A First Hand Account of a Haunting in 1855


"The house in which I at present reside, and which, for some years past, has been my home, is a large, rambling, old-fashioned villa in the neighborhood of Florence, Whose internal architecture gives evidence of its having been built at different periods - those periods probably distant from each other.“

"The oldest parts of the house, judging from the ornaments of a chapel which forms part of it, must, I should say, have been constructed in the early part of the sixteenth century. The rooms which I occupy are almost immediately above the chapel, and communicate on one side with the lower part of the home by a narrow stone staircase. On first coming to reside here we learned that the villa had, in common with many others of the same description, the reputation of being haunted. Strange lights it was said had been issuing from the chapel windows, and unearthly noises heard in that part of the house to which I have alluded. Some friends passed the winter with us some five or sis years since, and their servant occupied a small room on an entresol between the chapel and my rooms, but his rest became so broken, and he described the noises he heard as so peculiar, that he requested to be allowed to sleep elsewhere. I was formerly much in the habit of dismissing my maid early, and sitting up either reading or writing until a late hour. At such times I have been suddenly seized with a strange fearfulness, a kind of nervous dread, more easily imagined than described. In fact, it would be impossible to describe my sensations at those moments, further than by saying that I felt I was no longer alone. This feeling usually lasted from five to ten minutes, and invariably left a painful impression on my spirits. I also often heard a peculiar rustling sound in my room, and around my bed, as though some one were agitating the bed curtains, and this sound was invariably accompanied by a chilliness, as if a door had been suddenly opened, and a strong current of cold wind had rushed with violence into the room."

“These sounds and the other painful sensations which I have described, and which I was totally unable to explain, continued at intervals with greater or lesser degrees of intensity until the month of October, 1855, when much sensation was created in Florence by the arrival of Mr. Home, whose reputation as a spirit medium had rendered him celebrated. A short time after his arrival in Florence, the sounds in my room became more distinct and more frequent, and the very peculiar nervous feelings of which I have spoken, were not confined so exclusively to myself, but were frequently shared by my sister, if she remained any time in my room. My rest at length became so broken, and in consequence my health so impaired, that I had my bed moved into a room adjoining the one in which I had been in the habit of sleeping, hoping that the change would bring me quiet."

"The first night was undisturbed, but the next and succeeding nights mere so painful that I frequently lay awake until morning. In the meantime, we made Mr. Home's acquaintance, and having been a witness of effects so wonderful as only to be ascribed to a supernatural cause, I determined to discover, if possible, the real secret of my haunted rooms. Mr. Home having been invited to make a stay of a few days in our house, was on the first day of his arrival made acquainted with the mystery of my rooms, and he proposed that a séance should be held in them for the purpose of endeavoring to ascertain whether or not the strange sounds which disturbed me were to he attributed to supernatural agency. Accordingly about eleven o’clock on that same evening, my sister, Mr. Home and myself repaired to my room, and placed ourselves at a small round table in front of, and very near the fire-place. We were warmly covered, and the fire was blazing brightly; yet the cold that pervaded the room was intense, penetrating to the very bones. I should mention that for many previous days, I had suffered from what appeared to be a cold air, which was quite independent of the atmospheric temperature, blowing over my body, especially the lower limbs. This feeling never left me, and all artificial means failed in destroying the sensation of chilliness. This same cold air was now felt by both my sister and Mr. Home to such a degree as to be painful to them also. I have since found that it is a frequent accompaniment of the manifestations."

“Previously to placing himself at the table, Mr. Home had descended to the chapel, where, however, all was quiet. On reascending the stairs, he heard a sound as of a muffled bell tolling in the chapel. We had scarcely sat a moment at the table, when it began slowly to move about in different directions, generally inclining towards tile side on which I sat. Presently the movements became more violent, and assumed, if I may be allowed the expression, an angry appearance. We asked if a spirit were present, and the table replied by making the three usual affirmative movements."

