Saturday, April 30, 2016

Mrs. Barclay's Haunted Wardrobe


The London Morning Post on August 19, 1937 published a personal ad that read:

"FOR SALE--Haunted wardrobe.--Advertiser will be glad to deliver same to anybody interested, complete with ghost, which would also no doubt feel more at home if welcomed.--Write Mrs. B. Barclay, Carterton Manor, Oxon."

After receiving hundreds of telegrams, letters, and telephone calls from eager buyers who wished to acquire their own ghost, Mrs. Barclay shared the story behind her ad with local reporters:

It seems that three years earlier, she visited a sale of various items at a home in Berkshire. She noticed a 7' high Victorian wardrobe. Although there was nothing remarkable about the piece, it appealed to Mrs. Barclay, and she paid £10 for it. She placed it in the guest room of her house, and life went on its usual uneventful course.

A little over two years later, she and her servants began to hear odd knocking sounds throughout the house. They were unable to find the source. Several of her houseguests tentatively commented that there was something...well, odd about the wardrobe. Throughout the night, its doors would loudly open and shut. After her guests had left, Mrs. Barclay monitored the wardrobe and found that, sure enough, those doors had a mind of their own. When she tied string around the doors, they would break their bonds and continue unabated. She thought there must be some sort of hidden mechanism causing the strange activity. However, when she tried to examine the wardrobe, one of the doors flew off, smashing a mirror. After that, she decided the thing was best left alone.

Although Mrs. Barclay was leaving the wardrobe in peace, it wasn't returning the favor. The banging noises intensified in volume and frequency. Then, she began seeing the figure of an elderly man in old-fashioned clothing and a deerstalker hat emerging from the wardrobe and walking out of the house. Her secretary and her brother saw him too.

This uninvited visitor was really beginning to get on Mrs. Barclay's nerves. As she later complained, "I am not psychic, nor am I nervous, but this wretched ghost will make such a noise. He clatters across the landing, and shuffles down the stairs, and the noise is often exasperatingly loud."

Her friends, not wishing to share a guest bedroom with a noisy ghost, began to refuse her invitations. After the spirit kicked her butler in the shins, he gave his notice and left. Her surviving household staff muttered about quitting en masse. Mrs. Barclay herself had to resort to sleeping outdoors, just to get a little quiet.

After her cook walked out on her, Mrs. Barclay--rather late in the day, one might think--realized that this damned--in every sense of the word--wardrobe just had to go. Hence the soon-to-be famous "Morning Post" ad.

After her notice appeared, Mrs. Barclay soon realized that ghosts are not the only noisy pests. She was continually harassed by ghost-hunters, self-described psychics, aggressive looky-loos, and cranks of every variety. Visitors came from as far away as America. Morons kept themselves entertained by dressing in white sheets and prancing around her grounds. She received offers for the wardrobe from a college of astrology. From a quartet of spinsters who said they wanted the ghost to guard their house during the night. (A watchghost?) "Can you guarantee ghosts?" one message said. Another asked if the spook would be happy in a "small modern house."

Mrs. Barclay was showered with unsolicited advice from self-appointed Ghost Experts. One opined, "I should say it's doubtful if the ghost will go with the wardrobe. He shows himself to you as you are sympathetic, but he may not do so to others...Leave the door open at night so that he can come in and out, and put a nice comfortable chair beside it for him, as he clings so to the wardrobe...Never mind the cook, cooks are plentiful, but you can never get another wardrobe like this."

By now, Mrs. Barclay was desperate to just put the whole mess behind her. She sold the wardrobe--and, she sincerely hoped, the ghost as well--to a Mr. Rundle for £50. He owned an inn in nearby Clanfield, and no doubt shrewdly assumed the famed wardrobe would attract visitors. "My inn is being rebuilt," he told a reporter. "At the moment there is no room large enough for the haunted wardrobe, but I am having my own bedroom enlarged, and then I shall have it put in there. Anyone who wants to sleep in that room will be at liberty to do so. But personally, I do not believe in ghosts."

Rundle temporarily lodged his new acquisition in the rather undignified setting of an outhouse. Unfortunately, by buying the wardrobe, he also acquired the same crowd of pranksters who had so bedeviled Mrs. Barclay. Boys and young men came from miles around to hoot, catcall, throw brickbats at the outhouse, and generally raise hell.

Although Rundle maintained his skepticism about the supernatural, even he soon had to admit that this was one peculiar wardrobe. On the first night it was on his property, the doors of the wardrobe began shaking violently, from no discernible cause. His wife noticed that it sometimes emitted curious bangings and a "noise like an aeroplane."

As many of the letters sent to Mrs. Barclay had theorized that the ghost was searching for something hidden in the wardrobe, Mr. Rundle took it apart. He found nothing unusual.

Oddly enough, disassembling the wardrobe appears to have broken its curious spell. After it was put back together, the wardrobe became just another dull piece of Victorian furniture. The strange noises and shakings ceased, and the old man in the deerstalker hat was never seen by anyone ever again.

