March 25, 2010

Haunted Auditorium of Hibbing High School

In northern Minnesota, about 80 miles northwest of Duluth and located on the iron range, an almost medieval-looking castle rises against the skyline. From marble staircases and brass railings to art deco walls, this place is like no high school ever seen. The Hibbing High School auditorium modeled after New York City’s Capitol Theater, many details of this great room, such as its woodwork, engravings, artwork, and crystal chandeliers, make this a place that will take your breath away. The auditorium is also the home of legends—both the musical kind as well as the ghost of seat J47, who has been known to make an occasional appearance for the camera. The Hibbing High School auditorium, considered by ghost hunters to be among the world’s most haunted places.

Though stories of eerie events have circulated about the auditorium for decades, a handful of photographs taken with an old Polaroid camera in 2000 have been by far the most bizarre. The photographs, taken by the school’s stage manager, show the apparition of a man sitting in seat J47, watching the theater shows. Many people believe the image to be the ghost of the old stage manager, who died in 1942.

Hibbing, Minnesota, is a blue-collar town. Generations have toiled pulling iron ore from the ground in the area’s steel mines ever since mining explorer Frank Hibbing set foot on the land in 1892. Within a year of its discovery, people were moving to town in droves for the job opportunities of working in the mines. By July of 1893, a 2-squaremile town site had been laid out and was given the name of Superior. The little town was on a fast-track to growth. The name Superior was changed to Hibbing in honor of its founder less than 15 years after its incorporation. Town residents were grateful to Mr. Hibbing for his discovery that led to steady work for so many.


By 1914, Hibbing’s economy was booming—it had been called the “richest village in the world.” The assessed valuation of this village was more than $84 million. This steel town was getting a lot of luxuries from the profits of Oliver Mining Company, a subsidiary of U.S. Steel Corporation. Hibbing is also known as the town that moved. As 1920 arrived, large deposits of iron ore were being discovered in the midst of residential neighborhoods. The mining company was buying all of the property it could, but eventually whole neighborhoods were going to have to be moved. In exchange for the major inconvenience of relocating houses (at the company’s expense), Oliver Mining Company proposed the building of a grand high school.

Initial construction on Hibbing High School began on April 28, 1920, when a building contract was awarded to Jacobson Brothers Construction. The initial cost was $3,927,325. In 1922, a stage manager named Bill was brought in from New York to run the impressive auditorium (I’m withholding Bill’s last name, as he still has family who work at the school). Bill loved the theatre and loved overseeing the performances in this impressive piece of New York, cloned and placed in northern Minnesota. The Hibbing auditorium held vaudeville performances, symphony orchestras, and school plays.

The school was initially built in the shape of a capital “E” and would house grades ranging from kindergarten through a two-year junior college. It also housed several spirits who still haunt the building but seem to focus most of their attention on the auditorium.

Ghost stories are not the only legends that come from the Hibbing High School auditorium. Folk rock singer Robert Zimmerman (better known as Bob Dylan) made one of his first public performances on the auditorium stage during a talent show when he was a student there. Zimmerman was a graduate of the Hibbing High School class of 1959. Today, Hibbing is a town of 17,000 people. The heyday of the iron mines has past, though a few are still open and employ some of the locals.

Chuck Perry has been the Stage Manager at Hibbing High School since 1979. Perry has been living in Hibbing most of his 49 years and said he heard about the ghosts even before he started working at the high school. He’s well-known in the community and was a bit hesitant at first to talk about the ghosts. Some of the rumors behind the ghost stories that have gone around the high school include someone falling off the balcony and dying, one of the chandeliers falling on a person in the seats below, a physically disabled student with health problems expiring in the auditorium, and the death of the auditorium’s first stage manager, Bill.

