Tuesday, 25 November 2008

Have you seen this house?



Age: uncertain, possibly Georgian (app. 160 - 280 years old)

General appearance: large; brickwork

Distinguishing marks: variable

Area of sighting:
variable, general area of Rougham, Kingshall St, Bradfield St George (Suffolk), UK

Location of last sighting:
Kingshall Street (unconfirmed)

Date of last sighting reported: October 2007 (unconfirmed)

Present whereabouts: unknown

The house is not known to be dangerous, but due to its highly unpredictable nature approach is discouraged.

If you happen to see it, immediately contact this blog's mistress or your nearest time slip investigator.


Have you ever owned, or stayed in, a "mobile home"?

It's fun. Not for very long, but it is fun. Especially if somebody else is driving.

Especially if somebody else is driving.

In England, however - as well as in some other places - there are a few homes that are mobile in a very special way. They take off on their own - brick, mortar and all. And nobody knows what, ahem, drives them to do so.

Furthermore, they appear in places far removed from their original location, wherever that is or was.

And most interesting of all: there seem to be places, i.e. geographical spaces, with special attraction to such wayward houses.

The most famous such place appears to be the area around Rougham, in Suffolk (England). According to Betty Puttick's book Ghosts of Suffolk, there have been sightings of a house - possibly just one, the same house in all cases (but there is no way to ascertain it without a doubt) - all over the place.

Its rise to fame started in 1934, when Edward Bennett was compiling his book Apparitions And Haunted Houses. At that time, he received a letter from a teacher, Miss Wynne, telling him of an extraordinary incident that happened in the autumn (possibly October) of 1926:

I came to live at Rougham, four miles from Bury St. Edmunds, in 1926. The district was then entirely new to me, and I and my pupil, a girl of 10, spent our afternoon walks exploring it. 
One dull, damp afternoon, I think in October 1926, we walked off through the fields to look at the church of the neighbouring village, Bradfield St. George. In order to reach the church, which we could see plainly ahead of us to the right, we had to pass through a farmyard, whence we came out on to a road.
We had never previously taken this particular walk, nor did we know anything about the topography of the hamlet of Bradfield St. George. Exactly opposite us on the further side of the road and flanking it, we saw a high wall of greenish-yellow bricks. The road ran past us for a few yards, then curved away from us to the left. We walked along the road, following the brick wall round the bend, where we came upon tall, wrought-iron gates set in the wall. I think the gates were shut, or one side may have been open.
 The wall continued on from the gates and disappeared round the curve. Behind the wall, and towering above it, was a cluster of tall trees. From the gates a drive led away among these trees to what was evidently a large house. We could just see a corner of the roof above a stucco front, in which I remember noticing some windows of Georgian design. The rest of the house was hidden by the branches of the trees. We stood by the gates for a moment, speculating as to who lived in this large house, and I was rather surprised that I had not already heard of the owner amongst the many people who had called on my mother since our arrival in the district....

My pupil and I did not take the same walk again until the following spring. It was, as far as I can remember, a dull afternoon, with good visibility, in February or March. We walked up through the farmyard as before, and out on to the road, where, suddenly, we both stopped dead of one accord and gasped. "Where's the wall" we queried simultaneously. It was not there. The road was flanked by nothing but a ditch, and beyond the ditch lay a wilderness of tumbled earth, weeds, mounds, all overgrown with the trees which we had seen on our first visit. We followed the road on round the bend, but there were no gates, no drive, no corner of a house to be seen. We were both very puzzled.

At first we thought that our house and wall had been pulled down since our last visit, but closer inspection showed a pond and other small pools amongst the mounds where the house had been visible. It was obvious that they had been there a long time.

View Larger Map

A pond in Bradfield St. George, 
looking across the fields towards Rougham Green. 
If you look around the map and compare it to the description, 
it seems to correspond to the location described.
(EDIT: For some colour photographs of various points in the two women's itinerary - as well as a detailed examination of the route they took - see Carl Grove's excellent e-book mentioned elsewhere in this post and available at the URL specified in the comments section.)


