Alison is here today to tell us about some ghostly encounters...
Nothing like a good ghost story…
As far as I know, I have never actually seen a ghost but I’ve always had a fascination with ghost stories. This began with my mother’s tale of a ghostly encounter in a Youth Hostel in Wales. My mother is an extremely sensible woman and not one given to histrionics or flights of fancy. The story, as she tells it, is that she and a friend on a cycling tour of Wales in the early 1950s stayed the night in a converted castle that was now used as a Youth Hostel. She woke during the night to the sensation of a woman’s fingers brushing her cheek. She could clearly see a woman bending over her and as she watched the figure dissolved into the wall.
My own paranormal experiences have been far less impressive and really take the form of an emotional response to a place rather than ghostly figures. The most powerful occurred when I visited Warwick Castle in my early 20s (before it became the theme park it is today) and like all tourists went down to the cells below the castle. The feeling of misery was so overwhelming I felt as if I would suffocate. On subsequent visits to the castle nothing and nobody has been able to induce me to go down to those cells again.
In the course of my career I worked in at least two haunted buildings. Both of them were former nineteenth century mansions and both had been used by the Australian Army for many, many years.
The first, “Netherby” in Queens Road Melbourne was the Headquarters of the 3rd Training Group during my time but had been, reputedly, used by ASIO in the 1950s. There were stories of soundproofed cellars and secret tunnels but no evidence has ever been found of either, even during Netherby’s more recent conversion to a wing of a grand hotel. Nothing untoward happened to me in all the years I worked at Netherby but I did start to pick up the stories of “Albert” reputedly the lonely ghost of a Rumanian spy. I collected quite a few eye witness reports on Albert and It started me on a quest to track down more ghost stories from Army establishments. I figured soldiers made fairly reliable witnesses.
The other haunted mansion in Queens Road is Grosvenor which was Headquarters 4th Brigade when I first went there. Like Netherby it has long since been sold and is now a rather depressed facade to some particularly ghastly apartments. Grosvenor was far grander than Netherby and was reputedly haunted by “Esmerelda”, a young maid servant who had been found drowned in the swamp that is now Albert Park Lake. Esmerelda and I did have some firsthand contact and like Albert she is well chronicled.
Over the years, wherever an opportunity has presented, I have gone on ghost tours some hokey and some downright spooky. You will have found me trailing lantern bearing guides in York, New Orleans, Edinburgh, Port Arthur (now there is a spooky place!), Sydney Quarantine Station to name a few. Even my own home town, the historical port of Williamstown, runs a ghost tour, although with a huge modern development going ahead which is ripping the heart out of the old town, I fear its days are numbered. Good one… planning authorities!
It was natural at some point in my writing career ghosts would creep in and you will find a couple of ghostly short stories in my collected short stories, TOWER OF TALES (Lost Souls and The Promise). The unsettling antics of the ghosts in my World War One story, GATHER THE BONES are gleaned from the many stories I have gathered over the years. For example, the evil, ghostly hand clasping the wrist, comes from New Orleans and relates to the story of slaves waiting to be sold (New Orleans does a particularly scary line in ghosts – it was one ghost tour I was glad to do in daylight!). It was fun to write but a challenge to present my ghostly characters as credible.
I would love to hear about any ghostly encounters you may have had and there is an e-copy of TOWER OF TALES on offer for a randomly drawn commenter.
Alison on a ghost tour in Edinburgh
Alison Stuart is an award winning Australian writer of cross genre historical romances. She is a digital first published author, whose 6th published book, LORD SOMERTON’S HEIR has just been released by Harlequin Australia. If your taste is for duelling cavaliers, wayward ghosts, time travel and murder mysteries – sometimes all in the same book – Alison’s stories are for you.
Alison is a lapsed lawyer who has worked in the military and fire service, with an obvious obsession for men in uniform, which may explain a predisposition to soldier heroes. She lives in Williamstown with her own personal hero (and yes, he was wearing a uniform when they met!) and two cats and subsists on a diet of gin and tonic.
In the shadow of the Great War, grieving widow, Helen Morrow and her husband’s cousin, the wounded and reclusive Paul, are haunted not only by the horrors of the trenches but ghosts from another time and another conflict.
As the desperate voice of the young woman reaches out to them from the pages of a coded diary, Paul and Helen are bound together in their search for answers, not only to the old mystery but also the circumstances surrounding the death of Helen’s husband at Passchandaele in 1917.
As the two stories become entwined, Paul and Helen will not find peace until the mysteries are solved.