I have recently published a book called ‘The Horror of Gyb Farm’ on Kindle. It’s an anthology of the very best ghost stories from the works of Frederick George Lee, a sadly neglected writer on the supernatural. F G Lee was a Victorian clergyman and wrote many books on divinity and church history. In four of these books he discussed the subject of what today we would call paranormal phenomena, particularly ghosts and prophetic dreams. These books are mainly works of theology, which means they’ve rarely if ever been reprinted, and the ghost stories contained within them are so buried in discourse and discussion that few have bothered going through and extracting them.
I’m the first person to do it. ‘The Horror of Gyb Farm’ is the result. It was something of a labour of love because many of Lee’s stories deserve to be considered classics – they are weird, dramatic and scary. Most of them came to him from personal contacts, parishioners and the like, and this means that they are also unique. Of them all, only the classic tale of ‘The Spectral Bird of West Drayton’ (found elsewhere on Uncanny UK) has gained wider currency. The title story in which the spirits of criminals emerge from the ground to terrify an isolated farmhouse in the South of England is all but unknown, which is extraordinary considering it is first-hand testimony of a truly horrific haunting.
With the exception of crisis apparitions, of which there were too many and rather repetitive, I have included all the ghost stories from Lee’s four relevant works in ‘The Horror of Gyb Farm’. They are all worth reading, even the straightforward hauntings, because they are mainly first-hand accounts which have not found their way into later books. I have left out tales of angels, omens and second sight, of which there are many. I take pleasure in reproducing one of the latter stories – from ‘Glimpses in the Twilight’ (1885) – below. It is written by a woman, a correspondent of Lee’s, and it is her own personal experience. You might also like to read more about ‘The Horror of Gyb Farm’ over at Amazon. A print copy will be forthcoming soon, too. http://is.gd/ieWrpn
My brother was a merchant in Jamaica, and, at the period referred to, had resided there for nearly 20 years. We two, he and I, belong to the old family of Wyeborne of Kent, now, I believe, almost extinct; or, at all events, so admittedly altered in social status, that, as I myself believe, all, save ourselves, have either left those parts where our ancestors once flourished, or have sunk into obscurity. In some branches of the family only married women have survived; the male portions of my race having, one after the other, died out.
My brother and I had a joint interest in a mere remnant of the old property – all that was left; a kind of superior farmhouse, with about 300 acres attached, no great distance from Dover. This latter was let to a yeoman who farmed it; but I resided in the house (now pulled down) in the year 1841, up to Christmas of the year 1847.
In the month of October, in the last-named year, I was expecting the arrival of a visitor, a lady friend; and having directed my housekeeper, our old-fashioned faithful servant, to prepare a certain bedroom for my friend, I went upstairs to see that the room was ready. This was about four of the clock upon a bright October afternoon. The room was at the end of a long passage, and a fire had been lit in the great since the morning.
Upon entering I was all at once suddenly appalled by seeing a large oak coffin on trestles, half covered with a black velvet pall, standing at the foot of the bed. The pall was disarranged, and I at once read on a plate, as I approached the coffin, my own brother’s name, and the words which follow:
Born 7 Dec. 1788.
Here I fainted and fell. How long I remained in that state I know not. But in due course I recovered my senses; awoke, and found to my still greater astonishment, that neither coffin, inscription, pall, nor trestles were there. I then and there mentioned the subject to my housekeeper, but not as a reality; merely as a strange and unaccountable feature of my own active imagination, though all the time, I frankly confess that I felt much perturbed and alarmed. She did not say much. I, in turn, however, made a memorandum of the vision; for, to say the truth, I was much impressed by it.
My visitor came and spent some weeks with me. I was anxious about my brother’s health, of course; but this anxiety was removed by the fact that two long letters from him reached me shortly afterwards by different mails. In due course my visitor left; and although I never entered the bedroom referred to without a secret fear of seeing the coffin again, I soon forgot how great been my original trepidation; and the impression began to fade away.
In September 1848 my brother returned to England quite unexpectedly. Social and political changes in Jamaica had led him to withdraw from his once profitable occupation; and so he suddenly retired, realised his property there, and came back to England intending to settle near the city of Canterbury. Within a month of that period he was on a visit to me; he became suddenly ill, and within the hour week died on the bed of that very chamber. I myself, in weak health, was confined to my own room, save when I went to bid him a long farewell, during the last hours of his sickness.
The day before the burial I entered the chamber of death, when suddenly, with feelings that I cannot describe, I beheld in reality the very sight I had seen a year previously in a vision, every detail realised – the coffin, the pall, the trestles, and the inscription now complete –
‘Died, 11 October 1848’
Such is my account of my instance of second-sight.