Monday, 22 March 2021

The Ghosts of Newsham Park Hospital


Image: Tom Tom - Shutterstock.com

My latest novel – In Darkness, Shadows Breathe – spends a significant amount of time in the frighteningly haunted Royal and Waverley Hospital whose walls conceal many dark secrets. Although a fairly modern hospital, my creation is built on land formerly occupied by a hospital, asylum and workhouse and is fairly typical in this. Many of today’s hospitals had multiple functions in their past – or are built on the foundations of earlier institutions whose practices would not be considered appropriate in this day and age.
 
Image: Shelly Jensen - Shutterstock.com

Liverpool’s Newsham Park Hospital shares this murky heritage. Situated not far from the city centre, this crumbling and derelict building once housed an orphanage, hospital wards, a Bell Tower, an attic lined with 18 punishment cupboards where children who misbehaved would be incarcerated alone in the pitch dark, a schoolhouse, mortuary, nurses’ accommodation and chapel. Built in 1869, it variously served as an Orphanage, Psychiatric Hospital and finally an Old People’s Home before closing and being finally abandoned in 1992 when it quickly fell into disrepair. Plans to redevelop it into flats fell through, owing to local opposition, but, since then, stories began to circulate. Strange ghostly phenomena were reported. It wasn’t long before word got around and numerous haunted event companies began organising night time vigils and trips around its desolate corridors which are still littered with broken beds, commodes, wheelchairs, peeling walls and tons of rubbish and detritus – a kind of decrepit Marie Celeste of the medical world.

Image: Artfully Photographer - Shutterstock.com

One of these event companies is Haunted Happenings. Newsham Park is a regular venue for them, and Philip Barron is one of their most experienced ghost hunters and guides. In more than twenty trips around the former hospital, he had witnessed his fair share of the unusual and unexplained and become accustomed to the many individual different experiences members of the same party might report But, on one fateful night, something happened that he had no way of explaining. It all started when, at the beginning of the all-night vigil, the group posed for the obligatory photograph.

The vigil passed off spookily as usual. Everyone had a great time and went home satisfied.

The next morning, Philip uploaded the photograph – again, as usual. What happened next wasn’t usual. The photograph quickly went viral. There were all the smiling, happy faces. The problem was there was one too many smiling faces. No one – and I mean no one – remembered the additional member of the group, a smiling girl. She wasn’t on the tour, well, not officially anyway. Maybe she had somehow sneaked in, and gained entry for free. Except...the simple fact was, she lacked substance somehow. The team tried to find a logical explanation and failed. Equally no one else has come up with one either. It remains one of the many mysteries of the stubbornly haunted Newsham Park Hospital.

Maybe she’s one of the former orphans, or a nurse from its psychiatric hospital days – maybe a patient. Whoever she is, she doesn’t seem too upset by being there.

The mystery ghost joins an ever-expanding collection of phenomena that includes: mischievous poltergeist activity such as workmen’s tools being moved and objects being disturbed when essential work was being carried out on the premises, the sighting of a small child in the attic along with voices heard coming from there, shadowy figures seen in one of the former wards, dragging noises coming from the former dining room, eerie screams and crying coming from the basement and other parts of the building. Then, there’s the overall heavy feeling of dread experienced by many visitors from the minute they cross the threshold. Only to be expected, I would have thought!

Want to see more? Here’s a clip to whet your appetite:



You’re next…

Carol and Nessa are strangers but not for much longer.

In a luxury apartment and in the walls of a modern hospital, the evil that was done continues to thrive. They are in the hands of an entity that knows no boundaries and crosses dimensions – bending and twisting time itself – and where danger waits in every shadow. The battle is on for their bodies and souls and the line between reality and nightmare is hard to define.

Through it all, the words of Lydia Warren Carmody haunt them. But who was she? And why have Carol and Nessa been chosen?

The answer lies deep in the darkness…










Monday, 8 February 2021

The White Lady of Stow Lake

 


My latest novel – In Darkness, Shadows Breathe – crosses dimensions. Two women who, by virtue of the different worlds they inhabit should never have met, become inextricably entwined. An evil force from beyond this world has driven them together. As each one’s story is told, the link between them grows stronger. Carol and Nessa are of this world, but many people have reported seeing apparitions who also appear to be crossing dimensions – from a world of spirit they cannot yet fully reach, into the world they used to live in.

