Ghosts without Parole

Gloucester prisonMaking ourselves unpopular, debunking the paranormal and failing to find ghosts. Calamityville Horror are back!

After a long, long LONG hiatus, we were finally back together for a ghost at Gloucester Prison. Neen’s mum Elaine booked it. It’s been over a year since we’ve investigated together so we were excited but also apprehensive as we’re not keen on public events. Usually because stuff is faked or there’s one guest there that really rattles our coconuts. And we went with this company to Newsham Park. You can read our thoughts on them here. Neen and Elaine assured us that on the past two events with this company, everyone was lovely and the team had different members. You’d think that now we’re a lot more socialised, our tolerance for people would have grown. In fact, it’s shrunk. And we now crave solitude.Gloucester prison

Gloucester Prison was a category B men’s prison that was built in 1792, designed by William Blackburn. It was rebuilt in 1840 by Thomas Fuljames, who created the flanking brick wings. In 1971, a new young offenders prison was built there, as was C Wing. A new gate, block and visits centre was added in 1987. In 2003 it was listed as one of the 20 most overcrowded prisons in Britain. The next day, prisoners staged a 3 ½ hour siege by locking themselves in a cell. Really? Climb on the roof like other protesting prisoners. They want you in the cell. In 2007 it was criticised for overcrowding, poor dining provisions and cramped cells. A month later, the ground floor flooded and 100 prisoners were moved to other jails. The following month, it was criticised for its woeful training and education facilities. It finally closed in 2013.

Gloucester prisonThere are over 100 unmarked graves in the grounds, not all of them prisoners. Some executed prisoners were claimed by relatives, but murderers weren’t allowed to be buried in consecrated ground. Before 1792, executions took place in the nearby village of Over (where we helped to build a Halloween attraction), and prisoners were taken there in carts, sitting in their own coffins. Oh that is cold. Why not make them dig their own graves too? Between 1792-1932, 123 prisoners were executed there. After 1792, hangings were carried out using a New Drop style gallows which was erected on the roof of the prison gatehouse in 1826. In the years 1792-1864, 102 prisoners were hanged in public – 94 men and 8 women. There were no executions between William Davis on 20th April 1839 and John Butt in July 1864. The last public execution took place on 27th August 1864 when 55 year old Lewis Gough was executed for murdering Mary Curtis.

The first private hanging took place on a raised scaffold in the prison yard on 8th January 1874 when 20 year old Frederick Jones was executed by William Calcraft (a hangman famed for bungling hangings, resulting in him swinging on the condemneds’ legs) on a raised scaffold in the prison yard. Jones killed his girlfriend, Emily Gardener. On 12th January 1874, the hangman, Robert Anderson, asked for a pit to be dug under the gallows for the triple hanging of Edward Butt, Mary Ann Barry and Edwin Bailey. Butt had killed his girlfriend. Mary and Edwin had poisoned Edwin’s illegitimate baby girl, who they considered a nuisance. Mary was the last woman to suffer the short drop hanging and struggled for three minutes.

A new gallows was built on the end wall of A Wing in 1912. It had double doors that separated it from the condemned cell. 6 people were hanged here, including Herbert Armstrong in 1922. The last hanging was in 1939, but the execution chamber wasn’t demolished until 1966, after the abolition of the death penalty. Herbert was the only solicitor in the UK to be hanged for murder. In May 1919, his wife, Kitty’s health weakened, but her doctor, Thomas Hincks diagnosed her with brachial neuritis. She recovered but in August 1920, her health deteriorated again. Hincks said she showed signs of a mental collapse and admitted her to Barnwood, a private asylum. She improved and was discharged on 22nd January 1921. She became ill and died exactly a month later. All the servants closed the curtains as a sign of respect. Armstrong opened them as soon as he came home.Gloucester prison

On 26th October 1921, Armstrong invited a rival solicitor, Oswald Martin over for tea. They were on opposing sides of a property dispute. As Armstrong handed Martin a scone, he said “excuse fingers.” Later that night, Martin became violently ill. A few weeks before, chocolates had been sent to his home. His sister in law ate some and became violently ill. Martin’s father in law, John Davies, had sold Armstrong arsenic for killing dandelion. Hincks noticed Martin’s symptoms were similar to Kitty’s and warned Martin not to accept gifts from Armstrong. Martin’s urine contained arsenic, yet Armstrong kept inviting him around for tea. Martin found it hard to make up excuses not to go. “Sorry, but I don’t want to be poisoned” would’ve alerted Armstrong that he knew. Kitty was exhumed and they found large amounts of arsenic in her body. Some people believe he was framed, as the prosecution witnesses were his rival and his rival’s father in law. He was found guilty and hanged by John Ellis on 31st May 1922. His last words were “I am innocent of the crimes for which I have been condemned to die.”

Cell 25 in A Wing, landing 3 is haunted by Jenny Godfrey. Furniture in that cell gets moved and pots, pans and books were thrown around the cell. In 1969, the occupant, Robert Gore, made a Ouija board out of scraps of paper and an upturned glass. The glass moved by itself, spelling Jenny’s name. A few days later, a disembodied hand appeared and pointed at Gore. Some say she was held in the cells of the nearby Abbey and now appears in the jail to mock the prisoners. Others say she was killed by an inmate and returns to search for him. Then another story says she was murdered by a drunk man in the 15th C and points to the spot where she died. She spelled out several events that were about to happen. Some prisoners scoffed, but some of them came true. Staff hear knocking and cells doors slamming. In C Wing, shadowy figures have been seen and a sceptical guard was locked in a cell that has no lock on the door.

We set out and parked outside the gates. A man came to tell us that the gates would open at half eight. At 8:50, they finally opened. Our time was spent with all of us moaning about how much we needed to pee. It’s all not all glamour and fun on Calamityville. As soon as the gates were open, we parked up and rushed in to pee. The other guests were more…polite about their need for bladder relievement so they had to queue. Sorry, but it’s a case of speak now or forever hold your pee.

There were about 50 guests and 10 team members. People. Urgh . Just what we don’t want on a ghost hunt. We did a group tour of the prison first. We were told prisoners had scratched their names into the wall of the debtors’ prison, including Fred West. We doubted this. Fred West couldn’t write his name and signed his legal documents with an X. Trust us. Serial killers would be our Mastermind speciality. It’s also said he was held on remand here, but he was held on remand in Birmingham, where he killed himself.

