Gothic Fiction, Longread, Pagham-verse, Podcast, undead, weird fiction, world building

The Undead Hour ~ ESP and The Face

Welcome to the first Undead Hour, where C. M. Rosens, representing Pagham-on-Sea’s History Society, interviews medium Penelope Holdfast. Ms Holdfast is the owner of ESP – Entities living Sympathetically with People – a therapeutic service offering counselling for those who need to learn to co-exist with their hauntings. ESP is based in the old White Horse Bed and Breakfast, which is now Ms Holdfast’s place of business and place of residence.

Future episodes of the Undead Hour will be hosted by either C. M. Rosens (interviewing the living about the undead) or the revenant Clem Wells (interviewing fellow undead and discussing current hot topics and undead issues).

The Undead Hour with Penelope Holdfast (ESP) and The Face

CMR: Hello, welcome to the next episode of Eldritch Girl, and today I’m interviewing Penelope Holdfast, the medium and owner of ESP, which is Entities living Sympathetically with People, and this is a new venture which has just come to Pagham-on-Sea, so it’s lovely to have Penelope with us, do you prefer Penelope or Penny sorry?

PH: Penelope. That’s my name.

CMR: Penelope, yes sorry yeah. And so, would you like to introduce yourself Penelope, and tell everyone about your business and the reasons why you’ve moved to Pagham-on-Sea, because you’ve just come down haven’t you, you’re very relatively new to the area, and so yeah I will hand over to you.

PH: Yeah sure so. Obviously I’m Penelope, I’m a 34 year old medium. And my business, ESP, as you’ve mentioned, I set it up and it tracks entities. It registers whether they are on the corporeal scale which is a little bit like radiation on the Geiger scale or the Richter scale for earthquakes – it’s based on spectral energy levels. Generally my aim is to help humans or other entities, you know non-humans, affected by hauntings to live in harmony with spectres. I mean, that’s not always possible, but I was hoping that we could kind of talk about that and it help me to raise awareness of my business locally, because I think it’s so important to teach humans and non-humans to live with hauntings.

CMR: Yeah, absolutely. Okay, so you’ve recently moved into the White Horse B&B [Bed and Breakfast] which I think most of our listeners will will know, our Pagham-based listeners, and what brings you to Pagham-on-Sea and is that where your business is going to be based?

PH: Yeah so business is going to be based from the B&B. I’ve set up my office there. It’s also where I live, as well, because I think is quite important to kind of have that connection between the two, particularly as the B&B is so haunted, and we’ll be hearing from one of our main spectres in a few minutes. But, it’s really interesting and in terms of my journey to Pagham-on-Sea. So I know that I grew up in Pagham-on-Sea.

CMR: Okay!

PH: Um. But I don’t remember being here, but I’ve dreamed about it from the age of 10 years old.

CMR: Right.

PH: It’s quite a long journey, if we can kind of get into that. So, I, as I said, I don’t remember living here. My parents were very transient up until I was about 10, you know they were hippies and they’re interested in going to places to feed off what they call psychic energy and the supernatural and I don’t just mean anything ghostly or monstrous or anything, but anything to do with like unexplained phenomena, although they don’t have the same the abilities that I have developed over time.

So we lived in a few places: Glastonbury, York, Knock in Ireland to name a few. They’d say there for a bit and then they’ve kind of move on after they’d got what they needed out of the place, and they do rituals with crystals and things like that. And apparently they were at Pagham-on-Sea the longest – we were there for two years – but again it’s like a weird block in my mind. I can’t remember ever being there, but I remember moving, the day that we that we left Pagham-on-Sea. And we moved and ended up settling in Milton Keynes where my parents live to this every day in the very same house.

And it’s strange because my parents are such complete hippies, but when we moved, my dad cut off his hair and worked as an insurance salesman. My mum went to work at a bank and they just totally settled down became regular mum and dad like I always craved, but when I was in Milton Keynes when we first moved there as I said I was 10, and I started having these dreams. And all of my dreams were involving a space in the wall, and they start becoming more detailed over time, these dreams, to the point that over four years ago, I was having these dreams constantly every night. I’d wake up from my dreams, and still feel like I was in that place. It was just calling to me and getting louder and louder.

