Terrified family gift ghostly book to Brighton's most haunted house

By Richard Moss | 07 December 2015

Terrified family offload haunted book on spooky Preston Manor in Brighton

a photo of a leather bound ledger book with a large chunk missing from its cover
The haunted ledger, now residing at Preston Manor in Brighton© Royal Pavilion and Museums, Brighton & Hove
A family in Kent has donated a haunted book to Brighton’s most haunted house, Preston Manor, after being plagued by spectral visions and ghostly visitations.

The 1915 shop ledger, which was found bricked up in a jeweller’s wall in Brighton’s East Street during a demolition in the 1980s, was donated by Josephine Benyovits, who lives in Maidstone but grew up in Hove.

It was discovered by her father, Tony Benyovits, in 1988 when he was demolishing the Shorland Fooks shop which closed in 1984. But when they took it home the sinister book caused both father and daughter to suffer what they believe to be a number of “spirit visitations”.

Josephine reports that images appeared in her rug, including a group of men, women 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 - in December 1915 - prompting a call to the city’s spookiest site, Preston Manor.

“At first we weren’t sure whether we’d take this apparently ordinary, 100-year-old shop ledger”, says Venue Officer Paula Wrightson. “But 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.”

The book contains seemingly ordinary entries listing the jewellery sold from the shop which used to occupy a row of shopfronts in central Brighton.

a photo of a woman holding open a ledger
Preston Manor Venue Officer Paula Wrightson with the haunted ledger© Royal Pavilion and Museums, Brighton & Hove
Preston Manor has its own fair share of ghosts with a reputation for spectral activity and unexplained phenomena dating back to its days as a private home. Over the past 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.

When Wrightson eventually agreed to take the book, which has a battered leather binding with a large chunk missing from it, she asked the family deliver it to Preston Manor, which they did “immediately from Kent”.

“It sat on my desk for a couple of weeks,” she adds. “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 photograph of a ledger with transactions listed
The ledger lists the transactions from the former jeweller's shop in Brighton© Royal Pavilion and Museums, Brighton & Hove
Could there be a clue in the ledger entries?

Entries for Tuesday December 7 1915
Miss Baines 4 Madeira Villas brown antique cabinet frame 8/6 (8 shillings and six pence)
Miss H Butler writing indecipherable 2/9
Miss Fanshawe silkette blotter and ? case 2/6

Entries for Wednesday December 8 1915
The Rev G Stewart Newbury the Rectory Fittleworth 50 thin ladies VC and 50 gents VC 3/6 and 3/6
J H Wainwright Esq. 6 Grand Avenue 1 ? leaf money-case 3/6 and one velvet money-case 3/6
Mrs Baines 41 Medina Villas torch and ? box and torch and post and ins for box 6 18/6 and 5/6

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