Lethbridge, T C - Ghost and Ghoul – The ghoul of cathedral close
Type of Spiritual Experience
A description of the experience
T C Lethbridge – Ghost and Ghoul
The next story I have to tell of a ghoul is one which was enacted in just the sort of surroundings which are thought to be vexed by such happenings. It took place in one of the old houses in the Close of X Cathedral. Canon R., as well as being succentor, ran the choristers' school. This was centred in No. 57.
Some of the boys and masters, however, slept at No. 55 and the Masters' Common Room was there. It was in the winter of 1924-5 that what I can only describe as our adventure happened. I had dinner at No. 57 with Canon R. and his nephew, L.K.
L.K., before he joined the Malayan Police and experienced much worse adventures at the hands of the Japanese, was a junior master at the school. After dinner L.K. suggested that he and I should go over to the Common Room and have a yarn with M.M., who was then a master at the school and is now well known as a broadcaster and author.
As you went into the door of No. 55 and passed into the hall, there was a room on either side with windows facing on to the green. The one on the left was the Common Room. The one on the right was then, if I remember right, a classroom, but when I saw it again, many years later, it had become a very attractive drawing-room, with panelled walls painted in pale green. Facing the front door and at the end of the rather narrow hall, was a small classroom with little in it save a blackboard and a large crucifix hanging on the wall. To the left, at the inner end of the hall, beyond the Common Room, was a broad and fine oak staircase. I suppose it was a Queen Anne stair, but I forget the exact period.
L.K. and I went into the Common Room and there we found M.M., sitting at the table with a glass of port in front of him, but looking acutely miserable. 'Whatever is the matter, M. ?' we asked.
Hardly raising his head when he looked up, he replied, 'The ghoul is on the stairs again.' I had heard some mention of a ghost in 55, but as most of the houses in the Close, including 57, are supposed to have ghosts in them, I had not taken much notice. L.K. and I, however, were intrigued to hear that the ghost was actually there, and, abandoning M. to his port, went out to see for ourselves. We were at once confronted with what I can only describe as a wall of icy cold at the foot of the stairs.
There was more to it than cold. It was actively unpleasant. I have only met such sudden cold in Melville Bay on the west coast of Greenland, when the motor-boat in which I was sitting passed from sunlight into the shadow of an iceberg. At one moment the sun was streaming on to you and you were enjoying the glittering beauty of the bergs; at the next, an icy hand seemed to grip the whole of your body. This feeling at the bottom of the stairs was much like that, but there was a feeling of misery with it too.
I looked at L.K. and he grinned at me. We both stepped on the first tread of the stairs together. The electric light was on.
There was nothing unusual to be seen. The ghoul retreated before us. We took a second step and it went back again. In this way we pushed it on to the landing above and to the foot of a second flight of stairs. Step by step, we pushed it up this flight of stairs also and then we had it cornered at the very top of the house with only one more step to take. I know we were both frightened then. We expected some revolting horror to materialize and confront us. We linked arms and took the last step. Instantly the thing was behind us, lower down. We had no fear of it then. We just hustled it down the two flights of stairs again and at the bottom it slipped back behind us to continue its vigil. We went into the Common Room, rather green about the gills, and demanded glasses of port.
Some kind of substance seems to be created by thought, which can interrupt the passage of light. The imagination and fear of the projector of this ghoul was so strong that he, or she, endowed the ghoul with some semblance of individuality. There are numerous recorded cases of ghosts, projected by living persons, which have the power of locomotion. The projectors, in fact, have succeeded in 'creating' to a limited extent by the power of their minds. The ghoul was a real creation, as far as it went, but of course it was ephemeral.