One may be wrong regarding the age of a pond - nature can work very fast! - but this detail seems irrelevant anyway, because, apparently, nobody in the area ever heard of a house like the one she described standing where she said she and her pupil had seen it.
Or had they?
Further investigation, undertaken in the 1970s by a Mr. Leonard Aves, a skeptic local researcher, uncovered reports - and even a witness - of earlier sightings in the area.
In an issue of the Amateur Gardening magazine (December 20th, 1975), a Mr. James Cobbold (writing under a pseudonym) told of a "phantom house" that he said he saw with his own eyes when he was very young, in June of 1911 or 1912.

EDIT: See the scan of the original article, The Disappearing Garden, in the extraordinary work offered here by Carl Grove. (See the comments section on how to access it.)
According to him, on that day he was riding with a Mr Waylett, a local butcher, on his cart. They were driving along Kingshall Street, when "the air suddenly filled with a peculiar swishing sound" and the temperature seemed to drop considerably. The horse was startled out of its wits; Mr Waylett was thrown off the cart, while young Cobbold tried to control the animal.

As he was struggling with the horse, he said, he suddenly saw a three-storey, double-fronted, red brick, Georgian-style house, standing where there had been no house before; not only that but it came with a well appointed garden, "with six flower beds in full bloom".

And there was more: "a kind of mist seemed to envelop the house, which I could still see, and the whole thing simply disappeared, it just went'."
Kingshall Street, Rougham

Young Mr Cobbold may have been amazed; not so Mr Waylett. Apparently, he had seen the house a number of times before. And, as it turned out, there had been sightings of the house in Cobbold's own family.
In June 1860 or thereabouts, his own grandfather (great-grandfather, according to other sources), Robert Palfrey, was stacking hay, or something like that. As he lifted his eyes, there was suddenly a house where there was none just seconds - and, presumably, centuries (if not millenia) - before. He described it as an ornate red brick house, "standing" around the area of Gypsy Lane, close to a wooded area known as Colville's Grove - not too far from the location where Miss Wynne later reported having seen it.

Such erratic behaviour earned the house a name: "the Rougham mirage".

But is it a mirage?
Not in Mr. Aves's opinion:
I considered that it might have been a mirage, but I have some experience of mirages and I believe this apparition to be too large to be encompassed in one. At least I have never heard of a mirage that large in this country. Furthermore, for it to have been a mirage would mean that there would have to have been such a house not too far away and we cannot find any traces of one within a reasonable radius.

And if it were a mirage, why does it appear - or so it seems - only in the relatively small area in and around Rougham?
(There are other such "mirages", not only in England but in other places, too - but more on that some other time.)

In later years, the house seemed to have more or less settled down somewhere, but recently it seems to have started reappearing again - unless it's only due to the fact that people are simply more willing to talk about it now. A year ago, it even made the headlines:

EDIT: For details on this case - including the photograph of the experiencer, Mrs Jean Batram - see Carl Grove's interview with Mrs Batram in his extensive published investigation. (See the comments section on how to obtain it.)

And - this is news - according to a local historian, Mr. Sage, there is evidence that a house once stood in the area of Kingshall (it might explain the name), but nothing is known about its appearance.

(Speaking of appearances... "Georgian", of course, means from a period between, roughly, 1720 and 1840. That's not very long ago, especially not in a place like Britain, where people occasionally have slippers older than that. A "Georgian" house would certainly be not only remembered but would have been properly recorded by local historians. That would lead to the - perhaps premature - conclusion that IF there had been a house in the area, as Mr Sage claims, it would almost certainly not correspond to the descriptions people gave of this fugitive house. 

You may be thinking: "But these people are not architecture historians. What do they know?" No, they are not historians. But this style is well known - and well loved - in Britain, so even non-specialists are familiar with it.)

