I normally don't do ghost stories, but the following has so much personal and nostalgic value to me that I knew I had to write about it sooner or later. What I am about to recount took place one summer night during the late 1990's, in my home town of Hillerød, Denmark. After a night of heavy drinking and partying the older brother of a friend, and a few of his buddies, "borrowed" a boat and sailed out to a creepy, old cabin, located on a small island in a nearby pond. Whether this idea came to them out of boredom or simply because all the local bars had closed (or they had been kicked out of them), no one remembers for sure. But the outcome of this little adventure changed their perception of reality forever.
Over the years I became more and more determined to some day document what took place that night on the island. Next after those who were actually there, you probably won't find anyone who were more affected by what happened than me. The basic story was related to me by my friend's brother within half an hour after the event, and for almost 20 years I have been re-telling it in closed circles, whenever the subject of Ghosts has come up. For a full exposé to be possible, however, I first of all had to collect and investigate the accounts of everyone who were there. Also, I wanted to unearth similar cases, both locally and globally, and even look towards finding a natural explanation. During the last couple of years I have been working on these and other angles, and now I finally feel that the story is ready to go public.
Here then, begins tale of The Ghost of Louise's Island. I hope you will enjoy it as much as I do.
The King, The Island & Its Cabin
The mystique surrounding Louise's Island is greatly magnified by its immediate inaccessibility. Not only is it difficult to reach - it is permanently off limits to visitors. Believe me, the police will come down on you pretty hard if they catch you fooling around out there. A few years ago, by chance, I observed a couple of youngsters with sleeping bags out on the island, who had apparently planned on spending the night in the cabin. They had barely docked their boat before patrol officers were on the spot, commanding them through a large megaphone to get the *#&¤@ back. Nevertheless, I did actually manage to visit the cabin once myself in the early 90's, during a winter when the pond was frozen solid and you could walk across it. I don't remember so much from those days, but even though it was years before any tales of ghostly events, you couldn't have paid me enough to do a sleepover there - illegal or otherwise.
|Frederiksborg Castle, viewed from the east|
The first part of Frederiksborg Castle was constructed during the rule of King Frederik II in 1560, but was almost completely rebuilt during the rule of his son, Christian IV, in the period 1600-1625. A severe fire destroyed much of the castle in 1859 and it had to be reconstructed during the following years. By and large, the castle church interior was the only part that was spared from the flames, and consequently it still appears much as it did hundreds of years ago.
|The Badstue "castle" viewed from the east|
The first incarnation of Badstuen came to life in 1580-81, constructed on the order of Frederik II. The following years it served as a nearby refuge for the royal family and their closest circle of friends - a place where they could escape all the formalities of daily life on the castle. Besides this, the king would also use it as a lodge during hunting season. Badstuen maintained these functions until the late 18th century, when it it began taking on a more communal role. At one point it even became the residential quarters for former castle staff members.
Regarding Badstuen, the refurbishment dragged on and it never became fully operational again during the king's lifetime. Parallel to this work, however, Frederik embarked on another local project which he did get to enjoy the completion of. First, he had a pond dug out in front of Badstuen, where up until that time one had only existed behind it. The new pond was named Badstuedammen (dam = pond). Secondly, the soil that was left over from its creation was used to establish a small piece of land in the middle of the old pond. The king named this Louise's Ø ("Ø" meaning Island), after his wife, and the old pond henceforth became known as Ødammen.
Not long after its creation, Frederik VII had a wooden cabin built on the island. This would come to serve as headquarters for another of his big interests: fishing. The cabin also became a convenient place for hosting intimate social gatherings, where the king and his guests could let off some steam without worrying about public exposure. There is a popular story about one of the king's island binges, involving a guest, who after having consumed inhuman amounts of champagne had to be smuggled back to his home in the middle of the night. The story further goes that he never woke up again, but even though many think this is an exaggeration, it illustrates the notoriety of the island cabin and what the public believed went on out there.
Photo showing both the wood cabin and the boat house
|The stone seat with a close-up of Frederik VII's monogram (Courtesy of John Nørgård Nielsen)|
This appearance of stones, both on the island and other places Frederik frequented, seems in part related to his interest in archaeology. He was a pioneer of the field in Denmark and responsible for the excavation of several important ancient relics in Northern Zealand. He even wrote a celebrated, and at the time groundbreaking, treatise titled Om Bygningsmåden af Fortidens Jættestuer ("On The Building Method of Ancient Passage Tombs").
Finally, although there is no direct proof to back it up, it is actually not so far-fetched to speculate about past occult activities on the island. In fact, it was Frederik VII who introduced the so-called "Swedish system" of Freemasonry in Denmark, establishing a local chapter of the order - from which he attained the 8th and highest degree in 1852 - in the church of Frederiksborg Castle. The castle itself does not have any freemasonic symbolism or decorations to serve as memory of this, but Badstuen actually has quite a bit if you know where to look. So who knows what he at times might have taken with him to the cabin.
