The disturbances that took place in the Norman castle of Calvados, France, from October 12, 1875, to January 30, 1876, were written up and published in the Annales des Sciences Psychiques in 1893 by M. J. Morice. Although the master of Calvados kept a diary that could later be used as a documentary of the phenomena, he insisted that his family name not be mentioned in connection with the "haunting." He is, therefore, referred to in the narrative only as M. de X. His immediate family consisted of Mme. de X, and their son, Maurice. The remainder of the household consisted of Abbe Y., tutor to Maurice; Emile, the coachman; Auguste, the gardener; Amelina, the housemaid; and Celina, the cook.
On the evening of October 13, Abbe Y. came down to the drawing room and told M. and Mme. de X. that his armchair had just moved. He insisted that he had distinctly seen it move out of the corner of his eye. M. de X. calmed the abbe and returned with him to his room. He attached gummed paper to the foot of the cleric's armchair, fixed it to the floor, and told him to call if anything further should occur.
About ten that evening, the master of Calvados was awakened by the ringing of the abbe's bell. He got out of bed and hurried to the man's room. Here he found the tutor with his covers pulled up to the bridge of his nose, peeking out at him as if he were a frightened child.
M. de X. saw that the armchair had moved about a yard and that several candlesticks and statuettes had been upset. And, the abbe complained, there had been rappings on his wall.
The next evening, the manifestations did not confine themselves to the abbe's room. Loud blows were heard all over the castle. M. de X. armed his servants and conducted a search of the entire building. They could find nothing. It would be a pattern that they would repeat again and again as the haunting phenomena began its siege in earnest. Night after night, its hammering fist would pound on doors and rap on walls. The inhabitants of Calvados Castle would not know a night of unmolested slumber for more than three months.
The curate of the parish arrived to witness the phenomena and was not disappointed. Neither was Marcel de X., who had come to try to determine the origin of the manifestations. That night, the sound of a heavy ball was heard descending the stairs from the second floor to the first, jumping from step to step.
The parish priest was also invited to stay a night in the castle. He heard the heavy tread of a giant descending the stairs and proclaimed the activity to be supernatural. Marcel de X. agreed with the priest. He had quickly concluded that this ghost would be a most difficult one to banish and had decided to leave Calvados Castle to the noisy spirit. He wished M. de
X. the best of luck and returned to his home.
On Halloween, the haunting seemed to outdo itself with a display of phenomena that kept the household from going to bed until three o'clock in the morning. The center of the activity had now become what was called the green room, and the phenomena seemed always to either begin or end with loud rappings in this empty room. The ghost now seemed to walk with a tread that had nothing human about it. It was like two legs deprived of their feet and walking on the stumps.
It was during a violent November rainstorm that the ghost acquired a voice. High above the howl of the wind and the rumble of the thunder, the beleaguered household heard a long shriek that at first sounded like a woman outside in the storm calling for help. The next cry sounded from within the castle. The members of the household gathered together as if seeking strength from their unity. Three sorrowful moans sounded as the thing ascended the staircase.
The men of Calvados left the sitting room to carefully inspect the castle. They found nothing. There was no woman in the castle, and no sign that anything had entered the castle from the storm. They heard no more sounds until everyone was awakened at 11:45 the next night by terrible sobs and cries coming from the green room. The cries seemed to be those of a woman in horrible suffering. During the next few nights, the activity seemed to become intensified and the cries of the sorrowful woman in the green room had become shrill and despairing.
Shortly after the "weeping woman" had arrived to add to the confusion at Calvados, a cousin of Mme. de X., an army officer, appeared to pay them a visit. He scoffed at the wild stories the members of the household told him, and against all their pleas, he insisted upon sleeping in the green room. They need not worry about him, he assured them, he always had his revolver at his side.
The officer strode boldly to the green room, left a candle burning as a night light, and went straight to sleep. He was awakened a short time later by what seemed to be the soft rustling of a silken robe. He was instantly aware that the candle had been extinguished and that something was tugging at the covers on his bed. In answer to his gruff demands to know who was there, he felt a cold breath of air blow out the candle he had relit and the rustling noise seemed to become louder, and something was definitely determined to rob him of his bedclothes. When he shouted that whoever was there must declare himself or he would shoot, the only response to his demand was an exceptionally violent tug on the covers.
It was a simple matter to determine where his silent adversary stood by the sound of the rustling and the pull on the bedclothes, so he decided to shoot three times. The lead slugs struck nothing but the wall, and he dug them out with a knife that next morning.
