A Reader Writes: Queer Ghost Story
The Sheafe St. Inn is supposedly one of the most haunted places in Portsmouth, NH. I believe it is after this happened……..My girlfriend at the time, Jess was living at the Inn. It’s above a bakery and at the time all 3 floors were part of the Inn. There was 1 bedroom on the 2nd floor and 2 on the 3rd. The first floor was part of the bakery and we had our own staircase.Jess lived there for a couple of years. At the time I was renting a huge farmhouse 7 miles away. One night my phone rang at around 3am and it was Jess. Kind of scared. She said she was in her room and felt a body on top of her. She said she was half asleep and thought it was Roger who lived on the 3rd floor. I didn’t believe it because Roger was living with his GF on the 3rd floor. They were in the process of breaking up because Roger was gay. So we ruled him out but had no answers for what happened. Since Jess was half asleep she just thought it was some weird dream and half forgot about it.About 3 weeks later around 3am Jess bursts in to my room at the farmhouse. Freaked out. She woke up about 2:30am and definitely felt a body on top of her. She couldn’t move. Finally she was able to turn over and no one was there. Because of the last episode with a body on top of her she locked her door too. She was so upset she drove all the way down to my place in the middle of the night. She ended up moving a few weeks later out west. But she was adamant about the invisible body. She wasn’t drunk or stoned as we both worked morning shift at my cafe and it was during the week. It never happened again before she moved out but she was really shocked about it and scared. When she moved out I moved into the same room but I never felt any encounters or saw or heard anything in my 2 years living in that room.Fast forward about a year later. I was at a local watering hole having dinner and sat at the bar next to my roommate’s sister Katie. We started talking about the Inn and I said I heard you lived at the Inn too. She kind of gave a little tremor and said she only stayed 3 nights because of the ghost. She was staying in the exact same bedroom as Jess and I on the 2nd floor.She told me she too woke up late at night and felt a body on top of her. She said she couldn’t move at all. I’m not sure if she yelled for someone but you’d have to yell loud for the 3rd floor people to hear you if they even could. Finally after a few minutes she was able to turn over and saw absolutely nothing. She was so freaked out she immediately went to her parents’ house nearby and stayed there that night. The next day her and her Dad went to the Inn and took all her stuff out and she said she’d never go back in.Now the weird thing is-besides the story itself-is that Katie and Jess didn’t hang out together at all. Katie’s name had never come up with me and Jess once. We knew of her through her brother my roommate but never saw her. She told me her story and I told her about Jess’s experience. As soon as I started telling her about Jess it she said oh man please don’t say that. Basically both girls told me the exact same story. Same bedroom Katie said she didn’t really tell many people about it because she was afraid people wouldn’t believe her. When I told her about Jess she visibly shook. She told me her and Jess had never even met each other and she didn’t know about Jess’s experience.So I am a total believer of the Sheafe St Inn ghost now. Same exact story in the same room and both girls were freaked out. Katie is a schoolteacher and obviously responsible. I told Jess about Katie’s experience in the same room and Jess freaked out again. At this time Jess had moved out and I took over the room. I never saw or felt or heard anything tho it was in the back of my mind. I was there 2 years in that bedroom before I moved up to the 3rd floor. Yes I’m a believer of ghosts now.Joseph King aka Joe Queer of the band The Queers.
3 Sheafe Street
Portsmouth, NH 03801-3817
The Sheafe Street Inn is located steps away from the historical downtown section, on the corner of Sheafe Street, and Penhallow Street. Penhallow Street runs between State St. and Daniel St.
For many years this well kept up, 19th century, 2 1/2 floor brick/white board building and the connecting, one floor building served as a tavern and lodging establishment, perhaps catering to some of the seamen who were on leave from the tall sail ships in the harbor, in the 1800s. Being a port town, men who worked on these tall ships that came into Portsmouth Harbor, liked to party in town on their shore leave, sometimes having too good a time, and drinking a little too much, taking their good times to the streets, being loud and celebratory!
Others traveling through town also stayed here. At some point, it became a boarding house, and rooms were rented to people who worked in the town of Portsmouth, because this was steadier income. For awhile, it was a bed and breakfast in recent years, as Portsmouth attracts many visitors. Currently, it is the site of apartments that are occupied on the second and attic floor, and is home to the thriving Ceres Street Bakery, located on the first floor and the attached building.
There have been two seen spirits, and two unseen ones.
One unseen spirit – Seems to be a bit territorial of the first floor of The Sheafe Street Inn. Perhaps it is a former owner who didn’t approve of this person who then owned the Sheafe Street Inn.
