Shared haunting experiences are difficult to discount with many ghostly examples for us to explore, says BARRY McCANN
For scholars of the supernatural, testimonies of shared experience are of great significance. Descriptions of a shadowy or vague looking figure may be dismissed as hallucination, but fully detailed and matching descriptions of apparitions by two separate people – observed years apart – are not so easy to explain away. And there are two intriguing examples from the North West of England.
Liverpool shared haunting experiences
During the 1950s a block of houses on Bedford Street in Liverpool were due for demolition, having previously been large terraces owned by merchants and ship owners, but more recently had been converted into flats.
Sam King was bricking up one of the houses when a family pulled up in a car and approached him. The father said they had lived in the middle floor suite and asked if he could rescue a tiled grate fitted in one of the rear rooms as it was worth quite a bit. With an offer to £2 for its retrieval, Sam agreed and the man said he would return in a couple of hours.
Sam was on his knees removing the item while his labourer, Tommy, stood behind him. Suddenly, Tommy grabbed Sam’s shoulders in a panic while staring at a doorway and exclaiming “What was that?” He said a man in seafaring garb had passed the door and into the rear bedroom, but when Sam checked the room was empty.
Tommy described the man in more detail, saying he wore a sowester hat, cape and white wellingtons. He likened him to the figure on the box of Pilot matches which were pretty common at the time.
When the family returned Sam happened to mention to the man what Tommy had seen, to which the man’s wife promptly gave an identical description of the figure. She then told him of her experience nine months earlier.
They shared a common balcony with a friend next door who used to knock on the first floor window to catch their attention, rather than going all the way downstairs to the front door. One night she was settling down in the bedroom Tommy saw the figure go in when hearing a tap at the window. Pulling back the curtain, she screamed at the apparition of a seaman staring straight back at her.
Sam later did some checking up and found that a Master Pilot called Thomas Harrison had lived at Bedford Street in 1843, and again in 1845 and 1847. He retired in 1851, and a Thomas Harrison listed as a Master Mariner died at sea in 1858. Was this the same man returning to his former place of residence?
Witnesses share ghost sighting at Whalley Abbey
A similar mystery later unfolded in the small town of Whalley in Lancashire, a place noted for its ruined medieval abbey. And on the nearby King Street is an old cottage believed to have once been part of the stables that belonged to Whalley Abbey. It was there during the early 1970s that someone who did not believe in the supernatural was to have that perspective challenged.
Painter and decorator Terry Edwardson occupied the cottage with his wife Sheila and enjoyed a happy life during the years they lived there. Except one evening in 1972 which had Terry terrified.
The couple had already retired to bed and Sheila had gone to sleep but Terry remained awake. Around midnight, he turned and looked towards the bedroom door where the figure of a woman stood looking back at him. She was dressed in a long cream coloured, hooded robe with three white lilies held along her left arm and what Terry later described as a lovely warm smile.
“She stood filling the doorway and I would say about 35 years old, five feet six inches tall and quite plump.” He also noted she had rosy cheeks.
Despite her projecting a kind expression, Terry became hysterical at the sudden appearance and found himself exclaiming “You have come for the wrong one!” Woken up by her husband’s shouting, Sheila sat up to find him shaking with fear at a figure now vanished.
It remained the one and only time Terry would experience the apparition, but it was not to be the end of the story. Years after the couple moved out of the cottage Terry was stumbled on unexpected confirmation of what he saw.
It was about ten years later that he was talking to the lady now living in the cottage and, when mentioning the incident to her, she told him her late husband had also seen the mysterious woman. The description she gave Terry was identical to the figure that had appeared to him, except her husband also reported the woman to be accompanied by what appeared to be an Irish wolfhound. She also revealed that, like Terry, he had previously not believed in the existence of ghosts.
Unlike Sam and his seafaring ghost, Terry never found any clues as to who the woman was but, going on her dress, surmised she could have been a former abbess at Whalley Abbey. So why would she appear to just two men apart from convincing them that ghosts do exist?
That is assuming they are the only two who have witnessed her appearance. Given the number of occupants the cottage will have had over is lifetime, how many more of those remained silent witnesses.
Have you ever seen a ghost that someone else has seen too? Tell us about your shared haunting experiences in the comments section below!