Torquay resident Violet Tweedale (1862-1936) wrote over 30 books on spiritual subjects and her own personal psychic experiences.
In her memoirs Ghosts I Have Seen (1920), Violet described her investigations of Torquay’s Castel-a-Mare in the Warberries, a house which had reputedly been haunted for 50 years.
A number of explorations of the house had already taken place to look into a range of phenomena. These included piercing screams, continuous steps running along corridors and up and down stairs, and the constant lockings of doors by unseen hands.
Violet’s initial investigations found that her “twig and straw arrangements”, left overnight to indicate human interlopers, remained undisturbed. However, “not a single door was shut, all were thrown defiantly wide”. Resolving to see who was opening these locked doors, she stayed in the house and wrote,
“Suddenly a click made us both look up. The handle of the door… was turning, and the door quietly opened wide enough to admit the passing of a human being. It was a bright sunny day, and one could see the brass knob turning round quite distinctly. We saw no form of any sort, and the door remained half open.”
This needed further investigation, and in 1917 Violet joined an eight strong team which included a medium and a soldier on leave.
Soon the medium fell into a trance. The medium then,
Sprang to her feet with surprising agility, pouring out a volume of violent language. Her voice had taken on the deep growling tones of an infuriated man, who advanced menacingly… In a harsh, threatening voice he demanded to know what right we had to intrude on his privacy.
The entity that controlled her possessed superhuman strength. His voice was like the bellow of a bull, as he told us to be gone, or he would throw us out himself, and his language was shocking.
…suddenly the control rushed full tilt at the soldier, who had stood his ground, and attacking him with a tigerish fury drew blood at once. The big builder and I rushed forward to his aid. The rest of the party forsook us and fled, pell-mell, out of the house and into the garden.
This frail little creature threw us off like feathers, and drove us foot by foot before her… she was too much for us. Then suddenly, without warning, the entity seemed to evacuate the body he had controlled, and the medium went down with a crash and lay at our feet, just a little crumpled dishevelled heap.
After about ten minutes, she gradually regained her consciousness, and seemingly none the worse for her experiences she sat up and asked what had happened.”
Another investigation was then arranged, and the male entity again took control of the medium:
The same violence, the same attacks began once more. The soldier and the stalwart builder warded off the attacks, Then the soldier, who seemed to have considerable experience in such matters, tried a system of exorcising, sternly bidding the malignant entity depart. There ensued a very curious spiritual conflict between the exorcist and the entity, in which sometimes it seemed as if one, then the other, was about to triumph…
We drove him back against the wall at the far end of the room. Finally the exorcist triumphed, and the medium collapsed on the floor, as the strength of the control left her.
She raised her head, and still crouching on the floor with closed eyes she began to cry bitterly. Wailing, and moaning, and uttering inarticulate words. ‘Another entity has got hold of her,’ announced the soldier.
‘Poor master! On the bed. Help him! Help him!’ she moaned, and pointed to one side of the room…
By clenching her hands on her throat, the medium indicated death by strangulation…
The medium had turned at bay, and began a frantic encounter with some entity unseen by us. Wildly she wrestled and fought, as if for her life, whilst she emitted piercing shrieks for “help” and gasped out, ‘Terrible doctor–will kill me–he’s killed master–help! Help!’
Gradually she ceased to fight. The soldier was exorcising with all his force, and was gaining power; finally he triumphed, inasmuch as he banished the ‘terrible doctor’.
The investigators later questioned the medium. She told them that a physician “of foreign origin” had strangled the master of the house and had then gone on to murder a maidservant.