 A particularly common phenomenon seems to be drowned girls and young women, who are apparently bound to the shores of the lake where they died. They all appear to be searching for something, or someone - in dire need of help from the living to help them join the world of spirit.

And not all of them are benign.

One such wraith seems to constitute a deadly reason why I, for one, would think twice before venturing on a walk around Stow Lake in San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park. Her appearances have been frequent and well documented.


Golden Gate Park is landscaped on similar lines to New York’s Central Park. It hosts a museum, Japanese Tea Gardens, the Conservatory of Flowers, Sprekels Park and, of course, Stow Lake. It also houses a number of ghosts – and even an allegedly moving statue. But more of that later. We’re concerned now with “a thin, tall figure in white.” So said Arthur Pigeon, as reported in the San Francisco Chronicle of January 6th 1908. Police had pulled him over for speeding and he told the newspaper that it had blocked his way as he drove out of the park, “…it seemed to shine. It had long, fair hair and was barefooted. I did not notice the face. I was too frightened and anxious to get away from the place.”

Of course, the temptation is to say the man was merely trying to avoid getting a speeding ticket. And if his had been the only report, then that could well have been the case. But it wasn’t. Over the hundred plus years since that Chronicle article, many other people have reported seeing precisely the same apparition.

So who is this mysterious ‘white lady’ of Stow Lake?

There are, as always, a number of theories. One of the more compelling is that in the late 1800s, a young woman was out walking her baby in its pram around the lake. She became tired and sat down on a bench. Presently another lady came to join her and the two struck up a conversation. So engrossed was the young mother that she failed to notice the pram rolling away. Suddenly she realized it had gone. There was no sign of either the pram or the baby. Panic stricken, she searched high and low, asking everyone, “Have you seen my baby?” No one had. For the rest of that day, and into the night, she searched.

Finally, she realized the baby and the pram must have fallen into the lake. She jumped in and was never seen alive again.

Witnesses who report seeing her speak of a woman in a dirty white dress, sometimes soaking wet and, contrary to Arthur Pigeon’s assertion that she had fair hair, the other reports consistently state she has long, dark hair. Sometimes she is also seen on Strawberry Hill – adjacent to the lake. Her face wears an anxious expression and she has been known to approach people walking around the lake at night. She asks, “Have you seen my baby?”

As for the statue I mentioned earlier, this is called ‘Pioneer Woman and Children’. It has a reputation for moving around – and even changing shape. These phenomena always occur at night and seem directly linked to the white lady. Sometimes the statue’s face changes. Other times, it has no legs or head. Motorists have reported electrical issues. Different cars driving near the statue or lake at the same time have stalled simultaneously.

Finally, if you are brave – or foolhardy – enough, try going down to Stow Lake at night and say, “White lady, white lady, I have your baby” three times. It is said she will then manifest herself before you and ask you, “Have you seen my baby?” If you say, “yes”, she will haunt you ever after. But, if you say, “no”, she’ll kill you.

Now there’s no documented evidence of the white lady committing murder. But are you prepared to put her to the test?


You’re next… 

Carol and Nessa are strangers but not for much longer.

In a luxury apartment and in the walls of a modern hospital, the evil that was done continues to thrive. They are in the hands of an entity that knows no boundaries and crosses dimensions – bending and twisting time itself – and where danger waits in every shadow. The battle is on for their bodies and souls and the line between reality and nightmare is hard to define.
Through it all, the words of Lydia Warren Carmody haunt them. But who was she? And why have Carol and Nessa been chosen?

The answer lies deep in the darkness…




Picture credits:

Nadiia Kalameiets - Shutterstock

Bru-nO - Pixabay

photos_kast - Pixabay


 

 


Wednesday, 13 January 2021

In Darkness, Shadows Breathe


Just out from Flame Tree Press!