Also, from the age of 16 I started seeing ghosts and predicting events before they happened but again, that kind of happened over time, too, but it’s really interesting, so my dreams started to get more vivid and vivid, and I knew in my bones it had to do with Pagham-on-Sea. And my parents tried to stop me from from coming here in the first place, and then I decided I needed to come here and I such an uncanny feeling, I felt like I knew all of the streets and where to go like the back of my hand. But I couldn’t work out where this thing I was dreaming about, where this thing in the wall was.

So I paid quite a bit of money to some Underground urchins, and there’s some really rough folk, and they took me to an abandoned shell of a property… I won’t name the street for privacy reasons, obviously, but clients will know where my property is. But before I entered I just knew in my heart this was the place. And that’s how I came to this B&B, and everything was leading up to that moment and I went upstairs and the entity in the house who I call the Face, he manifested to me and I felt complete. And that’s kind of why I’m here.

CMR: Wow that is such an interesting story, do you …. do you know why your parents didn’t want you to come back?

PH: They just won’t discuss it. And I don’t know if it’s they can’t or they won’t, they just completely shut down whenever I try to talk to them about it. They didn’t think I was going to move here, they thought it was just going to be like a bit of a day trip, I went here I just knew I needed to move here, so I spoke to the Council, I was able to buy the old B&B at a real knockdown rate, because it was in such a state of disrepair.

CMR: Yeah. I think it is, is it an offshore consortium that owns it, or owned it, and they were just kind of letting it fall down because it was easier than doing anything with it. Because the front of it’s Grade 2, isn’t it?

PH: Pardon?

CMR: The front of it is Grade 2 listed.

PH: Yeah, it is. It’s absolutely beautiful, but an absolute wreck inside.

CMR: Yeah it’s just such a shame, but, as you say, I mean it’s got such a reputation for being haunted. I say reputation… I mean, it is. [laughs] But yeah. How many spectres do you think there are in the B&B?

PH: I mean there’s so many. There’s such a big well of entities. There is a main, a dominant entity, called the Face and, within that, there’s several others that kind of swirl around, but I think the Face is like a big net that traps other spectres, so I think if something even were to walk passed the house they’d be sucked in. I’ve never seen anything like it, it’s like the kind of you know, like the eye of a needle of the storm sort of thing.

CMR: Oh wow, yeah, I’ve never heard of anything like that before. That’s really interesting, okay, and… and are we are we going to… are you able to contact the Face, like, can we, because I knew that you said we would do that on the show, is that something that’s possible, or?

PH: Yeah so the face is actually right here, it’s kind of manifested in this section of the wall now.

CMR: Oh my God! Yes, I see it.


The Face Manifests


PH: Face, how are you doing today?

[pause]

Face: Hello.

CMR: Hi!

Face: Good morning.

CMR: Um.

Face: Well, thank you. How are you.

[pause]

CMR: I’m good. Thank you. So. Can we… is it okay…

Face: I’m manifesting through the wall here.

[pause]

CMR: Yes. Yes you are. Is it okay to ask questions, or…?

Face: Oh, I am very good at asking questions. Not so good at answering them.

PH: This is typical. Face will get a bit more chatty as we go through, hopefully.

CMR: : Okay, is this just because it’s like manifesting for the first time in a while or? Is this just how… it is?

PH: It’s just how it is.

CMR: Okay. yeah that’s interesting, it sounds quite fragmented as well.

PH: I think yeah, I think, do you have different echoes in there, do you hear kind of different voices at all?

CMR: Yeah- kind of? Sorry yeah I was wondering if it was because… it’s hard to tell because, obviously, since we’re doing this via video chat, it’s really hard for me to tell if it’s a lag my end, but yeah yeah or if it’s like an echo on that end, but yeah I think so.

PH: Yes, actually I moved into the house and the Face was here, and I just… I felt such a connection, with the Face.

CMR: Mm. Yes, that’s really… unusual like it’s such a – I’ve never heard of an entity that manifests in that particular way but has those sorts of properties or, or powers, that’s… I mean, I can hear him like really, really clearly.

PH: Face, do you want to talk about some of your powers?

[longer pause]

Face: I can manifest … … in a wall.

[pause]

Face: I can also manifest … … in … … a floor.

CMR: Wow.

PH: What about your properties, how would you describe what you’re like?

[slight pause]

Face: I would describe myself, and some might disagree with this, as … glutinous.