ADDENDUM (25. III. 2011):
Here's another version of the story, by Chris Jensen Romer, with a very important update of sorts. If you're interested in this case, this is mandatory (not to mention delightful) reading.

That's not all.

Recently, and quite unsurprisingly, the "Rougham mirage" even worm(hol)ed its way onto YouTube. (But of course... Gotta keep with the times.)

"The contents of the video have never been explained."

Indeed... like, why exactly was the girl videorecording her dog in the first place?

Of course it's a hoax - what did you think? ;)
But at least it may keep people on the lookout for the real thing... or whatever it is.

ADDENDUM (4. V. 2015):

A reader, Carl Grove, has kindly provided us - meaning the readers, too - with a huge and incredibly thorough, 87 pages long compilation of data on this story (including pictures, scans, transcripts of relevant historic documents plus meticulous reference notes) which also includes many, many original findings and thoughts. It is a veritable monograph on this case - and it is being offered to us for free.
If you are interested in this particular story, Carl's PDF is an absolute must-have.
See the last comments below for the URL.
Thank you very much, Carl!

DO NOT MISS: For another story featuring a "mirage" and startled horses, have a look here.


Moving House

Another vanished house


* The photo at the top of the page shows a road in the actual area of Rougham.


M. R. said...

Another gem, my girls.
The intro made my day. the slippers made for a very pleasant early evening. ;)

That would be a house worth living in, eh?

Myosotis said...

It always makes OUR day to read comments like this. ;)
Thank you so much.

A house like that certainly would save a lot of money, time and effort during holidays. :-)

Anonymous said...

The 1815 road map that Tony Cornell consulted certainly does not show a house there - but there is another map in Bury St Edmunds record office that MAY show a property there in the 1780's. There is certainly what appears to be a coat of arms marking a substantial residence in roughly the right place, and my on the ground investigations led me to believe that at one time there was an avenue and possibly a property on the spot -- but since that time there have been difficulties with access with a caravan site right by the area, and barking dogs have put me off looking closer! One day I will return home and have a proper look :)

cj x

Anonymous said...

Upon visting Rougham i must say we didnt see the house BUT what we did see on Kingshall Street was a lady wearing slighting odd clothes standing in amoungst the trees just staring ahead, we stopped to ask if she was ok at this time it was about 10.50pm on a cold december night, but she didnt even move an inch and then vanished?!? I dont know if this has anything to do with the house but oh god it was odd!!

Myosotis said...

Dear Jerome23,

I can't believe that I somehow managed to miss your comment.
I just can't believe it.

This blog is moderated (it has to be, you wouldn't believe the amount of spam we get) by several people, but only two of us actually reply, if needed.

Anyway, I wanted to say thank you very much for stopping by, and for this fantastic information.

Myosotis said...

Anonymous: that's fascinating!
May I ask, when did this happen?
This year?

Can you tell more details about the weather at the time -- or anything at all that you can remember?

Anonymous said...

Hehehehe, this is so funny to read, esp the beginning!

Myosotis said...

You mean the "most wanted" report? ;)

We're very glad you liked it.
Don't forget to snitch if you happen to see a house on the loose! :-)

Carl Grove said...

I've been investigating this case for the last year or so, with the aid of previous researchers such as Phil Sage and Chris Jensen Romer. The local record office have found a Kingshall House mentioned in a 1760s document, but there are no maps to show its location. There appear to be 3 or 4 different locations where houses are seen, not all of Georgian style. Brick debris has been found at two of these locations. So far around 20 cases seem to have been identified, though some are only second hand.Evidence of strange energy sources and other unusual incidents has also been gathered. I hope to be able to issue an interim report on the work later in the year.

Myosotis said...

Hello, Carl, and thank you so very much for this fascinating contribution.

I do hope you drop us a line here, to inform us about any new findings.

Carl Grove said...