This entity pushed a female owner out of bed in her room on the first floor of The Sheafe Street Inn, a space that is now used as the breakfast room of The Ceres Street Bakery.
Perhaps it is this entity who is the fresh air convert, who opens up windows of vacant rooms/apartments when they are unoccupied; a custom of an innkeeper, airing out the room.
Another unseen spirit of a cook – Kitchen of the Ceres Street Bakery
He or she likes to supervise the bakery staff in the kitchen, as well as putter around the kitchen by himself/herself.
Perhaps likes to do some remembering of past “cooking projects” during the night, when the bakery is closed, and then leaves the tools out for the day-shift to find, perhaps to let them know that they are sharing the kitchen with a spectral cook!
Seems to enforce the philosophy, that everything should be kept in its place. Tools that were laid out neatly for making some pastry, were put back where they belonged by some unseen hands, when the chef turned his back for a moment to prepare something else.
Male Entity of Rev. John Bellamy
When drunkards – whether sailors or citizens – would walk by The Sheafe Street Inn, Rev. Bellamy would run down the stairs, and confront them about their drinking issues, preaching about the dangers of alcohol. For years after he died, people high on alcohol who walked by The Sheafe Street Inn, would be confronted by an unseen presence, who would push them down to make his point. Some said it felt like someone jumped on them from the second story.
People staying in the other rooms, would hear footsteps race down the central staircase, and into the street.
If alcohol in decanters, or beer was left in any of the rooms of the bed and breakfast, or in later years; in the apartments, people would come back to find their bottles and decanters smashed on the floor. This was especially true in the attic apartment.
Male Entity of a horseman, and his dogs
The guest who first reported this fellow, felt an unseen presence follow him down the stairs to the front door. Looking behind him, he saw this male entity, dressed as a horseman from another era. this entity’s whistling was heard as he walked his 2 ghostly dogs. Years later, this entity has been seen 5 more times. He perhaps was still going on with his work, as scheduled before he died.
While no recent experiences have been shared publicly about the temperance-focused Rev. John Bellamy, or the horseman with strong work ethics, or the critical, territorial spirit;(possibly a past owner), the entity in Ceres Street Bakery kitchen is still cleaning up after the cooks and employees, as well as perhaps remembering his/her best recipes in the middle of the night, leaving clues to the kitchen staff that he or she is still there.
No hard evidence has been gathered and shared online. No publicly known paranormal investigations have taken place here, probably because the current owners don’t want to reactivate/annoy/disturb the strong-willed entity of John Bellamy, the entity of the hunter who may not know that he is dead, or the other critical, territorial spirit, probably a past owner. The current owners have rented all the apartments, and don’t want to have their tenants inconvenienced by paranormal investigators, or scared by upset spirits.
And though it is certainly an odd coincidence, what does match Jess and Katie’s experiences is well trodden territory in ghost stories, UFO abduction cases, and even some bigfoot encounters I have heard described. As someone who has experienced hypnagogia, what both of them describe is completely familiar to many, going back centuries and inspiring art like this painting by Henry Fuseli.
Hypnagogia is the experience of the transitional state from wakefulness to sleep: the hypnagogic state of consciousness.
Hypnagogia is a well described neurological phenomenon that can occur when one is waking up (hypnapompic) or going to sleep (hypnagogic). It is an in-between state where one is neither fully awake nor fully asleep. In this state very realistic images and sounds can be experienced. Although visual and auditory hallucinations are most common, experiences can range from hearing your name whispered to ones involving all the senses, including touch. They are in essence dream experiences that are occurring while you are awake. These waking dreams can be bizarre and terrifying and as such are often referred to as night terrors.
Also associated with hypnagogia is temporary paralysis. Normal sleep contains periods of REM (rapid eye movement-dream sleep) during which the brain stem inhibits, or turns off, the motor neurons in our spinal column, preventing any movement except for the eyes. Normally, this only occurs during dream sleep. The apparent reason for sleep paralysis is our safety. Without this safeguard, we would act out anything we were dreaming and most likely injure ourselves. Paralysis persists during waking dreams because the affected neurons have not been reactivated immediately as they normally should. Therefore waking dreams are in a sense a fusion of normal wakeful consciousness and the distinctive characteristics of dream sleep. We are indeed awake but the paralysis and bizarre imagery typical of dreaming have not yet loosed their hold.
So is it possible both Jess and Katie had coincidental, yet unrelated experiences of hypnagogia in the same room? Or is the ghost of the Reverend Bellamy leading a secret ghost life by night?
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