Alex Best with the presenters of Celebrity Help! My House Is Haunted
“On the day of George’s funeral I was staying at a hotel in Belfast,” recalls Alex. “I remember it was an early start that day and obviously it was very emotional. Just as I was leaving through the hotel door the shower turned on full blast. On its own.”
Determined to get to the bottom of the ghostly goings-on at the former farm workers’ cottage where she lives, Alex enlisted the help of paranormal professionals from discovery+ new TV documentary series Celebrity Help! My House Is Haunted.
And in an astonishing moment caught on camera, a book, by itself, shoots out from the back of a shelf by around six inches. When investigator Barri Ghai looks he finds it’s an authorised biography of George Best.
“I don’t think that’s a coincidence,” says Alex, who turns 50 later this month. “I’ve got so many books on that bookshelf. I’ve got books on films, antiques, all different autobiographies and yet the book that shot out was George’s. That moment made me really think he could have been one of the spirits.”
George Best kissing his ex-wife Alex
The team tell Alex it’s highly unusual to capture such apparently startling supernatural movements on camera. That is, they say, unless the spirit wants to attract attention.
“Are you surprised that George made an entrance, an appearance, of that nature?” Barri asks her. “No,” she laughs. “Not at all. Cheeky monkey.”
“Something like that would be typical George,” adds Alex. “Before that point I’d thought the spirit had just been a child because it was mischievous and playful, but George was mischievous as well. He was always playing around and trying to make people laugh.”
The model turned property developer, who was married to George for 10 years before their divorce came through in 2005, says the couple always had a strong connection.
“Even though there were difficult times of course, and we’d separated by the end, we were always friends and I always loved him,” says Alex. “I still do. We’d never discussed what we thought about ghosts and things like that, because I’d always been very skeptical about these things until all this began. But George and I both had a spiritual side and a strong faith.
The couple divorced in 2004
(Image: Press Association)
“He’d keep a bible by the side of his bed. As a couple we always had a very strong connection but you want people that you love to have moved on, so in a way I hope George hasn’t been one of the spirits to have visited me, but I’m open to the fact he might be.”
Recalling the many spine-tingling moments she’s experienced at her cottage, which was built around 1820 in an area Alex says has links to the ancient Druids, she says: “There have been loads of little things over the years. Things will disappear when I’m looking for them and then they’ll suddenly turn up months and months later in a really obvious place like the middle of the floor.
“I woke up a few years ago to find a huge, heavy sideboard dragged into the middle of the room. It’s made from railway sleepers and it’s so heavy that every time I’ve ever moved house the removal men have cursed me, yet here it was dragged from the side to the centre of the room, with carpet indentations left on the floor where it had been. I had to call my dad to help me drag it back.”
As she describes the lights switching themselves on and off again, and the telly going on by itself, she’s quick to clarify that yes, she’s had the electrics checked. “The electrician couldn’t understand what was going on,” she says. “There was no explanation for it.”
The footballer pictured in 1971
And, adds Alex, she’s not the only one to have experienced supernatural stirrings at her home, a former farm workers’ cottage which sits in the heart of Kingswood, an old village in the North Downs of Surrey that dates back to the days of the Domesday Book. She says her parents, friends and her sister have witnessed paranormal activity, too.
Best pal Carole Mackie says she’s “100%” convinced the former farmer workers’ cottage is haunted, as she shares a goosebump-making tale of her own.
“There was one night we were just sat, we were just talking, and Alex suddenly was pointing behind me,” says Carole. “I was saying to her ‘What are you pointing at?’ She said, ‘I don’t know’ and I said, ‘Then stop pointing!’ She said, ‘I can’t, I can’t move my hand.’
“The next thing, I felt this huge rush, like tingling all over, like someone was stood behind me with their hands on my shoulders… I felt an energy. I felt tears well up in my eyes and all of a sudden I said, ‘Oh, it’s gone now.’ I looked at Alex and there were tears streaming down her face. I think it was a presence in the house.”
Alex was pointing at the stairwell.
Alex Best at her cottage in Kingswood, Surrey
(Image: Adam Gerrard / Daily Mirror)
“It was such a strange experience,” she recalls. “It was as if I couldn’t move my finger, like there was someone at my shoulders and someone behind Carole too. We got really emotional out of nowhere, and both of us were crying. It lasted just a matter of seconds, and then it was over. We thought, ‘What on earth was that?’ The stairs have been strange. Even my Irish Setter, Finn, stares at them sometimes. It’s quite unnerving.”
Local historian Lorraine Spindler has explained that Alex’s cottage was once part of a complex of buildings known as Eyhurst Farm – and reveals a look back through the census uncovered an uncanny coincidence.
A George Best lived in the area in 1902, with the family of a William Best registered on the census in 1891. She says William, could “certainly” have lived in Alex’s cottage in the past, adding: “sadly they’ve lost one child by 1911.”
“In one census they have a little girl called Lilly,” says Jayne. “She doesn’t appear in the next census, all of the other children do, so the assumption really is that she tragically died.” She says Best is not a local name.
“That gave me goosebumps,” says Alex.
Elsewhere in the documentary, the team say they’ve pinpointed two more supernatural voices – both adult males. The men they say are reaching out are named on the show as William – the man they say was Lilly’s father – and footballer George. From one recording the investigators say they hear the names “Alex Best” and “George” as well as the words “peace” and “I’m sorry”.
Alex says the voice the team identified as George “sounded rather like him”.
However, despite the spooky goings-on, Alex says she’s always had a good feeling about her home.
“The funny thing is, even with all the things that have happened here, I’ve always had a lovely feeling about this place,” says Alex. “It’s never felt scary or sinister to me. All the things that ever happened were only ever playful and it’s always had a warm cosy feeling. I miss it when I’m not here. The team cleansed it before they left, and it’s felt really calm ever since. I’ve left the door open for spirits to return if they’d like, but I just hope they can find some peace.”
Celebrity Help! My House Is Haunted is available to stream from Friday January 21 exclusively on discovery+