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BIRKENHEAD News. SATURDAY MARCH 14 1931
DEMON-INFESTED HOUSE IN BIRKENHEAD?
FAMILY’S TERRIFYING EXPERIENCES.
PRAYER MEETING CONTEST WITH PSYCHICK POWERS
STARTLING ‘News’ DISCOLSURES.
Somewhere in Birkenhead there is an alleged spirit-infested house, where doors open automatically, knobs rattle in their sockets, phantom mutterings and moanings disturb the midnight hours, missiles fly mysteriously through the air and where it has even been known that occupants have been attacked by some unseen psychic agency.
A full disclosure of these startling facts was made this week to a ‘Birkenhead News’ reporter by a former occupant of the house, who had to vacate it because of the serious effects which the manifestations were having upon female members of the household. A sister has actually had a nervous breakdown in consequence of her terrifying experiences, and is still in a precarious stage of health.
The informant is a young lad, well known in the town as an evangelical preacher and a person of the highest integrity.
For obvious reasons we cannot disclose the identity of the house, but many who live in the locality concerned will doubtless vouch for the truth of the story, because the reputation of the building as ‘a haunted house’ is common knowledge to a large number of residents.
The house was formally occupied by Spiritualists, one of whom-a woman- died on the premises. Our informant is a man of strong religious views, trenchantly opposed to Spiritism, and it is this belief that the disembodied spirit which ‘possessed’ the person now dead is haunting the premises, seeking to find lodgement in another person. This he says, is the only reason which could account for the unearthly manifestations, which he is convinced are of demon origin. None of the members of the family ever had any experience of such things before, and since they vacated the house they have not been troubled further. This , and the fact that there were so many unprejudiced observers of the occurrences, proves conclusively to them that what happened cannot be explained away on any pretext. There is the additional evidence that the house has had a rapid succession of tenants, all of whom are reported to have left for the same reason.
We style our informant throughout as ‘Mr X’
‘CONSCIOUS OF A PRESENCE’
The first indication which he had of anything unusual connected with the house was when he was working in it before the family moved in, ‘Before leaving on night’ he said, ‘I went up to the back bedroom for my tools. As I returned to the landing I suddenly became conscious of a presence near me. So strong was the impression that I looked over my shoulder, but seeing nothing I came to the conclusion it was just imagination, and left the house and thought no more about it.
‘That week I heard from three different sources that the house was reputed to be haunted’
The family moved into the house on a Monday and Mr. X. did not pay any further attention to the reports which he had heard until a strange manifestation occurred the same night about midnight as he was getting into bed.
‘I heard a noise downstairs’ he said ‘as though there was a sack full of tins being shaken about. I thought it must be the dog, but as I was thinking about the matter and listening to the noise, someone also in the house opened their bedroom door and asked, ‘Are they all in bed?’ I replied that they were, and the remark was then mad, ‘Well if they are all in bed, then this place is haunted, there is someone wailing on the stairs. I thought then that it must be the cat and paid no further attention to the matter. We were not troubled any more that night.
‘The next day may sister said she was not going to stay any longer in the house as there was an uncanny feeling about it. Everyone else complained about the same thing. There was a depressing atmosphere about it-a weird, eerie kind of feeling, tending to depress and make on feel morbid.’
PLATE-SHELF’ LIFTED BODILY
Mr. X explained that during the first week of their occupancy of the house strange things happened every night, almost always at the hour of twelve. On the Tuesday night as he was about to get into bed he heard a noise in the entry. The noise came nearer and was heard both by himself and his younger brother who was with him. He had just remarked, ‘They seem to be coming into the house,’ when they both heard a terrific crash, as of breaking crockery, He immediately jumped to the conclusion that someone was playing a practical joke and that the windows downstairs had been smashed, the whole household was up in a moment, and Mr. X called for a light and went down boldly to the kitchen and was startled to find that a large wooden plate-shelf which had been left standing on the dresser was smashed to a thousand pieces beside it.
The strangest feature of the whole occurrence was that two vases, about twelve inches in height had been left in front of the plate shelf. They were still standing in position, plainly proving that the shelf had not merely fallen outwards by the accident, but appeared to have been lifted bodily by some unseen agency, and hurled into the centre of the floor. The teapot had not been left in the way of the shelf, and appeared to have been seized separately, and hurled with terrific force against the tiled floor. The family retired to their beds again and were not disturbed further that night.
