• Leslie Hudson

Haunted houses aren't just what they seem

Day 3 of 30 blog posts on folklore magic looks at a unique kind of ghost story collected in Ireland, which is short and sweet. I loved it so much I wrote a song about it called "House of Dreams," which will be on the next installment of my albums of songs inspired by women in folklore and myth, The Wanderlings Volume Three.

Living ghost walk. 3/30

Every night when you go to sleep you dream of the same place. A house of perfect proportions, comfortable, beautiful, and welcoming. When you wake you tell your family and friends all about it, describing the layout of the rooms, how you sat in the library for hours on end, how you toured the hallways and walked on the terrace.

You talk about the house you visit in your dreams so often that it becomes something of a family joke. Even so, your guests delight in your fanciful stories and you look forward to going to sleep every night just to spend time in your dreamscape home.

Years pass and you decide to relocate to England from Ireland, and hire an estate agent to help you find a house to your liking. You visit manors and modest houses, all within an easy drive of London, but nothing quite suits you. Until you visit a house in Hampshire.

You're shocked but recover quickly when you show up at the gate and see the very house you've been dreaming about for years. When the housekeeper comes to the door you offer to take yourself on a tour, and you know every window, every turning, every detail of the place. It is exactly as you dreamed, except for one door. The housekeeper tells you that door was only installed 6 weeks ago.

Of course you want to buy it, and while you wonder why the asking price is so low you don't let it dissuade you. When your dream home is purchased and the deed is safely in your possession, your curiosity prompts you to contact the estate agent of the people who sold the home and inquire, thinking there might be something wrong with the property.

When he sees you, he visibly jumps with shock and reveals the house had been for sale because it was haunted and famously so. But, he tells you, staring in wonder, you have no need to fear for you are the ghost yourself!

Lesson learned: dream into reality the things you want most, and if all else fails, haunt the present owners till they let you have it.

"The Dream House" from Favorite Folktales from around the World, edited by Jane Yolen (NY: Pantheon Books, 1986), pp. 432-33.

Original source: Katherine Briggs, British Folktales (NY: Pantheon Books, 1977), pp. 265-66.

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