Sunday, 28 March 2010

Spooky Sunday

It's a pleasant spring day outside but I'm horribly hungover and therefore my throbbing brain turns to thoughts of gloom and gruesomeness - as it so often does. I think I'll make every Sunday Spooky Sunday, digging up something unpleasant from my ever-growing archive of the uncanny (cue creaking coffin lid FX and demoniacal laughter).

The above picture is a chapter heading from one of the many, many books by Elliott O'Donnell, a rather fey Irishman who was either the world's greatest ghost-hunter of the world's biggest fibber. He certainly wasn't afraid of writing down some of the most grotesque, bizarre and dramatic 'true' ghost accounts on record, while placing himself Dr Who-like in the midst of the action. Too often his yarns are unsupported by witness names and precise locations ('to protect the innocent' etc) but in the case accompanied by this Lovecraftian image (by an uncredited artist) he states that he was joined on his investigation by a member of the Society of Psychical Research, Bill Terry, who went mad during it, such was the horror they encountered. I wonder how verifiable that is?

Anyway, 'The Ghostly Horrors of Rainford Hall' appeared in a 1959 book called simply Ghosts and refers to an ancient manor house in Warwickshire. Here, claims O'Donnell, the built-up evil of a former owner manifested itself as a hideous, demonic presence in giant insect form, 'a huge, black, shadowy, scaly thing with long, cockroachy legs', that crept up the staircase towards them. A serious brown-trouser moment, I'm sure you'll agree.

Incidentally, for more ghost stories from Britain, check out my other blog (becoming sadly neglected) at

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