Nov 20, 2023 I Brent Swancer

Spooky Cases of Haunted and Cursed Furniture

It seems that in this world there are not only haunted places, but also haunted things. One very unusual phenomena of the paranormal world is that of the haunted object. In these cases all manner of normally mundane items will be permeated and imbued with supernatural forces, sometimes to the point that the object in question will be deemed cursed and locked away. There have been cursed or haunted paintings, cars, and others, but sometimes the item in question seems like the last thing one would expect paranormal weirdness to gather about. Here we will delve into a world of haunted and cursed furniture, which for whatever reasons have caused dark forces to gravitate towards them. 

Located along the French Riviera in Monaco is the resort gambling mecca of Monte Carlo. The area is known as a glitzy, opulent, and glamorous playground of the rich and famous, and is one of Europe's leading tourist resorts, so is not really the place one would immediately associate with curses or hauntings, but in the Monte Carlo Casino there supposedly sits a cursed table that drives people to insanity and suicide. The table supposedly claimed 113 lives in a ten-year span between 1890 and 1900, with some seats at the table apparently more cursed than others. If someone is to sit in one of the cursed spots, it is said that they will soon after leaving be overwhelmed by the compulsion to kill themselves, and one report from 1900 says of some of these deaths:

One day five years ago, my neighbor at the table was a young Parisian. He sat in one of the one-death chairs and won. When the doors closed he carried off 200,000 francs. Imagine my anticipations when next morning I found him installed to the left of the croupier. I felt like tearing him away or slipping a card into his hand, to warn him against the seat he had chosen, but my official character forbade me to interfere, and, besides, my advice would have been scorned, for the fellow gambled like one mad. He lost his winnings of the day before and 200,000 francs of his own money. When his last 1,000 franc note was gone he rose, and swaying to and fro like a drunkard, stumbled out of the hall, laughing immoderately. Two of my men led a merry chase for this unfortunate, and when they caught up with him he jumped off the railway bridge, knocking out his brains.

Another case that haunts my dreams! One day an elderly gentleman, Signor Antonio Cesare, who knew my connection with the Casino, compelled me to give him the seat I was occupying. I did so with a bleeding heart, for this old man was the very picture of health, and I was an intimate friend of his cousin, the Mayor of Bentimigli. Well, this gentleman lost nearly a hundred thousand francs in the day and evening. When he got up, hos own mother wouldn't have known him. He looked ten years older; his flesh had fallen away, madness stared out of his eyes. Next day they fished his body from the lake at Mentone.

Then there were the Parlingtons, refined English people. They were on their wedding trip. I never forgot the look of delight with which young Mrs. Parlington pocketed her first small gain. The pretty bride fairly coaxed her husband to stake 10 francs. When night came they had a couple of thousand francs in their pockets. Next morning they took chairs Nos. 23 and 24. Number 23 brought them the usual luck. They gained 30,000 francs. But on the following day came the inevitable change. The 30,000 francs went back to us, and the couple's little fortune followed. They walked from the room deathly pale, hand in hand. My detectives informed me that they took the train for Nice without troubling about their baggage. They shot and killed themselves in the Windsor Hotel there.

Everybody can see that the cloth on the suicide table is of more recent make than the rest. Yet the Casino company is only 318 francs the poorer on that account. Here are the figures: Cloth for double table, 250 francs; nailing down, 18 francs; total, 318 francs. Against these figures there is an offset of 600 francs, which the Casino company would have been obliged to pay the young Russian for traveling expenses. This Muscovite Prince refused to become a pensioner of M. Blanc's heirs, and blew out his brains over the table where he had dropped his all-- 400,000 francs.

It happened two years ago and it nearly cost me my job. The circumstances that one of the directors of the company drew me into a corner to talk about the same Russian's persistent ill luck just a minute before the shot rang out- that along saved me from disgrace. The incident itself was soon forgotten and had no bearing on the game. It has nothing to do with the superstitions attaching to the suicide table. The ill reputation of that piece of furniture was of many years standing when the Russian committed that flagrant breach of Casino etiquette. He was No. 85 on my list of unfortunates.

Monte Carlo

Is there anything to this? Another supposed haunted table can be found at the historic Black Horse Inn public house, on Nuthurst Street in Nuthurst, West Sussex, England. Over the years, local people have observed pints of beer and other objects sliding across this table by themselves, or objects even flying off to fall to the floor. According to local lore, this was the table at which, many years ago, regularly sat a man who could see the Old Post Office, opposite, to observe his wife visiting her lover, the postmaster whom he subsequently murdered and buried in St Leonard's Forest. The spirit of the murderer has supposedly haunted the table ever since, still watching over the post office for the appearance of his wife.

Perhaps one of the most infamous of these pieces of haunted furniture is a simple, unassuming oak chair on display at the Thirsk Museum in North Yorkshire, England. The story goes that a Thomas Bugsby was arrested, tried and condemned to death after he murdered his father-in-law Daniel Auty in 1702 after an argument over money. Apparently just before he was hanged he was sitting in the chair and cursed it out of spite. After this, the chair gathered about it the dark reputation of causing anyone who sits in it to meet with misfortune and death. In fact, so many people have apparently died from sitting in the chair that it was donated to the museum and hung up from the ceiling so that no one would ever sit in it again.

Bugsby's haunted chair

Another cursed chair is connected to the Bindley Hotel, in the tiny town of Blanchester in southwestern Ohio. The hotel harbored a simple rocking chair that immediately started trouble when it arrived in the late 1800s, when the first person to sit in it, a Mr. William Rockhill, promptly had a heart attack and died. At first this wasn’t really associated with the chair, but this was followed by a string of strange freak accidents and injuries surrounding it. One man's head was cut open by it, one man was forcefully thrown out of it and broke his arm as a result, one man's finger was smashed beneath it, one toddler was trapped beneath it and almost died, one man's collarbone was broken by it, one man was pushed down the stairs because of it, one dog was knocked unconscious by it, the list goes on and on. Soon the chair was being called the “hoodoo chair of Blanchester,” claiming more and more victims. 

It got to the point where the owner of the hotel, Edward Hawk, decided that the chair was definitely cursed and went about trying to get rid of it, but this turned out to be easier said than done. No one would accept the chair, even when Hawk tried to give it away, and the chair apparently didn’t like being moved because those who tried would be knocked down by an invisible force. Even more bizarrely, it supposedly could not be destroyed. Hawk would say of it:

I can't smash the blamed thing any more than I can smash the hoodoo. I took it out in the back yard the other day-- couldn't get one of the men about the place to touch it-- and tried to send it to kingdom come. I was swearing mad at the crazy thing. It was ruining my trade, my disposition and my appetite. Will you believe it, sir, the very first blow I aimed at its murderous back the axe flew off the handle and hit me such a whack on the shoulder I was lame for a week. I'll acknowledge I was some scared and I gave up trying to turn the chair into firewood.

The only time they were able to successfully remove the chair from its room was when they painted a white cross on it, but this did little to decrease the object’s dark potency. When it was put on the porch, it went about causing all manner of mayhem, including making people trip and fall, catching people’s hair in it, tipping over backwards to smash people’s heads into the wall, and ejecting those who would try to sit in it. It also allegedly moved around on its own accord throughout the night or would be found in different places. Hawk decided to move the chair to the attic, but shortly after doing this a fire broke out and filled the hotel with smoke. Not long after this, the hotel was hit by a tornado that tore the roof off, and Hawk decided he’s had enough. He apparently sold the hotel and moved away, but in the years that followed the hotel continued to be plagued by fires, accidents, and financial troubles until it finally went out of business in the early 1900s. It is unknown what happened to the chair after this. Is it still out there causing trouble? Who knows?

Yet another haunted chair is kept at Baleroy Mansion, in Philadelphia. The sprawling, 32-room Baleroy Mansion was built in 1911, and over the years has accrued thousands of historical pieces that have been handed down from notable subjects including Napoleon Bonaparte, General George Mead, and Founding Father Thomas Jefferson, just to name a few. It is also supposedly incredibly haunted, with one of its most famous phenomena being what is called the “Death Chair.” Located in what is called the "Blue Room," the 200-year-old chair is believed to have once belonged to Napoleon himself, but it is more famous for its ghost. It is believed that a female ghost called Amelia haunts the blue chair due to a deadly curse caused by insanity, usually appearing as a mysterious blue mist. The lore has it that she does not take kindly to people sitting in her chair, and that four brave souls, one a former Baleroy curator, have met tragic ends in freak accidents after sitting in the chair. There is also an account given to the Citrus County Chronicle by a man who claims he bought a haunted chair in the tiny town of Magnolia, Delaware in 1984. He says of his experience with it:

When I bought the chair, I was renting the upstairs of a Victorian house in Frederica, Delaware, which was in the town’s senior center. I had a male friend who was sharing the rent. I worked days, and he worked nights, so it worked out well. Anyway, I set the chair in the living room. The next morning, it was sitting a few feet out from the wall. I put it back and did not think much of it. But it continued to happen, so I asked my roommate to please move it back when he was done using it. He said he never moved it or sat on it only on the couch. I brought home a piece of chalk and made marks in front of the front chair legs on the floor. Sure enough the chair continued moving each day, and my roommate continued denying moving it.

About a year later, I moved out and into a charming cottage on Delaware Bay with my fiancé. Guess what? The chair moved there also, and my fiancé said he had not sat in or touched it. Then, other things began to happen. One freezing winter morning, we woke up to find all the lights on in the living room and the front door standing wide open. I was positive I had locked up and turned off the lights.

A few weeks later, my future brother-in-law and his boyfriend came to visit. He immediately loved the chair and offered to fix the broken places in the back, replace the springs and reupholster it as a wedding gift. I loved the idea! About two months later, they returned the chair and it looked fabulous! My brother-in-law said they were really happy to get rid of it. He said as they worked on it in their basement, the lights would go on and off and doors would open and close. They swore it was haunted! However, after the chair was returned, it never moved again and there were no more odd instances.

Somewhat similar to these haunted chairs is a haunted couch housed at the Consignment Furniture Showroom, in Waco, Texas. The couch was purportedly dropped off at the store one day by a spooked customer who claimed that said a strange sulfur smell was coming from inside his home, kitchen cabinet doors were opening on their own, and cellphone signals cut out as one got close to the sofa. The phenomena continued after coming into the store’s possession. Lights flickered on and off, objects in the immediate vicinity of the couch would move on their own, and on several occasions customer information was erased from the computer system with no explanation. Colton Burch, who co-owns the store, has said of the spooky item:

Everybody up here was basically afraid of it, and I did have a weird feeling when you sit down on it. One of the employees got in a minor car accident, and then we also had another employee who was in a minor fender bender the night after touching or moving the couch. A lot of people don’t want to have anything to do with it, especially when you show them the blood stain under the cushion.

Despite all of this, the sofa is apparently still there, drawing in droves of curiosity seekers. Adding to the tables and chairs, we come to haunted and cursed chests and cabinets. One of these is what is called “The Conjured Chest,” whose story begins with a South Carolina plantation owner by the name of Jacob Cooley back in the 19th century. Cooley was supposedly known as a cruel and ruthless taskmaster who treated his slaves like garbage. When his wife became pregnant, he tasked one of his slaves, a woman named Hosea, with crafting a chest for his newborn. When it was finished, Cooley did not like the finished product and flew into a rage, supposedly beating Hosea to death. 

Hosea’s fellow slaves took revenge, asking a conjurer to curse the chest so that the Cooley family would be doomed for generations to come. Although Cooley didn’t like the chest, he still placed it in his unborn baby’s room, but the baby would inexplicably die just days after birth, making it the first victim of the curse. After this there was a string of deaths surrounding the chest. One of Cooley’s sons was stabbed to death on his 25th birthday after putting some of his clothes in the chest. The chest was given to a newlywed couple as a gift, and the bride died soon after from an illness and the groom died in an accident. The chest was acquired by a Virginia Cary Hudson Cleveland and her husband, Kirtley Cleveland. The pregnant Virginia put her first child’s baby clothes in the chest. The baby was born prematurely and died the same day on August 8, 1915. Virginia and Kirtley Cleveland’s older daughter placed her wedding clothes in the chest, after which her husband Wilbur was rushed to a hospital for an appendectomy and died from an overdose of ether. Virginia’s and Kirtley’s neighbor, Herbert H. “Sonny” Moore Jr., put his hunting clothes in the chest and was killed in a gun accident at the home. 

Author Virginia Cary eventually acquired the chest and used it to store her first baby’s clothing, and the baby died shortly after. Cary’s son Stanley then placed his hunting clothing in the chest and was shot the following day. The deaths would continue, and in the end 18 people had died of the curse. Virginia had had enough of the chest and did not want anyone else to die, so she asked Sallie, a maid who had worked for Virginia most of her life, if she knew how to break a conjure. The two of them went about performing a ritual which involved using the feathers of a dead owl and leaves from a Willow tree, and this supposedly worked. The curse was lifted and there were no further incidents associated with it. The chest now resides in the Kentucky History Museum, but it was not put on public display. 

All of this talk of spooky haunted and cursed items might make one want to just lie down and take a rest, but first you better make sure that bed isn’t haunted as well, as there is an impressive number of supposedly haunted beds in the world. One of the more famous of these is called the Great Bed of Ware, which was once housed in the Saracen’s Head at Ware, in England. The exceptionally large four-posted bed, adorned with intricate wood carvings, is thought to have been made in the late 16th century by Jonas Fosbrooke, a German craftsman, and was famous for its grandeur and size. Over the years it was often mentioned in poems and prose, and was even mentioned in Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night, propelling it to greater and greater fame. The Great Bed was housed at several different inns – the George, the Crown, and finally the Saracen’s Head- and over the years became just as famous for its purported haunting as its size.

The Great Bed of Ware

There have been many strange phenomena associated with the mysterious bed. Those who tried to sleep in it were kept awake by “the pinching, nipping, and scratching that went on all night long,” the bed would sometimes shake and quake, and sheets were often ripped off by unseen hands. Some claimed to have been attacked in their sleep by an invisible aggressor who left bruises and scratches on their body. Still others claimed that apparitions would loom over them as they were in the bed. Even more ominous stories tell of people sleeping in it dying not long after. One version is that the ghost takes offence to any person of a rank lower than royalty sleeping in the bed and the another is that the ghost dislikes couples having sex in the bed. As to who is haunting it, the commonly held idea is that it is Jonas Fosbrooke, the creator of the bed, due to his displeasure at having his grand creation used in such a mundane manner. It was acquired by the Victoria and Albert Museum in 1931, where it remains to this day.

In the spring of 1986, Allen Tallman along with his pregnant wife, Debbie and their two children, Kenny and Mary Ann moved into a house in Larrabee Street, Horicon, Wisconsin. At first it was their dream home and there was not a hint of anything paranormal about the place, but this would change in 1987 with the arrival of a bunk bed they had bought at a secondhand store. Almost immediately after the arrival of the bed there were all sorts of paranormal phenomena going on. Doors would close on their own, footsteps were heard, a radio dial moved on its own, radios and clocks turned themselves on and off, chairs rocked and a basement window was removed and placed on the floor. Additionally, the children repeatedly became sick and the family started to suffer from terrible nightmares and visitations from an apparition in the form of an old, ugly hag “with long black hair and a glow about her like fire.” 

The strange phenomena only escalated in intensity from there. One day Alan was returning home from work in the early hours of the morning when he allegedly saw what he describes as something glowing “…inside the garage, an orange red. There were flames coming out of the overhead door. There were two eyes in the windows.” Shortly after this he entered his home and was viciously attacked by an invisible force. In the following days he would be frequently accosted by this unseen entity, sometimes receiving bruises and scratches from it, and on one occasion he heard a spectral voice clearly snarl out at him “You’re dead.” A Pastor Wayne Dobratz was brought in to investigate and concluded that the presence was not only evil, but demonic. The terrified family finally decided to have the bunk bed buried in a landfill and left their house never to return, after which the haunting ceased. What was going on here?

Speaking of haunted beds, another can be found at Chambercombe Manor, which is nestled in the leafy Devon countryside not far from Ilfracombe, England. The manor was originally it was the home of the Champernon family, but today is open to the public. Within the manor is a chamber with a beautiful oak four-poster bed that is supposedly haunted by the spirit of a murdered young woman. One account tells of a couple who stayed at the manor would explain that their bed would often shake in the middle of the night, or that there would be mysterious wet spots found on the sheets. The account says:

However, they found it fascinating rather than scary. Finally, they were able to make out the form of a woman sitting on the end of the bed, and hear her sobbing. Fascinated, they began the task of tracing the provenance/history of the bed. Back they went through several owners. And yes, all had similar experiences. Further back they researched, through more people. Finally they found a gruesome story involving the bed. A young woman had been attacked, viciously stabbed, and bled to death on the end of the bed…

A rather harrowing account was submitted to the site “Exemplore” by a woman in Colorado named Vickie Royce, who claims that she owned an extremely haunted and cursed antique hutch. An antique enthusiast and regular at auctions and tag sales, she was always on the lookout for unique furnishings, and found one in a hutch that caught her eye. She purchased it and had it moved to her home, but even at this early stage things were a little odd, as it seemed heavier than it should be, kept slipping from the grip of the movers, and at one point flung its door open to hit one of the men in the head and leave behind a nasty gash. At the time, it wasn’t seen as anything too strange, but this would change.

Later, on the that same night that she had received the hutch, Vickie was awakened by a ruckus that seemed to be coming from the kitchen that sounded almost like furniture being dragged across the floor. She warily went to investigate, but when she did there was no one there and nothing was out of place. The next morning the weirdness would continue when she went to fetch some fresh flour she had just put into the hutch the previous day, only to find that it was inexplicably rancid and crawling with insects. In the coming days she began to notice a pungent scent in the vicinity of the hutch but even then it did not occur to her that anything paranormal was going on. 

The noises that she heard on the night the hutch arrived soon became a regular occurrence. Vickie would find herself awakened time and again by the sound of something heavy being moved across the kitchen floor, and every time there was nothing out of place when she checked. In the meantime, several more bags of flour were put into the hutch and all of them became insect infested overnight. In the days that followed, Vickie began finding red and black beetles she had never seen before crawling in the bowls and plates that she stored in the hutch, only in the hutch and nowhere else, and she was now starting to get a bit creeped out. 

To add to this, Vickie started having recurring nightmares in which she was being stalked by what she believed at first to be a woman wearing a housedress and holding a handkerchief over her mouth. In the dreams, the figure would pace through Vickie's house, sobbing and moaning. On one occasion she stopped and transformed into the form of a creature with hooves and horns, after which she headed towards the hutch to enter it. These dreams continued night after night, so intense that she could barely get any sleep. 

Vickie tried to put the nightmares out of her mind, but everything would get even scarier when one day she was in the kitchen when the doors to the hutch began opening and slamming shut one by one. The hutch then tilted on its own just enough to send the dishes shattering on the floor, upon which the hutch righted itself and was once again stationary. She knew then and there that the hutch had to go. She had it dismantled piece by piece and then doused it with kerosene and lit it on fire in a controlled burn in her backyard, watching it burn down to ashes. After this the insects disappeared, her nightmares ceased, the strange smells dissipated, and she was at peace. The phenomena stopped.

What are we to make of cases like this? A good case could be made that these are instances of what has come to be known in the paranormal world as "spirit attachments." This basically means that a ghost, spirit, demon, whatever, has latched itself onto an item and sort of follows it around, tethered to it by forces we cannot yet comprehend. It is often said to have been an item of great importance or as having had some deep connection to the deceased, but there are various reasons why some spirit might latch onto an object, including curses, demonic invocation, and others. All we can really say for sure is that there are certain objects in this world, including furniture, that seem to have some amount of oddness orbiting them, and whatever the reasons may be they are certainly damn strange, indeed. 

Brent Swancer

Brent Swancer is an author and crypto expert living in Japan. Biology, nature, and cryptozoology still remain Brent Swancer’s first intellectual loves. He's written articles for MU and Daily Grail and has been a guest on Coast to Coast AM and Binnal of America.

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