Mysterious ghostly images on film

The ghostly image of Lord Cumbermere seated in the easy chair of Cumbermere Abby Library.
The ghostly image of Lord Cumbermere seated in the easy chair of Cumbermere Abby Library.


“You didn’t scare me Georgie, I knew it was you.” Truthfully, the hairs were still standing up on the back of Lenny’s neck. He had been startled by Georgie’s playful shenanigans, but he wasn’t willing to admit it. “I don’t believe in ghosts, anyway.” He lied. He sure enough did believe in ghosts.

“Well, I believe in them,” Georgie admitted. I have seen a lot of them. Uncle Lucas even accidentally took a picture of one.”

“Nah! Really? Lenny asked. “I wanna see it—yes I do.”

“I reckon we could go over there, if you want to. He took the picture before I was born. They were having a family dinner, Thanksgiving, I think, and they always left a blank space at the table for Auntie Agatha. They all loved her but she had died. She was my great-great Aunt. They wanted her to still be alive so they always sat a place for her at family dinners.”

“Gee whillikers, Georgie! Not for real?”

“Yes they did, and they still do it. It is a tradition. My mother calls it quaint. She calls it a quaint tradition. That Thanksgiving, Uncle Lucas went around taking pictures. He wasn’t real old, but he thought for sure he would soon be getting hired by LIFE Magazine to be one of their photographers.”

“Ha! That is funny, I do have to admit, Georgie. Just a kid taking photos at a family dinner and he thought he was in line to soon be a big photographer!”

“It is kind of funny, but when he got the developed photos back from the drugstore, there was one of everyone gathered around the table. He stood at the head of the table to get a shot of the whole family and there was the ghost of Auntie Agatha, leaning forward in her chair, looking toward the camera.”


“Yes, its true. He keeps the photo in a safe place. I have never seen Auntie Agatha, but I have seen pictures of her and the photo of the almost transparent ghost at the dinner table looks very much like she did. You could tell it was the same hair-do she always wore, same lace collar, same spectacles. Everyone in the family who actually knew her is convinced that Aunt Agatha made an appearance at that Thanksgiving dinner and sat in that chair.”

The two boys whooshed out the front door.

Photo of Mabel Chinnery's deceased mother in the back seat behind her husband.
Mabel Chinnery took a photo of her husband in the family car at the cemetery, and a ghostly image of her mother appeared in the back seat.

“Now boys, I don’t want to take it out of its protective envelope, but you can see it right here. It is called Glassine. It is kind of old fashioned, but that is what we put on photos at the time to protect them—Glassine envelopes.” Uncle Lucas explained everything while adjusting the gooseneck lamp for the boys. They gawked and gawked. While they were gawking, Uncle Lucas brought over the only photo he had of Auntie Agnes, for comparison.

“It’s her all right!” Lenny exclaimed, forever impressed.

“Uncle Lucas wrote a story about this photo and it was accepted for publication for a magazine, wasn’t it, Uncle Lucas?”

“Yes, I did. A paranormal magazine accepted my story but they wanted me to send this exact photo to them to examine and there was no way I was ever going to let it get out of my hands. So, they didn’t publish the story.”

“Oh no. What a disappointment!”

“Yet, after I thought it over it is just as well. I got to thinking maybe I didn’t want that photo to get too much attention, publicity.  By the way boys, there are three known photos—last time I checked—that do have something in them that no one can prove are not ghosts. You want to see them? They are in a book I have. Under his breath, Uncle Lucas mumbled, your mothers are going to kill me. He shuffled off to get the book, a few steps away. He always kept a book mark in, for the exact page.

“Oh, my gosh. They are ghosts. They really are.”

The first photo they examined was taken in 1891. Miss Sybell Corbet made the extended exposure image of an empty room, Combermere Abby library. She was shocked when the developed film revealed the faint figure of someone sitting in ornate chair behind a torchere lamp. It appeared to be Lord Combermere himself, who had just died and was being laid to rest as the film was being exposed in the library.

The second photo was taken in 1959 by a Mrs. Mabel Chinnery. She and her husband had just taken flowers to her mother’s grave. She snapped a photo of her husband in the car, at the cemetery, and when the film was developed, there was the image of her deceased mother sitting in the back seat of that same car.

The third photo was taken in 1966 by a retired Canadian Clergyman, Ralph Hardy. On a trip to England, he decided he wanted to take a photo of a magnificent staircase located in the Maritime Museum of Greenwich, England. There was no traffic on the staircase—it was empty. When the film was developed, there was clearly the image of a hooded figure climbing the staircase.

“There are many photos that have been examined that are sort of in a gray area, boys. They appear to have ghosts in them but there is no way to prove for sure that trickery was not employed. These three photos we are looking at have been examined and examined, and there was no trickery involved. It was suggested by some that in the photo of Viscount Combermere’s ghost, a servant on the staff had come in and sat in the chair, then left. The old ‘while the cat’s away the mice will play,’ routine, but the butler insisted that no one had entered the room, and no one on the staff resembled the image.”

“I’m a believer, I’m a believer,” Lenny yelped.

“Uncle Lucas?”

“Yes Georgie, what is it?”

“Would you leave me the ghost picture in your will?”

Lenny gasped

Uncle Lucas chuckled. “I’ll think about it,” he replied.

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