"All houses have histories. But how much thought do we give to what happened in them before we moved in?" Matt Blake poses that question in his essay for the Guardian, in which he reveals what happened after he moved into an old, drafty London house with slugs in January 2021 after his divorce. He knew the place wasn't his dream home—but he soon found out that it had also been the residence of Aman Vyas, a serial rapist and murderer called the "E17 Night Stalker." "For a time, I became darkly obsessed with my house as the staging area for [Vyas'] depravity," Blake writes. "It became wrapped in the horror of what he did."
This revelation led Blake to examine other "notorious" homes where violent acts have taken place, as well as the concept of "emotional residue"—the idea that a house can "soak up vibes," so to speak, that future residents and visitors can pick up on. Blake delves into the legalities of whether sellers are obligated to divulge what they know about houses' dark histories, and how the demand to know such histories is so high that hundreds of thousands of potential buyers have paid for that knowledge, including through websites like DiedInHouse.com. As for Blake's own home, he's come to terms with its past: He's since renovated it and decided not to tell his young daughter about its history until she's older. "I've come to [realize] that a house has many lives, but is only one home at a time," he notes. (More here.)