• We have updated the guidelines regarding posting political content: please see the stickied thread on Website Issues.

The Bells, The Bells!

AnonyJ

Captainess Sensible
Joined
Nov 1, 2015
Messages
1,972
Location
Having-a-nice-cup-of-tea-and-a-sit-down-shire
This is the story of the 'ghostliest' thing to ever happen to me, I've been meaning to tell it since I joined but as the time period involved concurs with unrelated events close to my heart, I've put it off for quite some time as I didn't want to mentally project myself back there, if that makes sense.

It was 1991-92, I moved into a shared maisonette above a private clinic for 6 months alongside 2 other young women and one of their partners. I think the tenancy lasted September '91 until April '92 or thereabouts. I'll try very hard to give specifics without identifying details! Please excuse my wandering off on descriptive tangents as I think very visually.

Small market town in south west England, unremarkable, history dating back at least 1500 years. The house was I would guess late 18th century or perhaps very early 19th, local stone built into the side of a slope with a narrow lane leading up the side to access the maisonette on top. It was a 2-and-a-bit storey high-ceilinged house with 2 bedrooms made from the attics on top. Very spacious and a slightly rambling layout that led through room to room in the living areas

I had the the right-hand attic room with a tiny window and one one side a rough stone wall that curved because I think it may have housed the chimney flue from the clinic rooms below. The door was simple original wood planks, with an old fashioned latch handle. Now we were all below 21, a bit alternative for the time and location, all slightly (or more) transgressive when it came to mind-altering substances (legal and illegal) and into music and long, late night sessions of talking, smoking and all the rest.

I was a bit of a hippy and had returned one day from somewhere like Glastonbury with a string of bells, very rough and ready brass(?) corded onto a thin jute rope. I attached them to the inside of my door so that they'd jingle if someone pressed the latch and tried to enter as there was no lock on my bedroom door.

One night, I was still awake and reading, sitting on my bed and probably smoking (maybe about 3am, I've always been a night owl) when I heard the floorboards on the tiny landing between my attic and another (slept in by 'H') creaking. The half flight of stairs to our attics were a bit narrow and bare wood, the floor there was very creaky. There was just enough room there for a tall person to stand but it couldn't have been more than 6.5ft to the apex of that part of the roof. The creaking went on as if someone was just standing there, maybe shifting their weight slightly. I looked at the door from my sitting position on the bed.

Then the bells jingled, the latch didn't move, but as if someone was just pulling and pushing the outer handle gently for about 4 or 5 seconds - I got up and to the door within a few seconds, thinking maybe an unknown guest of another housemate was a bit 'out of it' and maybe a bit lost in the upper bits of the house. We kept the light on at night in this funny little stairs area as the switch was at the bottom, as it was a bit of a pain (and hazardous) to get to the end of the 'stairs-landing-switchback-stairs-another-landing' layout before you could see at night.

No-one was there.

It hadn't been a partying kind of night. H I knew had gone to stay with her BF for a few days so her room was dark and empty. The rest of the house was empty apart from the other girl 'T' and her partner who as far as I could tell were still asleep in their room located at the half-way level where the stairs turned. No-one else was up, no unexpected people on sofas or snoozing on the floor that night at all.

The weird thing is, I didn't feel scared, just very puzzled. Still don't feel spooked by it! Maybe 'someone' was just checking I had my door closed and/or was OK?

I got to the door literally no more than 3 seconds after the jingling stopped, I suppose someone could have quickly run down the stairs and through the rooms ahead of me but I heard no sounds of running, footsteps or similar, bearing in mind at least half of the floors were bare polished floorboards and old and creaky.
 
Just to add a couple of pics

The bells were somewhat like these, I still have a similar set on my back door today, I think they may have been imported from India originally (they are I think made for cow/buffalo/cart bells)

bells (Copy).jpg


The door latch was an old Suffolk thumb latch type, probably original from when the door was hung, would probably have originally been a servant's room in the attic.

thumblatch.jpg
 
Great thread aj any more occurrences after that or was it a one off

Only one more that springs to mind, one Sunday, during the day, I heard children laughing/playing from below, in the clinic rooms. A bit unusual as it was closed but it could (conceivably) have been a cleaner or tradesperson who had brought their children with them. I did find out later that the building had been used as a small school for a while after it was built.

I realised earlier that the set of bells on my back door are in fact the same set, 8 in total now very dark with tarnish! The cord perished a while ago and my husband made a new jute rope for them from garden twine :)
 
I read a zillion years ago that ghostly creaking and doors opening in English houses could be accounted for by very small earthquakes that wouldn't be noticeable otherwise. Perhaps the bells and the creaking were caused by a very slight natural tremor.
There are many small earthquakes in Britain: https://earthquakes.bgs.ac.uk/earthquakes/recent_uk_events.html

It sounds like a wonderful old building. Wish we had more of them over here (US)!
 
I read a zillion years ago that ghostly creaking and doors opening in English houses could be accounted for by very small earthquakes that wouldn't be noticeable otherwise. Perhaps the bells and the creaking were caused by a very slight natural tremor.
There are many small earthquakes in Britain: https://earthquakes.bgs.ac.uk/earthquakes/recent_uk_events.html
Yup, I've described on'ere noticing a couple of earth tremors that didn't make the news. They were most likely caused by the local underground salt works.
 
A little bit of bell-related oddness for your amusement:

The building I live in is a converted Victorian bank. Originally it had a set of servant's bells connected to the kitchen, with ringers in the upstairs rooms, which formed the bank manager's residence.

When we moved in the whole bell system was inoperable, the wires broken or missing, and only the backing board and a couple of broken bell mountings left in the kitchen.

We found some replacement servant's bells on Ebay and mounted them on the board, just to give a feel of what this place would originally have been like. None of them are connected, of course, although I did put a string pull on one so we could ring it.

The springs are fairly strong and it takes a definite tug on the string to make the bell sound.

Here's the oddness. A few times over the last couple of years I've woken up at night in a startle, convinced I can hear bells ringing. I doubt if it's earthquakes, because any earthquake strong enough to set the bells going would have the whole house shaking. For some reason the bell sound triggers a completely unreasonable level of anxiety.

My wife also admits that she thinks she has heard bells occasionally, but it doesn't seem to worry her.

I wonder if I'm tuning in to the mind of a poor Victorian servant lass conditioned to run on the sound of a bell, wondering what new duty she would be expected to perform?

bells.jpg
 
A little bit of bell-related oddness for your amusement:

The building I live in is a converted Victorian bank. Originally it had a set of servant's bells connected to the kitchen, with ringers in the upstairs rooms, which formed the bank manager's residence.

When we moved in the whole bell system was inoperable, the wires broken or missing, and only the backing board and a couple of broken bell mountings left in the kitchen.

We found some replacement servant's bells on Ebay and mounted them on the board, just to give a feel of what this place would originally have been like. None of them are connected, of course, although I did put a string pull on one so we could ring it.

The springs are fairly strong and it takes a definite tug on the string to make the bell sound.

Here's the oddness. A few times over the last couple of years I've woken up at night in a startle, convinced I can hear bells ringing. I doubt if it's earthquakes, because any earthquake strong enough to set the bells going would have the whole house shaking. For some reason the bell sound triggers a completely unreasonable level of anxiety.

My wife also admits that she thinks she has heard bells occasionally, but it doesn't seem to worry her.

I wonder if I'm tuning in to the mind of a poor Victorian servant lass conditioned to run on the sound of a bell, wondering what new duty she would be expected to perform?

View attachment 70368
Please update us here if you hear the bells ringing again!

I love the refurb :)
 
Back
Top