Thomas worked at an exotic pet store and was a huge animal enthusiast, with a broad, self-taught knowledge about everything from spiders and lizards to monkeys and dogs. It was always interesting to spend time there and see what new critters he had added to his collection since the last visit. It also has to be said that us young whippersnappers looked up to Thomas and his peers quite a bit. They were the town's local skate punks, a seemingly fearless bunch who really knew how to have fun and party. When Jackass became popular some years later, I immediately recognized a lot of the elements from the Hillerød skater lifestyle.
At some point Thomas came crashing home loudly and pulled the door open to where we were sitting. Instantly we knew something was wrong, as he stood there with a shocked facial expression like we never saw on him before or since. He told us that he had been running all the way from the castle area and that we wouldn't believe what he had just seen there. Excitedly we urged him to tell us what had happened and he proceeded to explain how he and a few others had been out boozing around downtown Hillerød, when they suddenly got the impulse to steal a boat docked at Slotssøen ("The Castle Lake"), in the area of Slotsgade (gade = street) just before the main entrance to the castle grounds. Their idea was to use it to sail out to Louise's Island (none of us knew it by its real name at the time - I think we just referred to it as "spooky island").
|A more or less current Google street view photo, showing the area where Slotsgade meets Frederiksborg Castle at its main bridge. Back in the late 1990's a local boat-renting business kept their boats docked here.|
In one way or another they managed to get the boat over to the Badstue area and from here sail across Ødammen, out to the island. When they reached its shore they docked and secured the boat thoroughly before inspecting the various buildings - while fooling around in a manner matching their current level of intoxication. The main purpose of the expedition had been to enter the cabin and see what was inside, and as I remember it Thomas said that they had succeeded, although there was nothing there to really get excited about.
After a while they got bored and decided to row back, but to the shock of everyone, they discovered, when approaching the boat, that it had come loose from where they had tied it. It was now slowly drifting away from the island towards the mainland. Luckily they somehow managed get a hold of the rope and pull it back in the very last second, despite their panicked yet all of a sudden less drunk state of mind. But if that wasn't a sobering enough experience, what Thomas told us next certainly was.
As they began to maneuver and push the boat off the island shore, a fog surrounded them. Suddenly, one of the other guys stiffly grabbed Thomas' shoulder and looked at him with a speechless and horrified expression. At first Thomas didn't know what was wrong, but when he looked in the direction where his friend was pointing, his heart skipped a beat or two. A cloaked, ghostly figure was standing nearby, where there had been nothing just a minute earlier. And not only that, it seemed like it was watching them with malicious intent, as if threatening them to leave as soon as possible.
Seeing the entity created even more panic in the group, of course, and they began rowing as fast as they could back to land. At this time the fog had almost completely engulfed the island and most of the pond, reaching the edge of the boat. However, no matter how thick it got, they could still see the haunting figure standing there observing them, as if it was making sure they would never return again.
As soon as they reached land, they threw the boat aside and scattered in different directions without even saying goodbye to each other, Thomas running towards the eastern part of Hillerød where their house was located.
|The classic "Newby Church Spectre" photo. This is more or less what I imagined the entity looked like, from Thomas' original description (Courtesy of Fortean Picture Library)|
But before I could answer any of these questions, I first had to track everyone down. And that proved a little more difficult than first anticipated.
Talking to my old friend Jesper about it didn't bring about much, since he only remembered the basic outline of the incident and never had an interest in these topics in the first place. Via Jesper I did get the phone number of Thomas, but for the longest time he never answered my calls, even though i tried at regular intervals. By complete chance, it would instead be Nick that I got in contact with first. About 1½ year ago, another old friend notified me that he had seen him on TV, advertising for his new company. I looked up the company name online and through the webpage I found Nick's phone number and called him right away.
Nick was of course surprised to hear from me, but he remembered me quite well from back in the days. Most importantly, he was willing to tell me his version of the story. I got his account over the phone during that first call and then later in the form of a written summary. I asked Nick if he was still in contact with Thomas, but he told me that they didn't meet up as often as in the old days. He promised he would tell him to contact me, though. A few weeks later I managed to finally get through to Thomas, and we talked the experience through for well over an hour. I even visited the Badstue area with him a few days later, in order to perhaps stir up some latent memories of the event. This proved very valuable for understanding some of the finer details, as we shall see later.
When I presented this idea to Thomas and Nick they were somewhat reluctant, but admitted that Niels could indeed have been there. In retrospect, I think that Thomas might even have mentioned it back then, but the reason that I remembered him was because he himself probably told me the story some time afterwards. I eventually tracked Niels down last year too, and lo and behold: he not only admitted to being there, but gave me an account that was sufficiently close to Thomas and Nick's to assure me that he was in fact telling the truth - at least as he remembers it.
Then, a few months ago, I managed to get in touch with the last person in the whole ordeal, Olsen. He also proved without a doubt that he was there that night, and had a pretty good memory of what happened. Now I could finally piece together all the accounts, and work towards a deeper analysis of the case. But before I take the next step and write up my results in a "part 2", I hope that the responses to this post may provide me with further information that i can use.
Until then, pleasant screams
Holm-Nielsen, Eva: Louiseøen in Lokalhistorisk Forening i Hillerød Kommune, No. 1 (1997)
Wamberg, Bodil: Grevinden - Et portræt af Grevinde Danner. Aschehoug (2005)