Gloucester prisonThe debtors’ prison was unexciting with empty rooms downstairs. Upstairs there were sort of beds. We were called back but we’d only just got upstairs so ignored the call and kept exploring. As we were prowling the top floor, Cat suddenly found it difficult to breathe. It felt like she was having a panic attack. We started suffering panic attacks twenty years ago so know how they feel and how to control them. But we haven’t had one for a while. We’ve since been told that there is a suicide watch cell upstairs. This feeling continued as we headed into the main wing and worsened when she entered the first cell in B Wing. In this cell, Neen could taste mould. There was mould all over the walls and the smell was quite strong. Lynx gave her a chocolate coin to take the taste away.

We went into the chapel to do a séance and had to imagine the white light going through us. Neen kept changing her light to red. Cat’s kept going out. Lynx couldn’t concentrate because the right side of her face was hurting. Not from anything paranormal, just sinusitis. Then we had to picture ourselves wearing a cloak. We gave ourselves fancy cloaks. When we were told to picture tree roots from our feet grounding us, the temptation to call out “I am Groot” was overwhelming. But we are professionals. Neen thought she saw a small man in the doorway watching us.Gloucester prison

We were split into five groups of ten and our group went to C wing. This was built in the 1970s so visually, was the least interesting part of the prison. We did some calling out in the corridor. Elaine stood in the doorway of cell 13 with us three opposite her. At one point, we all saw a light hovering by her knee. As though someone switched a torch on and directed a ball of light toward her. But no-one had a torch on. Neen switched hers on to try and recreate it but it didn’t. Lynx, Neen and one of the organisers then heard whispering.

The organiser set up a Ouija board so us four and another woman used it. The planchette moved slightly. Were we finally about to have a board actually work for us and let us communicate with a spirit without someone faking it?

Were we bollocks.

Gloucester prisonIt became clear that the woman was moving it. Each time it moved, ours, Neen’s and Elaine’s fingers would come off it or hover just above the planchette. The woman’s fingers remained on it. When they did lift off, it stopped. Cat and Neen tested their suspicions by holding down the planchette. When Cat did it, the woman’s finger strained as she tried to pull it towards herself. When Neen did it, the plachette stopped but the woman’s finger kept moving. Busted. We have no time or tolerance for fakers and refused to participate in a Ouija board after that.

We moved on to an engineering workshop. The team leader put the SB11 spirit box on. Yes. That device that scans through radio stations and only seems to speak when it can get a signal. When Cat had it, it only played music. Cat “are you trying to rap your answer? It’s communicating through the top 40!” The woman who faked the Ouija board was convinced there was a spirit called David around. Next we tried a human pendulum. Cat volunteered Lynx to be the pendulum so we would know it wasn’t faked. Nothing happened. So then Fake It volunteered. Guess what? She was being pushed and pulled like a swinging door. We rolled our eyes so hard they were like the spinning pictures in a fruit machine.Gloucester prison

We had a break then so ranted to the camera about this woman’s fakery. See? We said there would be one person who irritated us. We were right. And we were stuck with her until free time at 2 a.m. The night suddenly seemed like a ten year stretch.

We went into the laundry rooms next and the leader switched on the Banshee Box. We’d not heard of one of these but man this was fun. Apparently, it has words in its database that are broken, so spirits have to put the words back together to speak. Not sure how spirits would know how to do this. We hope that if we become ghosts, we don’t have to do this. We can just about master our MP3 Players. It spat our broken words in a voice that Lynx said sounded suspiciously like the Mysterons. Luckily Lynx was in a burgundy skirt and Cat was wearing a red tartan coat so Captains Scarlet were on hand to fight them. It rambled gibberish in its creepy voice while Fake Away mentioned she sensed someone called David. Cat “half the prison population were probably called Dave.” The leader laughed and said that’s probably true as everyone knows a Dave. Cat “It’s like there was always one called William. I know about five Daves.” We’re related to two. David wasn’t mentioned again. The woman thought it said “zozo”. This thing wasn’t speaking English. It certainly wasn’t spitting out fictional demon names.

Gloucester prisonThere was an interesting response on the rem pod though. It started buzzing and at one point lit up and when the leader asked it to switch out the blue light, switched out. But it wasn’t responsive to other commands and just kept buzzing to itself like an angry mechanical bee.

We were then taken to the kitchens. The two guys in there kept saying how active it had been, how four people got affected, fleeing the kitchen retching and the fifth one had to be removed. Uh huh. Their activity was about to die because the ghost busters (aka Calamityville Horror) showed up. Sure enough, not much happened. There were some light responses on the K2 to people’s questions but the guys kept saying there were people there but they were too scared to come into the circle. Prisoners too scared to enter a circle of women? Three of whom are midget sized? The team kept talking about how active it was with all the other groups. No doubt they would be saying that about our group too. One guy said he could smell sulphur. Fake Off said “don’t say that. First we had Zozo, now sulphur.” Sulphur smells are associated with demonic entities. And landfill sites. The guy asked the significance of the sulphur, but Fake and Bake just said “don’t say that.” Lynx told him it meant demons. The guy asked who was Zozo. Lynx “he’s the latest paranormal craze.” Cat “Think Zak Bagans started it.” The woman said “actually it started with Zeppelin.” But when she tried to explain who Zozo was, she couldn’t and shut up. Yes. Pipe down with your fakery and your demonic bullshit.Gloucester prison

We could hear water dripping but the team said there were no working taps. When we returned to the kitchens alone at the end of the night, we could still hear the dripping. Lynx and Neen went to investigate and found…a leaking tap! Thought they said there were no working taps. This was an easy one to debunk but they didn’t seem interested in that.

We moved to A wing with the medium. Apparently the other teams had doors slamming. And guess what our team got? Bugger all. The other members of our group were now commenting on how our group were getting nothing. We kept quiet about this always happening to us. We’d made ourselves unpopular enough. The medium said there were about five spirits around us and kept going on about a dark negative energy in B wing. We asked if we could go there instead. In the end, she sent Cat there with one of the team. Nothing. Not a door slam, no footsteps, no voices, no evil energy. All we could hear was one of the other groups being incredibly noisy. Way to ruin our vigils!

