A sinister story of murder is believed to be behind the reported hauntings of Buckingham Terrace in Edinburgh, Scotland. A deranged seaman is the prime suspect of a ghost that is said to have plagued several families living in the apartment block.
Buckingham Terrace is situated by the Dean Bridge, close to the centre of Edinburgh. It is an imposing crescent of houses, many of which are divided into elegant flats.
In the nineteenth century, the residents in one particular flat in Buckingham Terrace, the Gordan family, became aware of a sinister presence in their home shortly after moving in.
The flat above had been uninhabited for some time and, apart from some pieces of furniture that were stored there, it was empty. Mrs Gordon was therefore very surprised and quite concerned when she awoke one night to hear noises coming from the room above her head. There was a great deal of thumping and banging as if heavy objects were being moved around.
The noises were repeated the next night, and Mrs Gordon was moved to make a complaint to the landlord. No satisfactory explanation could be offered for the disturbances, however. The Gordon family were the only occupants of the building. There was little the landlord could do except suggest that perhaps Mrs Gordon's ears were deceiving her and that the noise was travelling from farther away, perhaps the adjoining building. Mrs Gordon was adamant. The noises were coming from the upper flat, from the room directly above her bedroom. It was not long after this that Mrs Gordon began to become aware of a distinct feeling of dread when she was in her bedroom. She woke one night feeling quite fearful. Normally a calm, rational woman, she was not given to experiencing such feelings. It felt to her as if something or someone was in the room, although she could see nothing. The presence - for now, it seemed certain that something was there - would move past her as she lay in bed at night, then go out of her room quietly. After it had left Mrs Gordon's room, she could hear it climbing the stairs to the floor above. The sounds, quiet at first, would then build to a sudden crescendo.
The banging noises that she had heard on previous occasions would start up again. Then, the sounds would change in quality once more, and Mrs Gordon would hear stamping noises as if someone was jumping up and down on the floor above her head.
There was little Mrs Gordon could do about the strange occurrences, for any suggestion she might make to the landlord that the place might be haunted would undoubtedly have been met with denial and probably ridicule. She had enquired of the rest of her family whether they had been disturbed by anything at night, but they had not heard a thing.
Then Mrs Gordon's daughter experienced similar occurrences. Her mother was away, and she decided to sleep in her room one night. She had barely opened the door when she felt something push past her, moving towards the stairs to the upper floor. The girl, perhaps emboldened by a rush of adrenaline, charged after the "thing" as it headed for the empty flat above. At the doorway, she stopped, but she could hear that whatever or whoever it was had gone inside. Now, from the sounds she could hear through the door, the "thing" was moving furniture around. Tentatively the girl tried the door and found it to be unlocked. She turned the handle, pushed the door wide open, and stared into the room from the doorway. Inside, she could just make out a dark figure bending over the open case of a grandfather clock. Something told her that the figure was not human or, at least, not a living human. Suddenly her courage deserted her, and she froze in terror. The figure turned towards her. She ran, as fast as her legs could carry her, back down to the safety of her own flat. When the girl told her mother about what had happened, Mrs Gordon's suspicions that the building was haunted grew even stronger. The ghostly figure appeared once more, this time to Mrs Gordon. She was lying in her bed one night when she became aware of the (now familiar) feeling of dread again. She looked up and saw a man standing in the doorway of the bedroom. He had a sinister, distracted air about him. In his hands, he held what looked like a bundle of rags. The family had experienced quite enough. They arranged soon after to leave the flat in Buckingham Terrace. Once they had settled comfortably elsewhere, however, Mrs Gordon was determined to see what she could find out about the history of their flat in Buckingham Terrace. Investigations revealed that she and her family were not the only ones to believe that the place was haunted. Several rumours circulated about the flat, one of which was the following, which Mrs Gordon took to be the most likely. According to the story, a retired seaman, a former captain in the merchant navy, had lived in the Gordons' flat sometime before. The man was an alcoholic and was also believed to have been mentally disturbed. There had been a family with a young baby living in the flat above at that time, and the baby, as babies do, often cried at night. On one particular night, the baby, who had been left alone for a while, had woken and was crying. The constant noise of the crying had annoyed the seaman to such an extent that he had stormed upstairs in a drunken rage and killed the baby. In a pathetic effort to conceal his crime, he had tried to hide the baby's body in the case of a grandfather clock. Of course, the dreadful deed had soon been discovered, and the seaman was eventually committed to an asylum, where it was said that he took his own life.
This story was dreadful indeed, but it did explain to the Gordon family why the presence kept thundering upstairs and why the ghostly figure had been bent over the open case of the grandfather clock. The seaman's ghost was condemned to re-enact his ghastly deed over and over again.