The experience that I am about to tell happened around the years of 1995 and 1996, but because of the fragmented occurrences of the experience, and the time since it occured I must tell it to you the way I remembered it, rather than one big long ghost story with a start, finish and end. Also, for the record,everything here is one hundred percent true!
When I was 12 years old my best friend was Rick Honess. We did everything together, played army, climbed trees and best of all slept over at each others house. School summer holidays were one-long sleep over, with each of us barely spending more than 2 or 3 nights at our own houses during the week.
On the night that I first took a step into the world of the paranormal/ supernatural I had decided to spend the night at Rick's. Now Rick's house wasn't what you would describe to someone as a haunted house, it was much the same as most the houses in our village, what we call a terrace row, this is lots of two story houses that join together in a line of usually about nine or ten, with a gap at each end to let you get into the backyard's. The houses are made of this awful brick (and i've seen it on terraces all over Britain) which is a blood red colour and always tarnishes with age and grime from industry, which does, I suppose, give the houses a spooky look to them.
The reason I said they don't fit the usual bill of a haunted house is because of the sheer volume of them in our village. They were made back in the late 1900's in vast quantity to house the huge percentage of workers that came to work on the newly built steel works in nearby Scunthorpe, and have since been occupied by many family's since those days. But Rick's house was different to most of these houses once you stepped inside.
The house was very drafty, I always remember that, even if no windows where opened, like wind was getting in through gaps in the old walls or the blocked up fireplace. It was also filled up to bursting with clutter, a lifetime's possessions of old beer mirrors, glass cabinets with dusty plates inside, old paintings, and a high backed piano which sat in the living room. Before the occurrences began the clutter was homely to me and I always thought of number 24 as my own house.
The night I first experienced the haunting at number 24 we were having a sleep over in Rick's bedroom. His mum and dad had retired to bed (in the room upstairs so we could tell when they were asleep!) and me, Rick's brother Tommy and Rick were all playing on his computer laughing, eating crisps and talking about girls!. It was about 2:30am to 3:00am when I decided to go downstairs to the toilet. I left the guys and crept slowly downstairs, down the hallway and into the deathly silent livingroom. The room smelt of the bustle of the day, washing and food, but there was a cold to it at night that I had not noticed before (previously there had been a bucket on the landing to urinate in but Rick's mum had since decided that we were now old enough to pee downstairs).
I padded slowly across the room, got to the middle and froze, the room seemed to go more quiet than it had been as a distinct light had suddenly appeared in the room. It came from the adjoining conservatory which was outside the house but from which a window faced into the livingroom. It did not seem to be a flashlight or an electric light but more of a glow, sort of greenish in colour, which made a round circle on the glass. I remember I froze and went deathly cold but not feeling any real fear as I had not had any experiences with the supernatural before. It was then I heard a laugh like an old man chuckling, not in a terrible, grotesque way, more like he had heard a funny joke. The laugh gives me goosebumps now, sitting and writing this, but back then I thought it was Rick or his brother who had snuck downstairs and were playing a joke.
I ran back upstairs and was horrified to find both Rick and his brother still in the room and I remember saying to him calmly, but with a slight fear "Rick, I'm not messing around but I think somebody's in your house!" and Rick and his brother saying solemnly "No its not, its the ghost". So I made them both accompany me downstairs to see for ourselves, but upon inspection the strange light was gone. I remember the two Brothers were slightly more agitated than I was, so we ran back up the stairs and barricaded ourselves in his room and here Rick began to tell me the stories of 24 Sand Lane's ghost.
There had always been a presence in the house, Rick said, the first time he knew that something was amiss was in the mid eighties. He was sitting in the livingroom on Christmas day enjoying Christmas dinner with his whole family. It was a big occasion as all his family were there even the ones who lived in Australia had come over and there was lots of laughing and joking. He remembers the meal being interrupted by banging from upstairs like somebody jumping up and down in a temper. Rick's dad turned to his sister and said to go up and stop the cats fighting upstairs as it was so loud it was ruining the meal, but Rick remembers at this point both cats strolling in from the kitchen and the whole family going silent as the loud banging began again.
Ricks uncle and Dad went upstairs, armed with the knives used to cut the Christmas turkey, but there was nothing there and no one heard anything else that day. Rick still recalls the looks his parents gave each other across the table, like something was annoyed at the laughing and was making its presence known.
Different things would also happen, stuff unexplainably going missing and never being found such as knives and forks and piano books. There was a sort of feeling that somebody else was in the house, using it as a living space, stuff turning on and off such as lights and electric heaters, the cats and dog staring at empty corners and whimpering, the list was endless but because of this reason the family had learnt to tolerate it.
