What are you, face at the window?

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I’m actually an agnostic when it comes to ghosts, but if I hadn’t experienced what I’m about to tell you then I’d probably be a fully-blown sceptic.

Sitting on the Scottish coastline in Troon, Ayrshire is a nineteenth century villa called Crosbie Towers, beautifully crafted and in the Italianate style. It is well-known in the local area and you can find pictures of it online, both in its current and former state. Even when it degenerated into a derelict and poorly-maintained building, the mansion still looked quite elegant. And scary.

When we ventured inside on a calm evening in May 2012, it really was your proverbial haunted house: dusty floors, wooden panels, boarded-up windows, a broken-down elevator, a creepy dentist’s chair, and a spiral stairacse leading up to a square tower. There was debris everywhere, old chairs and furniture, and the air was rather heavy and musty. It smelled like an old library.

My friends were just approaching the foot of the staircase when a loud, crashing bang sounded from the top. I was at the back of the queue, admittedly not the bravest of the bunch on this occasion, but the noise and shock will stay with me forever. We bolted out and returned several nights later. You could say that a homeless person or another explorer orchestrated the bang to scare us away, but that would seem an unnecessarily severe measure to take. That bang was angry, sinister even. It wasn’t like an object was just dropped or thrown casually; there was great force and will behind it. Still, I would have granted a human cause as the likeliest explanation were it not for what we would soon discover. . .

There is a room at the top of the staircase and although none of us ever stepped inside it (let alone the whole second floor), we know there was a window in that room which looked out onto the backyard. A photograph we took of the window revealed something uncanny: what looks like a narrow white face with black slits can be seen peering down at us, as if it didn’t want to be seen. Now, here’s the important point. This ‘face’ or whatever it is didn’t appear in other photos of that same window which were taken on the same night, meaning the thing was literally there and then it wasn’t. It can’t have been a handle or part of the actual frame. When we reconsider the bang and add the photo into the equation, putting two and two together, it becomes pretty clear that the bang was caused by something in that room which didn’t want us coming upstairs. If not, then I dare anyone to tell me what the thing in the photo is, bearing in mind the context, because I really can’t explain it.

As for the history behind the house, I’ve done my research. People have definitely died there. Renowned whisky-maker Alexander Walker – whose brands are now marketed all over the world as ‘Johnnie Walker Whisky’ – is listed as dying in the house on 16 July 1889, as is his wife Isabella McKemmie in 1902, at ‘Crosby Tower’, obviously an alternative spelling or a misspelling of the house’s real name. The property later went on to become a care home and then, bizarrely, property of the Church of Scotland. It makes for intriguing reading.

And don’t just take my word for it. All this information can be found online with a quick Google search. See for yourself. I even discovered pictures of Mr and Mrs Walker on their wedding day, along with their death certificates. Could the spirits of Alexander and Isabella be behind the mysterious bang and the face at the window, defending their beloved old home from youthful intruders like myself? Its admittedly a longshot, and I’d rather not resort to paranormal explanations if I can help it, but I still find it unlikely that another living person could have been in that house at exactly the same time as us on multiple nights (because the photo was taken days after the bang on another visit) AND been responsible for the crash on the staircase and the face at the window. For one thing, the face doesn’t look at all human.

I still dream about the house from time to time, regretting how I never took the opportunity to explore the place more fully or reach the top floor. The building was recently modernised into a block of flats, which I think looks terrible (again, you can find the relevant pictures online). For the sake and mental well-being of whoever now lives there, I hope the ghosts aren’t permanent residents.

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