Helloooooo from the other side! (Of the keyboard). A few stories about about old buildings and things that go bump in the day for us... It is fairly well accepted, by some at least, that builders tend to see more ghosts than most! Occasionally we get asked by our customers if we have ever experienced anything? Well, we have a few anecdotes, so please lower the lights and prepare to have a good laugh at our expense :o)
A few years ago we completed a full renovation project on a house and barn near Shrewsbury in Shropshire. The oldest part of the building was a barn built in the early 18th century and, at first, it was quite an unpleasant place to be! We heard slammed doors, bumps, heavy bangs and draggings from upstairs; we wondered what on earth we'd walked into if we're honest!
The first week was fairly uncomfortable and one day when there were only two of us on site, rattling around in this huge place, I was patching a little area of render behind a closed door in the barn - a door which had not moved at all due to drafts or pressure changes all week - a door which was closed tight and latched. A door which then slammed open right into my face! After I'd finished exclaiming and remonstrating (politely... honest), I realised that the other chap who was on site with me was outside loading a cement mixer 50yds or so away, I could hear him shovelling!
We had been removing the plaster in this area with breakers for some days and knocking through walls, etc. It must have seemed to any watching Caspers that we were knocking hell's bells out of the place! However, the following week we started the damp proofing and building work and generally started to improve the building rather than, seemingly, to attack it and everything changed...
We were on that project for about 4 months and the place could not have felt more homely and welcoming after that first week was over. Clearly the watchers approved of our work!
The oldest basement we have ever worked in, to our knowledge, was in Ludlow, also in Shropshire. It was carved out of the rock and the stone was used to build Ludlow Castle, which is a very early Norman stone castle built in the 1080's I believe - a lovely place if you ever get a chance to visit.
Anyway, the basement was like stepping back in time, as you walked down the steps the Georgian bricks gave way to some very narrow 2" hand-mades which could have been 17th or even 16th century and then you got down to the rock.
It was a very nice house and a really pleasant lady that we were working for, however as soon as she went out everything changed! The cellar ceiling was quite low and the visible floorboards of the lounge above were only a few inches overhead so you can imagine what it sounded like when the rocking chair 8" above-head started rocking. Loudly! This accompanied by doors banging and dragging noises again was quite an experience! The first time this happened the effect was so, shall we say pronounced, that I ran out of the basement with tools in my hands thinking that someone had broken into the lady's house! As I dashed into the lounge the rocking chair suddenly slowed to a stop and everything went silent. Pretty creepy eh? When the lady came home everything went back to normal so we carried on and thought no more about it.
The next day the lady went out again and it all happened again! I went upstairs again, this time not on my own because someone, who will remain nameless, refused to stay down there alone! Again nothing.
When the lady returned we asked her if she'd popped back and we just hadn't noticed and she gave us a knowing look and asked if we had heard any banging or strange noises. We explained what had happened and as it turned out she had recently had a spiritualist in to calm the place down... apparently the disturbance was frightening the lady's little dog! So now the spirits only come out to play when she and her dog are not in and, we have to say, when she went out it was like throwing a switch, the place woke up! Somehow having been told that it really was ghosts and that it was all fine, made it kind of friendly in a way... Although one of our party still refused to work down there on his own! :o)
There are some buildings that resonate menace. We took a job up in the mountains in Gwynedd, Snowdonia Park, several years ago now, and this was just such a house!
If we're honest we had a nightmare of a time just getting there because the vans barely made it up the track. This house was a good mile from the end of the tarmac and a few miles from its nearest neighbour and, as we approached it perched at the top of the valley - it had "don't come in" written all over it!
What can I say, we needed the money, so off we went - into the unknown! We cracked on for a few days using cavity drain membranes, Oldroyd Xp Plaster Membrane to be precise - just in case you had forgotten that this is damp proofing and property renovation site :o). All the while we perpetually sensed someone watching, it felt like they were right behind your shoulder. The feeling was so intense that we occasional found ourselves turning round to talk to each other only to find that we were alone. In fact one of us, the same nameless one, refused to stay in there on his own - whatta guy!
When we were drawing near to the completion of the job the other shoe dropped - or so we thought...
We stepped out of the front door, I say 'we' because someone wouldn't stay in there on his own again, and before us was a tiny, really wizened old lady in a dirty coat or cloak. This lady couldn't have been much over 4ft tall, we looked at her and she looked at us. Then she spoke... Her dialect sounded really harsh, not like the Welsh that I am used to hearing, almost like it was from the past... it seemed other-worldly to our dazed minds anyway! We looked at each other and the colour drained! We both thought this is the one! The one where we see something!
The old lady stopped speaking and looked a bit puzzled, she then asked us in perfect English if we were working there and said that she was from a farm a couple of miles up the valley and that she was walking her dog! Suddenly everything was normal again, and I have to say, she was ever so nice. Were we embarrassed? Not at all... well maybe a little... alright we looked like pillocks!
That building had us all jittery over nothing perhaps... but all we had really proved was that the neighbours, at least, were still alive!
Thank you for your time!
We hope you have enjoyed our little stories. I dare say that everything that has happened to us can probably be explained rationally but we think that what really matters is that old buildings can seem to have moods, not to mention stories to tell and they are always fascinating... We probably just wasted 5 minutes of your time but thank you for reading :o)
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