PH: I see the face is really, really being so humble and underselling himself right now but he’s underselling his powers, I mean what you can’t see is that when he transfigures and moves around it creates such a massive what you call it seems like a shift in reality and a shift in elements around it: everything sort of changes and warps and I think I said to you earlier when I take readings on my energy device, I mean, these are the most unusual and highest and most fascinating readings I’ve ever encountered. It’s so powerful I mean almost, god, I think Face and the ghosts… This is like, like a God, this power.

Face: I think I have caused some of the mortar to dissolve.

PH: He’s just so humble.

CMR: Wow okay yeah um. I mean it’s so interesting that you’ve got like, this kind of corporeality that’s affecting not just other entities in the house, but also affecting the physical building itself that’s … yeah so do you think that’s an ectoplasmic reaction, or?

PH: I don’t know I think I mean that’s awesome, as I said before, it’s I mean this is a good word for it because the consistency is just so solid and I’m not used to this, for example, so I said to you before you know I’ve been a medium for years, I picked up on ghosts, but previously, you know, ghosts for kind of like a faint whisper that I’d hear, a mist out the corner of my eye, whereas in this situation, I mean it’s like thick goo, it’s solid stuff, and that sounds a bit disgusting, but it’s just so… yeah it’s just remarkable and I’ve never met an entity like this.

CMR: yeah I mean it’s also very three dimensional like I can, I can kind of see the way that it’s manifesting it’s definitely not like a pattern on a wall. It’s a manifested face in a wall.

PH: Right. And the way it can slide through things as well, it’s very snake-like in its movements as well. How would you describe the way you move?

Face: I would say the way I move is elegant, attractive, and not dissimilar to a slime-mould.

PH: [proudly] Yeah, I guess so.

CMR: [not quite as convinced] yeah I … I put those adjectives with slime mode. Yeah that sounds… yeah that’s… okay, that’s really interesting, I don’t know but, would you be able to move now like, for us to just… I mean I appreciate this as a podcast so you’d have to – the listeners will have to rely on description, but would you be able to do that just so that I can… see it?

Face: Yes, I probably could.

[longer pause]

PH: Can you see it?

CMR: OH yeah!! Oh, it is like slime mould.

PH: Yeah well look at the way it’s kind of… it’s so strange, it’s not really altering the brick, nothing’s come off the walls. Like, can you see the way it’s going over that painting and it’s not moving.

CMR: Oh yes, oh wow that’s weird okay, because that’s obviously something there. Like obviously it’s a physical thing but it’s not affecting the canvas and like I would expect… is that a watercolour as well?

PH: Yes it is a watercolour actually, I got it off a local artist. It’s beautiful, yeah.

CMR: Oh! [laughs] yeah but it’s it’s yeah no I would expect, like the… like you’d expect it to be warped. And it isn’t.

PH: Yeah and you’d expect maybe some of the plaster or something or the paint to start chipping but it just…

CMR: It doesn’t.

PH: No. It’s this effect… I don’t know how to describe it.

CMR: Yet, but at the same time, and you said that you – sorry Face, you said that you also dissolved things, like you have actually impacted the house physically, is that just… do we think that’s over… what’s the word… cumulative, over time?

Face: I don’t dissolve anything that doesn’t need dissolving. I’m very respectful of this property.

CMR: Oh OK, I see.

PH: yeah it’s an intentional act isn’t it when you do something like that.

Face: Oh, I have a fine creative mind, yes, I exert considerable influence over the structure I inhabit.

PH: When I moved in and I was obviously trying to do things up, I think you weren’t very happy at the beginning, so there was a lot of that dissolving. I think you were kind of acting up and kicking up against me then.

Face: Oh, I think it was all in good jest. We had a good time.

PH: We did.

CMR: Yeah.. what, did you sort of find wallpaper that you put up coming off the wall, or something like that?

PH: A whole section, and at one point the adjoining wall between the dining room and the kitchen, that… all the bricks were somehow knocked out, but I don’t know how it’s possible. It’s almost like, you have to imagine something like a big truck in reverse and all the bricks had come out.

CMR: Oh wow, that much force?

PH: Yeah [laughs] that cost quite a bit of money, didn’t it Face, we had to get the builders in.

Face: Well it’s, obviously one has to spend money on an older building. Estate agents traditionally, would say around 2% of market value per year.

PH: And a big shout out to our builders, by the way, Matthew Raven [Raven & Sons] he’s had to come over quite a lot. He’s a specialist kind of, you know, paranormal sort of builder, so he knows how to work around things like this. I always recommend him to my clients in case they have any issues.

