Creepy History 42. It’s October, and that means Creepy History month on Windows into History again! The following quote is taken from News from the Invisible World, a collection of anecdotes published in 1840.
A Remarkable Anecdote of Sir William Reid.
It seems, that to gratify a penchant for the superb, the magnificent, and the antique, in building, when a child, he frequently neglected school, not for the usual diversions of children, but to obtain a view of all the churches in London, during the hours of prayer in the working days!
The same disposition, when he was about thirteen years of age, and in Warwickshire, led him something out of his way in a solitary walk one Sunday evening, in the winter, to take a view of an ancient hall then uninhabited, since pulled down. The courtyard being made use of to prepare timber for some houses building near at hand, he had an easy access, and had been some time indulging this pleasing propensity when his attention was excited by the appearance of what he supposed to be two young ladies, unattended, and coming from the new buildings into the court!
As Mr. Reid was not perfectly assured that the hall was not inhabited, it was then only that, and their want of attendance, that excited his curiosity; he kept his eyes upon them as much as consistent with good manners, till they passed within a few yards of him in their way to the door of the house, the opening of which, though it was the principle thing he expected, he was disappointed of, by their vanishing when upon the steps of it imperceptibly and instantaneously! Notwithstanding this, as Mr. Reid had not yet the least idea of a spectre, he still imagined that they were gone down the area into the kitchen, as is frequent in gentlemen’s houses in London, &c.; but in this he was soon set right, by coming up to the place, the windows of which being shut, and the area full of standing water, presented a true picture of desolation! It was not till that moment, that fully undeceived him, that he felt the least emotion of fear, he accordingly left the spot with some precipitation, and telling his story to his juvenile companions, received an answer that he observed is vulgarly characteristic of every antique building, viz. “that it was haunted;” the account then Mr. Reid gave of these appearances was “that they seemed to him to be two young ladies, one about fifteen or sixteen years of age, and the other eleven or twelve; that they were without caps; that their hair was plaited and powdered : that their eyebrows were black, and that their gowns, which were red damask, spangled with silver, had cross leading strings at the back of them;— that they were very pale, and that the least of them walked on the side towards him.”
The most striking features of this relation however the most strongly evince its reality; as in the first place, Mr. Reid being without fear or apprehension of spectres, &c. neither his prejudice or his imagination could have any hand in imposing upon him.
Secondly: not knowing the place before, the bare report of its being haunted could not have the least influence upon his judgement.
And thirdly: the reality of the appearance is proved by the simplicity of the first account he gave of their dress, viz. that they had cross leading strings to their gowns! whereas he should have said hanging sleeves, which were much in vogue about half a century ago!
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