As many of you know, the setting for most of THE GHOST CHRONICLES was inspired by The Angel of the Sea, an award-winning bed and breakfast in Cape May, NJ that I visited several years ago. This spectacular inn has been featured on several television programs and in magazines throughout the world. Most notably, it was chosen by Oprah Winfrey as one of the “Best Vacations in the World” and included in her television talk show. The Angel of the Sea is one of the most recognized Victorian structures in the United States. Legend has it that in the late 1960’s, a girl fell to her death at the Angel of the Sea and did at one time, haunt the inn. The story of the girl has been included in several non-fiction books about ghosts in Cape May. My heroine in THE GHOST CHRONICLES, Sarah McConnell, was inspired by this legend.
Angel of the Sea bed and breakfast, Cape May NJ
Many people have been asking me about the legend surrounding Sarah and the haunting at The Angel of the Sea, so I thought I’d tell you the backstory about her death. News stories say that the young girl, whose real name was Sarah Brown, was an Irish exchange student rooming at The Angel of the Sea. At the time, the Angel of the Sea was undergoing renovations, so they were providing exchange students with rooms for reduced rates. Sarah, like many of the exchange students, was working as a maid for another local place, the nearby Christian Admiral Hotel, for a man named Reverend McIntire. The story goes that Reverend McIntire was a religious man and made it mandatory that all of his employees attend church. If they didn’t attend, or were late, or weren’t properly dressed for church, they could be reprimanded. So Sarah completed her shift that day at the Christian Admiral Hotel and returned to her room at The Angel of the Sea to shower and change for church. Unfortunately, she discovered she had left her keys back at work. Since she didn’t have time to retrieve the keys, still get ready and be on-time for church, she took matters into her own hands. She crawled out of a small window at the end of her hallway (second building, second floor) and attempted to shinny along the ledge to get in through the window of her own room. Apparently, she reached her window safely but had forgotten the window also had a screen. When she tried to pry the screen off it suddenly broke free, sending her tumbling to her death. It is believed she may have lay in agony for hours before succumbing to her injuries, when her lifeless body was finally discovered by a gardener.
Since the Angel of the Sea has these beautiful balconies today that wrap around the whole building, many people have asked me how a girl was able to fall from the window. The answer is simple really. The balconies weren’t there at the time, as this old photo of the Angel of the Sea illustrates. The ledge to install the balconies had recently been added around the time of Sarah’s death. If you visit the Angel of the Sea today, a large framed version of this photo still hangs in the parlor lobby.
Old photo of the Angel of the Sea which hangs in the lobby, date unknown
Over the years, guests at The Angel of the Sea have attributed a number of experiences to the girl’s playful spirit. It is said she has an affinity for electronic devices. Lamps, radios and televisions have all been known to turn on and off by themselves from time to time. Guests and staff have noticed items disappearing from one spot only to reappear mysteriously in another. Objects also fall from tables and dressers as if knocked off by unseen hands. Furniture and pictures have been seen wobbling or shaking for no explainable reason.
Most notably, the girl seems to have an aversion to locked doors. Given the fact that a locked door contributed to her death, it is not surprising that her ghost has been said to lock and unlock doors in certain parts of the inn, and in particular, the door to her own room has been found inexplicably unlocked.
The Angel of the Sea bed and breakfast truly is as beautiful and romantic and haunting as I portray it in THE GHOST CHRONICLES and I have truly fallen in love with the place and its rich history. To learn more about the Angel of the Sea you can visit their website, which includes more of that history and an interesting story about how the B&B came to be split into two buildings: ANGEL OF THE SEA
Better yet, go visit in person and fall in love with it yourself!