It seems odd writing about this but for the last 12 years I have been haunted by a building. No I am not losing my mind, the building in question was my home from 1996-2003. It was the first place that I lived, after leaving home at the age of 22 and for some strange reason it is as if this building is calling me back.
The building in which my flat (apartment) was contained, was formerly a convent school ,The Convent of the Holy Family, which until today I didn't realise housed boarders as well. I believed that the school had been a normal day school, where the children return home at night. It is only after several hours of hunting on the Internet that I found out that the school took in boarders, girls from the age of 3 years old. Some of the children were also adopted by American families. My little bit of research has been a real eye opener.
In the link above I can see my old flat, top left of the building, which was the old chapel for the convent school. It seems so strange to see it in the photograph from the 1930's as even when it was converted into flats very little was changed on the exterior. I don't know why this building haunts me so. Maybe it is because this was my home before I became ill? It would certainly be completely unsuitable for me to live in now, with 30 stairs to reach our front door and no lift. It had stunning views of the Exe Estuary, Star Cross and Powderham Castle. On a good day you could see the roof of Exeter Cathedral. It was a beautiful if not compact place to live.
It was not without its problems, they started as soon as I moved in. Things would go missing only to turn up in the strangest places. I would return home from work to find the radio blaring despite leaving it switched off when I left earlier that day. Everyone said what a lovely, peaceful atmosphere the flat had and on the whole it did. It was my sanctuary after work, where I had a boss who made it clear I wasn't his first choice for the position that I had been promoted to. Moving away from family and friends to a strange town and new job has to be one of the most stressful things I have ever done. I am happy now, hubby and I have carved a life out for ourselves, next year I have lived in this town for 20 years. I will always be considered an outsider by the locals but I no longer feel that Plymouth is my home. Plymouth is quite alien to me now, I love the relaxed gentle atmosphere of Exmouth.
If you are sceptical of the supernatural or events that can not be easily explained away I suggest you stop reading now. These events occurred whilst I lived in the flat alone and when my husband joined me in 1998 increased further. The fact that so much happened, which we didn't really talk about until we moved to our new home seems quite unbelievable to me now. Since we moved out of the flat no one has managed to live in it as long as we did. The couple that moved in after us only lasted a year before splitting up and selling it on. Since then I have regularly seen it advertised in the local paper for sale. It has mainly been bought as a holiday home as many of the flats were at the time when we lived there.
The first major event I remember happening in the flat and one I can't explain was in December 1996. I was wrapping Christmas presents and whilst doing so was watching Apollo 13 on video. I wasn't paying full attention to the film and was lost in the task. I remember looking up and seeing a black and white film on the TV screen. It took a few seconds to register that this wasn't Apollo 13, as I reached for the video remote control the TV started flicking through the channels. Some may try to explain this away as a resident in the building having the same TV or video as my own however at the time I was the only person who lived in the block of 6 flats. The rest had been sold as holiday homes or were still waiting to be sold. How I didn't lose the plot and become frightened I don't know. I did think it was weird but I just put the video back on and started back on the job of getting my families Christmas presents wrapped.
As the months went on and before hubby moved in with me in 1998 more things started happening. Whatever was in the flat with me liked to turn off the alarm on my clock radio causing me to be late for work on more than one occasion. At the time I thought I must be turning the alarm off in my sleep. I moved the alarm clock to the other end of the bedroom but almost daily the alarm would be switched off. Only I had the keys to the flat and it seems a bit of a pointless prank to play on someone. In the end I had to resort to setting the alarm on my home phone. At the time the telephone company had a service called alarm call. You could set the phone to ring at the time you wanted to be woken up. This solved the problem of the alarm being turned off. I would like to add I have never sleep walked in my life and I have never turned alarms off in my sleep since leaving the flat. This phenomenon only ever happened there.
Whenever I was alone in my flat and that was quite a bit until hubby moved in, there was a constant feeling of being watched. If you have never felt this feeling it is difficult to relay to you. The only way I can describe the feeling is when you have your back turned in a room and someone comes in, without making a sound, you sense their presence in the room. You just know that someone is there behind you. I had this feeling constantly and would turn around quite frightened (as I wasn't expecting anyone else to be in the flat), there was no one there. I can't explain it but again this has never happened to either my husband or I since leaving the flat. Our new home has a completely different atmosphere and we are very happy here.
I can't remember the dates of when things happened as there were just so many odd occurrences. Several times a week hubby and I would be woken up in the middle of the night with the TV switched on and it flicking furiously through the channels. The TV remote was always placed on top of the television when we turned it off at night. Neither of us were scared by the weird goings on more bemused by it.
One of the weirdest things that ever happened was on a warm summers day, we had all the windows wide open (they were huge windows around 6 ft in length) and suddenly we could hear singing. We couldn't make out the words but we knew it was some kind of religious music. We looked out of the windows to see if there were a group of religious people marking out the parish boundaries as we had seen them do this before, yet there was no one. The music was coming from the centre of our lounge, the old chapel. We put our ears to the floorboards, nothing, we put our ears to the wall of the adjoining flat, nothing. My husband even left the building and couldn't hear the music. The music was emanating from our lounge yet we had no explanation for it. It had us perplexed and no sooner had it started it stopped.
It was only when we moved into our current home, that we really talked about all the strange things that had happened there. At least when we lost things now we really could go back to the last place we remembered seeing it. In the flat the missing item could turn up weeks later in the middle of the coffee table as if it had been there all along. We and whatever shared our living space tolerated each other. Which after nearly 12 years of not living there I am at a loss as to why this place haunts my dreams.
Even now after all these years, I can tell you the layout of each room perfectly. This flat has haunted my dreams ever since we left it. During the day I have no urge to go back and visit it. We've pulled up in the car park a couple of times and looked at it from the outside but from the day we handed over the keys to its new owners we have not been back inside. Yet in my dreams I am inside the flat. On some occasions I have sneaked inside whilst the new owners are away, other times I am back living there. The recurrent theme of these dreams is that I have left something behind, some object but even in the dream I do not know what the item is.
Over the last week this flat has really invaded my head space, I am thinking of it constantly yet I am clueless as to why. It is almost as if I am drawn to it subconsciously, I have never had this before. My parents home that I left to move into the flat never haunted me this way. Sometimes when I wake from a postprandial episode I think I am back at my parents home other times I can think I am back at the flat. It is just so weird.
I have no desire to go back there, I like sharing my living space with entities I can see. I certainly could not handle the steps and could not go back to living without a garden of my own. I know now looking back I was showing signs of my illness even back then. In 1999-2000 I started fainting with no warning. I have a lovely scar on my left leg from where I fell onto concrete, as I fainted in the car park of the flats. That is my one and only souvenir. I know that we left nothing of significance at the flat because in all these years I have never missed it. I would love to know what my subconscious is searching for. What is the hold that this previous dwelling has over me. I have discussed my dreams with my husband, he doesn't recall having any dreams about the flat. It seems to be only me that is effected by them.
I wish this place would stop haunting my dreams, its been almost 12 years now and its time to let go.