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THE HAUNTING OF CALVADOS CASTLE

Posted on: July 8, 2011

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This remote, gloomy castle in norther France was built in 1835 on the ruins of a previous building. It already had a legend in place about how a previous owner had died penniless, and was doomed to roam the castle for eternity, but it is the short, violent burst of poltergeist activity which broke out in the autumn of 1875, for which it is most famous in the paranormal field. The haunting was documented in a diary kept by the owner, known only to us as Monsieur X, as he insisted on strict anonymity for himself and his family. He lived at the castle with his wife, Madame X, their son, the boy’s tutor the Abbe Y, and four servants.

Like all old buildings the castle had been prone to mysterious nocturnal noises for years, but on 12 October 1875 things became very frightening indeed, and puts Calvados as one of the most terrifying hauntings of all time. On that evening loud bangings shook the rooms, and someone was heard running up and down stairs at superhuman speed. Monsieur X recorded in his diary that at 2 o’clock one morning everyone heard someone stamping up the main staircase from the entrance hall, followed by loud hammering on the door of the Green Room. The haunting intensified in the run-up to Halloween, and often seemed to centre around the Green Room.

From out in the grounds came the sound of a woman crying for help during a heavy rainstorm in November. When investigated, nothing and nobody was found. The sobbing woman was also heard inside the castle, both at night and during daylight hours.

The Abbe Y was subjected to some unnerving occurrences in his room. His furniture was often found moved, his windows opened, and books were thrown off the shelves. One afternoon, at about 5 o’clock, he was reading by the fire when a shower of water came down the chimney and put it out.

Madame X’s brother came to stay. He was a no-nonsense army officer, and volunteered to sleep in the notorious Green Room, the epi-centre of the haunting. He took his loaded revolver with him, and slept with it by his pillow. In the night he woke up to hear the sound of silk rustling inside the room, and then someone violently tugging on his bedclothes. This tug-of-war went on for some time, until the army officer got exasperated and fired his gun three times at thin air. The following morning he had to dig the bullets out of the wall with a knife.

The poltergeist got noisier as the weeks went on. It insisted on playing the organ, even when it was locked up, and galloped through the castle at night yelling “Ha! Ha!” in a man’s voice. Most of the time it seemed to be roaming the corridors of the castle, randomly banging on bedroom doors, (strongly reminiscent of the terrifying nocturnal hammerings in Shirley Jackson’s ‘The Haunting Of Hill House’). Even more weirdly were the sounds of animals heard inside the house, especially a sound like a bull roaring. Monsieur X thought someone was trying to scare him out of the castle because they wanted it for themselves. He bought two watch-dogs, but the animals whimpered when they heard the strange noises.

On 15 January 1876 the Rev. Fr H L performed an exorcism in the castle. This seemed to have the exact opposite effect of what everyone was trying to achieve. Prior to the ceremony the haunting had been reasonably quiet for about ten days, but it immediately started up again. The desperate family had a Novena of Masses said for them at Lourdes, but the haunting continued, with screams heard, and the furniture in the living-room rearranged in a horseshoe-shape.. A knife was found embedded in the kitchen table, and perhaps most terrifying of all to this religiously devout family, all the religious artefacts in the house disappeared.

One day the lady of the house, Madame X, was sitting writing at her desk, when she heard a disembodied laugh, and suddenly all the missing religious artefacts were poured into her lap. And that seemed to be the end of the phenomena. Even so, the family had had enough of the castle by now, and moved out in September 1876. The castle was sold, and no subsequent owners have reported any trouble.

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