1908 (pre.): The Cavalier with the Slouched Hat

The following was presented in an 1908 article in the Strand Magazine of London, England, as one of six 'ghost stories' gleaned from the pages of the Journal of the Society for Psychical Research as examples of well attested and verified encounters with the strange. Having said that, let me note that while I have found the original SPR Journal reference for all of the other tales in this Strand article, I have not yet found them for this one... so it is not yet confirmed to have come from the Journal. The following is said to been reported by "Lady V--," described as "a friend of Mrs. Cavendish of Blacklands Hall;" a specific date for the event was not given.

        According to Lady V, she and her husband, Edward, were on a driving tour of Normandy when foul weather forced them to look for shelter in an "unpromising village" that was nearby. After asking at several houses, they were directed to a quaint, old-fashioned farmhouse; though now somewhat run-down, it looked as if it had been of some importance in the area once. They were shown to a room "after offering the somewhat villainous-looking landlord a very high price." The room was long and narrow, with two or three windows, two small beds, an old table and some chairs.

        Lady V was apparently worried about "being robbed and murdered" by their 'host,' so her husband made extra sure to examine and lock both doors to the room, and placed the keys on the table in the center of the room. In addition, they placed chairs and their travel bags against each door, so they would hear any attempt to open the doors. Only then did Lady V go to bed; but not to sleep. There were no curtains, and it was a brightly moonlit night, so she had trouble getting to sleep.

        As she looked about the room, trying to let her mind relax, she saw someone walk into the room through the far door... and not by opening it! The figure appeared to be dressed as a cavalier -- a soldier that supported King Charles I during his reign from 1625 to 1649 -- and wore a slouched hat, and held a cloak up so his face was not visible.

The ghost.
The ghost, as illustrated for the Strand Magazine in 1908. [Larger version here]

She watched in silence as this strange figure crept stealthily across the floor, as if looking for someone, yet also clearly unaware of both her and her husband. The figure walked through the table with the keys on it; and finally left the room by passing through the door near Lady V's bed, without disturbing the chair or bags left there. When the figure passed her bed, Lady V could distinctly see the outline of the window through the figure's form.

        For a few minutes, Lady V couldn't speak. When she finally asked her husband if he was awake, and if he saw the figure, his immediate response was "You don't mean to say you saw it, too?" It seems she was not the only person having trouble sleeping that night!

        Edward checked the doors, bags, chairs, and table, and all were just as before. They didn't sleep that night. Their host said nothing about their visitor before they left; and inquiries around the village only confirmed a rumor the house was haunted... though lady V had the distinct impression there was more to be said, but the other villagers were just afraid of the landlord she and her husband had met!

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