Not all hauntings happen in castles and old buildings. Flats in Lancaster have had their own hauntings, says BARRY McCANN
Old buildings are traditionally the site of hauntings, but is it necessarily the structure itself that is haunted, or something from the site it occupies? How many new builds are, to use the phrase, born bad? This seemed certainly the case with a small block of flats built during the 1980s in Lancaster, capital of the Red Rose County.
They were erected in the Salt Ayre region of the city which had previously been farmland. Maria and Charles moved into one flat and both began having separate experiences which, at first, they kept from one another thinking it was delusion. Once they decided to confide with each other, they realised the experiences to be real as they were almost identical.
A dark shadow like figure had been seen in both the hallway and living room, which moved rapidly once sighted. Maria reported it as a full human shape, whereas Charles saw it only from waist up. But they both agreed the silhouette figure completely blocked out whatever it passed in front of.
Psychologists may dismiss this as shared hallucination based on the fact that they were a close couple sharing the same space and, thus, subject to the same conditions that may create similar subjective experience. However there is the collaborative testimony of an outsider in their friend Jane. While visiting the couple one Christmas, the shadow figure passed through the living room and directly in front of Jane who promptly lunged to grab it, her arms closing around thin air.
Marie and Charles made enquiries with their neighbours and found the strange experiences where not confined to their flat. One woman reported hearing a child crying in her hallway, while her young son had seen the apparition of a child in his bedroom.
Another, who had occupied the flat above with her young family, had seen a shadow figure rapidly move into her kitchen. And one Christmas she found her children’s toys had mysteriously moved as if someone had been playing with them.
Then there was Brian, a married man who shared a flat with his family. He also heard a child in his hallway, but this one called out his name. He also sensed it behind the sofa in his living room and, on one occasion, the bathroom door handle rattled of its own accord. Eventually, Brian had a priest come around and bless the place, after which these happenings ceased. However, when Brian moved into an adjacent block of flats, he reported seeing a ghostly figure in his living room mirror.
So did a spiritual presence follow Brian? Or is the land where the blocks were built itself haunted? While it had farmland prior to the build, it is possible something else may have stood there in the past. And whatever lingered possibly disturbed by the arrival of the flats on its territory.
Given its phenomena has been experienced by several independent witnesses, it is harder to dismiss with rational dismissal. The chances of such similar manifestations being shared by different people in separate spaces are highly unlikely. Unless shared by some telepathic agency, which brings us inescapably back to the paranormal.
(From a report by Stuart Leadbetter in Strange Goings On in Lancashire, edited by Carol Anne Strange and published in 2000).