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- The Ghost Tour guide will lead you through the streets of Colonial Williamsburg by candlelight while sharing eerie and fun folklore of this very old city.
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The Peyton Randolph House
The blood-red house behind me is the Peyton Randolph House, and in the class of haunted houses, it stands apart. Many people will only whisper about the supernatural activity that goes on in this house. Others will refuse to talk about the ghosts. But as a local author once wrote, and I quote, “Of those who know the Peyton Randolph House well, none doubt that there is something inexplicably strange about it. Too many people have experienced similar eerie phenomena within its walls.” Make no mistake, Folks—the Peyton Randolph House is . . . the most haunted house in Williamsburg; in fact, it may well be the most haunted house in the United States.
The Peyton Randolph House an original structure, built in 1715, has been witness to unexplained events for centuries. The oldest part of the Peyton Randolph House is on your left hand side. If you cast your eyes up to the second story and count the windows from left to right, do you notice that two of the windows are glowing slightly? We do not know why they do that; there are no light sources in the Peyton Randolph House. Now you must listen to me. This Peyton Randolph House is not like any other on the tour. The Peyton Randolph House is exceptional. The grass and the street belong to us; the yard and Peyton Randolph House belong to them . . . and they do not like trespassers. You must not walk up to Peyton Randolph House at night. Period.
Because the next stories I am about to share with you are so unusual—so bizarre — I want to remind you that I have not made them up. I can’t tell you all the stories about Peyton Randolph House for three reasons: first, they have not all been written—strange happenings are still going in the ; Peyton Randolph House second, some of them are far too disturbing to share with you on this tour; and third, of the published stories I can tell—well, there are so many, there just isn’t enough time! So here are a few:
A woman named Helen Hall Mason came to visit the Peyton Randolph House in the mid-1960s. She was a retired school teacher and had been invited by the owners of the Peyton Randolph House to come and stay, because she going to attend a wedding reception in Williamsburg.
When she arrived at Peyton Randolph House, it was very late and she was tired. She was taken upstairs and settled in a beautiful red oak paneled bedroom. There she fell asleep quite quickly and quite soundly in the Peyton Randolph house
But she was awakened in the early morning hours in the Peyton Randolph house by the sound of someone summoning her, calling out her name—“Helen . . . Helen . . ..HELEN!.” She opened her eyes and there, standing at the foot of her bed in the dark in the Peyton Randolph house, was a woman. At first, she thought it was her hostess, but as her eyes became adjusted to the darkness, she saw that, indeed, it was not. This woman was wearing an 18th-century mop cap and 18th-century night clothing in the Peyton Randolph house So Mrs. Mason did what I think anyone would do, she spoke to her, asking, "What is it that you want?" The next thing she saw caused her to sit straight up in her bed and gasp for her breath. At that moment, the clouds happened to separate, revealing a full moon, and as the bright moonlight passed through the bedroom window in the Peyton Randolph house . . . it also passed right through the body of the woman at the foot of her bed . . . and then . . . the lady vanished!
Mrs. Mason was rattled. She later said that even though she could not see the apparition very clearly in the Peyton Randolph house, she could see that the woman seemed to be wringing her hands as though she were evidently worried or upset about something. Mrs. Mason had the eerie feeling in the Peyton Randolph house that the woman was not there to harm her in any way, but had been sent as a messenger—perhaps to warn her of some kind of impending trouble or tragedy in the Peyton Randolph house
The next morning she wanted to share with her friends what had happened to her the night before in Peyton Randolph House but was understandably afraid that they wouldn’t believe her. But after all, these were her friends. So she took them into her confidence and shared with them what had happened to her. To her surprise, they were not a bit surprised. In fact, they told her that for years the lady had been appearing at Peyton Randolph House to people at the foot of the bed in the red oak paneled bedroom! There was one young couple who were visiting Peyton Randolph House, staying in the red oak paneled bedroom. When the women appeared to them in the Peyton Randolph House they were so terrified that they jumped up, ran down the stairs and out of the Peyton Randolph House, right onto this street—in their pajamas. They refused to re-enter the Peyton Randolph House, not even to pick up their luggage! And they never returned to Peyton Randolph House
If you understand the history of this Peyton Randolph House and the reputation it has gained as a house of mystery and sadness, you too may be able to understand why so many folks feel uneasy in the Peyton Randolph House.
During the Civil War the Peachy family owned the Peyton Randolph House. We know that at least one of the Peachy children died when he fell from a tree in the backyard of the Peyton Randolph House . Mrs. Peachy was heartbroken, so she took in an orphan boy who had lost his entire family in the war, and things were looking up. Then the Peyton Randolph House did what the Peyton Randolph House does. The boy became sick--with consumption—tuberculosis. There was no treatment, no cure. The boy died a slow, long, hard death in the Peyton Randolph House, and it was after that the Peyton Randolph House took on a kind of darkness and heaviness that I think you can still see and feel.