At 2 a.m we headed back to the break room then at 2:25, set off alone. We went to B wing first. So did a lot of other people. We couldn’t do any vigils due to the noise. So we did a cool silhouette photo against a giant window and selfie on a bunk bed. Then we moved to the kitchens where Lynx and Neen debunked the dripping water. We headed back to C wing to see if the light would return but it didn’t. So we headed to A Wing, where Jenny is supposed to haunt A3 25. You can’t get up to A3 and none of the doors have numbers on. We did a vigil in the corridor and eventually, the other guests started to leave so the prison quietened down. Neen and Elaine retired to the break room at 3:35 so it was just us two left. By now, the other guests had left. We had the entire prison block to ourselves. Finally. But it didn’t feel creepy. Without everyone else there, it was quiet. It was incredibly windy and the building next door had plastic sheeting which made a lot of noise. We suspect the wind was responsible for a lot of noise activity heard through the night. And there were broken windows, which would explain banging noises that sounded like they were coming from upstairs. Or maybe it was Zozo the famous demon running amok and slamming doors because terrorising guests in Gloucester was the best use of his time that night. We may never know.Gloucester prison

 

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

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

Sheriffs of Nottingham

Robin Hood Nottingham CastleGetting taken at sword point by Robin Hood, getting lost, exploring Nottingham’s caves and admiring the beautiful men. Views. Beautiful views. We had an unexpected weekend away ghost hunting in Nottingham with fellow writer and ghost hunter, Lesley (AKA L K Jay).

Earlier in the week, we decided to meet up for our annual ghost hunting weekend, which usually takes place in October. All we had to do was pick a place in England. Lesley lives in Huntingdon in Cambridgeshire, so usually our jaunts are somewhere in the fens. After staring at the road Atlas and jumping on Google, we decided on Nottingham. The three of us went there three years ago, to the Galleries of Justice for a day trip. Although the most memorable part of that was driving through our first ever pedestrian zone. We would be arriving Saturday lunchtime. Late Friday night, we booked a hotel. We like winging it on this show.Nottingham Castle

We arrived in Nottingham and found our way to the hotel easily. This always makes us suspicious. Fate’s never kind to us unless she has something nasty planned. Within five minutes of leaving the hotel, a guy shouted abuse at us from his car window. Listen, people, we get abuse shouted at us a lot and 90% of the time, we cannot understand you. If you will insist on abusing strangers for walking down the street, please make your insults clearer, otherwise we can’t post them on Twitter and Facebook for other people to enjoy your stupendous vocabulary.

Nottingham CastleNottingham castle was first built in 1067, the year after the Battle of Hastings, on orders of William the Conqueror. During King Henry II’s reign 1150-1189, the castle was rebuilt in stone. In 1194, King Richard I, Lionheart, returned to England to quash King John’s rebellion. The castle surrendered after only a few days. In 1346, King David II invaded England but was wounded in the Battle of Neville’s Cross and was taken to Nottingham Castle en route to the Tower of London. Richard III spent most of his reign in Nottingham Castle, until 1485 when he left for the Battle of Bosworth and became the last king to die in battle. In August 1642, Charles I chose the castle as his rallying point for the Civil War and shortly after he left, it was seized by parliamentarians. In 1651, John Hutchinson applied to parliament to have the castle destroyed so it could never be used in war. The request was granted.

In 1678, Henry Cavendish, the 2nd Duke of Newcastle, built a ducal palace on the grounds, but it was burnt down in 1831 during the Reform Act Riots, and the rioters sold off the tapestries. It remained derelict for 40 years until 1875 when it was leased to the Corporation of Nottingham for 500 years. After being remodelled, it opened to the public in 1878 as a museum of fine art.Nottingham castle

Nottingham castle

caves below the castle

The castle was a 25 minute walk so we headed off. Only took one wrong turn. As we were buying our tickets, the guy behind the counter said “just flash these at the gentleman on the gate.” Lynx “flash what at the gentleman?” Cat “We can’t flash gentlemen!” Don’t think he was expecting that response. He soon stopped laughing to say “you can flash whatever you want.” We chose to flash our tickets to the gentleman on the gate. We wanted to see the castle, not get frogmarched out by security.  A guy dressed as Robin Hood lurked nearby. A Japanese couple nabbed him for a photo, so we decided to do the same. Robin “where do you want me?” Lynx “Well!” Robin *stands behind us for the photo* “Do you want to hold my sword?” Cat “You can’t ask ladies that!” He laughed. Lynx “Can you take us at sword point?” So he did. The next time we encountered him, he chuckled after we greeted him. Sorry Nottingham, we probably should’ve warned you we were coming.

Nottingham castleWe headed up to the castle and booked ourselves on the cave tour. It takes you under the castle, into the caves known as Mortimer’s Hole (we kept ourselves amused making inappropriate remarks about Mortimer’s hole), which Edward III used to capture Sir Roger Mortimer after his part in Edward II’s death. Queen Isabella is heard shouting in medieval French “Fair son, be kind to gentle Mortimer,” and her cries have been reported for 600 years in the caves. Mortimer was taken to London, and on 29th November 1330, he was hanged, drawn and quartered and his head put on a spike on Traitor’s Gate. He took two days to die. Clearly Edward III and Isabella have different ideas on ‘gentle’.

Friar Tuck was leading the tour, so we asked him if he’d ever experienced anything spooky down in the caves. He was actually part of a ghost hunt down there and witnessed one of the monitors they were using fly across the cave.

The caves were brilliant. We sadly didn’t encounter Queen Isabella or Mortimer and we kept getting left behind to take photos of the caves without tourists blocking our artistic shots. We then returned to the castle to tour the museum exhibitions and discovered one thing – Nottingham castle was full of good looking guys. Model worthy guys. The types of guys you don’t often see wandering about in the wild. Most of them appeared to be French. We have a cousin in France who keeps asking us to visit… As we loitered by Robin Hood’s statue, waiting for a photo opportunity, we watched a young family posing by the statue. The father, a young Frenchman, was gorgeous and had tattoos, which is always a bonus. Cat “Whenever I see a hot guy with kids, I always think ‘what a waste.'” Lynx and Lesley were in agreement.

