Lisa Byrne on her haunted family home in York
PUBLISHED: 00:00 28 October 2016
Columnist Lisa Byrne shares some spooky experiences as she prepares for Hallowe'en.
For more than 20 years I lived in a large, detached Edwardian home on top of a hill on the outskirts of York, which my family still owns. However, if you offered me a million pounds I would not spend a single night there on my own. I’ll explain why.
We moved to our new home in 1977 with great excitement. It was an imposing house with ornate oak panelling, a small servants’ quarter with a servants’ bell box and a stunning garden with a hidden orchard. For a young child it seemed a heavenly place to grow up.
But quite soon eerie things started to happen. My first strange experience happened as I walked up the hill after school and saw a dapper gentleman standing by our art deco-style entrance porch wearing tweed plus fours. I became very alarmed when he disappeared in front of my eyes. I rushed to the back entrance and found my mum in the kitchen. Frantically telling her what I’d just seen she admitted it was weird as the servants’ bell kept ringing as if there was someone at the front door, but when she went to open it there was no one there though the bell continued ringing.
A few weeks later my mother was downstairs at home alone with just our Yorkshire terrier Toby for company. Being a hardy Irish woman she was not afraid when she heard very heavy footsteps slowly walking down the long, narrow landing above. Heading upstairs with the dog, mum shouted to the intruder that she’d called the police and he’d better skidaddle. As she crept towards the guest room mum could hear a girl crying. The door was slightly ajar but when she went to push it open the heavy oak door slammed in her face. Mum finally managed to force it ajar only to walk into an empty room with an atmosphere as cold as the arctic – and this was in August.
My most horrific experience was when I was revising for my A Levels. As I lay on my front in bed one evening reading about the Tudors, my door slowly creaked open. Before I could turn my head to chastise them, someone or rather something sat on my bed. It must have been a very fat ghost as the mattress nearly collapsed under its weight. A hand then grabbed me round the back of my neck and started violently pushing my face into the pillow. I finally mustered the courage to scream an expletive and it disappeared, though I lay there until dawn, too terrified to move my face from the pillow in case ‘it’ was still there.
Visitors have encountered weird experiences too. My cousin Paul came for a weekend and stayed in the guest room. One night he woke up suffering the effects of a heavy nose bleed. Rushing to the loo for tissues, he opened the door only to find a little girl standing there. She slowly tugged at the loo roll, held it to his nose and stroked his face. Days later he developed a rash of small blisters diagnosed as shingles at exactly the same spot where she had touched. And, more recently, some visitors were driving away from the house when one of the party became hysterical after seeing the face of a little girl staring at them from an upstairs window.
I know us Yorkshire folk don’t fall for tall tales but even the most sceptical among us must recognise the mountain of evidence gleaned from personal accounts of apparitions and experiences. Wherever we walk in Yorkshire, we are walking among ghosts and should respect that. So, I wish you all a very terrifying, spooktacular All Hallow’s Eve (and advise that you stock up on holy water!).
Do you think your house is haunted? Have you endured ghostly goings-on? Share your spooky stories on twitter @Yorkshire_Life.