ELHAS Meeting Report - October 2009

"Be afraid, be very afraid"

Just in time for Halloween, a record number of fifty four members and guests assembled on Monday evening to hear Michele Lefevre deliver an illustrated talk entitled "Haunted Leeds". Michele is Local Studies Manager at Leeds Central Library, a post she has held for some twelve years, although she has worked in the library service for over thirty years. She is a well known and popular speaker and offers a range of talks about Leeds. Before she began her talk, she told the audience that she had researched various occurrences of paranormal or ghostly incidents which had taken place in Leeds and had eventually come up with thirteen such events to include in her talk. Keeping very much in the spirit of her talk, she had decided thirteen would be an unlucky number and so had invented a further event to add to the list. She invited her audience to discover the bogus tale. Her spooky stories ranged from alleged sightings of a woman in 18th century costume roaming the Thackray Museum ( formerly the Leeds workhouse) to descriptions of "Roundhay Rose" a lone lady runner who has been seen several times running with her eyes closed ( and dressed in what could be described as pyjamas) in Old Park Road. We listened in uneasy silence as she told us the story of a family living in Seacroft who were terrorised in their own home by the spectre of an old lady, former resident of the house who had died there several years previously. Even a blessing by the local priest could not lay this unfortunate lady to rest, and so the family were re-housed in Halton Moor, only to find that old lady had followed them!! Eventually after another move, peace came to the family, and the audience gave a collective sigh of relief. Although Michele delivered her talk with a sensible degree of common sense and cynicism it was obvious that the content struck a chord with some members of the audience and when at the end she asked if any one would like to share their own experiences, she was presented with some tales which topped even those she had just regaled us with. Her stories were so convincing that we were unable to guess which was the rogue one. And when she eventually revealed that it was the story about the Dark Arches and a supposed haunting by young girl who had drowned there after a family argument about a forbidden love, I, for one, was most disappointed! Such is the power of suggestion. It was a measure of Michele's storytelling success that when we moved into the back room for tea and biscuits the conversation was dominated by tales of ghostly encounter and mysterious happenings. Those of us of a nervous disposition left to go home vowing to sleep with the light on that night!!