There’s a curse hanging over the castle involving the Welsh. When King John was hunting from Clipstone, his favourite place of residence, his sister Joan, who was married to Llewellyn, Prince of Wales, warned him of a Welsh uprising. He summoned the barons to meet him under the Parliament Oak and demanded they consent to executing 28 hostages who were being held at the castle. These were noblemen’s sons, some of which were children. John rode to Nottingham and demanded the Governor tie up the boys. They were then hanged from the castle walls. John rode back to Clipstone in time for supper. Legend states if you walk past the Castle Gatehouse on a winter’s night, the boys’ cries and the sound of their feet kicking the castle wall can still be heard.Nottingham castle

Inside the castle it said no photography was allowed, but there were two incidences where we were forced to break this rule: when we found dressing up clothes and when we spotted another exceedingly handsome young man amongst the WWII displays. The fact he appears in the only two photos we took of the displays was entirely coincidental. We like taking photos of beautiful things 😉 Sadly though, he was way out of our league. And no, we didn’t speak to him. That would’ve been weird.

Ye Olde Trip to Jerusalem InnAfter the castle, we headed to Ye Olde Trip to Jerusalem, England’s oldest Inn, built in 1189. Crusaders en route to the Holy Land would stop there and King Richard the Lionheart is rumoured to have stayed there. This also has caves below it and is fact, carved out of the caves. The smell of burning tallow haunts the chambers, lingering for twenty minutes before dissipating. The far side of the cellars is a rusted iron gate before a doorway carved into the rock. It’s believed to be the castle’s prison condemned cell. Men were shackled to the walls, with some left to die of starvation or dehydration. This is where Mortimer was temporarily held.  A former landlady saw a grey mass walk past her by this cell and her husband once felt icy fingers on the back of his neck when he ventured into the cell without turning on the light. Two regulars, after plenty of Dutch courage, decided to sleep there. They soon fled and were violently sick. In the Rock Lounge, keys disappear then reappear in strange places. Glasses and bottles fly off the shelves and smash when there’s no-one around. The staff hear breaking glass from the bar but when they go to clean it up, there’s nothing there. There’s also the smell of perfume, like lavender or rose water. Tourists who asked to see the cellars apparently saw two soldiers walk through the wall. A medium who visited the pub told the landlord and landlady a clock in the bar was possessed by two evil spirits. A previous landlady’s Dobermans apparently hated the clock and would bark at it. Another landlady’s Doberman apparently would howl whenever he was out in the office. This is where an entrance to Mortimer’s Hole is. She said previous landlords had seen and heard ghosts. She and her husband heard people calling when there was no-one there and a woman wearing a crinoline skirt has been seen walking down the stairs into the cellar.Ye Olde Trip to Jerusalem

Between 1894 and 1914, the landlord was George Henry Ward, known as Yorkey. He is believed to haunt the inn and the cellars and has been seen on several occasions.

Ye Olde Trip to JerusalemA cursed galleon sits in a glass case above the bar in the Rock lounge. Sailors used to carve the models while at sea. The last three people who cleaned it, died within a year, so no-one is allowed to touch it. We always knew dusting was bad for you. We had a drink there and were going to order food, but it was so crowded we decided against it. Lesley had spotted a leaflet for a ghost tour that happens to be every Saturday, leaving from Ye Olde Salutation Inn. Suddenly we had plans for the evening.

Ye Olde Trip to JerusalemIn the Trip is a pregnancy chair – women who sat on it would become pregnant. This needed testing. Seeing as we’d rather be trapped in a jail cell with the cast from The Only Way Is Essex than have a child, Lesley sat on the chair. We’ve given her a year to fall pregnant. Mark your calendars. Lesley “I’m 43, this would be a bloody miracle.” Could these be famous last words? We’ll keep you posted. We’re putting forth name suggestions now: Trip or Jerusalem. Maybe Robin. Though we think Jerusalem Jackson is a worthy hero’s name.

Ye Olde Salutation InnWe left the Trip and headed for Ye Olde Salutation Inn. As we walked in, The Beatles’ Paperback Writer started playing. How did they know we’re all writers? We explored the pub, which also happens to be haunted and got drinks. Sadly they didn’t serve any food. We’d forgotten to bring certain food items with us, so were surviving on chocolate biscuits and vegan gummy bears. We’d also forgotten Cat’s phone, our foundation, phone charger, hair wax and Cat’s ice patches for Linus (her bad knee). But we brought more Red Bull than we would possibly need.

We hung out in the pub for an hour, where Lesley came up with a great idea. She’s going to write a blog detailing a series of experiments taken from The English Book of Magic. And we’re going to participate in these experiments. The first one will be done on Friday.

We spied a guy in the pub wearing pirate style boots and carrying a dagger. We figured he was either our tour guide or the most obvious mugger ever. We were right the first time. There were loads of people on the Nottingham Ghost Walk and we were all given numbered orange ghost stickers to wear. We weren’t sure whether they were to identify interlopers trying to join the tour for free or to identify one of the group should they happen to get mown down by a bus when crossing the roads. We hoped for the latter: ‘sorry gang, 692 was got by a Peugeot.’Nottingham Ghost Walk

The guide was very entertaining, especially when telling the more risqué ghost hunting stories as there were kids on the tour, so he was using euphemisms, which made it funnier. When he was recounting Mortimer’s brutal death, he needed a volunteer. French tourist Benoit stepped forwards. He was hilarious and took being hanged, drawn and quartered like a pro. And it was apt, as Mortimer was also French. When the guide asked who was on the throne in 1327, only two people guessed Edward II correctly – us. He was impressed and said only three people had ever got that right. And one was French. Lynx “we’re Welsh, does that matter?” For shame, English people. For. Shame.

Ye Olde Salutation InnThen we went down into the caves below Ye Olde Salutation Inn. A lady is rumoured to haunt them and she always sits in the same spot and people who see her, describe her in the same way. But the guide never tells them where she sits or what she looks like. No-one on our tour spotted her. That’s because they were sharing their tour with the Spirit Blockers (until we can think of a cooler superhero name).Ye Olde Salutation Inn

After the tour, we headed for a curry house so Lesley could eat. A drunk guy came over to us brandishing a handwritten sheet of A4 saying ‘peace and love’ and explained he and his mate were spreading it and free hugs. Free STIs more like. We sidled away. Although we overcame our aversion to hugging a few years ago, we will only hug people we like. We will not hug strangers. We will definitely not hug people wielding A4 sheets and threatening to spread things. He asked if we believed in peace and love. Us “No.” If he’d tried to hug us, he would’ve quickly learned how unpeaceful and unlovable we can be. Fortunately, Cat had accidentally filmed the whole thing. We escaped into a curry house. They cooked their chips with the meat so we ate a chocolate biscuit when they weren’t looking. The waiter brought a hot towel over afterwards. We stared at him. This seemed odd to us. Lesley explained curry houses do this after your meal. This is the first time we’ve been in a curry house. Bizarre.

