Somewhere in the north west of England there is a terraced Victorian house which looks rather unremarkable, and some of you out there have probably passed it many times without giving it a second glance, but since the year 1900, this innocent-looking dwelling has been dubbed the 'Hell House' for reasons I will soon relate to you...

In 1900, the master of the house , A Dr Edward Meade, died and left the house to his wayward 18-year-old nephew named Oliver Milton, who was known far and wide as a bounder and a hell raiser. Although he was still a teenager, Oliver had four illegitimate children in Liverpool, Preston, Chester and Northwich. It is recorded that in 1898, when Oliver was just sixteen, he acted as referee to a duel between two farmers at a field outside Cuddington, and was accused of putting a blank in the pistol of the farmer who died. It transpired that Oliver had received a substantial payment to tamper with the pistol, but by then he had returned to his hometown. Then, in 1899, Oliver decided to make a pact with the devil with a group of like-minded friends on Bidston Hill on the Wirral. Upon a sandstone outcrop by Bidston Observatory, Oliver and his companions summoned up Lucifer with a chant they had learned from an old man in Wales who had professed to be a black magician. The sandstone rock on Bidston was said to have been a traditional place for magical rites for over a thousand years, and there are still strange carvings on the rock of a cat-headed Moon goddess and a horse.

According to Oliver, the Devil materialised just after midnight as a man in black with a charming voice. He said that if the young men swore allegiance to him they would all have great careers, and he asked them to show allegiance by raising their arms to salute him with their open palms. This sounds like the black magic sign that Hitler adopted many years later as the Nazi salute.

The man in black then smiled and faded away.

Oliver said weird things then began to happen to him and his friends. They had tremendous runs of luck when gambling, and also became very popular with girls, but there were always reminders of their pact with Satan. One Welsh girl bore one of the boys an illegitimate girl, and when the midwife examined her, the baby had a birthmark on her back which looked exactly like a three-pronged fork. Another of the boys later left the gang and tried to settle down to marry a girl in Wrexham, but when he entered the church for the wedding ceremony, he became violently ill. The girl and the villagers became suspicious, and the priest pushed the teenager into the church and barred his way out, and the boy took a fit and rolled across the floor of the aisle, frothing at the mouth. He then got to his feet and pushed three strong men aside and fled from the church and left Wrexham and the broken-hearted girl who had been his bride-to-be.

Oliver had no intentions to marry, and finally settled in the house left to him by his Uncle Edward. The servants were kept on and Oliver begrudgingly paid them a meagre wage from the fortune his uncle had left him. The teenager gave specific instructions to the staff saying that no one must go into the cellar when he was down there or they would be instantly dismissed. Everyone agreed to this bizarre stipulation except a young maid named Polly, who was a renowned nosey parker. Her curiosity got the better of her one stormy night when Oliver took a lantern down to the cellar and locked himself in. Hearing a strange chant, Polly left her kitchen duties and sneaked down into the cellar and spied on Oliver through a slit in the cellar door. What she saw made her speechless with fear. Oliver was kneeling on the floor and chanting in a weird voice. Then suddenly a tall man in black with a pale childlike face appeared. The figure's eyes seemed to burn with a golden light. Oliver said to the apparition, "I've had it with you. I want no more from you. I reject you Lucifer! Your promises are always hollow and full of snags."

The man in black's face smiled and he said, "You swore allegiance and you're mine forever, mind body and soul."

"No!" shouted Oliver, and he got up off his knees and took a swipe at the man, but his arm went through him. This gave Polly the creeps, and she started to shake.

The stranger in the cellar suddenly said, "I've had enough of your turncoat ways. I'm taking you away tonight!" and the figure vanished, leaving a terrible stench behind. Polly stood on a creaking step as she tried to run up the stairs in the dark. Oliver heard her and unlocked the door. He chased after her and seized the frightened girl on the stairs.

He said, "Polly, did you see what went on down there?"

The girl nodded, and started to sob.

"Please help me Polly. He said he'll take me tonight." said Oliver.

"I can't." said Polly, and she ran upstairs and told the other servants. They were so afraid, they all resigned and left the house in a hurry. The local clergyman was told about Oliver's secret meetings with Satan, and he visited the house on the following morning with two other priests, intending to perform an exorcism. There was no answer at the house, so they got a policeman to gain entry by breaking the door open. Up in the bedroom, everyone could smell something burning. Then the policeman lifted the bedclothes, and there were the charred remains of Oliver Milton. The blackened remains were so small, they looked like a piece of burnt toast. The policeman noted that there was a black powder on the bed sheets and a single blackened foot at the bottom of the mattress, and yet the bedclothes or bed were not even singed. The pathologist surmised that Oliver Milton had been a victim of what is known as spontaneous human combustion, where the body heat of a person rises to such intensity, it is consumed by an intense fire. But Polly knew that wasn't the explanation; she told the police that Lucifer had paid a visit to one of his disciples and taken him from his bed, but the police just sneered at her story.

It is said that within the house where Oliver practised his black arts, terrible screams are still heard and sulphuric smells occasionally rise from the cellar. As recently as 1996, workmen at the house saw the word 'Mammon' being chalked on a wall in the house by an invisible hand. Mammon is mentioned in the Bible as the god of money and greed. One resident who lived in the house of horror with his family said that the foundations of the dwelling seemed to vibrate and give off a groaning sound whenever the bells of the local church rang out on Sundays. A couple from Manchester who lived at the Merseyside house in the late 1960s left the spooky dwelling because each morning when they awoke, they would find that their double bed had been rotated 180 degrees...

Sleep well tonight.