The Haunted Ledger

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A 1915 shop ledger found bricked up in a jeweller’s wall in Brighton’s East Street has been formally acquired by Preston Manor, following reports that it is haunted.

The Haunted Ledger cover
The Haunted Ledger cover

The ledger was donated by Josephine Benyovits – who now lives in Maidstone but grew up in Hove – and discovered by her father Tony Benyovits in 1988, when he was demolishing the Shorland Fooks shop (which closed in 1984). Having taken it home, the father and daughter believe they suffered a number of spirit visitations.

Josephine reports that images appeared in her rug, including a group of men, woman and children and a soldier with a horse. She says that one of the spirits told her that the ledger must be returned to Brighton for the centenary of its first entry – prompting a call to the city’s spookiest site, Preston Manor.

Preston Manor Venue Officer Paula Wrightson said: “At first we weren’t sure whether we’d take this apparently ordinary, 100-year-old shop ledger – until the family impressed on us quite how scared they were of having the book in their keeping. When I had a phone conversation with Josephine she seemed petrified!

“I had the family deliver the book to Preston Manor, which they did immediately from Kent, and it sat on my desk for a couple of weeks. During that time I had a meeting with a spiritual medium who was taking part in an event here, and she said she felt the book had ‘bad things’ emanating from it.

“For me personally, the most interesting aspect of the book is that the entries show what was sold in the shop exactly 100 years ago – but it remains to be seen whether there’s more to it than that.”

A photo of Shorland Fooks on the day before it closed in September 1984 is available to buy online.

Paula with the ledger
Paula with the ledger

Preston Manor can lay claim to being Brighton’s most-haunted house, a reputation which dates back to its days as a private home. Over the last decade it has hosted regular paranormal-themed tours, talks and events, continuing a trend started in the 1880s when séances were conducted in the house.