Ghosts and Heartbreak at Bilborough Estate House

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Peter Underwood investigated the case of a haunted council house in the Bilborough Estate, Nottingham, in 1961. In his continuing series on Trailing Peter Underwood, RICK HALE looks at what the late, great ghosthunter discovered…

An aerial view of the Bilborough Estate
An aerial view of the Bilborough Estate

In 1991, the New York Supreme Court, Appellate Division, handed down a landmark ruling after a strange case landed on the docket. According to Stambovsky v. Ackley, the previous owner of a house could be held liable if they fail to disclose if the property they are selling is haunted.

The “Ghostbuster Ruling” as it came to be called brought haunted houses or “stigmatised properties” to the US national scene. If a court ruled that houses can be haunted then ghosts most certainly exist.

Peter Underwood has been in a number of haunted houses through his long career of hunting ghosts. Including a haunted council house in Nottingham in 1961, where the ghost took a bit of a shine to a teenage girl who lived in the house.

Paranormal author and then president of the prestigious Ghost Club, Peter Underwood consistently maintained a certain amount of scepticism where council houses were concerned. He believed that most residents of council houses claimed they had a ghost just so they could change houses.

This changed when a colleague from the Ghost Club brought him a case involving Charles Hill and his family, who resided in a council house in Nottingham’s Bilborough Estate.

After being fully apprised of the haunting, Peter Underwood believed it was worth a visit. And so with his wife and Ghost Club members, Freda and Steuart Kiernander, the small band of ghost hunters set out for Nottingham.

Bilborough Estate haunting

When they arrived, they discovered Charles along with his 17 year old daughter, Sandra and two younger children were staying with friends.

According to Charles, he and his kids fled the house and were too terrified to return.

As the interview began, Charles, a bus conductor, never believed in ghosts or any such nonsense. However his mind was changed after what he had seen.

While asleep, Charles was awakened by what sounded like a person walking in his room.

When he was fully awake, Charles watched as a young man in a white shirt, tan trousers and a handkerchief wrapped around his neck walked to the window.

When the figure vanished Charles fell back to sleep believing that what he saw was nothing more than a dream.

A reasonable assumption as such things do happen. However, this was not an isolated incident 

Charles went on to say that a few nights later, he was sitting up in bed watching TV while having a cigarette.

Suddenly, the man appeared again following the same path as before. Except this time he didn’t appear to be as solid. Rather somewhat hazy.

This time, Charles knew what he had seen and decided to keep the sighting from Sandra and his other children. Unfortunately, his best efforts were all for nought.

A few days later, Sandra who has just come home from a brief stay in hospital, witnessed the apparition on the stairs. He was looking down at her almost as if he knew her.

When the apparition vanished, Sandra let out a bloodcurdling scream that disturbed everyone in the house.

That night, Charles and his three children swiftly left the house and refused to return.

Underwood couldn’t not explain experience

After hearing their story, Peter Underwood was convinced they had truly experienced something unexplained.

An investigation of the council house was necessary to get to the bottom of the haunting.

So, Peter assembled a team of seasoned Ghost Club members and embarked on one of his more curious cases.

While sitting vigil in the haunted room, several knocks were heard followed by the unmistakable sound of footsteps.

Before beginning the investigation, Peter made it very clear that all investigators must remain sitting. And they followed that rule without deviation.

Whatever made those footsteps wasn’t anyone alive.

Later as Peter sat alone in the room, the silence was shattered by what could only be described as a single gunshot coming  from within the room. Was the ghost revealing how it died?

As the night wore on, Sandra Hill and a member of the Ghost Club were sitting in her room when the teenage girl let out a piercing scream that shook the house.

Ghost walks into wardrobe

After being removed from the room and regaining her composure, Sandra said the young man appeared and walked into her wardrobe.

Peter was understandably confused by this odd turn of events. Why would the ghost walk into a wardrobe and vanish?

At this point, it was time to hold a seance and hopefully get some answers from the Ghost himself.

During the seance, the ghost came forward and stated that he had lived in the house and admitted to killing himself.

When asked why he was troubling Sandra, all were dismayed when he admitted to being infatuated with the young woman. According to him, he felt good being around her.

When the seance was over the investigation came to a close but the detective work was about to begin.

They needed to track down anything they could find of the ghost and see if there was any truth to his claim of ending his own life.

What they soon discovered would shock everyone who was present for the investigation.

Peter Underwood ghost hunter

Not long after the investigation, a Ghost Club member managed to track down the ghost’s elderly mother residing in Bristol.

When they questioned her, the elderly woman told a heartbreaking story that confirmed everything the ghost told them.

Years earlier she and her son were living in the council house when tragedy struck.

Her son and a friend had a window cleaning business and while on the job their scaffold broke.

The friend plunged to his death but her son was paralysed from the fall.

Unable to cope with what had happened, her son became despondent and shot himself in the head with one shot. The desperate act was committed in the room where Charles Hill slept.

As for his affection for Sandra, she was close to his age and he was attracted to both her beauty and love for life.

Peter Underwood later learned that Charles and his children moved to another home. And was never troubled by the lovelorn ghost ever again.

My thought on this case

So, why would this ghost have walked into a wardrobe? That seems very odd when you think about it.

Consider this, perhaps the wardrobe was a portal for the ghost to come into our world from the spirit realm.

I personally have experienced this while investigating a house in Waukegan, Illinois. 

We caught a voice recording where an entity said: “They want us to come in through the window.” 

Who “they” are, I will never know. But from what I understand, no other family in this council house reported an encounter with the ghost that appeared to the Hills 60 years ago.

Rick Hale, is a native of Chicago, Illinois and first became interested in the paranormal after having a positive interaction with an apparition at a young age. Rick is the author of The Geek's Guide To The Strange and Unusual: Poltergeists, Ghosts and Demons. Behold! Shocking True Tales of Terror...and Some Other Spooky Stuff. And Bullets, Booze and Babes: The Haunted History of Chicago and Illinois. Rick is the co-host of The Shadow Initiative Paranormal Talk. Rick was featured in the documentary Ghost Tapes 2. Rick is a featured writer for Spooky Isles and Paranormalstudy.com. Rick has also been published by Haunted Times, Paranormal Underground, The Supernatural Magazine and Legends Magazine.

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