As some of you may know, my mom is an English teacher. This year she’s taking her 8th grade students on a school trip to Canterbury. They’re staying at this amazing Victorian house which is turned into a hostel.
One day, when she was in a bit of silly mood, she told her kids that although you can’t really see it in this picture, if you look just right you can see a woman standing in the window. She has been haunting this house for years, looking for her children.
Of course they immediately believed every word of it. So, my mother being the woman that she is, she asked me to write a short scary story to tell her kids so that they’ll be nice and scared when they stay there.
The woman in the window
The Ellelsie House was built on Dover Road in Canterbury in 1875. It was then that the Joyce family moved in to this Victorian Mansion. The family was made out of 4 people. The father, Isaac, was an older gentleman of 42. He married the 17-year-old Harriet, who was the most beautiful girl in town, after striking a deal with her parents. He was after all, very wealthy.
So she was uprooted from her life in the small town of Sandwich in the county of Kent and forced to move to Canterbury where the house was newly built for the purpose of being a home to the Joyce family. It was a woman’s task to bear children and within the year after them being married she was pregnant with her first son, Christopher. It was not long afterwards that he was joined by a little sister named Charlotte, who was lovingly called Lottie by her mother and brother.
Isaac was a high-powered lawyer with a lot of influence in town’s inner workings. He was a hardworking and a rich man but he was also a cruel man. He would strike his wife and children if his house was not exactly to his liking when he came home. Through the years, his temper grew and his family became more and more afraid of him. They would cower in their rooms when they heard him come home in the afternoon.
The only relief the children experienced was when they were able to visit their grandparents. Richard and Ida Joyce were wealthy landowners not far from where the Joyce family lived. The children enjoyed walking to their grandparent’s estate often and regularly took their time playing in the grass or feeding the ducks at the nearby pond.
It was on the 21st of May 1884 when the horror occurred. It was a sunny Friday afternoon, when the kids usually went to their grandparents. Harriet thought them gone when she left the house to do the weekly shopping in town. However, when she got home she immediately noticed the knocked over coffee table. In the living room stood Isaac, towering over his daughter who was curled up in the corner with the heavy iron fireplace poker raised above his head. There was blood streaked in her blonde curls. Christopher lay with eyes open on the carpet, the bones in his neck sticking out in an undeniable fatal way. Harriet screamed as she dropped the basket that she was carrying. She charged her husband trying with all her might to save her daughter. But, he threw her off as though she weighed nothing and continued to strike little Lottie until she moved and screamed no more. Harriet lay upon her dead son’s body, where she had landed after Isaac had thrown her off. She screamed on the top of her lungs, not being able to cope with the horrific scene that was unfolding before her. Meanwhile, Isaac had taking his usual seat in front of the roaring fire. He wiped off his face with his handkerchief before taking up the newspaper that he had been reading. “They were disturbing my quiet, Darling. I simply could not allow their disruption in my house any longer.”
Hysterically, Harriet sought a way to avenge her children. She knew that he was too strong for her, she would never be able to attack him physically. Then, she saw something glisten out of the corner of her eye. It was a large shard of glass from the large bottle of milk that had broken when she dropped the groceries. Harriet got up and scrambled to pick up the shard of glass, cutting her hand while gripping it, and ran to the murderer of her Children and plunged the shard of glass into the side of his neck. He looked at her in a surprised fashion. She had never stood up to him before and now, she was the one who ended him. “Wretched woman”, were the last words he spluttered before dying.
Harriet gathered up her children and laid them in their beds. Distraught with grief she sat in the pace that separated her children’s beds and decided that her life, too, would have to come to an end.
Hours later the police entered the house and found the bloodied body of the father in the living room, the children in their beds and their mother, hanging from the nursery ceiling in front of the children’s beds, her dead eyes looking over her children.
It has been nearly 130 years since the tragic death of the Joyce family and since then there have been multiple sightings of a young woman, looking out through the nursery window. She is looking out for her children, protecting them from the terror that is their father. Every year on exactly midnight of the 21st of May, you can hear the children crying for their mother and hear the footsteps of Harriet, looking for her children, desperate to be reunited. Some even say that she will do anything to find her children, chasing everyone from her home to look for them. So, it is lucky that Ellersie is now a hostel and that no one will stay for long. Otherwise, who knows what may happen..