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There is too much supporting evidence to have any doubt that the Willington house and Mill in North Tynesdale of England is haunted, and has been since at least 1834.
The flour mill was owned by George Unthank and Joseph Proctor, cousins, and part of the Quaker community. The mill was built in 1800, and was originally a rope factory.
Mr. Proctor and his family lived in the mill house, and experienced a plethora of paranormal occurrences over the entire 13 years that they inhabited the home.
It all began when a nursemaid working for the family began hearing heavy footsteps walking across the floor in the deserted room over the nursery. Eventually the woman could no longer tolerate the sounds, and left the service in the home.
A new nursemaid was hired in January 1835, who also began hearing the strange noises coming from the unoccupied floor. At this time Mrs. Proctor began to hear the noises.
Mr. Proctor inspected the room which had been closed off from the rest of the house (no explanation is given for this). He found nothing out of the ordinary – just an undisturbed layer of dust.
The activity increased until the entire family was experiencing the goings on. Moans, whistles, laughing, screaming, children running, drumming sounds, wood cracking, and the sound of a clock being wound were also heard frequently.
The Proctors heard thumpings next to their bed one night, and a “loud metallic rapping on the baby’s crib.”
Cold spots were felt at various locations in the house. The sound of people walking up and down the stairs was heard frequently. Beds shook viciously and often levitated with the sleepers in them (although no longer sleeping). Curtains flew off their rods. Feelings of being touched by an invisible presence were experienced by several family members.
A white towel lying on the floor flew around the room, and then the towel went downstairs making heavy footstep sounds as it descended!
The foreman of the mill claimed to hear “a peculiar noise moving across the lawn in the darkness.” He also heard someone walking across a gravel path, but no one was there.
An apparition of a woman was observed in the window of the house by the entire family. She remained in sight for a full ten minutes.
The cook would often enter the kitchen in the morning to find the chairs scattered, the shutters open, and the cooking utensils strewn all over the room.
One afternoon when the children were playing in the house, a mysterious monkey-like creature appeared out of nowhere and jumped around the home, teasing the children. It suddenly disappeared, and was never seen again.
One of the children, 10 years old at the time, often saw a doppelganger of himself walking around his room!
A glowing woman in gray without any eyes was witnessed by several people, including a little girl who covered her face when the woman sat down on the end of her bed gazing at her.
A gentleman known as ‘Old Jeffrey” wore a flowing robe and was glimpsed several times as he floated about three feet above the ground, and slithered back and forth.
One night the cook and Mrs. Proctor’s sister, who were sharing a room, witnessed frightening paranormal activity reminiscent of Shirley Jackson’s Haunting of Hill House. The bolt on the door to their room slid back, the handle turned, and the door opened! They saw a dark shadow enter the room, shake their bed curtains, pull their bedcovers off and throw them off the bed.
In 1840, an investigation into the haunting was conducted by Dr. Edward Drury, who stayed at the house overnight. He was so horrified by what he experienced that he advised Mr. Proctor and his family to never enter “that horrid house again.”
The Proctor family, however, had gotten rather used to the odd experiences, and didn’t move until 1847 when they decided that there might be “harmful effects on the minds of the children.”
Explanations for the activity vary. One source reports that, at the time the mill was being built, “there were reports of some deed of darkness having been committed by some one employed about them.”
There is also a story about a woman named Catherine Devore who worked at the rope factory after it was first built. Evidently the woman was killed when her long hair got caught in the machine used to make the ropes. It is reported that she haunts the mill, and the nearby Seven Archer’s bridge.
In the 1880s, the Society for Psychical Research included the story in Volume 5 of their Journal.
Steiger, Brad. Real Ghosts, Restless Spirits, and Haunted Places. Detroit: Visible Ink. 2003
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