Thursday, June 4, 2015

HGB Podcast, Ep. 48 - Waardenburg Castle

Moment in Oddity - Haunted Dressing Table (h/t

Could a dressing table be haunted? E. Louisa S. Nosworthy is a woman who lived in Birkenhead and wrote about a purchase she had made in the 1874 edition of the Spiritual Magazine. She had bought a dressing table ten years earlier at auction. The piece was beautiful and she placed it in her guest room. She found out later that the dressing table had belonged to a man who had committed suicide and that is why his belongings were being sold off. Complaints from guests who stayed in the room started almost immediately. They would report that raps and taps from the dressing table awakened them at night and one young lady refused to stay in the room. Louisa's husband stayed in the room and claimed that he heard the noises coming from the piece of furniture as well. He even reported that a figure had stretched out next to him on the bed, frightening him terribly. Louisa joined the Spiritist Movement of the time and conducted a few seances in the home. One night, she found herself having to stay in the guest room. She was overtaken with violent shaking of her body while she lay in bed. The air became thick and suffocating. She ran from the room and had no trouble the rest of the evening. The family became convinced the furniture was possessed by a dark spirit because their trouble had only started when it was brought into the home and activity only occurred in that room. Louisa wanted to burn it, but her husband was against destroying a good piece of furniture and he wanted to sell the table. They finally agreed to chop it up and instructed their cook to use the wood for firewood. Wouldn't you know, activity began in the kitchen. A dress hung by the fire was cut in slits and a vase was broken without anyone touching it. The wood from the table was eventually completely burned. Louisa gave her real name and claimed the story was true in the article. Whether it was a fanciful imagination or an actual haunted possession we'll never know, but the story certainly is odd!

This Day in History - Transit of Venus Followed by Solar Eclipse

On this day, June 4th, in 1769, an astronomical rarity occurred. A transit of Venus was followed by a total eclipse of the sun. The amount of time between each event was only five hours, the shortest interval in history. When the planet Venus passes in front of the sun, it is called a transit of Venus. For us here on Earth, it appears to be a black dot traveling across the sun whereas a total eclipse of the sun blocks out most of the sun completely because the moon is closer to us. The transit lasts a matter of hours and is not as common as total solar eclipses. As a matter of fact, a transit of Venus only occurs every 243 years. For those of you listening over the age of three, you have had a transit in your lifetime. The last transit occurred June 5th and 6th in 2012. If you missed it, you missed your only chance to witness such an event. The next transit of Venus is predicted to occur in December 2117. Before our modern time and modern equipment, the transit of Venus helped scientists figure out the size of our solar system. Modern scientists hope to use the information gathered from the 2012 transit to find exoplanets.

Waardenburg Castle

Waardenburg Castle sits in the woods of Waardenburg Village in the Netherlands. The castle has survived for centuries, enduring wars including World War II, pillaging, passing through the hands of many families and severe demolition. The castle is both magnificent and creepy at the same time. The odd shape of the castle and its unique turrets add to the mystique. The long history of the castle includes some tragic and horrific events. Bodies have been found buried in the cellar, ghosts haunt the hallways and the legend of Dr. Faust has found a home here. Blood stains that cannot be removed are testament to the strange and creepy stories of this castle.

The village of Waardenburg is located in the Gelderland Province of the Netherlands. Gelderland dates back to the Holy Roman Empire and is named for a German town. The province suffered heavy damage during World War II that can still be seen to this day. The village of Waardenburg is named after a knight who established the village and built a wooden castle where Waardenburg Castle stands today. His name was Rudolf de Cocq van Waardenburg. He was given the land in 1265 by Count Otto II of Guelders. Rudolf then built a wooden castle there in 1265 and he named that castle Hiern Castle. That building was replaced in 1280 with the castle that stands today. Well, at least part of it still stands today. It was designed in a unique polygonal shape. The walls are made from red brick and there are several turrets of varying size. Today, the castle resembles a horseshoe shape.

The castle stayed in Rudolf's family until 1401 and the name was changed to Weerdenbergh Castle at that time. Weerdenbergh translates to "washland hill." In 1568, the Netherlands began a revolution to gain independence from Spain. The war lasted until 1648 and came to be known as the Eighty Years War. It was during this war that the castle experienced its first damage. The castle was taken and pillaged. Much of the castle was destroyed in the process. The Spanish left only the heavy walls and the outer shells of the towers standing. The castle lay in ruins until 1627. A man named Johan Vijgh bought the property and began reconstruction, but this reconstruction also led to the demolishing of the south wing and entrance gate. Johan's efforts came to a stand still when his money ran dry. The castle proved to be too immense for him to maintain.