"A compelling, immersive, and intense time-slip horror novel with sympathetic characters that readers actively root for. The tale reads like The Devil in Silver by Victor LaValle if it were written by Sarah Pinborough." -- Library Journal 

"Cavendish breathes new life into familiar horror tropes in this spine-tingling tale of past and present colliding" - Publishers' Weekly

One of the most chilling stories of possession I have ever read.” – ihorror.com

"In Darkness, Shadows Breathe is an eerie, dark, gothic story…a page turner...that seriously gave me chills and nightmares.” – It’s All About The Books

“If you are looking for an extremely atmospheric read, then look no further.  In Darkness Shadows Breathe is one you definitely need to grab!” – Booker T’s Farm

"If you enjoy gothic horror with a supernatural element and strong female characters, this is a must read for you!" - Erica Robyn Reads

"In Darkness, Shadows Breathe is a good way to start 2021, because it’s a novel centering around recovery, something the world can relate to right now. Cavendish shines in the ways she’s connected to the story, making herself vulnerable to not only her readers, but to the ghosts that haunt her." -- Aiden Merchant

 “In Darkness, Shadows Breathe” is a treat for those who are in the mood for scary, supernatural horror." Rajiv’s Reviews

Catherine Cavendish wears the crown as the reigning queen of gothic horror” – Reading Odyssey Stephen King and Beyond

“A fast-paced, supernatural horror story which I thoroughly enjoyed” – BookmarkThat.co.uk

“An atmospheric read, packed with tension and chilling moments.” – On the Shelf Reviews

A story that creeps up and drags you in until you are almost as scared as the characters you are reading about. Magnificently dark, eerie and all-consuming” – Beyond the Books

“The setting is absolutely perfect…mixing Gothic chills with modern terrors in a way that works devilishly well.” – Brown Flopsy’s Book Burrow

“A great thriller…really had me guessing’ - donnasbookblog

In Darkness, Shadows Breathe is an intriguing and at times delightfully creepy ghost story that I enjoyed very much.” – From Belgium with Book Love

A fine tale of horror with two intriguing leads and a disturbing world both have to face.” – Runalong the Shelves

You're next...

Carol and Nessa are strangers, but not for much longer.

In a luxury apartment and in the walls of a modern hospital, the evil that was done continues to thrive. They are in the hands of an entity that knows n boundaries and crosses dimensions - bending and twisting time itself - and where danger waits in ever shadow. The battle us on for their bodies and souls, and the line between reality and nightmare is hard to define.

Through it all, the words of Lydia Warren Carmody haunt them. But who was she? And why have Carol and Nessa been chosen?

The answer lies deep in the darkness...

In Darkness, Shadows Breathe is available from:

at bookstores, and other online outlets

Join me on tour!




T shirt design by Ilan Sheady

Wednesday, 23 December 2020

The Many Ghosts of Waverly Hills

Image: Junko – pixabay

Who doesn't love a ghost story at Christmas?, and if it concerns strange goings-on in the shadowy halls of an old sanitorium, what could be better to start the fingers twitching and the toes curling?

Anyone who has ever spent any time in hospital knows they can be scary places. It’s hardly surprising since most of us end up there during times of trauma – from our first breath outside our mother’s womb through accidents, life-saving surgery, palliative care, and, ultimately, our final moments. Along the way, life hits us with all sorts of difficult challenges – and, inevitably, some of these will result in hospital visits, short, or long, term stays. 

In my new novel – In Darkness, Shadows Breathe – I have created a fairly modern hospital built on grounds once occupied by a much older structure where practices were carried out which we would abhor today. Admittedly, in my case, these practices were aided by demonic forces, but to read some accounts of similar establishments in history, the truth was sometimes often not all that far removed from my fiction.

Image: Tama66 - Pixabay

Take the Waverly Hills Sanitorium in Louisville, Kentucky. Originally opened in 1910, it as designed to provide safe accommodation and care for 40-50 tuberculosis patients. In those days, a diagnosis of TB (also known as consumption) signalled a death sentence. There were no anti-biotics and no effective treatment of any kind. Any help given was purely palliative, designed to fend off the inevitable demise. Little was actually known as to the cause of the disease although it was believed that rest, peace and tranquillity in rural surroundings, with plenty of fresh air proved beneficial (doesn’t it to everyone?) so sanitoriums such as Waverly Hills were built in isolated countryside, frequently on hills where the air would be fresher and cleaner. No one, at that time knew that tuberculosis was an airborne disease. 

