30 East Drive

When the chance to investigate ‘Europe’s Most Haunted House’ comes up, who is going to say no?

30 East DriveThis is the first time we’ve ghost hunted since 2016, mostly due to lack of time, money, and places not emailing us back. We’ve missed it. And what a way to return by spending the entire night in a famous location. 30 East Drive in Pontefract is known as the ‘poltergeist house’. It’s even listed as that on Google Maps. In recent years, it’s come to the attention of ghost hunters and lots of groups investigate there. In Most Haunted, they had marbles and knives thrown at them and Karl was famously dragged up the stairs by a poltergeist, but the white rope attached to his belt points to a less paranormal explanation. Mind you, Most Haunted could make a rabbit hutch look like a terrifyingly scary location.

Does 30 East Drive deserve its spooky reputation?30 East Drive

In August 1966, the Pritchard family – Jean, Joe, 15 year old Philip and 12 year old Diane – moved into the house. Not long after, Philip and his grandmother saw chalk dust fall from below head height. They summoned Philip’s aunt, Mrs Kelly, to come see it. She went to the kitchen to fetch cleaning stuff when she slipped in a pool of water that had mysteriously appeared. As she tried mopping it up, more water appeared.

30 East DriveOver the years there were several strange incidents: green foam coming from taps and the toilet even after the water was switched off; the tea dispenser being activated and spilling tea over the worktops (clearly a British spirit); lights turning on and off; plants leaping out of their pots and landing on the stairs; cupboards shaking; photos being slashed; and numerous objects levitating or being thrown, including a solid oak sideboard.

30 East DriveIn 1968, the press dubbed the poltergeist Mr Nobody. The Pritchards called him Fred. During exorcisms, walls seeped holy water (not sure how they knew it was holy. Did it recite the Lord’s Prayer?), people had their faces slapped or were pushed down stairs and when christian songs were sung, Fred’s hands appeared to conduct them, wearing women’s fur gloves. We find that detail a little odd. Why women’s gloves? Did they make his hands look more shapely? He also poured a jug of milk over a sceptical aunt’s head. Diane was the focus of the haunting, so many of the scrapes and bruises happened to her. At night, he’d rip off her bedclothes, pull her hair and slap her face. As she neared the end of adolescence, Diane’s hair stood on end and she was dragged up the stairs, with visible finger marks on her throat.

30 East DriveWe’re not sure when the family left, but there doesn’t seem to be any reports of poltergeist activity after Diane’s teenage years. And nothing in the following years until 2012, when a film was made. Neighbours said the house wasn’t haunted. One even said “my house is more haunted than that one.” Clearly, we picked the wrong house to visit. We should have split up and gone to visit the neighbours instead. We might have had a more active evening, sitting with them, watching soaps. Until one of us ends up at the local murderer’s house.

30 East DriveIn 2012, a film, When the Lights Went Out, based on the Black Monk of Pontefract was released. It’s directed by Jean’s nephew, Pat Holden. The producer, Bill Bungay, bought the house and still owns it. He had a photo taken on his iphone of him and the film’s two starlets. His phone died, even though it had 75% battery and the photo wasn’t in his library. Weeks later, it reappeared. We don’t class this as paranormal – this happens with Cat’s phone on several occasions. It’s very annoying. Bill’s photo is blurry. Again, not paranormal. Whenever Cat gives her phone to someone else to take a photo, it’s always blurry because they don’t wait for it to focus. During the filming of a documentary, the kettle would switch on and off, the thermostat would go missing and the researcher was pinned to the bed in Diane’s room. The producer’s keys went missing and nobody could find them until someone opened the hoover they’d brought to dress the place. The keys were inside. We suspect this was probably a prank.

30 East DriveOn Valentine’s Day 2016, Bill was washing up and had the urge to turn around. A domino levitated from the dining room table and launched at him, narrowly missing him. After that, others objects were launched at him, each time, narrowly missing. These were a marble thrown from the ceiling that chipped the varnish off the piano board, two screws thrown from the ceiling, and a red ball.

30 East DriveAnother time he closed the side gate, blocking it with a concrete block. People ran out through the kitchen door, saying the keys had gone missing. He turned around to see the gate was open, the block pushed aside.

30 East DriveThe legend attached to the house is that it’s haunted by the Black Monk. He allegedly raped and strangled several girls in the 16th C, cutting out their tongues so they couldn’t scream. That is a plot taken from Shakespeare’s Titus Andronicus where Lavinia is raped and has her tongue cut out and her hands cut off so she can’t identify her attackers. The monk was apparently hanged on gallows on the top of the hill and his body thrown into a well, which the house was supposedly built on. A neighbouring house was having damp work done and a stone well was discovered under the buttress. No mention of any bones though. We’ve researched executions many times and not once does it ever mention people’s bodies being tossed down wells like January’s Christmas trees. Pontefract Friary once stood where the hospital now is, 0.7 miles from the house. It housed the Blackfriar monks, who wore black. But there is no evidence to support the theory that he haunts the house.

30 East DriveThere is no mention of a monk during the time the Pritchards lived there. They witnessed the hauntings. They never said it was a monk. Think people have come to this conclusion based on shadow photographs taken by visitors. Though one looks suspiciously like a finger. We did a Google search for old maps and information on a gallows being in the area and could find nothing. We couldn’t even find the hill on Google Street View. The immediate area is flat. That’s not to say a hill doesn’t exist, but if it does, it’s not as close as paranormal sites claim it is.

We drove the 215 mile trip to 30 East Drive full of expectation – that this was overhyped and we’d spend our evening sitting in a council house, bored. Well slap a crystal ball in front of us and call us Mystic Meg because our prediction came true. We arrived at 7:30 p.m. an hour and a half after our fellow investigators – Jack, Laura and James from The Spirit Diaries and Helena, Alex and Liz from Boleyn Paranormal, along with guest, horror writer Ian Sputnik. In our defence, our mum wasn’t home and we couldn’t leave until the iguana had had his bath.

30 East DriveWe set up and started investigating in one of the bedrooms. After we’d finished riding the rocking pony that is. We’d brought a plasma ball with us, as we’d seen it used in Cross Hands Cinema and it seems like a cool idea, if it works. After 45 minutes of nothing happening, we went into Diane’s room. Whilst we’re young looking for our age, the poltergeist clearly wasn’t fooled into thinking we were teenage girls and left us alone. There was no knocks, no taps, no creepy breaths, not even a Barbie doll was flung with malevolent force. We went downstairs for some Red Bull and vegan chocolate coins then headed into the living room with Ian.

Cat rifled through the record collection, dismayed at the taste in music. The she noticed her trousers were covered in what appeared to be talcum powder. Someone had coated The Carpenter’s record sleeve in talc. Presumably for use as a trigger object and hadn’t bothered to clean it. For shame, previous investigators. Luckily her trousers were PVC so wiped clean.

30 East Drive

this started the album cover photos

Cat and Laura went into the coal cupboard and amused the ghost by reading out a joke on a Penguin wrapper. The only peculiar thing that happened was the motion sensor light going off in the living room. We all ignored it, thinking Jack had set it off. Minutes later, Jack was moving and the light wasn’t going off. It wasn’t him. We kept testing by having different people wave their arms but no one triggered it. Helena suggested the phone in front of it might have set it off, so Lynx texted it, to see if the vibration from the notification set it off. It didn’t.

We returned upstairs to the master bedroom, hoping things picked up, as it was now 1 a.m. As the ghost refused to show, we set the camera on a tripod and took a photo of the five of us lounging in the room, bored. Cat commented that it looked like an album cover and suddenly, the night improved. We spent the next half an hour going into every room and posing for album covers. The photos got more random with every room. It’s hard to be creative with minimal props but we made it work.

One bedroom had a poster of the poster of The Osmonds. Five of them, five of us. We recreated it but without the terrible hairstyles and fashion sense. We didn’t have enough people to recreate The Beatles’ St Pepper’s Lonely Heart Club poster. Those photos were the highlight of the whole night and it energised us into trying Diane’s room one more time. We played monks chanting and a christian hymn – Lord of the Dance – hoping for Fred’s gloved hands to join in. He didn’t. At 2:15 a.m. we called it quits and all slept in the master bedroom.

30 East Drive

recreating the Osmonds poster

See the theory with poltergeists is, they’re generally attached to one person – usually a teenage girl, so if that person isn’t there, neither is the poltergeist. Nobody lives in the house, so there’s nobody for it to attach itself to. In our opinion, it’s overhyped and overpriced. We’re glad we went because we can say it’s not as haunted as people claim it is. Supermarkets are more haunted than 30 East Drive – things randomly fly off the shelves when you’re nowhere near them and the self-scan checkouts think ghostly items are in the bagging area. Paying to sit in a council house in Yorkshire is not worth it. Most haunted house in Europe? The scariest thing about it was the carpets and wallpaper.30 East Drive

Theatre of Screams

Cross Hands cinemaDancing, entering forbidden areas and taking part in shenanigans. It can only mean one thing: we were back on the road ghost hunting for the start of season 6 of Calamityville Horror. We’ve always wanted to investigate an old theatre so when Gareth Mates of RIP Paranormal invited us to Cross Hands public hall and cinema, we couldn’t say no. And this was after he’d watched the show…

Cross Hands cinemaWe left early and arrived at the Travelodge exactly when we were supposed to. Is that what being an adult feels like? For the first time ever, Travelodge let us down – they didn’t have a fridge! Luckily we’d brought extra ice packs for our soya milk and Red Bull. Having warm milk for breakfast would be bad enough but no-one should have to suffer a warm Red Bull. Life is cruel enough. As we loitered outside Starbucks, stealing their WiFi, Laura joined us and we made our way to the cinema. It was about two minutes down the road but we have to lug a lot of equipment and we didn’t fancy the trek back at 4 a.m. We got to the cinema early. What’s with this? Being responsible doesn’t sit well with us. Jack and James arrived a few minutes later then the natural order of things was restored when we got locked out. We knocked on the front door. No answer. We ventured to the side door and Jack knocked. Nothing. Jack continuously knocked. The lights were on but there was no-one home. This was more like the Calamityville we know and love. Eventually, Gareth heard us and let us in.

Cross Hands cinemaEveryone else was due to arrive at 9:30 for the 10 p.m. start but we got there at 8 cos we wanted the place to ourselves for a bit. That and we like to get settled in before a load of people come. We feel more comfortable with people arriving after than us arriving with a crowd. After claiming the table in the furthest corner, the five of us then hid in the library, stealing the WiFi. Such sociable beings.

