It’s nearly Halloween – time for some TRUE ghost stories!
Back in the early '90s, I worked in one of the most haunted villages in the UK - Ripley in North Yorkshire. Once a coaching inn called The Star on the Great North Road, the luxurious Boar's Head Hotel had just opened, and there had already been a number of spooky incidents reported.
This particular night, the hotel was empty, and I was the only member of staff present – needless to say it was also in the middle of winter. Bored at an empty reception desk with no guests, I decided to take the opportunity to go round and check all the rooms.
After checking the main hotel, I moved on to the rooms outside in what had been the stables in the hotel’s coaching inn days. Walking upstairs, I entered room 3, and thought, What an awful room! Then I looked around in puzzlement – the room was beautiful. Each room had been professionally and individually designed, and I’d love to sleep in such a gorgeous room.
I made my checks, refilled the stationery folder, and left. As I pulled the door closed, I felt a freezing cold shudder pass through me, then a girl’s giggle, accompanied by a swishing noise as if someone were running along the corridor behind me, brushing her hands along each wall. I spun round – no one was there.
I’m ashamed to say, I bolted. Down the stairs, then bursting through the outside door, both arms outstretched. Thank goodness I hadn’t pulled it properly closed behind me when I’d entered; it was very tight and heavy, and often stuck. I’d have broken my arms if I’d hit it at that speed and it hadn’t opened.
I didn’t go back to the main hotel, but ran through the car park and over the road to the housekeeper’s cottage. She opened the door to me and said – I kid you not – ‘What’s wrong? You look like you’ve seen a ghost!’
She thought it was just my imagination – I was not long out of my teens and had been alone in a very old hotel in one of the most haunted villages in Britain. That is, until she took me back across the road and tried to prove it to me.
Back in the hotel, we went upstairs and looked into room 3. Nothing was amiss. And it was still a beautiful room.
Then to the room halfway down the corridor. She told me nothing was wrong, but I could not – absolutely could not – go in there. Nor could I at any other time during the two years I carried on working at the hotel; not if those rooms were empty of guests. But I could see from the doorway that all appeared as it should be.
Next was the room at the opposite end of the corridor to room 3, and in the direction I’d heard the girl run.
She unlocked the door, and instead of the ‘See, nothing’s wrong’ that she’d proclaimed when opening the previous two doors, she was silent. I had to follow her inside and see what had quietened this normally voluble, loud and persistent woman (I do say that with love and friendship!)
It was the furniture. Nothing was where it should be. Nothing was where it had been put the last time the room had been serviced - by the lady now staring at the mess. I reminded the housekeeper that every guest who had ever stayed in this room had complained of the TV changing channels by itself and the windows being opened or closed.
It was the first (and last) time I saw her speechless.
Have you got a true ghost story to share?
Karen Perkins is the international best-selling author of the award-winning Yorkshire Ghost Stories:
Knight of Betrayal (novel)
The Haunting of Thores-Cross (novel)
Cursed (short story)