Sheridan, Clare – The haunting of Brede Place
Type of Spiritual Experience
A description of the experience
My Crowded Sanctuary – Clare Sheridan
Brede Place was haunted, and the nature of the ghosts had never been investigated. When A. P. Sinnett, a Vice-President of the Theosophical Society, stayed with us many years ago he told us:
'I am not surprised you feel the house is haunted- I can tell you something-'
But my father stopped him quickly
'We'd rather not know,'
He was, in truth, afraid to hear; but I always longed to probe the mystery. Who would enlighten me?
Should I call in a priest? But an ordinary priest would know no more than I did, might not even sense what I sensed. Could the evil spirit be exorcised? The Roman Catholic Church understands these things. . . . Such were the workings of my mind.
Suddenly I bethought me of my friend Shirley Eshelby, who, intensely deaf, but with a son and daughter on the spirit plane, enjoys what I might call uninterrupted communication. Why should she not try to talk to Brede ghosts?
Shirley’s deafness has helped her psychic development. She lives completely an inner life. The discordant and distracting sounds that intrude into normal daily life are shut out, and nothing disturbs the harmony of her thoughts…..
Thus it came about that one winter's evening Shirley Eshelby and I were having tea in the oak-panelled drawing-room by the side of a roaring log fire that would have roasted an ox. We were indulging in the usual small talk of friends who have not met for some time, when suddenly, in the middle of an unfinished sentence, she looked over her shoulder and began to talk with someone unseen, as familiarly as with a friend who has dropped in to tea.
‘Who are we? What are we doing here? But may I ask who you are? The owner of the house! Oh yes! And we’re not the sort of people you are accustomed to? AII the same, I hope you like us. We like your house so much, and I've come a long way to talk with you – presently - if I might first finish my tea Thank you.'
And we resumed our talk where we left off. Pretty soon, however, Shirley began to grow drowsy; she put down her cup. I could see the psychic spell was overcoming her. Her voice went husky, she closed her eyes and proceeded to describe a clairvoyant vision.
A man was asleep in a corner of the room we were in. He wore a red coat or jerkin, had kicked off his high boots which lay with his long sword beside him on the floor. Into the room came a man dressed in black; he walked stealthily, and in his hand he carried a sword, which he proceeded to plunge through the chest of the sleeping man. Shirley was shocked; she had been a witness of cold-blooded murder. Dick it was who brought her back to reality by announcing 'Someone is coming-coming back!' It was evident that we were not going to be left alone.
The ghost had rallied to her as to a fellow ghost! Shirley pulled herself together, sat up straight, and listened. Studying her facial expressions, I watched and waited. First she seemed amused and smiled. 'Excuse me,' she said prettily, 'while I explain to my friend, who cannot hear you as If can.' Then suddenly her brow puckered. 'No, no, you're quite wrong; you shouldn't say such things-I assure you she's not a hell-cat ! No--I can't allow you to talk of her like that !'
I began to feel not very happy about the ghost. Shirley was very pale and protesting vehemently. 'No, no ! I won't-I can talk to you quite well as I am. If I did come out of my shell, as you call it, I wouldn't be able to keep in touch with my friend.’ I thought of all the stories I'd heard about people being ‘possessed’.
Shirley was in danger; this spirit was trying to entice her out of her body, and of course he'd slip in if he had half a chance.
'Don't go, Shirley!' I held her hands-they were stone cold.
Her voice came feebly. 'It's all right, don't be afraid.
The ghost (she told me afterwards) said, 'You're half out already - we can talk more easily if you come out.’
Shirley shivered. 'Oh, I'm so cold!'
I said, 'Don't go-whatever you do, don't go!' And shook her to bring her back to herself.
She took a deep breath and made an effort to return to normal.
'It's quite all right.' And then, in a tired voice to the ghost,
‘What have you to do with this house?'
'I built it.'
‘You built it?'
'It was a miserable shack when I took it over.’
'Then you mean you rebuilt it?'
Was this, then, Oxenbridge, who in the fifteenth century made so many alterations, who cut the Chapel in half, who put floors where rooms were open to the roof, and who on the site of the High Altar built a staircase? Was this the irreligious vandal?
He said he had been several times to France. Asked how he got there, 'In a galleon, of course.' How did he get to Dover?
‘On horseback. How else?' But his chief grievance was his neighbour, 'the man over the border', whose property adjoined.
They were always in dispute. He said bitterly, 'The fellow did me in-stabbed me in my sleep.'