We think of ghosts as the spirits of deceased humans, not animals. But spooky spots all over the world are famous for being haunted by cats, dogs, and other eerie creatures that took “play dead” a little too seriously. These include the owls at Arundel Castle, a cat at Farnam Mansion, a dog at Arith Castle, another at Higbee Beach, and a tortured cat at Montpelier Hill.
The Stewards House at Montpelier Hill
Said to be one of the most haunted places in Ireland, Montpelier Hill is home to the Stewards House (also called the Killakee House), a two-story abode built as a hunting lodge around 1765. It’s now a private residence… though it’s hard to imagine how anyone can sleep there, given that a large, demonic black cat is rumoured to roam the property. Some connect the ghost cat to stories of a priest who performed an exorcism on a cat on the property, while others say it’s the ghost of a cat doused in whiskey and set ablaze by members of the Irish Hell Fire Club, who met on Montpelier Hill.
The best documented account of these hauntings occurred between 1968 and 1970. The Evening Herald and Evening Press newspapers carried a number of reports regarding a Mrs Margaret O’Brien and her husband Nicholas, a retired Garda superintendent, who were converting the house into an arts centre. The redevelopment had been a troubled affair with tradesmen employed on the work leaving complaining of ghosts. One night, a friend of the O’Brien’s, artist Tom McAssey, and two workmen were confronted by a spectral figure and a black cat with glowing red eyes. McAssey painted a portrait of the cat which hung in the house for several years after. Although locals were sceptical of the reports, further apparitions were reported, most notably of an Indian gentleman and of two nuns called Blessed Margaret and Holy Mary who had taken part in black masses on Mountpelier Hill. There were also reports of ringing bells and poltergeist activity. In 1970 an RTÉ television crew recorded a documentary at the house. In the documentary a clairvoyant called Sheila St. Clair communicated with the spirits of the house through automatic writing. In 1971, a plumber working in the house discovered a grave with a skeleton of a small figure, most likely that of a child or, perhaps, the body of the dwarf alleged to have been sacrificed by the members of the Hell Fire Club. The house operated as a restaurant in the 1990s before closing in 2001; it is now a private residence
Cape May, New Jersey
Many agree that Cape May is the most haunted town in New Jersey. Some even say the summer destination is the most haunted spot in the whole country. If you’re looking to curl up with a furry ghost, start at Columbia House and call out for Alex. The ghost cat is said to prowl the Victorian guesthouse and neighbouring yards.
If you can’t get a reservation, don’t worry—New Jersey writer and medium Craig McManus says plenty of Cape May’s B&Bs, inns, and hotels are home to the ghosts of cats and dogs. One such spot is the John F. Craig House, a B&B where guests report feeling a feline brush against their faces in the middle of the night.
F. Craig House is also said to be haunted by two other ghosts in Rooms 4 and 5. Room 4, known as the Susan Craig Room, was said to be haunted by the spirit of a little girl, unknown, who had red hair. Room 5, the Lucy Johnson Room, was haunted by Lucy herself. Lucy was a maid in the house and Interestingly enough, she was said to be a very helpful ghost who was known to sew missing buttons back onto the garments of guests who stayed in the room.
If you’re in Cape May don’t forget to take a stroll down Higbee Beach where a large black ghost dog runs along the sand before vanishing into thin air. There have also been sightings of Higbee himself. He appears when anyone approaches his grave. Higbee is believed to be seen chasing another ghost, a slave. The locals also tell of a ghostly sailor who appears at the top of a dune, and then disappears just as quickly.
Airth Castle overlooks the village of Airth and the River Forth, in the Falkirk area of Scotland. The castle is currently operated as a hotel and spa.
There have been reports of ghostly screams and encounters with the spirits of a nanny and two children who died in a fire at Airth Castle. The sound of children playing can be heard in rooms 3, 4, 9 and 23. People have also reported hearing cries and screams believed to be from a maid who was attacked by her master.
Wear boots if you visit Scotland’s Airth Castle. This 14th-century abode is also home to a ghost dog that roams the hallways, looking for ankles to bite. It is believed it roams the hallways.
Oneida, New York
This 19th-century mansion-turned-inn has been a favourite of psychics and paranormal investigators for years. Guests report everything from unexplained footsteps to flickering lights and sightings of phantom cats. Investigators believe that the spirits of those who’ve died in the mansion still linger in the halls.
The Farnam Mansion is currently owned by writer and former antique dealer Gerri Gray, who, along with her husband Brian, have painstakingly worked to renovate and restore the house to its former glory.
After experiencing a number of strange and unexplainable phenomena in the Farnam Mansion and learning of the alleged paranormal experiences of some of its former owners and residents, Gerri and Brian Gray contacted a paranormal research group called the New York Shadow Chasers and invited them to investigate the house. The first of many paranormal investigations of the Farnam Mansion by the Shadow Chasers team took place in April 2011 on Good Friday. During that initial investigation, paranormal activity was witnessed and documented by all of the investigators and included the sighting of a shadow figure darting along the exterior wall in the main parlour, a lamp in the parlour turning on by itself, unexplained footsteps and voices coming from the bedroom directly above the parlor, a light anomaly on the second floor, and numerous intelligent responses via a PX device and voice recorders, which were believed to be spirit communications. The New York Shadow Chasers concluded that “it was clear before we even began putting away the equipment that the Farnam Mansion was haunted and the spirits were very happy to communicate.”
On August 13, 2011 the Grays hosted its first annual “Night of Shadows” public paranormal. The investigators and participants alike documented paranormal activity which included the sounds of footsteps, disembodied voices and shadow figures. A midnight séance conducted conjured up a white phantom feline on the attic stairs along with heavy footsteps pacing the halls.
Arundel Castle is a restored and remodelled medieval castle in Arundel, West Sussex, England. It was established by Roger de Montgomery on Christmas Day 1067. Roger became the first to hold the earldom of Arundel by the graces of William the Conqueror. Arundel Castle was damaged in the English Civil War and then restored in the 18th and 19th centuries.
From the 11th century, the castle has served as a home and has been in the ownership of the family of the Duke of Norfolk for over 400 years. It is the principal seat of the Norfolk family.
Along with other apparitions Arundel Castle is said be haunted by the first Earl of Arundel as well. Being the overseer of the original construction of the castle, it is believed he is still watching over his domain.
Another ghost is said to appear most often during moonlit nights at Arundel Castle. It is believed to be a young woman dressed in white who committed suicide by leaping from Arundel’s Hiornes tower after her love affair ended tragically.
And of course there’s the bird. If you hear fluttering wings or spot a white, owl-like bird outside the walls of Arundel Castle, you might be in trouble. A colony of White American Owls made themselves at home in the 15th-century castle before its restoration. Today, a sighting is considered a warning of danger to come; the ghostly birds have been said to appear to castle residents before their deaths.
The owls at Arundel Castle were celebrities long before now. When a hundred year-old bird died in 1859, the editor of the West Sussex Gazette dedicated almost 600 words to it. Here it is in part republished in The Table on 3 September 1859: