More puzzles

Hello there, Stephen here: as you may have seen, we’re adding another one of Ranulph Williams’ stories to the site today, and I’ve been thinking more about the strange messages we’ve been getting on the site: its something I’m worried we’re going to forget about in the confusion of the next week or so.

The more I think about it, the more interesting the strange messages become – I’m convinced now that they have something to do with the longer introduction to ‘Haunted Houses’ that my correspondent suggested appeared in the first edition of the collection.

Certainly it seems likely that the haunted house that Williams talks about in the shorter introduction that we have here on the site must surely be the Mazehouse itself. And if that’s true, the longer version may well have had more information about what happened to Williams here.

Although the text that’s appearing on the site is hopelessly jumbled, I can pick out, at least, the references to Flower Queans and Corn Dollies, that point us to the local traditions I’ve written about on the site already, and parts sound like references to the myth of the Woman of Flowers, that Ranulph Williams wrote about in his book ‘The Labyrinthine King’. Anything more defeinite if harder to figure out – beyond the fact that its not very cheerful, what with all that talk of murder and death.

The biggest puzzle of all, of course, is how the text is getting posted to the website at all. We’re all pretty sure now that no one in the house is sending the messages, and Gary is pretty sure that no one outside could be, either – so could this be something paranormal, could this be an online haunting? It’s not inconceivable, after all, if paranormal phenomena do have an influence on electro-magnetic fields, as we suspect (and as we’re hoping to discover with our monitor system) they why shouldn’t they be able to affect computers? It would certainly be a first, as far as I know, and an amazing discovery for our investigation.

Of course, if this is so, then we still have to ask, who is sending this text, and why? We have been talking about Ranulph Williams and his experiences here, in the house, is this some echo of those experiences? Or does it have some other meaning?

But that, of course, is what we’re here to do, isn’t? To investigate.

Mazehouse in the War

During the Second World War, the Mazehouse, which was unoccupied at the time, was requisitioned for military use. The house is ideally placed not far from the east coast and was used initially as a training centre for SOE recruits.


Later on in the War, however, it seems that the house was used by the secret services for a very different purpose. Certainly at one stage late in the War, the house was used as a radio broadcasting station. It was at this time that the writer Ranulph Williams, among others, was stationed in the house.


The idea, it seems, was to broadcast into mainland Europe, with covert relay stations making it seem as if the broadcasts were coming from within the occupied territory itself.


Some of the broadcasts were of propaganda and counter-intelligence material, but a lot of it was simply designed to provoke and demoralise German occupying troops. This led to some very bizarre broadcasts, including hardcore pornography and, under Williams’ influence, some occult and supernatural themed news and stories.


This project was closed down after only a few months of operation, ostensibly because it was difficult to prove any effectiveness for the broadcasts, although there have been persistent rumours that certain incidents in the house meant that the project could not be continued anyway.


The house then remained unoccupied until after the war.

Wartime history

Hello there, Stephen here. I just wanted to say thankyou to the reader who got in touch with some details about Ranulph Williams and his history with the Mazehouse, which has allowed us to add a new article to the site about the history of the house during the War.

One mystery remains, which is what exactly happened in the house that affected Williams so much. My correspondent says he has heard that the first edition of ‘Haunted Houses’ had a foreword that included much more information about the Mazehouse but which was cut down to the one we have on the site for later editions.

I’d love to heard from anyone who could lay their hands on a copy. In the meantime I’m going to see what else I can find out.

Local folklore

Hello there, Stephen here, with just a quick update. As you have probably seen, I managed to have a chat with the Vicar, the Reverend Morgan, who was very kindly able to fill me in on some of the local traditions concerning the Flower Queans and some of the folklore behind them.

Like a lot of English traditions, these have their roots in Victorian folklore research and recreation but undoubtedly contain traces of something considerably more ancient and more traditional. It’s particularly interesting to see that Ranulph Williams became so interested in the story – I must confess that I’ve never read his book, The Labyrinthine King – in fact I think its currently out of print, but it certainly sounds interesting.

Meanwhile, I’m considerably excited by the arrival in the house of my friend and colleague Jo Cargill, who is arriving to start work on the more technical aspects of our investigation. It’s going to be great to have Jo here, in fact, its going to great just to have someone else here, even if it does mean that I’m going to have to give up sleeping in the attic room I’ve been staying in the last few nights – oddly, I’ve slept incredibly well there, although that does mean I haven’t had anything to write in my dream diary recently.

The Woman of Flowers

King_Mark_of_Cornwall_11400The legend of King Lucy has long been associated with the area – a small local Iron Age earthwork is traditonally known as Lucy’s Castle and a much weathered medieval statue that currently stands outside the church of St Dymphna’s is commonly called King Lucy or King Luck and touched for good fortune.

The King himself is mentioned in Malory’s Morte D’Arthur as one of the court at Camelot and the story is briefly mentioned by Holinshed and referenced by Ben Jonson. But the fullest retelling comes in Ranulph Williams’ novel ‘The Labyrinthine King’ where it forms the centrepiece of his modernisation of the Arthurian myth.

His version goes something like this:

King Lucy, convinced of the fickleness of women, wished for a woman as constant and reliable as the seasons. His wish was granted by a cunning wizard who created for him a bride made entirely of the flowers of spring.

The King made the Woman of Flowers his queen, but, as the seasons changed, so did she, falling in love not with the King but with the wizard, her creator.

Betrayed, the King swore to destroy not just his unfaithful wife, but the seasons themselves, laying waste to his kingdom and everything in it green and growing until nothing was left.

In the midst of this devastation nothing can survive and the kingdom itself is on the verge of destruction until the wizard, overcome by grief, kills himself over the body of his dead love.

The wizard’s blood revives the Woman of Flowers and with her revives nature itself. the king forgives her, she returns to her role as queen and order is once more restored.

Although Williams has embroidered greatly on the existing glimpses of the story, it is now his telling that has become the most common version in the local area.

The Mazehouse Ghost

Hello there, Stephen here, with news that I have met the Mazehouse ghost and can report that he is an unquiet spirit and all too much alive and well.

His name is, apparently, Harry Rose and he is a local odd job man who has apparently appointed himself a kind of watchman over the house. It’s been him that’s been reponsible for all the strange events over the last few days: the locked door, the odd sounds around the house, the missing coffee.

Although, to be fair, the coffee wasn’t that much of a mystery as I actually caught him taking it this morning.

I was, obviously, pretty alarmed at finding this strange man in the kitchen when I walked in there first thing in the morning and things very quickly got pretty heated.

I, quite reasonably, I think, insisted he leave, while he insisted that I was the one with no right to be in the house, all the while quite calmly helping himself to my Kenko.

In the end the only thing I could do was call the owners, who, fortunately, were available and who, even more fortunately, knew Harry of old and were able to tall to him and persuade that I was who I said I was and that he had to leave me alone.

Which he did, eventually, with very bad grace, muttering all kinds of things, including some very interesting things about the house and what might happen to people living in it which, sadly, I was in no mood at the time to question him about.

One thing I did learn is that he was the one responsible for the dried flowers in the outbuildings and that he called his arrangements ‘flower queens’, exactly the same words as were used in our mysterious website text.

The owners of he house have pointed me to the vicar as a good source of information about the traditions of the area and I am going to seek him put and see what I can find out about these interesting discoveries.

So, while more than a little stressful and disturbing, today might not have been totally wasted after all.

Rev Robert Brightley

Beauchamp_kills_SharpBy the middle of the nineteenth century the Mazehouse had become the rectory for the nearby church of St Dymphna and home to the Brightleys, the family of the Rev Dr Brightley, the parish vicar. As with many of the lives associated with the house, the story of the Brightleys is a sad one, for all the salacious delight it afforded the newspapers of the time.

Brightley had come to the area with his new wife looking for a fresh start, but it was not to be the start he wanted. It seems likely, in retrospect, that Mrs Brightley probably had a history of mental illness and she was certainly described by her contemporaries as a nervous and easily upset woman.

From the very beginning, it seems, she took against the Mazehouse, falling ill and complaining of persistent bad dreams and odd and ill-explained phenomena. But the Reverend Brightley was able to secure the services of a Dr Steven Knight, a local doctor renown for his ability with female patients.

Sadly, Dr Knight proved all two able in his dealings with Mrs Brightley and the to fell in love, apparently arranging to abscond together. A servant, however, revealed the plot to Rev Brightley who, in the ensuing row, attacked Dr Knight fatally with a fire-iron. A witness to the attack, Mrs Brightley appeared to lose her mind completely and never completely regained her full wits.

The subsequent trial of Reverend Brightley became a brief national obsession, not least due to the Reverend’s insistence that the Mazehouse was haunted and that all three of them, he, his wife and the Doctor, had been possessed by devils that had forced them to act in the way they had. It was eventually ruled that the Reverend, like his wife, had lost his wits due to the tragedy that had befallen him and he was incarcerated in a mental institution for the rest of his life.

The house then passed into the hands of a distant relative, but due to its ill fame, was not fully occupied again until some fifty years later, when most people had forgotten the horrors of the ‘Devil’s Doctor’ and the murder of the Mazehouse.