The tale of the ‘Winchester Mystery house‘ is an intriguing one that plunges into the heart of the mythology of the Old West. It is also unusual in that the subject of this article is not just in itself haunted but rather was built (allegedly) because of a haunting.
Sarah Winchester was the wife of William Wirt Winchester, widowed when her husband fell victim to Tuberculosis in 1881 and therefore heiress to his vast fortune and a significant number of shares in the company that manufactured the Winchester rifle. The story goes that the grief of losing both her husband and daughter (who died in 1866) led to her consulting a medium who informed her that her family was haunted by the ghosts of all the Native American and Civil war soldiers who had been killed by the Winchester rifle. The medium’s advice was to travel to California and build a house ‘to house the spirits’ in order to appease them. So long as the house kept being built they would leave her in peace.
The RMS Queen Mary is an interesting paranormal site to study. Listed as one of the top ten most haunted sites in the US, it is intriguing to see such a quintessentially British artifact inhabiting a site in California. But, of course, being a trans-Atlantic vessel, she has always been a daughter of two worlds and I suppose it is fitting that a ship born in the UK should end her days in the US.
For those who are not aware of the history, the Queen Mary was one of two cruise ships (the other being the RMS Queen Elizabeth) built by Cunard and launched in 1934 to make trans-Atlantic crossings. She did this with style and elegance for several years, with a brief spell painted gray for military service as a troop carrier in WWII (renamed the Grey Ghost), before finally being retired in 1967. Another ship (the QM II) took over the name in 2004 when that ship replaced the now retired QE II (launched in 1969) as flagship of the Cunard fleet.
After retirement, the Queen Mary was converted into a hotel and tourist attraction in Long Beach, California where it is still permanently moored and has played host to holidaymakers, museums, the Walt Disney Corporation (who owned it in the 80’s)* and even a Roller Derby team (Long Beach Derby Gals who used it as a venue but now seem to have moved elsewhere).
And, if the rumors are to be believed, ghosts…
This is reblogged from my Lurking Musings blog where it featured as part of my Vampire Month special event. On Thursday this week, Johnathon will be talking in more detail about the Vampire Killing kit that the museum has in its collection.
Today we have an interview with Jonathan Ferguson, Curator of Firearms at the Royal Armouries in Leeds. He recently gave a talk entitled ‘How to kill a Vampire’ which I was lucky enough to attend and it was this talk which led me to approach him about a slot in Vampire month.
As someone born in the North East of England, I am no stranger to either coal mining or the need for Unions to protect the rights of workers. This story therefore has a lot of resonance with me, even if the coal mining in question took place over 130 years ago and several thousand miles away in Pennsylvania state.
The story goes that in the 1870s a group of Irish coal miners, all part of an Irish Pro-Union organisation called the Molly Maguires, were accused of murder. It is such a well known tale that there was even a movie about it starring Sean Connery. Accounts agree that the circumstances of their arrest and trial between 1876 and 1878 were somewhat shady with an investigation carried out by the Pinkerton Detective agency (a private concern) and arrests made by the Coal and Iron Police (a paid militia run by the companies that owned the mines). There were also suspicions of Jury tampering (the composition of the jury was composed of ethnic groups such as German and Welsh immigrants who had a distaste for the Irish) and the judge was reputed to have a heavy anti-Molly bias.
The Loch Ness Monster has been one of the most enduring myths of the last two centuries. In fact, the legend may be even older if you take into account the supposed sighting by St Columba in the 6th Century Ever since the first modern age sighting of a ‘log like’ object by D MacKenzie in 1871 speculations about what might be lurking in the depths of the 263 thousand million cubic feet of water that constitutes the largest body of water in the whole of the United Kingdom. Attempts to discover the truth of the matter have even extended so far as to an ambitious one million pound (~$1,524,674) project to scan the entire Loch using sonar called Operation Deepscan.
They say that in space no one can hear you scream… Well, the producers and marketing teams of the Alien franchise of Sci Fi films said that and it became one of the more well known movie taglines of all time. You may not be able to scream in space but it is certainly the most likely place where you might spot aliens.
Of all the supernatural creatures that are known about, I reckon that Vampires are quite possibly the most well known.
The literary creation of John William Polidari (one time physician to Lord Byron) and popularized by Bram Stoker, the Vampire has blazed a trail through books, movies, cartoons, comics and theater productions for much of the 20th century and is still going strong in the 21st. YA fiction in particular has adopted the vampire with gusto, turning them from blood sucking horrors that lurk in the night to sexy, angst ridden anti heroes. Needless to say, everyone knows all about Vampires.
Greetings and welcome to the month of October!
This month we hope to present articles on all the little things that make Halloween so great with our “31 Days of Halloween”!
We were fortunate enough to have some help in that regard, so we start out with a article by Doctor Jo Bath about one of the most iconic Halloween symbols…witches!