Cross Hands cinemaWhen RIP Paranormal had finished fiddling with their cables, Gareth took us on a tour and told us about the ghostly goings on. The manager heard someone knocking on the wall in the day room which was base camp. The knocks travelled across the wall then the door opened. In the library, books have been found on the floor. Knocks are heard from under the stage but although we were allowed to open the access door, we weren’t allowed to go under there. Shadowy figures have been spotted in the projection booth and in the main theatre, a little girl haunts the aisle and tugs on people’s clothing.

Cross Hands cinemaBuilt in 1906 as a public hall to improve the community’s quality of the life. One of the stonemasons was Eddie Wilkins, a gifted stonemason who was involved with many of the better stonework buildings around Cross Hands and the Gwendraeth Valley. Miners contributed 1p a week from their wages to help with the hall’s upkeep. In 1932 it was extended, incorporating many ancillary centres at the rear of the building. The hall’s French façade design once graced the auditorium ceiling, but it no longer exists.

Cross Hands cinemaThe hall was one of the finest in south Wales with top actors and orchestras. It was the main attraction in the area. The combination of the coal industry’s demise and the popularity of TV contributed to the hall’s decline. It fell into disrepair and closed in 1984. In 1991, the Deputy Mayor, Councillor Bryn Davies fought to keep the hall open, eventually securing a £640,000 grant from the Welsh Office, Llanelli Borough Council and Carmarthenshire District Council to restore the hall. It reopened on 26th April 1996. It is run by volunteers from the community and is now mostly used as a cinema.

Cross Hands cinemaWe then waited for everyone else to arrive. It was meant to be a public event but in the end, it was only going to be investigators. We were a little relieved. We’ve had our fill of public events now and prefer exploring alone. There’s always one person in a public event who winds us up. By 10 p.m., only one investigator, Tim, had arrived. We waited. And waited. And waited. By 11, it was clear the others weren’t coming. Eager to get going, we could’ve contemplated the meaning of life but instead, the five of us amused ourselves by sending each other photos of our cats in a group message. Despite all sitting at the same table. Socialising at its best. To be fair, between the 5 of us, we have a LOT of fabulous cats. 8 of the furry beasts. 5 are ours.

Cross Hands cinemaJust as we were about to start napping, we were allowed to investigate. We chose to have the theatre first. Even though the other rooms had activity, we get bored investigating rooms that look like ordinary rooms. We can sit in those anytime. Plus one room had comfy chairs and if we sat in them, we didn’t rate our chances of staying awake. We entered the theatre and the lights went out. The performance was about to begin. Jack and James returned for a memory card. Before you could say ‘opening credits’, us and Laura were under the stage. The boys returned to find the theatre empty. They soon found us and joined us for selfies and exploring, rather than proper investigating. But hey, knocks are heard from under the stage, so maybe this is where the ghosts were hiding, like spectral trolls. We were the only two short enough to stand upright, providing we stood between the beams, which looked creepy when Cat’s head disappeared from view.

Cross Hands cinemaAfter ten minutes into our allotted hour, we crawled out and made our way to the projection booth to hunt for the shadowy figures. They didn’t show. We tried encouraging the ghosts to put on a film for us, but maybe the new technology baffled them. We know how they feel. We took our seats in the front row of the balcony and awaited the ghosts’ performance. They clearly missed their curtain call, although we did hear a couple of taps. Two came after Lynx asked if the spirits could name the performance they were in. Cross Hands cinemaCat and Laura ventured down to sit on the stage while Lynx, James and Jack stayed on the balcony. After a few minutes, Cat went to stand in the aisle to encourage the little girl ghost, but like all children, she gave Cat a wide berth. As the other three left the balcony, the motion sensor light was on. It was at the top of the steps, so they hadn’t triggered it and one of the seats in the front row was down. These seats automatically flip up when you stand. None of us remembered it being down when we entered the front row, but we’ll have to double check our cameras. The stills camera shows the seat up on the walk around. What makes this stranger is, we asked the ghosts to lower one of the seats. It didn’t happen again for the rest of the night. And no, it wasn’t filmed.

Cross Hands cinemaIt was time for a break and a switch. We took the day room downstairs, but nothing happened. Gareth mentioned the team in the theatre, consisting of Tim, Hana and Lewis, had contacted a demon on the Ouija board. Not just any demon. Satan himself. You’d think he’d have people to screen his calls. Curious that Satan would take a Saturday evening off to chat, we abandoned our vigil and gathered on the stage to watch. The ‘demon’ apparently turned out to be a serial killer called Frank, who wanted to kill Hana. Among other things. He spelled her name right, despite it not being the common spelling. We were tempted to see if it could spell our real names, which also have unusual spellings, but we don’t like interrupting other people’s vigils. After several minutes of watching, we left them alone and headed up to the library and spent our time looking for funny book titles. We weren’t disappointed.

Cross Hands cinemaConsidering the Ouija board had been so active, we decided to have a go in the hope that the spirits would finally answer us. Our Saint’s Row Wee-Ja board doesn’t seem to work, so maybe someone else’s would. All we got was a hang up tone. Gareth came to watch so got to witness the truth behind when we say “we get bugger all,” we really do get bugger all. As massive serial killer… ‘enthusiasts’ seems so wrong….we felt if anyone should make contact with one, it should be us. But the board was as a quiet as a duct-taped monk in a sponsored silence. We asked if our group’s fabulous sense of style (let’s be honest, we are the most stylish ghost hunters out there) angered them. We took their lack of communication as a yes.

Cross Hands cinemaAs the balcony had proved to be the most interesting area so far, we returned there and again waited for the ghosts to perform. The performance had been cancelled. Cold and tired, we ventured into the ground floor of the theatre and took different rows in the hope a ghost would sit with at least one of us. Not even the offer of applause convinced them to give us something other than the silent treatment. It’s always disappointing when you pay to go to the theatre to watch a performance and the actors decide they have somewhere better to be.

Cross Hands cinemaAfter returning to base camp and sharing more cat photos, Jack and James headed off as they were driving home. Us and Laura decided to give it one last try and as RIP Paranormal were packing up, the three of us headed for the stage. There was only way to end the night – dancing. All week we’ve been promising that we’ll get up on stage and either perform a play or dance. Our Complete Works of Shakespeare could help a Mob victim sleep with the fishes, and improv would’ve been impossible at that time of night so we opted for dancing. Unfortunately, we could only get internet by the library so couldn’t access any music on our phones. Our flip phones saved the day. Cat blasted Muse’s ‘Hysteria’ followed by Culture Club’s ‘Karma Chameleon’ and we danced our way to the end of the night. Forgetting RIP’s cameras were trained right on us…

The ghosts didn’t even applaud.Cross Hands cinema

Going Nuclear

Hack Green nuclear bunker

L-R Anthony, Lynx, Cat, Tom, James, Jack, Laura, Elaine, Dave

Inappropriateness, mannequins and squealing over puppies. Calamityville were on the road again.

We hired Hack Green nuclear bunker in Nantwich and this was a big team up. Jack and Laura from Jack and Laura Ghost Series were again joining us, along with Jack’s boyfriend, James. We were also joined by Anthony and Dave from Team Impact, (you may remember them from our Woodchester Mansion shenanigans) Elaine (Neen’s mum who joined us in Redcliffe Caves) and Tom, who was standing in for Neen (who’s just moved house).Hack Green nuclear bunker

It started well – we fetched Tom and headed to Nandos to meet Dave and Anthony for a pre-hunt foraging mission. Anthony got stuck in traffic so they were late. Then Lynx lost the car keys and spent several minutes hunting for them, much to the amusement of Tom and the woman in the car next to us. Keys found, Lynx and Tom headed off to pick up Elaine and Laura while Cat travelled with Anthony and Dave, making a detour back to Casa Raven as she’d left our new action cam behind. Hack Green nuclear bunkerDespite visiting Elaine’s only a week before, Lynx forgot where she lived and drove around the estate until she found it. She then misplaced her glasses. How old do you have to be to take one of those dementia tests? The road from Laura’s to the A449 was closed, leading them to explore country lanes. Our SatNav, Helen, kept switching to her American voice, who Tom has named Tanya. Team CAD reached the services before Team TELL had even reached the M50. Team CAD’s journey was filled with inappropriateness, which continued in the cafe as they waited for the others. And continued every time Cat was in that car, leading them to blame her for starting all the shenanigans. Their evidence was clearly lacking.

Hack Green nuclear bunker

Lynx in the shelter

We then switched drivers, with Cat joining Laura and Elaine, and Lynx and Tom accompanying Anthony and Dave. We reached the Travelodge much earlier than anticipated, which surprised us all. And we didn’t get lost. Ok, we had to circle the roundabout as we missed Travelodge’s entrance, but that’s how we roll with Travelodge. Jack and James were already there. We booked in then hung out in our rooms until it was time to leave.

Hack Green nuclear bunker

theatre

Despite being at the Travelodge early, we were still late to the bunker, which was 25 minutes away. The secret bunker was well sign posted so we didn’t get lost. That kind of defeats the object of it being a secret bunker. As we arrived, Cat realised she’d left her warm coat in Travelodge. Anthony, Dave and Tom all offered up their coats, like true gentleman but she decided to brave it, rather than spend the night looking like a child playing dress up. Even worse, Lynx left the shortbread behind.Hack Green nuclear bunker

The Home Officer Emergency Planning Division bought Hack Green from the MOD in 1976 for use as a protected seat of government for Home Defence Region 10:2. Hack Green’s nuclear bunker was regional Government Headquarters, with 140 officials working there during times of nuclear threat. In the 1980s, it cost £32 million to rebuild it. It had decontamination facilities, its own power station and water supplies, air conditioning and life support, radio communications and telephone exchanges and nuclear fallout filter rooms. It was built in secret and the public had no knowledge of it until its declassification in 1993. In 1998, it opened for the first time in over 50 years.

Hack Green nuclear bunker

this system was decommissioned in 2002

There have been many TV and radio investigations at the bunker, including Most Haunted. The Hack Green site has been the site of many battles and deaths for over 500 years. From the Great Fire of Nantwich, Civil War and two world wars.

Officials from the Air Ministry wanted a site to put their Radio Detection and Direction Finding (RDF) equipment. It was later known as radar. The southern and eastern coasts already had a chain of radar stations to face enemy bombers and fighters that threatened Britain. As radar was in its early stages, it had difficulty locating enemy aircraft, so in late 1940, a system of radar installations, called Ground Controlled Intercept Stations were developed. In 1941, Hack Green was chosen to become RAF Hack Green and its new role was to protect the area between Birmingham and Liverpool from attack. It had previously been a bombing decoy site for the main railway centre at Crewe.

Hack Green nuclear bunker

stairs where a W.A.A.F apparently jumped to her death

Hack Green was one of 21 radar stations and one of 12 equipped with searchlights and fighter aircraft control. After WW2, it was discovered that existing radar defence wouldn’t cope with the threat from fast jet aircraft or nuclear missiles. A Top Secret plan, codename: Rotor was devised to replace the Ground Controlled Intercept Stations and place 1620 radar screens into bunkers. Hack Green joined Group 12 to protect Britain against the Soviet threat of conventional and nuclear war. With a new long range radar, it could alert officers to Russian bombers’ approach, which would enable the RAF to intercept them, using fighter aircraft or Bloodhound ground to air missiles. Early warning would enable the Victor V Force bombers to launch and retaliate.

Hack Green nuclear bunker

female dorm

As a Rotar station, Hack Green had 18 officers, 26 NCOs, 224 corporals and aircraftsmen. In 1958, Hack Green became part of the United Kingdom Air Traffic Control System, making it one of four joint civil/military air traffic control units. The station closed in 1966 when its role was transferred to RAF Lindholme in South Yorkshire.

People have witnessed a full apparition of a uniformed man in the main corridor, along with two other apparitions. Staff report feeling menacing energy and people have fainted. In room 9, the telecommunications area, people have seen an apparition of an attractive woman working at her desk. Several groups claimed to have made contact with an aggressive male spirit here. The phones apparently ring, despite being disconnected. The most active area is the theatre. People have apparently been touched and pushed and moans and bangs are heard. Probably people sneaking off for some touching and moaning. Sudden feelings of illness is brought on, with one person having to call an ambulance.

Hack Green nuclear bunker

sick bay

According to Most Haunted’s Brian Shepherd, the bunker is haunted by Joan, a W.A.A.F (women’s auxiliary air force), who apparently committed suicide in the 1950s over her relationship with another woman, by throwing herself off the top of the main yellow staircase. He said she was depressed and had someone on her mind. Sometimes she stands there, looking as though she wants to say something. Lesley Smith, the historian, confirmed a W.A.A.F died from falling off the stairs. Some say she was murdered.  She’d had a lesbian relationship, but Lesley didn’t confirm her name. Stuart from MH got punched in the stomach in the theatre. He seems to get punched a lot. Quite frankly, we don’t blame the ghosts. In the theatre, Karl went down – he claimed his leg was grabbed and lifted up. MH saw a figure and had violent poltergeist activity.

Hack Green nuclear bunker

doing a ouija board in the theatre

The main communications room has a ghost of a woman seen walking through and out the door. A dark ghostly figure is seen and makes the temperature drop. Body parts are seen sticking up out of the ground by the radar control sign. Some believe the ground was used to dispose of bodies they’d murdered for sinister purposes. In the civil war, it was an encampment for royalist and Cromwellian forces. A battle was fought around the area. Cavaliers are seen wandering the grounds. There are rumours of Cold War interrogations being carried out in Hack Green, with torture and dismemberment taking place and apparently a container of acid was found. However, the government and MOD have denied the existence of the container.

Hack Green nuclear bunker

Alfie

Newspapers on 4th Dec 1943 state that two were killed and 16 airmen and W.A.A.Fs were injured when a goods train crashed into a bus at Hack Green level crossing the day before. In Nantwich is ‘the airman’s grave’. On Jan 14th 1944, 23 year old 1st Lieutenant Arthur L Brown, from United States Army Air Force, crashed. He was suffering from anoxia (insufficient oxygen in body tissues) due to the height he was flying at, and lost consciousness before crashing. It’s not known whether he consciously flew away from the residential area.

Hack Green nuclear bunker

Morris

The bunker is fantastic. Lucy, the curator, took us on a walk around. The lights were off everywhere except in the canteen upstairs. Mannequins leered at us from behind their barriers and glass cases, relishing the fact we couldn’t get to them. To think we’d set aside time for mannequin shenanigans! We and Laura were very disappointed. But our disappointment was soon forgotten as Lucy was puppy sitting. She had her two year old Pomeranian, Alfie and his 12 week son, Morris. Ghost hunting was soon abandoned for fluffy cuteness.

Hack Green nuclear bunker

corridor vigil

In one of the rooms, there was a sign for bikini alert. We cursed the fact none of us thought to bring bikinis on a ghost hunt. In Raiders of the Lost Shark, all the women had bikinis under their clothes. To think, we’d mocked them! Lucy warned us not to go anywhere alone, as lots of people get lost. And our personal SatNav, Neen, was 150 miles away. After the walk round, the two of us did a quick tour to take photos then we split into groups.

Hack Green nuclear bunkerJack, Laura, James and Elaine went to the shelter. Anthony and Dave went to do EVPs in the BBC communication room so Tom and Lynx headed down to put a camera in the theatre. As they left, a beam of light shone out from the theatre, hitting the wall in the corridor. Tom saw it then a few moments later, they both saw it again. There was no-one else there. Cat did a lone vigil in the female dorm then went looking for Tom and Lynx. We met up with Laura, Jack, James and Elaine and all heard what sounded like a man coughing. Cat and James went in search of Anthony and Dave to ask if it was them, but failed to find them. Team TLC returned upstairs to the female dorm and lounged on the beds, where our vigil took an inappropriate turn. Seeing as male ghosts never take up our offer of touching, Cat asked the females. Again, she was shunned. Ghosts obviously like to avoid us as much as the living. Cat *spread her arms* “I’m lonely, Joan!” Joan didn’t care. Tom “Do you like that there’s a male in the female quarters? Would you like a male in your female quarters?”Hack Green nuclear bunker

Tom and Lynx started feeling a cold patch between them. Lynx felt a breeze on her face. It’s a nuclear bunker. There are no breezes because there are no windows. Tom felt the cold patch on his knees. Cat asked for it to make his right knee colder. It did go colder. We cursed leaving our temperature gun in the canteen. Cat and Tom then switched places. The ghosts ignored Cat. Tom “the ghosts clearly don’t fancy you.” Cat “you’re not the first, entity.” Lynx went to fetch the temperature gun. So we told the ghosts we had something to measure them with and to slap it on the beds. We’re beginning to see why the living and the dead avoid us. The gun didn’t pick up on the cold patches on people’s legs, but it did reveal something we’d suspected for a while – Tom’s heart was cold and dead. It was a chilly 12C compared to his 23C knees. Tom was able to stretch his long arms over the barrier and grab some coats that were hanging up so we could indulge in a favourite Calamityville past time – dressing up. Tom, as usual, looked rather dapper. We looked…fetching.

Hack Green nuclear bunker

bunks in the female dorm

We then teamed up with Anthony and Dave and headed for the shelter. 40 minutes of possibly our most innuendo-filled vigil ever ensued. It’s for the best that we don’t type it up. This was our first proper ghost hunt with them and we have to say, they fit in perfectly. At one point, after we talked about bodies being dissolved in the acid vats, we all heard what sounded like a small thud or footstep. Lynx’s bubbling throat contributed a lot to that vigil. We encouraged the ghosts to possess us but they refused to oblige. We figured after all this time, maybe the ghosts were lonely and would enjoy male company so offered up the guys, particularly Dave because he didn’t want to be offered up. We requested punches, slaps and scratches if they didn’t like us and hickeys if they did. They clearly didn’t like us but obviously refrained from leaving physical marks. Dave kept hearing a high pitched bleeping which no-one else heard. After a lot of giggling and inappropriateness, we split up.

Hack Green nuclear bunker

BBC communications room

Lynx and Tom headed for the stairs, where the W.A.A.F, Joan, apparently jumped to her death. We tried finding service records for her but records are only available for up to 1911. Tom noticed a door at the bottom of the stairs had a gap so Lynx stuck her camera under the door and discovered a child mannequin wearing a skirt and tie. Cat wanted to go to the theatre so Anthony and Dave joined her. This is apparently the most active area but we didn’t experience anything. Laura, Jack, James and Elaine joined them in the theatre. Cat encouraged the ghosts to misbehave with Anthony, who was sitting in the back row.

Hack Green nuclear bunkerEveryone headed back upstairs for a refreshment break. Cat went to the sick bay and was joined by Anthony. Lynx and Tom went to the BBC communications room. It was cold in the sick bay. One mannequin lay on a stretcher dying from radiation sickness while a nurse mannequin hovered nearby. A suspicious looking doctor wearing pink lipstick and with one hand stuffed in his trouser pocket, sat at a desk. Fainting is a common problem at Hack Green, so Cat requested the ghosts make her pass out. Nothing happened. Anthony got hungry and left. Cat got unbearably cold when she was alone, but as the room was cold to begin with, this isn’t paranormal. Tom and Lynx reappeared so we all headed to the canteen for refreshments.

Hack Green nuclear bunkerWhen everyone was in the canteen, Cat went to do a lone vigil at the top of the stairs where Joan apparently jumped from. She made sure to stay a few steps back from the bannister. Being turfed over the edge by a lovelorn ghost wasn’t how she wanted her night to end. Anthony and Dave joined her so they spread out, with Anthony going to the bottom of the stairs, Cat halfway up and Dave at the top. Cat requested Joan recreate her death for them but she refused. After a bit, Cat wandered off to find the BBC room and got lost, setting off a sound recording in one room. Everyone else went into the room beside the canteen with four creepy mannequins and several disembodied heads in display cases. There wasn’t much ghost hunting going on, just talk on the creepiness of the mannequins and James trying to find all the spy mice. They went into the next room along and James continued his hunt for the mice. They all decided to head downstairs and track down Cat. After searching several communications rooms, they found her wandering the corridors, lost. Tom reminded her that’s why Lucy said not to go off alone. We decided to do a ouija board session in the theatre, lying RAF medals on the board to encourage activity. In true form, nothing happened. Cat then returned upstairs for snacks and discovered she was completely alone up there again, so went wandering.Hack Green nuclear bunker

Lucy had suggested the corridor would be a great place to do a vigil so we gathered on the stairs. By this point we were all tired, the stairs were cold to sit on and we’d run out of things to say. We did hear humming, but that turned out to be Cat accidentally setting off the voice recording in the decontamination room when she went upstairs. We returned upstairs, had more cuddles with the puppy then called it a night at 3:20 a.m. Whilst the paranormal activity was low, the fun levels were high. It’s an interesting place and well worth a visit. We’d like to return in the day too. Lucy was really nice and there were fluffy dogs to cwtch. We’re looking forwards to our next team up. Will there be ghosts? Unlikely. Will there be fun and inappropriate behaviour? Most definitely.Hack Green nuclear bunker

Dirty Forts

Behaving inappropriately in shafts, dancing, dressing up and encouraging debauchery in soldiers’ bunks. Calamityville Horror are back and just as unprofessional as ever.