Francis on Twitter told us about the Bell Inn, built in 1437, which was also rumoured to be haunted and like most of Nottingham, sat on top of the caves. So we headed there, after a slight wrong detour up a side street. It was really noisy, with everyone trying to outdo each other in the shouting department. In the toilets, women were discussing where the best looking men hang out club wise and one said she only ever goes out to Nottingham. We thought this strange. We go out to lots of places over the UK. Then we realised for her, ‘going out’ was ‘going out clubbing’. For us, it means ‘travelling the UK ghost hunting.’ And clearly, the best looking men were hanging out in Nottingham Castle.

We called it a night and got a cab back to the hotel. We never take cabs but we were tired and Cat’s knee was making her regret forgetting the ice patches. She had her walking stick on hand but a cab was quicker. The cabbie asked if we were going out. We told him we’re too old for that. Plus nightclubs are our idea of Hell. Give us a haunted dungeon any day. While Cat was fetching our soya milk from the hotel fridge, a guy left the kitchen on his mobile phone. He looked at her then went out into the hall. Where Lynx was waiting. He stared at Lynx then looked back over his shoulder at Cat then tripped over a display stand. Our work here is done. His thought process clearly wasn’t ‘oh twins’ but ‘how can you be in two places at once?’ even though we dress differently and have different fringes. How we laughed.

Wollaton HallOn Sunday, we had to check out at 10:30 a.m., so headed to Wollaton Hall. Except Lesley’s SatNav took her to Wollaton Hall’s car park and our SatNav (who Laura named Helen) took us round the back of the deer park in a housing estate. Thanks, Helen. That was really helpful. We found our way back to the main road and followed the tourist signs. There happened to be a food festival on. Our ability to show up to places when there are massive events on is quite legendary. Luckily it meant parking was free. And everyone was at the food festival, not the Hall. No, we didn’t go into the food festival. We were happy with our dwindling supply of chocolate biscuits and gummy bears.

Designed by Robert Smythson to be the home of Sir Francis Willoughby, building on Wollaton Hall began in 1580 and was finished 8 years later. Following the death of Michael Guy Percival Willoughby, 11th Baron Middleton, Wollaton Hall was passed to Nottingham Corporation and is now a natural history museum.

Wollaton HallWollaton Hall was used as Wayne Manor in The Dark Knight Rises. We didn’t bring Batman costumes with us sadly, but we plan to take over the hall and rename it Raven Manor. We booked to go on the hidden house tours then wandered. The Hall is now a natural history museum. There were these kids there who were running from room to room, shouting. Don’t get us wrong, we were glad they were excited about being in a museum, but please, tone it down. We were tempted to dump them in the hissing cockroaches tank (live cockroaches, not a display). Us and Lesley were in agreement – kids are the best advertisement for contraception.

The museum was interesting, but once you’ve seen one display of stuffed British wildlife, you’ve seen them all. Also, we find taxidermy rather creepy. Who first thought ‘that’s a beautiful dead animal; I’ll stuff it and put it on display so everyone can see its corpse’? There would be outcry if you did that to your relatives. “Oh don’t mind Uncle Steve, he’s been dead fifty years. It’s ok, we replaced his eyeballs with glass ones. He just loved that chair.”Wollaton Hall

At 12 was the first of the tours – the Prospect room and the half roof. While we waited, a guide was showing a couple around who were thinking of hosting their wedding there. We didn’t hear much of the conversation, apart from the groom-to-be saying “we’re very flexible.” Quite frankly, what you get up to on your wedding night is none of our business, sir.

Wollaton Hall

Prospect Room

The Prospect room is where paranormal activity occurs, in the form of an orange glow seen emanating from the windows when there’s no-one inside and the electricity is off. An attendant at the Hall, Don Wyatt, said in the newspaper report that he’d witnessed the light. In 1971, the gardener, Richard Barlow was returning home with his wife and saw the light in the window. He fetched Don and they went to investigate. The Hall was empty and the electricity was off at the mains. Don saw the light again in 1974. The half roof is haunted by a white lady. She hasn’t been for many years, possibly since the ’70s. Though like the dodgy hairstyles and dodgier fashion, she’s sure to make a comeback. A newspaper story in 1975, the then curator, Cyril Halton said even though he’d been employed there for many years, he’d never seen the white lady. Directly below the half roof is the Prospect room. This was the bedroom of Lady Jane Middleton, who was paralysed following a fall and later died in the room. We asked our guide, Dave if he’d ever experienced anything paranormal. He said “we all think we hear voices don’t we?” We were the only people on the tour, which was wonderful. We loved the Prospect room. It had a really nice atmosphere to it. There were boards there with photos from when Batman was filmed. It was fascinating seeing how they’d changed things.

Wollaton HallWe then went up onto the half roof. During WWII, soldiers on fire watch were too scared to come out onto the half roof because of the white lady. We found this funny. They were in the middle of a war, with constant threats of being bombed, yet a ghost scared them? Dave told us there was a statue of Charles I, which was built after he visited. Us “we’ve visited now, are they going to build one of us?” Dave pointed out niches in the tower where our statues could go, terrifying generations to come.

While we waited for the next tour, we explored the old stable blocks. We all imagined ourselves as ladies of the manor, galloping around the grounds on horses and hiring stable boys based on aesthetics and not their ability with horses. ‘You set a bale of hay on fire? Don’t you worry your pretty little face about it. You have other talents.’ ‘Now take your shirt off and get shovelling.’ People had their dogs with them, off the leads. We couldn’t help eyeing them enviously. No way could Bandit be trusted at a manor house off the lead. He’d be thieving from people, running off and leaping in the lake. Coincidentally, our mum then posted a facebook status about Bandit leaping in a pond five times.

