Is this really Suffolk’s most-haunted ‘high street’?
Author asked people to tell her about their alleged supernatural experiences... and they did
If there's one thing more disconcerting than reading about spooky happenings, it's reading about spooky happenings in places you know.
Ruth Roper Wylde's fourth book invites folk around the UK to reveal their apparently-supernatural experiences: from poltergeists making people's lives a misery to more playful spectres switching on electronic toys in the middle of the night.
Ruth told me earlier this year how two of her childhood homes experienced suspected paranormal activity. It fascinated her, and left her curious to find scientific explanations.
One home was a bungalow off Sicklesmere Road, Bury St Edmunds - allegedly with the ghost of a boy who would run through the house. There was also a slim and dark-haired woman in modern dress who'd walk through the bungalow, separately.
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St James Middle School pupil Ruth left Bury in 1977. The new family home in Hertfordshire had a poltergeist, she said, that at times was very scary.
Ruth became a civil servant (still works as one, part-time) and spent more than a decade as a benefit fraud investigator.
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Concerning claims of supernatural activity, she said: "My analytical mind will look at the data and often say 'Well, I can make that fit into that theory, and I can make that bit of data fit into that (different) theory, but I can't make all the data fit into one theory.
"So I often find myself sitting on the fence and keep an open mind."
That comes from her mum - a former RAF radio engineer who believed there was a scientific explanation for everything and was not given to flights of fancy.
"I think this pragmatic attitude was partly what instilled in me the need to look into these events more deeply," says Ruth.
Here are some "incidents" from her new book. Nonsense or plausible? You decide.
- These Haunted Times: Volume One, independently published, is £6.99.
Ruth says more than a dozen people got in touch when, pursuing a lead, she sought evidence about Hadleigh High Street, "and as one of them wryly pointed out, it would have been easier to ask which properties were NOT haunted!"
"One lady who lived on the High Street for four years said there was always something strange around the fireplace of their old cottage. Acorns were often to be heard dropping down the chimney and bouncing off the little ornaments which sat on the hearth. Sometimes the acorns would seem to drop elsewhere in the room as if out of thin air.
"The family always assumed it was the spirit of their cat who had been knocked down by a car, but who had loved playing with acorns when alive: knocking them around as if they were little footballs."
A town hall ghost was apparently seen in about 1986 when a woman working in the bar was cleaning up and heard footsteps behind her.
"She glanced behind her and saw a lady with blonde hair and a headscarf standing at the bar. She assumed it was her colleague, who was also working that night, so just casually told her that she wouldn't be long and would be down in a minute.
"When she finished, she went downstairs, but was told that her friend had actually left some time earlier…"
A woman told Ruth about her husband's experience late one night. "He was driving from Lowestoft to Bungay, and had almost reached Barsham, when he saw an older lady walking her dog along the side of the road.
"Just as he thought it was odd she was out walking along an unlit road so late at night, she seemed to look directly at him and then stepped out in front of his car.
"Panicked, he swerved violently to avoid hitting her, and screeched to a stop. Although he immediately got out of the car and looked all around, there was no sign of her anywhere."