Have you ever wondered why haunted houses are always portrayed as old houses?
Personally I think old houses get a bum rap always being type caste in such a way. Is it because they’ve been around longer? Is it because they’ve had more owners, or seen the passing of more people so that there are more spirits in the house?
Or is it because, being older, they’ve had more time to be neglected and run down the way so many houses are when they feature them in a horror movie?
The answer may surprise you. It has nothing to do with either!
To understand you must go back to the late 1700’s and early 1800’s in England. At that time there was a very popular art period that affected architecture, painting and writing – it was called Romanticism. It’s not what you might think – sounds like pretty paintings and stories of love. In reality it had more to do with the way artists and writers looked at things – romanticizing them, making their imaginations fill in the blanks between reality and their ideas about the way something should be.
At that time, certain writers and architects decided that Medieval England was the epitome of community, chivalry and craftsmanship. So they decided to bring it alive again by first recreating Gothic castles. The writer, Sir Horace Walpole spent thirty years of his life converting his house, called Strawberry Hill, into a pseudo castle.
At about the same time artists began to paint very strange and disturbing pictures from their imagination. They portrayed nightmares as gargoyles sitting on a victim’s chest or creatures sucking their life force as they slept – and the victim was always a woman.
It doesn’t take a big stretch of our own imagination to see that this is how Dracula was “born” in popular fiction. The victim, a woman, the nightmare, Dracula and the setting – you guessed it – a haunted, spooky, Gothic castle. Sir Walter Scott made the “Gothic” novel an enduring type of literature that titillates even today. So now you know.
Do you have any spooky house stories to share?