Ridley Hall is haunted!
I hate to be the bearer of bad tidings, but Ridley Hall in Harbour Grace is haunted.
Please allow me to familiarize readers with this structure.
The Hall, which has been empty for some years, is “an impressive building which was constructed out of local stone and brick, and which once had a roof of Newfoundlandquarried slate tiles,” said Dale Jarvis, the well-known performer, researcher, writer and storyteller.
“In 2003 the building … was gutted by fire, and now sits forlorn and in ruins, a ghost of its former self,” he added. An ideal place for a haunting. A Harbour Grace resident told Jarvis that people who visited the house “experienced paranormal experiences. They felt a feeling of dread, mainly in the cellar and attic areas. And I have felt an eeriness while walking by it in the day, as well as in the night.”
Jarvis’ contact continued: “In the cellar there is a lump rising from the ground.” It was evidently “created by the Devil himself as he tried to rise to the world of the living, but when he hit the earth, something happened that caused the earth to act as a barrier. As it was hit, the earth created a small mound which in turn created the bump in the wood of the cellar.”
Has your attention been piqued yet?
How about the story of a certain brightly-coloured house, located on Cross Road in Bay Roberts? It, too, is haunted.
Alyssa Crane, relating her experience with the house around 1999, said, “ We walked past the house, and there was a man standing where the fence was. We asked him what he was doing, and he said he was digging for something his wife left him there years ago, before she died. He said he dug there every year to find it, but he couldn’t.
“ We went to walk away, and when we turned around, he was gone.” Shivering in your shoes now? I’m being facetious, of course. Ghost stories have been around since the dawn of time.
As a child, I lived in the White Bay community of Hampden. To make our own entertainment on long, drawn-out summer evenings, we friends sat on the fence and tried to outdo each other by telling ghost stories.
By the time darkness fell, my siblings and me would almost be too scared to scurry across the garden and duck inside the house.
We’d vow to never again engage in such scary storytelling … until the next night and the next and the next. It seemed we couldn’t satiate our longing to hear more ghost stories.
I often appeal.
Why do we enjoy telling and listening to the ghost stories, especially those scarier-the-better ones? In a scientific age, when many of us boast about the logical, skeptical and intellectual bent to our minds, why do we thrive on stories designed to scare the livin’ daylights out of us?
Arthur B. Reeve, in his online essay, “ Short, Scary Ghost Stories,” sets out his own list of considerations.
A love of ghost stories may be no different than a penchant for detective stories. I personally am held captive by the mysterious. For example, who can improve on stories as diverse as G.K. Chesterton’s Father Brown mysteries, Dorothy L. Sayers’ Lord Peter Wimsey or the writings of Agatha Christie, the “queen of crime fiction”?
Reeve asked: Could it be that we are all “ full of superstition,” to a lesser or greater degree? “Only we don’t let it loose.” To divulge such personal proclivities would make us certifiable.
Perhaps, Reeve continued, “man is incurably religious.” In other words, “if all religions were blotted out, man would create a new religion.”
Further, we tend to “stand in awe of that which we cannot explain.”
The bottom line is that many of us continue to be enamoured with stories about “ things that go bump in the night.”
I’ve had my own encounters with the unexplained in the past. All of them have left me deeply unsettled and raised questions, “ What did it mean? Was it real?”
I’ve been known to sleepwalk. Perhaps the unexplained incidents fall into this category. Was I sleepwalking when I actually thought I was awake?
I’m an agnostic regarding ghost stories. At the same time, I’m open to a deeper explanation, despite the way my mind often tries to find natural explanations for supernatural events. There is a tension between the subjective and objective. I welcome light on a dark topic.
In case you’re wondering, there are many other ghost stories set in the Conception-Trinity South area. Read all about them in Dale Jarvis’ recent book, “ Haunted Waters: More True Ghost Stories of Newfoundland and Labrador,” recently published by Flanker Press.