July 17, 2018

England’s Whitby Abbey

Ghosts of Haunted England – Whitby Abbey

Whitby abbey tony spera Englands Whitby AbbeyBy Tony Spera

Visit # 1
The drive to Whitby was one that held much excitement for me, as it was the location chosen by Bram Stoker for his Vampire novel, Dracula.  I had taken over driving tasks from Ed, since up to this point Ed had been doing all of the driving and had appeared to be getting a little weary.  I must admit it took awhile to get used to driving on the left side of the road while sitting behind a wheel that was on the right side of the vehicle.  The real trick however was maneuvering through roundabouts – rotaries that connected multiple roadways and re-routed traffic to various other roads and highways.  By the second roundabout I secretly wished I’d taken Skip Barber’s advanced racing course.   I remember coming over this rise, the winding road replete with hairpin turns and drop-offs which kept my concentration at a peak, when out of nowhere, looming in the distance, I could see the ruins of Whitby Abbey!   It’s hard to describe the feeling one gets upon first witnessing something so ominous, so old, and so beautiful.   The Abbey had actually been founded in approximately 657 AD on land given by Oswy King of Northumbria in thanks for his victory over King Penda of Mercia.  It had been a double monastery, having housed both men and women.  It was destroyed by the Danes, but rebuilt by the Normans after the Conquest in the thirteenth century.

I felt a shiver travel up the back of my neck as we came closer to the wondrous towering ruins.  My stomach was doing flip-flops as I put the car in park and shut off the engine.   I think it was a combination of nervous anticipation and the greasy fish & chips lunch I had just consumed.   Judy was busy loading film into her camera. Lorraine was rummaging through her handbag for some digestives ( cookies).   Ed was fiddling with his tape recorder, (he seemed to always be fiddling with his recorder).  As for me, I just stood there, awestruck by the sight of the massive Abbey ruins.  I wondered about the traditions that had been born there, about the people who died there, and of the many stories that are now lost to history.  My thoughts were interrupted by Ed Warren who was yelling that he had to visit the men room.   I think I yelled something back like “Now THAT’S more information than I needed to know” and began walking closer still to the ruins.   Judy approached me and began snapping pictures.  Lorraine also came up to me and said something about the magnificence of it all. Ed returned from the men room and explained to me that a lot of spirit phenomena had been witnessed at Whitby Abbey, by himself and by many others.  We stayed for about an hour when suddenly Ed said, Ok, let’s go! Go ?   I thought. We just got here!  We’re leaving now ! Ed proclaimed.  We’ll come back tonight, after the witching hour! Witching hour?   I asked feebly.  Yeah.

After 12:00 midnight.  That’s the best time to witness and photograph ghostly phenomena!  We all jumped back into the rental car, and headed down the road towards Robin Hood’s bay.  My first visit to Whitby Abbey was an uneventful one.  Little did I know what I would be in store for later that night !

Visit # 2 ( After Midnight, May 1981 )

whitby abbey 3 Englands Whitby AbbeyWe had found a little pub to eat in near Robin Hood’s bay.  Judy ordered Fish & chips.  Ed ordered steak & kidney pie.   Lorraine ordered a scone with tea.  I ordered Lasagna. ( It didn’t resemble any Lasagna I had ever seen . . . it tasted like nothing I had ever tasted.  I washed it down with a warm bitter beer.   Then it was off to Whitby Abbey again – this time my stomach was doing double flip-flops.  We arrived at approximately 12:30 A.M., and I must tell you it looked even more magnificent, more ominous than it had in the daylight.  No one was there.  No caretakers, no tourists, (except for the four of us)- no police.   The only sound was the whipping wind that blew in from the North Sea.   I was excited, anxious, apprehensive.  I was . . . well . . . cold!  I began by setting up my 35mm camera on a tripod, while Judy and Lorraine walked around to the east side of the ruins.  Ed Warren was fiddling with a tape recorder. What happened to me next is beyond comprehension. I remember feeling this great sense of doom or dread (much like the feeling I had at Borley Church, only much more intense.)  I had a distinct sense that something was right behind me.   I turned suddenly and there was this thing . . . I can only describe it as a cyclone of wind blacker than black.   It was pulsating and spinning but made no sound.   I knew it was evil itself!