Wollaton Hall

Tudor kitchen

We returned inside for the next tour, which was the Tudor kitchens and the caves, where the Admiral’s Bath is. Admiral Sir Nesbit Josiah Willoughby of Aspley Hall bathed there, apparently. Dave brought us over a photo he’d taken during a previous tour. In the corner of the photo is what looks like a ghostly face. It’s really cool. We were joined by 5 people for this tour. We were taken in to what used to be a study. Sadly, none of the books in the bookcases opened a secret passageway. We tried. Seriously, we did, selecting books that seemed out of place on particular shelves. Gutted. Yet again, films have lied to us. Dave pointed out a trapdoor which led to an area under the floor where important papers were kept. We asked if ‘important’ meant ‘title deeds’. He said yes. We eyed the trapdoor. Suddenly we had plans for tonight. The Tudor kitchens were really cool. Apparently, back when they were in use, only men were hired in the kitchens. We couldn’t help wondering if the lady of the manor had adopted the same attitude as us when hiring staff.Wollaton Hall

Then we headed down to the caves. There was a doorway to the Admiral’s Bath that even we had to duck to get through. We debated the possibility of tunnelling our way up into the manor house from the caves at night. Tunnel plots always go well in history.

Admiral's bath Wollaton Hall

Admiral’s bath

We loved Wollaton Hall and highly recommend doing both tours. It made a massive difference to our visit. Plus we enjoyed going through secret doors while other tourists looked on jealously. Not for you, peasants. And it meant we got to visit the haunted areas of the Hall. And now we know all the secret layouts…

We concluded our ghost hunting weekend with a trip to…Ikea. Lesley needed bookshelves. Then we went to Nandos where we were finally able to eat food that was not chocolate biscuits or gummy bears. On our way home, Helen panicked when we pulled into Hopwood services. We always seem to stop at Hopwood. Helen kept trying to make us go out, convinced we’d taken a wrong turn and were lost. Helen “slight right, slight right.” Calm down, Helen, we needed a wee. And you’re the one who keeps getting us lost. We have already planned our next ghost hunting weekend with Lesley – Stratford Upon Avon and Warwick castle. Haunted Shakespeare. Ghosts to be or not to be, that is the question.Wollaton Hall

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

Conjuring Spirits

A horror film in a haunted mansion. That wasn’t an invite we would ever turn down.

We’ve wanted to return to Woodchester Mansion since we visited it in 2012. You can read about our last visit here. But the next time we visited, we wanted it to be overnight. Then Team Impact announced they were hosting a horror night with a screening of The Conjuring followed by a ghost hunt until 4 a.m. Although we’ve seen The Conjuring 4 times, we’ve never seen it in a haunted mansion.Woodchester Mansion

We’ve known about Team Impact since they took part in a TV show in 2010 and they seemed like a fun bunch. We were the first to book tickets and worryingly they knew who we were, even though our Facebook is under our C L Raven name. When people tell us they know of Calamityville, our first thought is to apologise. We’ve been chatting to Paul and Chris since we booked and they asked if we had any requests, seeing as we were experienced in investigating the paranormal. After we finished laughing at the idea of being experienced, which lends an air of respectability, we told them we wanted to do lone vigils in the cellar. They promised to lock us in. Horror film, haunted mansion and locked in a cellar. Careful boys, propositions like that could lead to marriage.

Woodchester Mansion

clock tower

Louise, who joined us for our Borley Rectory misadventure was also going with some friends. This was shaping up to be a great night. On Thursday, we tweeted about making spooky biscuits for the night. Sadly, our one bat cookie cutter rusted and the other melted, so we substituted it for a pterodactyl. Team Impact promised not to tell the bats, but couldn’t guarantee they wouldn’t find out. We agreed on a price of three bat biscuits for ten minutes in the cellar.

We set off at 5:45 p.m. to allow us plenty of time for calamities. There were none. Apart from a misunderstanding about ablutions: Cat “I need a wee.” Neen “Want me to pull over?” Cat “What if the van gets hit by a truck?” Lynx “There’s services.” Cat thought Neen planned to pull into a layby. We reached the gates at 7:10 to find two others waiting. We were early. Super early. This never happens. Are we becoming…responsible?

Woodchester MansionWoodchester Mansion is a beautiful gothic building, complete with bats, gargoyles and vampires. But to complete the Gothic Guide to Buildings sticker set, you need ghosts. One story says the 2nd Earl of Ducie held a lavish party in 1840 to celebrate his new title, when he saw his father’s ghost sitting in his chair at the head of the table. He apparently left the mansion and never returned. We suspect his leaving was more to do with financial problems rather than ghosts.

A headless horseman roams the grounds. He’s believed to be Sir Rupert de Lansigny, who inherited Spring Park after murdering his cousin. Who says crime doesn’t pay? We’ve found no evidence of his existence, so it’s probable he’s a scary legend. Like Prince Charming. So who is the headless horsemen? And why does he haunt Woodchester Mansion?

The strangest apparition hovers above a lake on the vast grounds – a coffin, believed to belong to a Dominican Friar who drowned himself. Though how do people know who it belongs to, unless they’ve seen the name plaque? Also, why would a coffin haunt anywhere? It’s an inanimate object. It’s not sticking around for unfinished business, or to seek vengeance. “Avenge my foul and most unnatural…construction.”

Woodchester MansionThere are also reports of a horseman in civil war clothing on the drive and a black dog that haunts the cellar. His appearance coincides with the death of people closely associated with Woodchester. It wouldn’t be a British ghost story without a black dog. During our last visit, a worker told us a visitor had brought a dog with them and it refused to enter one of the rooms, becoming quite distressed.

There are rumours of Satantic rituals in the chapel but going on lack of evidence and how popular Satanism is with haunted places, we’re discounting it. Soon, abandoned supermarkets will have rumours of hosting Satanic rituals. People have heard a kitchen maid singing an Irish folksong as she works and a young man crouches in a corner, as though hiding from someone. A tall man apparently stands in the kitchen doorway and leans towards where the hiding man is crouched. Visitors have spotted a small man, rumoured to be a stonemason, in the chapel looking at the stained glass windows, and he is suspected of being responsible for small stones being flicked at visitors. Also in the chapel, people report smelling freshly extinguished candles when no candles have been lit. A girl skips up and down the stairs and on the first floor corridor, a young woman has been seen and heard as she stands at the window above the front door watching visitors below. A floating head haunts the bathroom and an old woman apparently grabs visitors. A tall man has been seen near the laundry room. We’re sceptical of this – when was the last time you saw a man doing laundry?