The two following nights several members of the family stayed up in the kitchen. Nothing happened on Wednesday, but on Thursday there was another alarming manifestation. Mr. Z was standing immediately underneath the gas bracket with a box of matches in his hand ready to light the gas in a moment. About twelve o’clock, when all was still something suddenly whizzed across the kitchen and hit the plate-shelf. He lit the gas at once, and as he did so his brother cried, ‘Look at the cupboard doors.’ They were wide open, although before they were all shut. On the floor beneath the shelf, they found and iron pot, which had been placed on top of the oven during the afternoon. The pot had been hurled by some uncanny agency across the room.
‘It was beginning to down on me’ said Mr. X. ‘what the cause of these things was. I was convinced that it was demon agency, and when we returned upstairs other members of the family told me they had heard the report, I encouraged them by reading from the Scriptures what the Bible has to say about demon power and spiritism.
’I read the passage, Issiah, chapter 8, verses 10 and 20 and as soon as I commenced to read terrific crashes occurred on the staircase outside the bedroom door. I said to those who were in the room, ‘just because I am reading the Scriptures there is this opposition’.
‘I read also from Deuteronomy 18, verses 10 to 12, and all the time the same terrific crashes continued on the landing. I knelt down and prayed for Divine aid, and gave thanks that Christ had conquered and overcame all the powers of darkness. There was another terrific crash outside, and something touched my shoulder. Afterwards I asked my brother if he touched my shoulder, and he replied in the negative. I thought I must have imagined it, but was to learn that it was not imagination.
SAW KNOB MOVING
‘As I got into bed that night I heard the knob of the bedroom door rattling. I watched it and saw it moving, but did not say anything to my brother till the next morning. My brother then remarked, ‘I have said nothing all week, and as I have been going into rooms the doors have opened for me.’ For about a week after this the only extraordinary happening was in relation to a text of Scripture hanging on the wall in one of the bedroom, and bearing the words ‘By grace are y saved, through faith.’ This text card was constantly being turned round during the night, with the string twisted several times and the face of the card always against the wall. Eventually Mr. Z adopted the strategy of chalking on the wall the text, ‘Jesus Christ is Lord.’
One evening Mr. X returned home at twenty minutes before midnight. His brother met him and told him that strange things had just been happening. First of all there were scratching on the window. They had taken the doorknob off the bedroom door in case it rattled during the night, and the door was kept closed by a heavy book placed against it. As my brother went to the window to see what was causing the scratching his wife said, ‘Look at the door. Who is coming in?’ He looked, and the door and the book were slowly moving-so slowly that he had sufficient time to get across from the window to the door, behind which he waited until it was fully open. There was no one there.
Mr. X. tested the door with the book behind it, and found that considerable strength was required to be exerted to open it. Obviously, a draught could not have caused the phenomenon.
SISTERS TERRIFIYING EXPERIENCE
The next occurrence was one of the most terrifying experience connected with the house. ‘About half past two to three o’clock in the morning. ‘Said Mr. X.’ I was suddenly awakened by screams which seemed to be coming from the top of the house. I jumped out of bed, got a flash lamp, and ran up to my mother’s room. She said, ‘It is down below.’ I ran downstairs, and when I got to the bedroom door below and flashed my lamp upon it, I was conscious of some presence near me, and I opened the door. The first thing I asked was, ‘Where is your light?’ My sister said ‘Someone put it out.’ When I looked at the candle it was as though a human hand had knocked the wick down into the soft wax. The wick was flattened into the wax. My sister said to me, ‘It went as soon as you came.’ She did not know at that time of the experience I had had outside the door, of a presence seeming to go past me. My sister said that something had taken hold of her and tried to pull her out of bed, so real was the experience that she was actually pulling the clothes with her, and all she could do was shout. ‘My mother had a heart attack as a consequence of this disturbance, and we prayed then that we might be preserved from anything else happening. Nothing else happened that night.