Chuck Perry was able to verify the story of the disabled girl dying in the auditorium to be true, and Bill did pass away in the 1940s. The others, he was not able to verify. Perry recalled one incident in the early 1990s when a devoted Dylan fan and apparent New-Ager walked into the auditorium. Perry said, “She walks around the rows of seats, and she mentions something about a chill. And I said, ‘Yeah, okay, sure.’ Pretty soon she starts talking about this seat J47 specifically. She says she can feel something there.”

Perry dismissed the event until shortly after he saw a special on an educational cable channel about people who go into graveyards trying to photograph ghosts. Perry thought he’d try his hand at spirit photography and use seat J47 as his test. Perry said, “I took an old Polaroid [camera] that I had backstage—basically it was a prop. I went and bought some film for it, and I set it up on a tripod right at seat J47. I took a few pictures, and basically nothing happened. I tried it a few more times and took about 50 pictures total. Six of them came out with something in them.”

As others around the state have heard about the ghost of seat J47, they too have brought their cameras to try and capture something. The most profound of the six pictures Perry took can be seen at the beginning of this chapter. You can see a semi-translucent man wearing a hat and sitting in seat J47, which is located in the center section of seats, on the right side of that section if you’re facing the stage. The seat has some people spooked. Perry said, “There’s kids that come here that won’t sit there. They don’t even want to walk by it.”

Perry has also had a few unexplained experiences within the auditorium. On November 26, 1996, Hibbing High School fell victim to a significant amount of smoke damage due to a fire that broke out when some remodeling work was being done on the west wing of the building. The school would remain closed for more than a month for repairs. Perhaps the spirit in the auditorium was watching out that there wasn’t another fire?

The first story Perry ever heard about ghosts in the auditorium involved the backstage area. Perry said the encounter took place in the mid-1970s, before he started working at the high school. He said, “We have 10 dressing rooms, and one of them is really large. Supposedly this gal was back there getting her makeup on before the show. Somebody walked in the dressing room she assumed was in costume, she looked up, and they just kind of were gone. And that happen two or three times in that room.”

A janitor at the school, who wished to remain nameless, claims to have heard someone enter a classroom behind him when he was cleaning the room one night. Every time he turned around to look, he heard footsteps move back into the hall. When he turned back to his work, the steps returned. He never saw anything, but he certainly heard the footsteps. People from all over Minnesota have heard about the ghosts in Hibbing High School.

Sources :
The World’s Most Haunted Places by Jeff Belanger;
http://www.ifallsdailyjournal.com/node/5467

Pics Sources :
http://evanandnicdoorlay.files.wordpress.com/2009/06/hibbing_high.jpg;
The World’s Most Haunted Places by Jeff Belanger page 45

March 17, 2010

The Whaley House

The Whaley House built in 1856 by Thomas Whaley, a merchant from New York. The property was the town gallows before the house was built. Located at 2482 San Diego Avenue in Old San Diego, the Whaley House has been restored and is now owned and operated by the San Diego Historical Society as a tourist attraction. According to the Travel Channel's America's Most Haunted, the house is the number one most haunted house in the United States. The alleged hauntings of the Whaley House have been reported on numerous other television programs and been written up in countless publications and books since the house first opened as a museum in 1960. The most regular spirits present today are: Thomas Whaley, Anna Whaley (wife), James Robinson (hung on the property before the house was built), and a small girl (around 3 years old).

Thomas Whaley was born in New York City to Rachel Pye and Thomas Alexander Whaley, the 7th of 10 children. This branch of the Whaley family came to Plymouth, Massachusetts from Northern Ireland in 1722. Alexander Whaley, the great grandfather of Thomas Whaley, a gunsmith, participated in the Boston Tea Party, and was with George Washington during the Battle of White Plains. He provided flintlock muskets for the Revolutionary War and his house in Long Island was General Washington's headquarters.

