Off the top of my head, I can think of two stories of ghostly kisses. In one story, the kiss is described as “burning”. In the other, they’re cold as ice.
Renishaw Hall, in Derbyshire, UK, is best known nowadays as the family home of that marvelous family of writers/eccentrics: Edith, Osbert and Sacheverell Sitwell. They all left the Hall in their adult lives to set up housekeeping in other places–one of them as far away as Canada. Some think they did so because the old Hall, an outstandingly gloomy place built in the first quarter of the seventeenth century, was haunted from top to bottom–and, most particularly so, a bedroom at the top of the grand central staircase.
In 1885, a Miss Tait, said to have been a daughter of the contemporary Archbishop of Canterbury, came for an overnight visit with her friend Miss Sitwell–the sister of Sir George, the eccentric father of Edith, Osbert and Sacheverell–and was given the bedroom at the top of the stairs. The next morning, she reported to Miss Sitwell that she had had a disturbed night. Miss Tait deposed that she had been awakened from a sound sleep, sometime in the wee hours, by three kisses, placed on her cheek by a pair of icy-cold lips. Although she immediately lit a candle and checked the room, she was alone; nor had she heard the door open and close as it would if someone living had entered from the hall.
Miss Sitwell considerately moved her guest to another room, explaining in passing that she wouldn’t sleep herself in that room at the top of the stairs. Some years earlier, she said, she too had been wakened from sleep in that room by three cold kisses, to find herself alone.
Nor were Miss Tait and Miss Sitwell the only ones to experience this phenomenon. Shortly after Miss Tait’s frightening night, Sir George’s estate agent, Mr. Turnbull, came on business. He and Sir George, after settling their concerns, drifted into general conversation, and Sir George laughingly told the agent about the fright Miss Tait had gotten. Far from laughing, Mr. Turnbull was interested and startled. He reminded Sir George that, some twenty years before, before Sir George and Lady Sitwell had officially moved into the Hall, Sir George had graciously allowed Turnbull and his new bride to spend their honeymoon there. During that month, a friend of Mrs. Turnbull’s had come for a visit, and had spent the night in the room at the top of the stairs. She had emerged in the morning, badly frightened, complaining of having been awakened in the night by three cold kisses, and had left that day, too afraid to remain longer.
Some years after Miss Tait’s experience, Sir George began a remodeling project. He wanted to make that central staircase even grander than it was already. To do so, workmen had to tear out two rooms, one on the ground floor and the other the infamous bedroom on the first floor. One day, as they were tearing out the bedroom, the workmen summoned Sir George; they had made a curious discovery under the floor.
Between the floor joists, they had found a coffin.
Judging by its workmanship, the coffin had been built sometime in the seventeenth century, in the Hall’s early years. It was fitted to the joists with iron clamps, and appeared never to have had a lid; the floorboards had simply been laid over it. And though there was no body in it then, there was signs that, at some time, there had been one entombed in it.
The coffin, and what it had once contained, may have been the key to the haunting of that bedroom. The Sitwells never knew for certain; no family records were ever found to explain why, centuries before, a body had been laid beneath the floor.
I first read the story of the Kissing Ghost of Renishaw Hall many, many years ago in a Ripley’s Believe It. . .or Not! anthology, in which it was suggested that the spirit haunting the bedroom at the top of the stairs was that of an eighteenth century orphan called Henry Sacheverell, murdered for an inheritance by earlier owners of Renishaw Hall. Perhaps, it was hinted, he was hoping to find someone who would comfort him and, perhaps, send him on his way to the afterlife. If so, he failed, succeeding only in frightening at least three women who stayed in that room.
Alas, that anthology went missing many years ago. . .
For more about the Renishaw Coffin–and other stories of hauntings at Renishaw Hall–check out the following:
Terence Whitaker, Haunted England: Royal Spirits, Castle Ghosts, Phantom Coaches and Wailing Ghouls (1987)
and Sarah Hapgood, 500 British Ghosts & Hauntings (1993).