Calvados Castle This Norman castle was subject to such a severe Poltergeist haunting from October 12, 1875, to at least September 1876 that the owners were driven from the premises. The most plausible explanation advanced for the haunting was that it was caused by the previous owner, a woman who had died impenitent and was believed to have returned to her castle. In the written accounts given of the hauntings, individuals are identified only by initials.
Calvados Castle was a replacement of an earlier castle, belonging to the B. family, which had fallen into a state of disrepair. In 1867, it was inherited by Monsieur and Madame de X. The new owners were subjected to strange noises and blows at night which eventually abated. Then, for unknown reasons, the noises resumed with greater fury in October 1875. At that time, the castle was occupied by M. and Mme. de X. and their son; the Abbe Y., who was the boy’s tutor; and four domestic employees.
The person who was plagued the most by the haunting was the Abbe. The haunting resumed with the movement of furniture and with nightly thumps and great blows in various rooms, so loud and strong that the entire castle shook. The residents also heard “some being” going up and down the stairs with superhuman speed. One night, M. de X. wrote in his diary:
At 2 A.M. some being rushed at top speed up the stairs from the entrance hall to the first floor, along the passage, and up to the second floor, with a loud noise of tread which had nothing human about it. Everybody heard it. It was like two legs deprived of their feet and walking on the stumps. Then we heard numerous loud blows on the stairs and the door of the green room.
In addition to the rushing and the blows, the residents heard cries or a long drawn-out trumpet call, followed by shrieks that sounded like a woman in misery calling for help from outside the castle. Inspections were made but nothing was ever found.
By mid-November 1875, stifled cries and sounds of a woman sobbing were heard all over the house not only at night but during the day as well. The words “of Demons or the damned” were discerned.
The Abbe, who always took great care to lock his room whenever he left it, invariably found upon his return that furniture had been moved, the closed window had been opened, and his possessions had been strewn about. Once, about 100 of his books were knocked to the floor, save for three books of the Holy Scriptures. On another occasion, the Abbe was reading at about five in the evening when a great quantity of water crashed down the chimney, put out the fire and spewed ashes in his face. The day had been sunny and clear, in the midst of a drought.
The poltergeist also played an organ which was closed and locked, turned keys in locks in front of eyewitnesses, and made sounds of bodies or cannonballs falling down the stairs and sticks jumping up and down on their ends. Galloping and stampeding noises went on nightly. Humanlike cries continued to be heard, including that of a man who once was heard to cry, “Ha! Ha!”
M. de X. initially thought humans were responsible. He theorized that others who coveted the castle and grounds might be trying to scare him away and sell it for a fraction of its value. He bought two watchdogs which proved to be useless. Only once did they bark in the direction of a garden thicket. Their barks changed to whines and they ran away, refusing to return to the thicket. A search of the bushes revealed nothing. M. de X. then had to consider supernatural causes; the Abbe believed the haunting to be the work of the Devil. M. de X. appealed to ecclesiastical authorities for help.
On January 5, 1876, the Rev. Fr. H. L. arrived to investigate. An immediate calm set in, and nothing happened as long as he was in the house. On January 15, he performed a religious ceremony (the exact nature is not specified in the records). The noises began again, but in parts of the castle too remote for him to hear. The Rev. Fr. H. L. left on January 17, and the disturbances renewed with great intensity.
By January 28, the desperate family had a Novena of Masses said at Lourdes for them and had ExorcismS performed. Church officials were of the opinion that the nature of the haunting was “diabolically supernatural.” Following the exorcisms, calm reigned for two or three days. Then small noises and disturbances began once again, increasing to great frequency by August 1876.
In September, following loud noises during the night, M. de X. opened the drawing-room to find all the furniture rearranged in a horseshoe, as though a meeting had taken place. He sat down and played his harmonium for a long time. When he was finished, his playing was repeated for a long time in an opposite corner of the room.
Finally, M. and Mme. de X. could stand no more. They sold the castle and moved. The records do not indicate if the castle went cheaply, as M. de X. had feared. It is not known if subsequent occupants were haunted. The case remains unexplained.
- Flammarion, Camille. Haunted Houses. London: T. Fisher Unwin, 1924.
- Sitwell, Sacheverell. Poltergeists: Fact or Fancy. New York: Dorset Press, 1988. First published 1959.