CMR: That’s – yeah, I mean. I can’t imagine many people having issues quite like this. I can see why that would be a really difficult thing to work around or work with, and in terms of your – I mean, in terms of your business as well, I imagine, this is the kind of thing that you’re helping your clients navigate I mean not necessarily a face in a wall, but like, poltergeist activity or that sort of thing, and haunted house issues?

PH: Yeah, poltergeists and demonic entities… we’ve had all sorts really, so I think the biggest thing that I’m finding is it’s about teaching humans and non-humans to live with hauntings. And that’s kind of my catchphrase you’ve probably heard me say this quite a lot during the course of this podcast, but you got to remember really that a lot of these spectres, dark energies, whatever they are, they’ve lived in a place for many years, and you come in and you’re the usurper. You’re coming into their place. And then you’ve got to kind of take back control almost, so it’s about establishing authority and boundaries and lines of communication, like I did with the Face, you know but it depends on how corporeal they are.

So with my business, what I might suggest to a client is that we undertake a séance or if they’re, again, not very corporeal, we might create a system or something like knocks in Morse Code, because I’m finding that ghosts, they’re often very frustrated and lonely, so you think they’re terrifying and they want you out, but actually they’re trying to communicate with you, but they just don’t know how or it’s been so many years since they communicated with anybody they’ve forgotten the the means to do that. They don’t know who they are, what their origins were.

And it’s not that kind of – you know, it’s not that kind of Exorcist “the power of Christ compels you” stuff, I don’t come in and do that, it’s just to recognize that you don’t need to be afraid of them and that you can peacefully and happily coexist with them. And that’s my end goal, I think.

There’s only been one occasion I’ve seen where the entity was fully malevolent. It was demonic, and it was very ancient. But we contained it and we came to an agreement with both parties to re-house it, and it’s much happier where it is now actually. I helped it move.

CMR: That’s nice.

PH: Yeah, it’s in a space now and it can really fully do what it wants and it’s not near churches it’s near farmland and has a body of water, like it’s great. I visit once a month and we have a chat about the old ways and the old gods, and it’s brilliant. But luckily, Face and I, I mean we… I think we happily coexist now don’t we. There were teething issues at the start, but I try to apply a lot of the lessons with Face to my business. Would you say that you’re quite happy now?

Face: We have a very agreeable existence.

PH: Yeah. I think we do. Especially during lockdown as well I’ve been here all the time, so it’s really a bit harder for you.

Face: Oh, everything is fine, I positively enjoy the contact of people.

CMR: Hm. Um. So, I assume that… I mean obviously this was a B&B at one point – was the Face present when it was a B&B? Or?

Face: Well you see, I imagine I have been here a very long time. I would have been a fine feature for any kind of hospitality establishment.

CMR: Very true, yes, and do you did you actually remember anything about who, you were or you know, whether you… how far back do you remember?

[pause]

Face: Well, we all have a history.

[pause]

Face: Oh I’ve seen some things in my time.

[pause]

CMR: Yes…?

Face: I mean, I … … remember a lot of things.

PH: Can you give any examples, Face, of things you remember?

Face: I remember that time a cat came in.

CMR: Okay…

Face: That was some time ago.

PH: Was that when you were human, or when you were what you are now? Respectfully.

Face: I think you shouted at it.

PH: So that’s more recent, then.

Face: Is it? It tipped over some paint.

PH: Oh god, I should have… that was about three months ago! Dr Socks, the neighbour’s cat, came in.

CMR: [laughs] Aw, that’s cute!

PH: Yeh they’re cute but you’ve got to make sure… that cat is really attracted to this place. I think it knows things.

CMR: Cats do know things.

PH: They do, but I think you’ll get a lot of answers like that, with the Face, I don’t think he does remember when where he’s from or anything like that.

CMR: So, it seems really difficult to communicate with the Face, I’m getting that it’s, as you say, a little bit fragmented. How is your relationship progressing, how do you find that?

PH: Very difficult. Because the face, you know talks in riddles, when you try and have a conversation with the Face it just slithers off somewhere or disappears or doesn’t manifest for a few days. You know, he goes off on tangents he doesn’t get a straight answer … so communication has been a real challenge, but I really do enjoy living with him and I enjoy our friendship our relationship, whatever is, and I might be interested in more one day between us. But I just don’t think he’s there yet.


