Haunted houses are a dime a dozen, but Catherine Cavendish is here today to tell us about one that doesn't just hold ghosts, but perhaps traces of the Devil himself! The story of Loftus Hall also forms the basis for her latest book, THE DEVIL'S SERENADE.
Bloody and Violent Loftus Hall
by Catherine Cavendish
Can pure evil be absorbed by bricks and mortar? Did the devil play cards with the owner of Loftus Hall, back in the late 1700s?
Whatever the truth of it, the claims made for Loftus Hall in Ireland, are certainly many, varied and well documented. Originally built during the Black Death, in 1350, its 666 years of history – much of it troubled, violent and bloody- certainly seem to have left an indelible and Yeti-sized footprint on this substantial and once grand mansion situated on the Hook Peninsula in County Wexford.
The house is open to the public who, it is claimed, can expect to experience some scary and unpredictable phenomena during regular themed ghostly events.
Its reputation has attracted the attention of many paranormal investigation crews and it has featured in a number of TV programmes. The current owner of the house – Aidan Quigley – affirms that Loftus Hall is a strange place at the best of times but during special occasions – such as Samhain – it surpasses itself. “We observe strange phenomena in the house throughout the year,” he said, “but at Halloween, the house often surprises us.”
Among many other phenomena, ghost hunting groups have reported dramatic temperature drops in certain rooms – especially the Chapel and the Tapestry Room – and unseen electro-magnetic fields have caused instruments to register dramatic spikes. In addition, visitors have reported photographing and seeing figures that couldn’t be there. Tourist Thomas Beavis took a photograph of what seems to be a ghostly figure of a woman standing in the porch of the Hall and another visitor, Tara McMeel took a selfie which revealed some strange, ghostly apparitions.
One famous incident which serves to underline the sinister and devilish reputation of the house took place in the 18th century when the then owner – Charles Tottenham Loftus – invited a stranger to play cards. Loftus’ daughter, Anne, became captivated by the stranger and stayed to watch the game. A card fell to the floor and she bent to retrieve it. She had the shock of her life as she saw the stranger had cloven hooves. On being ‘unmasked’, the guest flew into a rage and crashed through the roof, leaving behind him a stench of brimstone and sulfur. Since then, it is claimed that no one has been able to successfully repair that roof.
Poor Anne never recovered from the shock of her devilish discovery and became mentally ill. Her family were so ashamed of her condition that they locked her in her favourite room where she could be happy, but out of sight. This is the infamous Tapestry Room. It appears her infatuation with the mysterious cloven-hooved stranger never waned and she sat, looking out of the window across the sea, waiting for him to return. Needless to say, he never did, and she died there in 1775. Legend has it that when she died, they could not straighten her body as her muscles had seized in a sitting position. So she was buried sitting up.
Her ghost – along with that of the devil she so admired – are reputed to haunt the Hall to this day. Much poltergeist activity over the years has been attributed to this mysterious stranger and Anne has regularly been seen. She seems unconfined to the Tapestry Room though, as reports have her descending the main staircase.
The house was extensively demolished, rebuilt and renovated in 1870, yet the imprints of the ghosts of the earlier building appear to have carried forward into the new. To find out more about this fascinating house, a good place to start would be with its own website http://loftushall.ie/
Certainly well worth a visit whether you believe, or remain skeptical!
Now, to give you a taste of THE DEVIL'S SERENADE, here’s the blurb:
Maddie had forgotten that cursed summer. Now she’s about to remember…
“Madeleine Chambers of Hargest House” has a certain grandeur to it. But as Maddie enters the Gothic mansion she inherited from her aunt, she wonders if its walls remember what she’s blocked out of the summer she turned sixteen.
She’s barely settled in before a series of bizarre events drive her to question her sanity. Aunt Charlotte’s favorite song shouldn’t echo down the halls. The roots of a faraway willow shouldn’t reach into the cellar. And there definitely shouldn’t be a child skipping from room to room.
As the barriers in her mind begin to crumble, Maddie recalls the long-ago summer she looked into the face of evil. Now, she faces something worse. The mansion’s long-dead builder, who has unfinished business—and a demon that hungers for her very soul.
Here’s an extract:
A large flashlight rested on the bottom stair and I switched it on, shining it into the dark corners. There wasn’t a lot to see. A few broken bits of furniture, old fashioned kitchen chairs, some of which looked vaguely familiar, jam jars, crates that may once have held bottles of beer.
The beam caught the clump of gnarled and twisted roots that intertwined with each other, like Medusa’s snakes. I edged closer to it, my heart thumping more than it should. It was only a tree, for heaven’s sake! The nearest one was probably the willow. Surely, that was too far away? I knew little about trees, but I was pretty certain their roots couldn’t extend that far.
I examined the growth from every angle in that silent cellar. The roots were definitely spreading along the floor and, judging by the thickness and appearance of them, had been there for many years. Gray, like thick woody tendrils, they reached around six feet along and possibly four feet across at their widest point. I bent down. Close up, the smell that arose from them was cloyingly sweet. Sickeningly so. I put one hand over my nose, rested the flashlight on the steps and reached out with the fingers of my free hand to touch the nearest root. It wriggled against my palm.
I cried out, staggered backward and fell against the stairs. The flashlight clattered to the floor and went out. Only the overhead bulb provided any light, and it didn’t reach this darkest corner. Something rustled. I struggled to my feet, grabbed the torch and ran up the stairs. I slammed the door shut and locked it, leaned against it and tried to slow down my breathing. A marathon runner couldn’t have panted more.
I tapped the flashlight and it flickered into life, seemingly none the worse for its accident. I switched it off and set it on the floor by the cellar door. Whoever came to fix those roots was going to need it.
You can find THE DEVIL'S SERENADE here:
And other online retailers
About the author:
Following a varied career in sales, advertising and career guidance, Cat is now the full-time author of a number of paranormal, ghostly and Gothic horror novels, novellas and short stories. She was the 2013 joint winner of the Samhain Gothic Horror Anthology Competition, with Linden Manor, which features in the anthology What Waits in the Shadows. Other titles include: The Pendle Curse, Saving Grace Devine, Dark Avenging Angel, The Second Wife, Miss Abigail’s Room, The Demons of Cambian Street, The Devil Inside Her, Cold Revenge and In My Lady’s Chamber.
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