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Do you believe in the supernatural? Some unexplained happenings, plus my favourite supernatural stories

It’s time for another Round Robin, and this month, as it’s the month of Hallowe’en, our topic is all about the supernatural.round robin, helena fairfax

Here’s our first question: Do you believe in angels, spirits, ghosts, demons or other ethereal beings or locations?

I could write so much on this! I suppose the short answer is no, but there is so much in the world (and outside our world) that we don’t yet understand. I don’t believe in a spirit world, but perhaps one day – who knows? – I will find out I’m totally wrong about this, as about so many things!

I’ve certainly heard of lots of strange happenings that are hard to explain. I’ll give you an example – very near where I live lie the ruins of a magnificent

helena fairfax, salt's mill, saltaire
Titus Salt’s Mill and the Leeds-Liverpool canal

Victorian mansion called Milner Field. The house was commissioned by Sir Titus Salt, a great Victorian philanthropist and mill owner. His family lived in opulent style, and for many years life at Milner House was idyllic. The Salt family was at the forefront of society, mingling with aristocracy and even visited by the royal family.

But their good fortune didn’t last. There was a downturn in the woollen trade towards the end of the nineteenth century and the family lost money, but this was only the beginning of their troubles. A series of tragedies struck, lasting for decades. Titus Jnr was found unconscious in the billiard room of Milner Field in 1887 and was pronounced dead shortly afterwards. After that, James Roberts bought Milner Field from Titus Jnr’s widow, Catherine, but bad luck continued to dog the house. James Roberts’ eldest son died of pneumonia in 1898. His youngest son drowned while on holiday in Ireland in 1904. His second son Bertram died of a nervous illness in 1912. His remaining son was badly injured in the great war and was unable to work again, and his married daughter Alice was involved in a national scandal involving the death of an admirer.

helena fiarfax, milner field, salt's mill
A Victorian living-room. (Image courtesy of Pixabay)

The tragedies didn’t end with the Roberts family. Later owners of Milner Field also suffered misfortune. There were several unusual and unexpected deaths. The house gained a grim reputation locally, and eventually no one would buy it, and the once magnificent building was left empty. In the 1950s the house was completely razed to the ground, leaving only rubble and some traces of a wonderful mosaic floor from the conservatory.

The ruins are still there today, and the parkland is open to the public. Milner Field continues to have a reputation in my area for being haunted. And here’s the strange happening – one day at my writers’ group, one of my fellow writers said she’d been out jogging round Milner Field that morning, when she encountered a woman in Victorian dress, running straight towards her. Now, people in Victorian clothes aren’t unusual where we live – there are often guides dressed up to take tourists round the old mill. So, my friend thought nothing of it, but when she tried to avoid her,  the “Victorian” woman veered towards her, eventually brushing past her and running on. My friend turned round to say something to her – but the woman had totally disappeared! There was absolutely no one else there.

How do you explain that? Personally, I think there must be a rational explanation…but I have no idea what that is!

* * *

Our next question is: What do you think when the supernatural appears in stories?

My answer is: I love it! Here are some of the stories I’ve loved that involve either ghosts, magical realism, or the supernatural:

Oh Whistle and I’ll Come to You, My Lad, by MR James

The Signal-Man, by Charles Dickens

The Turn of the Screw, by Henry James

Wuthering Heights, by Emily Brontë

The Master and Margarita, by Mikhail Bulgakov

Northern Lights, by Phillip Pullman

I could go on!

* * *

The final question: Have you used the supernatural in your own stories?helena fairfax, hallowe'en, the pumpkin hacker

Yes. Last year I was involved in an anthology of supernatural stories called Shiver, which was published by Accent Press. My own story was a retelling of Rumpelstiltskin. It features a sinister European office cleaner with supernatural powers, a computer programmer who spends all night trying to create a million-pound Hallowe’en lottery scratch card game, and her handsome boss, who owns King Games.

There are several other supernatural stories in the collection – some light-hearted, some positively scary. You can download a copy from Amazon US, Amazon UK, etc, and all the other major ebook retailers.

* * *

What about you? Do you believe in the supernatural? Do you enjoy tales of the supernatural, and if so, which are your favourites? And what do you think is the explanation behind the strange sighting at Milner Field?

If you have any questions or comments at all, I’d love to hear from you!

And if you’d like to check out the other authors’ posts in the Round Robin, and get their take on this fascinating subject, you can find them here. Please do drop in and say hello!

Marci Baun
Margaret Fieland
Diane Bator
Beverley Bateman
A.J. Maguire
Fiona McGier
Heather Haven
Bob Rich
Anne Stenhouse
Hollie Glover
Rachael Kosinski
Connie Vines
Skye Taylor
Rhobin Courtright

23 thoughts on “Do you believe in the supernatural? Some unexplained happenings, plus my favourite supernatural stories

  1. What a great post, Helena. Such a lot of sad happenings around that beautiful house. Isn’t it the case that gasses sometimes seep out of the ground? Perhaps all those people were overcome gradually. And maybe your friend shouldn’t jog round Milner Field. anne stenhouse


    1. Hi Anne, it hadn’t occurred to me that it might be something to do with the land. What if it’s the land that’s cursed, and not the house? Curses can go right back to pagan times (if you believe in the supernatural). Interesting. Thanks very much for dropping in!


  2. What a story! How sad what happened to that family…Where my mother was from – North Africa – they believe in the evil eye and bad luck that you can catch from other people. It’s called the ‘scoumoune’. As for your friend, that encounter in the park must really have spooked her!


    1. I’ve heard of the scoumoune, Marie. It must be terrifying for those who believe they’ve been struck by it. There are other such beliefs in other parts of Africa, eg Uganda, where I grew up. I remember many strange stories from my childhood that can’t be explained. Thanks for your interesting comment, and for dropping in!


  3. What a list of tragedies! No wonder no one wanted to buy the house. Yet, as you mention, there might be a rational explanation. Enjoyed reading your post.


    1. Some houses just seem to attract misfortune after misfortune. Thanks for setting us another interesting topic, Rhobin. I’m looking forward to reading everyone else’s posts. Thanks for dropping in!


    1. Hi Heather, that’s so interesting about the haunted house. What a great place to grow up (unless it was really scary!) I’ve heard some ghosts can be friendly, so I hope yours were! Thanks so much for your comment!


  4. Hi Helena, I tried to leave a comment with my phone, but it seems to have disappeared in the great supernatural! When Anne and I were in England, we saw lots of places where ghosts are likely to wander—ruins of abbeys, Roman forts, crumbling castles. And what about those moors! Voices in the winds. Shivers up and down your spine. Where there is imagination, there will always be ghosts.


    1. Hi Ken, I found Anne Stenhouse’s comment about the land interesting. We have buildings going back thousands of years here, so it’s easy to imagine ghosts. But I guess there are spirits associated with the land, too, amongs Native Americans – or just out on the moors, for Emily Bronte, like you say. Such an interesting topic. Thanks for dropping in!


  5. I wonder if the house was cursed or built on a grave they never knew about. And, as you may have guessed from my answer, yes, I do believe in the supernatural. I also love reading supernatural tales as long as they aren’t horror. I like my stories to have happy endings.

    Creepy! I’m glad I wasn’t your writer friend, although I sure it inspired her muse. :)


    1. I totally agree with you about liking stories to end well, Marci. Some of the stories I mentioned had disturbing endings, and now they really stick in my mind. Interesting point about the house possibly being built on an ancient grave. The grounds certainly still have a chilling reputation. Thanks so much for dropping in, and for your comment.


  6. Wonderful post. I’ve heard similar stories of homes and generations of families. I loved Nora Lofts series that were set in a house in England and each book was a different time, same place and there were spirits or ghosts that lingered to influence later generations.


  7. I enjoyed your post. I find it interesting with all that information you still don’t believe.
    Sounds like even if the building is gone the ghosts are still hanging around the area.


    1. Hi Beverley, personally I think the series of misfortunes was just a unfortunate set of tragic coincidences. On the other hand – if you asked me if I wanted to move in that house with my family, I think I’d definitely say no!


  8. What a great post with so much interesting info about the family home. Yes, I believe in the supernatural, but I really hate getting scared to death! I remember sitting around the campfire and telling ghost stories when I was a kid. Ooh, I hated to go to bed and leave the security of having the campfire light the area. Who knew what was coming out of the woods?? My latest mystery has a shadow man/ghost in it. First time for me to write paranormal and so much fun. I’ll look up the anthology. Sounds like a great group of stories.


    1. Hi JQ, I hate getting scared to death, too. I’ve never watched a horror film in my life! i like reading ghost stories, though, but only in the safety of my own home :) Writing the paranormal is fun, I agree! I’ve downloaded your mystery and I’m really looking forward to reading it!


  9. Helena, I don’t know how I missed this post, but I’m glad I did until Halloween Eve! Fun to read a supernatural post now. Do I believe in angels, spirits, ghosts, demons or other ethereal beings or locations?

    Well, I believe there could be aliens here. :) I have a pretty open mind to anything. Who am I to say there is or there isn’t? I believe there are angels and heaven and God. I know people who say they have seen ghosts and spirits. I have a friend who is a medium. I’m always a little skeptical.

    I have supernatural elements in my stories, if only in a character’s mind. Deirdre in my mysteries is a spiritualist. She sees many things and talks about silver cord being broken, the untethering of a spirit from a body after death, the physical body being left with an ethereal glow, and other such stuff.

    I think supernatural elements are interesting.

    Great post, Helena especially at this time of year. Happy Hallowe’en!



    1. Hi Susan, I so agree with you about keeping an open mind. I try to do that, although it’s actually quite hard to do. Sometimes we can’t see for ourselves just how closed our minds have become. I’d love it if spirits existed, and angels, and we could be visited by people from the past. How exciting that would be! That’s why I love to read about the supernatural in books, too, and I love your character Deirdre, who “sees” things we can’t.
      Glad you dropped in on Hallowe’en weekend. Thanks for your comment!


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