|Artist's Conception of a Poltergeist, 1911 |
Ghostly activity at the Marlborough Hotel in Brighton, is claimed to be so intense that it received a visit from the Paranormal Society. One of the visitors, a psychic, said she could see the apparition of a woman in a black dress and wearing jet-black beads. This was thought to be the ghost of Lucy Packham, according to a report in the Argus dated Monday 30 October 2000, which described the brutal murder of a young woman by her husband in a fit of rage.
I cannot guarantee that the ghostly apparition tale is true, although the story of Lucy Packham has a firm, historical basis.
Thomas Packham, the publican at the Marlborough Hotel, was a thug and was violent to his wife and children. On 2 March 1900, a Dr. Ross was called to the Marlborough Hotel to find Lucy Packham dead. Lucy, the daughter of a butcher, had married Packham in 1888 and the couple had three children. The cause of death was found to be serious bruising to the head and body, and, as confirmed by the post mortem, cerebral haemorrhage.
Thomas Packham was charged with murder, and witnesses gave evidence of his brutality and verbal abuse towards his wife, for example, he had once even hit her with a heavy stewpot. It was reported how he had flung her into a seven-foot-deep grave-like pit before he ended her life. The jury was composed entirely of men and, after Thomas Packham reported how "dirty and idle" his dead wife was, he was found guilty of manslaughter instead of murder. He received four years' imprisonment and reportedly served only three, a paltry punishment for his crime.
Lucy's Poltergeist Prefers Female Company
Lucy was just thirty-two (or thirty-six in some reports) and it is no wonder if the poor woman still cannot rest. Many customers claim to have felt Lucy's presence, and witnessed the activity of the poltergeist she has left behind her. The manager, Sue Kerslake, detailed these activities as playing around with lights and switching off the gas on the beer taps.
It's said that the poltergeist of Lucy also sweeps bottles off a shelf behind the bar and twirls lampshades. The landlady often has a strong feeling of being watched. "I've never seen her properly," she said, "just fleeting glimpses when I've been on my own. When I thought about it, as she was beaten to death by her husband, she probably didn't like men too much. She's more comfortable with female company. It's not scary because she isn't nasty and she's been here a lot longer than me anyway."
Sue always warns new members of staff about the haunting and, although no one has yet declined employment, most are too terrified to enter the cellar. One employee, Paula, of St. James's Street, didn't believe in ghosts until she began working at the Marlborough Hotel in 1998. "I've known Sue for a long time," she said, "and she's not the sort of person to make things up. Sometimes you do feel there's someone in the bar with you, even if you can't see anyone else in there."
Originally, the Marlborough Hotel was a coach house. It was renamed the Marlborough Hotel and Theatre in 1850 and was once owned by someone called Henry Witch, who died in 1906.