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Imprint on a Bed
by Stephen Hall

Stephen Hall, at the time ASSAP Deputy NIC, and Ian Percy (then UFO subject coordinator) had been investigating a haunting case for some time. It was their belief that it represented a recurrence of a known long-term haunting. Usually such cases produce odd sightings years apart and become the stuff of local legend. This case, however, seems to have flared up considerably recently. A particularly fascinating aspect of this case is that a mysterious imprint appeared on an unnoccupied bed (note: this is a physical imprint, not a 'residual imprint')

On 28 August 1998 I was visiting my mother when she brought to my attention an article in a local paper dated 27 August. I subsequently wrote to the reporter who covered the story, to find out some more detail about these incidents. In the letter I offered my services and those of my associate Ian Percy to the farmer.

On 1 September I had a phone call from the reporter thanking me for my letter. He informed me that he had contacted the farmer and told him of our interest and my request for an interview. The farmer responded by saying he would be very keen to talk to us and passed on his telephone number so we could contact him. This I did the same evening. I spoke at length with the farmer, David Potter (pseudonym), about the incidents that had been occurring, then arranged for a formal interview at his farm.

Perceptual Factors

Mr and Mrs Potter are both nice, down to earth level-headed people, with, in my opinion, nothing to gain from making up stories about these occurrences. Both appear to be very intelligent, broad-minded and able to exercise rational thought and reason.

Mr Potter has always shown great interest in and enthusiasm for the case. He has at all times co-operated fully with the investigation, and both he and his wife have assisted us in every manner possible. All he really wants to know is who or what is causing the phenomena.

He also shows a great interest in the history of Bell Farm (pseudonym). The farm has formed an important part of local history, and Mr Potter has helped us greatly by putting us in contact with a local historian, who has provided invaluable information on the history of the farm.

Mrs Potter seems to be quite scared of the occurrences and, I think, wishes they weren’t happening. She is naturally apprehensive and it is apparent that these incidents are causing her considerable stress and anxiety. Both Mr and Mrs Potter continue to feel uneasy in the house, despite our reassurances. Mr Potter is more able to accept what is going on, and while his wife tries to understand, she does feel somewhat apprehensive each time an incident occurs.

Incident Summary

Incident 1

On 18 August at 4.45am Mr Potter went out into his field, which abuts the Marchant (pseudonym) family burial ground, to check on some cows which were close to calving. He did not have his torch switched on at the time, but he had a strange feeling he was not alone in the field. One of the cows had already calved and Mr Potter switched on his torch to see where the cow was. He located the cow, but to his astonishment he saw two figures standing by it, just as if they were watching it calve. They were about ten paces away from Mr Potter. He thought one of the figures was a woman because she was wearing what appeared to be a long white gown ‘coming off from her head about ear level’, which appeared to be flowing. She seemed solid in appearance. The other was, he believed, a child wearing a dark outfit. He thought it was a young boy but could not be certain, as he could not see the child’s face as it was slightly distorted. Mr Potter observed that it went very cold as he watched the couple, saying it was an indescribable sensation.

As he shone his torch on the couple the woman turned and faced Mr Potter, her eyes shone pink very brightly in a way he could not describe, which fixed him to the spot. He was unable to move. The couple moved across the field, and a cow which was lying down on the ground got up as if to move out of their way. Mr Potter then heard the graveyard’s gates open and close. This really spooked him and he panicked, quickly leaving the field. He was still shaking several hours later. Mrs Potter commented that she had never seen him so frightened.

Mr Potter later checked the graveyard but found nothing, but he did notice there were a few children buried there.

Incident 2

On Friday 28 August at approx. 7.40pm several members of the Potter family were watching Coronation Street on television. It was still daylight at that time.

Mrs Potter went upstairs to the bathroom to take a shower. She closed the door behind her, but did not lock it. As she entered the shower cubicle and turned on the water, the room temperature in the bathroom dropped quite noticeably. Suddenly before her eyes the bathroom door swung open and the shower stopped working. Being somewhat shocked by this, she rushed downstairs to see if anyone had been up there, but no one had.

Incident 3

On 1 September the lights came on in an unoccupied bedroom. This was not elaborated on by either Mr or Mrs Potter at the time.

Incident 4

On 9 September Mrs Potter discovered what she believed to be the impression of figure lying on top of the bed in an empty bedroom. She could find no explanation of how it got there. It should be noted that the family has no pets.

Incident 5

On 10 September Mrs Potter noticed a strange smell in a small empty bedroom. She likened the smell to that of a sweet rose, but this later changed to a horrible musty smell.

