The Ghosts of Senate House is one part of a creative research project led by Sarah Sparkes. It serves as an archive for uncanny, apocryphal stories emanating from Senate House. These stories formed part of "a Magical library for the 21st Century" an archive of writings, recordings, artwork, artefacts, and other contributions, which was first shown at the University of London as part of The Bloomsbury Festival October 2011.

Friday, 3 June 2011

What's up on the 8th floor?

We have already posted several stories telling of strange occurrences on the 8th floor of Senate House Tower.  Many who work in the bookstacks report that this floor makes them feel downright uncomfortable.  (The bookstacks are the many floors of library books and archives that belong to the University of London.)

The north side of the 8th floor used to house part of the Harry Price Archive.
Access to Senate House Tower, where the bookstacks are housed, used to be via a lift the size of  and telephone box, known as 'the Coffin'.

Helen Duncan under investigation on 'the Séance Chair'

Stefan Dickers was cataloguing the Harry Price  Archive between May 2004 – May 2005.  Stefan admitted that it always made him feel uncomfortable up on the 8th floor and indeed it is considerably colder than other parts of the building.  He explained how the room was full of boxes, piles of pamphlets and letters, shelves of books  and even test tubes from the laboratory of psychical research.  The séance chair, used by Price when testing  the authenticity of mediums such as Rudi Schneider and Helen Duncan, was placed at the end of a corridor. In another corner stood  a large chest containing the magic lantern slides Price used in his lectures.  It all sounds amazing and I find myself somewhat envious of this job and being surrounded by so many curious and interesting items including Dirty Dings Filing System (more on that later).

However it was, as with most of our contributors' ghostly stories, in the south part of the 8th floor that Stefan experienced a moment of sheer terror.

Stefan described how whilst he was shelving some books he heard the sudden and violent sound of a book being thrown onto the floor and travelling with some speed past him.  He couldn't wait to leave the 8th floor. In those days the bookstacks were lit individually, each light had to be turned off behind one on leaving the room.  This made for a dark and shadowing atmosphere added to by the darkening winter night outside the window.  To make matters worse Stephan had to make the long journey in the dark alone using 'The Coffin' to make his escape.
You can read more about Stefan's experience here

and another account of the presence stalking the bookstacks on the eight floor here

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