Enfield Chase (Enfield Chace)
In ‘The Haunted Homes and Family Traditions of Great Britain’ (1897), John Ingram quotes Mr. T. Westwood and a piece that appeared in Notes and Queries on the subject of “Ghosts and Haunted Houses”.
‘According to Mr, Westwood’s narrative, which no one has as yet appeared to question, he on one occasion was directly and personally “under ghostly influences,” or what appeared to be such. His story is, that a in a lonely neighbourhood on the verge of Enfield Chace, stands an old house, much beaten by wind and weather. It was inhabited when I knew it,” states Mr. Westwood, “by two elderly people, maiden sisters, with whom I had some acquaintance, and who once invited me to dine with them, and meet a circle of local guests. I well remember my walk thither. It led me up a steep ascent of oak avenue, opening out at the top on what was called the ridge-road’ of the Chace.
“It was the close of a splendid autumn afternoon through the mossy boles of the great oaks I saw . . . The golden autumn woodland reel Athwart the smoke of burning flowers. On reaching my destination, the sun had already dipped below the horizon, and the eastern front of the house projected a black shadow at its foot. What was there in the aspect of the pile that reminded me of the corpse described by the poet the corpse that ‘Was calm and cold, as it did hold some secret, glorying?’ I crossed the threshold with repugnance.
“Having some changes to make in my attire, a servant led the way to an upper chamber, and left me No sooner was he gone than I became conscious of a peculiar sound in the room a sort of shuddering sound in the room, as of suppressed dread. It seemed close to me. I gave little heed to it at first, setting it down for the wind in the chimney, or a draught from the half open door ; but moving about the room, I perceived that the sound moved with me. Whichever way I turned it followed me. I went to the furthest extremity of the chamber it was there also. Beginning to feel uneasy, and being quite unable to account for the singularity, I completed my toilet in haste, and descended to the drawing-room, hoping I should thus leave the uncomfortable sound behind me, but not so. It was on the landing, on the stair, it went down with me, always the same sound of shuddering horror, faint, but audible, and always close at hand. Even at the dinner-table, when the conversation flagged, I heard it unmistakably several times, and so near, that, if there was an entity connected with it, we were on one chair. It seemed to be noticed by nobody else, but it ended by harassing and distressing me, and I was relieved to think that I had not to sleep in the house that night.
“At an early hour, several of the guests having far to go, the party broke up, and it was a satisfaction to me to breathe the fresh, wholesome air of the night, and feel rid at last of my shuddering incubus.
“When I saw my hosts again, it was under another and not haunted roof. On my telling them what had occurred to me, they smiled and said it was perfectly true, but added they were so used to the sound it had ceased to perturb them. Sometimes, they said, it would be quiet for weeks, at others it followed them from room to room, from floor to floor, pertinaciously, as it had followed me. They could give me no explanation of the phenomenon. It was a sound, no more, and quite harmless.
“Perhaps so, but of what strange horror,” demands Mr. Westwood, “not ended with life, but perpetuated in the limbo of invisible things, was that sound the exponent?”