Screaming skull phenomena are certainly among the strangest of hauntings, and yet they are not uncommon. A particularly sad and tragic story is associated with one in the Lake District.Screaming skulls, part 2 tomorrow!
Several centuries ago—exactly how long is apparently not known—there lived in an old farmhouse near Ambleside a much-respected farmer and his wife, Kraster and Dorothy Cook. The little land they owned was coveted by one Myles Phillipson, a wealthy and influential magistrate. On several occasions he asked the Cooks to sell it to him, but they steadily refused on the grounds that it was all they possessed and was, therefore, indispensable.
Enraged at being balked in his desire, Phillipson swore he would get the land whether they were alive or dead. Pretending to be very friendly with them, he invited them to a banquet, and during the evening contrived to have a silver cup, which had been purposely placed in front of one of them, while they were dining, put covertly in one of their clothes which had been left in the hall. Pretending that the cup had been stolen by one of the guests, he had everyone searched, and the cup being found secreted in one of the Cooks’ belongings, he had Kraster and Dorothy arrested at once. Stealing in those days being a capital offence, Phillipson, before whom they were brought, sentenced them both to death.
Directly their doom was pronounced, Dorothy rose in the courtroom, and in tones which rang through the sombre building, pronounced the following curse: “Guard thyself, Myles Phillipson! Thou thinkest thou hast managed grandly, but that tiny lump of land is the dearest a Phillipson has ever bought or stolen, for you will never prosper, neither will your breed.
“Whatever scheme you undertake will wither in your hand; the side you take will always lose; the time shall come when no Phillipson shall own an inch of land; and while Calgarth walls shall stand we’ll haunt it night and day. Never will ye be rid of us.”
In due course the Cooks were hanged. Some time after their execution, consternation was caused in the Phillipsons’ home by the appearance of two ghastly grinning human skulls at the head of a staircase. They were at once taken to a distant spot and buried. That night everyone in the house was awakened by the most blood-curdling screams, and in the morning, to the alarm of the whole household, the skulls were back in their place on the staircase, with even wider grins. And so it happened again and again. Whenever the skulls were removed they came back, and the night of their return the household was appalled by the most unearthly screaming. The skulls were smashed, they were burned, but no matter what was done to them, they recovered and were to be found back in their staircase home, always grinning.
In the meanwhile Dorothy’s curse was working. Nothing the Phillipsons did ever prospered, they lost all their land and all their money. Their old home, and with it Calgarth, passed into other hands, and what became of them afterwards was never known.
Monday, June 8, 2009
Screaming Skulls, part 1
More creepy stories from Elliott O'Donnell's Haunted Britain (see the first post here):