Trapped in a haunted house forever
I’m stuck with my haunted house - forever Vanessa Mitchell, 45, from Essex
Tucking up my sleeping baby son Jesse soundly in his cot, I tiptoed downstairs to do the ironing. A single mum, I had a ton of chores to get on with while he was napping – but as I began to run the iron across a shirt, a sudden noise made me jump right out of my skin.
Jesse’s Thomas the Tank Engine toy had started trundling across the room - of its own accord. As I watched, terror welling up inside me, one of his batteryoperated toys started flashing and making loud noises, too.
The room had gone icy cold. Something was very wrong here. Panic welled up inside me. Jesse! Putting down the iron, I raced out of the living room – but as I got to the foot of the stairs, I froze. There on the landing, just by the open door of Jesse’s room, was a strange man, staring down at me.
I couldn’t see his face. He was wearing modern clothes - brown trousers and a white shirt – but I knew he wasn’t real.
Before my eyes, he faded and vanished. I rushed up through the space where he’d been and into the bedroom.
Jesse was still fast asleep in his cot. I stared down at him, my heart beating hard, wondering what might have happened if I hadn’t rushed upstairs so quickly…
I’d thought I was getting a bargain when I’d bought my pretty little cottage in St. Osyth, Essex in 2004 for £148,000. It was cute and cosy, just right for a single person, as I’d been back then. ‘Why is it called The Cage?’ I’d asked the estate agent during the viewing. ‘It used to be a witches’ prison,’ he muttered. Perhaps I should have asked more questions then – but I didn’t. I loved the fact that the cottage was such a quirky slice of British history.
I moved in straight away and started decorating it - but because of its character, I felt it was important not to make too many changes.
‘What do you think?’ I asked my friend Jane* when she came around to check out my new pad.
‘Sorry, Vanessa,’ she shivered, ‘But there’s a really negative energy about the place.’
Some of my other friends said the same. By now, I’d learned from the neighbours that one of the house’s previous owners had committed suicide in the house – in fact, just a year previously. He’d hanged himself in 2003.
I’d seen spirit since I was a little girl, but even so, when the door at the foot of the stairs started to open on its own, then bang shut, I put all thoughts of the supernatural out of my mind. I didn’t believe there could be an active, hostile haunting going on right under my very nose.
But when I fell pregnant in 2008, the weird activity in the house became impossible to ignore.
When I was eight months pregnant, I was walking across my bedroom when I felt something shove me hard, right in the small of my back.
I fell hard onto my side. I lay there for a moment in total shock. What on earth had just happened?
Luckily, the baby was OK – but once he was born, I started to get seriously worried about protecting him from the dark forces that filled the cottage. Of course, that was when the poltergeist activity started. Furniture moved round, cushions flew off the sofa – and most terrifyingly of all, blood spatters appeared on the floor…
I thought I was getting a bargain when I bought it!
Within months, I’d become seriously depressed. I knew the house was to blame. I was so scared in my own home that I’d often sleep with all the lights on and my head under
the covers! Once I saw the man outside Jesse’s room, I knew I had to take action. I no longer felt safe. I researched the history of The Cage and discovered that it had been a local prison for centuries. It was the holding cell for 14 witches executed in the 1580s, the most famous being a midwife called Ursula Kemp who was said to have hexed a baby girl. Plague victims were also sent here to die. What with the suicide as well, it was no wonder the place was haunted. In an effort to get rid of the evil in the house, in 2008, I invited mediums, exorcists and spirit photographers into The Cage. They were all shocked at just how active the place is – but none of them managed to move the spirits on. The word spread quickly about The Cage’s haunted history and it’s
now been the subject of several documentaries. Jesse and I moved out into rented accommodation while all this was going on – and we’ve never moved back in!
Over the last decade, I’ve tried and failed to sell the house. Two years ago, it was on the market at £269,000 – and the estate agent who went to do the valuation at the house took some great photos of orbs flying about! This year, I put it on with an agent for £250,000, but there were no takers. I’ve taken it off the market now, resigned to the fact that I’m going to be the owner for the foreseeable future. I’ve got the deeds to the house so I know that I’m the only person to have lived at the house for more than three years in over 300 years! I run ghost tours at the house, and we’ve taken some amazing photos over the years. We have cameras running 24/7 now, to pick up any unusual activity. I’ve even had the house excavated to see if there were any bodies buried there. We found various bones and teeth and objects - all very creepy. And, strangely, the excavation seemed to make the haunting worse! One medium told me that the house wants to ‘talk.’ Well I’ve owned it for 14 years now and it’s revealed a lot to me, but I’m still waiting for it to share all its dark secrets…. Check out Channel 4’s True Horror series this month for a docu-drama about The Cage. To book a tour of The Cage, visit the Facebook page. Vanessa’s book Spirits Of The Cage is available from Amazon, priced £11.34.
We found bones and teeth under the house
Trapped: Can’t sell house It looks so pretty and innocent
Terrified tenants: Never last long
Living room: Paranormal activity
Man on the landing: Who was he?