Lot 221

Lot 221.

Have you ever been in a room and sensed an eerie presence? A feeling that something unpleasant has at some time taken place? There is a school of thought that suggests psychic resonance is the cause. A belief that when something occurs that is associated with violence or other highly charged emotional activity, a residue remains that can be sensed long after the event has occurred.

This emotional residue is described as 'psychic resonance' and can invade not only the room itself but objects and pieces of furniture that were present when the dramatic incident took place. Furthermore, if these specific items were actually used in the enactment of the event, an even greater concentration of psychic resonance is likely to impregnate that object.

A few years ago to pass the time on my journey to the United States, I bought a book at Manchester Airport. It was a slim paperback and was called, “The Pocket Book of Scary Stories”. I found it to be an entertaining read and by the time I arrived at Philadelphia I had completed the final tale. One story in particular remained in my head. An intriguing story of a seaside hotel in England in which a series of nine female suicides had taken place over an eighteen year period.

The women in question were not related, they were of varying ages and of differing social circumstances. Inexplicably, they had all chosen the same hotel in which to end their lives. Not only that, they all died in the same room and all but two had selected the identical method of dispatch. They chose to hang themselves from a rather robust light fitting suspended from the bedroom ceiling. And to finally complete the series of bizarre coincidences, they had each used the same chair upon which to stand before committing their souls to the Almighty!

I was quite fascinated by the awful story and when I returned from my American trip, I took the first opportunity to visit the town named in the book and search out the specific location where these tragedies had taken place. I found the hotel described in the book to be closed and empty.

I made inquiries and was told that as a result of the continuing adverse publicity that surrounded the building, it became impossible to persuade people to stay there. Local gossip had resulted in tales that the hotel was cursed were being spread around the resort and eventually the owners were obliged to close the establishment down; by the time of my visit, it had been empty for three years.

And then my informant told me something that provided my already overworked imagination with irresistible stimulation – all of the hotel furniture had been placed in storage and was due to be sold at auction the following week! I telephoned my wife to explain that I would be staying in the town until after the sale and booked myself into a small boarding house on the sea front.

The next day I visited the sale-room to inspect the furniture and asked the auctioneer's assistant if I could see the specific chair that had been described in the story. I was informed that it had been separated from the other chairs and would be sold as an individual lot.
I don't know what I was expecting to see but the chair had no special feature, it was just a common brown bentwood chair, similar to any other that might be placed in a hotel bedroom. There were no damaging marks or scratches to indicate the dreadful use to which it had been put.

I was told that there had been some morbid and casual interest in the chair but I was relieved to discover that the auction house was not expecting it to fetch a large amount.

The day arrived and I took my place among the attendees; there were one or two dealers plus the usual casual onlookers, and then there were those who were hoping for a bargain. Lot 221 finally came up, “An early 20th. Century Bentwood kitchen or dining room chair” - no reference was made to its having been used in the bedroom or of its more notorious history. I bought it for £35.00 and delighted with my purchase, took it home.

Three weeks later, my wife Brenda committed suicide. She used the chair to stand on before hanging herself in the kitchen.