Cameras sometimes capture horrors unseen by human eyes. This is the story of a man from Liverpool, England, who got a chilling fright one evening when he was browsing Google Street View. Why? Because up in the top floor window of a local pub-hotel, something ghoulish seemed to leer. What the hell is that up there?
Sprawled on the banks of the River Mersey, the city of Liverpool in northwest England is a historic port with a proud sense of identity. It is a gritty but friendly place long celebrated for its world-class soccer clubs, its lively music scene and, of course, its pubs.
In the north of the city, the unassuming Stuart Hotel is a stone-built pub and overnight lodging with a history that goes back more than a century. The establishment lies in the ancient district of Walton-on-the-Hill, an area famous as the home of Goodison Park stadium, where the soccer team Everton play.
At first glance, nothing seems very unusual about the Stuart. Its Facebook profile describes it as “a heart of the community pub in which all is welcome,” adding, “We have friendly staff and a friendly atmosphere. On match days, darts, crib, quizzes and poker [and] we provide a hot or cold buffet all free of charge.”
Likewise, many Facebook reviewers rate the Stuart positively. “Great local pub, boss atmosphere,” wrote Facebook user Franny Dickson, awarding it five stars. “Best local I’ve ever had,” stated Carl Bell. And, “Once your in [sic],” declared Joe Stephens, “you can never get out and that’s not a bad thing…”
But all might not be as it seems. According to paranormal expert and writer Tom Sleman – the author of dozens of books about Liverpool’s supernatural history – there are no less than 150 haunted pubs in the city. And the Stuart hotel, despite its local camaraderie, is considered to be one of the most spooky and haunted of all, he claims.
Speaking to local newspaper The Liverpool Echo, Sleman described how in 1897 a former a landlord of the Stuart and “a down-to-earth 41-year-old Wallasey man named Robinson Pemberton” had been disturbed by unexplained scratching noises emanating from the pub basement. Day and night, apparently, the clawing persisted.
The story goes that at first Pemberton thought it was a rat. However, the noise purportedly grew so intense that eventually his neighbors could hear it, too. Within days, it seems, “the pub was shaken from top to bottom and the windows of the pub were left open in case the vibrations shattered the glass.”
Suddenly and without explanation, it seems, the noise stopped, and everything appeared to return to normal. Then, recounted Sleman, one night a boozy patron knocked on the wall three times and received the answer of three knocks in return. Yes, summoned from the other side, the scratching returned in force.
This time, moreover, the infernal noise was accompanied by the relentless sound of a bell tolling. Indeed, according to Sleman, for an entire week the bell rang and the scratching continued. And the commotion only finally stopped when a priest from the local St.Mary’s Church dared to venture into the cellar and left behind a bible, claimed Sleman.
Back in the present, our own story begins with a Twitter user who goes by the handle of Captain Insensible (@keswickbro). The “captain” describes himself as “purveyor of cynicism,” and his Twitter feed overflows with anarchic commentary on British politics and soccer.
In February 2016 Captain Insensible was searching Google Maps for the Byrnes fish and chips shop – a famed establishment said by some to be the best chip shop in the U.K. As he scouted Google Street View for its location, he stumbled upon the Stuart. And then… “Something in the top window caught my eye,” he wrote.
What is that up there? A face? A person? Zooming in, the Captain beheld a stomach-churning sight: a grotesque, bald-headed monster leering through the glass. What’s more, at his side there appeared to be a shadowy second figure attired in a tuxedo. “Look closely,” the Captain tweeted, “And it appears to be breathing on the window.”
The story was picked up the Liverpool Echo less than week later; it ran with headline “Man uncovers ‘haunted pub’ on Google Street View.” After that, national tabloids – including The Mirror, The Daily Mail, The Sun and The Express – got hold of the story, and the tale of the Stuart’s seemingly unearthly guests went viral.
Some journalists furthermore made creative observations in an attempt to describe and explain the phenomenon. According to the Daily Mail, the figure on the left uncannily resembled the morose Addams Family butler, Lurch. The face on the right? A goblin from the Harry Potter films. And the resemblance certainly is uncanny.
However, audiences were divided by the story. Some dismissed it as nonsense, while others found the faces undeniably creepy. And several reviewers took to Google Plus to express their concern in a variety of eloquent ways. “There something weird there’s like a face or a ghost something like that I don’t know what it is dudes but don’t go there really,” wrote one Eduardo Sebastian Sosa Hernandez, managing to put into words what we were all thinking.
Nevertheless, even paranormal expert Slemen – a man well accustomed to the weird world of Liverpool’s afterlife – acknowledged that there was something unnerving about the figures. He told the Liverpool Echo, “I cannot vouch for the authenticity of the faces in the windows; they do look eerie though.”
So what were the faces in the windows? Ghosts? Shape-shifters? Visitors from another realm? Or were they psychological projections of a collective unconscious saturated with Hollywood images of ghouls and monsters? What other possible explanation could there be?
Well, one reader of the Liverpool Echo, Anthony Dale, claimed to know the answer. He posted a scathing comment beneath the newspaper story, offering an altogether more mundane explanation. “It’s a Halloween mask,” he explained. And it had reportedly been there “for years.”
Reality is rarely as dark or nightmarish as we might imagine to be, but that hardly matters in the realm of the unconscious. While it may have a simple explanation, this story proves how the apparent sight of two ghoulish figures in a window still has the power to jolt nerves and turn stomachs. And who doesn’t enjoy the make-believe of a good horror movie now and again?
As you can see, then, it only takes one snap for people to start concocting a spooky story. When one girl tried to recreate a fun vacation photo at Dundas Peak, she found this out, too. You see, in the background of her picture stood a mysterious figure, and it didn’t take long for people to start sharing their chilling explanations.
A young woman is flipping through Instagram, admiring her cousin’s snaps of an adventure in the mountains of Canada. Just a month previously, she had visited the spot herself, recreating the daring pose over a dizzying drop. However, she now notices something sinister in the background: an eerie figure watching her cousin from afar.
Dundas Peak is a popular viewpoint that overlooks the city of Hamilton in Ontario, Canada. Reached via a 2.4-mile circular trail, the area is a favorite spot with hikers, birdwatchers, walkers and cyclists. Impressively, it also features Hamilton’s tallest waterfall, the 135-foot Tew’s Falls.
However, these days it isn’t just outdoors enthusiasts who flock to Dundas Peak. With its rocky peaks and stomach-churning drops into Spencer Gorge below, the vantage point has become a popular spot with those seeking the perfect social media pose.
Yet in their desire to capture an Instagram-friendly shot of themselves conquering nature, many visitors are putting themselves at risk. Indeed, authorities report that the number of hikers who needed rescuing from the peak rose sharply over the course of 2016.
Still, despite the risks, Dundas Peak is more popular than ever with adventurers. In 2016, in fact, as many as 140,000 people are thought to have visited the area. And in the midst of these crowds was one man whose photograph would spark one of the most bizarre chapters in the history of the peak.
At first glance, the man’s souvenir snap doesn’t look like anything particularly special. Indeed, there seems to be little to tell it apart from the thousands of other Instagram images featuring visitors posing at Dundas Peak – of which there are currently some 10,000 online.
Wearing jeans and a dark jacket, the man poses on the edge of a rocky outcrop, and like many of the thrill-seeking visitors to Dundas Peak, he sits with one foot dangling perilously off the edge. In keeping with tradition, furthermore, he subsequently uploaded the snap to his Instagram account.
Soon, the man’s cousin noticed his post and the seemingly death-defying pose. And just a few days later, she and a friend made their own way to Dundas Peak. When they arrived, the pair took it in turns to step out onto the rocky ledge and recreate the original photograph.
After successfully taking their souvenir photos, the two friends then headed home. For the next month, life carried on as normal, with neither of them suspecting that there was anything unusual about their trek. Then, something truly strange happened – an unnerving incident that would put Dundas Peak more firmly in the spotlight than ever before.
At some point in 2016 a reddit user known as SlicedUpBeef made a fascinating post on the social news site. Apparently, they had accompanied the unidentified woman on her quest to recreate her cousin’s photograph. What’s more, they had a fascinating story to tell.
According to the reddit post, about a month after their visit to Dundas Peak, the woman was again looking at her cousin’s Instagram images. Suddenly, moreover, she noticed a striking difference between his photograph and the corresponding ones that she had taken with her friend.
In the original photo, a mysterious figure could be seen on the steep hillside beneath the trail. According to the poster, the terrain where the individual was standing was impossible to navigate on foot. So, how could a person be standing there? And why was the figure so strangely thin?
If that weren’t creepy enough, the poster additionally noted that the figure was standing in a bizarrely straight posture – and also appeared to have no face. “I know you’re probably thinking that is probably just a brave hiker,” they admitted. “But trust me, that spot is completely inaccessible.”
Because the poster’s friend’s photographs did not show the same anomaly, it seemed unlikely to be a naturally occurring phenomenon. So, just what did the original image show? Well, while the poster was prepared to admit that the figure might not be human, they appealed to the internet for suggestions.
Soon, the comments came flooding in. Some were quick to point out that people often went missing in and around Dundas Peak. Could, then, the mysterious figure be the ghost of an unfortunate hiker who met with a grisly fate in these hills?
Although some posters seemed to find the photograph frightening, the majority were sure that there must be a logical explanation. In fact, one claimed that it was an illusion created by holes in the rock. Another, meanwhile, said that melting ice was to blame.
Disappointingly, others also came forward to dispel the notion that the location was inaccessible to hikers. “Sorry to burst all your bubbles,” read one comment, “but there’s a trail that leads up to that area and goes around the escarpment just under the rocks. That is, most likely, a person hiking around.”
In fact, reddit user tharchitect42 went so far as to claim that they themselves might be the source of all the confusion. Apparently, they often went hiking at Dundas Peak – including on a date that tied in with the original poster’s timeline. Interestingly, they also recalled wearing dark jeans and a gray top – an outfit whose appearance would match that of the mystery figure.
However, these explanations didn’t satisfy everyone. As the story grew more popular, it was picked up by news outlets from around the world. Then, in the comments section of the MailOnline, one user brought up another hypothesis. Apparently, one Christmas Eve, there was a fatal train crash below Dundas Peak.
In total, 15 people lost their lives on that fateful day in 1934. So, could some of their tormented souls still be haunting the rugged landscape where they met their deaths? Although most locals seem to have taken the story with a pinch of salt, the mysterious photograph continues to send chills up many people’s spines.