The abbe fared the worst of any member of the household throughout the duration of the phenomena. Whenever the cleric left his room, he always made certain that the windows were bolted and his door was locked. The key to his room was secured to a leather thong that he kept belted to his waist. These precautions never accomplished the slightest bit of good. Upon returning to his room, the abbe would inevitably find his couch overturned, the cushions scattered about, his windows opened, and his armchair placed on his desk. Once he tried nailing his windows closed. He returned to find the windows wide open, and by way of punishment, the couch cushions were balanced precariously on the outside windowsill. Such pranks the abbe could bear with much more patience than the time the invisible invader dumped every one of his books on the floor. Only the Holy Scriptures remained on the shelves.
The most vicious attack on the clergyman occurred once when he knelt at his fireplace stirring the coals, preparatory to placing new kindling on the andirons. Without warning, a huge deluge of water rushed down the chimney, extinguishing the fire, blinding the abbe with flying sparks, and covering him with ashes. The tutor woefully concluded that such actions could only be the work of his satanic majesty, the devil.
The only other person who actually suffered physical pain dealt out by the haunting phenomena was Mme. de X., who was in the act of unlocking a door when the key suddenly disengaged itself from her grip and struck her across the back of her left hand with such force that she bore a large bruise for several days.
One night the invisible creature roamed the corridors as if it were a lonely wayfarer seeking admittance to the rooms of each of the members of the household. It knocked once or twice on the doors of several bedrooms, then, true to pattern, it paused to deal 40 consecutive blows to the abbe's door before it returned to thump about in the green room.
The weary household had its only respite during the long siege when the reverend father H. L., a Premonstrant Canon, was sent there by the bishop. From the moment the Reverend Father entered the castle until the moment he left, there was not the slightest sound from the noisy nuisance. But after the clergyman had made his departure there was a sound as if a body had fallen in the first-floor passage, followed by what seemed to be a rolling ball delivering a violent blow on the door of the green room—and the haunting had once again begun its devilment in earnest.
On January 20, 1876, M. de X. left for a two-day visit to his brother, leaving his wife to keep up the journal of the haunting. Mme. de X. recorded an eerie bellowing, like that of a bull, which bothered everyone during the master's absence. A weird drumming sound was also introduced and a noise much like someone striking the stairs with a stick.
Upon the master's return to Calvados, the ghost became more violent than it had ever been before. It stormed into the rooms of Auguste the gardener and Emile the coachman and turned their beds over. It whirled into the master's study and heaped books, maps, and papers on the floor. The midnight screams increased in shrillness and urgency and were joined by the roaring of a bull and the furious cries of animals. A rhythmic tapping paraded up and down the corridors as if a small drum and bugle corps were conducting manuevers. For the first time, the rappings seemed to direct themselves to the door of Maurice, the son of M. and Mme. de X. Terrible screams sounded outside his room, and the violence of the successive blows on his door shook every window on the floor.
On the night of January 26, the parish priest arrived with the intention of conducting the rites of exorcism. He had also arranged for a Novena of Masses to be said at Lourdes that would coincide with his performance of the ancient ritual of putting a spirit to rest. The priest's arrival was greeted by a long, drawn-out cry and what sounded like a stampede of hoofed creatures running from the first floor passage. There came a noise similar to that of heavy boxes being moved, and the door to Maurice's room began to shake as if something demanded entrance.
The rites of exorcism reached their climax at 11:15 on the night of January 29. From the stairway came a piercing cry, like that of a beast that had been dealt its deathblow. A flurry of rappings began to rain on the door of the green room. At 12:55, the startled inhabitants of Calvados Castle heard the voice of a man in the first-floor passage. M. de X. recorded in his journal that it seemed to cry Ha! Ha!, and immediately there were 10 resounding blows, shaking everything all around. A final blow struck the door of the green room; then there was the sound of coughing in the first-floor passage.
The family rose and cautiously began to move about the castle. The priest slumped in exhaustion, sweat beading his forehead from the long ordeal. There was no sound of the hammering fist, no raucous screams, no shaking of doors, no shifting of furniture. They found a large earthenware plate that had been broken into 10 pieces at the door to Mme. de X.'s room. No one had ever seen the plate before that night.
Although it appeared that the haunting was over, several days after the exorcisms had been performed, Mme. de X. was sitting at a writing desk when an immense packet of holy medals and crosses dropped in front of her on her paper. It was as if the ghost had but suffered a momentary setback and was announcing that it must retreat for a time to recuperate and lick its wounds.
Towards the end of August, soft knockings and rappings began to be heard. On the third Sunday in September, the drawing room furniture was arranged in horseshoe fashion with the couch in the middle. A few days afterward, Mme. de X. lay terrified in her bed and watched the latch to her room unbolt itself. M. de X. was out of the castle for a few days on business, and she was alone with the servants.
The duration of the phenomena was much briefer this time, and the restless ghost seemed to be content to play the organ and to move an occasional bit of furniture about the room of Maurice's new tutor. Eventually the phenomena became weaker and weaker until the only thing that haunted Calvados Castle was the memory of those terrible months when the haunting phenomena had run rampant.