Lethbridge, T C - Ghost and Ghoul - The ghost of Hole Mill
Type of Spiritual Experience
A description of the experience
T C Lethbridge – Ghost and Ghoul
I never saw another ghost till the 22nd, February 1959. Here in this combe, it was hot and dry for the time of year. The temperature at Exeter reached 60 [degrees Fahrenheit] at midday and must have been much the same here. There was no wind, or so little that it could only be described as 'light airs'. Our water at Hole is pumped by a ram, and on this particular Sunday morning the ram stopped. The house stands at about 300 feet and the ram is nearly 150 feet lower down the steep side of the combe and some 300 yards away. Directly below us, at about 150-foot level, is Hole Mill, which was once, like the smithy, which is now a cottage, part of the Hole estate.
In the 1890s, when the estate was broken up it comprised seven hill farms and some two miles of cliftop. Hole Mill belongs to Mrs. N., who has considerable and unusual faculties of extra-sensory perception.
Our ram having stopped pumping, it was necessary to start it again. My wife and I, accompanied by her black cat, which follows like a dog, but makes more noise about it, complaining all the time, walked down the hill away from the direction of Hole Mill and started the ram again. The morning was so unusually lovely that we sat on the concrete roof of the ram's house and admired the quiet view. The cat, according to custom, sat looking in the opposite direction, ignoring us. A small river, with no name today, but probably once called the Bran, ran below us, having passed Hole Mill, which was almost out of sight in the next field. At 11.15 a.m. my wife said she must put the Sunday joint in the oven. I said I would wait another quarter of an hour to see that the ram did not stop again. She said she would come to meet me on my way back and that I was to remember everything of interest I happened to see and report it to her. She then departed up the hill accompanied by the cat, which was complaining loudly as usual.
As it happened, I did not sit out my full fifteen minutes. For some five minutes I sat in the sun, seeing nothing more remarkable than a wheeling buzzard. Then, over the dividing hedge I saw a man, in the next field and at the bottom of the combe, walking backwards and forwards in a strange manner.
As it was my field and I could not tell who he was, nor guess what he was doing, I had to get up out of sheer curiosity. I walked up the hill to a gate in the hedge, and through this into the next field where Hole Mill stands. I was then above the man and could see who he was and even observe a small bald patch on top of his head. He was the man who brings the Sunday papers. I am describing this in detail so that you can see how clear the light was, and that it was difficult to be mistaken over matters of observation. Having no further interest in the paper-man and noting that he had now reached the fence round Hole Mill and was talking to Mrs. N. over it, I walked along the slope of the hill, to a lane which runs directly up past Hole itself.
I reached the lane and bent down to examine a drain to see if it was clearing the water from the roadway. I was beside a large sycamore tree and directly above the Mill, which was about fifty feet below me and perhaps sixty yards away. I was thus looking on to the Mill roof and well above the tops of its chimneys.
While I was bending down, I heard a motor-bicycle start up, followed by the furious barking of dogs. I stood up and looked down, to see the paper-man riding off on his bicycle followed by Mrs. N.'s four large dogs in full cry. It was clear enough to see the papers in a box on the back of the bicycle. As I watched, I saw Mrs. N. emerge from behind the left end of the Mill, calling off the dogs. She was dressed in a bright blue sweater and had on dark blue tartan trousers and some kind of scarf over her head. She looked up from near the corner of the house, saw me and waved. I waved back. At this moment a second figure appeared behind Mrs. N. and perhaps a yard from her. She stood apparently looking up at me. Mrs. N. went back behind the corner of the Mill and the other woman apparently did so too.
I did not know the other woman by sight. She looked about sixty-five to seventy years old, was taller than Mrs. N. and rather slight. Her face appeared to be rather dark, or tanned, and she had a pointed chin. She was dressed in a dark tweed coat and skirt and had something which looked like a light grey cardigan, or spencer, beneath her coat. Her skirt was long. She had a flat-crowned and wide-brimmed round hat on her head.
The hat was black and had a wreath of white flowers round the bottom of the crown. She was, in fact, dressed as my aunts might have been dressed any day in spring before the Kaiser's war. She did not look the sort of person who was likely to be staying at Hole Mill today. Neither did she look the type of person you would expect to find at the Mill during its active days. Beyond that, I thought nothing of the incident.
I walked up the lane and met my wife coming down it from Hole. We were actually screened from the Mill by a bend in the hedge. We leaned over a gate in the sun and admired my tenant's calves. I had to repeat everything I had seen and my wife remarked on the improbable character of Mrs. N.'s apparent guest. Then the dogs started to bark once more and my wife said, 'Here they come. Now we shall see who she is.' We waited, leaning over the gate. Soon the dogs arrived, leaping up at us in friendly welcome.
As we were beating them off, round the bend in the hedge came Mrs. N. alone. 'Oh!' said my wife in a disappointed tone. 'We expected to see two of you.'
'How is that' asked Mrs. N. 'I have only seen Tom [me.] and the paper-man all the morning.'
I explained what I had seen and she remarked, 'So you are seeing my ghosts now, are you !'
We then remembered that a few weeks previously, she had reported having seen the figure of an unknown man standing very near the spot where I had been when I saw the other woman.
Although my description tallied to some extent with that of a friend of hers who was no longer alive, we could not be certain of the identification.