The Monte Cristo Homestead
Written By: YN
Edited By: Grave Reviews Staff
From afar, the Monte Cristo Homestead looks like a king sitting on a throne, overlooking the rest of his subjects. It sat on top of a hill, raised above the rest of the buildings in the area. This two-story, Victorian-style manor was originally built and owned by the Crawleys, one of the most prominent family in Junee, New South Wales, Australia, back in the 19th century.
What once the ultimate status symbol in the region, the manor has now become Australia’s most haunted house. Tourists would pay bucks just to catch a glimpse of the souls that haunt its rooms and corridors.
For years, the manor is shrouded with stories of untimely deaths, rumored murders, and scandals regarding the family that used to live there. Whatever secrets it tries to hide behind closed doors, nothing can hold back the truth.
The Family and the Secret
It is impossible to talk about the Monte Cristo Homestead without also mentioning the first family that lived there. After all, most ghost stories are connected to the Crawley family, one way or another.
Christopher William Crawley and wife, Elizabeth, built the house in 1885. At first, it was just a farm with a small cottage. But with the Great Southern Railway Line, they turned it into a hotel for visitors. Their business boomed, allowing to expand their home into the majestic manor that it is nowadays. It became the region’s most famous social centers where rich socialites held balls and play tennis or golf. This was also where the couple raised their seven children who later grew up to live productive lives of their own. All of them were praised and loved by the people of Junee.
But if there was one thing that the rest of society found strange, it was Mrs. Crawley’s behavior. In people’s memories, she was an uptight, serious woman who always wore black lace dress, lace cap with a stand-up beaded collar. Everyone remembered her as being tight-fisted when running the Crawley household. After the death of her husband, she had become a recluse, only coming out of the house twice in the last 23 years of her life before her own death.
Like all Victorian family, the Crawleys were respected member of society. They were considered one of the pillars of the Junee’s community, and their names were known all throughout the region. But within the privacy of their own home, the Crawleys seem to hide something dark and sinister from the public eye.
Within Four walls
The history of Monte Cristo Homestead wasn’t all bright and cheery. Amid the luxurious façade, it also held stories of violence that stained its four walls. Former staff had recounted stories of harsh mistreatment from the couple, which later on evolved into the horror stories that circulate today.
One such story was about a pregnant maid who died after plummeting down from the balcony. Rumors said that the child she was carrying was fathered by Mr. Crawley himself, and that she was pushed off the veranda because of this. Up until today, tourists and past caretakers alike report of seeing a womanly figure in a period dress walking along the veranda at night.
Another story talked about the Crawley’s 18-month-old daughter, Magdelene, who died after falling violently off the stairs. Rumors said that she was pushed by one of the servants who held a grudge against the couple.
There was also the stable boy who was burned alive in his own bed. It was said that his masters had purposely set him on fire as punishment for not getting up to work. His soul now haunted the coach house, or so the legends says.
One of the most notable ghostly figures in the house was a man named Harold. He was a mentally ill man, a son of one of the caretakers of the manor, who was kept chained in the caretaker’s cottage for 40 years. Upon the death of Mrs. Crawley, Harold’s mother was left in charge of the whole estate. For years, it was only the two of them residing in the manor while he was kept chained to the wall like an animal. And when his mother died, he was left there for days, with no food to eat and no water to drink. The authorities later on found him curled at the feet of his dead mother, starved, dehydrated, and filthy. A few months later, he died inside a home for the mentally insane. However, his soul continues to walk along Monte Cristo Homestead, dragging along his chains as he looked for his mother.
The most famous ghost, however, was the matriarch of the Crawley household herself. Unable to let go of her former house, she was often seen roaming along the corridors, in her black lace dress and cap. It was said that if she doesn’t like what she see, she would let you know that she’s displeased.
A New Chapter and A New Family
With the death of Harold’s mom, the manor stood untended for years. This changed in 1963 when Reginald and Olive Ryan bought the house for only £1000 and restored it to its former glory.
Lawrence, their son, recalls the various incidents his family encountered with the house’s ghosts. This includes stories of lights suddenly turning on even though the whole house had no electricity the first time they arrived in the manor. While at night, they could hear footsteps on the balcony even though everyone was in bed. There were items being moved around, strange noises and voices from the other room, invisible eyes that watched them from afar, and a ghostly hand touching them on the shoulder.
The scariest story was back when Lawrence was only five years old. His parents held a party in the ball room, while he was brought to bed early that evening. When one of his sisters came up to his room to check on him, she saw a strange man sitting at the end of his bed and staring at him while he slept. His sister screamed when the man suddenly turned to look at her with a glare. It was after the incident when the family realized that the man on Lawrence’s bed was no other than Mr. Crawley himself.
Nowadays, the homestead operates as a museum, antique store, and tourist attraction. People can take a look at its classic design and learn of Junee’s history through the various tour packages offered.
Its fame had even reached television shows such as A Big Country, Getaway, Scream Test, Ghost Hunters International, and My Ghost Story. It has also been the focus of several documentaries in the past years.
At the present, people can experience its haunting attraction every Saturday at 6pm through its ghost tours. Just remember to bring your own torch during then.
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