I was an 1870s Southern Belle; EXCLUSIVEDAILY MIRROR GIRL FINDS SHE WAS COTTON-PICKIN' RICH IN PREVIOUS LIFE; TV trancer took me back to ol' Virginee.
Swathed in azure silk with an oversized amethyst round my neck, I ride in an elegant carriage drawn by two white stallions and survey my estate.
No, it is not a dream and I have not won the lottery. This is my previous life 120 years ago as I recounted it to top hypnotist Lawrence Leyton, who has made his name regressing celebrities back in time.
His TV show this month saw Volkswagen model Paula Hamilton recall being a male baker in the 1700s. Now a seven-part series, Back To The Present, is planned for the summer.
When Lawrence went to work on me I slipped easily into a trance and saw myself walking through mist over a bridge - the "bridge of time".
I re-emerge in 1870 as 20-year-old Anne Currin, daughter of a wealthy landowner in Fairmont, West Virginia. I mention a town called Vienna, which I say I have visited.
My house is a tall, sprawling limestone mansion with large funnel-like chimneys on the left, set in exquisite gardens and surrounded by miles of burnished red forest. Beyond I can see purplish blue mountains.
Inside the walls are covered with ornate plaster roses and elaborate cornicing.
"Where are you? What land is it?" asks Lawrence. I reply dismissively in a haughty drawl: "It's not a country. This is ALL my home. It's ALL my land."
My blue silk dress has a large bustle and layers of skirt. My hair is piled high and topped with a small, frivolous hat to match my dress. Round my neck is a family heirloom, a rare pink amethyst the size of a fist.
I struggle to speak but it is an effort. I am very frail - and the rigid bone corset pulled tight to an 18ins waist certainly does not help. I cannot even bend forwards to describe what I have on my feet.
By my side is my constant companion Mary Paine, who is there solely to entertain me.
"Are you happy or sad?" asks Lawrence. "Well, I'm not sad," I reply snootily. "Are you happy, then?" he asks. "Bored," I say.
"Why are you bored?" Lawrence presses. "Nothing to do," I reply, stifling a yawn.
"Why? What do you do every day?" he continues. "I sit, sometimes walk, travel in my carriage. Always with Mary Paine."
We are travelling now to a spa town in the nearby mountains where I regularly go for my delicate disposition and breathing problems. Maybe if they'd just loosened my corset . . .
The building where I am treated resembles a church - there is a long, low room and a round tower with a conical tiled roof. A strong smell of sulphur catches at my throat.
I am greeted by two ladies, dressed smartly with long bustle skirts, fitted bodices and neat hats forced forwards by piled-high hairstyles.
But after two and a half hours in a trance it is time for Lawrence to bring me round. As I wake I feel exhausted and for 15 minutes I struggle to breathe, just as frail Anne Currin did.
But was it all a dream? A clever hypnotist's trick? Did Anne Currin ever exist? The Daily Mirror decided to \find out if anything I said was true.
Although I have never been there, Fairmont is a wealthy town in West Virginia.
The neighbouring forests are filled with red oaks, sugar maples, chestnuts, beeches and sycamores - just as I described - with a distant view of the Allegheny Mountains. Vienna is a town relatively nearby.
The 1870 census for the state lists an Anne Eliza Currin, who was 20 in 1870.
She married wealthy William Andrew Owen on November 12, 1882, and had 13 children - one way out of that painful corset!
The same census records 17-year-old Mary Paine, whose occupation was "keeping home" - the name they gave to companions hired to look after the unwell.
Virginia Historical Society says West Virginia was famous for huge Colonial style mansions often made of limestone - and massive end chimneys were common.
The society's Preston Haynie said: "There are numerous homes similar to the one you described.
"Plaster roses would appear only in a very wealthy home. It is a very unusual detail to know about."
Avril Hart, curator of the Victoria and Albert Museum and a specialist in fashions, agreed with my description of clothing.
"A bustle skirt had just become fashionable," she said. "From the age of 18 hair was swept up high and always topped off with a small 'nonsense' hat, which tipped forwards.
"And the tight corsets which all women wore held them so bolt upright and rigid they could hardly move, not even to bend forwards."
Virginia archivist Minor Weisiger agreed that Victorian gems were often large and dramatic.
"Local landowners were known to invest in jewellery as it was unlikely to lose value. It would be believable for a wealthy woman to own an amethyst the size of a fist." He also said my description of the building with a long low room and tower does suggest a spa - "West Virginia offered some of the most fashionable places to take the cure."
And in Hot Springs, Virginia, we found The Homestead, a fashionable resort in the lush Allegheny Mountains - which fitted my description.
Hypnotist Lawrence has regressed EastEnders star Michelle Collins and Emmerdale's Glenda McKay for his new series and checked their stories.
Michelle - who plays Cindy Beale - said she was Jennifer George, a flower seller in the late 1800s. She said she was married in St Augustus's church, near Bart's hospital, London, by a Rev Miller - although she was not sure of the name.
In the 1800s there was a St Augustine's church in that area and there is a record of a Rev Milman.
Glenda - Emmerdale's Rachel Hughes - said she was farmer's wife Elizabeth Cross, from St James's parish, Uxbridge, Middx, in the1600s.
There is no such parish now but records reveal there was one just two miles from the centre of Uxbridge. The marriage register for the late 1600s records a John Cross, who wed an Elizabeth.
THIS is the sort of magnificent home where wealthy Anne Currin would have lived.
The sprawling mansion with chimneys at the ends, which Carole saw under hypnosis, is typical of 1870s houses in West Virginia - a place she has never been to.
"Large side chimneys were typical of the era and location. Inner chimneys were not in use here until much later," said local historian Preston Haynie.
Carole also saw a huge dark wood staircase, which Haynie said was "common in grand homes. The dark wood suggests the stairs were varnished, which was typical."
He was astonished that she accurately described unusual detail inside like decorative plaster roses.
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|Author:||Maung, Carole Aye|
|Publication:||The Mirror (London, England)|
|Date:||Jan 16, 1996|
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