Thomas Whaley was born into a family of blacksmiths, gunsmiths, and locksmiths. The Whaleys were Presbyterian, Whigs, comfortably fixed financially, hard workers, bright, and spirited. After its construction was completed in 1857, the mansion became the center of business, government, and social affairs in Old San Diego. The oldest brick house in Southern California, the Whaley house served as a courthouse, a courtroom, a theater, and a boarding house—as well as the family home of Thomas and Anna Whaley and their children.

June Reading, a former director of the Whaley House, told of footsteps being heard in the master bedroom and on the stairs. Windows, even when fastened down with three four-inch bolts on each side, would fly open of their own accord—often in the middle of the night, triggering the burglar alarm. People often reported having heard screams echoing throughout the second story of the mansion, and once a large, heavy china closet had toppled over by itself.

Numerous individuals had sensed or psychically seen the image of a scaffold and a hanging man on the south side of the mansion. According to Reading, 10 years before Thomas Whaley constructed his home on the site, a sailor named Yankee Jim Robinson had been hanged on the spot of what would later become the arch between the music room and the living room in the mansion. Whaley had been an observer when Yankee Jim kept his appointment with the hangman. Some visitors to the Whaley House have reported seeing a gaudily dressed woman with a painted face lean out of a second-story window. In Reading’s opinion, that could well be an actress from one of the theatrical troupes that had leased the second floor in November 1868. The Court House Wing of the mansion is generally thought to be the most haunted spot in the Whaley House, due to the violent emotions that were expended there in the early days of San Diego.

Many individuals who have visited the old house have heard the sounds of a crowded courtroom in session and the noisy meetings of men in Thomas Whaley’s upstairs study. According to many psychical researchers, the fact that this one single mansion served so many facets of city life, in addition to being a family home, almost guarantees several layers of psychic residue permeating themselves upon the environment. Many sensitive visitors to the Whaley House have also perceived the image of Anna Whaley, who, some feel, still watches over the mansion that she loved so much. And who, according to a good number of those who have encountered her presence, deeply resents the intrusion of strangers.

In the fall of 1966, a group of news-people volunteered to stay in Whaley House to spend the night with Yankee Jim. Special permission was granted to the journalists by the historical society, and the ghost hunters settled in for their overnight stay. The wife of one of the reporters had to be taken home by 9:30 P.M. She was badly shaken and claimed that she had seen something on the upper floor that she refused to describe. The entire party of journalists left the house before dawn. They, too, refused to discuss the reason for their premature departure, but some people say the ghost of Yankee Jim, still protesting the horror of his death, confronted them. Since that time, night visits have not been permitted in Whaley House.

In addition to the sightings of the primary spirits of Thomas and Anna Whaley, Reading said that the other ghosts most often seen include those of Yankee Jim, who walks across the upstairs sitting room to the top of the stairs; a young girl named Washburn, a playmate of the Whaley children; and “Dolly Varden,” the family’s favorite dog. And then there are the screams, the giggles, the rattling doorknobs, the cooking odors, the smell of Thomas Whaley’s Havana cigars, Anna’s sweet-scented perfume, the sound of footsteps throughout the house, and the music box and piano that play by themselves.

Even animals aren't left out of the singular occurances. A parapsychologist reported he saw a spotted dog, like a fox terrier, that ran down the hall with his ears flapping and into the dining room. The dog, he said, was an apparition. When they lived in the house, the Whaley's owned a terrier named Dolly Varden.

The Whaley House stands silently watching over San Diego Avenue as it has done for a century and a half. Every day visitors come from around the world to tour the historic museum. Today, no one is allowed in the Whaley House after 4 P.M., but police officers and responsible citizens say that someone—or something—keeps walking around half the night turning all the lights on.

