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A Ghost Story for November Nights

By On Nov 19 2012, 9:29 am

November’s chills are gathering around our humble abode (which I lovingly refer to as ‘Lee Towers’), rattling the windows and frosting up the Buckinghamshire (UK) countryside’s misty fields and woods. The perfect season, then, for a chilling little ghost story to give purpose to the nighttime shivers.

While researching my new Samhain Horror novel ‘The Jack in the Green’, I stumbled across the melancholy, macabre tale of ‘The Cauld Lad of Hylton’ and was instantly transfixed. Hylton Castle in Sunderland, England, is said to be haunted by the ghost of one  Robert Skelton – a local stable boy who was murdered there around the 16th Century. There are varying accounts of the events that led to the poor boy’s demise. The most popular telling has Skelton strangled by the hands of the murderous Baron Hylton after the lad overslept and failed to get the Baron’s horse ready. (It is worth noting that the Baron was pardoned of any wrongdoing in 1609, apparently claiming that the boy had an accident and he in fact tried to help him, explaining the blood on his clothing…)

While the facts remain muddy, the haunting aftereffects of the boy’s death are chillingly clear. Castle staff reported the kitchen miraculously tidied during the night if it was left in a mess – or ransacked if it was left tidy. Chamberpots were emptied amidst a cacophony of classic poltergeist activity. A cook, who stayed up late to find out what was causing the nuisance, was haunted by the spectral form of a naked boy who whispered, “I’m cold…”

And if that’s not enough to give you the shivers, consider this disturbing refrain – apparently sung by the ghostly lad in the hope that someone might hear him and lay his unquiet spirit to rest:

‘Song of the Cauld Lad of Hylton’ (Author Anon)

“Wae’s me, wae’s me
The acorn’s not yet fallen from the tree
That’s to grow the wood
That’s to make the cradle
That’s to rock the bairn
That’s to grow a man
That’s to slay me.”

Spooky huh? Well I certainly think so – so much so that I included the words as the opening for my new novel ‘The Jack in the Green’. To discover their chilling resonance be sure to take a wild walk in the woods with me in October 2013, when ‘The Jack in the Green’ releases in ebook and print through Samhain Horror.

Keep warm now, and if you hear a ghostly voice complaining of the cold – do the lad a favor and let him in.

Just keep him out of your kitchen…

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