Dramatisation based on an MR James short story. Oxbridge academic Anderson settles into a hotel in a small cathedral city to research its ecclesiastical history.
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Anderson, you say?
Oh yes, here it is.
I've put you on the top floor.
Nice views of the cathedral up there.
You stayed here before, sir?
I haven't had that pleasure.
Oh! One of the oldest buildings in the town, is this.
I can tell you a bit of the history...
Yes, well, perhaps once I've settled in.
Well... Best take you up, then.
No, no. I'm sorry, this is no good!
Too many steps.
Weak knees, I'm afraid.
Perhaps one on a lower floor?
This one to your liking, sir?
No, not unless there's a desk hiding somewhere.
You won't get the same views.
I'm not interested in views. I simply require somewhere to sleep and work.
What about this one? Number 12.
You see, now?
This is perfect.
-Will you be taking supper tonight, Mr Anderson?
-I suppose so.
I dare say it's the safest prospect.
Sir. Could I ask if you wouldn't mind...
settling the bill for your stay in advance?
I don't know, it's...most unusual.
I understand, sir.
But you see, the problem is, from time to time,
we've had guests disappear without paying.
Surely not respectable guests?
Oh, I'm afraid so, sir.
There was a Mr Entwistle.
College man, like yourself. Seemed nice enough, then...
Boof! Gone one night without settling his bill.
Well, I'm sure I don't intend to disappear.
Much obliged, sir.
-This is quite a hoard.
Some of these manuscripts date from the eighth century.
Things were in rather a jumble.
A Cambridge man helped us for a short while.
But we are gradually imposing some order.
Making discoveries, it seems.
Well, that's for you to judge.
So, where exactly did these turn up?
They were found hidden in a hole in the wall, would you believe?
Hm-mm. No. Usual stuff.
Objections to the prayer book, painted glass, popish ornaments...
Although the complaints against the Bishop Walgrave seem a little, um...
They get quite worked up about his house.
"Curious lights... Unnatural cries...
"A stranger who comes and goes in the night-time."
I'm surprised I've never come across any record of him.
He does seem a rather unpopular bishop.
I'm afraid I have to close up for the night.
Ah, you must be my neighbour.
-Going down to dinner?
-Not many guests!
-I really have no idea.
It can be a bit dull this time of year.
I expect we'll all be dining together.
< NOISY SLURPING
HE SLURPS NOISILY
Here on business, then?
-A scholarly matter.
My firm does a lot of work with your lot. Colleges, dons.
Dare say you've heard of us.
-I doubt it. I'm from Oxford.
The cathedral archivist turned up some Cromwellian era documents.
I'm authenticating them.
-I'm considered to be rather an authority...
If you ask me those Puritans were a grim lot. Dressed all in black.
Telling everyone what they can and can't do.
I'd sooner have been a Cavalier, me.
Far more fun.
Well... That's that, then.
Fancy a cigar in the lounge?
Not for me.
BIRDS SING AND CHATTER
You're missing 13!
Still interested in the Bishop?
Do you think he's mentioned anywhere else in the archive?
You never know.
And how about...
You don't recognise the name?
Can't say I do. Who is he?
I'm not sure...yet.
I must say, you're a superstitious lot round here.
I thought things may have improved since Cromwell's day.
What makes you say that?
My hotel doesn't list a room number 13, for one.
Yours won't be the only establishment
not to have an unlucky number 13.
So, if you could point me in the direction of the diocese records,
I'll see if I can track down your much maligned Bishop, and his house of ill repute.
In the most surprising of places.
The record of the 1647 witch trials,
testimony of an Ann Mundy.
Aside from confessing to the drowning of children and the suckling of a giant rat,
she claims to have been taken to a local house to go before the Devil's emissary.
"A foreign man", she calls him.
"Where he did conjure evil spirits and bade me make covenant with the Devil".
Amazing what these poor wretches would say under torture.
Yes, I agree. The house in question...
belonged to the Bishop.
I've been looking to see if she puts a name to this "Devil's emissary".
A WOMAN'S LAUGHTER ECHOES
-Anyway, it was one of the most extraordinary experiences of my life!
HE WHISPERS What?
-As I as telling you before I never had occasion to go back there again,
-but, since she's still there, y'know, married to that old bore...
Those really are remarkable stones.
-What are they?
Ah! Yes. Quite so.
UNEARTHLY VOICE SHOUTS
WOMAN'S LAUGHTER ECHOES IN ROOM
UNEARTHLY VOICE BREATHES
HIS BLOWS ECHO BACK
UNEARTHLY VOICE HISSES
CLAWING AND SCRABBLING
LAUGHTER ECHOES ROUND ROOM
MULTIPLE VOICES WHISPER AND CHATTER
MAN HUMS TO HIMSELF
KNOCK ON DOOR
No... Come in.
I want to have a word with you.
What have you done with my portmanteau?
The large square piece of luggage you carried up. Hmm?
I... I didn't see you bring it back in.
Oh, I'm terribly sorry, I... I thought it was a different room.
Wait! You didn't think it was...
-I was on my way to see you.
Because I think we need to talk about what exactly WAS sealed up in that wall.
The parchment signed by Nicholas Francken...
The one I found and put back.
The one that went missing the very next day.
I really have no idea what you're talking about.
It would be a shame if I had to go to the dean.
I was talking to the dean last night.
He's a little concerned about where your inquiries are heading.
I'm sure you are a serious scholar, Mr Anderson,
no axe to grind against the Church.
But we do think it wise to know exactly what's in our archive,
before we open it to prying eyes.
Are you telling me to stay away?
For the time being.
For heaven's sake, man!
This is ludicrous! I'm an historian.
I'm not trying to prove the Bishop really was in league with a fiend.
-Surely you don't believe that?
-What I believe, is not the point.
This is largely a rural community, Mr Anderson.
As you know, superstition is rife.
Half of our flock still swear by the Black Shuck and Jack O'Lantern.
The last thing they need, is the rumour of a witch house in the town.
You mean... the Bishop's house still exists?
Go back to your dreaming spires, Professor.
Leave the Church to deal with its own nightmares.
'The Bishop's house...still exists?
'"Where he did conjure evil spirits and bade me make covenant with the Devil."
'Amazing what these poor wretches will say under torture.
'This is largely a rural community, Mr Anderson.
'Half of our flock still swear by the Black Shuck and Jack O'Lantern.'
Be wanting some supper?
No, no. I'm... I'm not hungry.
It's quiet tonight.
No Miss Goddard and her mother?
Checked out this afternoon.
What about Jenkins... the lawyer fellow?
-Can I get you a drink, sir?
-No, no, no. I'm fine.
You know, what I'd like, is to hear some of your local history.
You offered to tell me when I first arrived.
Well, I am rather busy, sir.
I am very, very interested.
Well, I... I really only know a few bits and pieces.
There was a house on this site mentioned in the Domesday Book.
Was there? That's fascinating.
Oh, yes. It was in the hands of the Walgrave family for generations.
Changed hands a number of times in the last two hundred years or so.
Let me see, there was...
Wait a minute, Walgrave family?
That's not Bishop Walgrave, is it?
Yes, that's right!
The parliament men threw him in the Tower then they stormed this place,
looking for some foreigner who he'd been harbouring.
Francken, that was his name.
And the story goes, he vanished into thin air when they fired at him.
Look, why don't you call up to my room, once you've finished your accounts?
I can make a few notes, then.
BANGING AND SCRAPING
CHILD'S LAUGHTER ECHOES IN ROOM
WOMAN SPEAKS INDISTINCTLY
MULTIPLE VOICES MURMUR
< 'I confess to the sin of witchcraft, murder and drowning of several children...'
< 'Under the demon's spell that I did suckle a giant rat unto mine breast, for to give succour...
< 'It was he, Nicholas Francken, who bade the Devil rise!'
PIERCING WHISTLING TONE
'It was he, Nicholas Francken, who bade the Devil rise!'
I've brought us a little nightcap.
Anything the matter?
-D'you think it's funny, do you?
Playing tricks on outsiders?
Scaring them half to death with your idiot shadows?
I thought you wanted to know about the hotel.
The only thing I want to know about is room 13!
Mr Anderson, please!
I've seen it.
I know it's there.
I just don't know how you do it.
Perhaps a good night's sleep, eh?
Well, that would be a fine thing.
Oh, it's the staff, isn't it?
I suppose they found out about my work,
about Nicholas Francken.
You know they creep in here to rearrange my things?
Oh, I don't think so, sir.
All right, you tell me where my portmanteau's gone?
It's not the first time.
It's that porter.
He's a surly fellow.
Is he the one in number 13?
For the last time, there is no number 13!
GHOSTLY LAUGHTER ECHOES There!
You... You heard it!
Sometimes, it's like there's hundreds of them in there.
It must be Mr Jenkins, drunk again.
-No, mad, more like.
Please. This noise.
Drink, by all means, but...
Let me sleep!
ECHOING: Let me sleep!
LOW DEMONIC BABBLING
I see it. But I can still hardly believe it.
Fetch your man to break it down.
I noticed this room before, but I always put it down to the brandy.
I get a bit carried away, sometimes.
I'm not surprised. It's the only way to get any sleep here.
I thought I was seeing things...
Or that someone was playing an elaborate practical joke.
Maybe they are.
Then they've found the perfect pair to make asses of.
FIZZING AND CRACKLING
GHOSTLY LAUGHTER No! No!
No! No! Help me!
-The thing in 13...
It tried to snatch him.
You'll let it out!
GHOSTLY VOICE EXHALES
Ugh... What time is it?
I've slept the sleep of the dead.
You were quite alive.
-I could tell by your snoring.
You know, this was the room the landlord originally offered me.
Imagine if you'd taken it.
All the excitement you would have missed.
WOOD CREAKS AND SPLINTERS
They must be taking up the floorboards.
Gunton's determined to find a trace of number 13.
Don't look so glum. It might be good for business having a ghost room.
What is it?
What have you found?
The Cambridge man.
The one I thought had gone without paying.
Subtitles by Heather Middleton Red Bee Media Ltd
E-mail [email protected]
Dramatisation based on an MR James short story and in the tradition of the BBC's ghost stories for Christmas. Oxbridge academic Anderson settles into The Golden Lion Hotel in a small cathedral city to research its ecclesiastical history, when the subject of his research begins to disturb his slumber.