Last month the Mail published an extract from a book by Theresa Cheung in which intelligent, educated women spoke of their firm belief in an after-life.
It led to a deluge of emails from readers who had experienced their own ghostly encounters.
Here, Helen Carroll brings you some of their stories, while Mail columnist Sarah Vine reveals her own spooky tale . . .
The Mail received a deluge of emails from readers who had experienced their own ghostly encounters
Terrified daughter saw chilling ghost in my eyes
Daily Mail columnist Sarah Vine, 50, lives in London with her husband and two children. She says:
Last Christmas we were invited to stay with dear friends at their beautifully restored house in Devon.
My daughter’s room was the sweetest. Just down the corridor from ours, it had candy-coloured teacups on the wallpaper, an adorable four-poster single bed and a lovely little en-suite bathroom.
The first night we all slept soundly, replete with food, wine and gossip. On the second night we retired slightly earlier.
I awoke at around 2am. Seeing a light flickering, I walked down the corridor to my daughter’s room. She was wide awake, watching a film on my laptop.
She, too, had woken up and couldn’t get back to sleep. I closed the laptop, tidied the little bedroom and straightened out the bedclothes.
Daily Mail columnist Sarah Vine, 50, lives in London with her husband and two children. She says he daughters eyes widened in fear when she saw the spirit
I then tucked her up and sat down on the edge of her bed to stroke her hair. As I sat there, half snoozing myself, I realised that the room felt rather chilly despite the window being shut tight. Strange.
My daughter’s eyes were closed and she was drifting off. I pulled the duvet up around her. ‘Night darling,’ I whispered. ‘Night, night, mummy,’ she replied, and half opened her eyes.
Suddenly, her pupils widened in fear. Tears sprang out of nowhere. ‘Mummy, what’s wrong with your face?’ she cried, recoiling in horror and sinking beneath the covers. I felt a rush of cold air down my spine and a thud in my ears, like a door being slammed a long way away.
My back felt icy, I could feel the presence of something right behind me — something ancient and evidently rather irritable. I stood up with a jump, brushing the air away.
There was a loud hum, as though the whole room was vibrating and then, just like that, it was gone.
My daughter and I looked at each other, open-mouthed. ‘What just happened, what did you see?’ I asked. ‘Your face,’ replied my daughter. ‘It wasn’t you. It was like . . . like someone else was looking at me through your eyes.’
The dead man who worried about us
Kim Davies, 51, a carer, lives in Evesham, Worcestershire, with husband Lynn, a writer, and has a daughter, Kiri, 23. She says:
In December my mind always turns to memories of Mr Gordy, the ghost who moved in with Kiri and I one Christmas, shortly after her father left us.
We had been together for four years and his decision to end the relationship came as a terrible shock as Kiri was only three years old, and I panicked about how I would cope as a single mother.
Kim Davies, 51, a carer, lives in Evesham, Worcestershire, with husband Lynn, a writer, and has a daughter, Kiri, 23. She says a ghost moved in with her and her daughter
I’ve always enforced a ‘shoes off at the door’ policy so the first sign that we had company was a trail of huge, black oily footprints across my beige carpet, from our front door right to the back.
The doors had been locked while we slept and my ex no longer had a key, so I knew it was impossible for someone to have come in. I didn’t have time to dwell, so I scrubbed the carpet clean but was baffled when the same prints were there each morning over several days.
I hadn’t seen or heard anyone, and nothing was stolen so it didn’t occur to me to call the police. I didn’t mention it to anyone, worried they would think I was losing my mind.
On the seventh morning, I was relieved to find there were no footprints; however, the loo seat had been left up, even though there were only females in the house and I knew I’d left it down before going to bed.
About a week before Christmas a friend, eager to cheer me up, invited me on a night out so I booked a babysitter. When I got home, the babysitter couldn’t wait to leave.
She’d spent half the evening picking up photos, most of them of my daughter’s dad, that kept mysteriously falling off shelves, and the other half checking on my daughter who she could hear jabbering away and laughing in her bedroom as if she was speaking to someone.
For Christmas, I’d bought my daughter a battery-operated dog that yapped and did backflips.
I thought she was waking in the night and switching it on, as it kept going off, so the day after Boxing Day I took the batteries out and left the toy downstairs. However, while I was watching TV that evening, despite being empty of batteries, it started yapping and flipping. Freaked out, I shoved it in the freezer overnight then threw it in the outside bin the following day, telling my daughter it had ‘run away.’
Things reached a crescendo on New Year’s Eve. Alone downstairs, a couple of hours after putting my daughter to bed, I heard heavy footsteps coming from her room above.
I crept upstairs and heard Kiri laughing and chatting. Assuming she was talking in her sleep, I put my head around her door. Sitting on her bed in her Christmas pyjamas, her face broke into a grin, before crumpling into tears.
‘He’s gone mummy, he’s gone,’ she said. ‘Who’s gone?’ I asked.
‘Mr Gordy,’ she replied. ‘He died in a car accident but he’s been visiting because he was worried about us and thought we needed a man in our house. He told me stories at night, but he said you’re getting better now so it’s time for him to go.’
We never heard anything more from him, but often talk about him at this time of year and Kiri, who has just qualified as a physiotherapist, remembers the experience vividly.
Spooks spoke on my baby monitor
Rebecca Shayler, 28, said spirits communicated with her through a baby monitor
Rebecca Shayler, 28, works in accounts at a department store and lives in Southend, Essex, with husband Mark, 34, a photographer, and children Lena, eight, Reggie, six, James, four, and Olivia, one. She says:
Back in December 2009, I was a first-time mum and, although Mark and I were together, we weren’t yet living under the same roof.
Lena’s nursery was adjacent to my bedroom in our new-build semi and I would hear her through the baby monitor when she woke at around 3am for a breast-feed.
About a week before Christmas I was woken, at precisely 2.33am, by the sound, coming through the monitor, of two men conversing loudly.
They were talking about trying to catch a young lad who had stolen a piece of meat from a kitchen.
I lived in a village, Wakering, in Essex, at the time and thought I must somehow be picking up a conversation between police officers over their radios. At exactly 2.33am the following night I was again woken by what sounded like the same conversation. I tried to tell myself that I’d got crossed wires with police radios and that there must be a meat thief in the village.
However when it happened again, at the very same time, on the third night I felt very unsettled and began to dread these nocturnal disturbances, which happened again over the next two nights.
Then, in the early hours of Christmas Eve, I woke with a strong feeling that someone was watching me.
Opening my eyes, I saw a middle-aged man, dressed in a top hat and coat tails, standing at the foot of my bed. He seemed transparent, his body hazily illuminated by the light from the street lamp shining through my curtains. My only thought was: ‘You’re a ghost’ and then, appearing irritated, he strode out through my bedroom door.
Glancing at my phone I saw it was 2.33am and the same conversation about the boy and the meat played out again through the monitor.
I wasn’t worried any harm would come to Lena because I knew he wasn’t a real person, but a ghost, so what could he do? Friends and family tried to convince me I was probably just dreaming and I don’t blame them — I too would have been sceptical before this happened to me.
I did some research and discovered that an old manor house had been knocked down in the Fifties to make way for the housing estate we lived on. I guessed the ghostly figure had lived there, which is why he looked so aristocratic, and presumably the boy who stole the meat from the kitchen was below stairs staff.
When Mark asked me to move in with him shortly afterwards I was relieved and, although we went on to have three more children, I never allowed a baby monitor in my house again.
Late great-gran visits every Christmas
Chloe Morri ssaid: 'At some point each year, we are joined by the spirit of my great-grandmother, Dorothy, who passed away in 1998. Her arrival is always heralded in the same way'
Chloe Morris, 27, is a marketing consultant from Shrewsbury. She says:
Every Christmas afternoon my family — parents, siblings, aunts, uncles, cousins — gather in the living room at my grandma’s house to play party games.
At some point each year, we are joined by the spirit of my great-grandmother, Dorothy, who passed away in 1998. Her arrival is always heralded in the same way.
First, the carved wooden dolphins which sit on top of my grandma’s television, appear to leap into the air and turn somersaults before coming crashing to the floor with a thud. Next comes the sound of a door slamming somewhere in the house, followed by the living room lights flickering eerily.
It makes the hair on the back of everyone’s neck stand up, but rather than feeling scared, most of us find it quite comforting — we miss her and for those few minutes it feels like she’s still with us.
We’ll say: ‘Hi Nana’ and ‘Our star visitor has come to join us,’ then it will be over and we’ll go back to exchanging presents or watching a movie.
Dorothy loved Christmas Day, encouraging everyone to get involved in games of charades and drink snowballs, and it’s a time when our whole family is together, so it’s no great surprise that she chooses then to make an appearance.
Eerie presence raised the alarm
Jane Reynolds, 28, a nurse, is mum to Ethan, four, and George, 18 months, and lives in Church Stretton, Shropshire. She says:
Last Christmas Eve I put my sons to bed and, with carols playing in the background, baked gingerbread biscuits to put in Ethan’s stocking.
While they were in the oven I remembered the boys’ Christmas stockings were still in the attic.
Retrieving things from up there had always been their dad Keiran’s job, but we were separated and he had moved out four weeks earlier.
So, with great trepidation, I headed up into the loft in our Georgian terrace.
On the rare occasions I’d done so in the past, I had a strong sense of foreboding, as if there was a malevolent spirit up there.
The moment I opened the hatch I felt a chill and, as I reached out for the stockings, had the sensation of a cold hand closing over mine and something pushing me back towards the opening.
At 4am, I woke with a start as the super-king-size duvet was yanked off my bed and thrown to the floor.
I could see no one, but it felt as if somebody was shaking me awake by the shoulders. From elsewhere in the house I heard a banging noise and the scream of a child I didn’t recognise.
Terrified my sons were in danger, I ran to their room where I found Ethan sound asleep and George, lying on his back, making a gurgling, choking sound.
His face was ashen, his lips blue and he was struggling to breathe.
I was a mental health nurse before having children and, realising he was choking, flipped George on his front and patted his back.
He started coughing and, mercifully, the vomit which had been stuck in his throat ran from his mouth.
Shaking with relief, as his breathing regulated, I wrapped him in my arms and called an ambulance.
The paramedics checked all his vital signs and he was fine.
They told me how lucky I was to have got to him when I did, but I couldn’t bring myself to tell them about the ghostly presence that had woken me from a deep sleep.
I told Keiran, my family and close friends. Keen to make sense of it, I got chatting about former residents to the elderly lady who lived in the adjoining house.
She told me that, 50 years ago, a baby had died in his sleep in our house and the parents — too distressed to carry on living there — moved out immediately afterwards.
Was it the ghost of this child who had woken me that night?