10 years ago my wife and I bought an old Mill that was built in 1876. It’s situated right on the River Gade in Hertfordshire and while this building is indeed old there has been a Mill of some sort on this site as evidenced in the Domesday book in 1086.
The Mill had been abandoned for some time but it is a sturdy building with brick walls that are 2’ thick and it only required work to the roof in order to protect it from the elements before we could begin making it into a home. Once the roof repair was completed I set about the extensive internal remodelling myself. The open space of the interior was cleared of junk but during the structural work on the interior I found plenty of old artefacts under the floorboards relating to the days when this was a working Victorian Mill, including enormous light bulbs which I left where I found them so as not to disturb the vibe of the building too much. Other large pieces of cast iron including cogs, chains, hooks and flywheels have been painted and mounted on the outbuildings and in the gardens as decorative items.
While I was repairing the old ceilings I found hessian sacks filled with old herbs and seeds that had been hidden under the ceilings and nailed to the joists in each corner of the building. I figured that they were possibly an old remedy to keep vermin or bugs at bay but I also wondered if they weren’t an old talisman to ward off something else? Those I did dispose of as the contents were black with age, I did Google what they might have been for but couldn’t find anything that related to my search queries.
During the interior building work when the floorboards had been pulled up, so that I could access the void to fit new pipes and electric cabling, I’d keep my tools together in one place as I’d fashioned a central platform so that I didn’t drop anything into the subfloor below. I’d put down a screwdriver, drill bit, chisel etc and when I went back for it again it’d be gone. I would get down off my ladder and search the immediate area that it could have fallen onto but whatever was gone was never visible. After going to my toolbox and getting a replacement I’d carry on with the work but when things were put down they kept disappearing. The missing tool would always then reappear either by the end of the day or the next day and always where I’d previously looked.
After a while of this happening I decided to just use whatever tool that was still there and, if need be, move on to another job instead. This carried on for the duration of the building work but when we moved in and the place was fully decorated and furnished things still kept going missing and continue to do so.
For example, last October, just after Halloween my wife lost an ‘Alice band’ that had 5 life size fake red roses around the top. It’s a pretty distinctive item and she’d worn it as part of her ‘Day of the Dead’ Halloween costume. We just said out loud to the house “OK, we know it’ll turn up but don’t keep it for too long please”. Several months later in early spring of this year my wife took a saucepan off the kitchen shelf and the band was inside. This is a saucepan we use 2 or 3 times a week so we just laughed and thanked the house for returning it, even if it had taken a long time.
Most recently, I lost a pair of sky blue swimming shorts that I thought I’d left on holiday. I turned all the clothes drawers out and even took the suitcases out of the garage to see if they had been left inside but eventually gave them up as having been left behind in Spain. After a month or so, I opened my underwear drawer one morning and the shorts were laying there right on the top. They hadn’t been there the night before and I use that drawer every day!
When we had first moved in we started to hear what sounded like murmured voices in the back rooms and what sounded like footsteps in the corridor in the back rooms. There is a large weir directly outside the back room window with an open Mill race that used to drive the large Mill wheel. The wheel is no longer there but we wondered if the constant sound of the rushing water might be mistaken for the voices. We could also hear footsteps from upstairs when we were both downstairs. Knowing the amount of new wooden flooring that I had replaced we dismissed the sounds as the wood expanding due to temperature changes but it’s still happening after 10 years and it’s pretty clear to us now that these are in fact footsteps.
We will often be sitting watching tv and hear footsteps walk from the back of the house, down the corridor, past the kitchen and stop as if somebody has joined us in the living room. Where we used to ask each other “Did you hear that too?”, my wife and I now just look at each other as it’s such a regular thing.
Last summer I was lying on our bed on a sunny Saturday morning, reading, while my wife was out at yoga and I was home alone. I heard 3 loud knocks on the bedroom door and I thought that perhaps my wife had come home without me hearing and had come upstairs and knocked on the door. I jumped out of bed and walked to the door but when I opened it there was nobody there
The weird occurrences aren’t just limited to noises either, when my son and daughter were around 8 and 9 they would stay over at the weekends and would often ask me in the morning why I had been standing in the doorway of their bedroom looking in on them in the night…..I hadn’t.
Another time my wife went to bathroom in the night and passed my sons room. We have a ceiling sensor that turns on a dim light at night when you walk down the corridor and in the low light she saw a figure standing in his bedroom doorway and assumed it was him (he’s 6’ 2”) also needing the bathroom at the same time. She said “I’ll only be a minute” and when she walked back past his room the doorway was empty so she poked her head in to tell him the bathroom was free but my son was lying in bed fast asleep and clearly had been for some time.
A couple of years back I woke in the early hours to the sound of somebody trying to put a plug into the electrical socket in the adjoining bedroom where my son was sleeping. It’s an unmistakable sound but it was going on for ages, as if someone was having difficulty actually getting the plug to go in. As it was around 2 or 3 am, and a school night, I jumped out of bed and stormed into his room ready to berate him for still being up and for waking me up. He was lying in bed fast asleep and there was no way he could have made it from the plug socket and run to his bed without me hearing, plus he was 17 at the time so he wouldn’t have felt the need to pretend it wasn’t him.
We also experience doors opening and closing around the property. I re-used the original Mill doors for the internal rooms and they are farm style doors made from solid oak beams, 2” thick and each door weighs around 50kg or 110lbs. Due to their weight they are impossible to move just from typical air flow or draughts, plus the fact that they still have the original latch openers which you have to depress with your thumb in order to lift the bar out of a 1” recess, but still they unlatch and open wide and often close behind you.
These experiences are pretty regular but we’ve become used to them and really only comment on something that’s really out of the norm.
Honestly, none of this has ever made us feel uncomfortable or threatened though. Hearing one of the doors unlatch does give me a bit of a judder but I suppose that given the amount of activity that this location has seen over a thousand years it’s inevitable that traces are left behind. I like to think that whatever shares the place with us is just intrigued by our modern life and makes itself known every now and then. I do wonder exactly where the missing items go when we can’t find them but as long as they come back I can’t really complain. Our home has a bright and positive essence but the odd guest or 2 from time to time.
Submitted by Rory Kavanagh to Weird Darkness and My Haunted Life Too
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