CHRISTINE MILLER takes a look at Northern Ireland’s Greatest Haunt’s Prehen House episode
Prehen is an 18th century house located on the outskirts of Derry/Londonderry that is famous for the legend of half-hanged McNaughton.
The story goes that Andrew Knox, MP for Donegal, owned the house in 1740. John McNaughton, his old friend had recently lost all his money and so elected to stay with the Knox family until he could change his fortunes. Knox’s fifteen-year-old daughter fell for McNaughton, and he tricked her into a secret marriage. When this was uncovered, Knox banished his one-time friend from Prehen House, but McNaughton continued to stalk his young bride after her interest in him had long waned.
On a trip to Dublin, Knox and his daughter were accosted by McNaughton on horseback who shot into their carriage, fatally wounding Knox’s daughter. McNaughton was sentenced to hang for his heinous crimes but when his time came the rope broke. Bizarrely, McNaughton wanted a second try – which this time was successful.
Aptly named “The Ghost Room”, McNaughton is said to still frequent this part of Prehen House, unable to let go. People who have slept in the room regularly report the same phenomena having taken place – apparently without any prior knowledge, An invisible human figure crawls into the bed with slumbering visitors, and when they reach out to feel into the dark, there is no one there. One woman who stayed in the room overnight was shocked to find that the spirit “cuddled into me”.
Marion states that she has no prior knowledge of the location she is coming to tonight, but states that she was provided with a nugget of information – from an anonymous spirit of a man who has told her to look in the bedchamber as “all is not what it seems”.
Now on location at Prehen, Marion picks up on a woman’s voice and asks her for her name, receiving the answer of “Ann-Mary”, or “Mary-Ann”. The old family bible confirms that “Mary-Ann” was indeed the young daughter of Knox who married the wicked McNaughton.
Searching through the various bed chambers, Marion comes across the one that the spirit had foretold her about – a place, it would seem, where terrible tragedy occurred. This was the room where young Mary-Ann, aged just 20, was laid out after her heinous murder.
With the rest of the team having set up, the group begin their night-time investigation. The team move to various locations in the house, while the names of Knox, McNaughton and Mary-Ann are called out. Bar from a few orb-like anomalies at the exact moment Knox’s name is called out, little is captured on camera. However, one of the PSI members claims to have been a male figure with his head looking downwards walking close by to him. Unfortunately, the camera angle means that this figure was not caught on film.
Some apparent EVP comes through but it is difficult to make out, although according to the group it sounds like a male saying “help me”, and so the team decide to try and do just that. Believing the voice to be the spirit of Knox, who is still traumatised by the early demise of his daughter, Marion attempts direct contact just outside of The Ghost Room.
Marion says that Knox begins by asking her where his daughter is, and adds “I can see her”, to which Marion replies, “that is your grief, sir”. Reassuring Knox that he does not have to stay here she encourages him to leave Prehen House with her outside to be free.
Throughout Marion’s conversation with Knox, the EVP did pick up some responses to Marion’s questioning of Knox, which are remarkably clear. “I’m stuck inside”, he says to her at one point. When she asks him, does he need help, a clear male voice says, “yes”.
The team believe that Knox’s grief struck spirit has been freed from Prehen House thanks to Marion’s encouragement.