Sources :
Encyclopedia of Haunted Places : Ghostly Locales from Around the World by Jeff Belanger;
The Gale Encyclopedia of the Unusual and Unexplained Vol.3;
http://whaleyhouse.org/chrono.htm

Pic Source :
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:San_Diego_-_Whaley_House_01.jpg

March 11, 2010

Charles Bridge

The bridge was originally called the Stone Bridge (Kamenný most) or the Prague Bridge (Pražský most) but has been the "Charles Bridge" since 1870. The bridge has survived much traffic and natural threats such as floods. Today it’s used as a historical landmark and a footbridge. But tourists and street merchants aren’t the only ones who wander across this bridge—this site also has its share of ghosts. Built in 1357 and commissioned by Charles IV, Charles Bridge connects the Old Town and Malá Strana and crosses the river Vltava. The Gothic structure was built by architect Petr Parlér who also oversaw the building of Prague Castle. Local legends say they mixed egg yolks in with the mortar to make the bridge stronger. The bridge is 516 meters long and nearly 10 meters wide, resting on 16 arches shielded by ice guards. It is protected by three bridge towers, two of them on the Lesser Quarter side and the third one on the Old Town side.

The Old Town bridge tower is often considered to be one of the most astonishing civil gothic-style buildings in the world. The bridge is decorated by a continuous alley of 30 statues and statuaries, most of them baroque-style, erected around 1700.

Throughout its history, the Charles Bridge suffered several disasters and witnessed many historic events. A flood in 1432 damaged three pillars. In 1496 the third arch (counting from the Old Town side) broke down after one of the pillars lowered, being undermined by the water (repairs were finished in 1503). A year after the Battle of White Mountain, when the 27 leaders of the anti-Habsburg revolt were executed on 21 June 1621, the Old Town bridge tower served as a deterrent display of the severed heads of the victims to stop Czechs from further resistance.

During the end of the Thirty Years' War in 1648, the Swedes occupied the west bank of the Vltava, and as they tried to advance into the Old Town the heaviest fighting took place right on the bridge. During the fighting, they severely damaged one side of the Old Town bridge tower (the side facing the river) and the remnants of almost all gothic decorations had to be removed from it afterward. During the late 17th and early 18th centuries the bridge gained its typical appearance when an alley of baroque statues was installed on the pillars. During a great flood in 1784, five pillars were severely damaged and although the arches did not break down, the traffic on the bridge had to be greatly restricted for some time.

In the Middle Ages, when a leader executed a person, the leader wanted the world to know about it. Posting decapitated heads (and other severed body parts) on popular landmarks was common practice all over Europe. But there were 10 particular local lords who had the misfortune of having their heads stuck on poles on the Charles Bridge for years until the flesh rotted away and their skulls were picked clean by the birds.

Today, these 10 lords are said to be walking the bridge—especially at night—singing sad songs and scaring those who pass by wondering who the source of the singing is. But the 10 ghosts aren’t the only lore belonging to the Charles Bridge. A water goblin is said to live under the bridge, who devours the souls of those who drown from falling or jumping off the bridge.

Sources :
Encyclopedia of Haunted Places : “Ghostly Locales From Around The World” by Jeff Belanger;
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Charles_Bridge

Pic Source :
http://www.incoczech.com/charles-bridge-prague-at-night-bigimage357.jpeg

March 08, 2010

The Tower of London

The Tower of London is often identified with the White Tower, the original stark square fortress built by William the Conqueror in 1078. However, the tower as a whole is a complex of several buildings set within two concentric rings of defensive walls and moat. The tower's primary function was a fortress, a royal palace, and a prison (particularly for high status and royal prisoners, such as the Princes in the Tower and the future Queen Elizabeth I). This last use has led to the phrase "sent to the Tower" (meaning "imprisoned"). It has also served as a place of execution and torture, an armoury, a treasury, a zoo, the Royal Mint, a public records office, an observatory, and since 1303, the home of the Crown Jewels of the United Kingdom. Ghost sightings at the Tower have been happening since the mid-13th century, and many of these spirits are pure royalty. The ghosts of princes, queens, countesses, children, and many others have been seen, felt, or heard over the centuries by the Tower’s Yeoman Warders and its visitors.