In 1895, Baron Jacob van Pallandt bought the castle and began more restoration. After the castle was restored, the Baron moved in with his two sisters. The castle would then suffer heavy damage again during another war. This time it was World War II. The Germans took the castle and pillaged it just as the Spanish had done centuries before. After the Germans were done occupying the castle, they bombed it repeatedly and today only a third of the original structure still stands. What is left is still quite large. "The Friends of the Castle of Gelderland" now own the property and use it as private offices not open to the public. This picture gives an idea of what the original castle looked like:

The legend of Faust has a connection to Waardenburg Castle according to the Gelderland Folk Almanac of 1842. As our listeners know, we take legends with a grain of salt and the stories that surround the life of Dr. Johann Georg Faust have taken on a life of their own. Faust was a man who really did live from 1480-1541. He was an alchemist and a practitioner of black magic who claimed to have sold his soul to the Devil to gain his powers of alchemy. He also was a pedophilic conman, so whether he was telling the truth is unknown. Martin Luther apparently knew of Faust and did claim that Faust had some kind of pact with the Devil. Faust could conjure wine from a table and when he was teaching at a university, legend claims he conjured the heroes from Homer's epics when he taught about them. He came to a horrible end when the Devil came to collect his soul. Legend states that Faust was torn apart by the Devil and that he left the remains on a dung heap and Faust's eyeballs stuck to the wall. In reality, it is believed that Faust blew himself up while experimenting with alchemy.

The Gelderland Folk Almanac claims that Faust stayed in a second floor room of Waardenburg Castle and that it was from here that he was taken by the Devil and destroyed and that blood stains near the window and on the pavement still exist today and cannot be removed due to this incident. As to the truth of these statements, we cannot be certain. Most historical accounts claim that Faust died near Wittenberg, which is some 315 miles from Waardenburg. Others claim he died in a hotel in a town in the German district of Baden-Wurttemberg called Staufen im Breisgau. What really happened? We'll never know, but the legend was made famous in Johann Wolfgang von Goethe's play "Faust."

Faust may just be legend when it comes to the castle, but reports of hauntings are not. Disembodied steps are heard regularly climbing up and down the stairways. Apparitions have been seen climbing the stairs. Objects disappear and then reappear. Whispering is heard in rooms where there are no occupants. Toilets flush on their own. It should be noted that the remains of bodies were found in the castle's cellar at one time. There is no historical record as to why this is the case. There are no deaths recorded at the castle either.

Are there truly spirits hanging around the stairway of the castle? Is the castle cold and drafty because it is old or because it harbors those who refuse to cross over? Is Waardenburg Castle haunted? That is for you to decide!

Show Notes:

A real haunting in the Netherlands with eerie pictures can be found here:

A personal haunting in the Netherlands as reported by Tricholoma:
"Me and my family lived in a small house in a village near Amsterdam in the Netherlands. My parents bought it somewhere around 1979. At that time I was 2 years of age. The house was build somewhere around 1910 and as long as I can remember there was always something strange going on.

As a young child I could frequently see strange shadowy figures upstairs and from time to time I heard someone, or something, breathing or scratching from inside the walls. I remember that at night I could regularly see these strange figures, whom looked like long black shapes, moving in a odd rhythmic way through my bedroom. And one scary thing I remember like it happened only yesterday.

I was about 4 or 5 years of age and I began to notice them more often. Or let's say, I became aware of the fact that what I saw wasn't something normal and it really started to scare me. Every night it looked like they were moving closer to the edge of my bed and at a certain point they came so close that I hid myself under the sheets, so I could not see them.

Of course that didn't help much, because now I started to hear them. They made a strange mumbling sound and as a child (or now as an adult) I could not make out what it was. But it scared me so much and after a few night I was so scared that kicked with my foot at the edge of my bed. To my horror I really hit something and it made a loud and eerie kind of scream.

A few seconds later my mother entered my room, asking me why I made such an awful scream. I told her what happened, but it was of no use. I could not convince her that it wasn't me, but one of the "monsters" near my bed. She tried to calm me and told me that there were no such things as ghosts or monsters. She told me that I was safe in my room and asked me to go back to sleep. It may sound strange, but from that moment on I never heard the noises again and I never saw those things again... Until 1989.

In that year my mother suddenly died and left me, my father and two younger brothers to take care of ourselves. From that moment on the atmosphere changed in the house. I started to see the shadowy figures again and the scratching noises and the breathing came back. I could hear it all through the night.

One day I noticed that our cats started to behave strange. They became very jumpy and nervous and refused to go into certain places in the house (one of these places being my room). It was like they could see things that we (well, most of us) apparently couldn't.

What also spooked me was that some places in the house were freezing cold (for no reason). My father and my two brothers also seemed to be affected by whatever it was. My father kept telling us stories about ghostly appearances and a "woman figure" he had seen in our living room. My two brothers became very aggressive and violent and used course language all day through. It was like something dark (re) took possession of the house.

At night things really got creepy. Something was constantly pulling my sheets away and made frightening noises from inside the walls. Downstairs I frequently heard people walking or moving things around. Our cupboards and closets were opened and shut all night through... And every time it happened I went downstairs to see who's there and every time there was nothing, but a couple of "scared" cats hiding under our couch.