Woodchester MansionMany people report seeing servicemen around the property. In 1944, American and Canadian troops were stationed there whilst training for the D-Day landings. They used the lakes to train in bridge building for the Europe invasion. Security was very high and rigorously enforced. They stored their equipment in the cellars. During a training exercise, the bridge they were driving over collapsed and more than 20 soldiers drowned in one of Woodchester’s lakes. 1940s music is sometimes heard echoing through the abandoned corridors.

While we waited, we filmed our information piece. The gates were locked. We were tempted to hop out of the van and offer to demonstrate our skill in making burglary tools (yes, we once made a burglary tool), but instead we ate cherries and took the piss out of each other. The gates opened, so we drove in then continued filming. We read about Rupert de Lansigny, the supposedly headless horsemen then discussed how would people identify him without a head. Neen suggested he had wonky nipples. During a lively discussion about how he uses his wonky nipples to navigate the park, we suddenly realised Anthony from Team Impact was standing by the open door, right behind us. Well that’s a first impression we could’ve done without. Anthony said he was waiting to stop gatecrashers showing up. We offered to act as security to scare them off, taser them, or leap on intruders like rabid monkeys. That was a second impression we could’ve done without.Woodchester Mansion

Neen then solved a potential mystery – the bathroom has a floating head. There’s a headless horseman. Perhaps they spend eternity looking for each other like star-crossed body parts.

Paul and Chris soon arrived and everyone drove down to the mansion to park around the back. As Cat climbed into the van, laden down by equipment, she fell and elbowed the horn. Neen “You realise your arse was in the air at that point, and you just drew everyone’s attention to it.” Cat “Balls.” Neen then turned the corner and also accidentally hit the horn. Calamityville are incapable of arriving anywhere in a dignified manner.

Woodchester Mansion

drawing room after everyone had left

After everyone set up in the drawing room, where the screening was to take place, Chris led us on a history tour of the mansion. After he told us the story of a woman who is seen on the staircase, Cat stayed behind to get a photo of the stairs without people. It was the beginning us of us constantly being left behind and wandering off. We’re not sorry. We have form for this. The three of us got distracted by a sink off the stairs. Paul “We have three troublemakers now. That’s the ladies’ toilets.” Neen “it’d fill up pretty quick.” Cat “we’d need a stepladder.” She then tripped going up the stairs, proving Karma doesn’t take kindly to mischief.

Woodchester Mansion

windows where Elizabeth is seen

Chris mentioned a woman, nicknamed Elizabeth, who is seen in the windows above the front door. Neen told him Cat had seen her. He was pleased, as he didn’t know about that sighting. Also on this floor is a little girl ghost. It’s known that a little girl was playing with her friend, running along the corridor. Her friend stopped at the end, she didn’t and plummeted to her death.

After the tour, we all gathered outside for a group photo. We tried to hide at the back like we do in every group photo, but we were spotted and ordered to the front. We compromised and stood by Louise in the middle. Everyone returned inside, but we’d spotted what looked like a tunnel in a wall, so went to investigate as close as we could. The bats came out to greet us, so we stayed to chat to them for a while. By the time we reached the front door, it was locked. We seem to have a knack for getting locked in and locked out of places we’re investigating. Admitting defeat, we ventured round the back. It was either that or squiggle through a window.

It was time for The Conjuring. We had the front row, as they were the last seats left. And we’re so small, sitting anywhere else would mean us being unable to see. The sound kept failing on the dramatic bits, so the blaring noise cutting to silence was quite effective.

Woodchester MansionThe film finished at midnight and the ghost hunt began. We were split into two groups. We were pleased to find Louise and her friends were in our group. We headed to the top floor with Anthony. Louise volunteered to have a DVR with headphones attached so she could hear live EVPs. We would’ve volunteered, but none of us had spare hands to hold it. We could hear voices of people leaving. Neen “All I can hear is ‘keep coming.'” Cat “That’s what she said.” Ever the professionals. We called out for James, the builder who fell/was pushed to his death. He’s rumoured to throw stones, but he didn’t make an appearance. Builders never turn up when you want them to. Cat asked for pushing, scratching or bite marks. No-one’s captured a ghost hickey. Anthony “You’ve been set a challenge now. Can you rise to it?” Neen “That’s what she said.” We see what they meant about us being troublemakers…

A couple of women kept feeling cold, but the window doesn’t have glass. Anthony’s radio kept bleeping and contacting Chris and Paul, even though he wasn’t touching it. In the end, he gave it to Neen to hold. Cat went to the far end of the corridor to see if she could see or hear anything. Lynx and Anthony tried to get the ghosts to shove Cat then Anthony realised she was right by the barrier leading to a two floor fall. Cat had already moved away, in case they were tempted. Neen lamented her lack of Go Go Gadget Arms. Inspired by The Conjuring, Cat tried to persuade the ghosts to play hide and clap. We all spread out through the corridor, with Cat staying at the far end, Neen in the middle and Lynx staying by the window. Almost immediately, we both heard stones falling. But at that point, the bats were flying around, so they were more than likely the cause.

Woodchester Mansion

cellars

After half an hour, we joined Paul in the cellar. They had a Kinnect machine facing the corridor, so Lynx joined the two women who were watching it while Cat and Neen joined hands around the pillar with the rest of the group. Nothing appeared on the Kinnect. Louise felt something tickle the top of her head, but other than that, the cellars were quieter than a sponsored silence. Paul asked for someone to stand in the corridor, so Cat volunteered. Cat said nobody else had spoken up. Neen reckoned she was out before Paul finished speaking. Lynx joined Cat in the corridor, but stayed just in front of the Kinnect. Neen had gone in to watch it. Neen “Lynx’s arse has never looked so big! She hasn’t got an arse.” So if you were to ask a Kinnect, “does my bum look big on this?” The answer is yes. Lynx did a booty shake for the Kinnect. We both heard a single footstep. Cat thought it was Lynx, but she hadn’t moved. Paul wondered if it was Chris upstairs, but he was with Cat. On screen, the corridor between us went completely green, but we don’t know what that means. Maybe a ghost exploded. When everyone was in the corridor, Neen felt something stroke her arse. Paul asked where Chris was. Neen wondered if it was a nerve, but said it definitely felt like a stroke. Cat asked the ghost to slap Neen’s arse. Neen slapped Cat’s instead.

