Monday, June 15, 2015

Ghosts and Hauntings: Estcourt House by Paranormal Guide's Ashley Hall

 Estcourt House

- Ghosts and Hauntings

- Estcourt house is a mansion built in 1883, by Frederick Estcourt Bucknall, in Grange, South Australia. Bucknall was an Adelaide business man who arrived in Australia in 1860. He quickly became an affluent gentleman, then even more so after marrying into a large brewing company, and soon set his eyes on bigger things. Along with Arthur Harvey (M.P.), Bucknall established the townships on Grange and Henley Beach, before becoming mayor of Hindmarsh.

Bucknall also thought he needed a grand home, so he spent six thousand pounds building the seventeen room mansion ‘Estcourt House’. Unfortunately Bucknalls plans were too big and he soon went bankrupt in 1886, and had to sell his property. The bank had trouble selling the mansion but eventually it was sold to be a home for children.

This home started out with a small number of children, but that number quickly grew in the early 1900s as more and more came through the doors. It was not just children that would be cared for there, as the elderly were also looked after at times, and this acted as a prelude for the buildings later uses.

Estcourt house had a few different owners over the years but there was always sick and recovering children within it’s walls (the Adelaide Children’s Hospital owned it for just over two decades). However, in 1978, the South Australian Government bought the property and it became known as Ru Rua Nursing Home until it closed it’s doors in 1988/1989.

It is not easy to find deaths related to this building outside of what made it direct in the media (inquest notices, obituaries etc). Many children died of infectious diseases as did a few nurses who died from diseases not normally found in adults (or at least not too dangerous for them).

On July 1913, Thomas Clay a 'inmate’ at Estcourt house was killed by a train. The trains wheels had run the entire length of his body. Parts of his body were strewn along the tracks for quite a distance. Although a watch chain was attached to his vest no watch was ever found… this was made note of and at the time foul play was suggested.

There would have been many other deaths in the building, considering its purpose as a place for 'care’ over time. There is quite a lot more to the history of this location but you are probably wanting to know of any reported hauntings on site.

After 1989, the empty Estcourt House became a spot for thrill seekers and urban explorers. - the massive house proved an exciting spot for a midnight adventure. After a few incidences of the paranormal kind, it got a reputation for being haunted (though some staff of the house swear it was haunted when they were working there). People say it had a very dark, depressing feeling to it. Strange moving shapes have been seen in the shadows and the suffocating atmosphere was sometimes too much for people to handle.

I recently met someone who told me of their encounter in the empty Estcourt House. They had been along to one of the tours that went through there years ago, not a ghost tour or anything like that, more just a guided walkthrough to learn some history and take a look at the building. During the tour they did note that some rooms were skipped, that some doors remained closed and ignored. On enquiring about this the 'guide’ a former nurse / carer stated they never go into those areas.

No reason was given.

That same night two of the guests returned under cover of darkness and made their way into the building, as many had done before them. They went straight to the rooms that were off limits. On looking inside they can only assume they were not used to house beds or the sick but were probably more used as offices etc.

After walking through for a while they heard some strange noises coming from the larger areas of the buildings. Thinking it was other living people, they decided to leave, but on passing by these areas they noticed something strange – the entry they used to get in was now closed and the bolt had been slid shut… from the inside.

They opted not to leave through that same door and went back to the 'offices’ section where they found that door now closed and unable to be opened. After that they were frantic and left via a window. Looking back they feel it was something that did not want them there or at least did not want them in that one section of the building.

This is not the only story I have recieved from this location stating similar experiences.

(It should be noted that Estcourt House is now once again privately owned – a lot has changed and a lot has remained the same.)

By Ashley Hall - The Paranormal Guide 2012

Main Pic: Estcourt House circa 1900
Inset left: Children in the dorms about 1950 - 1960
Inset Right: Children and nurses on an outing at the Adelaide Zoo. Early days.

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