Incident 6

On 29 September, at about 3.30am, Mr Potter was awoken by some noises in the house, but he could not be specific as to their nature. He did not investigate what these noises were, and appeared at that time to be unconcerned. He stated, though, that he could not go back to sleep afterwards.

Incident 7

On 1 October, at around 11.00am, Mr Potter was taking a battery out of his pickup in the farmyard directly outside his house. The wife of a friend was talking to him at the time. Suddenly they both heard what they thought was a young woman’s voice saying ‘Hello’. The voice seemed to come from one of the disused farm buildings in the yard, to the left of the house. They both made a casual search of the area but could find no trace of the owner of the voice.

Incident 8

Between 9.30am and 9.45am on 3 November Mrs Potter was in the kitchen doing some washing-up when something caught her attention and made her look into the hallway. She then observed what she believed was a shadow of a person on the hall wall, moving to and fro at least twice. The movement of this shadow gave the impression that an object or ‘something’ had been hung over a banister at the top of a staircase and was swinging freely in front of a light source. The temperature dropped sharply while this occurred.

Incident 9

On 20 November the farm generator broke down. Mr Potter called in an electricity firm to fix it but, after a lengthy examination of the appliance, they could find no reason for the fault. The generator was housed in the same field where Incident 1 occurred.

Incident 10

On 30 November Mr Potter heard a number of footsteps in the large bedroom, going out onto the landing. Mr Potter could not remember the number of footsteps heard, or their duration.

Research Investigation Methods

On 6 September Ian Percy and I commenced our initial investigation. Firstly, after interviewing the witnesses, we took a tour of the site, paying attention to the bathroom, landing and bedrooms. We took photographs and temperature readings in various rooms. We then did a sweep with an EMF (electromagnetic field) meter, but got no unusual readings [the meter measures varying magnetic fields in the 50-60Hz range with a sensitivity of 0-10 mG - Ed]. At the time of our first visit, it was raining heavily and therefore we were unable to take photographs outdoors.

On a second visit, we took our investigation outside into the field where the apparitions were seen. We took a number of photographs of the field from various angles, and again took EMF readings. Again we had no unusual results. We then moved on to the neighbouring family burial plot.

The first thing we noticed was that the gate was in a very good state of repair, which we found somewhat unusual considering that the rest of the plot was in such a generally bad state. It appeared as if it had been freshly painted and oiled, even though we were led to believe that no one had paid any attention to it for a number of years. We also noticed that the gate lock opened very easily, as though it had also been freshly oiled.

We again took photographs, EMF and temperature readings but once again found nothing unusual. We took a note of some of the names on the tombstones, though some were, unfortunately, illegible.

Mr Potter informed us that he had heard (unsubstantiated) rumours that someone had been hanged over the landing banister. He also informed us that the activity seemed to coincide with an elderly relative of the Marchant family requesting a visit to the graveyard. Mr and Mrs Potter believe that she wishes to be buried there when she passes on. It should be noted that this elderly relative had paid a visit to the graveyard, and from the conversations we have had with Mr Potter it would seem that these occurrences started at the same time as her visit.

While we were talking to Mr Potter he showed us a letter from a Richard Wyatt (pseudonym), an author with connections with the Marchant family. Mr Wyatt is running a project to restore the burial plot and has considerable information on the family. This is commented on in a leaflet that we were sent.

We left the farmhouse at about 9.15pm, by which time it had got dark. While we were saying our goodbyes at the side of the farmhouse in the garden, Ian and I noticed a sudden drop in temperature. It was unusual, as it was a very warm and mild night.

On 9 September we returned to the farm after Mr Potter had informed us of the impression on the bed (Incident 4). We again took photographs of the room, and we also took EMF and temperature readings, both of which showed nothing out of the ordinary. Mr Potter told us that he had arranged for us to interview a local historian the following evening. This person had a number of records and newspaper articles on the surrounding area.

On 10 September we returned to the farm where Mr and Mrs Potter informed us of the strange smells in one of the bedrooms (Incident 5). We checked it out but found nothing unusual at that time. We noticed no smells or unusual activity.

Following a brief conversation we then visited the historian, though, in all honesty, he couldn’t tell us anything of great relevance. However, he did show us a very old local history book. This documented the story of Luke Marchant’s church apparition and elaborated on a number of details about the local area, which proved quite useful. I later found the story of Luke Marchant and his apparition in three of my own books.

On 4 October Ian and I visited the farm to interview Mr Potter on the voice in the yard (Incident 7). We couldn’t come up with any explanation for the voice. Mr Potter informed us he had recently visited a garden centre and, while looking at some roses, he recognised the smell that he had smelt previously in the bedroom.

We then conducted a mini vigil with Mr Potter in the yard where the voice had been heard. The whole time we all felt like we were being watched. Half way through the vigil we all heard a strange electrical noise emanate from under my car. This happened twice, and we took photographs and readings. We also experienced noticeable temperature drops from time to time.

On 8 November Ian and I visited the farm to interview Mrs Potter about the events that occurred on 3 November. We made a thorough inspection of the house to try and find a logical explanation for the shadow. At first we could find no logical explanation but, on closer inspection, we discovered that the staircase had been altered, in fact reversed. We therefore concluded that, if the staircase had been in its original position, the shadow could have been caused by a large upstairs window throwing light across an object placed in front of it. We also established that, at the time the shadow appeared to Mrs Potter, the sun would have been in exactly the right place. We then began to think about this occurrence in connection with the unsubstantiated rumour of a hanging some time ago. The rumour suggested that a young, unidentified male person had been hanged in the house during the summer sometime in the first quarter of the 18th century. If this had occurred when the staircase was round the other way in its original position, and if it had happened at the same time of day 300 or so years ago then, allowing for calendar changes and time differences, you would have got exactly the same shadow that Mrs Potter observed.

Investigators’ Comments

I think that we have established that something paranormal is occurring in the farmhouse and surrounding fields and yards, even though we haven’t seen anything first hand.

Mr and Mrs Potter strike me as nice, believable people, not prone to flights of fantasy. We should also bear in mind that other people have experienced phenomena there.


Since this report was written there have been further developments in the case. These new events were actually witnessed by the investigators themselves, adding considerably to the strength of the case. Here is the additional material received to date.

7 February 2000

Ian and I visited the farm to do an interview with a local journalist. While at the house, we showed the journalist around the rooms where the events had occurred. We went upstairs at around 8pm.

We went into the small bedroom and, while in the room, we noticed that it was quite cold. This in itself was odd given that there was a sizeable radiator in the room and it was very hot. The temperature of the room did not reflect the fact that the radiator was even on. We also noticed a smell of flowers in the room. It is believed that this was the smell of roses that had previously been reported. Ian and I, as well as Mr and Mrs Potter and the reporter, all observed this event.

During the course of our chat with the reporter, we moved on to the other small bedroom and it was here that I noticed a number of small 'greenish' lights in the corner, by the window and by the dressing table. Like the other small room, there was a sizeable radiator in the room and again it was very hot. The temperature of the room did not reflect the fact that the radiator was even on. Again we noticed a smell of flowers in the room, believed to be the same smell of roses that had been noted previously. Again, Ian and I, as well as Mr and Mrs Potter and the reporter, observed this event.

At one point during the subsequent conversation in this room, we noticed what appeared to be the imprint of a 'body' on the bed sheet. This was unusual as Mrs Potter informed us that she had recently made the bed and had straightened the sheets.

To test the theory that maybe something was there, we brushed the sheet flat, pulling it as taught as was possible. We then went back downstairs, and I was the last person to leave the room, noting that the sheet was still smooth. While downstairs we continued the interview with the reporter. The reporter left soon after.

At around 8.30pm, we heard what sounded like a soft shuffle coming from upstairs. We then proceeded to the small bedroom where we had seen the imprint on the bed and, on entering the room, we noted that it was now extremely cold. Indeed it was colder than it had previously been. I then noticed that there was an imprint on the bed sheet, in almost the same place as the first one we had seen.

After a couple of minutes discussing this with Ian, we decided to try and repeat the experiment. We brushed the sheet smooth again. Mr Potter and I went back downstairs while Ian went to the toilet. Mrs Potter was at this time waiting to use the toilet herself.

As Ian left the toilet, he felt a soft 'blowing' sensation on the side of his face. He did not communicate this to Mrs Potter, as she was already on edge following the events of the night. Ian then heard a soft shuffle again coming from the small bedroom and, on entering the room, he could clearly see an imprint appear on the bed before his eyes. He called Mrs Potter to the room to verify what had happened. The temperature of the room had by then plummeted to an all-time low. There was a very heavy smell of roses again.

26 February

A houseguest of Mr Potter observed what appeared to be a 'shadowy' figure (in the ‘corner of her eye’), coming down the stairs. She did not see this 'person' clearly but she was convinced that it was male.

This article first appeared in Anomaly vol 26