The Open Grave: 1890s

german gravestone with skull

Whilst, some years ago, I was on a visit in Berkshire, and spent some days with my friends, Mr. and Mrs. Lonsdale, the former told me a remarkable occurrence which had happened a few years previously.

Mr. Lonsdale’s brother, an army officer, had returned from India after a long absence, being invalided, and was expected in the evening at The Hall which was only about half a mile distant from the railway station.

The train was due to arrive at 9.15, and Mr. Lonsdale, accompanied by his wife. walked slowly down to meet and greet the arrival, the carriage being sent to bring the party back.

On the way from The Hall to the station they had to pass the old church, which was surrounded by the village burial ground. It was a beautiful moonlight night, and they could not help observing a new-made open grave. As they had not heard of any death in the neighbourhood, they were surprised, the more so as the grave seemed next to their family plot.

The train arrived, but without the expected guest. They drove back to their house, concluding he had missed the train or bad been delayed on his way from Portsmouth to London. Next morning a telegram announced the death of the officer, who had been landed very ill and had died the previous evening, at 9.15, at Portsmouth.

The strange thing was that there did not exist any open grave as seen by Mr. and Mrs. Lonsdale at the very moment the death took place.

Three days afterwards the body was buried at the spot where the relatives had in vision seen the open grave.

The Occult Review, November 1912

Mrs Daffodil’s Aide-memoire:  In Japan it is said that summer is the best time for ghost stories, since they give the reader a chill. Mrs Daffodil hopes that this simple supernatural tale will offer at least a mild frisson.

Phantom graves are something of a rarity in the ghost story canon, although there is a good deal of folklore about phantom funerals and phantom coffin-making.  There are also a few stories of phantom tombstones–equally as prophetic as the story above.


2 thoughts on “The Open Grave: 1890s

  1. Ike Renfield & Sally Campbell

    I thank you for the timing of this “post.” It is not too early to, finally, begin to long for the weather which heralds All Hallows’ Eve. The composition shop in which I used to work was in perfect accord with the Japanese–we would read aloud tales for the relief of frisson. Even now, ‘though that job in the print industry has dissolved as the dew, I was fortunate to have a colleague from that time recently “post” chilling photos of reportedly spooked railway cars in Colorado–both the content and the location much refreshed this gentlewoman languishing in North Texas.


    1. chriswoodyard Post author

      So pleased to have contributed to the cooling of your summer-fevered brow! While one appreciates seasonal variance, there have been some violent and reprehensible excesses of late. Mrs Daffodil would speak to the proper authorities if she knew who they were. In the meantime, we can but languish on terrace and verandah, with cooling drinks, fans, and ghost stories to hand.
      Best wishes,
      Mrs Daffodil



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