“We then further inquired whether the spirit present was a good one, and were answered in the negative. We spoke in harsh terms, which seemed to irritate the spirit, for the demonstrations became very angry. A high backed old fashioned chair, which stood at a little distance from the table was suddenly and without human contact, drawn close to it, as though some one in sitting down, had so drawn it. Nothing was, however, visible. Mr. Home proposed that we should move into the next room, my bedroom, and try whether any further manifestations would be made there. We did so: but all remained quiet. We then returned to the room we had just quitted, and sat at another table covered with a cloth. We had previously heard a rustling sound about, and under the tables, such a sound as would be made by a person moving about in a heavy garment. This noise was accompanied by a scratching on the wood of the table, as though some one were scraping it with his nails. We then distinctly saw the cloth on the side of the table next to me move up, as though a hand raised it from beneath. The hand appeared to be in a menacing attitude. Mr. Home was also often touched on the knee, and he described the touch as peculiarly strong and disagreeable."

“We then entreated the spirit to leave us, requiring it should return on the following evening, and declare its purpose in thus tormenting us. This it promised, and on being further adjured in the name of the Holy Trinity to leave us, the demonstrations ceased"

“The night was very unquiet. The sensation of cold, of which I have before spoken, accompanied me every where and I heard a frequent scratching under my pillow, and on my bed. On the next evening we met again in my room, and were joined by two other persons, one a member of our family, the other, a gentleman known to Mr. Home, and who was then investigating this phenomenon, both men of strong nerve and dispassionate judgment. The usual cold was felt, and the table became much agitated. A small stiletto, which I use as a paper-knife, was taken from the table as by an invisible hand, and drawn from the sheath. The table was then lifted from the ground, and was violently pushed across the room. It stopped opposite a door leading to the staircase, and we resumed our places."

''A small hand-bell was taken from off the table, and violently rung in different directions. The dagger was thrown about under the table, and rubbed against Mr. Home's knees. My elbow was violently grasped by a hand, the fingers of which I distinctly saw - they were long, yellow and shining. Other persons present, who felt its grasp, described its touch as clammy and horrible. I spoke gently to the spirit, who, in answer to my questions, said he was unhappy, and that perhaps I might be of some use to him. He promised to return and speak farther on the following evening, and after lifting the table several times high above our heads, he left us.“

"The whole of the next day I was more or less tormented by the cold air, which blew over my face and limbs, especially in the evening, a short time before the hour appointed for the séance. This wind then became very strong, and again a hand raised the cloth of the table on which I was leaning, and touched my arm as if to remind me of my engagement. We repaired to my room, one member only of my family being present, my sister having suffered too much from alarm on the previous evening to join us."

"The demonstrations of the table immediately began, but in a quieter manner than on former occasions. I immediately spoke (I should say that Italian was the only language used), in a soothing manner. In reply to many questions the spirit told me he was unhappy, and had wandered about the house for many many years, that his name was Giannana, that he had been a monk, and had died in the room which I then occupied. I desired to know whether I should have masses said for the peace of his soul. Be answered in the negative, but requested that I should pray that it might find some repose. I further begged him to tell me why on the previous evening he had made so much use of the little dagger, and he answered that in life he had but too well known how to employ it. He then promised me never again to return to my rooms; and since that evening those painful sensations and strange noises, of which I have spoken so much, have left me, and never have returned. Frequent séances where good and loving spirits have given us comforting communications, have been since held by their own special request in my room. The dagger has by them been drawn from its sheath, and the bell rung, as though the touch of holy hands were needful in order to destroy any painful recollections in my mind connected with these articles, or any reluctance I might feel to again make use of them. In fact my rooms seem to have undergone a complete purification and I feel that whatever painful influence did once exist there, it has disappeared wholly, and I trust for ever."

 Excerpt taken from Incidents in my Life by D D Home


  PICOUK have withheld the author's name at their request