Ghosts at the Seaside Resorts: 1882-1926

A travelling ghost show, such as would visit sea-side resort towns, c.1900

A travelling ghost show, such as would visit sea-side resort towns, c.1900



Writing on the subject of ghosts that haunt the seaside resorts of Great Britain, a London correspondent says:—

Last year a man took a furnished house at the seaside, as he wished to spend the summer there on account of his wife’s health. The house was roomy and double-fronted, but at the end of a fortnight the wife’s nerves were worn to a frazzle and they were glad to return home.

No one saw anything, but there were crashing noises, sounds of heavy breathing in the passages, and sounds all through the night of someone moving from room to room. One does not usually associate the sunshine and ozone of a seaside resort with spooks, but this seemed like a case to the contrary. Weird happenings were reported from a boarding-house at Blackpool which the superstitious insisted were genuine manifestations of the supernatural. But practical folks were inclined to credit “unseen” boarders with a turn for practical joking.

First queer sounds were heard, and then strange handwriting appeared on a screen and on a table, both of which articles of furniture performed as graceful a dance as their rigid legs would allow. Spiritualists who appeared on the scene were hit by flying pepper boxes. Bells rang mysteriously, and the hands of the clock had a habit of going round the wrong way.

It was thought that a certain boarder had a psychic influence, as the moment he returned to town the manifestations ceased.

A vicar who took a certain locum tenens job at the seaside for the regular clergyman, who had gone to Scotland with his wife, had a curious experience. The back garden went down to the beach, and the newcomer liked to stroll to the end of it late at night.

Leaving a low light burning in the study, he had been lounging and smoking for half an hour and then returned up the garden path. Judge of his surprise when he saw the Rev.__ whose place he was taking, sitting at the desk of the study, a pile of books at his side.

The sequel was singular. News came the next morning that the vicar and his wife had been in a railway accident and were both in hospital.

Peculiar Manifestations.

Certain places along the British coasts have their special and peculiar manifestations. There are, for instance, the spectral longships of the Solway Firth. The story is that in the old days two Danish sea-rovers, their long ships loaded with spoil, put into the Firth for shelter. A squall came shrieking from the sea and sank the ships at their moorings. Ever since, on the anniversary of their destruction, these two ships glide up Solway, and no local man is bold enough to put to sea when they are visible.

There is a certain small town on a beautiful estuary on the south coast to which small coasting vessels go. One of these was lost in a great storm a few years ago, and several families in the town mourned their relatives for lost. Then, five months later, after another great storm, she was seen coming up the river in the dusk. Many people declare they saw her, but she never arrived she faded into mist.

A story is told of the Needles, the famous headland of the Isle of Wight. A fine ship was proceeding up the Channel in a dense fog. The captain had gone below, thinking his course was right, but a stranger came to him and told him to take soundings at once. Scarcely knowing what he did, he obeyed and found but seven fathoms beneath his keel. He tacked at once, and, the fog lifting, found that had he proceeded when the “ghost” appeared he would have been wrecked on the Needles.

Pukekohe & Waiuku Times [New Zealand], 10 December 1923: p. 8

Mrs Daffodil’s Aide-memoire: A learned psychical researcher named R.S. Lambert suggested that hauntings in Britain occurred most often in the presence of tidal water and that water was a kind of conductor for ghostly energies. He also noted, more practically, that underground water could undermine ancient houses, producing mysterious phenomena like groans or opening doors.

Mrs Daffodil cannot really see the attractive of the sea-side for ghosts unless, with their shrouding draperies, not unlike a bathing cap and towel, and deathly-pale faces, like those of bathers slathered in zinc creme, they hope to be mistaken for the Living.

Shall we have a few more?

Another writer states that while staying at Brighton with some friends in November, 1879, he was walking alone on a moonlight night on the seaside of the Esplanade, when a carriage and pair drew up alongside the rails. He was greatly startled, as the wheels made no noise, but he at once took half-a-dozen steps towards the carriage, and then distinctly recognised its occupants as his grandmother, an old lady of 83, whom he had left perfectly well at Cheltenham a few days before, also her coachman and footman on the box. Vaulting over the rails he made one step forward to greet her, when to his horror the whole thing vanished. On his relating the circumstances to his friends they of course laughed at him, but next morning they received a telegram that the old lady had been found dead in her bed, at 7.30 that morning. Previous to this occurrence the correspondent had always laughed at the bare idea of ghosts. The Spiritualist 21 October 1881

Blackpool has several hauntings, though none more remarkable than the one popularly ascribed to the sea. According to tradition, the church and cemetery of Kilmigrol once stood about two miles from the shore, and were one day submerged. Ever since then, on certain nights in the year, even in stormy weather, a ghostly chime of bells may be heard ringing, far under the waves. I have met people in Blackpool who assure me they have actually heard them.

A similar haunting is stated to take place off Whitby. According to local tradition, the bells of Whitby Abbey were sold when the Abbey was suppressed in 1539. They were put on board a ship to be conveyed to London, but as soon as the vessel conveying them weighed anchor and tried to leave the bay she sank, and the bells found a home on the sea bottom. And ever since then at certain times, as in the case of Blackpool, bells no human fingers touch ring their hidden chimes.”

I am told there is a house near the Blackpool Winter Gardens which is periodically haunted by the phantasm of a girl in blue. All blue—blue hat, bodice, skirt, and eyes.

She is encountered on the staircase leading from the hall to the first landing, and looks so much like a real person that those who see her invariably take her for one, and it is only on learning afterwards that there is no such live individual in the house that they realise she is a ghost.

The house is not known to have any particular history, and the cause of the haunting is a baffling mystery.

At Brighton ,the ghostly happenings are in a house almost within sight of Brunswick square. They are invariably in the form of whistling on the staircase. The whistling sometimes ascends, as if the whistler were walking up, descends to the hall, or is stationary, but nothing is ever seen.

Elliott Donnell, 1926

Mrs Daffodil invites you to join her on the curiously named “Face-book,” where you will find a feast of fashion hints, fads and fancies, and historical anecdotes

You may read about a sentimental succubus, a vengeful seamstress’s ghost, Victorian mourning gone horribly wrong, and, of course, Mrs Daffodil’s efficient tidying up after a distasteful decapitation in A Spot of Bother: Four Macabre Tales.



9 thoughts on “Ghosts at the Seaside Resorts: 1882-1926

    1. chriswoodyard Post author

      That is a brilliant story! And so beautifully written! Many thanks for sharing it. Mrs Daffodil would like, with your permission, to share it with her alter-ego and chronicler of ghost stories over at the Haunted Ohio facebook page where it will be enjoyed by people from around the world.
      With best wishes,
      Mrs Daffodil


      1. beetleypete

        Feel free to share Mrs. D It is already on my blog, for anyone to see, so I would be happy for anyone else who wants to read it via your blog, to do so.
        Best wishes from Norfolk. Pete.


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