A book said to have been written with help from beyond the grave could be set to unveil some of the hidden mysteries and dark deeds of one of Ilfracombe s most haunted houses. Gem and the Legend of Chambercombe Manor, by medium Joan Diamond-Magnoni, tells

A book said to have been written with help from beyond the grave could be set to unveil some of the hidden mysteries and dark deeds of one of Ilfracombe's most haunted houses.Gem and the Legend of Chambercombe Manor, by medium Joan Diamond-Magnoni, tells the famous tale of the discovery of a skeleton in a secret chamber and how it came to be there -allegedly in the words of those involved.Through Joan, the spirit of Gemima Hampden apparently tells the story of her life and subsequent death in the hidden chamber, caused by the infamous smuggler and wrecker Alexander Oatway, master of Chambercombe.Joan, who lives at Tapeley Park, near Instow, says she uses automatic writing, sometimes called "spirit writing" to channel spirits, who use her as a means of setting their stories to paper.She has spent many nights at Chambercombe investigating its ghostly happenings and on one occasion Gemima came forward to tell Joan she had died at the house and to relate her story.Joan says the accounts are reproduced verbatim, exactly as given to her by the spirits, including mistakes, peculiar phrasing and all.The Chambercombe legend tells how a farmer in 1865 was investigating a leak in the manor roof and stumbled across an unknown room, which contained a bed upon which lay the skeleton of an unknown woman. Local myth tells how the victim was from a shipwreck caused by Oatway and was possibly even his daughter, but so badly injured her identity could not be discovered at first. She was robbed of her valuables and when she died, walled up in the hidden chamber to prevent the wreckers' secrets becoming known.Joan presents her own investigation into the truth of the many legends and her conclusions, before providing the reader with the accounts given by Gemima, Oatway and others."I have spent many hours of research into the legend of Chambercombe," explained Joan."My research led me on a fascinating trail and unearthed more than one version, all of which I have investigated and some of which I have retold in the book."Automatic writing is something most people can do, but I would advise caution for the layman, because it's much like using a ouija board."Normally if there's someone wanting to 'come through' I will see them first, then there's an overwhelming urge on my part to pick up a pen!"Some spirits would write their life story from beginning to end, she said; others would just make odd notes."You can feel their energies as you write and it can go on all day - it can leave you feeling pretty disconnected!"The Chambercombe book will be released shortly by GM Productions, along with two others by Joan, Edward of Aquitaine - about Edward, the Black Prince - and Lizzie, the story of the last woman to be publicly hanged in Dorset and said to be the inspiration for Thomas Hardy's Tess of the D'Urbervilles.Whether readers believe or not, in writing each book Joan has filled three large ring binder folders with handwritten sheets, apparently written by the spirits -and each in a different handwriting with distinctive turns of phrase no longer heard in modern times.Advance copies of the books are available from Walter Henry Bookshop in Bideford plus Earth and Heaven at the Bideford Pannier Market and Tarka Books plus Aluna in Barnstaple. More details are available at www.gmproductions.tv.n MEDIUM Joan Diamond-Magnoni with draft copies of her Chambercombe book and one of her original manuscripts at the Gallery Cafeat the Queen's Theatre, one of her favourite "haunts." Ref: TG0303