Immediately I began to feel weak in the knees.   It sounds totally incredible I know, but I swear this thing was trying to get me!   I was able to issue a sound, more like a high pitched squeal than a sentence.  I was trying to say to it . . . Get back, get outta here!   I don’t know how Ed heard me because he can’t hear very well (from his World War II Navy gunner days) but he came running towards me and this thing.  He was yelling “In the name of Jesus Christ I command you to leave and go back to where you came from”!   He was throwing some kind of liquid at it.   (I found out later that it was holy water).  He kept commanding it to leave.  At first it just backed off a little bit. But then it faded away into nothing.   I was down on both knees at this point.  Ed grabbed me and pulled me up a little bit. Are you alright, kid?   He said, genuinely concerned.  I don’t remember much after that.  My head was spinning and I felt like I’d pass out at any moment.   I know that I sat in the car for a long time, shivering.  Judy and Lorraine came up to me, both expressing concern.  I really felt helpless let me tell you.  It’s one thing to go up against another human being.  I used to have to do it all the time.  (I was a police officer).

It was quite another thing however to go up against something preternatural.  Something so totally evil in nature!  After tangling with this thing, wrestling some drunk in a bar would seem like a day at the beach!  That night, after returning to our B& B (Bread & Breakfast hotel ) I stayed awake a very long time contemplating what had happened to me.  I wondered why it was happening to ME and to no one else at the time. I was the strong one, (or so I thought).  But then it struck me that this thing, (evil) came to me on purpose.  To show me that no one is strong next to it.  That no one can challenge evil and win without God’s help, which Ed had called upon.  Ed had told me many times since this incident never to underestimate the power of Evil to confuse!  I said the rosary that night, with more intensity and conviction than I had ever done before.  And suddenly I realized that with God’s love and guidance I‘d be able to face whatever might be in store for me tomorrow . . . even warm beer and bad Lasagna!

England’s Borley Rectory

Ghosts of Haunted England – Borley Rectory
By Tony Spera

borley ed lorraine Englands Borley RectoryWhere does one go to fish for trout? A trout brook, of course.  Want to photograph Lions, Wildebeests, and Giraffes?  Perhaps the African plains would be a good choice.  So where would one go to find and photograph ghosts?  Why- the mystical haunted British Isles, of course!

My first sojourn to England and Scotland occurred back in May of 1981.  My wife and I had accompanied Ed & Lorraine on what promised to be a ghost filled excursion.  Neither Judy (my wife) or I had any idea on what to expect from the trip, except that Ed had mentioned to me that the food wasn’t very good.  He said it was a lot of fish & chips, mushy peas, cucumber sandwiches and warm beer!   I hadn’t held out much hope of getting a home cooked spaghetti and meatball dinner! But what the heck, when in Rome, do as the Romans do, I thought.

On arrival at Heathrow airport, we received an immediate pleasant surprise.   We were walking down one of the terminal ramps when all of a sudden Lorraine yelled out Jane!  It’s me, Lorraine! I quickly turned to look, and low and behold it was Jane Seymour! (Doctor Quinn, Medicine Woman).   I remember standing there in awe for a moment, and putting my hand out to shake her hand. I’ll never forget Lorraine saying, And this is my daughter Judy and her fiancée Tony.  Here I was, sloppy and stupid from the long flight, hair unkempt, clothes wrinkled, about to shake hands with this famous beautiful movie star!  And although Miss Seymour had just flown in from the States herself, she looked as fresh as a daisy.   She shook my hand and said, Pleasure to meet you.  I mumbled something unintelligible, something resembling me too and stood there like a big dumb jerk.   It was a moment frozen in time for me, a moment I’ll never forget, – a moment Miss Seymour probably doesn’t even remember!   I was extremely impressed by her down to earth manner.  (While I was floating on cloud 9).  This is a good start, I thought to myself.  Not 5 minutes into London and I’ve already met an international movie star.  After renting a car from Swan National we headed to our first destination, a little town called Sudbury, about 2 hours out of London.   Basically about all I remember about the drive was that Ed was driving on the M1 motorway at speeds Mario Andretti would’ve found scary, and I think I mumbled Jane Seymour’s name several times while drifting in and out of a jet -lag induced sleep.

