform and delight our visitors with our whimsical potpurri of facts, anecdotes, trivia and informational outpourings. We strive not to offend, but to edify those who wish to reach beyond their comfort zone and touch the fabric of another time and place, and of distant, but genuine worlds and lives. As Victorian-themed blogs go, ours may not be the most austere, nor the most comprehensive, but we know what we like, and if our readers like it as well, then all is as it should be in this ramshackle corner of our own personal Victorian empire.
A Musical Note
A Musical Note: We feel that our blog is best viewed when accompanied by one or more of the following musical selections. Then again, we also feel that our blog is best viewed when accompanied by a glass of absinthe, a bite of lemon cake, and a foot massage (preferably by someone you know). So, to paraphrase the otherwise completely irrelevant-to-our-blog Mr. Aleister Crowley, "Do what thou wilt...but be open to Chopin."
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Wednesday, April 18, 2012
FAMOUS CASES OF THE SPR: STRANGE HAPPENINGS AT WILLINGTON MILL
In 1834, Joseph Proctor, along with his cousin George Unthank, purchased the Willington flour mill and house in North Tynesdale, England. The mill had been built in 1800 and had been used as a rope factory until shortly before Proctor and Unthank bought it. Proctor and Unthank were both Quakers, with a long, joint history of membership within the local Quaker community. After purchasing it, Proctor moved his family into the house where they settled in for what they assumed would be a comfortable, uneventful life running the mill and raising their young family. But it was not to be. Shortly after the Proctors moved into the Willington mill house, the nursemaid they had hired to look after the children began to complain that she was kept awake at night by the sound of heavy footsteps treading across the floor of a deserted room over the nursery where she and the children slept. Proctor investigated her claims, but could find no cause for the nocturnal footsteps. Nonetheless, they continued, and, a few months later, the nursemaid resigned her position. The Proctors hired a new nursemaid in January of 1835, who, shortly afterward, began reporting that she was being kept awake by the same noises that had upset her predecessor. When Mrs. Proctor began hearing the nocturnal noises as well, her husband undertook a more thorough investigation of the room in question, but found nothing but "an undisturbed layer of dust."
The strange noises continued to disturb the Proctor family, gradually morphing from the sound of footsteps in the overhead room into the sound of disembodied voices---laughter, moans, whistles, and even screaming, which were sometimes accompanied by what sounded like children running, someone drumming their fingers on wood, wood being cracked, and the unmistakable sound of a clock being wound. On one occasion, Mr. and Mrs. Proctor were awakened by what seemed to be a loud, metallic rapping on their baby's crib, which sat next to their bed. As the year wore on, the disturbances increased, taking on a more tangential nature. Family members as well as visitors to the Proctors' home were alarmed by the sensation of cold spots in various locations throughout the house, the sound of people running up and down the stairs later at night after all of the family members were in bed, and violent shaking sensations as they lay in their own beds. One guest reported that the curtain rods around her bed had flown off during the night and that, afterward, she had experienced the sensation of an invisible presence touching her as she lay quaking underneath her bed covers.
But the disturbances at the Willington Mill weren't limited to strange sounds and unexplained sensations. The family's cook reported that she would sometimes enter the kitchen early in the morning to find chairs scattered around the room and utensils strewn across counter tops and the table. Even more unsettling, after leaving the house at night and returning home, family members were frequently treated to the sight of what appeared to be the apparition of a woman staring out at them from an upstairs window. The strangest occurrence of all took place one afternoon, when, as the Proctor children were playing in the house, a strange monkey-like creature appeared "out of nowhere" and began running through the hallway in a taunting manner, as though it wanted the children to chase it. When they did, it disappeared, never to be seen again...at least by members of the Proctor family. Several decades later, long after the Proctors had left the Willington Mill house, a local man called Thomas Davidson was waiting near Willington Mill for a girl he was courting at the time when he was startled by the sudden appearance of a large cat "of whitish hue." For whatever reason, Davidson tried to kick the cat, but his foot went right through it, after which it disappeared. Seconds later, a phantom rabbit appeared where the cat had been and hopped toward him, prompting Davidson to respond with another unsuccessful kick. Once again, the phantom animal vanished, re-materializing as a phantom sheep, which frightened Davidson so much that he decided to cut his losses and hightail it back home. No word on what the young lady for whom he had been waiting had to say about being left high and dry by her frightened suitor.
Probably the best known record of the strange occurrences at Willington Mill can be found in the diary entries kept by Edward Drury, a friend of the Proctor family who asked permission to spend a night in the allegedly haunted house in order to see for himself exactly what was going on. In July of 1840, Drury and his friend, Thomas Hudson hunkered down in an upstairs bedroom to await whatever nocturnal activity might come their way. According to Drury's diary entry for that night, the activity was considerable. Not only were the pair kept awake by a succession of strange noises, which included banging sounds and disembodied voices, they were terrified when a closet door opened and a woman in "a gray mantle" floated out of the closet with one hand pressed to her breast and the other extended toward Drury and Hudson. The two men were reportedly so frightened by the sight of the apparition that they couldn't move or speak, and after she vanished before their eyes, rushed from the house as fast as their feet would carry them.
The Proctor family endured the strange happenings at the Willington Mill house for 13 years, finally moving in 1847 after deciding that the disturbances might have a negative effect on the minds of their children. The British Society for Psychical Research, while well aware of the disturbances that had been going on at the house, didn't get around to investigating them until after the family had moved, in the late 1870s, at which point, SPR president Henry Sedgewick and several other SPR members called upon members of the Proctor family to interview them concerning what they had witnessed while in residence there. Most of the information garnered by society members came from Mrs. Hargrave, one of Mrs. Proctor's sisters, who told them that, while living in the house, Mr. Proctor had discovered a stone slab in the cellar that looked as though it might have been put there to cover a grave. However, according to Mrs. Hargrave, her brother-in-law enlisted the aid of several other local men to dig up the floor underneath the slab, but then changed his mind, concerned that, if bodies were discovered underneath it, the discovery would "set tongues wagging", which might cause problems for the family. Inquiries regarding the possibility of "dark deeds" surrounding the alleged disturbances at the mill house resulted in unsupported allegations of a long-ago murder that might have taken place there when the mill was being used as a rope factory.
As part of their investigation of the strange goings-on at the Willington Mill house, SPR investigators sought the help of a medium who, while in trance, told them that the house was haunted by a number of spirits, including a male spirit who she referred to as "Old Jeffrey", and a woman who she described as "having no eyes and no brains in her head", but was, instead, simply a remnant from an earlier time who had somehow become imprisoned within the walls of the house. The case was never solved, but was written about extensively in Volume 5 of the SPR's investigative journal, published in 1885.