This post is by Steven Rumbelow.
My Mother and Grandmother decided when I was about two years old to take out a lease on a huge, old Georgian House at the centre of Bristol. It proved to be a successful attempt to drag the family out of poverty after my Grandfather deserted the family when he ran off to South Africa. He did this after becoming a multimillionaire with the sale of his successful chain of Rumbelow’s stores.
The Brandon House Hotel became a regular stop for celebrities like Cliff Richard, Lulu, TV stars, filmmakers, all the biggest Wrestlers of the day and a number of professors because of its proximity to Bristol University.
When we first moved into the house, I was sick with whooping cough and I remember it well because the fumes of renovation made me sicker and I was put on a camp bed in the kitchen. Whilst laying there at night, I would stare out at the light in the hallway, a bare bulb, and that is when I remember the sight of my first apparition in that house.
Although I knew nothing of cavaliers, I saw a cavalier take shape out of the streams of light from the light bulb. He turned and looked at me, removed his plumed hat and did a deep bow in my direction. I remember smiling because he was a welcome relief from the illness. I told mum about it and she didn’t think much of it. We were soon to learn that this was one of several anomalies that regularly haunted that house.
Once the house had been converted to a hotel, it was not unusual for guests to flee in the middle of the night, especially if they stayed in room number eight or anywhere on the top floor. Cleaners refused to clean on the top floor and I would help my mother clean and change bedding up there to the accompaniment of the room radios, lights and water taps being turned on and off. Guests also regularly complained about that kind of activity in every room and their watches and clocks not working properly.
The house provided a number of regular occurrences, many of them on a daily basis:
- A loud cough in one’s ear located anywhere in the house and several times a day.
- A shadow creature in room number eight.
- The Cavalier.
- A smoking man on the top floor who was perverse and would turn lights on and off and wake you up in the middle of the night by bending over you. The smell of tobacco always pervaded the rooms.
- The front door and inner door would open every day at noon unless the doors were locked.
- Poltergeist activity on all floors and in all rooms.
- Compasses didn’t work properly there.
- Certain rooms became dark and heavy during the day.
- Watches and clocks couldn’t keep time.
- Strange smells.
- Sounds of people in pain.
- Lights, radios and faucets turned on and off in the presence of witnesses.
- Visual anomalies included a large eye that would be seen at night in the dark and other peoples’ auras would become visible to people who had never previously been able to see auras.
My mother was great at turning it all into a joke. She would refer to the cougher as “’Ol’ Joe” and laugh every time it happened. Because of this, I was rarely scared by the events until the night that we decided to sleep in room 8. There was a shadow creature in that room and it was terrifying. Since then, I’ve come into contact with shadow creatures a few times. They are strange anomalies that I don’t much like but I have found that there are writings in works like The Tibetan Book of the Dead that offer very good advice, “Accept them for what they are, low forms, and rise above.”
The experiences at Brandon House were so rife that the family investigated the history of the house. They discovered that it had been built on one of the hanging sites that used to be on a hill overlooking the city of Bristol way back when. It was easily visible to the townspeople and the bodies would be left hanging until they fell from the ropes due to advanced decay.
My mother also started a nightclub there; the first proprietary nightclub in Bristol called The Triangle Club. She converted the cellar of the house to accommodate a ‘beat generation’ sort of cellar environment. We never experienced anything in the club. However, it was built over a well, which made sense later on as I discovered that water wells, holes, caverns and geophysical disturbances under haunted sites seemed to add to paranormal phenomena through extreme EMF spikes that would have an effect on the pineal glands of those living on the sites.
My mum and Grandmother became tired of running the house and decided that they’d made enough money and sold out in the mid sixties. A local entrepreneur, Harry Harris, bought the business and we moved out. Two weeks later, Harry called and wanted to go back on the deal. There had been some violent reactions to his wife who was very spooked by the events and evidently, she was attacked by a number of flying plates while they were moving in. My mother suggested a more symbiotic arrangement with less dramatic reactions but Mrs. Harris was not willing to go back into the house again. Harry turned the club into a coffee bar and I would often visit there with my friends, socially. Harry would talk about the hauntings all the time.
In retrospect, until I was old enough to travel the city on my own, the hotel was my whole life. It was my playground and the place where I would act out films I saw at the cinema or on TV. The hotel was downtown and because of that, I had very few friends within walking distance and those who were close tended to be spooked out by the house. That isolation shaped my ability to write and, for sure, my ability to observe, which is essential for both investigation of phenomena as well as the ability to see behavior in society. This, combined with a sense of play and fantasy, were essential roads into my career as a director. The ghosts, of course, helped shape my interest in mysteries.
Years went by and I’ve visited the house and looked at it from the outside a few times. One time, in the nineties, I knocked on the front door and the person who came to the door said it had become a rooming house for students. The club had become a burger joint. The house was dark, drab and deteriorated. The woman who answered the door was obviously depressed and worn down by what I can only assume was the activity in the house. She was not interested in talking about the events in the house. She looked scared when I broached the subject so I stopped asking. One day I would like to return there and do a thorough investigation on camera.
To read more about Steven’s work with the paranormal please visit www.beyondtheseries.com.
Next from Steven Rumbelow: The Strange Case of the Much Maligned Luminescent Orb