Courtroom Drama

Old Crown Court BristolAn abandoned court house, acting from a found script and a terrifying dummy called Jean. It could only be the season 5 opening of Calamityville Horror.

You’d think after 4 seasons, the things that have plagued us from the beginning: getting lost, messing around with mannequins and being everything that a ghost hunting show is not, might have improved by now. Well Calamityville fans, worry not, the only things that have improved are our video editing skills.

Old Crown Court BristolThe start of season 5 is a collaboration with fellow Welsh ghost hunters, Jack and Laura from Jack and Laura Ghost series. We went to the Skirrid Inn with them at the end of season 4 and we’re investigating Drakelow Tunnels with them next week. Last night’s adventure was in the old Bristol Crown Court on Bridewell Street. Remembering the fun we had in Monmouth Shire Hall with our mates, Tom and Amy, we didn’t hesitate to accept their invitation. Unfortunately, as we’d been learning to ride motorbikes all day with Neen, she couldn’t leave her wife and kids all night too. Yes, motorbiking was as bad as you’d expect, but that’s for a different blog post. Word of advice: don’t fall off on the day you’re going ghost hunting. It friggin’ hurts.

Old Crown Court BristolHaunted by the navigational disasters of Oxford (may we never speak of it again) and Nottingham, we Goggle Street Viewed the court house, as we know Bristol isn’t the easiest city to drive around. We found on-street parking and a NCP across the road. Confident this would not be an episode involving a meltdown, we set off for Pontypool to fetch Jack and Laura. And got lost. In our defence, Pontypool is quite stingy on the road name signs. And we drove the wrong way through it. After an unnecessary trek through the town centre, we pulled into a bus stop and succumbed to our satnav. We couldn’t get a signal. All we had was a blurry map and a blue blob. Not even roads. Just background. Thanks, technology. Your advances have made our lives so much easier.

Old Crown Court BristolWe found our way back to a roundabout that was mentioned and tried again. As we cruised along a road, Cat’s navigation consisted of: “the blue blob’s getting closer to the red blob.” “The blue blob’s eating the red blob.” “We’ve moved away from the red blob.” We turned around. “We’re nearing the red blob.” “See, now the red blob’s over there.” Satnav, you are a gift from the gods.

It turns out, we’d been on the correct road and should’ve stopped at the scene of the red blob massacre. Luckily we weren’t too late. After picking up Jack and Laura, we set off for Bristol, allowing ourselves an hour and a half for Calamityville cockups. We didn’t have to wait long. As we were merrily trundling along the A4042, Lynx noticed we were heading for Abergavenny. Which is north. We wanted to go east. Cat: “we’re on the right road.” Lynx: “yes, but this road goes both ways.” Cat: “Oh. We’re heading for the Skirrid Inn. Turn around, we’ve already been there.” A u-turn in a parking lay-by soon had us back on course.

We reached Bristol with half an hour to spare and didn’t drive the wrong way down a one-way road at all. Perhaps being responsible for other people made us more into proper adults. And Street View, you lied about that one road of on-street parking. It’s now a bus stop. Thanks for that. It’s no wonder we have trust issues.

Old Crown Court BristolWe found the court, but no way in, despite Cat rattling the chained up doors, so decided to try around the back. After a group of drunken youths complimented us on our hair colour, we met Karrin from South Bristol Paranormal. There were 12 of us in total, which was nice. We don’t like going with 30 or 40 other people. Unlike other locations we’ve visited, our knowledge of Bristol old Crown Court amounted to: it was a crown court; it’s now disused; music events have been held there; there are cells. That’s it. No build date, no architect, no closure date. Not even a Wikipedia page for it.

As soon as we entered the foyer, we wandered off and lost everyone. In our defence – old building, doorways, stuff. There were two foyers with about five doorways leading off each one. By the end of the night, despite having spent eight hours there, we still didn’t know our way around. We don’t hold out much hope for Drakelow Tunnels. We might have to take bread crumbs, or chalk to mark our route. Or maybe the next ghost hunters who go will find our bedraggled selves and lead us out to painfully bright sunshine and freedom. If you don’t see a blog post next Sunday, send help. And biscuits.Old Crown Court Bristol

The night started with a group tour. There are lots of rooms on the ground floor, but only one retains its court room past. Upstairs looks like an abandoned flat, with the cleaning products clearly as unused as the rest of the place. It was more urban exploring than ghost hunting, complete with debris on the stairs and treacherous holes in one floor. We were sadly banned from that area. There was a dummy made of sacks slumped on the stairs. Perhaps it was a reveller that hadn’t gone home and was now trapped in the afterlife of the party. We earmarked him for shenanigans later. But the best part were the cells.

Old Crown Court BristolWe expected a few small holding cells like in Monmouth. Oh no. These were proper prison cells with the gloss white bricks and barred fronts. It was a horror film paradise. And they occupied the entire ground floor. We knew where we wanted to spend the night.

Old Crown Court Bristol

He said he was Father Christmas but he only gives out nightmares.

Luckily we were allowed to go off with Jack and Laura (just as well, considering we’d forgotten everyone’s names the moment they said them), so the four of us began the night in the cells. Cat and Laura returned upstairs to fetch stuff and both got hopelessly lost. So lost, they didn’t even find each other. It was pitch black without the lights. In the family cell, we set up motion sensor lights, had our trusty shackles and keys as trigger objects and our laser pens. We got nothing, apart from an enthusiastic seagull’s participation to our questions. We asked any spirits to blow on our faces and Laura could feel coldness around her. After half an hour, we moved to a smaller cell. Again, nothing. We moved cells and found another sack dummy with a freaky mask. Jack named him Jean and we took turns posing with our new cell mate. Unfortunately, we were summoned for break. We stayed behind to have a quick EVP session with Jean, which mostly resulted in us harassing him for photos.