The Tower’s earliest, central structure was built by William the Conqueror of Normandy, between 1066 and 1067 C.E. King William I chose the site along the shores of the River Thames and built the initial structure into the southeast corner of the Roman city walls. By the late 1070s, the White Tower was completed by Norman masons and Anglo-Saxon laborers. It was the tallest building in London for many centuries. This fortress has served vitally important roles to Britain ever since, including a royal palace, an armory, a prison, the central stage of executions in London, a mint, and home to the Crown Jewels.

Over the next 480 years, expansion projects by various kings would include building curtain walls featuring towers with names such as Byward, Beauchamp, Devereux, Bloody, Salt, Lanthorn, Martin, Flint, and several more. A great moat around three sides of the complex connected to the Thames, and a wharf separated the moat from the river. Inside the walls of the fortress, barracks, stables, the Jewel House, and a formal housing facility called the Queen’s House were built. When a visitor steps into the Tower of London today, they step into a millennia of British history. The dark, foreboding castle walls rise around each visitor, and considered by many to be the most haunted on Earth.

Lower-class criminals were usually executed by hanging at one of the public execution sites outside the Tower. High-profile convicts, such as Sir Thomas More, were publicly beheaded on Tower Hill.

Seven nobles (five of them ladies) were beheaded privately on Tower Green, inside the complex, and then buried in the "Chapel Royal of St. Peter ad Vincula" (Latin for "in chains," making him an appropriate patron saint for prisoners) next to the Green. Some of the nobles who were executed outside the Tower are also buried in that chapel.

The names of the seven beheaded on Tower Green for treason alone are: William Hastings, 1st Baron Hastings (1483)Anne Boleyn (1536)Margaret Pole, Countess of Salisbury (1541)Catherine Howard (1542)Jane Boleyn, Viscountess Rochford (1542)Lady Jane Grey (1554)Robert Devereux, 2nd Earl of Essex (1601) George, Duke of Clarence, the brother of Edward IV of England, was executed for treason in the Tower in February 1478, but not by beheading.

With so many famous executions at the Tower, some of the historically obscure ghosts also seem to want recognition. Yeoman Sergeant Phil Wilson, a Yeoman Warder is a full-time resident of the Tower since 1996. Wilson is also the resident expert on the ghost legends. To become a Yeoman Warder at the Tower of London, one must have served in the armed forces for at least 22 years, reached the rank of staff sergeant or higher, be a recipient of the Long Service and Good Conduct medal, and have a character reference of “exemplary” when they leave the service. After that, an interview process determines who will make the cut into this elite group. There are currently 35 Yeoman Warders in the world, and these Warders have overseen the Tower of London for many centuries. The Beefeaters, as they came to be called informally, started as bodyguards for King Henry VIII, in 1485, and they can be spotted in their scarlet and gold dress uniforms or their more dressed-down scarlet and blue uniforms. Wilson and his wife have lived in Beauchamp Tower since they first moved into the Tower of London, and though Wilson doesn’t consider himself a believer in ghosts yet, he is very well-versed in the ghostly legends of the Tower, and he has had a few unexplained personal experiences himself.

Yeoman Warder Wilson first came to the Tower when he served guard duty in 1967. He said, “In 1967, the Tower was a very different place. There weren’t the lights around the area; it was quite a scary place.” Before serving guard duty, and before military service, Wilson heard about the ghost stories in the Tower of London when he was a child. He heard about the story of Queen Anne Boleyn from the 1935 song, “Anne Boleyn,” by R.P. Weston and Bert Lee. The chorus of the song goes,
“With her head tucked underneath her arm / She walks the Bloody Tower! With her head tucked underneath her arm / At the Midnight hour.”

