CALDER STORY: A terrifying tale from the Mansion House
Built in 1828, Calderstones Mansion House is 190 years old this year. Like most surviving, large houses of its age, the Mansion House has been at the centre of a few ghostly rumours and scary stories over the years.
In 2014, The Reader embraced these spooky stories by hosting an eerie Halloween evening featuring pumpkin-carving, poetry readings and a Ghost Tour full of frightful surprises. We’ve heard a few more stories since then and as we celebrate Halloween Half-term at The Storybarn, we thought we’d share this terrifying tale.
While working for Liverpool City Council, regular park visitor Sheila De Groot was based at Calderstones Mansion House for ten years. She shared memories of her time and an unexplained experience:
“I live in Gateacre, I have done for over twenty years, and worked in the Mansion House as business support for the Council. I’d previously been in the caring profession but after a back injury I was redeployed to work with environmental health, school crossing patrol management – there were lots of different little departments based there.
“I’ve walked past the house so many times with my children so to find myself working there was quite bizarre. My office was on the ground floor – I remember the kitchen had a big, thick safe where we used to store cash. We had this really old key to open it and inside there were old paintings, some of them ripped and torn, a little silverware and papers – marriage, birth and death reports, and I think I remember some thick books.
“And the cellar – that was freaky! I was convinced it was haunted. I had to pluck up the courage to go down there once when there was someone there to fix the lights or read the meters.
“As you went down it was quite steep and it was so dark, there were brick archways – you could imagine all kinds of old-fashioned wines down there back in the day. As I was walking around I suddenly felt panicked, it was a horrible feeling, the man must have noticed because he asked me if I was OK. ‘No!’ I said, ‘I’ll wait upstairs!’ He came up after about 20 minutes, but he was fine. I think I had to go down a few times after that but always reluctantly, I always got that same feeling.
“I couldn’t get very far because it felt so cold and – I don’t know, just spooky. I’m sure it was just my imagination, of course, but it made me feel uncomfortable.”
“Others would say the same thing, that the place felt odd. No-one liked to go down to the cellar, they’d try and avoid it, they’d say ‘Here, you go down, I’ll give you the keys!’
There were lots of rumours, of course, someone once said they’d seen a lady in white, but there’s always a lady in white, isn’t there?
“On another occasion, a colleague and I were the only two working in the ground floor office. It was a big, open-plan room and we’d sometimes have the radio on. We had it on in the background on this occasion, we were both doing our work, it was all very quiet, then all of a sudden the radio went really, really loud. It made me jump! We had to go across the room to turn it back down, we couldn’t work it out – it was bizarre!
“I mentioned it to the other staff when they were back in the office, they all just laughed. But my colleague who’d been there, he sat in the opposite corner to me, he was adamant ‘Honestly, I didn’t touch it. The volume just went up!’”
“I’d love to know, when the refurbishment work is finished, if the workers felt anything strange, being down in the cellar or in the house when it’s dark and quiet. I’m sure they’ll have more stories to tell!”
Sheila can rest assured that the team from John Turner Construction Group haven’t come across anything ghoulish. They have however shared some of their more frightful photos from the project, check them out below.
She’ll also be pleased to hear that the basement will be much less intimidating when The International Centre for Shared Reading opens in Spring 2019 – our much-improved toilet facilities will be found there, with the basement fully-accessible for the first time thanks to a brand-new lift!