Nicola Kirk: Author and Collector of Paranormal Stories and Other Strange Encounters

Posts tagged ‘haunting’


Well, we have a nice turn up for the books today – I am delighted to be able to present you with a one off interview with Bloody Mary herself.  Bloody Mary is known by many names (Mary Worthington, Mary Jane, Mary Whales and Mary White to name but a few) and she has taken time out from her hectic mirror stalking schedule to be here with us today.  Just in case you are not familiar with Bloody Mary’s work, take a few seconds to observe the following:

I’ll give you a moment to come out from behind the sofa.

Nicola Kirk: Bloody Mary, welcome to Weirdworld!

Bloody Mary: Hi, nice to be here, thanks for inviting me.

NK: Wow, where to start!  You seem to be doing very well for yourself these days?

BM: (Laughs shyly) Yes, well, there are a lot of mirrors out there.

NK: For those out there who aren’t aware of who you are, would you like to tell us a little about yourself?:

BM: Sure.  Well, I kind of popped up in the 1970s, at least that’s when the folklorists and urban legend people started to take notice of me.  I’ve built up a rather terrifying reputation for myself over the years, even if I do say so myself. I love Googling myself to see what comes up.  There are endless tales of people being terrified out of their wits after having summoned me and then have me crawl out of their mirrors and trying to kill them – ha!  I’m quite the horror celebrity these days.  But people always seem to have found mirrors fascinating, haven’t they?  People try everything with them –  from divining the future to, well, calling up dead people.  You know, historically, young women would try out a little ritual where they would take a lit candle and walk up stairs backwards with a hand mirror at midnight in the hope that they’d see their future husband in the mirror .

NK: Sounds like something exciting to try.

BM: Well, yes and no – if they looked in the mirror and saw a skull looking back at them then it meant they would die before they got married.

NK: Oh.

BM: Yes.  Although, from my point of view, this sort of ritual can be quite entertaining.  Some girls can’t decide which version of the ‘ritual’ to use.  Should they carry the candle, and eat an apple at the same time, whilst walking backwards and trying to brush their hair?  You know, some people just aren’t born multitaskers and the end results can be really amusing to behold.

NK: How have rituals progressed over the years?  Any bloody sacrifices?

BM: (Sighing) Nothing that exciting.  Sometimes, if they’re brave enough, people try to summon me on their own, in their bathroom with just with a candle, and other times, if they’re drunk enough, people try in groups with a bottle of vodka for backup.  The drunk groups are the best.  There’s always someone who runs into the wall while everyone else runs for the door.  Sometimes I don’t even have to put in an appearance, they spook themselves out before they’ve finished the chanting and run away.  That can be disappointing, especially if I’ve been gearing myself up for a grand entrance.

NK: So, if someone was minded to try and summon you, how would they go about it for the best results?

BM: The most generally accepted way is to stand in front of a mirror in a dimly lit room, candles are a nice touch, and to chant ‘Bloody Mary’ three times.  Some people call for Mary Worth or Mary White, I even had someone calling for Mary Whitehouse once – I’m not sure what they were expecting but they looked pretty shocked when I appeared and asked them what they thought about social liberalism.  Sometimes people try calling for the Candyman for a change but I don’t pull off the brutalised black male artist look too well. But a friend of mine, Hanako-San, she has a tough job.  She haunts toilets in Japanese schools.  People are forever banging on third cubicles on third floors and asking if she’s there.  They get horribly frightened when she actually says she’s home – I don’t know why people go looking for us if they’re just going to run away screaming when we answer.  I suppose it could be something to do with the way we sometimes attack them, but sometimes we can be nice.

NK: Hanako- San doesn’t know Moaning Myrtle does she?

BM: Who?

NK: From..uh… Harry Potter – okay, not to to worry, let’s move on.  What’s your average customer like?

BM: Young and female.  I don’t know why, but it’s always girls having slumber parties.  The number of times I’ve turned up to find everyone in a onesie.  It’s like no one makes an effort these days.

NK: What sort of thing can people expect when you appear in their mirror?

BM: Depends what sort of mood I’m in and if they’re interrupting me while I’m doing something important.  I’m not always a bloody faced screaming corpse you know, I do have quite a repertoire.

NK: Funnily enough, I did try to Google reports of people having met you on a good day and I thought I was onto something when the search turned up ‘A friendly welcome and a good Bloody Mary!’ but unfortunately it was just a pub review on Trip Advisor.