Anne Boleyn was the second of King Henry VIII’s six wives, and they were married in 1533. Henry VIII plotted against his wife and had her investigated for infidelity and treason. She was found guilty and executed at the Tower of London on May 19, 1536. She is one of the most persistent ghostly figures seen there, according to literature published by the Tower. The headless female figure of Anne Boleyn is occasionally spotted drifting from the Queen’s House within the Tower walls, across to the Chapel of St. Peter ad Vincula. She’s said to lead a procession of dignitaries down the aisle to her final resting place under the altar.

One of the more gruesome haunts is that of Margaret Plantagenet, the Countess of Salisbury. Henry VIII didn’t agree with Margaret’s staunch Roman Catholic beliefs and viewed her as a political threat. She was 68 years old when Henry VIII ordered her head to be placed on the chopping block at Tower Green. On May 27, 1541, the Countess of Salisbury refused to put her head on the block like a common traitor, and ran from the executioner who hacked her to death with his axe. Witnesses have seen the act replay itself in the Green, and others have seen the shadow of the axe fall on the nearby stone wall.

On July 17, 1674, some workers were dismantling the staircase of the White Tower for a reconstruction project, when they discovered two small skeletons. In Alison Weir’s book, The Princes in the Tower, she says, “It was immediately assumed that these were the bodies of the Princes in the Tower. An anonymous eyewitness wrote: ‘This day I, standing by the opening, saw working men dig out of a stairway in the White Tower the bones of those two Princes who were foully murdered by Richard III. They were small bones of lads in their teens, and there were pieces of rag and velvet about them.’ They were, he adds, ‘fully recognized to be the bones of those two Princes.’” The two Princes were 12-year-old King Edward V and his 9-year-old brother, Richard, Duke of York. The two boys were murdered under suspicious circumstances in 1483.

One story says it was Richard III who plotted the murder, while others say it was Henry Tudor (who would become King Henry VII) who ordered the deed done. Regardless, the elder boy was stabbed to death while his brother was suffocated with a pillow. Their bodies were hidden—buried near the foundation of the White Tower. The Princes have been spotted in the Bloody Tower wearing white nightgowns and holding hands. They never make a sound and can only be seen for a few fleeting moments before they fade into the stonework.

Sources :
The World’s Most Haunted Places by Jeff Belanger;
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tower_of_London

Pic Source :
http://www.historic-uk.com/DestinationsUK/WhiteTower.jpg

March 04, 2010

Haunted Places in Hollywood

Hollywood has produced so many motion pictures portraying ghosts and the afterlife, it should come as no surprise that many former homes and places of certain movie stars who have passed on to the other side are said to be haunted. The following places are said to be haunted :

• Ever since the late 1920s, the spirit form of the Great Lover, Rudolph Valentino (1895–1926), has been seen in and around his former home, Falcon’s Lair, on Bella Drive.

• The former house of Joan Crawford (1904– 1977) on Bristol Avenue has an eerie history of mysterious fires that kept breaking out on the wall where the headboard of her bed once rested. • Clifton Webb (1891–1966), who in life was a militant nonsmoker with a distaste for cats, is said to make life difficult for cigarette smokers and cat fanciers in his former home on Rexford Drive.

• The ethereal form of Marilyn Monroe (1926– 1962) has been seen to materialize in front of her earthly home on Helena Drive.

• When popular singer Englebert Humperdinck bought Jayne Mansfield’s (1933–1967) “Pink Palace” on Sunset Boulevard shortly after her death, he claimed he encountered her ghost.

• Guests at the Roosevelt Hotel on 7000 Hollywood Boulevard have reported encounters with the ghosts of Marilyn Monroe and Montgomery Clift (1920–1966). People have sighted the spirit of Monroe near the full-length mirror on the lower level, and many guests have had their sleep interrupted by Clift blowing on a trumpet in Room 928 as his spirit still rehearses for his role as the bugler in From Here to Eternity (1953).

• Mae West (1892–1980) loved to host seances in her old home in the Ravenswood Apartments on Rossmore Avenue, and her spirit has remained strongly attached to the building.

