Mrs Penelope Gallerneault, 26, lived in a flat in the Victorian-Gothic country house of Oakley Court, on the banks of the river Thames at Bray, Berkshire. The family were warned by friends before they moved in that the place was spooky, and frequently used by Hammer Films as a location for 'Dracula' or 'Frankenstein'. And in the three years they were there, she and her husband and children suffered many tragedies.
Her marriage broke up and two of her four children are dead. The horror began in the summer of 1972. 'I started to see people walking in the grounds wearing hoods,' she says. Then one morning she found a box on their doorstep - and, inside, the body of one of her cats, with its neck broken. And in December her two-year-old son, William, died. Mrs Gallerneault was running him a bath when the phone went.
When she returned he was floating in the water. 'I realize that many people might try to blame me for being careless, but that is just not the case. In a rambling old house like that, there are so many precautions you have to take.' Then early last month, her son Edward, who was just two, was left in his playpen in the grounds. Somehow he got out, toddled down to the river, fell in and drowned.
The other residents of Oakley Court remember two more deaths. A man fell from a pleasure steamer in 1971 and drowned in the same stretch of river as young Edward. And an old lady, whose body lay in her flat in the Court, was found dead in November 1972 after at least a week.
Mrs Gallerneault said, 'The house has an aura of evil and I could never go back there. Horror films being made there seem like a joke. I'm sure evil has rubbed off on the place.' The Rev. Sebastian Jones, curate of St Michael's Church, Bray, added: 'Oakley Court is definitely "spooky" and I would not want to stay there myself. Evil can generate evil, and the grounds would be an ideal place to practise black magic' The police, called in at every stage, are mystified too.
A senior policeman said: 'There have been some strange happenings at the house, which have never been explained. We made regular patrols after complaints about witches, and things seem to have quietened down now. We never discovered how Mrs Galler-neault's cats died or who killed them. Durham | Loch Ness | Abbotsford | Bruntsfield House | Canterbury | Devon | Devonshire | Edinburgh | Ely | Flat Rock | Ghost lady | Haunted | Haunted Flat in Manchester | Ireland | Lady in Black | London | London | Northern England | Nottingham | Orkney | Perthshire | Pontefract | Rathfarnham | Redcar | Rotherham | Scotland | South Africa | Steeped in sorrow | Suffolk | Surrey | The Room of Terror | Torquay, Devon | Tyrone | West Germany |
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