EXORCISED BY PRAYER
Matters reached such a pass that Mr. X. Decided to tell the leaders of the place of worship which he attended and enlist their aid. One Sunday evening they came to the house to conduct a prayer meeting. Mr. X. went upstairs to invite his sister down to the meeting, and left her getting ready to come down. “I was awaiting her arrival downstairs with the other men, ‘he said, ‘when I was called out and found my sister in another room crying, I asked her what was the matter and she appeared to be in a complete breakdown. She explained that after I left her something came behind and pushed her into a corner. ‘I cried to God immediately to deliver me, ‘she said, ‘and as I did so the grips that were on my arms were released and I knelt down and gave God thanks.’ There was a trunk in the room, and in order to get into the corner she must of necessity either walk round it or go over it. She did not know, however, how she got into the corner, for she remembered neither going round the trunk or over it. ‘ This terrifying experience had a nervous reaction upon her and she is still suffering from the effects. ‘We had a prayer meeting that night, resumed Mr. X., and a number of us decided to stay there all night. We believed God had dealt with the trouble, and it must have been a matter of ten weeks or so before we were troubled again after that prayer meeting.
After this lengthy interval of peace the manifestations suddenly recommenced.
“My mother heard mutterings about a quarter to three one morning.’ Mr. X said. “But she determined not to say anything to the others in case everything should come back to their minds. The following morning, however, my sister, who was in another room, asked mother if she had heard the mutterings the previous night. The colour went out of mother’s face, and my sister asked her what the matter was. She said, ‘I heard it too.’
The following night my sister complained that as she was lying in bed something was whispering in her ear.
SIEZED BY HAIR
‘That same week there was a noise during the night as though a bed had fallen above me. I went upstairs and found there was nothing which could have fallen. We decided that we would not stay any longer in the house, because of the effect which these things were having upon the female members of the house-hold. We arranged to go out on a Monday, but the preceding Wednesday night I was awakened by someone crying. I went into the next room and found that it was a sister who had recently come to stay with us, and to whom we had not described the other sister’s experience. She complained that something seized hold of her, scratched her on one of her limbs, and then took hold of her hair. Her face showed she was terror stricken.
‘During the few remaining nights all the female members of the family slept in one room and all the men in an adjoining room, so as to relieve them of fear. Friday night came and as soon as we got into bed knocks were heard on the wall. We felt something in the atmosphere, and we were so sure something was going to happen that night , that my brother had taken an extra candle to the bedroom. We could not sleep, and watched the clock go round until early morning. About the same hour in the morning that the manifestations usually occurred-two or three o’clock-my brother suddenly leaped out of bed, panic stricken. He said that a strange feeling had passed right through his body. I told him that if anything seized hold of him he should use the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, after the example of the Apostle, who used the named to cast out demons. Nothing further happened that night.
‘In one of the bedrooms we heard almost without exception every morning in the early hours, a steady tread as of human feet pacing the room up and down, and noises downstairs as of someone cobbling in the front room. We had a hearthrug in the bedroom referred to, and the dog came in one day and lay upon it. Suddenly it jumped right back into the middle of the room as though someone had hit it on the head. It would never again go near that spot.
‘After that night we decided to leave the house at once, my brother saying he would stay no longer in it. As we were clearing the furniture out the next day, I was struck by the singular circumstance that the text on my daily calendar was from Psalm 116,’Return unto thy rest O my soul.’
A DISEMBODIED SPIRIT?
Asked by our representative how he accounted for the manifestations, Mr. X. Said that the clue was furnished about three weeks after he first entered the house, during a conversation with a strange individual who called round and introduced himself as a former occupant.
The first thing this man asked was ‘have you heard them?. And went on to explain: ‘I used to sleep in that room there, and I have seen them coming at two and three o’clock in the morning, opening the door and shutting it again, trying the latch on the front door, walking halfway up the stairs, and coming down again,’ There were a number of tenants in the house before him, and they all left for the same reason. ‘I am a Spiritualist, you know,’ he added, ‘and you have no need to be afraid, because they are good spirits in this house, ‘ he explained that his wife was a medium and that there were two other Spiritists in the house when he was there.
Mr. X. answered him, ‘If that is so, then this house was the devil’s den!
Mr. X. offered to read to him certain scriptures condemning Spiritist practices, but the man replied, ‘I know all about the Scriptures, and I can call spirits myself. A friend of mine died years ago in South Africa, and when I want to call him and ask him if everything is all right, I do so. I know my dead mother when I see her.’
