The True Story That Inspired Netflix Hit 'The Haunting Of Hill House'

It has been dubbed one of the scariest things ever to hit television screens, but apparently there is some truth behind the The Haunting of Hill House.

The ten-part Netflix show is based on the 1959 novel by Shirley Jackson and follows the Crain family who grew up in America's most famous haunted house.

The grown up siblings are later reunited as adults after the death of their youngest sister, and the series jumps between the past and the present.

Fans have taken to social media and claimed the show has made them sick and feel as though they are going to pass out.

Credit: Netflix
Credit: Netflix

Now, it's a general rule that in the realm of horror, the scarier the better. You can take being petrified of going to bed and hiding under your covers - I definitely don't still do that - because deep down you know it's not true.

There is no killer clown in your wardrobe or phantom in your teddy bear - which again, I definitely don't have - but you still check, just in case.

But what if it was true?

Well, according to reports in The Sun, The Haunting of Hill House is based on the story of two young English girls, Charlotte Anne Moberly and Eleanor Jourdain, who in 1901 visited the historic Palace of Versailles, while on a trip to Paris.

Things took a sinister turn when the pair got lost in the grounds of the palace, while trying to find the Petit Trianon, a small castle close by, which had been used by Marie Antoinette.

The Petit Trianon at Versailles. Credit: Flickr/Jean-Pierre Dalbéra
The Petit Trianon at Versailles. Credit: Flickr/Jean-Pierre Dalbéra

Instead of walking down the main avenue to the castle they turned off down a lane and it was there that the pair spotted a gathering of ghosts - starting to ring any bells with fans?

The first apparition was of a woman shaking a white cloth from a window.

The two women later chronicled their encounter in their book An Adventure, which was widely ridiculed for its claims.

They came across some men, dressed like palace gardeners in long, greyish, green coats and 'small three-cornered hats' who told them to go.

I think it's safe to say that at this point most people would have done their best Duncan Bannatyne impression and said 'I'm out'.

Eleanor Jourdain. Credit: Wikimedia Commons
Eleanor Jourdain. Credit: Wikimedia Commons

But no, seemingly un-phased by spirits and creepy gardeners they carried on in their search for the Petit Trianon and didn't turn back.

Moberly and Jourdain then came to a cottage, with a woman and a girl in the doorway, which Jourdain described it as a 'tableau vivant' - a painting of a group of people, carefully posed.

Rather than Trianon, they then come to the edge of a wood - similar to the setting of the house in the TV show - and come face to face with the most petrifying apparition, a poxed man wearing a cloak and large hat, who slowly turns and faces towards them.

In their version of the story, Moberly described him as a 'most repulsive' appearance, with an 'odious' and 'evil, yet unseeing expression'.

A different man, described as 'tall, with large dark eyes, and crisp curling black hair under a large sombrero hat' came up to them, and eventually showed them the way to the Petit Trianon.

Newsweek has also reported that The Haunting of Hill House took inspiration from real-life events, including those claimed by Moberly and Jourdain - with the possibility that one of the show's main character's Eleanor is named after Jourdain herself.

Probably best to not watch it alone, eh.

Featured Image Credit: Netflix

Dominic Smithers

After graduating from Leeds University with a degree in French and History, Dom went onto gain an NCTJ journalism qualification. Since then he has worked as a reporter at the Manchester Evening News and the Macclesfield Express, covering breaking news, court, sports, and politics.

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