BM: (Shrugs) Yes, well, you can’t have everything.  I have to tell you, being summoned all the time by people looking for a bit of a thrill does get a bit tiresome so you can appreciate that I’m not always going to be sunshine and smiles.

NK: Um, not ever by all accounts.  Having read a few experiences left by people on the internet, they’ve reported being screamed at, cursed and apparently you sometimes try to strangle people?

BM: (Holds hands up) Guilty as charged.  Although I did see a piece of viral tat going around on Facebook once that if you didn’t forward a post on to at least fifteen people then I would appear at midnight to slit wrists, throats and pull eyeballs out with a fork.  I mean really…

NK: Bit over the top?

BM: I don’t even own a fork.

NK: Right.  You have become more famous as the years have gone on, haven’t you?

BM: I really have!  I’ve had films made about me and all sorts.  There was Urban Legends: Bloody Mary (2005), The Legend of Bloody Mary (2008) and I even got in on that Paranormal Activity 3 (2011).

NK: Yes, we featured a clip from that film at the beginning of this interview.

BM: Nothing like a little publicity.

NK: Have you see the doll they’ve made of you?

BM: Seriously?

NK: Bloody Mary Doll

BM: (Recoils in horror) Woah!  That’s… that’s just nasty.  I don’t look like that, do I?  What’s going on with the hair?  I do like her dress though, I think I could make that work.

NK: There are all sorts of back stories attached to your legend, aren’t there?

BM: Oh yes, I’ve got so many possible origins these days, it’s hard to keep up with them all.  The one I like most is that I am Bloody Queen Mary, famous for her violently imposed religious views.  Not that I’m particularly religious but being mistaken for royalty is quite flattering.  Other stories I’ve heard about myself is that I was a particularly vain woman who spent so long looking in mirrors that I came back to haunt them, and anyone who dares to call me up in a mirror will do so at their peril – but I don’t think I’m that vain.  I spend more time looking out of mirrors than into them these days.  One thing I did read (an essay by Alan Dundes called Bloody Mary In The Mirror: A Ritual Reflection of Pre-Pubescent Anxiety) was that elements of my legend could be linked to the onset of menstruation due to the similarities in feelings between that and how people feel when summoning me.

NK: Yeah, I’m not so sure about that one.  When I hit puberty I don’t recall experiencing mindboggling terror – certainly nothing in the same vein as being murdered by something leaping at me from my bathroom mirror.  Getting your monthlies is a bit different, I think.

BM: I think it’s also something to do with the association with blood and the bathroom, too.  An interesting notion but not one I personally like to be associated with.  I still prefer the ‘mess with me and I’ll rip your face off’ approach to my legend.

NK: And finally, do you have any words of advice for people who are considering summoning you to their mirror?

BM: Yes: bring a change of underpants.

NK: So there we have it, coming to a mirror near you: Bloody Mary!

BM: Thank you!  


©Nicola Kirk 2016 and







Dee Matlock is 30 years old and fresh out of  a disastrous relationship.  In her desperation to meet someone else before she turns “thirty, single and crazy” she decides to join a dysfunctional paranormal group based at an old manor house.

Between the the founder of the group, the suave and sexy Aaron Myers, and The Manor’s owner, arrogant heiress, Amelia Haughton-Rose, who enjoys nothing more than trying to make Dee feel as insignificant as possible, Dee soon finds she has more on her plate than she can handle.  But just when Dee thinks things couldn’t possibly get more complicated, she soon finds herself embroiled in the dark and murderous history of The Manor…

SAMPLE CHAPTER: A Ghost Of A Chance – Sample Chapter

Pages: 696

First published: 2010

Format: PDF file

Language: English

Preferred method of payment: Paypal

Price: £5.50

To place an order email:


The Winchester Mystery Mansion Before The 1906 Earthquake

When Sarah Winchester’s daughter, Annie, died at the age of only 6 weeks in 1866 and her husband died of tuberculosis in 1881, no one could have known how she would react.  Depression, of course.  A feeling of desperate loss – goes without saying.  A desire to build the most enormous house with staircases that lead nowhere and doors that open onto sheer drops… ummm, can’t imagine they saw that one coming.

Misleading: One of the staircases that goes nowhere.

Sarah Winchester was a fantastically wealthy woman, being the widow of William Wirt (brilliant middle name) Winchester (of Winchester Rifle fame), and had serious amounts of cash at her disposal.  And she did her very best to dispose of as much of it as she could, too.

