A Haunting In Leeds: The Paranormal Reports From 10 Woodhouse Square

10 Woodhouse Square in Leeds, an old Georgian building, has been home to several reports of paranormal activity. Here is the first-hand account from ex-tenant, Mrs Pamela Turner.

Mrs Pamela Turner tells of her paranormal experiences at 10 Woodhouse Square in Leeds
Mrs Pamela Turner tells of her paranormal experiences at 10 Woodhouse Square in Leeds

In November 1945, young Peter Turner and his friends were playing through the derelict maze of industrial revolution terraced houses that made up the Camp Hill area of Leeds. Many of the buildings had already been demolished, and most of the rest had been stripped, officially and unofficially, until only the shells remained to form a prohibited playground for the local children.

There was not only the physical thrill and danger of scrambling through the crumbling skeletons but also the excitement of avoiding authority as the tottery structures were both public and parental interdictions.

The particular row in which Peter and his friends were playing that afternoon had been stripped of floorboards, and as he jumped from rafter to rafter of the upper floor, he glanced through one of the window holes into the sea of rubble below. To his amazement there were no heaps of broken brick and mortar and shattered timber: instead, he looked down into a well-kept garden about five yards by four, rose trees in bloom and an elderly man tending to them.

The utter impossibility of any garden, much less one with roses in full bloom in November being there at all did not strike him at the moment: uppermost in his mind was the fear of being caught for the double crime of trespassing and disobedience, and shouting to his friends, he fled lest the man should catch him.

It was only later that reality dawned. He searched, but the heaps of waste obstinately remained heaps of waste, and the few sparse annual weeds that had managed to grow refused to turn into bushes of roses. Today the spot is buried beneath the new Merrion Centre, and Peter Turner occasionally wondered as he wandered around the shops exactly where the garden lies beneath the concrete and terrazzo, and what trick of time or mind showed it to him.

The supernatural in Leeds had not yet finished with Peter Turner: in 1956, some six months before his marriage, he took the top flat at 10 Woodhouse Square, a tall Georgian house, now demolished. The rooms in which he lived, had in the building's grander days been a fine nursery, but now it was in a sorry state of repair. So, in the months before his wedding, he worked hard redecorating and making the flat presentable, pressing any volunteer help he could get.

He always felt that there was something strange about the place that he could not pinpoint precisely, but working all day as an engineer, and all the evening as a painter-decorator, it would have taken an army of phantoms to keep him from sleep.

One evening, however, two lady friends of his mother were helping him with the painting, and at the end of the session, Peter went with one of them to get fish and chips for supper, leaving the other to clear up. On their return they found their companion halfway down the stairs, terrified to go back into the flat because of the strange noises and sensations. But in the excitement of the wedding, these oddities were pushed into the background.

The tensions of the early days of marriage and the loneliness of the new housewife are said to cause many disturbances, but it did not seem to Pamela Turner that these factors could be responsible for the strange behavior of some of the doors in the flat. From time to time the door of a large walk-in cupboard in the living room opened gently - no matter how securely it had been fastened - and what appeared to be the sound of footsteps crossed the room. The living room door itself would then click open, and all would be silent. On another occasion, Pamela would be standing at the sink when the cupboard door swung ajar: she would hear the shuffling steps and then be conscious of an invisible presence standing immediately behind her.

The most frightening series of events occurred after one of Pamela's friends, who had been unable to come to the wedding, called, and asked if she could see the dress. This was brought out, admired, packed away again, and the friend left. The whole incident was so normal that it was scarcely noted, but that night, after the Turners had gone to bed, there was the unmistakable sounds of the bed-settee being dragged heavily across the floor of the living room. When Peter dashed in, nothing had moved even an inch.

The same sounds occurred again a few nights later, and then came the appalling crash as they recognised the heavy cast iron mangle being thrown over. The two previous incidents had told them that they would find the huge machine as upright and stable as ever when they rushed in, and so it was.

This disturbance, however, was too much for the people in the flat below, who complained bitterly about the Turners moving their furniture so noisily in the middle of the night. Soon after the Turners left 10 Woodhouse Square with deep relief, and for them in their new house all was quiet.

A most intriguing sequel was yet to come: sometime later they attended an adult education centre in another house in the square and met an elderly lady who in the course of conversation said that she had been brought up in number 10. It was reputed then, she told them, to be haunted by a young Victorian wife whose two children had died, and who searched for them constantly in the nursery.

The old lady went on to say that when her family moved into the house in the last years of the nineteenth century, they found a number of boxes and trunks in the cellar. All were empty - except one, which contained a wedding dress.

Mrs. Pamela Turner, Leeds

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