Mr. X. replied, ‘you never spoke to that man or your dead mother, or to anyone else who is dead, You got into touch with demon power which impersonated them, ‘ he warned him that ‘he was under the control of demon power, ‘and that according to the Scriptures, the path he was following could only end in eternal loss.
‘I told him’ said Mr. X. ‘That according to the third chapter of John he required to be ‘born again.’ And to have a personal experience of Christ’s saving power. He made certain replies to this, which proved to me that his beliefs were not of God.
‘He then told me that a Spiritism woman died in this house, and this supplied the whole solution of the matter to me. I believe Spiritism to be synonymous with what is described in the New Testament as demon possession, and if a Spiritist died in that house, the disembodied spirit-the evil spirit which inhabited her-must be in the house seeking, like the legion of devils which Christ cast out of the demoniac of Gadara, to enter into other bodies. Women are more susceptible to the attention of these spirits than are men, as witness the vast proportion of female mediums. This explains why the female members of our family were interfered with much more than the men.
MALICIOUS NATURE OF ATTACKS.
Mr. X, concluding his account, said that he desired to make his own position clear, as a preacher of the Gospel. ‘I am convinced that these spirits manifestations are of satanic origin, ‘he said, ‘on two grounds-scriptural and practical. In the first place, the Bible everywhere warns us against having intercourse with ‘familiar spirits, ‘and it is significant that some of the manifestations, which we heard were strange mutterings. The bible warns us against ‘wizards who peep and mutter, ‘and Paul tells us in I Timothy 4, verse 7, that ‘in the latter times many shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits and doctrines of devils’. This undoubtedly a reference to spiritism.
‘In the second place, from our own experience of these manifestations, I am convinced that the ‘spirits’ are not ‘good’ as my visitor informed me, but are positively evil. The actions of a good spirit would have a good effect. What we experienced was something positively malicious and venomous, resulting in one case at least, in serious illness to a member of the family. I am glad to have had these experiences, however, for I can now warn people who perhaps, do not have the same acquaintance with the Scriptures as I have.
‘GHOST STORY’ IN FREE CHURCH MAGAZINE
REMARKABLE HAPPENINGS IN BIRKENHEAD HOUSE
By a striking coincidence, there is in this month’s issue of the ‘The Highroad-the organ of the Merseyside Free Churches-an article described as a genuine local ghost story, ‘in which a graphic description is given of strange incidents in a Birkenhead house in 1923.
The editor, the Rev H. Bulcock, of Prenton congregational Church, writes that the contributor is a young man well known to him, and his account is given. ‘In absolute good faith’ Mr. Bulcock it hardly need be said, is not the type of individual to pay much attention to such a ‘story’ unless it is fairly well authenticated.
The contributor tells of a visit to a home in Birkenhead, where weird rapping’s were heard, which a thorough examination of the premises by a qualified builder failed to explain. Some of the rapping’s followed a Masonic sequence, and when responded to by the writer, were immediately answered in Freemason’s fashion.
Further Freemasonry tests were carried out and the answering raps from the Unknown were correct in every point. A dog was brought into the house but after settling on a fug in front of the fire suddenly jumped up and ran into the centre of the room, barking, showing his fangs, and behaving as though attacking someone. Never again would he allow himself to be led near the house.
Other incidents occurred of doors mysteriously opening and of ‘automatic writing’. The contributor speaks of his hand being ‘seized’ in a grip of iron: the pencil started to move across the paper faster and faster’. He cried out, and when the lights were put on, the pencil stopped. ‘I was shaking like a leaf’ he said, ‘my face was white as the paper and I was in a cold sweat.
On another occasion the pencil was taken up by some invisible agency, no human had being near it. A message was scrawled on the paper, reading, ‘I,taid [Welsh for grandfather], want to warn M... ‘Here the point of the pencil was broken, no doubt when one of female members of the company screamed and the lights were put on. The woman who screamed was the person whose name appeared on the paper, and she said that she had seen the figure of her grandfather bending over the chair and writing on the paper. The next day she was taken seriously ill, and was removed to hospital, and on her recovery she never returned to the house.