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Stevenson Street, North Shields

The following account first appeared in Catherine Crowe’s The Night Side of Nature, or, Ghosts and Ghost Seers (1848) and was repeated in The Haunted Homes and Family Traditions of Great Britain by John Ingham (1897). The case concerns a residential property being leased by Mrs L in the early 19th century.

According to Catherine Crowe: One of the most melancholy and impressive circumstances of this sort I have met with, occurred to Mrs. L, a lady with whose family I am acquainted; Mrs. L herself having been kind enough to furnish me with the particulars:

A few years since, Mrs. L. took a furnished house, in Stevenson Street, North Shields, and she had been in it a very few hours before she was perplexed by hearing feet in the passage, though whenever she opened the door she could see nobody. She went to the kitchen and asked the servant if she had not heard the same sound ; she said she had not, but there seemed to be strange noises in the house. When Mrs. L. went to bed, she could not go to sleep for the noise of a child's rattle, which seemed to be inside her curtains. It rattled round her head, first on one side then on the other; then there were sounds of feet and of a child crying, and a woman sobbing; and, in short, so many strange noises, that the servant became frightened, and went away. The next girl Mrs. L. engaged came from Leith, and was a stranger to the place; but she had only passed a night in the house, when she said to her mistress, “This is a troubled house you've got into ma'am," and she described, amongst the rest, that she had repeatedly heard her own name called by a voice near her, though she could see nobody.

One night Mrs. L. heard a voice, like nothing human, close to her, cry, " Weep! Weep! Weep! "Then there was a sound like someone struggling for breath, and again, "Weep! Weep! Weep!” Then the gasping, and a third time, "Weep! Weep! Weep!" She stood still, and looked steadfastly on the spot whence the voice proceeded, but could see nothing ; and her little boy, who held her hand, kept saying, "What is that, Mamma? What is that?" She describes the sound as most frightful. All the noises seemed to suggest the idea of childhood, and of a woman in trouble. One night, when it was crying round her bed, Mrs. L. took courage and adjured it; upon which the noise ceased for that time, but there was no answer. Mr. L. was at sea when she took the house, and when he came home, he laughed at the story at first, but soon became so convinced the account she gave was correct, that he wanted to have the boards taken up, because, from the noises seeming to hover much about one spot, he thought perhaps some explanation of the mystery might be found. But Mrs. L. objected that if anything of a painful nature were discovered she should not be able to continue in the house; and, as she must pay the year's rent, she wished, if possible, to continue for the whole period.

She never saw anything but twice; once, the appearance of a child seemed to fall from the ceiling close to her, and then disappear; and another time she saw a child run into a closet in a room at the top of the house; and it was most remarkable that a small door in that room which was used for going out on the roof, always stood open. However often they shut it, it was opened again immediately by an unseen hand, even before they got out of the room, and this continued the whole time they were in the house; whilst night and day, someone in creaking shoes was heard pacing backwards and forwards in the room over Mr. and Mrs. L.'s heads.

At length the year expired; and to their great relief they quitted the house ; but five or six years afterward, a person who had bought it having taken up the floor of that upper room to repair it, there was found; close to the small door above alluded to, the skeleton of a child. It was then remembered that some years before a gentleman of somewhat dissolute habits had resided there, and that he was supposed to have been on very intimate terms with a young woman-servant who lived with him, but there had been no suspicion of anything more criminal.

It is important to note that there is no Stevenson Street in North Shields, but there is a Stephenson Street which has been used for the map below. Whether the actual events occurred on Stephenson Street, a long gone Stevenson Street or whether this was a pseudonym to protect the exact location is unclear. I will update the article as more information becomes available.

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