Fort AmherstWe haven’t had a proper Calamityville adventure since we returned from America. In October. That is a looong time without shenanigans. But we hit the ground running and didn’t stop until we fell asleep. Yesterday was our 33rd birthday. We know. We can’t believe it either. Turns out, sacrificing someone by drowning them in the Fountain of Youth doesn’t stop you ageing. That’s the last time we ask Magic 8 ball for advice. Anyway, we spent our birthday ghost hunting in Fort Amherst in Kent. Helena and Alex from Boleyn Paranormal (you may remember them from our night in Moira Furnace) invited us as it was Helena’s birthday the week before. Ghost hunting on our birthday? No way would we turn that down!

Fort AmherstOur SatNav (Helen) said it would take us 3 hours 19. You were wrong, Helen. 5 and a half hours, Helen. Ok, part of it was our fault – we’ve never been to London and knew nothing of the M25. Or that we’d hit it at rush hour, leaving us stuck in traffic and really needing a wee. Neen’s car died three times, depositing us on the hardshoulder until it decided to work again. We consoled ourselves by eating birthday cake, drinking strawberry daiquiri then joking about it spilling in our laps, which led to very inappropriate comments involving strawberry bushes and daiquiri thatches. We’ve missed Calamityville!

Fort Amherst

Lightning passage

We found Travelodge no problem (there’s a first time for everything), checked in, donned our thermals then headed out to the fort. Which luckily, was just down the road. We rocked up two hours late. Helena and Alex are super organised, having packed everything a week before and written a detail itinerary for the evening. We packed the night before then left our IR floodlight and squash behind. Our planning stretches to: rock up, film, see what happens. This allows for such interruptions as breaking down, eating cake and general misbehaviour.

Fort AmherstThe Fort and surrounding area have been inhabited for over 3000 years. The area contains a Saxon burial ground, a Roman mosaic and the original site of old Chatham, which was demolished to build the fort. In 1708, plans were drawn up to build a fortification to protect the Dockyard from land attacks. In 1714, land was bought for this purpose but work didn’t start ‘til 1755. During the Seven Years’ War (1756-1763) bastions and ditches were built, known as the Chatham lines which were entered via four gateways with bridges. Fort AmherstThe lines were strengthened during the American Revolutionary War (1778-1783) with two redoubts being the design’s strong point. At the northern end was Townsend, at the southern was Amherst Redoubt, which later became Fort Amherst. The Chatham defences were strengthened during the Napoleonic Wars (1803-1815) and further batteries were added. Between 1802-1811, prisoners from St Mary’s Island extended the tunnels and created underground stores and shelters, new magazines, barracks, gun batteries and guardrooms. The last building works took place in 1820. A labyrinth of tunnels was dug into the chalk cliffs for moving ammunition around the fort.

Fort Amherst

plotting room

In 1820, the defences were declared obsolete because of improvements in artillery and greater firing ranges, so the area was used as a training ground. Practice sieges were so popular that they attracted many visitors. Charles Dickens described one of the sieges in his book, Pickwick Papers. It is the most complete Napoleonic fortification in Britain. In the tunnel walls are scratched memorials to miners killed during building work and an angel carved in the chalk. Cornish tin miners were worried about digging down towards the devil, so they carved an angel in the chalk and touched it each time they passed.

Fort Amherst

plotting room

Fort Amherst has been used for several filming locations – the 1986 film The Mission, The Saint, the 2011 film Sherlock Holmes: a Game of Shadows. The 2015 BBC adaptation Agatha Christie’s Partners in Crime. In the 1990s it was used in the television series Sharpe starring Sean Bean. He recently returned to Amherst to join re-enactors making a Battle of Waterloo documentary. And now, it’s starring in Calamityville Horror. What a comedown.

Fort Amherst

grand magazine

Most websites don’t list which ghosts haunt it but one site lists loads: a faceless male ghost in the plotting room dressed in a Victorian long, dark coat and top hat; one woman on a tour group answered a ringing phone in the communications room and was told by a woman on the other end said a bomb had dropped on her house – the phones are props and not connected. An electrician working in the tunnels heard a fire bucket fall behind him. Fort AmherstHe went to investigate and saw it slide across the floor then it moved across the room. A young boy likes to pull young women’s skirts. Perv. There’s also phantom drumming, voices and the sounds of women and children crying and dark shadowy figures. The Lightning shaft is haunted by a young woman nicknamed Lily of the Valley, who wears a Georgian dress and materialises from the white door on the right. Men describe her as being beautiful, women describe her as being ugly. During a wedding on the lower gun floor guests saw a soldier in a red jacket materialise and walk through the bride, groom and guests. Visitors have reported leaving the fort and finding children’s dusty hand prints on their clothes.

Fort AmherstWe started in the tunnels. As usual, we got left behind as we were busy taking photos. We stopped in the lightning passage to do some EVPs. Boleyn Paranormal’s K2 was going off but ours was quieter than a sponsored silence in a graveyard. The door leading out of the lightning passage apparently knocks. We rattled the door to see how it would sound in the wind. The door moved, so wind would be able to knock it, but luckily there was no wind last night. The door remained silent. We moved on, with Cat getting left behind to photograph while Lynx and Neen admired the shafts and enjoyed easy rear access to the privy. Our research said that a ghost haunts the lightning shaft, but the fort named it the lightning passage, which led to a discussion about the importance of differentiating between a shaft and a passage. Older, yes, more mature, no. We also found a large cannon so naturally had to sit on for a photo. Neen straddled it like a pro.

Fort Amherst

Prince William Barracks

Then we found the communications/plotting rooms. This was our favourite area. There were maps, blackboards, phones etc. And helmets. We immediately donned the helmets then Lynx went to man the phones in the communications room while Neen and Cat hung out in the plotting room. Neen demanded a dance performance off Cat, so she strapped her helmet on and busted some zumba moves. We moved on to the bunks. Most teams speak to each other like this: “Do you want to get in a bunk and see if you can sense anything?” We speak to each other like this: “Get in the bunk, bitch.” We each took a bunk, with Neen and Lynx claiming bottom bunks and Cat going on top. We encouraged any soldiers to join us and even asked for birthday kisses but even the dead refused to kiss us on our birthday. We even tried encouraging them in arse slapping. Nothing.

Fort Amherst

area where the handsome man is seen

We returned to the cafe (base camp) for cake, Red Bull and live tweeting. before heading back out at 10:50 to check out other areas. We walked through the tunnels and upstairs. The large empty room provided a great place for an impromptu group zumba dance, which resulted in Lynx smacking Neen in the face and us getting left behind again. We scurried after everyone else and headed outside to the Grand Magazine. This was a large empty room, where apparently wedding parties were held. Neen grabbed Cat and walked her down the aisle before leaving her at the altar. Isn’t it good advice to marry your best friend? We discovered tunnels in the walls either side and explored them. A trapdoor at the end lifted up, allowing access to tunnels under the floor. Despite us wearing fancy long skirts and coats, we were down the trapdoor like Twilight vampires in a glitter sale.

Fort AmherstWe had to walk hunched over to get to the other end, where we discovered a tiny tunnel. It was just wide enough for Cat to fit and so short, she had to duck-walk in. But she got to the other end and managed to turn around. These tunnels are apparently haunted by a boy called Tommy. We tried getting him to interact with us but got no response. We then did an EVP session above ground. We tested out our new H2 zoom audio recorder we acquired off our friend, Anthony (you may remember him from Team Impact’s Horror Nights). It was incredible! With headphones in, you could hear everything. The ghosties can’t hide from us now! While Lynx, Neen, Helena and Helena’s mum Liz did calling out, Cat returned to the trapdoor with the H2 and sat in the tunnel below the floor in the dark. Again, we got nothing.Fort Amherst

Fort Amherst’s ghost guy Clive then took us to the abandoned buildings, where other ghost hunters aren’t permitted to go. We visited what we think might have been barracks. A handsome man is usually seen in one building. A handsome man on our birthday? This sounded too good to be true!

He stood us up.

Fort Amherst

under the floor of the grand magazine

But we had an abandoned building to explore, so weren’t too heartbroken. We’re writers – rejection is part of our daily life. We called out to any soldiers but they didn’t want to come and see us, then we got cold, so stood around the fire Clive had got going outside. Yes. A fire was started and it wasn’t by us. Go us. Helena and Liz wanted to stay in that area, so Clive took us and Neen to the Prince William Barracks. A man is apparently seen pacing between the doorways. He was obviously having a rest tonight. This part was hit by a bomb during the war and is awaiting restoration.

Fort AmherstWe then moved on to the washrooms. Were we about to be rewarded with semi naked soldiers washing? Uhhh…no. There weren’t even the sounds of coiled wet towels snapping against cold bare buttocks. Disappointing. Neen was relieved. By now we were freezing so we returned to base camp for more cake. It was about 1:30 a.m. We then returned to the plotting room to use the dowsing rods our mum bought for our birthday and the planchette Dan (you may remember him our Frightmare video) sent us a week ago. He also sent us a scrying mirror, which needs to be charged under a full moon. Anyone know when that is?

Fort AmherstWe donned the helmets and conducted a planchette/EVP session as the five and half hour journey caught up to us. And the fact we were all up ’til midnight the night before – Neen because she was baking us delicious birthday cakes, us because we were watching a serial killer documentary. Our brains and bodies started to shut down. We put the H2 in the next room by the machines to see what we could get. We then decided to separate for the final part. Lynx stayed in the plotting room, manning the desk should there be an outbreak of war.

Fort Amherst

plotting room

She tried to get the ghosts to communicate, but they wouldn’t play with her rods. Nor did they stop her opening an envelope marked ‘confidential’ and reading its contents. Neen moved to the communications room where the H2 was and spent a long time talking to herself. Cat took the bunks and climbed onto the top bunk. She asked the ghosts to move in front of the motion sensor light that was between the bunks. Nothing. Then she invited one onto the bunk to spoon with her. No takers. Turned out, Neen also told the ghosts to spoon Cat. Feeling more unloved than a decaying corpse in a wedding, she left the bunks and we regrouped. It was now 3:20 a.m and we decided to call it a night.

We headed back to base camp, packed up and drove back to Travelodge. Neen “I’m going to be asleep before you’ve even taken off your pants.” Just what all girls want to hear on their birthdays! And she was right. We were still awake til 4:30. So while we didn’t get any ghostly activity on our birthday, we had a lot of fun. And cake. Everything is better with cake.P1150592

Not Holding a Grudge

Woodchester Mansion

The cellar

Hiding in the cellar, rescuing a frog and possibly experiencing actual paranormal activity. Last night we returned to Woodchester Mansion for Team Impact’s last Horror Night of the year.

We were torn between going to this or their Halloween party. But the party usually has about 200 guests and we’d end up ghost hunting anyway and getting annoyed when drunk party guests contaminated our EVPs. You know those weirdos who stand in the corner at parties, avoiding eye contact and silently praying they don’t have to engage in awkward small talk? We are the weirdos, mister. Though we were kinda tempted to show up unannounced at the party and stand outside the windows in our plague doctor costumes. But we decided the horror night was the better option. We can mask our social awkwardness much better when ghost hunting. Us “We’ll skip the group stuff and go spend time alone in the dark cellar that everyone hates.” Yep. Totally masking it.Woodchester Mansion

Woodchester MansionWe were meeting up with Tony and Dave beforehand and surprisingly didn’t get lost trying to find Tony’s house! Though we did get stuck in traffic on the M4 and arrived late. But arriving late is kinda what we do. But Dave was also late. We’d envisioned him getting eaten by cows, but this wasn’t the case. Tony gave us all a lift to the mansion then Team Impact set up for Horror Night while we claimed our seats at the front and started setting up our equipment. Most people bring a handbag. We bring all our ghost hunting equipment, tripods and food so pretty much take up half the drawing room by ourselves. People had been told they could bring blankets as the mansion is unfinished and gets very cold. Us “Lightweights” as we shivered our way through the film and threatened to rob Tony of his padded coat.

Woodchester Mansion

Lynx coffin dodger

The night started with a history tour around the mansion. As we’ve been on two horror nights before, Paul let us go down to the cellars alone. We cause less trouble alone. Actually no, we cause more trouble alone, it’s just no one sees it 😀 We had half an hour of getting distracted by the Halloween props and trying to remember to ghost hunt. We also got into a coffin that was down there. We’ve been inside a morgue fridge, so a coffin was next on our list before our Goth badges are revoked. We were still in the cellar when the group ventured down, so we hid in one of the rooms and waited to be found. People came to the doorway and shone their torches in while we lurked in the shadows, trying not to giggle. No one found us. So when everyone was in one room, we joined them briefly then left.

Woodchester Mansion

Cat coffin up

The film for the night was The Grudge. We haven’t seen it in years so it was good to see it again. Then it was time for ghost hunting! We joined in with the group vigil (check us out being sociable) and we all went to the servant’s corridor. We spread out down it, with everyone lining the walls. Except Cat, who was halfway down another corridor by herself. Lynx was standing in an opening to another corridor at the end by Paul and everyone saw a flash of light go across her. Our cameras weren’t on (buggeration), neither were our IR lights and everyone’s torches were off. It was pitch black. There was no light source to cause this. Normally we cause a lot of light anomalies – we wear a lot of jewellery and light reflects off it – but that’s when there’s a light source to reflect. Cat heard female voices in the distance, having a conversation. She thought maybe she was hallucinating or there were people elsewhere in the mansion, but we were all together.

Woodchester Mansion

Lynx in the shadows

Then we moved to do a vigil in the chapel. Everyone was holding hands, except us and Paul, who were standing in the corridor. Again Cat heard the female voices. After the vigil, she mentioned them to Lynx. Lynx heard them too and also thought maybe there were other people around. We told Paul what we’d heard. He’d also heard them. This was our fourth time in the mansion and we’ve never heard them before. Though we then found out that Jack and Laura heard them when they went to the mansion and Neen heard them in the basement during the first horror night.

Woodchester Mansion

Shadow Cat

The group were then split into two, with Team A doing EVP sessions on the top corridor with Tony and Dave and Team B doing vigils in the cellar with Paul. We returned to the servant’s corridor to see if we could recreate the light anomaly and see if we could hear the voices again. We did hear voices, but this time we think they were the other groups. We returned to the chapel but couldn’t hear anything. We also hung out in the mortuary and kitchen, but it was all quiet. Except for this weird ticking noise that seemed to follow us. We thought it was a clock. There are no clocks. Cat checked her watch, but it wasn’t that. It seemed to be around Lynx. After about twenty minutes of moving around, trying to find the source of the noise and praying it wasn’t Poe’s Tell-Tale Heart, we finally found it – one of the batteries in Lynx’s IR battery pack was ticking. Like a bomb. So we ignored it and carried on.

Cat’s camera battery died, despite having an hour left and being fully charged before we’d come. The K2 meter’s battery followed suit. We met back up with Tony, who was fetching new batteries for his equipment that had died. He told us they’d been experiencing things, so we joined his and Dave’s group in the top corridor for an EVP session. Everyone heard a bang coming from the drawing room, where no one else was. Paul kept going to check as they were all hearing noises there too. Dave heard ticking and Lynx mentioned her battery. He checked and that wasn’t the noise he heard. We swapped the battery out. As it was in Lynx’s pocket, she didn’t fancy it detonating and ruining her hoody. People also heard a blast of static, but it wasn’t captured by the recording device.

Woodchester Mansion

Frog rescue

Then it was time for everyone to split up. We frogmarched Dave down to the cellar. He hates it down there as he had a really bad experience there but we made a deal – he comes to the cellar with us and we’ll let him send us photos of him dressed a demon clown for their Halloween party. You know how we feel about clowns. Next thing we know, it’s three clown photos in exchange for cellar time. He drives a hard bargain! But we were determined to get him in the cellar. And he didn’t feel bad down there! We like to think our presence frightened any bad spirits away. We are usually the scariest things in any haunted location. Everyone else was on a mouse hunt. Team Impact had hidden numbered mice all over the mansion and they were worth a prize. Cat to Lynx “You know as soon as we leave this room, we’ll get distracted and forget to look for the mice. ” We got distracted ghost hunting and forgot to search for the mice. Paul reminded us when we left the cellar, so we made a conscious effort to find them. We found a real frog in the mortuary, so took it outside. One of our tweeps told us that might have been Prince Charming. Damn. We set him loose in the woods. Our Prince Charming is probably now in a predator’s digestion tract. Mice! We were meant to be finding mice. We checked all the obscure places we’d hide them – like inside the bathroom taps, up the chimney and under decorations. Turns out, unlike the snake twins we played in Witches Abroad, we are hopeless at finding mice. We should’ve brought our snake, Charlie. At the end of the night, Paul and Chris gave us a mouse each, so we were happy.

Woodchester MansionWe then went with Chris and two other guests back to the lakes. It was actually warmer outside than it was in the mansion! Or maybe our thick coats we’d donned made a difference. The thick coats that we didn’t use to keep ourselves warm during the film. The lakes are so eerie. The water is still. Leaves just sit on top of it. There weren’t many sheep out and they ran when they saw us. It’s ok sheep, we only repel ghosts. And people. You’re safe with us. When we got back, it was 4 a.m and everyone was doing one final vigil in the kitchen. We decided to be sociable again and joined them. Again, another light anomaly flashed across Lynx. This one had a weird blue zig zag line in it. Her camera and IR light were off. Everyone’s torches were off. Cat’s camera was on, but the screen was closed, so it emitted no light and she wasn’t standing beside Lynx when it happened. And she wasn’t pointing in her direction. (Damn blast and even more buggeration.) Again, everyone saw it.

The night finished at 4:15 so while Paul and Chris escorted everyone out of the park, we headed down to the cellar with Tony and Dave to use a ouija board. Cat’s camera battery suddenly died, despite again having plenty of minutes left. So she went back upstairs for a new one. Then her tape ran out. So she went back upstairs with Tony, who also needed new batteries. Ouija never work when we’re on them and once again, the spirits refused to talk to us, despite our brilliant lines of questioning. Maybe they don’t appreciate humour.

Woodchester Mansion

We wanted to sleep here.

We left at 6 and got back to Tony’s around 7 so we could fetch General Pinkinton. We’re very impressed Tony managed to stay awake for the drive back, as we were struggling. He offered us the use of his settees for a few hours so we wouldn’t have to fight to stay awake for the rest of the way home, so we accepted. We can’t die yet – we’re going to Edinburgh next week to launch The Malignant Dead. We have plans, Fate! Plans! Tony’s gorgeous cat, Anoushka, made a massive fuss of us, purring and giving affection. Not like our judgmental cats who demand to know where we’ve been. So this blog post has been written on two and a half hours’ sleep. Which means that either we’re functioning pretty well on two and a half hours’ sleep, or that our regular blog posts seem like they’re written by the sleep deprived.

Woodchester Mansion

L-R Tony, Lynx, Dave, Cat

Mansion in the Woods

Wandering the woods, interviewing sheep and scaring fellow guests. Ghost hunting the Calamityville way. It’s not like you see on TV.Woodchester Mansion

Last night was the second horror night at Woodchester Mansion with Team Impact. We didn’t think it could get better than last time. We were wrong. Even though we were at the last horror night, we were excited. One, because we were looking forwards to meeting Team Impact again, and two, because they promised something special to test our bravery. Paul had threatened to blindfold us and leave us in the cellar or mortuary but then told us they had changed their minds. They had something better. We asked if it was being used as human Ouija boards. Apparently, it was worse. With thoughts of being human wickermen, we were intrigued. We reminded them the gods would not be happy with us as an offering. We’re more the bargain basement types of offering that gives your enemy incurable toothache, rather than the grand offerings that get you a good harvest and allows the sun to rise each day. We were even more excited when Paul admitted they were nervous about it. Now we were thinking they were planning to strap meat to us and leave us for the panther that has been spotted in the valley. We’re fast, but we’re not ‘escape a hungry panther’ fast. And we’d probably become horror clichés by falling flat on our faces in the mud, our dignity scattering with our cameras.

Woodchester MansionIt threatened to be a very quiet episode as Cat has spent the last few days suffering with a bad throat. By ‘bad’, we mean acid reflux has sent stomach acid to her throat, which caused acidic burns and ulcers in her throat and mouth, resulting in 3 sleepless nights on the settee watching Monsters and Mysteries on Pick. Our mum and sister kept telling her not to go as she looked so awful. But our belief is, “if we’re not dead, we’re going.” So for last night, she disobeyed doctor’s orders and spent the event downing Ibuprofen, Gaviscon and using a throat spray which tastes like perfume. It meant she could talk, eat and drink without the need for interpretive dance.

Woodchester Mansion

the library

The adventure started badly when we left 45 minutes later than planned then realised we’d forgotten our cameras and had to go back for them. We’re filming a ghost hunting show and we forget the most important pieces of equipment! As soon as eBay start selling memories, we’re upgrading, because our storage capacity is clearly full and has started deleting files. Like Sky Plus does when we record too many programmes and don’t watch them. Then we reached the M5 junction and couldn’t remember whether we went north or south. *Refers you to the sentence about our memories deleting files* We went south. We were wrong. We decided to give Helen another chance, even though the last three times we’ve used her, she abandoned us in Cornwall, sent us to the far end of Wollaton Hall, and sent us on a roundabout route through Bute Park when we were only a hundred feet from our destination. But we figured, everyone makes mistakes, she could redeem herself. Everyone is always telling us to get satnav and we’ve resisted because we don’t trust technology. We’ve heard the horror stories of satnavs directing people to the rough parts of towns where they’re then murdered. Or was that an episode of CSI? Helen repaid our trust by diverting from the AA route planner. When we reached a roundabout we definitely didn’t recognise, we typed the postcode in. And lost service. When we needed Helen the most, she was silent.

We were lost.

Woodchester Mansion

library ceiling

Sensible people would have turned around and retraced their route to the point where it diverted. But this is Calamityville. Being sensible gets you from A to B. We wing it and hope for the best. That gets you stories. One long country road later, we were beginning to think we should give this ‘being sensible’ thing a try and turn around. But there was nowhere to turn around. So we kept going. Our theory is, we would eventually end up somewhere with a road sign. It worked. The sign pointed to Nympsfield. A few minutes later, we spotted the gates to Woodchester. We had somehow circled around and come from the other side. Screw you, Helen, we don’t need you and your unreliability.

Paul, Dave and Chris were already at the gate. We followed them down. A storm was meant to hit so we tried convincing them to do a rain dance. Dave did a couple of moves. Then we heard rustling in the trees. Rain was coming. Then the clouds’ stomachs burst open and rain escaped like baby face huggers. We leapt back in General Pinkinton, cursing Dave’s rain dance. That’ll teach us to mess with Mother Nature.

Woodchester MansionOnce we’d dumped our stuff in the tea room, we were given free rein to explore. Never ones to turn down a chance to explore, we set off while they got ready for the event. There’s a ladies’ WC on a windowsill part way up the stairs. They must’ve been really tall back then ‘cos Cat struggled to get up to sit on it, then her feet were dangling about a foot off the floor. Tony arrived while we were skulking in the laundry. We’ve never been in the laundry before. We remembered to offer around our dinosaur and ghost shortbread biscuits that we’d promised them last time in exchange for cellar time. We got cellar time then robbed them of their biscuits. We decided to make up for that by making more biscuits. We don’t like breaking promises.

Woodchester Mansion

the shop

When the other guests were arriving, Chris couldn’t find us. We were on the first floor trying to convince the children to dance with us. Chris “quick, you need to get pick of the seats.” We dashed down the stairs, with Lynx running into the drawing room where the cinema set up was and Cat ran to our equipment and food. It wouldn’t have looked good if we’d elbowed people out the way. Fortunately, Lynx had managed to claim the whole first row. It’s not just spirits we repel 😀 Then she realised we should’ve switched places – Cat still couldn’t find her way round the mansion.

Chris took everyone on a history tour of the mansion. For once, we weren’t the ones getting left behind. Future ghost hunt teams, if you want us to behave and stop us wandering off, let us explore first and satisfy our curiosity, then we’ll give you our full attention instead of getting distracted by shinies.

Woodchester MansionAfter the tour, it was time for The Exorcist. We haven’t seen this film for at least ten years, so it was like watching it for the first time – that is a plus side to having bad memories. Paul introduced us to the other guests as ‘horror book writers and horror comedy ghost hunting producers who make great dinosaur biscuits.’ That makes us sound far more professional than our ‘idiots with a camera.’ We should hire him for our PR. Then it was time for the ghost hunt. Paul then revealed their dastardly plan: we were going to go into the woods with Chris while everyone was doing their group vigils. We don’t know what Chris did to deserve being stuck with us for the first part of the night, but it must’ve been bad 😀 They weren’t sure if we wanted to do it, because it was now raining. But we donned our hoodies (which were damp from the previous downpour and slightly smelly from being stuffed in our rucksacks) and were eager to go. We’re Welsh. If we didn’t like the rain, we’d be stuck indoors for 11 months of the year.

Woodchester Mansion

the laundry

Some dog walkers have stopped walking their dogs in Woodchester’s woods, as they find them too eerie. We love woodlands – we walk Bandit in woods every day – so we were excited. Our excitement grew when Chris admitted that he doesn’t like being in them. And he likes woods. We set off to the old stable block in the woods. Now we knew why people find the woods eerie – they were quiet.  Normally, woodlands are full of noise – rustling, animals, etc. At night, you should be able to hear the nocturnal creatures. There was nothing. It was although there was nothing in the woods but us. Naturally, Stormborn (our phone. Tesco made us name him) picked this moment to blast our Silent Hill notification alarm. Yes, Stormborn, because the woods weren’t creepy enough. And we were too far from the chapel to run to safety.

Woodchester Mansion

stable block

We reached the old stable block and Chris found some steps. He’d never climbed them. Naturally, we encouraged climbing them. Weirdly, they led behind the stable block, but nowhere else and a wall blocked them off. Although we had torches with us, we had our hands full with our cameras and IR lights, so when Chris’s torch was facing the other way, it was blacker than the devil’s soul. And yet we didn’t trip once. Clearly it’s our vision that hinders us. We ventured deeper into the woods and still there were no sounds. Where were the foxes, owls, and insomniac birds? Then we came across a random log pyramid that was bolted together. Was this a panther trap? Then we found a log see-saw. It was a shame it was wet, because we really wanted to test it out.

Woodchester MansionBy now, everyone else would be starting the second vigil. We were halfway to the lakes where the soldiers drowned during a training exercise for the D-Day landings. We could go back, or we could go on. We chose to go on. Once we were out of the top section of woods, the woods came alive. We encountered the resident sheep, crickets were communicating via their secret code and owls were shouting at us from the skies. Where the hell were they a few minutes ago? The first lake we reached was the one where the soldiers drowned. The lake was odd. The raindrops that fell didn’t leave ripples. They bounced off the surface and turned into bubbles. The water also appeared to be thicker than regular lake water. Clearly someone has been messing with it. We’ve all seen the films where the government dump chemicals. Swamp Shark, anyone? Oh wait, swamp shark only ate the jerks, like some kind of moral hero. Carry on, government. We heard a lot of splashing. Was that one of the soldiers, recreating his watery death? Or a duck having a midnight swim? We’ll never know. But due to possible chemical contamination, that duck may start eating people. Stay safe, lake goers.

Woodchester MansionWe took the long route back, as they were still doing the vigils and stumbled across a car near one of the lakes. It was parked too well to be dumped, but we hadn’t seen anyone. We were tempted to peek inside but were worried at what we’d find: chopped up body parts, dogging, someone guiltily watching The Only Way is Essex. We stopped to interview the sheep about the panther, which is actually a panther cross lynx. The sheep weren’t keen to talk to us. Some even fled. We’re not sure whether they were more scared of us or the beast. Our egos are hoping for the beast. But we solved the mystery – the beast is none other than a black sheep. One of them even admitted this and backed it up with evidence while the black sheep nonchalantly ate grass, as though trying to convince us she was not in fact a carnivore. We might be rubbish at ghost hunting, but we have nailed cryptozoology. Then we spotted a black sheep with horns. She denied any accusations of being the devil, though she looked the type who would enjoy being worshipped.

Woodchester Mansion

the lake

We got back to the mansion while everyone was on a break. They hadn’t had the third vigil yet, because the guests wanted a break between the first two. We told Dave and Tony about solving the mystery of the beast. Not sure they were convinced, but the confession is on camera for experts to analyse and claim we faked it. Other guests wanted to go into the woods, so Chris had to trek back out. We decided to continue doing lone vigils and headed for the sacristy. We’d brought blindfolds with us, (skull bandanas,) so Cat blindfolded herself and we did some calling out. All we achieved was scaring passing guests. They’d look into the room, see us and either jump or shriek. We were just standing there! Paul had laid out trigger objects of a wooden cross and old coins, so we asked the spirits to throw the cross, as homage to The Exorcist. They clearly weren’t fans of the film, as they didn’t oblige.

Woodchester MansionWe moved into the chapel, where Lynx donned the blindfold. We scared a couple more people with our mere presence. Now we know why Monstrous Productions wanted us to be the snake twins. We really have got this ‘standing there and being creepy’ vibe. We didn’t do a vigil in the mortuary last time, we so we headed there. The mortuary was actually a Victorian cold storage room, but it got its name because the soldiers who drowned were placed in here. So we replicated it and lay on the floor. We invited the soldiers to join us by singing Snow Patrol’s Chasing Cars. They declined. They wouldn’t get in the bath with us last time and now they won’t lie on the floor with us. It’s a good job being writers has prepared us for a lifetime of rejection. What’s scarier than goth twins standing around being creepy? Goth twins lying on the mortuary floor, looking creepy and at some point, doing death poses. After scaring a group, we heard a woman asking “where’s the mortuary?” In an effort to be helpful, Cat instinctively answered “in here.” The woman shrieked. We laughed. And yet, despite now finding the room she was looking for, she didn’t join us.

Deciding we’d frightened enough people for one night, we made our way to the bathroom. Cat tried to get one of the soldiers to dance with her, but to no avail. Doing the Cha Cha Cha alone should be depressing, but we don’t need partners to dance. Damn it, soldiers, you’ve been dead 70 odd years, you can’t afford to be picky! If we’re willing to overlook the fact that you’re dead, you can overlook the fact that we’re…well…we see your point.

Woodchester MansionWe went to the top floor to contact James the builder, but he was on a tea break. Then the mansion went very quiet. Like everyone had sneaked out when we weren’t paying attention. We tried to get the ghosts to communicate through the bats’ squeaks then gave up and interviewed the bats. We asked for a ‘squeak once for yes, twice for no’ and on two separate occasions, the bat answered ‘no’ to our questions. They didn’t admit to knowing anything about the ghosts. What is it with animals and refusing to discuss the paranormal?

As the silence continued, we figured we should return to base camp. Everyone was already assembled for the debrief. We snuck to our seats at the front. Not that’s possible to sneak when laden down with equipment and our necklaces jangling like bells of doom. Last time, the mansion was really quiet on the paranormal front. Last night, it woke up. When we left to explore the woods. And stopped when we returned. Damn it ghosts, stop trying to make us look unpopular! We can manage that ourselves. In the cellar, all the guests were holding hands and a stone was thrown into the circle. Everyone’s positions could be accounted for as they were all linked. Coins were also thrown. On the top floor corridor, one of Dave’s EVP recorders stopped working and just emitted static, but the static would respond to their questions. Coins were also thrown in the corridor outside the cell witnessed by Dave and by the kitchen, witnessed by Tony.

Woodchester MansionWe went down to the cellar as we hadn’t had a chance to visit there. We invited the ghosts to throw things at us. The living seem to enjoy this sporting activity, so we hoped the dead would too. Footsteps clumped down the steps. We lurked in our separate rooms, ready to terrify the ghost back into life. It was Tony and Dave. Dave hasn’t been in the cellar for four years, after he had an unpleasant experience. So we ‘encouraged’ him to go into the room where the experience happened. Face your fear and all that jazz. Lynx even went in first to dispel any bad spirits (we’re Spirit Blockers, remember?) Luckily, nothing got him this time. Paul joined us, then as Dave was tidying up, the rest of us legged it out of the cellar and hid around the corner, cameras poised for screaming. Dave wasn’t far behind 😀 We ended up leaving at 5:30 again and followed Tony and Dave back to Wales. At one point General Pinkinton overtook them. Proud moment. Tony overtook us a bit later and us and Dave waved to each other as they passed. We were separated at the bridge ‘cos the twatapus in front of us took ages to find his money.

Woodchester MansionWe had a fantastic night, with the added bonus of seeing the lakes. We’ve wanted to visit them since we first went to the mansion. What we love about Team Impact is that they’re fun and unlike some paranormal investigators, they don’t have big egos. In the paranormal world, there is a lot of bitching, back biting, and teams trying to prove they’re the ‘real ones’ by calling everyone else fakers. We can’t stand that bullshit and it’s stuff like that that gives the paranormal world a bad name. So it’s refreshing to find a team that takes it seriously, but knows how to have fun with it.

Tony suggested a Team Impact/Calamityville Horror team up, possibly at Tintern Abbey. We love Tintern Abbey and revealed we once fake married Red Bull at the Abbey, even making little top hats for the cans and our cuddly sheep, Marvin and Mini Marvin, who were to act as our witnesses. Not sure Tony and Paul were really expecting that response. It’s not every day someone tells you on your second meeting that they fake married a can of Red Bull. We sound crazy. When we do these random things, we don’t think we’re crazy. Maybe this is why the ghosts avoid us…

Woodchester Mansion

Team Impact l-r Paul, Chris, Tony, Dave

Serving Time

For most people, spending the night in jail is their idea of a nightmare. For us, it was a dream come true.Bodmin Jail

Back in February, we decided to finally make a start on a book we’ve been thinking about for a couple of years – a non-fiction ghost book. We always work on numerous projects at one time and our therapist, Jennifer, suggested trying something different. We told her our idea of the book. But we didn’t want it to be like the other ghost books, so she suggested we write one based on our Calamityville adventures. Bodmin JailWe actually spend some sessions discussing paranormal occurrences and debunking methods. Yes, this still counts as therapy. We already had most of the research from our visits and from the articles we write for Haunted Digital Magazine, so we were halfway there. We began by contacting all the places we’d visited for the four seasons of Calamityville, to get staff experiences and see if they’d let us do an overnight investigation for our book. Most didn’t reply. Some gave us the standard price of £600. But Mark Rabin, the resident medium of Bodmin Jail invited us to spend the night.

That was last night.

He’d said in his email back in February that he’d phone us to make sure we were decent people. When he rang, he said “no interviewing sheep or mannequins. And you might want to dress warmer. It gets really cold overnight.” Lynx “You’ve seen the show, haven’t you?” He watched our Bodmin Jail/Bodmin Moor episodes from S2 to see what we were like. And he still let us have the jail. He’s a brave man.

The Museum of WitchcraftLaura Dixon from Jack and Laura’s Ghost Series joined us, along with Neen’s mum, Elaine. You may remember her from our Redcliffe Caves episode. Neen was working so she and Elaine weren’t leaving Cardiff until 6 p.m. We wanted to spend some time in Cornwall so we picked Laura up at 1 p.m. Our route down was peppered with “so glad we’re not on that side of the road.” “Pass the Red Bull.” and “Is that guy peeing in the bushes?” We arrived at 4ish and headed for our first stop – The Museum of Witchcraft in Boscastle. We went there three years ago on our ghost hunting holiday but as the book we’re working on now (The Devil’s Servants) is about the witch trials, we wanted to go again. The last time we went, Cat was robbed of 5p by the pay and display machine and had an argument with it, and Lynx ended up drowning in sun cream. This time, we left the car park with our dignity still intact. We wandered over to the public toilets, only to find we had to pay 20p to use them. Ok, it was to contribute to the upkeep of the toilets, but we still felt aggrieved at having to pay for a basic human right. We decided to hang on until we reached Jamaica Inn. If we’d used our common sense, we would’ve gone in the pub opposite, but common sense divorced us years ago and we’re beyond reconciliation.

The Museum of WitchcraftAs we reached the doors, a family debated about going in. The kids took one look at us and seemed to think we were scarier than the museum and almost backed out, until their parents persuaded them to stay. That and we were behind them, kettling them in, It’s a fascinating place and well worth a visit. There are displays from the early years of witchcraft, such as the Pendle witch trials, all the way up to modern Wicca and even how witches have been portrayed in literature and art. And there are human skulls in cases. Win win. We’d forgotten to bring our Weeja board to the jail, so were tempted to take one off the museum’s walls, but the displays are alarmed and we didn’t fancy our chances of getting away.

Jamaica InnThe next place on our list is perfect for hungry, travelling ghost hunters: Jamaica Inn. We’ve only just starting putting our trust into SatNav and after only a few attempts at this new relationship, SatNav betrayed us. We knew it would happen this way – no signal means no SatNav. That’s why we’ve never trusted them. We had to find our way to Jamaica Inn using our memories and a map. Considering our memories are so bad that when people ask us what we’ve done in the week, we’re unable to answer them, we only made a couple of wrong turns and they weren’t as disastrous as they usually are. We arrived at Jamaica Inn with over two hours to spare until Neen and Elaine were due to arrive. We spent it wisely – having a drink and food. Our chips arrived covered in green stuff. Laura thought they were herbs. Lynx suspected it was grass cuttings, but we were brave and tried them anyway. Luckily whatever the green stuff was, had no smell, taste and was invisible, so it was allowed to stay. It would’ve been a pain to scrape it off. This counts as trying new food, because we never have anything on our chips – no salt, vinegar or ketchup. They are as naked as nature intended.

Jamaica Inn

stocking fillers

With an hour to kill, we visited the Daphne Du Maurier Museum. We wanted to visit the gift shop, but it was closed. It was creepy being the only ones in there, especially as the ceiling was creaking with people walking in the rooms above. We heard a door opening to the toilets then the sound of a toilet lid being lifted. Was this a visitor? Or a toilet ghost? If any show was going to discover a toilet ghost, it would be Calamityville Horror. We then made our way to Joss’s bar to have photo fun with the mannequins and chat to some of the locals about Daphne Du Maurier’s Jamaica Inn. By the time we finished, Neen and Elaine had arrived.

Bodmin JailAs darkness drew in, we left Jamaica Inn and skirted around the moors to Bodmin Jail. To discover the bar was still open and someone was having a disco in the old chapel. We’d been told we’d have the jail from 10 p.m. til 6 a.m. but this disco showed no signs of dying. In hindsight, we should’ve gatecrashed and busted classic Calamityville moves. That would’ve cleared the dance floor. We headed inside and the guy behind the bar guessed we were there for a paranormal investigation. Was it the cameras that gave it away or the crazed-eyes, drool wiping excitement emanating from our every pore? He led us down to meet the medium, Sonia Richards. Mark was away in Essex so couldn’t meet us. Sonia took us in to the crew room, where the old jail kitchens used to be then we headed back outside to get our gear. She said it was ok for us to sleep there so luckily we’d brought our sleeping bags and camping mats just in case. Plus, we didn’t have a backup location, so it was either the jail, our cars or the Moors. We kinda hoped for the Moors. We could get a bit of Beast spotting in. It would be undeniable footage if it were to drag us off in our sleeping bags.

Bodmin JailSonia was lovely and took us on a tour of the jail. It’s changed since we were there three years ago. There are different mannequins, the set ups in the cells are different and some areas have opened up whereas others have closed. The mannequins were like a Tantalus, smirking smugly inside their cells, knowing we couldn’t get to them. Like someone in Witness Protection hiding from the Mob. We were gutted. Molesting mannequins is what we’re best known for! That and getting lost. And being the Worst. Ghost hunters. Ever. Each cell we passed seemed to mock us further, their creepy faces leering at us as they committed their crimes unashamedly before our eyes. We’ll find you in your dreams, mannequins.

execution shed

execution shed

In 1778, an Act allowed the local Justices to build three penal institutions on a new site in Bodmin. Another County Jail, a Debtors’ Jail and a House of Correction. Sir John Call Bart, JP, MP designed them, based on ideals of prison reformer John Howard. Bodmin Gaol was a pioneer in design: light and airy with isolated areas for debtors, felons and those who committed misdemeanors. Men and women were kept separate. The gaol had hot water, under floor heating, a chapel, infirmary and individual sleeping cells. Prisoners were paid for work from profits of the products the governor sold.

Bodmin Jail

Naval Wing

Prison population was low until 1815, the end of the Napoleonic Wars, then cells became occupied by multiple prisoners. After 1820, numbers dropped again until the gaol’s closure. Old buildings were extended and new buildings added until 1850, when they were deemed unfit. Several Acts of Parliament demanded segregation based on prisoners’ offences and gender, resulting in over 20 classes of prisoners who had to be kept separate. In 1850s, a new 220 cell gaol was built, which was too large for the number of prisoners in Cornwall. In 1887, parts of it were transferred to the Royal Navy, becoming HM Royal Navy Prison Bodmin. In 1911, the female prison closed. The male civil gaol wasn’t used after 1916 as prisoners and staff went to war. The Naval prison closed in 1922 and was sold seven years later.

Bodmin Jail

the basement

60 executions took place between 1735 and 1909. Eight were women. Thirty five were murderers. Earlier executions took place on Bodmin Common. Between 1802-1828, a drop gallows was used in the field outside the front of the gaol. Between 1834-1856, a new drop gallows over the main gate was used. When the new gaol was built, the drop was over the main gate, but this was deemed illegal by the Inspector of Prisons, as it wasn’t public enough. The drop was then placed over the south wall, where the crowds could watch the executions from Asylum Hill, otherwise known as Bodmin Highlands. In 1868, a new law was passed demanding executions take place in private. Hangings in 1878 & 1882 took place on the same site, but a canvas shield blocked people’s view. In 1897, an execution shed was constructed in one of the prison yards, which was used for the last two hangings in Cornwall in 1901 and 1909, which were the only actual private ones inside the jail. It’s the only workable example of a Victorian execution shed and gallows in Britain. Sonia told us they have an executioner, Gary, give demonstrations on how the drop gallows work and he even hangs the dummy. We were gutted he wasn’t there last night.

The prison that exists today was built by the prisoners, using granite from Bodmin’s Cuckoo Quarry. But as well as holding prisoners, the jail has also guarded the Crown Jewels. During the First World War, it protected the Doomsday Book and state papers. It closed its doors for good in 1927.Bodmin Jail

Ghost hunters report the most active part as the boiler room in the basement. Really? An old boiler room? Is Freddy Krueger down there? We told Sonia last time we were there, there was a repulsive stench in the basement. It made us feel sick and we nearly had to leave. She said a lot of ghost hunters have reported that same smell. They describe a tramp being down there. We just thought maybe there were sewers nearby. We had no idea the smell was associated with anything potentially paranormal. Typical Calamityville, missing stuff.

Bodmin JailWe reached the chapel where the disco was and Uptown Funk was playing. This is one of our favourite Zumba dances. Neen and Cat broke into simultaneous Uptown Funk dancing outside the cells. Sadly it was the only dancing we did all night. We told Sonia about our crappy super power of being spirit blockers. She was surprised that being Goths, we’re sceptical of the paranormal. We’ve always loved ghosts but we’ve never believed in them. She thought our scepticism might be blocking the spirits, acting as a negative barrier. We know believers are more likely to experience paranormal phenomena, but we attribute this to believers automatically suspecting it’s paranormal whereas sceptics will find a way to debunk it. She suggested we try meditating. Neen still insists we’re dead on the inside and all the Red Bull we drink has caused this, but we don’t listen to her blasphemy.

The disco finally ended at midnight but it was half midnight by the time all the staff left and we had the place to ourselves. By then, we were all tired after our journeys. We began with a walk round with the cameras and K2 while Lynx read some of the jail’s history. Then we decided to try meditating to see if it would work. We used the techniques our multi conversion therapist taught us. We’ve been neglecting her therapy recently but were still able to use our code words to help us relax.

Bodmin Jail

Naval Wing

Then we headed outside to the naval wing. This wing is abandoned and crumbling, with bats hiding among the ivy roof. There are no floors. It’s beautifully creepy. We had our new IR floodlight with us and it made a massive difference to our full spectrum camera, which struggles to see far in the dark. Well worth the £30 we spent on it. And the £5 battery pack. We do ghost hunting on a budget.  We moved into a cell and stood in a circle to do calling out, with Lynx pointing the full spectrum camera out into the main wing. We kept hearing murmured voices but the jail overlooks the town and this wing has open windows so it was probably voices from the town. We also kept hearing stones dropping and rustling so we moved out while Neen, Laura and Elaine stayed in the cell. We couldn’t see anything, but due to the wing being exposed to the elements, we’re putting this down as natural phenomena. There are bats living there. We then separated and took a cell each until Neen legged it out of her cell. She thought she saw a shadowy figure standing in the cell with her and sensed it wanted her to leave. So she did, quickly. Cat, Elaine and Laura entered her cell but they didn’t sense anything. The Naval Wing is haunted by a gay prison officer who apparently used to abuse the prisoners. It’s said he pushes women out of the way and tries to drag men into a cell. We gutted that our two ghost hunting guys (Jack and Tom) couldn’t make it. We’d planned for them to be bait. We hadn’t told them this, as we’d wanted it to be a surprise. Men who appear on our show get special treatment.

Bodmin Jail

Naval Wing

Neen and Elaine headed back inside as they were cold but us and Laura stayed out to try and summon the demon that apparently lurks there. He was created by a coven of witches to stop locals trespassing the gaol. He’s harmless but feeds on your fear to grow stronger. Like Popeye with spinach, only more Hell-bound. He sadly didn’t make an appearance. We’ve never had a demon on the show and were looking forwards to adding him under our ‘special guest’ heading in our end credits. Plus, you never know when a demon might come in handy – hexing your enemies, getting you a throne in a palace downstairs, filing your tax returns…

Cat saw like a torch light on the old steps at the far end, but this could have been a reflection. We returned inside and tracked Neen and Elaine to the third floor, where a bat had fled one of the cells, straight over Neen’s head before disappearing. We ventured up to the top floor where creepy child mannequins loiter in the cells. Elaine threw a stone for a child to throw back but they refused to join in. We asked for any child spirits to trigger our motion sensor lights but again, nothing happened. Laura felt something tickling her hand.

Bodmin JailWe then moved down to the basement and did calling out. There were two mannequins being hanged for crimes against impersonating a human being. We set our motion sensor lights down but again, the spirits refused to co-operate. We demanded rope burn imprints round our necks but they obviously decided we had enough necklaces without them adding to our collection. Neen thought she saw a grey figure in the doorway, but wasn’t sure if it was her imagination. We invited it in to stand by her, stroke her face and caress her hair. She moved. Elaine and Laura’s stomachs participated enthusiastically so we retreated to basecamp for sustenance.

Bodmin Jail

Selina Wadge

Next we went to level three to try and contact Selina Wadge. Selina was twenty eight, unmarried, with two children, Henry (often called Harry) who was two, and John, who was six. She was often forced to enter Launceston Workhouse when she couldn’t find work. Henry was partially crippled, so he couldn’t walk, but her children were cared for. In 1878, she and her children left the workhouse to visit her mother in Altarnum. She claimed to be having a relationship with James Westwood, a solider. He wrote to Selina, asking to meet her in Launceston on Saturday, June 22nd, but later wrote to say he was working. On Friday the 21st, Selina and her children hitched a ride to Launceston with William Holman, a local farmer. She told him she was going to meet her boyfriend. On Saturday, she was seen near Mowbray Park. By midday, she was back at the workhouse, but only had John with her. In front of the workhouse master, Mr Downing, she told her sister, (who was also an inmate) that Henry had died in Altarnum. That night, John told the nurses Selina had put Henry into a pit.

Selina claimed James Westwood had drowned Henry in a well on Friday and threatened to kill her and John. Mr Downing called the police. Superintendent Barrett from Launceston arrived to question Selina. She gave him the same story. Henry’s body was found in three feet of water at the bottom of a well in Mowbray Park. The top of the well was covered, ruling out Henry falling in by accident. There were no signs of violence on his body. Selina was left in Mrs Downing’s care and confessed that she had acted alone, with only John present. When Selina was arrested and taken to Launceston police station, she told a constable that Westwood had promised to marry her if she killed Henry. Her trial began on 27th July 1878, presided over by Mr Justice Denman. The jury took 45 minutes to find her guilty, but asked for mercy because of the way she had previously treated the children, and because there was no evidence of premeditation. She was sentenced to death.Bodmin Jail

She was executed 8 a.m. on Thursday, 15th August 1878. Hers was the first private execution to be held at Bodmin and the first to use the measured drop. There is a mannequin scene in the condemned cell showing her crime and she was executed via the old site only a few feet away. Pregnant woman report experiencing her remorse and often feel emotional on the third and fourth floors. Children have been known to ask who the crying woman is. She is seen as a full torso manifestation. Our cuddly executioner, Ketch, served as a trigger object. Selena didn’t show so we crowded around the execution site and pretended to be hanging for photos before returning to the basement and the boiler room.

Bodmin Jail

Anne Jeffries

Another prisoner said to haunt the jail is Anne Jeffries, who was accused of being a witch. When she denied it, she was apparently left to starve to death. It took her three months to die.

In the old boiler room, Lynx fell down the step, much to everyone’s delight. Yes, Cat was filming her at the time. Again we set out the motion sensor lights, along with our old keys as trigger objects. Lynx moved to the far end of the corridor to encourage the spirits to come to her. After a while, Cat claimed another doorway. Unfortunately, the basement was as active as a sleep clinic, so we retreated upstairs and asked Sonia to do some glass divination with us, to see if she could get the spirits to interact with us.

Bodmin Jail

execution door

We took a table and glass into the long room with the cells and gathered around. Sonia stood a few feet away and called out to the spirits. At times it felt like the glass moved slightly, but none of us could keep still, so our fingers were slipping all over the glass, which could have moved it. We tried for half an hour, but got nothing other than slight vibrations and all of us feeling like we were swaying, which can be explained by the fact it was 4 a.m. and we were all knackered.

We called it a night and bunked down in the crew room for two hours. It’s surprising how comfy a jail floor can be when you’ve been awake most of the night. We napped in services car parks on the way home. like rock stars. Or tramps. Due to the party and needing to sleep, we only had three and a half hours investigation time, which wasn’t long enough in a location that size. We didn’t have time to separate and do paired or lone vigils, as we wanted to explore every area. There’s only one thing for it – we’ll have to get ourselves locked up again.Bodmin Jail