Ireland’s Haunted Leap Castle

Built somewhere between the 13th and late 15th century, this Irish castle has seen more gruesome deaths than a Game of Thrones wedding. As legend has it, during a struggle for power within the O’Carroll clan (which had a fondness for poisoning dinner guests), one brother plunged a sword into another, a priest, as he was holding mass in the castle’s chapel. The room is now called “The Bloody Chapel,” and the priest is said to haunt the church at night. And the horror doesn’t end there. During castle renovations in the early 1900s, workmen found a secret dungeon in the Bloody Chapel with so many human skeletons, they filled three cartloads when hauled away. The dungeon was designed so that prisoners would fall through a trap door, have their lungs punctured by wooded spikes on the ground, and die a slow, horrific death within earshot of the sinister clan members above.

From Condé Naste: 15 Haunted Castles Around the World

Shiver

“Propped, or you might say sitting, on the edge of the bed was — nothing in the round world but a scarecrow! A scarecrow out of the garden, of course, dumped into the deserted room . . . Yes; but here amusement ceased. Have scarecrows bare bony feet? Do their heads loll on to their shoulders? Have they iron collars and links of chain about their necks? Can they get up and move, if never so stiffly, across a floor, with wagging head and arms close at their sides? and shiver?”
– “Rats” by M.R. James, first published in The Collected Ghost Stories of MR James (1931), from Hypnogoria: Chained Ghosts

Ghost Vision From the Middle Ages

I love learning about stories of ghost sightings from the past. I discovered an intriguing one from the 12th century on Medievalists.net: The Medieval Walking Dead. Following is an excerpt. If you like it, I encourage you to read the full story on Medievalists.net.

By Giogo – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, Wikimedia Commons

“One of the strangest stories to be written down in the Middle Ages comes from the pen of Orderic Vitalis, a twelfth-century monk. From the abbey of Saint Evroult in Normandy, Orderic wrote his Ecclesiastical History, offering one of the best accounts of the Anglo-Norman world up the year 1141. Orderic wrote about the reigns of the kings William I to Stephen, the political events that happened locally and abroad, and even about the news coming from his own monastery.

“At one point in Book Eight of his Ecclesiastical History, Orderic pauses from discussing the warfare between William Rufus and his rebellious count Robert of Belleme, and states, ‘I am sure that I should not pass over in silence or consign to oblivion something that happened to a priest in the diocese of Lisieux on January 1st.’ Orderic explains that the priest was named Walchelin, and ‘he was a young man, strong and brave, well-built and active.’ On the night of January 1, 1091, he was returning home after a visiting a sick man at the far end of his parish. He was travelling along the road, far from from any homes, when he heard the sounds of a great army coming towards him.” […]

“Walchelin stayed at the side of the road as he watched thousands of people walk by. First came the peasants, who were carrying across their necks and shoulders their clothes, animals, furniture and other worldly goods. To the priest they seemed to be a mob of people who were carrying off the plunder from an attack.

“Then came hundreds of women, riding side-saddle on horses, but the saddles were marked with red hot nails. As the women rode, they would jump off their saddles and into the air, and then land back on the nails, leaving them burned and stabbed. After them came a crowd of priests, monks, even bishops and abbots, all dressed in black cowls and groaning and lamenting as they passed by. ‘Next followed a great army of knights in, which no colour was visible save blackness and flickering fire. All rode upon huge horses, fully armed as if they were galloping to battle and carrying jet-black standards.’

From Illumanu

“What scared Walchelin so much was that he recognized many of these people—they were his neighbours and fellow clergy, but they had all died in recent years. There were even people that Walchelin and others thought to be good Christians, even considered saints. But they were here too, walking with this army of the dead.”

Continue reading at The Medieval Walking Dead.

Disneyland’s Haunted Mansion

Disneyland’s Haunted Mansion was originally designed to be The Museum of the Weird, a museum of strange and haunted items from throughout the world. The concept then morphed into a haunted walk through a wax museum. Announcements were made as early as 1961, six years after Disneyland had opened, but then the Haunted Mansion was put on hold for Disney to devote all attention to the 1964 World’s Fair. Look for the monsters in the wood work, the iron work and the wallpaper, all kept from early concepts for the Museum of the Weird.

You get to ride in a Doom Buggy—-the carts that take guests to the otherly world. They were first dubbed Omnimovers and created at the 1964 World’s Fair. The new technology allowed storytellers to control what guests see and allows for a controlled line of sight similar to a movie experience. The Omnimover technology was originally used for Adventures Through Inner Space, but continues to be used for attractions like The Little Mermaid – Ariel’s Undersea Adventure in Disney California Adventure and Spaceship Earth at EPCOT.

