Daily Strange's Tricky Tuesday: A Feeling of Terror and Panic...

Updated: Apr 7

Hereward Hubert Lavington Carrington (October 17, 1880 - December 26, 1958) was one of the pioneers of psychical research in the United States, a tireless investigator of telepathy, mediums, poltergeists, and hauntings. He claimed to have “witnessed highly curious and inexplicable phenomena in haunted houses ”on several occasions. He chose the following account as one of the most striking:

Motorists whose cars crashed at this London corner explained that they swerved to avoid a mysterious red bus. It had hurtled toward them, they said, and then suddenly vanished.

On the night of August 13, 1937, a party of seven of us spent the night in a reputed “haunted house,” situated some 50 miles from New York City.... The group consisted of the former occupant [who had rented the house and left before his rental expired, because of the disturbances], two of his friends, two friends of our own, my wife and myself. We also brought with us a dog which had lived in the house while it was occupied, and which, according to reports, had behaved in an extraordinary manner on several occasions.

After having spent years investigating psychical phenomena in England, Dr. Hereward Carington came to the United States in the 1920's to continues his research. It led him to one of the most terrifying ''hauntings'' he ever experienced.

Carrington suggested that the house, which was lit from top to bottom upon their arrival, be explored to make sure that it was not practical jokers, cats, bats, rats, or mice that were causing the disturbances:

Examination of the cellar and the ground floor revealed nothing unusual. On the second floor, however, two or three of us sensed something strange in one of the middle bedrooms. This feeling was quite intangible, but was definitely present, and seemed to be associated with an old bureau standing against one wall....

Walking along the hall, we came to a door which had escaped our attention the first time we had passed it.

''Where does this lead?'' I asked.

''To the servants' quarters,'' Mr. X. replied

''Would you like to go up there?''

''By all means,'' I said, opening the door.

Glancing up, I could see that the top floor was brilliantly lighted, and that a steep flight of stairs lay just ahead of me. Leading the way, with the others close behind me, I ascended the stairs, and made a sharp turn to the right, finding myself confronted by a series of small rooms.

The instant I did so, I felt as though a vital blow had been delivered to my solar plexus. My forehead broke out into profuse perspiration, my head swam, and I had difficulty in swallowing. It was a most extraordinary sensation, definitely physiological, and unlike anything I had ever experienced before. A feeling of terror and panic seized me, and for the moment I had the utmost difficulty in preventing myself from turning and fleeing down the stairs! Vaguely I remember saying aloud:

“Very powerful! Very powerful!” My wife, who was just behind me, had taken a step or two forward. She was just exclaiming, “Oh, what cute little rooms!” when the next moment she was crying, “No! No!” and raced down the steep flight of stairs like a scared rabbit.

Carrington pointed out that both he and his wife were seasoned investigators, “accustomed to psychic manifestations of all kinds,” and that neither had previously experienced a comparable moment of terror. He went downstairs to make sure that his wife was all right and found her sitting on the porch “slowly collecting her scattered faculties.” She reassured him. The group, whose other members had all been strongly affected, then gathered in a circle in one of the bedrooms. The lights were turned out, and they waited, cameras and flashbulbs ready.

After passing an uneventful hour they ascended the stairs again, and“ this time not a sensation of any kind was to be felt! The room seemed absolutely clear of all influences, clean, pure and normal... Even the dog, which had growled and bristled like a cat and refused to be coaxed upstairs on the first occasion, now ran up quite willingly, with its tail wagging.

It was only after Carrington and the others had made their original inspection of the place and experienced their“first violent reactions” that the former tenant told them “a suicide had actually been committed on the upper floor, and that these rooms were thought to be the seat’ of the haunting.”

Source: (Hereward Carrington, Essays in the Occult, pp.19-25)

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