Just quickly going back to my recent holiday in South Africa, I’d like to tell you about a very interesting experience we had. Right after our wild antics with the baboons, we pushed on to Pilgrims Rest which is a very old mining town that was once one of the centers for the gold rush dating back to 1873. As a result this place is steeped in history. Upon arriving and visiting the information center, we soon caught wind of a Ghost tour that was heading out the next evening, and so we made our booking and waited in anticipation. The following afternoon, we set out with the tour guide and headed for a mansion called The Alanglade House. It was built in 1915 by a mine manager called Mr Barry, that stands in huge contrast with the rest of the town that in those days had houses built out of corrugated iron. Mr and Mrs Barry had just arrived from Britain. Both of them came from wealthy families and Mr Barry took one look at the corrugated iron houses and proclaimed that his wife was not going to live on one of those. Made out of brick and cement like many of todays houses, it took just 8 months to complete and was way ahead of it’s time in terms of technology and design. The mansion housed all the mining managers and their families until the last mine finally closed in 1972. It now stands as a museum and tourist attraction.
Upon entering the house, the tour guide informed us that three different families had occupied the house, but the first of course were the Barry’s. They were repeatedly struck with tragedy as their teenage daughter died of meningitis in the house. The ghostly presence and apparition of this girl has been encountered several times by visitors. Three of their sons also never reached old age, dying prematurely. The youngest son in particular was killed in the First World war. Certain objects have also been known to be manipulated or moved around. This house is like a maze, with 32 rooms all in all. We were told we could take as many photos as we pleased. Perhaps we’d even see something in one of them. Many people had! We started out downstairs which was uneventful, eventually making our way upstairs. We entered a sun room which was one of Mrs Barry’s favorite places to sit and entertain her friends with afternoon tea. I was walking behind everyone else and upon making my way past the small round table, it felt as though a fridge had been opened up all around me. Walking a few steps further the temperature became normal again. Perhaps I watch too much television, but I have always been fascinated with the paranormal. It is believed by some that when a spirit tries to manifest itself, the air around it becomes very cold. However I try to remain neutral as I pride myself in not being a drama queen (well mostly) and to be honest, I’ve never had any personal experiences myself. I stopped dead in my tracks and to make sure that it wasn’t just my over active imagination, I looped around again and walked back through that spot. It was still freezing cold. I couldn’t move as it felt like my heart was beating out of my chest. I scampered out of the room so quickly and said nothing. I didn’t want to scare the girls. I’d tell them about it later.
After completing our tour of the upstairs room, we started down the stairs to prepare to leave. About four stairs down I was hit by a sudden, sharp smell of lavender. I didn’t mention to Sherry what I was smelling, but I asked her to come back up the stairs again. Arriving in the same spot as me, her eyes widened as she said that she’d never smelt this before but that other visitors had. We were standing level with one of the upstairs doorways entering into the room where the last Governess always slept. Sherry looked at me and said, ‘She loved all things lavender and never used any other scent.’
That was it…I was outta there!!
Sherry later told us that upon being absolutely sure that the house was empty and then locking up and walking away after tours, she’d hear the piano playing on it’s own and at other times hear children’s laughter coming from upstairs. Apparently the sounds of children laughing occurs mostly in the months of November and December, when the children attending boarding school would come home for the holidays.
Yes, a very interesting and unnerving experience indeed.