Sudbury is a typical small English town, very quaint, very old.  We stayed at a nice little B & B (Bed & Breakfast) readying & rejuvenating ourselves for the first (and one of the most) Haunted locations, the infamous Borley.  One thing about the English Breakfasts; they are good!  A typical breakfast consists of cereal, eggs; sausage (also known as bangers) fried tomato, a rasher of bacon, toast, juice, and coffee.  Some places even serve-baked beans on the side.   (Ed Warren had previously told me that the breakfasts were indeed GOOD) Borley Church is perhaps one of the most haunted locations in all of England.  Actually the most haunted location was the Borley Rectory, which was constructed in 1863 by the Reverend Bull.  It is said that 2 entities regularly haunted this location, the Borley Nun and the Borley Monk.  In 1939 the Rectory burned down, but the haunting phenomena just seemed to transfer to the Borley Church, which was constructed in the 14th century.  Needless to say, we were all quite anxious to get there and set up for the night.

We arrived at the church at around 10:30 P.M. (Lorraine had earlier received permission and an entrance key prior to our arrival.)  The first thing that struck me was the crypt just inside the front entrance.  (Known as the Wallgrave Crypt).  My wife (then my fiancée) Judy immediately began to feel nauseous and light headed. This is a rather common occurrence for someone who is psychic, which Judy is to a degree.  (Remember her mom, Lorraine Warren, is a renowned psychic whose abilities have been tested and documented by researchers at UCLA).  It was curious to me that Lorraine did not sense anything out of the ordinary, nor did she feel nauseous.  (At this time.) I took several photographs of the crypt, then moved toward the altar section of the church.  Ed Warren was setting up a cassette tape recorder.  Lorraine and my wife were seated quietly in one of the small wooden pews.  There is something here. I can hear someone breathing. Lorraine’s exclamation startled me.  Where is it Lorraine?   Ed said as calmly as if he were ordering Chinese take out.  Over there, behind Tony.   I still remember how I felt at that moment, kind of like the feeling you might get when you think you’re going to crash into something with your car.   (Panic, shock, and adrenaline rush all come to mind).   I stood motionless, not knowing what I should do.   Don’t move! Ed yelled at me.  (He was preaching to the choir at that point, for I was frozen solid in space and time).  It’s a woman.  She’s wearing a black robe, like a nun’s habit…yes, I think she is a nun! Lorraine had offered this information slowly, methodically, in a low even voice.  It was the first time I had witnessed her speaking in trance.   She’s asking what we are doing here.  Lorraine continued slowly.   Ask her who she is Lorraine, Ed quipped, this time sounding like he was ordering a pizza.  I remained frozen in place; the only sound was that of MY breathing!   It’s the Borley Nun! Lorraine said, her eyes closed tightly.   She’s fading now, but I definitely get the sensation that she’s curious about our being here.

lorraine warren borley rectory Englands Borley RectoryTony, you can move now.  Ed was smiling over at me.  I could feel my heart pounding in my chest.   Well kid, you just experienced a ghost! How do you feel?  Ed patted me on the back. I think I’m still in shock.   I definitely felt something, but I don’t know what, exactly. A feeling of dread or doom or something.   My knees are shaky! Just then Lorraine and Judy came up to me.  They both looked reasonably calm.   I felt like a jerk, being the only one who appeared frightened.  I looked at my watch; it was 11:15 P.M.  How long are we staying?   I said rather sheepishly. Only until the Devil’s hour.   Ed answered, laughing.   The Devil’s hour?  When’s that? I asked. 3:00 O’clock in the morning.  Anything that comes in 3’s is an insult to the trinity . . . 3 knockings, rapping’s, pounding sounds.  That’s why it’s called the Devil’s hour.  Ed said matter of factly.   Does stuff like this always happen so quickly?   I mean, we were only here for about 45 minutes.  I looked at both Ed and Lorraine.   Judy was walking near the back of the church at this point.  Sometimes nothing happens for days and days.   Other times they happen very quickly, like tonight.  Lorraine explained.  Yeah.  Ghosts come when they want to come, not when you want them to.  Ed added, At that point, I wasn’t sure I ever WANTED them to come again.

The remainder of the night was very quiet, with no further incidents, sounds, or impressions from Lorraine.  At 3:00 O’clock we prepared to leave.  I had experienced my first (of many to come) ghostly phenomena . . .  The Borley Nun.  So how did you like your experience with the Borley Nun, kid? Ed asked.  Oh it was alright I guess Ed.   But I gotta tell you . . . I’ll take Jane Seymour any day!  Wait till tomorrow kid, just wait till tomorrow!   Ed said grinning. I walked out of the church, passing several ancient tombstones on the way to the rental car.  Judy was already in the car, beckoning to me.   I glanced up at the sky and watched the full moon’s glow caress the stone church.  I thought of what tomorrow might bring . . . and that a warm beer sounded pretty darn good right about then.