In the area it served – Jefferson County - cases of tuberculosis grew until the disease seemed to be on the rampage. The original building soon proved inadequate and became overcrowded. It was clear a much larger facility was needed and, in 1926, the enlarged Gothic revival style building which still stands today opened for business. Capable of housing over 400 patients, Waverley Hill became its own village, complete with shops. Once you entered Waverly Hills, you became a resident for life. TB patients could not live in the community – although guests were allowed. They would make their way up the hill, visit, and then go back home, taking whatever germs they had collected with them.

Image: Adina Voicu - Pixabay

In its time Waverly Hills was considered one of the most modern and well-equipped facilities of its kind. It continued to operate as a tuberculosis hospital until 1944 when the development of a drug – streptomycin - which successfully treated the disease rendered the need for such institutions obsolete. Gradually, the building emptied until it closed in 1961. Thereafter, it became Woodhaven Medical Services – a geriatric facility - before closing its doors in 1981.
 

The building fell into severe decay until it was eventually bought by Charlie and Tina Mattingly who formed the Waverly Hills Historical Society and have worked tirelessly since 2001 on a massive programme of restoration. They must also have realized that throughout their efforts, they w ere never entirely alone in that building and now visitors can come along to organised events where they may be lucky – or unfortunate – enough to witness some of the residents who refuse to leave Waverly Hills. Or maybe they can’t. There are plenty of sightings. Among the most memorable:

Image: robinsonk26 - pixabay

The Louisville Ghosthunters Society paid a visit to the kitchen and were astonished to find it wrecked – broken crockery everywhere, tables and chairs upended. They turned to leave but were stopped in their tracks by the sounds of a door swinging shut and the smell of baking bread. But there was no one there to bake it.

True Ghost Tales recounts the story of a group who were visiting the sanitorium and made their way up to the roof only to be scared out of their wits by seeing moving shadows, They fled from the scene but the shadows pursued them. Doors slammed. Mysterious footprints appeared in puddles. They fled from the building in terror.

Then there’s the old woman who roams the corridors, her hands and feet bloodied from the chains she is shackled in. If anyone approaches her, she runs away screaming.

A frequent sighting is that of a little boy called Timmy who, it is said, died in Waverly Hills of TB. He seems unable to leave but does enjoy playing ball with visitors.

At the other end of the spectrum is the notorious Creeper whose appearance is the darkest of shadows slithering along corridor walls and imparting the deepest, blackest feeling of gloom on anyone who comes near it.

Waverly Hills is also home to the phenomena known as Doppelgängers (literally ‘double walkers’). Visitors and guides have reported seeing themselves – sometimes performing acts they would never perform. Sometimes they see an exact double of a relative doing something that would be total anathema to that person (such as a cat loving sister strangling a pet cat). The doubles are identical save for the blackholes where their eyes should be.

Image: Lario Tus - Shutterstock

Finally, beware of Room 502 – it has such a sad history. On September 10th 2006, Tim Halstead of Missouri Paranormal Research took a photograph of a ghost who looked much like a young woman called Mary Lee. It is believed she was either a nurse who committed suicide in that room, or the daughter of a doctor who contracted TB herself from prolonged exposure to the disease and who died as a result. Another connection with Room 502 is that of a nurse who worked there, found herself pregnant and unmarried and then threw herself off the roof. There is a lot of sadness in that room and it remains there. 

I wish you all a Merry Christmas and a peaceful, healthy and Happy New Year



You’re next… 

Carol and Nessa are strangers but not for much longer.

In a luxury apartment and in the walls of a modern hospital, the evil that was done continues to thrive. They are in the hands of an entity that knows no boundaries and crosses dimensions – bending and twisting time itself – and where danger waits in every shadow. The battle is on for their bodies and souls and the line between reality and nightmare is hard to define.

Through it all, the words of Lydia Warren Carmody haunt them. But who was she? And why have Carol and Nessa been chosen?

The answer lies deep in the darkness…




For more information on Waverly Hills Sanitorium: 

Louisville Ghosthunters Society investigation: http://www.louisvilleghs.com/LGHS_MASTER/SUB/Investigations/Waverly/Waverly_Hills_Sanatorium.html

The Graveyard Shift: https://www.ranker.com/list/scary-stories-from-waverly-hills-sanatorium/anna-lindwasser

Waverly Hills official website: https://www.therealwaverlyhills.com/