I certainly will. At the moment, the main area of interest is identifying the geomagnetic force (for want of a better term) that seems to be involved in the generation of these events. For now, here is a nice quote from an anonymous witness, an old gentleman encountered by Jean Batram, the last known witness, who asked him if he had heard of the vanishing house. "Yes, but lots of people in Rougham say they've never seen it. I've only seen it twice."

Myosotis said...

(I wouldn't mind seeing it just once. ;))

Good luck with your research!

Carl Grove said...

I have now completed a preliminary report on the Rougham mystery. Here are two links that should get you a copy of the pdf.


Any comments would be much appreciated!

Carl Grove said...

Here are a couple of links to my report about time slips and Rougham's vanishing house:



Carl Grove said...

I've tried three times but there is something wrong with the site and the comments are not going through.

Myosotis said...

Hello, Carl, and thank you very much for your file!

Sorry it wasn't published earlier. We have moderation enabled - because we get enormous amounts of spam here - AND we were on vacation.
I hope you understand. ;)

Carl Grove said...

I've only just got used to computers, never mind websites, so I'll stick at "vacation"-- I can understand that!

Hope you like the report, thanks for yoiur interest.

Myosotis said...

Very glad you checked back, Carl.
The thought that you might think that - for some obscure reason - we didn't want to publish it horrified me.

Again, thank you very much for your report. Having just come back, I haven't had the time to read it properly yet, but I am looking forward to it, very much so.

Carl Grove said...

No. I just thought the website or my computer was acting up, which is quite normal. I'll be glad to hear your comments.

I greatly appreciate your interest.

Carl Grove said...

Things are still happening in Rougham and I have already had to update the report. Here is a link:


Myosotis said...

Thank you so very much, Carl!

Carl Grove said...

I'm afraid here's yet another update to the report:


I plan just one more after this then I plan to concentrate on developing a catalogue of Time Slips and some kind of analysis.

Carl Grove said...

The previous link had problems. I think this one should be OK:


Carl Grove said...

I'm pleased to say that this is the final edition of the report at last.


Myosotis said...

Thank you so very much, Carl.
Well done!

Myosotis said...

Carl, I have just updated the post, too, to draw attention to your extraordinary work.

Thank you ever so much.

Anonymous said...

Many thanks for your comments, which I really appreciate. There are still a few leads to other house sightings that have not so far led anywhere, but I will keep you informed if they do.

Myosotis said...

Is that you, Carl? ;)
If so, I would suggest, if I may, that you start charging for that book.
Publish it on Amazon - or on Scribd - but charge at least a symbolic amount. Many people don't seem to understand the real value of things unless there is a price tag attached.
Or at least I hope you publicise it on Amazon.
We here can only do so much!

Thank you again.
You've done an incredible job.

Carl Grove said...

Yes, it was me.

I decided I would rather issue the report as a free internet resource, and in any case I'm at an age when I have virtually escaped from the tax system and don't want the hassle of explaining potential extra bits of income to officialdom. I think anyone with a real interest in the subject will find a link to it somewhere (I have left links on all the sites that deal with such phenomena). If I ever get my catalogue of case summaries finished I will do the same with that.

Myosotis said...

I understand.
Well, we'll do our best here to promote it. I think we'll make a special post drawing attention to it - nd perhaps a few future posts from bits and leads found in your book, crediting it properly, of course.

Oh, by the way, a relative told me she found your post on ATS and suggested you made a thread on Rougham.
I think that is a very good idea.

Carl Grove said...

Yes, I might do that. At the moment I am going to take a rest from time slips. Thanks for all your enthusiasm and interest! It makes the effort worthwhile.
I can see that the evidence we have now got regarding earth energy, and Jimmy T's theory, could point to a laboratory test, possible in principle but probably difficult to pull off.

Myosotis said...

Not at all - thank YOU.
And do, by all means, let us know of any new findings.
All the best!

Carl Grove said...

I did start a thread on ATS under the title "Vanishing houses and time slips," and it has begun to generate a certain amount of interest.

Myosotis said...

Good! ;)