Curses Are Just Coincidence Right?
We are all familiar with the word 'curse', yet how many of us believe that they actually exist?
It’s very easy for us in these logical days of the 21st century to dismiss such beliefs as nothing more than coincidence and a susceptible imagination.
However, is it possible some curses are real? Furthermore, do they in fact have the power to manifest evil forces that causes harm to the living?
Glamis Castle, Scotland
Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon, the Queen Mother
The three curses of Glamis Castle
Glamis Castle, Scotland.
Glamis Castle, (pronounced Glahms), not only has ghosts and curses, but a number of other, alleged, supernatural forms. These include a female vampire and a very odd 'beast-like' creature that stalks the castle.
The castle was given as a gift to the Bowes-Lyons family by King Robert II in 1372. The family still own the castle today as the Earls of Strathmore. The late Queen Mother, who was a daughter of the family, gave birth to the late Princess Margaret at the castle.
As to curses, there are three involving Glamis Castle.
The first relates to 'Earl Beardie' and can be viewed as both a haunting and a curse. This nobleman of Scotland is thought to be Alexander Lyon, 2nd Lord Glamis or Alexander Lindsay, 4th Earl of Crawford. Both of these men had strong links to the castle.
The story surrounding Earl Beardie is that he was a ferocious gambler and card player. So much so that he wanted to play on the Sabbath. His host apparently refused and advised the nobleman not to play. Earl Beardie became furious and claimed that he would play cards until doomsday and no one would stop him.
Some stories maintain that the Earl said he “would play cards with the devil if no one else would.”
It is then that a stranger arrived at the castle and invited the Earl to a game of cards. The stranger is thought to have been the devil himself.
Over the years there have been a few ghostly sightings of the Earl playing cards. It is believed that he has been cursed and will continue to play cards until doomsday.
A second curse may have started due to Sir John Lyon having removed an ancestral chalice from the family seat at Forteviot.
Legend states that the chalice was to have been kept within Forteviot for ever. Many certainly believe that the vast amount of paranormal activity that occurs in Glamis castle is due to Sir John having brought the chalice within its walls.
Another curse that is alleged to plague the castle is all together more creepy and mysterious. For the past few hundred years up until the present day, there have been persistent rumours of a horrible and strange secret within the family.
The secret is apparently only passed down to the next male heir of the estate when they reach the age of 21.
The 'secret' or curse may relate to the birth of a grossly deformed child - half human and half animal. The child is reported to have lived to a great age - over 100 years old. The physical deformities suffered included stunted limbs, full hairy body, no distinctive neck and round body.
The 'monster' as it was called, was imprisoned in a secret chamber for the protection of the family. This was required since the 'monster' was reported to have possessed extreme strength and be evil in nature.
Another possibility for the 'secret' is that the hidden room contains the bodies of people who were starved to death. It is surmised that they were enemies of the family.
In the early part of the 20th century it was reported that a workman carrying out renovations accidentally broke into the secret room. There are two accounts of what happened next.
One was that he died of shock and his wife was given a huge amount of money and sent to Australia to keep her quiet. The second story states that he did not die and was paid a large sum of money to leave the country and live abroad in order that the 'curse' or secret would remain hidden.
It is also alleged that the late Queen Mother's own mother - the Countess of Strathmore - had asked the estate manager, Andrew Ralston, what the secret was. Andrew Ralston was a confidante of the Earl and had been fully informed about the mystery. His reply to the countess, if true, was chilling:
"It is fortunate you do not know the truth for, if you did, you would never spend another night beneath this roof".
What can we make of these curses, especially the alleged ‘secret’? It seems highly unlikely that any of the reasons for the confidential information would today be cause for the secret to be kept within the family. Could this mean that the ‘secret’ doesn’t exist or it’s so horrific that even today, the family will not release the details?
Interestingly, the present royal family have never acknowledged that they have information relating to Glamis Castle, although it is widely believed that a few members of the Royal Family do know – including the late Queen Mother.
Having said this, no member of the Royal family have denied the stories of Glamis Castle.
People and objects can be cursed and it’s believed that some buildings may also have a jinx over them.
Alton Towers in England is more famous as one of the UK's best loved theme parks.
Set in beautiful grounds many of the visitors are unaware of the old mansion on site and of the alleged curse that surrounds it.
In the 1840s the Earl of Shrewsbury used Alton Towers as a summer home. On returning to the Towers one night his coach was stopped by an old beggar woman who pleaded for help from the Earl. The Earl angrily told his coachman to keep on going, almost knocking the old lady down.
Before he was out of ear shot she put a curse on him and his family. The old lady stated that for every branch that fell from the old oak tree in the grounds, one member of his family would die.