Relationship Support Group Set-Up


PH: But it’s interesting to me really because I’ve been thinking of setting up a support group for people of Pagham-on-Sea who have this very issue, that they might have friendships or family members, or they might have kind of romantic or sexual feelings in terms of you know, the hauntings – hauntings and people or hauntings and non-humans and at the moment, my different support group is kind of focused on kind of what I’m experiencing; you know entities in houses and things that kind of might not be “appropriate” by human standards, you know, they might be an inanimate object, or they might not be fully corporeal.

But if that support group is successful, I might widen it to anyone who has an unsatisfactory or unfulfilling relationship with something that’s a supernatural being, and I can’t really discuss who’s going to attend, but a few people’s relationships, of all things, like a spinning wheel, tarot cards, and a haunted bicycle.

CMR: Oh wow!

PH: Those kinds of things that people might be in a relationship with or might be in love with. And it’s really hard for them to accept their realities, and I could widen it a bit more, and have like an agony aunt service for humans and creatures, like a dial-in radio show, you know, a bit like a Frasier Crane for the deceased.

CMR: Oh wow, I love that, that sounds like a really good idea.

PH: Yeah so the things like that, but going back to a question about the Face, I mean our relationship, it does have its challenges, he’s very obtuse, but also we have quite a satisfying friendship in other ways. I mean, during lockdown he’s been my sole companion and we do quite a lot together now, though I mean we watch TV shows together, he’ll come and kind of manifest just above my shoulder and we’ll watch things. Like we’ve got through Sweet Home and Kingdom and Game of Thrones and all sorts of stuff and so now, I put the TV on and I pick something I think he might want to watch like Baki, which is an anime…

Sometimes you’ll sit there for hours and just watch that and then the TV will turn itself off here that Netflix has stopped working and I have to come back in and fix it, but there’s quite a lot that we do now don’t you think, Face?

Face: I’m often in this house, and so are you.

PH: Yeah.

CMR: Yeah. Good. That seems very fulfilling. I mean… I know that there’s… have you linked up with the undead support group that meets in The Mermaid?

PH: I’ve tried but they’re a bit… territorial. Aren’t they?

CMR: Um. I know what you mean… but I mean they’re a lot more inclusive than other groups that I’m not going to name. And I guess it’s because it’s, it’s a group for the undead.

PH: I’m really interested in a setting up a bit of a partnership between the two groups because, for the people that love or care about the people in that cohort over there, but they’re just a lot of them so I’m interested there a few that kind of wanted to reach out and things like that, but a lot of them, they just want to keep that as their exclusive group and leave the rest of us on the outside.

CMR: It, it is difficult, I think opening dialogue is very difficult, with undead discourse the way that it is.

PH: Yeah, there’s distrust of outsiders, and I haven’t been here very long either, so I think there’s a bit of distrust there.

CMR: Yeah I think a lot of it is… yeah it’s very difficult when there’s no pre-existing relationship. I just thought I’d mention it, I mean it’s run by… so, Gary the landlord of The Mermaid is obviously human and alive, and he’s, he’s generally quite – he’s very community orientated. So it might be worth, I don’t know, keeping communication open with him.

PH: I didn’t speak to Gary, I actually turned up to the support group itself and everyone just kind of swivelled and turned around look at me and you know, but I mean that the haunted monkey was sort of you know, banging its cymbals…

CMR: Oh, god yeah. Fred.

PH: Everyone was absolutely horrified.

CMR: Fred’s alright, Fred appears and disappears and then just goes somewhere else. Fred’s a toy monkey for anyone who isn’t sure what Fred is, I guess if you go shopping in a particular area of town you’ll know who Fred is because Fred appears in the windows of different shops, and his favourite trick is trying to get you to buy him. He’s very… yeah, he’s very mischievous like that, and then you obviously you take him home and then all sorts of things happen.

[laughs]

Yeah, he’s funny. He’s basically like a plushie, for people who don’t know what he is, with the big eyes and the little prehensile tail.

PH: Yeah it’s interesting, I’d not have that level of… I don’t know. It wasn’t the usual kind of you know malevolence or distrust you have from supernatural entities it felt different it felt more some more territory or more, this is our patch, so I will have a chat with that landlord.

CMR: Yeah, do. Gary. So his uncle used to run it, yeah, and then he came, so he’s kind of new here as well, because he moved down from Chichester.

PH: Okay.

CMR: So I think he actually lived, coincidentally, in Pagham near Chichester. Then he moved to Pagham-on-Sea, so he moved from Pagham to Pagham. But yeah Pagham, obviously, near Chichester is far less haunted than our one…

PH: It’s not going to be as fun is it.

