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Raynham Hall – A Haunted Walk Through History

October 25th, 2011 by Magdalena Tabor

To experience Raynham Hall (located in Oyster Bay, Long Island) is to transport yourself  back to the days of the Revolutionary War. Built in 1738, it played a center role in General George Washington’s spy ring. Focus your eyes on the house itself, letting the neighboring buildings blur. Imagine it in its original setting situated in lush fields and meadows, an apple orchard that once lay just beyond its front door. Succumb to the lazy drone of summer. The scent off the bay. Smell the hay drying in the sun. Submit to the changing season for it is now October. Shadows fall. A swish of petticoats is heard on the stairs and fades down the hallway with the lingering scent of roses. It mingles with the wood smoke and an apple pie spiced with cinnamon. The stomp of boots. Men in uniform enter, exit. The air pulsates with excitement for what is overheard is a plot to pay Benedict Arnold to surrender his troops to the British. The Townsend family are Patriots forced to house Loyalist troops. In exchange for their hospitality, they will ferry this information to George Washington who will foil the plan and expose Benedict Arnold for the traitor he is.
Meanwhile romance permeates the air; the pipe smoke wreathing a British soldier and young Sally Townsend in a first ever Valentine he presents to her. She will cherish it into her eighties, he having left her behind in the end. The page is creased in sorrow, the words taint the air. The very coldness of it affecting the temperature in her room. The remains of sweet nothings etched onto windowpanes for the love of Sally Townsend are still visible. Is it she who wanders the upper floors at night, candle in hand? Is it he, Lieutenant Colonel John Simcoe, parading his white horse outside her bedroom window? Or is it Major Andre who was captured and hanged for his involvement with Benedict Arnold?
The house is literally alive with history. Every creak, sigh, and shuffle lays claim to what happened in the Townsend household. The smell of wood smoke when there is no fire burning. Apple pies baking when there’s none to be had. The whisper of secrets in love and war, all telltale signs of an ongoing venture. Time does not stand still here. It moves for all eternity. Don’t believe Raynham Hall is haunted? You don’t have to – the spirits will speak for themselves. But don’t ask the elderly gentleman cascading down the stairway. He’s looking for his lower half. Perhaps in life he was told he was only half the man he should have been !
So……………whadayathink? Is a ghost “nothing more than a piece of undigested beef”, as spoken by Scrooge to Marley? You decide. On Saturday, October 29th a live web-cam will be installed at Raynham Hall after 10 pm until the wee hours of the morning. Remember, the museum will be closed…log on to raynhamhallmuseum.org. Happy Halloween!

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