Greatest Scary Ghost Story in History Part 1

An account of the greatest ghost story ever authenticated in the files of the Society for Psychical Research.


The Society for Psychical Research in London is the oldest institute of its kind in the world. Its 1,200 members are dedicated to research in telepathy, mediumship, and all other paranormal phenomena. To this end, the society conducts experiments, observes cases, and collects all data bearing on psychic phenomena.

The best authenticated ghost story on the files of the society is that of the Cheltenham ghost, which was first investigated by Frederic Myers. In April, 1882, Captain Despard with his invalid wife and six children moved into a house known as Garden Reach in Cheltenham, England. The house had been empty for years, and there were reports of its being haunted.

It was in June that Rose, the captain's daughter, first saw the ghost. "The figure was that of a tall lady, dressed in black of a soft woolen material.... The face was hidden in a handkerchief held in the right hand ... on further occasions ... I saw the upper part of the left side of the forehead, and a little of the hair above. Her left hand was nearly hidden by her sleeve and a fold in her dress. As she held it down, a portion of a widow's cuff was visible on both wrists, so that the whole impression was that of a lady in widow's weeds...."

All 17 people who saw it--members of the family, friends, or staff within the house--say it was so lifelike that at first they mistook it for a living person. The figure was seen from all angles and always appeared in the same attitude. It tended to follow the same route, going down the stairs, into the drawing room, standing behind the couch for a while, then moving along the corridor to the garden door, and disappearing.

Several times Rose addressed it, and on the first occasion it seemed about to speak but only "gave a slight gasp and moved toward the door." It never appeared when the family and friends waited for it, and not all the family had the ability to see it, even when it was pointed out to them. Those who could not see it did, however, hear its footsteps, "soft and rather slow, though decided and even."

Rose attempted to photograph the ghost and even catch it. On one occasion she persuaded family and friends to join hands and make a ring around the ghost, but "it appeared merely to walk out between two people and disappear." The haunting was at its height between 1884 and 1886. After that, the figure was seen less often and it gradually became less distinct in outline.

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