Locked away in attics, basements, and dark corners across the world are stories of beings and beasts that hide in the night.
These are those stories.
This is the Sleepless in Suburbia Podcast
I’m Brooke, case manager for our team, and this is the audio recap for Case 120: The Larkspur Tea Room.
My lack of sleep, caused mainly by more sleepwalking than sleep sleeping and probably watching shows like I’ll Be Gone in the Dark before trying to go to sleep, has left me a bit edgy. Which, I thought I was doing a pretty good job at keeping under wraps, but I’ve kind of got the feeling, my cranky alter-ego is sending people scattering for cover.
Which is how I landed at Ford’s parent’s house floating on a giant Creamsicle in the middle of the pool. Ford thought quote, “a little Vitamin D flotation time would do you some good.” I resisted, I insisted through anxiety waves in my stomach that I was fine, she was overthinking… but there I was. Slathered in SPF 50, because red hair, gliding my hand along the surface of the water.
“I was skimming the inbox last night,” Claire said, flipping over onto her stomach, sending little ripples across the pool. “Did you guys read the email about the tea room?”
I hadn’t, I’d been self-medicating with Buffy and Angel reruns. Easier to ignore the tension creeping up your shoulders and tightening your jaw, with a good old 90’s fashion vampire slaying.
“That property has the little ghost boy? The one who plays with people?” Pru asked.
“That’s the one,” Claire said.
“I just about have it….” Ford scrolled her phone, kicking her feet in the water, sending the occasional stray droplet across my legs. “Here it is.” She read.
Subject Line: Haunted Larkspur Tea Room
Sleepless in Suburbia,
My name is Honour, I’m the general manager at the Larkspur Tea Room, in Smithton. We seem to have a problem of the haunted variety.
It’s a lot to tackle in an email, without rambling, so I will share our most recent situation. We had a private party of 12 enjoying a Royal Rose Bud Tea Service in the Violet Room. It had been maybe 15 min since we’d laid out the scones, quiche, and tea when the hostess found me in the garden. She explained that the little boy didn’t like tea, and would I please bring some lemonade in for him.
I was unaware of a little boy at the tea room. She explained that the little boy was rolling a ball on the floor, and when asked if he’d like some tea or a cookie, he said he didn’t like tea. The woman assumed he was the child of a staff member who maybe didn’t have a sitter for the day. I joined the party in the Violet Room; the little boy was gone. None of the guests had noticed him leave; it was like he was there one second and gone the next.
A while later, while walking through the main tea room, I heard this banging overhead in the attic. It sounded like a ball bouncing over and over again. That’s when it clicked, they’d seen the boy in the attic.
I’ve watched ghost shows on tv, and I know there’s a chance there can be negative spirits masking themselves as innocent kids. We’d appreciate it if your team can come out and help get to the bottom of what’s going on here.
The Larkspur Tea Room is an Alice in Wonderland themed business and everything I didn’t know I needed in a social destination.
The building itself is old, dating back to the 1850’s. It has Gothic-inspired cross-gables and wood clapboard painted gray faded by decades of weather. Capping off the gabled roof are wood shake shingles adorned with three red brick chimneys. Behind the building is a large garden full of colorful flowers and spiral cypress topiaries. Brick paths wind through the garden, leading to wooden benches and a couple of stone birdbaths.
Inside, The Cheshire Room is the main tea room, taking up a good portion of the main level. To the left of the hostess stand is an eclectically decorated smaller tea room named, The Tiger Lily Room. Off the Cheshire Room is the Violet Room. The main level also holds the kitchen. Just behind the hostess stand is a flight of stairs leading up to the second floor. Here you’ll find an office and two small tea rooms, both seat no more than ten guests. The White Rabbit Room hosts children’s tea parties and The Queen of Hearts Room.
Back on the main level, behind the kitchen, is a mudroom. It doesn’t look like much on first inspection. Wood paneling painted white, with hooks, where the employees hang their jackets and personal items. If you didn’t know to look. You’d easily miss a thin vertical seam, about ⅔ across the wall. If you push on that seam, a door in the wall pops open. Leading you up a very, I’m talking claustrophobic ly narrow stairwell, leading up to an equally claustrophobic room in the attic. This hidden attic room is maybe 15 by 15 feet, with a slanting ceiling, as the room is nestled in one of the building’s gables.
While in the rest of the attic, you’d never know there was a tiny little room nestled in the corner. Even now, there are stacks of boxes and old furniture against the wall. The vibe is very much nothing to see here.
