Mrs. Sarah L. Winchester had to deal with the combined grief of losing both her child and husband; the pain of losing two people so dear destroyed her, and it would eventually lead her down a road of fascinating mystery. The important thing to know about Mrs. Winchester, however, is that she had $20,000,000 and all the time in the world, which she used to help cope with her loss. This personal tragedy planted the seed that would grow into the haunting story of Sarah Winchester and her home. Directed by Michael and Peter Spierig, Winchester is based on the true story of a woman who was convinced that she was being haunted by the ghosts of people who were killed by the famous rifle that her family manufactured.
Many people call Sarah Winchester’s home the “worlds most haunted house”, which largely remains a mystery to this day. It is believed that Sarah Winchester, heiress to the Winchester Rifle fortune, thought she was being haunted by the spirits of American Indians, Civil War soldiers, and others killed by Winchester rifles—that’s a hell of a class to be haunted by. After following the advice of a Medium, Sarah built a huge house in Northern California hoping it would appease the spirits. Once the building started, it never stopped—the construction was literally never-ending. It went on for the next 38 years because she believed that if she continued, she would live forever, but if she stopped… she would die. She had carpenters working shifts around the clock, and by the turn of the century the eight-room house had grown into a massive mansion.
Neighbors would hear a bell ring at midnight and 2 a.m, which ghost lore says are the times for the arrival and departure of the spirits. Mrs. Winchester would also never sleep in the same room two nights in a row because she thought it would confuse the evil spirits that were waiting for her. At the center of the mansion is a room called the Blue Room where she would go every night to communicate with the dead. It is reported that Sarah got her guidance from the spirits in the Blue Room, giving her construction plans for the mansion.
By the time she passed away the mansion contained 160 rooms, 2,000 doors, 10,000 windows, 47 stairways, 47 fireplaces, 13 bathrooms, and 6 kitchens. Throughout the house are half-driven nails because when the carpenters learned of Mrs. Winchester’s death they finally stopped working. Inside the mansion is an intricate maze filled with miles of twisting hallways that are made even more intriguing by secret passageways in the walls—so much detail and work went into the home just to confuse the evil spirits, which tells you how terrified of them she really was. Whether you believe in this stuff or not, there’s no doubting that something terrified Sarah Winchester.
The American Weekly in 1928, six years after her death, wrote: “When Mrs. Winchester set out for her Séance Room, it might well have discouraged the ghost of the Indian or even of a bloodhound, to follow her. After traversing an interminable labyrinth of rooms and hallways, suddenly she would push a button, a panel would fly back and she would step quickly from one apartment into another, and unless the pursuing ghost was watchful and quick, he would lose her. Then she opened a window in that apartment and climbed out, not into the open air, but onto the top of a flight of steps that took her down one story only to meet another flight that brought her right back up to the same level again, all inside the house. This was supposed to be very discomforting to evil spirits who are said to be naturally suspicious of traps.”
In the film, a skeptical San Francisco psychiatrist named Eric Price (played by Jason Clarke) was sent to evaluate Winchester’s (Helen Mirren) state of mind and discovered that her obsession with the house may not have been all in her head. “It’s about a woman who is deeply troubled by the violence of the rifle and what she inherited,” says Peter. “She’s trying to come to terms with that.” Because so little was known about Winchester herself, the directors had to base her off of letters and public record, so it’ll be interesting how they bring the mysterious woman to life.
Like many of these stories, it’s hard to say how much of it is true and how much has been exaggerated over the years. Regardless of whether or not you believe that she truly was haunted by evil spirits, it’s certainly a fascinating story that reflects the pain of losing someone so close and the kind of damage it can do to the mind. What do you guys think? Do you think she really was being stalked by evil spirits?
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Read more articles like this: The Conjuring and its True Story, Annabelle and her terrifying True Story, The Quiet Ones and its True Story, The Conjuring 2 and the True Story Behind the Enfield Poltergeist.