CMR: Oh, I think it’s a lovely place to go on holiday. But yeah if you if you want to have a break from the hauntings.

PH: It sounds like a place I could go for my holiday. Because, honestly, since I’ve moved here, I think as I said to you earlier, so it’s not just the ghosts are 3D, it’s not just that I can hear a lot of people’s thoughts as well, and – god, if you go past like a Porter or a Wend and you know exactly what they are.

CMR: Oh god.

PH: Terrifying.

CMR: Oh, yeah. okay. Fun times.

PH: Yeah so I might need a little bit of holiday soon.

CMR: Yeah definitely I mean there are other mediums as well and there’s a couple that, um, do you know Tina [Harris]?

PH: Tina, yeah.

CMR: Yeah she’s really nice.

PH: We’ve gone out for a few beers and that. She’s really cool.

CMR: Yeah, she is nice, yeah. She’s also like one of the people who isn’t going to be… she, she’s… I don’t think she’s very territorial in terms of like… yeah she’s really lovely. But um yeah so she does seances as well, and things like that, but that’s not her primary business, whereas for you obviously this is, like, ESP is your your main sort of… it’s your main business isn’t it so that’s slightly different.

PH: Yes, I think the main thing for me with Tina was kind of having that chat when I moved to town, because it was I’m not trying to encroach business from you. You are an amazing medium, you do what you do, but mine; mine’s more a bit more like a just a counselling service, it’s more like a more involved service so Tina could be the starting point but I’m kind of like that aftercare to help you live and deal with your situation.

CMR: Yeah and I think people will, I think it’s yeah that’s good that’s really good because, like if people get referrals from Tina like that’s, you know if people are referred to you from Tina, that would work really well, so I think as I say, it’s difficult when you move into a new place to start, especially when there’s not that pre-existing trust, yeah.

PH: yeah especially during lockdown as well, having to do a lot of my stuff you know, on video calls.

CMR: Yeah that must be really difficult when you can’t enter a property.

PH: No. But my powers are so strong though that I can still do it via a TV screen. I can still do it over the phone.

CMR: Really?

PH: Yeah, but it’s not as good as it would be in person. It’s probably about 50%.

CMR: Wow. I mean that’s like, that’s still – astounding. Is it stronger since you entered the B&B?

PH: Much stronger, I think – I think that was the thing. I don’t know if it’s the B&B or Pagham-on-Sea itself, but I do think when I’m at the B&B and working from home, sometimes this can be my strongest place, if people come to visit me. I don’t know, it’s still something I’m getting to discover. But it’s interesting because I said I have these memory blocks too. So I’m not kind of quite sure either of our origins in terms of this B&B really, why we’re so interested in it, and why you’re here.


CMR Has Some Answers


CMR: Well. I mean so you contacted the history society some time ago, and I do apologize that it took a while, for us to get back to you, but that’s mainly because a lot of the members are not as active as as they were, so… so, yeah. I have done some digging for you from, you know, as much as I can over lockdown, obviously things are easing up so it’s a lot easier for me to get access to things now. Obviously due to GDPR, there isn’t a lot of… the B&B address books and things like that they’re obviously or gone, it was very dilapidated so a lot of the admin and all that kind of stuff was shipped off to various solicitors. But what was slavaged was – you know the visitors’ books, where you can write little notes and say how you enjoyed your stay?

PH: Oh yeah?!

CMR: …And you can do that anonymously… So, those turned up in somebody’s attic, who’s a – who was a member of the local council. Which is about the time that it went up for sale the first time and so they go back to about the 1960s.

PH: Right.

CMR: And yeah and not really sure what to do with them, so I think they they just thought that maybe the history society could do something with them or … they should really be in the Archives, but obviously due to lockdown and things like that… the councillor who had them died over lockdown, so going through the stuff took time and nobody really knew what to do with that, so I have managed to have a little look. And, it’s interesting because your surname is quite, it’s quite a unique surname, Holdfast.

PH: Yeah, it is.

CMR: Yeah, and so around about the time you say that your parents came here for two years… certainly at some point, I’ve found their comments in the visitors’ book, in one of the ones for the 1990s.

PH: Oh really?

CMR: Yeah.

PH: For that B&B?

CMR: Yeah. Yeah, for that B&B.

PH: Oh, my God what? What did they say? What did – what did it say?