Shortly before my first encounter Rick told me that he and a few other mates had done a Seance with a Ouija board in the front bedroom, because this was where, they guessed, the the ghost would inhabit. The room had since been made into two bedrooms so they chose the right side and begun. Almost straight away, after asking if anyone was there, they received a name: G.E.O.R.G.E, Rick has since said that it spelt the name clearly, marking each letter one after another and not going to any other letters, suddenly the light began swinging quite violently which caused some distress to a few of the people in the room. Rick remembers saying "George, if thats you stop now!" in a firm voice to which a large force pushed a plastic storage box full of old school books from the top of a wardrobe onto them, understandably they exited the room in some alarm.
The next encounter happened a few months after the 'ghostly laugh' incident.
I was sleeping over at Rick's house again (as mentioned it was a regular occurence). We had built a sort of 'base' in his room out of thin mattresses, the type that are in caravans, and we were sleeping in that. It was a fun thing to do but I also think it gave us some comfort knowing that we were safe inside and hidden from whatever was out there.
At about the same time, 2:30am-3:00am-3:30am, we were talking and discussing this and that when Rick went deathly quiet, brought his finger to his mouth and shushed me and said "listen, somebody is coming up the stairs!" I listened intently and was suddenly horrified to hear slowly and quietly but very surely that somebody was walking up the staircase. You could hear each footstep clearly and the stairs were even creaking where they usually creaked. I remember looking at Rick in the torch light, our faces contorted with fear and mumbling "Is it your Mum or Dad?" but Rick shook his head. We would have heard them coming down from the room above Rick's room, as we were used to them telling us off for being noisy. The footsteps continued, one after another as we crept slowly to the door and looked down the landing to where the top of the stairs were. The footsteps continued untill they reached the top but there was nothing there, like the ghost had just stopped and was looking at us. We fled back into the base and listened all night untill morning but heard nothing.
About three days after this a few of us were playing upstairs at the house when we heard what sounded like a large object like a grandfathers clock or a cupboard, something big, fall down the stairs. We all looked at each other in fear but this time it happened during the day so with the courage that daylight brings we ran to the top of the stairs only to find nothing there. As we stood there, lost for words, we heard a loud scream, definitely a woman's. It seemed to come from nowhere in particular but since there were no girls upstairs we presumed that it was Rick's Mum but she was out in the garden and when we quizzed her on both these noises she said she had heard nothing.
All in all five people witnessed both these noises, and when we discussed it later and tried to recreate the scream, its pitch and intensity appeared to match each other, we were also all positive that the scream came from a woman.
About half a year later somebody first witnessed what we believed to be the ghost. Two boys who we knew were waiting for Rick to come out to play were both sitting in his tree house, which was at the end of his garden when in his parents bedroom they saw a man. They both said he was very grey looking, with a beard, and his hair was combed across his brow, sort of like a comb-over, and stuck down on his head. They couldn't make out any other features as the tree house was some distance up the garden (about 15 to 20 metres I would estimate). They both began to wave as they thought it was Rick's dad (who knew them as he coached the football team) to which the man moved away from the window. When Rick came out David, one of the boys, commented that they had just waved to his dad to which Rick replied "He's not in the house today, he's at work". At Rick's request, both boys drew what they had seen, and in separate rooms to prevent cheating, and we were astonished to see that both had drawn the same beard and slicked over hair.
In late 1996 the family decided to move, we approached Rick's dad and asked him if the haunting was anything to do with the decision and he admitted to us that the new house was nicer, but yes there was definitely something in the house that was unnerving them, some presence.
On the last night we all slept over and armed with a tape recorder decided to brave everything and get some lasting evidence. At 2:30am the definite 'witching hour' we placed the tape recorder downstairs and went to bed without incident. The next day very early we retrieved it and raced upstairs. The tape plays through for about half an hour with nothing, the sounds of the house settling, a plane and then the unmistakable sound of a drawer being opened and cutlery being moved about, at this point the tape cut out and the tape player chewed up the tape. As a added point this tape player never worked again. The sound of that drawer opening and cutlery being disturbed has haunted me for years, that was a person or thing or presence from somewhere else that was in that kitchen that night. This experience never left me and we have talked among ourselves for years about what it was.
As a postscript: Rick's dad, whilst checking the meter before leaving, found an old bill dated 1974 with the name George Talbot upon it. It wasn't addressed to a couple which suggested the man lived alone.
As a final point, number 24 sat empty for years and did not have a single resident. Around 1999, while at College, we decided to go around the back and look in the window. It was a dark night and we snuck in, holding onto each others clothes but suddenly Rick shouted out that there was a light on in the landing. Sure enough through a thin crack in Rick's old bedroom there was a yellow light then suddenly the crack begun to widen as if the door was slowly being opened. At this point we ran away at full pelt and never looked back.
I believe to this day that something inhabited that house, someone, maybe the old man (though we never found out if he died in the house, theres a good chance he would have being on his own). I think he still trod the carpets and went into the old drawers that were once his own. As for the scream, I'm stumped. But the crash would suggest a grisly death, the echo of which maybe still lingers on.
Number 24 still stands today and amazingly, though inhabited on either side, still stands empty, and I like to think 'George' has got full run of the house untill the day its torn down.