For our next vigils, we had the entire ground floor, so we started in courtroom one. We thought we should have a group photo where the judge sits. However, we didn’t know how to get to the door that led to that area, so had to vault over the witness box. Not easy when you have a ten second self-timer on your camera. Jack and Laura were put on trial, but the judge refused to pass sentences. While we were there, the Ghost Radar said ‘show’ ‘cold’ ‘blew’ and ‘Harry.’ Our table tipping attempt was as successful as the Titanic’s maiden voyage. But we found a load of guns from the Airsoft events that are held there. We considered wrapping glittery scarves from the courtroom around our faces and rushing into everyone’s vigils wielding the guns, but we’re not insured for heart attacks.Old Crown Court Bristol

As usual, the other groups all experienced activity. Jack reckoned we might be blockers, as none of us ever get activity, despite doing this for a few years now. Ghost hunters who repel ghosts. That would explain our show being as popular as a swarm of bees in a lift. Phew. We thought it was our personalities.

We wandered the other rooms, walking into objects and tripping over stuff. In our final room, Cat found a black book. With a script inside. She and Jack acted out the script which can only be described as ‘bizarre’. One scene involved a magic carpet and assassinating dictators by pushing mammals off the carpet onto them. Does the SAS know about this unique tactic? The BBC clearly hasn’t commissioned this script, but rest assured, part of it shall make its debut on Calamityville. What is it with us finding scripts in courts? Anything after this was going to be anticlimactic.Old Crown Court Bristol

After another break, we were teamed up with Alan, Bev, Daisy and Charlotte who had been having activity in the rooms upstairs. One of them had picked up on the name ‘Harry’. It was about 1 a.m. now and we were already tired, after having a crap night’s sleep and riding motorbikes for several hours. So when nothing happened, Lynx and Jack took the opportunity to nap. Lynx was still filming. Professional, see. We wandered downstairs for photos and a chocolate biscuit. When we regrouped, they told us about the K2 activity they’d been getting upstairs. Lynx “so after we left then?” Yep. Repellents.

Old Crown Court BristolWe returned to the cells for a group vigil. Daisy, Charlotte and Bev were in one area, Alan and Andy were in another, us, Jack, Laura, Karrin and another Alan went to a different area of the cells. The amount of Alans in the small group confused us. We started suspecting every male who appeared there was Alan. Jean joined us, so when Jack was shut in a cell by himself, Cat hung Jean from the bars to keep an eye on him and make sure he didn’t get too scared. Though Jean’s creepy face wedged between the bars probably wasn’t that comforting. We formed an outwards-facing circle and Alan wandered with our keys, trying to stir up the spirits. He was too polite, so Karrin took over. There was some bleeping from the Mel Meter, but we were too far to see which component was bleeping. Cat switched with Jack and took Jean in the cell with her, after he momentarily got his head stuck in the bars. He listened to live EVPs with her while Jack was put in the centre of our circle as bait. It was probably the best night of Jean’s life.Old Crown Court Bristol

We regrouped and two glowing balls were put on the floor. The idea is that if you stare at them long enough, they move. To be honest, this seemed like dodgy science to us. If you stare at anything for long enough, it looks like it’s moving. It’s an optical illusion. They were the only light source in a pitch black area, so that plays tricks on your eyes. Cat asked if anyone had anything to draw around the balls so we could see if they actually moved, but nobody did.

It was now 3:15 a.m. and we were knackered. Everyone headed upstairs for a group vigil with our least favourite piece of equipment – the spirit box. We must be the only ghost hunters who don’t like this piece of equipment and refuse to buy one just because all the ‘cool kids’ have one. One, the static irritates us. Two, the more we see it being used, the more we’re convinced it’s a glorified radio with a hefty price tag. It sweeps FM and AM frequencies and the idea is that spirits communicate through the white noise. We have a £10 portable radio from Argos that we could spin the dial on and it would probably be just as effective. If it’s just about the white noise, why does it have an aerial? The aerial apparently helps pick up voices. Radio stations more like. Also, it’s meant to sweep so fast that you wouldn’t be able to hear a voice. Then why can we hear music? Do the ghosts communicate through the Top 40? Is a DJ their spirit guide?

Old Crown Court BristolThis time, Cat joined Jack and Lynx in their nap. Whilst filming. Multitasking FTW. You see how our levels of professionalism have improved? As she would be driving home, she figured it was safer to nap in the courthouse than in the car. We left the court at 4 a.m. and weaved our way through the drunken clubbers to our car, using Jack’s technique of pretending we were drunk so they’d accept us as their own. Like with zombies. Well, we put failing to go into the paying area of the car park down to our inebriated state. Y’know, in case they were listening.Old Crown Court Bristol

So in terms of ghosts, nothing. In terms of fun, we had plenty. Finding the script was an unexpected highlight and provided much amusement. We didn’t think the place would be as big as it was and the cells were fantastic.

Roll on Drakelow Tunnels.Old Crown Court Bristol

4 Comments

  1. That dummy alone would be a terrifying sight, let alone what the other groups might have experienced!

    Interesting theory that you might be spirit blockers, though. That’s a pretty cool superpower if you ask me 🙂

    • Jean had his…charms 😀 We’ve often joked about being spirit repellents, but maybe it’s true. Damn. We’ve always wanted a pet poltergeist.

  2. Jack’s method of getting through the drunks is brilliant! Sorry you didn’t get much activity. Maybe the script was a gift from the spirits and you actually got the MOST activity!

    • It was brilliant. They didn’t suspect us! Ooh we like that! The spirits left us a present to help make our night even more memorable.


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