The Winchester ‘Mystery’ Mansion is a vast, rambling monster of a house that Sarah Winchester began building in 1884.  Builders worked on the mansion for 38 years straight (we’re talking 24 hours a day, 365 days a year) and at its peak the house was a staggering seven stories tall, although in 1906 an earthquake reduced it to a meagre four stories.  But why would someone want to build such a thing in the first place?  Well, there are various stories floating around but the most popular tale is that Sarah spoke to a spiritualist after her husband’s death who told her that the spirits of all the people who had been killed by Winchester rifles were rather miffed and wanted their revenge.  That might lose you some sleep at night, I suppose.  Sarah was then told she would need to build a house to home all these cranky ghosts.  If she kept building she would live forever, but if she stopped… she’d die too.  Sarah got building.

Sarah died in 1922 and only then did construction finally grind to a halt.  The Winchester Mansion erupted into existence with no official floor plans and makes no architectural sense whatsoever.  There are about 160 rooms including 40 bedrooms, 2 basements (because when is one ever enough?) and numerous doors and stairways that lead nowhere, designed to confuse and confound the spirits of the dead.

The Door To Nowhere

Is the mansion really haunted or was Sarah wasting her time creating her bizarre house of wonders?  If you study the various accounts available, there certainly seems to be a few odd things going on within the mansion’s countless walls.

A long term employee at the mansion reported that one evening he had made his way around the house, as usual, and had meticulously turned off all the lights before locking up.  When he got outside he glanced up and found that all the lights on the third floor were merrily blazing away again.  It’s easy enough to miss one light, but an entire floor? Seems unlikely.

The delicious aroma of chicken soup occasionally invades the kitchens of the mansion even though the kitchens haven’t been used for decades and tour guides have had their tours interrupted by a disembodied voice calling their name.

Also, a few years ago the office manager at the mansion was heard complaining that she had come across a woman dressed up in Victorian clothing and she wanted to know why, as the office manager, she hadn’t been notified that there was some kind of promotional day going on.  No one knew what she was talking about and despite a search for the Victorian woman, no trace was ever found.  Perhaps the office manager had unwittingly witnessed the ghost of Sarah Winchester, back from the grave to keep an eye on her beloved mystery mansion.  Or perhaps the house is such a maze even Sarah herself can’t find her way out…


©Nicola Kirk and 2010


Wikipedia – Winchester Mansion

Mysterious Places – Suite 101

Winchester Mystery House

A Ghost Hunter’s Dream… Waverly Hills Sanatorium, Kentucky

If I could pick anywhere in the world to investigate, this place would be it.

Hidden away from the public eye down a long, meandering road lurks Waverley Hills Sanatorium, a vast tuberculosis sanatorium which opened in 1910.  At that time, the residents of Kentucky were up to their eyeballs with victims of what they called ‘the White Plague’.  The disease was incurable and treatments were pretty gruesome; in some cases they were considered worse than the disease itself.

All Part Of The Treatment – Patients at Waverly Hills

It is believed that between 60,000 to 63,000 people died at the sanatorium so it’s not surprising that the monstrous building is such a magnet for paranormal investigators and thrill seekers alike.

Room 502

Scene of a suicide or urban legend?

There are various legends about Room 502 but most seem to centre around the idea that a nurse committed suicide there, either by hanging herself from a light fitting (would a light fitting support the weight of a body, I wonder) or in the doorway, depending on who you speak to.  The rumours are she either suffered from depression or she killed herself because she fell pregnant out of wedlock.  Yet another story goes that she was suffering from TB herself and didn’t want a long, lingering death.  The fact that there are so many different versions of the nurse suicide story tends to beg the question did a nurse die in Room 502 at all or is it just a story to excite the masses.  However, there are reports that people have seen the apparition of a nurse on this floor and some say a feeling despair descends when inside Room 502.  Further reports have been made of a voice telling people to ‘get out!’

The Body Chute

The tunnel used to hide corpses from the patients…

A 500 foot tunnel was constructed at the same time as the main building, running from the sanatorium itself to the foot of the hill. It was originally designed to help convey supplies to the hospital as well as a nice warm route to work for the staff to take in the winter.

The tunnel took on a rather darker use as the TB epidemic got worse and people began to die on a frighteningly regular basis.  The Directors at the sanatorium decided that seeing deceased patients being carted away didn’t do much for the morale of the other patients and so the tunnel took on another role and was also used to discreetly cart corpses away from the hospital.

