The Bleeding House Of Sussex: An Unseen Piano, A Feeling Of Evil & The Ghost Of Miss Thynne

In a tiny hamlet in Sussex, England, Mr and Mrs Forster recalled the terrifying paranormal encounters they had in their home. Their encounters ranged from unidentified pianists, strange substances, whispering voices, and the ghost of Miss Thynne.

Mr & Mrs Forster recounted their paranormal experiences in Sussex
Mr & Mrs Forster recounted their paranormal experiences in Sussex

Many buildings claim to be the most haunted house in Britain - almost all of them the great castles and mansions of ancient and noble families - but rather disappointingly most of them base their claim to fame on the sheer number of apparitions rather than on their diversity. Many of the phantoms, too, are very predictably said to be ancestors who have been imprisoned, murdered, separated from lovers, or otherwise suffered violent fates. A more modest manor house in Sussex, mentioned in Doomsday and with the fabric dating from the sixteenth century has, on the strength of the bizarre, varied, and apparently unconnected phenomena that has been seen there a much stronger claim.

Set in a strange hollow carved by some whim of geology in the north-facing slopes of South Downs a few miles from Brighton, the tiny hamlet is a world apart. Its unusual geography gives it a climate markedly different from the countryside about it, and in an area where the winds make woodland sparse, it is heavily timbered - almost, indeed, overshadowed. Reached by a narrow winding lane it is a perfect setting for the supernatural, but the previous owners - a pilot for a major international airline and his wife - are the last people to conjure up experiences however much their home might predispose them to do so.

The first overt demonstration that strange forces were at play in the house came in 1961 when Mrs Forster and her four children sitting at breakfast suddenly heard the unmistakable sound of a piano being played in a room immediately above them. Although the tune was unidentifiable - Mrs Forster says that it was more like an improvisation - there was no doubt that it was a piano. As there was no piano of any sort in the house, the family were astounded - except the youngest son, then aged six, who said that he had heard it several times upstairs. Nothing was found, of course, but the ghostly music repeated itself some months later, since when it has remained obstinately silent.

A more disturbing incident occurred in 1963 when Mrs Forster was ironing her daughter's school blouse in the kitchen. Suddenly a gout of thick red liquid, apparently blood, dropped on the white sleeve. Mrs Forster thought at first that she must have a nose bleed, but realised that this was not the case. And when she tried immediately to remove the stain with cold water it remained indelible: nothing that was subsequently tried had any effect on the mark. When Mrs Forster returned to the ironing board she found another globule had fallen on the cover while she had been away. The ceiling, which was a modern plastered one, was unmarked, and there was no hint of a crack through which anything might have seeped. Like the music, the blood manifested itself once more - in September 1976 when Mrs Forster on returning to the kitchen she knew had been empty, found a small still wet pool of blood on a melamine-surfaced table which had been standing in a completely different part of the room from the ironing table.

One evening in the autumn of 1973 Mrs Forster, as her husband was away, had supper with the children in her daughter's bedroom and went to bed herself early to read. A few minutes after she had got in the beautiful four-poster she heard the door open with its usual click of the latch and creek of the hinges, and assuming one of her children wanted something, she glanced up casually. To her utter amazement she saw that an elderly lady whom she did not know had entered, and now closing the door, stood with her back to it looking intently at the bed. The woman remained silent and solid as Mrs Forster, staring in astonishment, took in every detail - the grey hair, slightly waved and drawn back into a neat bun; the spectacles; the long, grey dress in timeless classic style with a low neckline and a lace jabot at the throat.

The woman paused for a few moments, and then leaning forwards slightly with her hands clasped in front of her, she advanced with quick, light, short steps. Completely bewildered, but not really afraid, Mrs Forster called out, "Who are you? What do you want?". Then, as if alarmed by the voice, the figure vanished: for the first time Mrs Forster realised that the elderly woman had been an apparition and not a stranger who had somehow entered the house.

A search revealed nothing, but the detailed description of the figure was instantly recognised by the older inhabitants of the hamlet as that of the previous owner, a Miss Thynne, who had died tragically in a fire about fifteen years earlier. It was established that the room in which the figure had appeared was the one used by Miss Thynne for many years.

Twelve months later, in the Autumn of 1974, a young man from the Argentine who was visiting the family and who knew nothing of the house or of its history, slept in the same room, and rather hesitantly asked at breakfast who had been calling under the window during the night, "Miss Thynne, Miss Thynne..."

Perhaps the most frightening experience at the manor occurred in 1971 in the bedroom next to the one in which the elderly lady was to appear. A family friend, an experienced hospital nurse, woke suddenly to experience first a sensation of intense suffocating heat, and then an inexplicable prickling of the scalp. Now fully awake, she saw to her terror, a pair of disembodied hands and arms floating at the normal height at the far side of the room. Before the real significance of the alarming visitation had dawned, the hands began to move towards the bed in a most menacing way, and at the same time, the whole atmosphere was permeated with a sense of evil. The nurse was so paralysed with dread that she could not move or cry out for help.

Gauntly silhouetted against the lighter darkness of the room, the hands with fingers extended but slightly curved, reached the posts of the bed just as she managed to begin reciting the Lord's Prayer. Whether she did it aloud or mentally she is not sure, but whichever it was the "Deliver us from evil" had its effect and the threatening hands vanished.

At breakfast, the woman was obviously very shaken indeed. She refused to spend another night in the house and although still a regular visitor, she has always since slept at a hotel a few miles away.

Mr & Mrs Forster, Sussex, England. Chorley Hospital 1968: The Story Of A Ghost That Saved A Baby


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