Or this week, Claire Update, the need to check into the possible hellhound growling, was bumped up a notch when Claire refused to go home. Her fiancé Jeremy was traveling for business, leaving just her and Dean in the house. This lasted until about 10 o’clock when my doorbell rang, causing me to have a heart attack and Laney to bark her face off like our lives depended on it.
I opened the door to a stark white Claire and a hard to gage any emotional response teenager.
“Claire?” I said, stepping aside so they could come in.
“It’s back, I saw it’s eyes,” she responded, voice shaking, walking in, dropping her purple overnight bag onto the hardwood floor.
The entry lights turned on as Asher leaned over the second-floor railing, “Everything okay?” He asked.
I nodded, pulling Claire in for a hug, “Just a hell hound flair up.”
“Oh, well sure,” he said, “Dean, James is still up playing Call of Duty if you’d like to join him.” Leave it to Asher to not miss a beat even while talking about demonic dogs. As Dean vanished from sight upstairs, the entry light turned off.
I text Ford and Lo. Me, “You girls up for hunting a hellhound?”
Ford “So it really is back?”
Lo “See you in 30.”
Claire was settling in under a heated blanket on the sofa, “Oh no ma’am,” I said. “It’s time to face this thing.
45 min later, yah 45, we were late because I practically had to drag Claire from my house.
I sat with Claire in her bedroom, Lo sat in the living room, and Ford stood watch in the hallway. Lights out, digital recorder running, we waited and listened. The air conditioning clicking on nearly made Claire cry, and Ford’s stomach grumbling in the hall caused Lo to come running. Then I heard the faintest noise; I wasn’t exactly sure what Id heard, maybe Ford’s stomach again, angry to have missed dinner. Listening back to the audio, it was very clear. Here’s my audio:
Please Listen to Show for EVP
It was back; I hopped off the bed, opening the bedroom windows. “Ladies, open the windows.”
“Which ones?” Claire whispered behind me.
“All of them, we’re kicking this entity out.”
I pulled out seven plastic bowls back in the living room, one for the Basement, Office, Main living area, three bedrooms, and hall bathroom. I poured enough salt in each bowl to fully cover the bottom and handed it to the girls to fill halfway with water and then place it in a room. Salt bowls work wonders for pulling in negative and stagnant energy. (Sidebar: If there’s any interest, we can absolutely do a salt bowl tutorial via podcast or video.). With a salt bowl in each room, I handed out sage bundles from JL Local, not an ad; we just love that the bundles are sustainably sourced. Together, each with a bundle in hand, we began smudging the house, starting with lighting our bundles at the front door and then moving together clockwise through the house.
As we moved together, Lo recited:
I command any negativity, low vibrational energy, and nonbenevolent beings within this space to leave right now and go to the light or the depths in which you came. You are not welcome here. You may not remain in this home. I command you to leave this instant and go to the light or the depths. Be gone.
Repeating these words time and time again.
As we left Dean’s room, a gust of wind blew his curtains nearly perpendicular to the floor. It was a hot night outside, but the rush of air was icy cold. We heard another howl, it sounded almost painful, and then the room was still. The curtains hung limp against the window frame.
After finishing smudging the house and reading a blessing over the property, we split up to collect the salt bowls.
“What the crap?” Ford said, holding a bowl towards me. The water in the bowl from Dean’s room had turned a rusty orange. “That’s not good, right?”
“I’m, I’m not sure,” I said, knitting my eyebrows together. “I’ve never seen a bowl turn that color before.
“My bowl turned yellow,” Claire said, joining Ford and me in the bathroom.
The pale yellow water moved thickly, almost like melting jello in the bowl. “Sulfur. Demonic residue.” I said.
Taking the bowl from Ford first, I carefully poured the rotting meat smelling contents into the toilet, repeating, “Leave this space and do no harm.” As the contents flushed away, I repeated the same thing with every salt bowl in the house.
It was gone, again, but I couldn’t help but wonder how long it would be before it or one of its friends came back. And if it did come back, we’d have to do a lot more digging into what was causing the repeat hellhound occurrences in Claire’s home.
I know that was a heck of an update, but we still have case 120 to get into. Here’s the Historical society Research for The Larkspur Tea Room.
Historical Society Research
Lark used access to the virtual archives to compile this case’s historical research.
Once a home, the building was constructed in 1848—home to James Pierce, a believed abolitionist, and his family. According to journal entries written by Anne Barstow, great-granddaughter of Mary Annie & James, in 1850, a secret stairwell was constructed within a wall in the home, leading to a small room in the attack. Slaves escaping the atrocities of the south used this room as a stop along the Underground Railroad. James’s wife, Mary Anne, sewed patchwork stuffed animals to give the children staying in the attic room.
There are a couple of tragedies on the property.
Newspaper clippings from the summer of 1964 detail the death of a little boy on the property. His name was Nathan Carpenter. It was a warm summer evening, and Nathan and his sister Carla were chasing lightning bugs around the front yard. Seven-year-old Nathan was so focused on catching more lightning bugs for his jar than his sister; he didn’t notice he’d drifted into the road. It happened so quickly the driver didn’t have time to react. Nathan died a few hours later in the hospital.
In 1980, a mother laid out on a beach towel tanning while her husband grilled, and the children played. One of the children knocked into the grill, causing an avalanche of hot coals to tumble on the mother’s back. She survived to sustain 3rd-degree burns over most of her back, shoulders, and calves.
Onsite Interview Recap
Honour had a gorgeous tea set up when we arrived on site. Stunning doesn’t do it justice. The Tiger Lilly Room was breathtaking.
“Is this for us?” Ford asked, turning in circles to take in the entire room.
“It’s the least we can do,” Honour said, arranging a vase of yellow and orange lilies.
The floor had an old-timey black and white checkerboard vibe, but instead of black squares, there were black spades. The walls were a bubble gum pink with black picture frames. Each frame had a painter portrait of a person, each having the trait of an animal. One portrait of a girl with gray eyes had long rabbit ears. A boy with auburn hair had a cat nose and whiskers. Making it even more bizarre, some of the black-framed paintings hung upside down on the wall.
“This room is magnificent,” Pru gushed, running her fingers over a black velvet chaise lounge in the room’s corner. “Do you think David would let me have one of these.”
Tea was served in beautiful antique teapots, with matching cups on cute little saucers. The food, you guys, I gained 15 pounds at a single tea party. There were mixed berry crepes, scones with raspberry preserve and freshly turned honey butter, three different kinds of tea sandwiches: 4 cheese grilled cheese, Granny Smith apple with Nutella, curried chicken salad, summer balsamic salad, and mini cookie and cupcake platters. Above the buffet tables of treats, written in beautiful black script on the wall, were the words, Eat Me.
If we ever have a Sleepless in Suburbia Meet Up…. It’s going to be a tea party.
Two plates full of treats in hand, I settled next to Claire at a table set with water goblets and glasses of shimmering pink lemonade. I don’t know how they did it, edible glitter maybe, but the lemonade actually sparkled.
Trying to be subtle, I jostled the glass of pink lemonade watching the shimmer dance around; I said, “Tell us more about the boy in the attic. The experience in your email is that the first encounter with the little boy?”
“No no, he’s like a living kid, very active,” she said.
The staff believes the little boy with platinum blonde hair is the spirit of the little boy killed while chasing fireflies. Nate, that’s what the staff calls the boy, is by all accounts living his best life in the afterlife. He is seen frequently in the Violet room, attic, and front yard.
Earlier this summer, a woman arrived to meet friends for tea, approaching the hostess on duty very concerned about the little boy unsupervised on the front lawn. She wanted to know where the boy’s mother was because the child was sitting on the sidewalk, entirely too close to the street, smashing matchbox race cars into fallen across. The hostess said to her knowledge the woman was the first guest to arrive for the day, and the staff didn’t have any children on the property. Returning to the lawn to check on the boy, he was gone, leaving behind acorns’ crushed remnants.
“Has the staff seen Nate?” Claire asked, pen poised over her purple notebook.
“Oh yes, hold on a second,” She touched an earpiece almost hidden by her golden mermaid waves. “Marki can you join us in the Tiger Lilly Room?”
A few moments later, a sprite of a woman floated into the room. That’s the best way to describe her graceful glide, not really a walk, a float for sure. Shaggy ebony black bangs curtained her eyes, leaving just a hint of cat-like green eyes beneath. The rest of the hair was pulled back away from her face in loose braids. If she wasn’t presently or in a past life a ballerina, she’d missed her calling,
“Can you tell the ladies about your experiences with Nate?” Honour promoted.
“Oh course,” her voice was light and airy. “I first saw him in the mudroom, I lifted my jacket, and there he was. I’m not sure which one of us was more startled. I gasped, and he covered his eyes with his hands; as he did so, he became fading away like fog evaporating from the morning sun. I said, ‘no, no, wait, don’t go I’m sorry I startled you.’ But he was gone, the entire encounter lasted maybe 30 seconds.”
“Can you describe the little boy?” Ford asked.
“Nate, his name is Nate,” Marki corrected. “He has really blonde hair that is always a mess. His eyes are hazel; sometimes, they look green other times; they are nearly grey. There are light freckles across his cheek and nose. Oh, and a little scar right here,” she said, pointing to her right eyebrow.
“That’s very vivid,” Ford said.
“When you see him,” Marki paused, fidgeting with a lava bead bracelet on her wrist. “You can’t tell he’s living his afterlife instead of his physical life. He looks as alive as I imagine he did while walking this world in his physical body. You don’t realize he’s a spirit until he fades away.”
Sweet baby angel.
After encountering Nate behind her jacket, Marki drove straight to a local big box store and bought two matchbox race cars. One blue and one red, they were her nephew’s favorite toys, and her nephew and the boy behind her jacket seemed about the same age. While checking out, a squishy dinosaur toy caught her eye, so she grabbed that for the child as well.
The next day after hanging her jacket on the hook, she placed the green squishy dinosaur and two matchbox cars on the bench below the hooks. After her shift, the dinosaur was knocked over, the red car was in her jacket pocket, and the blue car was missing altogether. She asked her coworkers, and no one fessed up to messing with the toys. Several days passed, and Marki was in the office, filling out a schedule swap request when she heard something rolling across the floor overhead. Walking up the stairs into the attic, she almost stepped on the blue matchbox car.
Now Nate appears to Marki almost weekly. Sometimes it’s just a glimpse other times she’s seen him disappearing behind a hedge in the garden. Marki says she feels his joyful presence almost every time she’s at work.
“Is it just Nate that people encounter?” I asked.
The two women laughed, that was I no, I guess. People also experienced a man’s spirit, a woman watching from windows of unoccupied rooms, and several different disembodied voices and sounds.
Here are additional haunted experiences taking place at the Larkspur Tea Room
- Staff have witnessed a man crawling up and down the secret stairs.
- Nate seems to enjoy playing in the attic.
- Footsteps can be heard bouncing around upstairs as he giggles and laughs.
- Sometimes it sounds like more than one child is up there.
- A woman has been seen walking the halls and peeking out the windows at people entering the home from the garden below.
- Disembodied voices
- woman’s voice will be right next to your ear and whisper, “Shhh, shhh,”
- A child’s voice saying, “your turn”
- A kitchen staffer felt someone push on the back of his legs; as he turned around to see what bumped him, he heard a childlike voice say TAG.
- People entering the hidden attic report feeling complete unease.
- While in the room, people have felt queasy, light-headed, and like they can’t breathe.
- There are countless claims by guests and staff of seeing someone or something move out of the corner of the eye
- A man visiting the grounds reportedly captured the face of a woman in one of the upstairs windows while he walked the gardens
- Shadows figures have been seen on each floor
- The sound of a toy car rolling across the wooden floors
For this investigation, we’d split up into three teams.
Lo and Claire – would take the main level, including: the Cheshire Room, The Violet Room, The Tiger Lily Room, kitchen, guest bathrooms, and mudroom.
Ford and Pru – Would take the second level, including: the office, a couple of storage closets, a bathroom, The White Rabbit Room, and the Queen of Hearts Room.
And I drew the short straw and would take the secret stairwell, secret attic room as well as the rest of the attic… alone.
Each team carried an identical Research Pack.
Research Packs included:
- 1 Digital Voice Recorder
- Digital Camera
- Complete first aid kit
- 1 Flashlight
- Lunchables and vegan protein bars
- Walkie Talkie
- Battery Pack
- Kids Pack – including legos, bouncy ball, race car, and gum… courtesy of James.
- Battery Pack – Containing extra batteries for all electronic devices.
Research packs in hand, each team headed to their designated Research area.
These are our Experiences….
We’ll start at the top and work our way down.
Me in the Attic:
I began in the hidden stairwell, once used by dozens of slaves escaping from the south. The stairwell in the wall was impossibly black as I slowly inched my way up, one step at a time. In this location, staff members have seen what appears to be a translucent man, traversing the stairs on both his hands and feet in a bait crawl type of position. A tea sommelier shared that while walking up the stairs, the figure came towards him down the stairs moving straight through him, causing the hair on his arms to stand on end. That was the last time the Sommelier used the hidden stairwell.
I took a step, paused, scanning the darkness for any variation in depth. Then another step, holding my breath, listening for clambering feet or voices. Halfway up the stairwell, I heard a loud thump; I froze. Something was dragging across the wall or maybe the floor around me. Fumbling in my pocket, I retrieved my digital recording, hitting record. A quieter thump and more dragging sound. It was so close.
“Sorry, guys, that was me,” my walkie talkie crackled to life on my hip. I lurched away from the sound, losing my footing, and sliding down a few stairs in what felt like a tunnel of darkness.
**walkie talkie squawk** “Ford fell,” Claire’s voice came through the darkness. “Then she had a tad bit of trouble getting back upright”
Apparently, Ford’s klutz was contagious tonight. “Going back radio silent” I said into the walkie before standing up, retracing my steps back up in the pitch blackness.
My hand grazed a door, I felt around for the doorknob, opening it into the secret room and stepping in, my forehead collided with the top of the doorframe. I’d forgotten that the doorway into the room was much shorter than a standard door frame. Fighting back the urge to blame Ford for my absent-mindedness, I took a seat in the middle of the room. The flashlight beam revealed I had not hit record on my digital recorder on the stairs. It was a very bumpy start to the evening.
I began my EVP session, “Hi my name is Brooke, I’m just here to talk if you’re up for it. This machine in my hand, the one with the red light, it can record your voice.”
As I worked my way through standard session questions:
Is anyone in here with me?
What’s your name?
A wave of intense emotions nearly knocked me over for a second time. One second asked, “Would you like to talk to me?” The next, I was crying uncontrollably. It wasn’t even that I was sad; in fact, sad didn’t even register as I scanned myself trying to figure out exactly what I was feeling. I was frustrated, angry, and laced somewhere in the swirling emotions was fear.
The room felt thick, suffocating, and I walked the line between wanting to hide away in the small room’s corner and bolt down the stairs. Along with the intense emotional reaction, I caught the following EVP on my digital recorder. Here it is.
Please Listen to Show for EVP
Did you hear someone shushing me through the audio? Maybe even the dead think I talk too much?
From the small room, I shifted my focus to the larger main area of the attic. This space did not have the emotional spiral felt in the smaller hidden attic room. I felt almost an immediate switch in my mood. I really hoped to play cars with Nate, but the main attic didn’t have any noticeable or documented activity.
After completing my attic investigation, I headed outside to review evidence in the garden to not contaminate the other team’s investigation.
On the second level, Ford and Pru were off to a slow and bloody start. Ford’s fall 10 min into the investigation busted open her already bruised left knee. Which is the exact reason we always carry at the very minimum bandaids.
Activity on the second level began with a cold spot in the White Rabbit Room located near an oversized toy box full to the brim with toys. Pru was the first to feel the chill, and Ford noted, the temperature was 6 degrees cooler than the rest of the room.
Grabbing a double of tractors from the toy box, Pru sat on the floor, running her digital recorder. She pushed the tractors around, inviting Nate to join in her. It only took 4 min of play to capture this EVP. Let’s listen.
Please Listen to Show for EVP
It sounds to us like Nate enjoyed playing with Pru. Shortly after the laughter was caught on Pru’s digital recorder, the cold spot dissipated, and no more acting was documented in the White Rabbit Room.
Walking from the office into the hallway, Ford noticed the intense smell of flowers, Lilacs.
Before ending their investigation, they heard the sound of feet running overhead in the main attic area. Here’s what they captured on their digital recorder.
Please Listen to Show for EVP
Could that be Nate running and playing in the attic?
Lo and Claire worked their way through the oh so quiet main level until a boom brought our investigation to a screeching halt. Thunder, it was thunder. A massive storm moved in, lighting, steady high wind, and lots of thunder. Investigating became nearly impossible. So our night was cut a couple hours short.
As disappointed as we were to wrap early, we were confident we’d caught enough evidence to take back to Honour.
“But, he seems so happy, we don’t want to push him out.” Honour said, rolling up silverware in brightly colored linen napkins.
“Nate won’t be forced to leave; we just want him to have the option to crossover if that’s what he wants.” I said.
We sat with Honor at a stone table on a small patio off the garden. She was surprised by how much activity was documented during our investigation. Though the property didn’t seem to have any dangerous, aggressive entities lurking about, some trapped souls were caught in turmoil in the building.
Beatrice, a local medium and energy coach, was the perfect person to conduct an invitation of clearing through the building. She would guide the spirits to go into the light, but only if that’s where they wanted to be. No one was getting booted from their afterlife haunting unless it was by choice.
We put Beatrice and Honour in contact; a week later, the clearing invitation was conducted, now four weeks later…. little race cars are still being found around the building. Guests report seeing a little boy hiding under tables or running through the garden. Nate is still at the Larkspur Tea Room. However, the overwhelming feeling of unease in the secret attic room has lifted. There also haven’t been any more sightings of shadows or the man crawling up the hidden staircase. We hope that those souls trapped in the house from their anxious time hiding here so many years ago are now free.
After our update from Beatrice and chatting with Honour…. we are comfortable closing case 120: The Larkspur Tea Room.
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