Other Spectral Encounters

One story that seems to pop up on a regular basis is the sighting of an old woman at the main entrance.  She is seen with blood running from wounds on her chained wrists and she begs for help before disappearing.  Children have been heard playing within the sanatorium, particularly on the top floor where they were encouraged to play outside as part of their treatment.  Strange lights have been seen in some rooms even though the building hasn’t had an electricity supply for quite some time…

Considering the sheer amount of misery Waverly Hills Sanatorium has seen over the years, perhaps it’s not surprising that some of its unfortunate earlier residents can’t move on.


©Nicola Kirk and 2010


Haunted Places

West Virginia Ghost Hunters


The Real Waverly Hills

Underworld Tales

Celtica’s Loft

Prairie Ghosts

Sinister Shadows And Terrifying Mists – Meet The Darker Side Of North Weald And Ongar…

If you go down to the woods today…

John of North Weald has written to me about two local strange experiences and he has kindly given me permission to share them here:

“Seeing your letter in the North Weald Village Life Newsletter, I thought you may be interested in the following two tales. The first is my own experience and the second that of a lady, now passed on, who lived in Pensons Lane, Ongar.

First, whilst out walking one day last spring/summer over by the old radio station on North Weald Common, I stopped at Seven Springs where I stopped to enjoy the view of the lake surrounded by trees in leaf in the sunshine.  I became aware of a shadow or dark patch in front of me but at an angle to my left. To my surprise, and apprehension, it moved slowly in my general direction and passed about three or four yards to my left where it drifted over the bridleway and disappeared. It had little shape and no legs and just floated above the ground.

The Old Radio Station, North Weald, that John passed on the way to Seven Springs

Regarding the second experience, the lady referred to was a keen horse rider. On two separate occasions when riding with a companion in Pensons Lane the horses bolted when frightened by a swirling mist-like substance. She was quite convinced they had seen a ghost.”

What is it that lurks in Pensons Lane, Ongar?

If you have had any strange experiences, please feel free to send them to me at


©Nicola Kirk and 2010

The Haunting of Hill Hall – Epping, Essex

A few days ago I received an email from Ann of North Weald, Essex.  Considering I’ve lived in the area for my entire life, I have to confess to feeling a little ashamed at never having heard of Hill Hall, Epping.  Especially as it happens to have its very own ghost.

Hill Hall boasts some of the earliest classical decoration on any surviving building in Britain as well as a series of late 16th century wall paintings including scenes from the story of Cupid, Psyche and the mother in law from hell, Venus.

The origins of Hill Hall date back from before the Norman Conquest when the site was owned by a Saxon chap called Godric. I’m sure Godric would be delighted to see what they’ve done with the place over the centuries.  The first proper house was built on the site in the early 13th century and the mostly timber framed building was then rebuilt by Sir Thomas Smith during the reign of Queen Elizabeth I. The Smiths remained in residence at Hill Hall right up until 1923.

During World War II, Hill Hall was used as a maternity home before becoming a billet for RAF officers.  The stately pile was then abandoned in 1942.  After a while the building was converted into the most unlikeliest of things: a women’s prison which opened for business in 1952.  Things ticked on quietly at Hill Hall until one unfortunate day in 1969 when an inmate started a fire. This is where Ann’s story begins:

“When I was about seventeen, I was doing a project on Hill Hall.  The building has been converted into flats now but it was a women’s prison many years ago.  I was allowed special access to take photos and at the time the place was boarded up due to the fire that had taken place while it was a women’s prison, caused by one of the inmates setting light to herself in her room.   I had access to the grounds only as the building was unsafe to enter.  I was round the back of the house with my dad and I was looking at the back of the house when I saw a woman in a long white night dress.  I watched her for about a minute as she walked along the back of the house and then turned to my dad and asked him who he thought the woman was.  He hadn’t seen her.  When I looked again she was gone but there was nowhere for her to go.

I know it was a ghost I saw that day and I can see the image in my mind even now, as if it happened yesterday.  Hill Hall is reported to be haunted by the lady who set herself alight and caused the fire.”

English Heritage now look after Hill Hall and even though the building has been converted into some rather swanky private houses, the public are still able to view certain areas by prior arrangement.  If you’re lucky, perhaps the lady in white will join you on your tour.


©Nicola Kirk and 2010

Tag Cloud

%d bloggers like this: