Over the years, a number of unusual happenings have occurred, some within the family while others related to outside events.
The Page Family – Death of Stanley
One story Grandfather (John Page) often remembered related to the death of his brother Stanley, who died on 12 October 1918. Grandfather would tell that he and brother Bert were working together in a paddock when suddenly they saw a heart-like object flutter up in front of them. They immediately knew that their brother Stanley had died. Stanley was living at his father’s home at Cluan, about eight miles away and had contracted the Spanish ‘flu.
After packing away their tools, they set out for their father’s home. As they travelled the connecting track, they met up with two of their sisters who were coming to bring them the news.
Charles, another brother, was farming at Sprent, near Ulverstone, and at the time, was in his dairy milking cows when the face of Stanley appeared in the roof above. He too knew that Stanley had died and on completing milking, left by bike to go to his father’s home at Cluan, some 60 miles away.
Another story often mentioned by grandfather and his brothers was the sound of galloping horses and a speeding carriage along the Osmaston Road, not far from their Cluan home, although there was never a mention of it ever being seen. Grandfather would recall that his usually placid horse would be edgy when travelling in the area.
William Prewer’s Visit at John’s Death
In June 1961, Grandfather (John Page) fell at his Bracknell home, broke his leg, and was taken to the Launceston General Hospital, where they operated and pinned the leg. Yvonne (my sister) and I paid him a visit and he was pleased to see us. While we were talking, he suddenly said that William Prewer had come into the room to visit. William was his uncle and had died 33 years earlier. A close relationship had existed, with John having been taken in by his uncle and aunt for work when he was about 10 years of age. They remained close friends to the end of their days. Grandfather was most happy to see and talk with William. John died a few hours later.
Editor’s note: The original Launceston General Hospital was closed in the 1980s after a new modern hospital was built on the opposite side of Charles Street. It was abandoned, heavily vandalised and informally inhabited by the homeless prior to being converted to a hotel called Mantra Charles Hotel Launceston.
Isaac Simeon Richardson
My father Eric Badcock, a grandson of Isaac Richardson, would relate two events that occurred in the family. One night when living at “Lenna”, Hagley they heard the front door open and then three distinct footsteps in the passage then no further sound. Initially, they thought it was a son returning home. When he did not enter, they called out, “Is that you old fella?” and when they did not get a response went to investigate but found no one.
Soon after, three deaths connected to the family occurred, and the footsteps heard were then considered to have been an omen of these coming deaths.
A second story involved the death of Isaac. The family had gathered around his bed to say goodbye. As he drifted away his final words were “Isn’t it beautiful!, Isn’t it beautiful! All walk in His footsteps”.
A Psychic School Friend
Grandma Evelyn Badcock (nee Richardson) would sometimes mention a school friend who had psychic powers. On one occasion, a cow had gone missing and, despite a search, was not found. The matter was brought to the attention of the psychic girl and on her going into a trance, advised the cow could be found behind a log in a remote area of the farm, with her dead calf nearby. Searchers found the cow as stated.
This same girl said she had the power to make her teacher get down on hands and knees and eat grass like a cow. Fortunately, there is no record of the teacher being forced to do this.
Dad – Eric Badcock
Dad was subject to a number of unusual events. An early event occurred when he was around 9 years of age. One night after going to bed a blue light came through the ceiling and descended to where he was lying. He felt himself lifted three times, and then a voice spoke saying, “Weighed in the balances and found wanting. Thou lack a humble and contrite heart.” The light then left as it had come. Dad dates his Christian life from that event, with humility being one of his characteristics.
The Butleigh Hill Church Ghost
For a number of years, there was a presence at the Church which some people of the time and still today refer to as the Butleigh Hill ghost. It manifested itself as a scratching-like sound coming from under the floor near the organ. Initially, the sound was of low volume but, over the years increased, sometimes being sufficiently loud to be disruptive to a service in progress. During one service Dad recalls the preacher, Mr. Henry Hingston, pausing during his address and commenting, “I do believe that noise, whatever it is, is possessed”.
Those attending church often speculated on the origin of the noise, variously thinking it might have been due to rabbits or rats and contemplated lifting some of the floorboards to investigate, but this never got past the talk stage. The noise for some years was always present, day or night. Dad would recall when socials were held at Carl Smith’s nearby barn, pews from the church would be used for seating, and it was his job to get the seats out of the church ready for pick up by a truck and then after the social, they would be dropped off with his job again being to put the pews back into the church. With no electricity at the church, the job was mostly undertaken with the light from a torch and with the scratching noise always present, Dad would say that on occasions and being alone, it took a lot of courage to enter the building.
The noise went on until the day of a Memorial service for a Mrs Hingston. It was a Sunday, and the church was full of people. Dad was sitting in a back seat diagonally across the church from the organ, from where the noise was always heard. Midway during the service, the noise departed, rapping the floor from underneath as it went. It passed directly below Dad’s feet with him lifting his feet as it passed. It left via a corner of the church and was never heard again.
A Heavenly Visitor
In November 1955, David, born February 1948, Dad and Mum’s fourth child, became ill with stomach pains. His stomach had become bloated. The doctor immediately ordered him into hospital and within hours was operated on and a growth removed. It was attached to his liver and had tentacles throughout his stomach. It contained three litres of fluid and being a rare specimen, was placed in a medical museum.
On coming home, David continued to be unwell, much to the concern of Mum and Dad.
One evening Dad was in the Sunroom, which he used as an office, with David occupying an adjacent Sleep-out. While seated there, a man entered the room and stood beside Dad saying he had come to take David. Dad responded saying, “Must you take my son?” The man then showed Dad a scene indicating the future with the movie-type presentation showing people in groups of twos and threes on at large street corner hitting at each other with what appeared to be sticks. Dad responded, “Let God’s will be done”.
The person then left with David continuing to be quite unwell, including throwing up orange coloured bile. By the next day he was much improved and eventually made a full recovery.
The family were left to wonder about what it all meant.
Doors and Gates Mysteriously Opening
An unusual happening for Dad occurred in the mid-1960s when on approaching a door or gate it would mysteriously open ahead of him. It gradually developed before ceasing about 18 months later. At peak, seven doors opened before him, one after another.
It is said that this is a natural phenomenon that sometimes occurs when a teenage girl is present in a house. Our sister Janine who was in her teen years, was living at home at the time.
Some decades ago, while visiting Dad and Mum’s home at Bishopsbourne, Tasmania an event occurred that best can be described as light pulses. Even though it was mid-afternoon with good light, the orange-coloured light blobs were clearly visible. They travelled in one direction from south to north at a moderate speed, around waist height and appeared to pass through any obstacles encountered. The event went on for several hours.
Balls of Light at the King River
One night in 1963, when travelling to Rosebery, where I was working, I had been travelling for around three hours. It was about midnight and had become tired with another one and half hours to reach Rosebery, decided to pull off and have a sleep, stopping at the King River parking area. The night was totally dark, and as I sat there, I caught sight of what looked like two balls of light floating in the air near the car. They were close by, to the left and between me and a tree no more than 20 yards away. Then suddenly they disappeared, and now not keen to sleep there, immediately set out for Rosebery.
On relating the story to several friends, I was told what I had seen was consistent to that of marsh gas and which was known to exist in the area.
The Mocking Magpie
Even two years after leaving his farm at Bishopsbourne, Alan’s voice could be heard instructing his dog, Mack, to assist in rounding up his sheep. He would yell, “Go way back, Mack and fetch them”. But Mack was a useless farm dog and would only respond by barking at Alan’s heels, with Allan continuing to instruct.
The local people first thought Alan had returned to haunt the place until they discovered that it was the magpie giving the instruction. It appears a magpie had been listening and began to mock Alan’s instructions to Mack, continuing long after both had gone.
A Grateful Magpie
Late one afternoon, while checking my sheep, found a magpie hanging upside down on a fence. It had a piece of string wound around its leg and caught on the top barbed wire.
It was in a distressed and angry mood.
I got a bag and wrapped it around the bird, and carefully removed the string.
On releasing the bird, it flew several yards away, turned and fluttered its wings as if saying “thank you” before flying away.
Later, for several years, a magpie would come to where I was working, pause in front of me and flutter its wings. I often wondered if this was the same grateful magpie.
Skipper – a Loyal Dog
While at “The Grange” farm, over the years, Dad had a number of dogs. The last was Skipper, a black and white Border Collie of good intelligence.
In Dad’s last years, he was much afflicted with arthritis, restricting his walking. To help, he had a grey 28 Ferguson tractor which he called his legs, with further assistance being provided by Skipper. If a sheep needed to be caught, Dad would identify it to Skipper and instruct him to catch. Skipper would grab the wool at the shoulder, get the sheep off balance, ride it to the ground, and lay across the sheep until Dad could take over.
After Dad’s death, Skipper continued to live at the farm but later moved to brother Keith’s place in the township with the cemetery opposite. Dad was buried there, and in later years Skipper would make his way to the grave and lie on it.
A Haunted Castle – Fyvie Scotland
In August 1995, while Des French, a cousin, and I were visiting the U.K. we decided to stop off at the Fyvie Castle, an 800-year-old fortress, which previously had been occupied by the Gordon family, the Duke of Aberdeen.
As we approached a dark, sinister feeling about the Castle came over me, growing even stronger as we entered the building. While inspecting, we reached an area where many relics of the past were on display. They were roped off with the items being kept under surveillance by a lady seated on a chair. The area had a strong sense of evil, and I made comment of this to the lady on the chair. A look of fear and horror flashed across her face with her going on to say that a ghost was present in the area. The ghost was the wife of a former Duke who had walled her up in a room at the Castle and starved her to death.
I knew nothing about the history of the haunting when we visited but have since located the story in Wikipedia.
I was pleased when we left.
A Devil Visit
One evening our dog, Jess the border collie, commenced to excitedly bark and was rushing around the yard outside. Thinking we may have a visitor, went outside to check. No one was found, but Jess continued to be excited and kept running around the car shed and house and loudly barking.
I wondered if a visiting person may have taken refuge under the car and on looking saw two eyes peering at me. It was a Tasmanian devil and was the first to be ever seen at our house.
A Full Circle Rainbow
We are familiar with rainbows that appear as a half circle, but rainbows showing a full circle are rarely seen.
Once when flying from Whitemark, Flinders Island to Launceston, one briefly appeared. Four of us were travelling in a four-seater Cessna, flying at around 3,500 feet, leaving early on Monday morning. We had intended to travel on Sunday afternoon but stayed overnight due to adverse weather.
On looking out to the right from the plane, a full circle rainbow could be seen, with a large white cloud providing a backdrop and, in the centre, a silhouette image of the plane.
It was a most memorable sight.
Written by Ivan Badcock