• The “Man of Steel,” George Reeves (1914– 1959), who starred in the series Superman (1950–57), is claimed to have been seen in the home on Benedict Canyon Drive where his body was found.

Source :
The Gale Encyclopedia of The Unusual & Unexplained Vol.3

Pic Source :
http://www.visitingdc.com/images/hollywood-sign-address.jpg

The Legend of Sleepy Hollow

There are many legends about Sleepy Hollow. The most famous legend of Sleepy Hollow was based on a German folktale, set in the Dutch culture of Post-Revolutionary War in New York State. The original folktale was recorded by Karl Musäus. The fictional tale is set at the bridge over the Pocantico River in the area of the Old Dutch Church and Burying Ground in Sleepy Hollow. However there is a real place known as Sleepy Hollow rests in a wooded area behind the Kulpmont Cemetery located just outside of Kulpmont around the Northumberland County area, Pennsylvania, near a town called Den Mar Gardens. There is no headless horseman in this legend, however. The story of Sleepy Hollow sounds like that of a local legend, but curiosity has taken over many individuals who have decided to venture to this location. The area is eerie, silent, and still considered to be part of the Kulpmont Cemetery.

Numerous decapitated tombstones lie in a thick overgrown area of broken- down trees and weeds. When entering Sleepy Hollow, you find yourself walking under what seems to be a tunnel of trees. The legend says that many years ago, three young men ventured into the cemetery, that at the time was not overgrown.

The three young men, for reasons unknown, decided to tear down a large, cement cross, which stood in the center of the cemetery on a cement platform. They destroyed the monument. After wrecking the cross, it is said that they got into a deadly car accident, and all three died.

There is another local legend stating that in the 1980s and the early 90s, this location was used to perform Satanic rituals. It is believed that numerous Satanic symbols can be found carved on trees here. There are numerous unexplained accounts that come from this location. One popular legend states that at exactly midnight, you can hear an old organ playing. There have been other reports of hearing strange noises here as well.

Sources :
Encyclopedia of Haunted Places : “Ghostly Locales From Around The World” Compiled & Edited by Jeff Belanger;
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Legend_of_Sleepy_Hollow

Pic Source :
Encyclopedia of Haunted Places : “Ghostly Locales From Around The World” Compiled & Edited by Jeff Belanger page 70

March 02, 2010

The Haunted Castle of Good Hope

The Castle of Goede Hoop (Good Hope) is a star fort which was built on the original coastline of Table Bay between 1666 and 1679 by the Dutch East India Company to serve as a replenishment station for ships sailing by the Cape of Good Hope. From 1678 it was the centre of civilian, administrative and military life at the Cape, until the settlement grew and some functions and activities moved away from the Castle. It replaced an older fort called the Fort de Goede Hoop, which was made out of clay and timber and built in 1652 by Jan van Riebeeck upon his arrival at the Cape. This largest of South Africa’s buildings is also the oldest…and the most haunted. The pentagon-shaped castle was constructed on the shore so high tides would fill its moat. There was a dreaded Donker Gat (dark hole) dungeon used to hold prisoners, who would be chained to the walls and tortured. If an extra-large wave came crashing up the shore during high tide, the hole could fill with water within seconds and drown the prisoner chained below. One can imagine the mental anguish of hearing the waves getting louder and louder as the tide rose—hoping the next crest doesn’t fill your watery tomb. The castle also served as an execution site for convicts, escaped slaves, and rebellious natives. There’s small wonder why this place is haunted.

One of the most profound sightings at the castle involves a tall, glowing figure that is seen pacing between the Oranje and Leerdam bastions. The spectral figure would occasionally stop his march to lean over the castle wall to view the street below. The sound of phantom footsteps have also been reported in this area when no living person is present to make the sounds. It’s rare when we can put a name from history to a ghost, but in the case of the Castle of Goede Hoop, we can: Governor Pieter Gysbert van Noodt.