One day one of my brothers asked if I had heard the strange noises the night before. Of course I heard the noises, but I was curious about his story and asked him what he was talking about.

He described all the things I heard every night. He thought that we had a burglar in the house and so he stormed downstairs to teach him or her a lesson. But there nothing there and angry and frustrated he went back to bed.

In 1999 my youngest brother started to behave in such a bad manner that the authorities decided (with the consent of me and my father) to put him in a foster home. From that moment on he immediately changed and became a friendly and caring young boy. I think that whatever haunted our house had lost grip on him and therefore he changed. But I, my other brother and my father could not move elsewhere and had to deal with the house.

In 2001 a friend of mine told me that whenever he came to visit our house he felt like something in our house was watching him. It made him feel uncomfortable. He also said that from the corners of his eyes it was like there were always strange black manlike shapes visible in, but also close around, our house. I had never mentioned this to anyone, not even to my father and brothers. I was shocked, but didn't have the courage to tell him what was going on. But we talked about it for a while and made some silly jokes about it.

That was a big mistake and that night I would learn the hard way. I do not recall the time, but suddenly my sheets were violently pulled off my bed. My room became freezing cold and the scratching noises came from all the walls. It was almost like something was rapidly moving through all the walls. And then I heard very loud breathing and something what felt like enormous hands grabbed me by the neck and threw me into one of the corners of my room. Apparently I lost my consciousness. When I came to my neck really hurt and it still was very cold in my room. I decided not stay there one more second and rushed downstairs. That night I slept on one of our couches, with the company of our cats. That gave me a safe feeling.

Next morning father and brother had no clue what had happened that night. I asked them if they had heard something, but they both said no. They did ask if there was something wrong with my neck and I replied that I fell out of my bed and hurt my head and neck. I went to the bathroom and noticed a large bruise in my neck.

That same day my friend came to visit me again. He immediately noticed that I behaved strange and asked what was going on. I referred to our ghost stories the day before and told him that I have had the weirdest dream. That something attacked me and that I woke up in a corner of my room. Worried he asked what was wrong with my neck. Before I was able to respond he pulled my shirt up and he froze.

I asked him what was there. "Do you want to know what's on your neck?", he asked. "You know that you have a bruise in the shape of a very large hand in your neck and on your shoulders." Now I really was afraid and that day I told him everything that was going. He immediately believed the entire story.

My brother overheard my story and when it came to an end he told me that he was so glad that he was not going crazy. Unfortunately later that year my father's health rapidly worsened and he started to show severe signs of dementia.

But now several people had noticed it and since we did not know what it was, we all decided to try to ignore it and most certainly to not to offend it anymore. That seemed to help a little. Things calmed down a bit. But we could still hear the noises and every night things still were moving around. The cold spots in the house remained and for several months I refused to spent the night in my room. But at a certain point I decided that this was ridiculous and I started to sleep there again. I don't know why, but it never bothered me again and I was never attacked again.

Somewhere around 2002 my father's condition worsened and he could not live in the house any longer, so we all moved out. I moved to a small apartment near my old house and my brothers moved somewhere else. The house was sold to our next door neighbor. He always wanted to buy the house, so he could make one big house of both houses.

I moved in my apartment and for a while I feared that something had followed me to my new apartment. Again I felt like I was being watched and again I saw something but this was different. It did not feel bad. The cats (I kept them after moving out the old house) were not spooked and one day I saw something that was as clear as day. It was an old lady, a friendly looking old granny. I was not afraid of her and spoke into the room right at the exact spot where I had seen her. I said that I did not mean to intrude, but that it was now my house. That I lived there now, but if she wanted, she was welcome to stay. Immediately something changed in my apartment. Everything suddenly felt so serene and peaceful and I have never seen her again.

Later I heard from my new next door neighbor that an old brother and sister had lived in my apartment. The sister took care of her brother, but then the sister died and the brother couldn't stay there so he was moved to a nursing home. That was shortly before I moved in. The woman my neighbor described was the woman I had seen.

At the same time my old neighbor had his own problems with the old house. Because he did not have the funds to immediately cost the renovation, he decided to rent the place out. Not a single one of his tenants stayed there for very long, but the most striking case was a young woman who rented the house. She told my old neighbor that she simply loved the place and even paid him two months in advance. A few days later my old neighbor came home from his work and noticed a large truck in front of the house and several movers taking her stuff out.

He wanted to know what was going on and one of the movers told him that the woman did not want to spent another minute in that house. She did not even want to get near to it and gave them the key. My old neighbor could keep his rent. The man could not tell my neighbor what had happened to her, but something scared the living daylights out her.

Up to this day I still do not know what it was. Some of my friends say that it most likely was a poltergeist, another friend said that maybe it was a demon and one girlfriend even mentioned that maybe it was the spirit of my deceased mother, although I refuse to believe that. Things were already off before she died and I don't believe that she would ever turn to violence."

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