The bride found in the attic is named Constance Hatchaway. The attic scene has changed over the years, but has always featured a bride. Hatchaway appears twice on the ride: once in the stretching room when she is sitting on the tombstone that reads “Rest in Peace – Dear Beloved George” and once in the attic when she raises her ax on many of her past relationship. And the connections continue. The owner of the Hollywood Tower Hotel, aka, the Tower of Terror, is George Hightower, aka, poor Beloved George …

Read many more interesting facts at Get Away Today’s 20 Scary Facts About the Haunted Mansion at Disneyland by Chris Dallin.

And if you have the opportunity, visit the Haunted Mansion yourself!

Speak! Speak!

Speak! Speak!
1895, Sir John Everett Millais

The meaning of this painting was felt generally to be obscure and the story as related by Millais’s son J.G. Millais, locates the scene in Ancient Rome: ‘It is that of a young Roman who has been reading through the night the letters of his lost love; and at dawn, behold, the curtains of his bed are parted, and there before him stands, in spirit or in truth, the lady herself, decked as on her bridal night, and gazing upon him with sad but loving eyes’ (Millais, II, p.304). The critic of the Art Journal described “Speak! Speak!” as ‘a powerful canvas, broadly handled and eloquently telling its tale’ (Art Journal, 1895, pp.164-6). In fact, the identity of the female figure at the foot of the bed caused some consternation, an effect which Millais had fully intended, as Millais’s biographer M.H. Spielmann recorded: ‘When I remarked that I could not tell whether the luminous apparition was a spirit or a woman he was pleased: “That’s just what I want”, he said; “I don’t know either, nor”, he added, pointing to the picture, “does he” ‘ (quoted in Flint, p.261).

Painting and background information from the Tate gallery, UK.

Horror Cinema: The Conjuring 3 — The Devil Made Me Do It

The latest installment of The Conjuring provides lots of jump scares and spooky characters, which I love about this franchise. I also like how these movies are inspired by the real life paranormal cases of Ed and Lorraine Warren without becoming docu-dramas.

The Conjuring 3 focuses on a murder case where the Warrens argued that the defendant was possessed by a demon. In the real case, the judge of the trial rejected the defense plea of not guilty by demonic possession stating that such a defense would be impossible to prove, also stating it would be “irrelative and unscientific” to allow testimony in support of the possession defense .

The jury were not legally allowed to consider the demonic possession defense and the defendant’s lawyer then instead argued self defense. The defendant was found guilty of first degree manslaughter on November 24, 1981. He was sentenced to 10 to 20 years in jail, but only served 5 due to good behavior.

The court case does not make a major appearance in the movie, which, instead, focuses on the Warrens tracking down the demon itself … among other guilty parties — I’ll leave it at that to prevent spoiling it for you.

When I embark on a sequel, I am usually nervous about what to expect. But, The Conjuring sequels have proven so far to be great!

Find more behind-the-scenes facts about The Conjuring 3 at IMDb Trivia.

Chaves, Michael. The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It, Warner Bros. Pictures, 2021.

White Lady of Worstead Church

In 1975, Diane and Peter Berthelot along with their 12-year-old son visited the Worstead Church in north Norfolk, U.K. Peter took a photo of his wife sitting and praying on one of the church benches, and when they reviewed the developed photos some months later, a friend of Mrs. Berthelot asked, “Who’s that sitting behind you, Di?”

The figure in the photo behind Mrs. Berthelot appears to be wearing light-colored, old-fashioned clothes and a bonnet.

The Berthelots returned to Worstead Church the next summer with the photo and showed it to Reverend Pettit, the church vicar. He explained to Diane the legend of the White Lady, of whom she had never heard. It is said that the ghost is a healer who appears when someone near is in need of healing. When she visited the church at the time of the photo, Diane was in ill health and was taking antibiotics.

Reports of the ghost date back well over 100 years. According to one story, on Christmas Eve of 1830, a man boasted a challenge to the White Lady. He said he would climb to the top of the church’s belfry and kiss her if she would appear. So up he went. When he failed to reappear after a time, friends went to search for him. They found him in the belfry, cowering in a corner, terrified. “I’ve seen her,” he told them, “I’ve seen her….” And then he died.

For a time, Mrs. Berthelot said she felt a calming tingling sensation whenever she looked at the photo, but that feeling has since subsided. Today, the church has been remodeled into a pub.

See more images of ghosts with spooky backstories at liveabout.com: Best Real Ghost Pictures Ever Taken.