CMR: Well, I can email it across to you, but it was literally just like um. ‘Thanks for the lovely stay’, something about the energies being really strong in that particular area, it also mentions, um, farisee stones, do you know what they are?

[You can read more about them in the Folklore of Pagham-on-Sea Vol. I]

PH: No, I’ve not heard of those before.

CMR: Okay, so they’re quite local, it’s a local term, so farisees is the Sussex dialect word for fairies and so they’re basically like fairy stones it’s like a dialect word, so. In our case in Pagham-on-Sea – I say ‘our case’ but I don’t live, obviously I don’t live there myself anymore, but, you know, I still come back.

PH: House prices and all that, right?

CMR: [laughs] Ha, I know. I just… it’s hard to describe them really. So there’s lots of urban legends about them and and one of the origin stories of these stones is the meteorite that struck an iron works in the Roman period, so the Romano-British period, if you like, and destroyed this forge. It’s also one of the origin stories for werewolves in the area, which is meant to be a martyr’s curse, and stuff like that, and there’s like a holy well, yeah, yes, so Harry Bishop wrote a book on, I think it was Harry who wrote on that, and he transcribed and translated a load of the medieval Chronicle accounts because they used to be an Abbey, which is where the old manor house is now.

PH: That’s not far from here?

CMR: Yeah, it’s not, it’s about a 45-minute walk out of town, or like a 10-minute [drive]… it’s up Redditch Lane.

PH: yeah I know exactly where it is.

CMR: Yeah and so, um yeah, so that site was the site of the old, not the Abbey sorry it was a monastery and and I think it was Benedictine and that’s a 12th century foundation, so there was a… anyway so, farisee stones first get mentioned there [in the medieval chronicles], but not as farisee stones, but as these stones that have power. And if you wash them in the holy well then they’re meant to give you good… er, good energies, good vibes, whatever, healing properties.

PH: Can I interrupt?

CMR: What’s that?

PH: That’s, that’s the kind of thing my parents used to do… they used to get their crystals and wash them in things like, you know, the Chalice well in Glastonbury. I remember that’s the kind of thing they used to do.

CMR: Okay, so yes, yes like that. The difference with the farisee stones is that if you don’t wash them in the Holy well then you can use them to enact curses instead of healing.

PH: Oh… that doesn’t sound good.

CMR: Yes, so what’s kind of implied is that the usual state of it, of that stone, is malevolent, basically. And you have to do something to… or at least, mischievous, or you know. And what’s interesting to me about the White Horse B&B is, if you look out of the window now, where you are, because you’re in one of the back rooms aren’t you?

PH: Yes I am.

CMR: So if you look out of that window now, have a look in the garden, and you know those, um, the rocks that look… er, they usually have like a little patch of mushrooms growing around them?

PH: Yeah, I can see them.

CMR: Y-eah?

PH: [laughs] I thought they were edibles.

CMR: [laughs] Yeah, so those, those are meant to be farisee stones. [pause] Obviously they can’t have come from the same meteorite, it wasn’t that big. But they’re part of the local stories, I guess, about the White Horse B&B and one of the reasons it’s meant to be so haunted and like as a central place for hauntings, is because it’s ringed about with the stones.

PH: I thought they were common-or-garden mushrooms and common-or-garden stone, and I never would have expected that in a million years.

CMR: What’s really interesting to me is that – you say your parents didn’t have powers and yet you’re a very powerful medium. And that’s very rare to have… and especially to have somebody who can see those sorts of manifestations. I don’t know I just think it’s a really interesting. I struggle with the word ‘coincidence’. I don’t know if it, so I just find it really interesting that your parents were doing these kinds of rituals with crystals didn’t have any power themselves, but when I guess quite intuitive or?

PH: Yeah, they were always really drawn to that sort of stuff. I hate to say it, but the kind of new age hippie-ish sort of lifestyle.

CMR: Yeah. I find that really interesting because you chose a place – or they chose a place, rather – where it’s kind of like this magnified place of power, and then you end up with powers. And you would have been quite young as a child, then.

PH: Yeah so I was always about – well, I was about eight to 10 when we lived here, but I was 10 at that point, so when we moved to Milton Keynes, that’s the point I started having my powers.

CMR: Okay, so what other kind of, and you, you have no memory of Pagham-on-Sea, that … that would imply to me from speaking to various people who have moved away or have had strange things happen to them as a result of living in the town and that something happened to you, while you were here. And I’m just wondering if that’s what the connection is [the stones] and if that’s something potentially that we should be looking into.

