Some fifteen years ago a family named Downs moved from
Yorkshire to their new home in Southleigh, Devon. Nicholas
Downs, wine producer, his wife Helen, son Ian and daughters
Sheena and Emma, all soon realised that they had moved into a
haunted 17th-century farmhouse.>br>
Teenager Sheena was the first to say she was aware of a ‘presence’ in the house; shortly afterwards her younger sister Emma noticed it too and then Mrs Helen Downs became aware of ‘something’ in the house other than the human occupants. The family pet dog had acted strangely ever since they had moved into the house, frequent ly acting as though it was aware of something invisible to its human companions. And then it refused to enter one room where the fami ly felt the ghost lingered.
One day a visitor who had not been told of the odd feelings expe rienced by the occupants of the house, suddenly described a fright ening encounter with a man dressed in old-fashioned military uni form... and then there was the night when Sheena was awakened at three o’clock in the morning by the sound of heavy breathing which continued, close to her, until she switched on her bedside lamp. The breathing sound ceased immediately and there was noth ing to account for what she had heard. Two weeks later Sheena’s mother had an almost identical experi ence.
Then one night, also at three o’clock in the morning, Emma revealed that she had been awakened by a weight pressing on her stomach. When she put her light on she saw that a heavy picture had been moved across the room while she had been asleep; a few nights later she was again awakened about the same time and as she switched on the lamp she saw a book ‘floating through the air...’
The dog became more and more agitated in the vicinity of the bedroom where some of the disturbances took place and a presence there was felt by all the family; Emma in particular ‘became a bag of nerves’ (to quote her mother). ‘She is frightened of being alone any where upstairs,’ she said at the time and decided that it might be best if the girls slept together.
That same night Emma awoke again at three o’clock with the feel ing of a dreadful weight on her chest. She awakened Sheena who said afterwards: ‘We heard a curious, high-pitched sound, like you get from a radio that is not tuned in. . . I sat up and shouted at the ghost to leave Emma alone. Almost immediately I was slapped hard across the face. .
The family called in a priest from Exeter. The Rev. John Wheaton of the Liberal Catholic Church performed a two-hour exorcism and cleansing ceremony — and the haunting completely ceased.
Mr Wheaton said afte ‘We were dealing with the spirit of a human being who had been dead for a hundred years or more — a long-dead soldier. I severed the chains which were keeping him cap tive to the house where he once lived.’ It was a ghostly encounter that Sheena and Emma Downs would always remember. Durham | Loch Ness | Abbotsford | Berkshire | Bruntsfield House | Canterbury | 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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