Bea Gove was 12 years old when she experienced a chilling. paranormal encounter – the first of many – at Chequers. Then she discovered that there’s a family history of seeing spirits…

Styling: Sophie Dearden. Styling assistant: Stephanie Sofokleous. Dress, Boots, Bea’s own. Make-up: Joe Pickering at Carol Hayes using Nars. Hair: Narad Kutowaroo at Carol Hayes using GHD

Styling: Sophie Dearden. Styling assistant: Stephanie Sofokleous. Dress, Boots, Bea’s own. Make-up by Joe Pickering at Carol Hayes with Nars. Narad Kutowaroo, Carol Hayes using GHD for hair

 My first and most scary paranormal experience happened at Chequers, the Prime Minister’s country retreat in Buckinghamshire. It was 2013, and David Cameron was the PM at that time. My family was 12 years old and we were there for the weekend along with other politicians, their families, and other political children. I was delighted to be allowed to stay in my own room in the attic.

Then, in the middle of the night I woke up suddenly and felt a strange, unsettling sensation. The room was filled with a foul-smelling energy that made me feel sick. I froze on my bed. I froze in my bed, and then the floorboards creaked as if someone was watching me. I snapped out of my paralysis and sprinted to my parents’ room, crying.

Other mothers might have said, ‘Don’t be ridiculous, there’s nothing there!’ However, Mum reassured me that she felt the same way whenever she stayed in that attic. I learned that Lady Mary Grey, an unfortunate aristocrat, was placed under house arrest at Chequers in 16th century. She had been expelled from court by Queen Elizabeth I for her refusal to marry. The room where Lady Mary was imprisoned was in the attic ‒ right next to the one I was sleeping in. All the misery and isolation she must have felt while trapped there has lingered and that is what my mum, and I, were able feel.

I froze. I froze. 

What’s odd is that my dad has never felt uncomfortable staying there. Talking to other families who have stayed at Chequers, I found that every woman who has slept in an attic has never felt uncomfortable. The men, on the other hand, have not felt anything. Tim Burton, the film director, was the exception to this rule. He was struck by that same terrible energy when he visited New Year’s Eve.

My mum began having paranormal experiences as a teenager. These included seeing figures in her bedroom and hearing footsteps. Her grandmother and her mother have had spookily similar experiences. My family seems to have passed down the ability to sense energy and spirits from people who have inhabited certain spaces over many generations.

Since that visit to Chequers, I feel the energy of the people who lived there ever since. My parents took me and Will, my younger brother, to live with their friends in the early twenties. These friends were usually old country homes. I felt like I was always being watched over by something, and that I was not alone.  


It may seem strange to you, but I feel almost tangible that there are other beings around. Sometimes I can see the outline or silhouette of an individual, such as an elderly man sitting on a bench in a park. Sometimes, it’s a strong sense that someone is there with you. It is usually at night and only in older buildings. I have never experienced a spirit in a new-build.

When I was 14, one of my most disturbing experiences was when I was 14. We were staying in a very old Tudor home in the middle of nowhere. My brother and Mum were sharing a room. Mum came in to say goodbye. I was already half asleep when I awoke to see my mum’s face instead. Her skin was pale gray. Her mouth was wide open as if she was screaming. It was as if my mum had changed into another person. The old woman’s eyes were blank and empty. For a few moments, I could only hear a muted static noise. Then I blinked and saw Mum’s face and heard her voice again. She said she had never seen me feel so scared in her entire life. I nearly fainted. Mum was trying to calm me down but all I could hear was strange static. I believe I saw a trapped soul. It was very angry. Mum said that she felt as though she had been punched in back by something very cold when entering that room. My brother, however, slept all night like a baby.

Why is it that the paranormal experiences of only my family members are limited to women? These experiences can seem dismissive to men, but my female friends are always intrigued by them. Men tend to see the world empirically while women are more open-minded to spirituality or other aspects. Perhaps that allows us to see and feel things that men can’t.

Bea sensed her first spirit at Chequers in 2013: ‘I never want to go again!’

Bea sensed her first spirit at Chequers in 2013: ‘I never want to go again!’

While my dad and brother don’t accuse us of lying about our experiences, they think we are being overly sensitive, ‘hysterical’ women. I’ve researched why women are more sensitive to the spirit world. Some paranormal experts believe it has to do with hormones. There are theories that spirits are drawn to, or even feed off, female hormones and when these hormones are surging ‒ for example, during puberty ‒ women will have more intense experiences. My paranormal encounters were more frequent and vivid between 12 and 15, and my mum went through menopause which led to more bizarre experiences.

Although I’m pretty used to sensing spirits now, there are still the odd frightening moments. I booked into a nearby hotel to stay the night after being alerted by reporters outside my home this summer. I realized something was wrong as soon as I checked in at 11 p.m. The place was filled with a terrible, unsettling energy. I felt so unwelcomed in my room, I couldn’t sleep.

The dark, gloomy atmosphere continued and it felt like the air was getting thicker. Then the bathroom door began violently swinging back and forth ‒ there was no breeze in the room, the windows were shut tight. I was so terrified that I left the hotel at 4:00 AM and walked home in my dressing gown. I felt a tremendous sense of relief when I stepped out the hotel. The next day, I learned from a friend that a guest who had stayed on the same floor as me two years ago had taken their own lives.

Despite having had some disturbing experiences, I would never lose my connection with the paranormal. I feel at peace most of the time with the spirits around. It’s not like I am having conversations with dead people, but we can exist side by side quite easily. One rule I do follow is to not stay overnight in old houses. And I never want to go to Chequers again ‒ you would have to drag me back there kicking and screaming.