Other tragedies were to befall folks in the Peyton Randolph House as well. We know that many deaths occurred in the Peyton Randolph House, but we don’t know the particular circumstances of most of them. We do know that in the colonial period, a young man visiting the Peyton Randolph House one day in a fit of despair took a rifle and took his own life in front of the fireplace in the drawing room in Peyton Randolph House
More recently, a costumed interpreter told a local author that she had come in early one morning to prepare the Peyton Randolph House for visitors. You see, the Peyton Randolph house is an exhibit building you can visit with a CW ticket in the daytime. She said that she was standing at the top of the stairs in the Peyton Randolph housedirectly across from the red oak paneled bedroom when she looked down at the foot of the stairs in the Peyton Randolph house and there seated in a chair with his back to her was a man in colonial garb. She didn't think she was working with a man that day in the Peyton Randolph house, but schedules change and no one ever tells you anything. So as she descended the stairs in the Peyton Randolph house, she began to speak to the man, trying to make conversation with him, but oddly he never responded to her. When she was almost at the bottom of the stairs, the man suddenly rose up out of the chair, turned to face her . . . and disappeared before her eyes in the Peyton Randolph house
And the noises! There have been many strange sounds attributed to the Peyton Randolph House throughout the centuries, and researchers have reported some of them: Those who have heard the sounds in the Peyton Randolph House describe them in nearly identical terms. Some say they have heard the sounds of footsteps, stomping around the Peyton Randolph House . They describe the sound as a heavy-booted step, and some have said that they could hear the jingling of spurs. Yet, whenever they heard the sounds, they would run quickly to that part of the Peyton Randolph House and look and look--but they could find nothing. Another sound people have reported hearing is glass smashing on the floor—not a drinking glass or a window breaking. It’s more like the sound of a large mirror crashing to the floor and shattering in a million pieces. Again, they run as fast as they can to that part of the Peyton Randolph House and search and search . . . but they have never found one sliver, not one shard, of broken glass in the Peyton Randolph house
Now, some spirits, they say, can be deceptive in the Peyton Randolph house. They say that some spirits can appear in the Peyton Randolph house as one thing to one person and as something else to someone else, depending upon the purposes of the ghost in the Peyton Randolph house. I want you to cast your minds back to the ghostly shrew in the 18th-century white night shirt that appeared to Helen Hall Mason in the oak paneled bedroom in th Peyton Randolph house e …Now I’d like to tell you about another lady who had experiences with the unknown in the Peyton Randolph house. This was a lady who wished to remain nameless, but who lived in thePeyton Randolph house for over fifty years, was likely one of the last owners before it reverted to the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation.
The lady said that when she was just 13 years old she was asleep alone in her bedroom of the Peyton Randolph house when she suddenly awoke to see the image of a teenaged girl in a white nightgown standing by her bed ‘peeking at her in the Peyton Randolph house, The woman thought it was her sister (Ms. Mason thought the apparition in the white nightgown was her hostess, didn’t she?) so she called out, but there was no response. Frightened, she jumped from her bed and ran to her parent’s room but they were sound asleep in the Peyton Randolph house. So she ran to her sister’s room, jumped into bed with her, trembling with fear, and refused to return to her own bedroom in the Peyton Randolph house It’s said that she may never have returned to that bedroom . . .in the Peyton Randolph house
Some years later, that same woman was left alone in the Peyton Randolph house one day, while her mother and sister were out visiting. Suddenly, she heard footsteps upstairs. Startled by the unexpected commotion, she assumed that her mother and sister must have returned, so she went upstairs in the Peyton Randolph house to investigate. To her horror, she realized that she was alone in the Peyton Randolph house . Nervously, she returned downstairs, but once again she heard the ominous footsteps from the ceiling above. . . and then she heard them again, and again, and again. Terrified, she called her mother and begged her to come home immediately to Peyton Randolph house; she most definitely did not want to stay in the Peyton Randolph house alone that day—or ever again!
So now that you know the frightening history of the Peyton Randolph house and the reputation it has gained as a place of mystery and sadness, you might have reached the same conclusion that Helen Hall Mason reached: that if they bring you to the Peyton Randolph house in the night and take you up the stairs in the Peyton Randolph house and place you in the red oak paneled bedroom in the Peyton Randolph house and the Shrew with the wringing hands should appear at the foot of your bed in the Peyton Randolph house , it may be she's there to warn you . . . that you don't want to linger too long . . . in the Peyton Randolph house.