That night a violent thunderstorm scorched one of the branches and it fell to the ground.
That same night a member of the Earl’s household died in mysterious circumstances. The nobleman immediately ordered that the oak tree be chained up to prevent any other branches falling. To this day the tree remains chained.
However, there is speculation that some of the folklore surrounding Alton Towers may have been elaborated in order to increase it's attraction as a visitors site.
In 2007 it was reported that a main branch from the oak fell off. On this occasion at least, no member of the family died. In fact one of the most popular rides at the park, called the Hex, is based on the legendary curse of Alton Towers which is also reputed to be very haunted.
St. Mary’s Church – Odstock, Wiltshire
There is a scary curse that is reputedly attached to this beautiful old church in Wiltshire, England.
Folklore says that if any person locks the door to the church then a curse will fall upon them and they will die suddenly.
The legend begins in 1801. A young gypsy man had been accused of being a horse thief and faced death by hanging.
However the young man's father, Joseph Scamp, admitted to the theft in order that his son could go free. Joseph was soon sentenced and hung on the local gallows.
As a tribute to the bravery of Joseph his people held a party near to the church and planted a Rose bush at his graveside in his memory.
However, the puritanical and snobbish authorities were shocked at the compliment made and the behaviour of the gypsies within the churchyard. Subsequently the authorities had the church door locked to prevent any of Joseph’s family or friends entering.
The gypsies were furious at the slight to Joseph's memory and put a curse on the church door, warning that - anyone who locks the door hereafter will die suddenly.
The legend continues, that afterwards, two church wardens who were key-holders, died suddenly and mysteriously after locking the door. The vicar by this time was frantic over the death of two of his staff in quick succession. He ran to the side of the River Ebble and hurled the church door keys in. To this day, the keys still lie in the deep water of the river.
Haunted or cursed?
Cursed objects are more numerous than cursed people or buildings.
Human skulls are perhaps one of the most gruesome objects that have a tradition for being cursed. So much so that stories of these jinxes have inspired books and movies over the years.
A ghost-hunter from the past, Robert Thurston Hopkins, did particular research on this topic and related some interesting finds. I'll leave it up to you to decide if there is a curse or not.
The William Corder Skull
William Corder was executed for the murder of his lover in Polsted, England, 1827.
Almost 50 years later his remains were acquired by a medical man, Dr Kilner.
In order to carry out research, the doctor severed the skull from the spine and put it through a process of preservation and cleaning. So proud was he of his work that he displayed the now gleaming skull in a display case in his office.
Shortly afterwards both the doctor and his maid servant witnessed a stranger dressed in Victorian clothing walking through his house.
A short time later, he began to hear rasping breathing and aggressive mutterings when no one was with him. He tried to find the source but couldn’t.
One night he heard a loud crashing sound from the room where Corder’s skull was on display. When the doctor entered the room he gasped as an icy blast of air passed through him.
Although very uneasy he continued into the room but there was no evidence of an intruder. However, what he did see was the skull, outside its display case, sitting at the opposite side of the room.
The doctor apparently swore later under oath, that the skull, somehow, displayed an evil grin.
The full skeleton was buried a short time later. From that date all strange incidents stopped. It is interesting to note how some curses are similar in nature to the signs of a haunting.
Higher Chilton Farm, Somerset, England
This story relates to a man called Theophilus Brome. During the English Civil War he changed from being a supporter of the King to a supporter of Oliver Cromwell.
Many years later when royalty and the crown were restored on the succession of King Charles II, Theophilus was worried that he would be dispossessed and his head, after death, would be removed from his coffin and put on public display.
This common, gruesome practice was performed on people's corpses who were accused of treason. He therefore, made his sister promise that she would take it upon herself to be the guardian of his head and keep it safe.
When Theophilus did die, his sister kept to her promise by keeping her brothers head secure within the house.
The skull remained like this until the sister’s death. Afterwards numerous tenants occupied the farmhouse most of whom made every effort to get rid of the skull.
However, whenever an attempt was made to move the skull, poltergeist activity would erupt in the house and people even reported hearing screams.
Today the skull sits in a specially made cabinet situated over a door in the main hall. No further reports of unusual activity have been recorded.
For once there may be tantalising evidence that at least some of this legend may be true. Many years after the death of Theophilus and his sister, the church where they were interred was being restored. On investigating the remains of Theophilus it was found that his full skeleton was intact apart from the head.
I hope you’ve enjoyed this article about curses and if you have any stories you would like to share, then tell us about them in the comments section.
©Seeker7/H M Howell, September 2013
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