PH: Shall we ask the Face for the… whether he might know anything about, what do you call them the farisee stones? Face, are you still here?

Face: Well I could leave the house any time I wanted.

[pause]

CMR: Okay.

PH: Can you come back in? Can you come back in? Are you able to speak to us?

Face: Well I could leave the house any time I wanted. I don’t care about [fades out] -(stones?)

PH: You don’t know about any stones? [pause] Do you know the ones we’re talking about, the ones that are kind of outside, if you look through the window over there?

Face: Oh yes. I know all about those stones.

[pause]

PH: Well, what can you tell me about them?

Face: Well, they’re made of stone and they’re all around there.

[pause]

CMR: Yep. Okay. We’re not…

PH: …helpful. Hm.

CMR: But again that’s what… yeah.

PH: So that’s the thing, so I don’t know. So I’m completely staggered that I’ve come back to this place, that I clearly lived in as a child.

CMR: Yeah, so I’ll send you the… I took photos on my phone of it because I couldn’t take the actual [visitors’] book away. But it sounds like you lived here not for the whole 2 years you were here, but for a couple of months, maybe.

PH: But then the thing that I’m really curious about is why… so this place was obviously a functioning B&B when we lived here so why did it become so ruined and abandoned like what what happened, that’s what i want to find out about.

CMR: So that’s one of the last entries in the book, and it closed not long after your parents left. And I would say… just a couple of months after, it closed. But it looks like the B&B manager just disappeared around that time. I don’t know whether that’s connected. But yes, so um – I had a little look at that.

PH: That’s really worrying, so you said that someone disappeared?

CMR: Yes, so the owner of the B&B disappeared.

PH: Do you have any details what his name or a picture of what he looked like, or anything like that?

CMR: Yeah I can send you the – I can send you the picture, because, like that’s … So if you go into the library and downstairs in the library they’ve got the microfilm, the microfiche machines, and so you can have a look at the Gazette‘s backdated issues. So let me just see, if I have the… [pause] This is from my notes that I’ve got… So yes, it see the manager was called Norris Weddon. Norris with two ‘r’s, Weddon, W E double-D O N.

So he’s currently – so he went missing in the mid-90s, so he’s presumed dead, legally dead, now, which is why – because he was the owner they had to wait 7 years before they could pronounce him legally dead.

PH: God, I feel – I feel really sick.

CMR: Are you ok?

PH: I don’t know why. Face, do you remember Norris Weddon?

Face: The name does sound familiar. I’m sure I must have wet – met – Norris Weddon at some point.

[pause]

PH: I’m going to – I’m going to try something.

CMR: Ok

PH: I’m going to touch the Face. [pause] Do you remember Norris Weddon? Entities. Do you remember Norris Weddon? Do you remember Norris Weddon?

Face: Norris Weddon – was the proprietor.

[pause]

PH: Where is he now?

Face: Norris Weddon is probably still here. Norris Weddon … might be very close indeed.

PH: Where? Tell me where he is.

Face: Norris Weddon… might be under the floorboards.

[longer pause]

PH: What?

CMR: oohh-kay…

Face: I mean it’s plausible. A lot of people have been found under floorboards. It’s not an unusual thing.

CMR: In fairness, that’s true.

PH: I think we should stop rolling.

CMR: Yeah? You want to pause?

[long pause]

PH: Yeah.

CMR: Ok.


Ending: Disclaimer


CMR: Well, that was. That was something. Um. That’s the end of this episode I guess, I should note that any background noise that got picked up on the recording was not audible at the time of recording, so if you do hear things like footsteps walking around or doors etc, we were not aware – or I personally was not aware of that when we were doing the video call, but apparently that’s quite normal. So if you did hear anything like that in the background, worry not, that’s apparently supposed to happen.

Uh – yeah. Since this has been recorded, I should say that the B&B was thoroughly searched and no human remains were found under the floorboards, although there was – they had problems with the sniffer dogs – there was a sniffer dog that went in and didn’t want to be in there. So I guess it’s still kind of inconclusive, and Norris Weddon’s whereabouts are still unknown.

Yeah, so that’s all we’ve got time for really. Never had an interview like that before. So I’m going to go and do some more research, and we’ll see what happens. In the meantime, enjoy the rest of your week. Bye now.

~THEORIES WELCOME IN THE COMMENTS~

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