Thursday, October 29, 2009
The Proctor Haunting
"Have you ever spent the night in a house reputed to be haunted? This story could make you reconsider.
It was the autumn of 1834 when the Proctors, a Quaker family, began to notice disturbances in their house near Tyneside in northern England. Every member of the family complained of hearing footsteps and whistling that could not be accounted for. The sound of a clock being wound could not be explained. Over a six-year period, the intensity of the haunting increased. The stomping of angry footsteps echoed throughout the house, contrasted by faint whisperings. And then there were the apparitions. The white figure of a strange woman was seen in a window by a neighbor, and then seen in other rooms of the house by the Proctors. A disembodied white face appeared over a stair railing, seeming to watch the family.
The Proctor's plight was known throughout the area, and then, as now, there were skeptics who were certain they could explain it all away. On July 3, 1840, Edward Drury, a local doctor, volunteered to spend a night in the house with his colleague, T. Hudson, while the Proctors were away. Dr. Drury armed himself with pistols and waited on the third floor landing, unafraid of what he was sure were mundane house noises. Less than an hour into his vigil, Drury began to hear soft footfalls, then a knocking and an echoing cough. Hudson had fallen asleep. But at about 1 a.m., Dr. Drury watched in horror as a closet door slowly swung open out of which floated toward him the ghostly lady in white. Drury screamed and charged the phantom, succeeding only in tripping over his friend Hudson. What next happened the doctor could not recall. "I have since learned," he later wrote, "that I was carried downstairs in an agony of fear and terror."
Some years later the Proctors could stand no more of the unexplained manifestations and vacated the house in 1847. The building was later torn down.