In April of 1729, van Noodt ordered seven soldiers to their deaths for desertion. One of the seven stood on the gallows and announced that the group was wrongly accused and condemned van Noodt to “divine justice.” The seven were hanged, and van Noodt died later that same day of unknown causes. Today, van Noodt has been seen walking the grounds and been heard cursing under his breath before disappearing. Other resident ghosts include the curly-haired specter of Lady Anne Barnard, who lived at the castle in the late 1700s and has been known to make her appearance at parties, and a phantom black hound that leaps at visitors but vanishes inches before colliding with the frightened visitor. Today the castle is an Africana museum offering daily tours.

Sources :
Encyclopedia of Haunted Places : “Ghostly Locales From Around The World” Compiled & Edited by Jeff Belanger;
http://www.castleofgoodhope.co.za/;
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Castle_of_Good_Hope

Pic Source :
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Kasteel_de_Goede_Hoop_circa_1680.jpg

The Ghost of Waterworks Valley

There are scary ghost stories in various parts of the Island. In Waterworks Valley in St Lawrence, there is a sad story told of a bride who went to the church for her wedding, but her bridegroom failed to appear. She was so sad that she went home and killed herself. The ghost story says that once a year at midnight a carriage drawn by phantom horses is driven by a coachman along the Valley. Inside is a bride in white, but under her veil there is no face, just a skull. Waterworks Valley, in the parish of St Lawrence in the Channel Island of Jersey, is named after the great number of reservoirs and pumping stations found along it. Even in the daytime, it is a brooding, haunting place, overcast as it is by a thick layer of trees and foliage. It is damp and dark, and people are often forgiven for seeing or hearing things. Sometimes there is no mistaking the ghostly sights and sounds that occur. Years ago, a couple were walking home through Waterworks Valley. As it reached midnight, they heard a peal of bells. They began to walk faster - then they realised that the bells they could hear were in fact wedding bells.

A bridal procession slowly appeared round the corner - a coach drawn by six horses, with footmen and a coachman. As the coach passed, the couple looked inside at the bride, dressed in her magnificent white wedding dress.But the bride had no face - under her wedding veil there was just a skull. Scared out of their wits, the couple ran the rest of the way home. At first, they worried that people would laugh at them, but when they told others about their encounter, they were told about an old legend. Countless people have seen it pass by, and even more have run away after hearing it approach. This, they say, is the ‘Phantom Carriage’.

The stories often follow a similar pattern. Usually the events occur in the evening and begin with the muffled ringing of bells – the unearthly music is said to sound more like wedding bells than anything sombre. Gradually, mixed with ringing, another noise becomes discernible. It is the sound of horses
trotting along the valley, accompanied by the spinning, bumping rattles of a carriage. Emerging from the gloom, witnesses spot the procession which is clothed in eighteenth century costume. They see that the coach’s passenger is a bride in her wedding dress, but as it rolls past witnesses see the face behind the veil. It is the haggard skull of a corpse.

One tale of explanation claims that in the early eighteenth century a girl who was due to be married at St Lawrence parish church was disappointed at the altar. It is said she committed suicide that evening, and the apparition is a representation of her timeless sorrow. Another variation of the story is that she committed suicide on the eve of the wedding, but her ghostly figure appeared at the church the next day anyway. It was only as the groom lifted the veil that he noticed the pale lifeless face of a corpse underneath.

Many people believe the phenomenon happens only once a year at a specific time. But there are so many sightings, and such vivid recollections, that perhaps this poor girl’s misery is constant and never-ending. If you are unlucky enough to see this ghostly carriage you will be terrified as it passes to see that the young bride has no face.

Sources :
100 Strangest Mysteries by Matt Lamy;
http://www.jeron.je/thatwasjersey/custlore.html;
http://www.bbc.co.uk/jersey/content/articles/2006/10/30/folklore_ghostly_bridal_feature.shtml

Pic Source :
http://www.cultofcinema.com/LISTTop501920s22.jpg

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