The Ghost Map: The Story of London's Most Terrifying Epidemic--and How It Changed Science, Cities, and the Modern World

The Oxford Book of Victorian Ghost Stories

The Phantom Coach: A Connoisseur's Collection of Victorian Ghost Stories

Caribbean Shadows & Victorian Ghosts






BOOK SUGGESTIONS


The Messengers: Owls, Synchronicity and the UFO Abductee

Stories from the Messengers: Owls, UFOs and a Deeper Reality

Impossible Realities: The Science Behind Energy Healing, Telepathy, Reincarnation, Precognition, and Other Black Swan Phenomena

I Am the Word: A Guide to the Consciousness of Man's Self in a Transitioning Time

Silent Invasion: The Pennsylvania UFO-Bigfoot Casebook

Astonishing Encounters: Pennsylvania's Unknown Creatures, Casebook 3

Encounters with Flying Humanoids: Mothman, Manbirds, Gargoyles & Other Winged Beasts

Monsters of Texas

Don't Look Behind You: Following Ghost Roads Into the Unknown

Beyond the Seventh Gate: Exploring Toad Road, The Seven Gates of Hell, and Other Strangeness in York, Lancaster, and Adams Counties

Bigfoot in Pennsylvania: A History of Wild-Men, Gorillas, and Other Hairy Monsters in the Keystone State

Wood Knocks Volume 1: A Journal of Sasquatch Research

Wood Knocks Volume 2: A Journal of Sasquatch Research

Wood Knocks Volume 3: Journal of Sasquatch Research

The Black Eyed Children

Strange Intruders

The Essential Guide to Bigfoot

The Lake Michigan Mothman: High Strangeness in the Midwest

Hunt for the Skinwalker: Science Confronts the Unexplained at a Remote Ranch in Utah

The Monster Book: Creatures, Beasts and Fiends of Nature

A Menagerie of Mysterious Beasts: Encounters with Cryptid Creatures

The Mothman Prophecies: A True Story

The Time Before the Secret Words: On the path of Remote Viewing, High Strangeness and Zen

The Zozo Phenomenon

The Djinn Connection: The Hidden Links Between Djinn, Shadow People, ETs, Nephilim, Archons, Reptilians and Other Entities

Beyond the Seventh Gate: Exploring Toad Road, The Seven Gates of Hell, and Other Strangeness in York, Lancaster, and Adams Counties

The Beast of Boggy Creek: The True Story of the Fouke Monster

Lizard Man: The True Story of the Bishopville Monster

Momo: The Strange Case of the Missouri Monster

Beyond Boggy Creek: In Search of the Southern Sasquatch

The Beast of Bray Road: Tailing Wisconsin's Werewolf

Real Wolfmen: True Encounters in Modern America

Monsters Among Us: An Exploration of Otherworldly Bigfoots, Wolfmen, Portals, Phantoms, and Odd Phenomena

The Royal Arch of Enoch

The Real Men In Black: Evidence, Famous Cases, and True Stories of These Mysterious Men and their Connection to UFO Phenomena

The Van Meter Visitor: A True and Mysterious Encounter with the Unknown

Monsters of West Virginia: Mysterious Creatures in the Mountain State

Venus Rising: A Concise History of the Second Planet

Final Countdown: Rockets to Venus

Cosmic Ray's Excellent Venus Adventure

The Brimstone Deceit: An In-Depth Examination of Supernatural Scents, Otherworldly Odors, and Monstrous Miasmas

Thieves in the Night: A Brief History of Supernatural Child Abductions

Voices From the Cosmos

Humanoid Encounters Series - Albert S. Rosales

Monsterland: Encounters with UFOs, Bigfoot and Orange Orbs

The Chilling, True Terror of the Black-Eyed Kids: A Monster Compilation

Beasts of Britain

Abduction: Human Encounters with Aliens

Passport to the Cosmos

Weird Winged Wonders: The Twilight World Of Cryptid Creatures

Fingerprints of the Gods

Into The Fringe: A True Story of Alien Abduction

The Candle and the Crossroads: A Book of Appalachian Conjure and Southern Root-Work

Creole Religions of the Caribbean: An Introduction from Vodou and Santeria to Obeah and Espiritismo, Second Edition (Religion, Race, and Ethnicity)

Slenderman: From Fiction to Fact

The Starchild Skull -- Genetic Enigma or Human-Alien Hybrid?

Passport to Magonia: From Folklore to Flying Saucers

Grimoire for the Green Witch: A Complete Book of Shadows

The Lost City of the Exodus: The Archaeological Evidence behind the Journey Out of Egypt

Moses and Akhenaten: Brothers in Alms

The Crystal Bible

Encyclopedia of Crystals, Revised and Expanded

Winged Cryptids: Humanoids, Monsters & Anomalous Creatures Casebook

Alien Disclosure: Experiencers Expose Reality

Mothman Dynasty: Chicago's Winged Humanoids

Haunted Rock & Roll: Ghostly Tales Of Musical Legends

Angel Medicine

Toward the Light: Rescuing Spirits, Trapped Souls, and Earthbound Ghosts

Light the Way: A Guide to Becoming a Rescue Medium

Owl Medicine

Hoodoo Herb and Root Magic: A Materia Magica of African-American Conjure

Pow-Wows, or Long Lost Friend: A Collection of Mysterious and Invaluable Arts and Remedies, for Man as Well as Animals

Energy Essentials for Witches and Spellcasters

Powwowing Among the Pennsylvania Dutch: A Traditional Medical Practice in the Modern World (Pennsylvania German History and Culture)

The Mothman Prophecies: A True Story

Operation Trojan Horse: The Classic Breakthrough Study of UFOs

The Eighth Tower: On Ultraterrestrials and the Superspectrum

Our Haunted Planet

Strange Creatures From Time and Space