We returned to the drawing room for a break. Group 1 joined Anthony in the kitchen with the Ouija board while group 2 went with Paul and Chris to the bathroom to play 1940s music. Paul allowed us to go to the cellar by ourselves while Louise and her friends went to the top floor corridor to conduct a lone vigil.Woodchester Mansion

We each took a room while Neen stayed in the corridor. Lynx didn’t realise there was a beam barrier alarm and kept setting it off. As we were too close to call out without contaminating each other’s EVPs, we took it in turns to call out. Unfortunately, we could still hear the other groups and the 1940s music. Cat whistled for the dog that’s seen in the cellar, but it didn’t come. We should’ve brought treats. Cat tried to entice the ghosts with our Uptown Funk zumba dance, but they weren’t interested.

We switched rooms but the ghosts stayed away. Lynx threw a stone to get the ghost to throw it back, but the ghost didn’t oblige. Paul/Chris radioed us to check if we were happy staying in the cellar. When we said we were, he replied we would be in there for a few hours. Neen put in a request for Red Bull for us. Lynx sang The Bangles’ ‘James’ to lure the builder, but he had another job.

Woodchester MansionSadly, the only things in the cellar were us, so we joined Paul’s group in the bathroom, where they were experimenting with glowing balls. No, not that kind of experimenting. One man, Martin, had his ball pulled from his hand. Cat “were you playing with Martin’s balls?” 1940s music was played, but the servicemen didn’t fancy a dance. The group moved into the corridor, so Paul said we could get in the bath. We didn’t need telling twice. Neen joined the group while we got in the bath and sang ‘Row, Row, Row your Boat’. Neen returned and joined us in the bath for a three-person ‘Row, Row, Row your Boat’ rendition, complete with rowing action. You don’t get that with many ghost hunters. Soon we will be banned from every public event. We even invited the servicemen into the bath with us, but they declined. We reminded them that being dead, there weren’t going to get a better offer. They clearly believed things were yet to reach that level of desperation.

It was now 3 a.m. so we had half an hour to ourselves before a final group vigil. We made our way to the kitchen to use the Ouija table. Nothing. It was the ghost hunting equivalent to sitting in a restaurant when your blind date sees you and flees. We half expected the ghostly servants to ply us with sympathy alcohol and take bets on how long we’d stay. All night, ghosties.

Woodchester MansionWe called out to the ghost of the kitchen maid, Maria, or Moira, but even singing Blondie’s ‘Maria’ or Hard’-Fi’s ‘Better Do Better’ couldn’t convince her to sing back. We even tried an Irish folksong. Well, Thin Lizzie’s ‘Whisky in the Jar’, if that counts. We sang out of tune and the lines in the wrong order, but damn it, we had the guitar riff down. The kitchen was freezing, as it was near the back door. We even asked the ghosts to smash the porcelain, but they didn’t. Lynx then tripped trying to leave the table. Moira’s revenge for the bad singing, perhaps? We wandered the mansion, still humming the guitar riff and joined Louise and her friends in the organ loft galley. Sadly, it’s not a gallery that displays people’s organs in an artistic way. Louise and her friends hadn’t got any activity either. Perhaps joining us before has tainted her in the ghosts’ eyes.

The final vigil was back in the cellar. Blue blobs kept appearing on the Kinnect on this one woman’s waist. Was this the ghost dwarf trying to rifle through her handbag? Lynx switched off her camcorder and IR lights in case they were causing it, but the blob remained and her lights hadn’t affected the Kinnect before. Cat closed the screen on her camcorder so it was pitch black. One woman saw a light on the back wall, but that was caused by Cat’s viewfinder. The vigil was momentarily interrupted by Cat changing the Sony’s tape. If you’re ever on a ghost hunt with us and you hear beeping, cursing and fumbling in the dark, it’s us messing around with our equipment. Not that equipment.

Woodchester MansionEveryone was given a goody bag for attending, which we loved. And those of us brave enough to do lone vigils were given a DVD as a prize. To be fair, we should’ve given the guys a goody bag for letting us come, despite knowing what they would be letting themselves in for. When everyone had gone, we went to the second floor corridor, as we hadn’t done a lone vigil there. We heard a couple of taps, but that was it. We tried convincing the servicemen to dance with us, and we even held out our hands and did the Cha Cha Cha, but they weren’t willing. We don’t blame them – we dig our heels in when people try to drag us onto the dance floor.Woodchester Mansion

While Paul packed up, we went to the cellars with Chris to ask him about his experiences for the book we’re writing about Calamityville’s adventures. He’s been investigating Woodchester since 2002 and has seen six apparitions. We asked him if any of the ghost stories attached to Woodchester are true. Most of them aren’t. The headless horseman is a variation on the folklore of a headless horse that roams the grounds. The Victorians started that rumour as they didn’t have security guards. The floating coffin was exposed as a hoax. But someone has heard a horse and carriage heard on the drive at 3 a.m.

Woodchester MansionWe grabbed Paul for an interview. He’s so tall, Cat struggled to get him in the frame with Lynx. He suggested we get a chair, or that he could go down on one knee. Lynx “are you going to propose?”

Team Impact are all members of ASSAP and NPI and Paul has recently completed a Parapsychology course run by Edinburgh University, so we wanted to ask him about that, as we’re intrigued. Most paranormal investigators just give themselves the title, but these guys have actually done training. We don’t refer to ourselves as paranormal investigators. ‘Idiots with a camera’ is the term we mostly use. Though technically it’s ‘idiots with 6 cameras’ but we don’t like to boast.

We had a fantastic night and would definitely go again. Plus we forgot to pay them in bat biscuits for being locked in the cellar and Ravens always pay their debts. No, wait, that’s Lannisters. Team Impact were lovely and we’d be happy if they ran every ghost hunt we attend. We eventually left at 5:30 a.m. and parked in the National Trust car park. There was a picnic area opposite, but Paul warned us it’s popular for dogging. The last thing we wanted was to have perverts peering through the windows when we’re trying to sleep. Though seeing as the spectral servicemen wouldn’t get in the bath with us, it’s unlikely doggers would show an interest.

We never did fulfill our bargain about the biscuits…

Follow Team Impact on Twitter here Like their Facebook page and the Woodchester Mansion Paranormal page.

Woodchester Mansion

l-r at front Chris, Paul, Anthony.

Tunnel Vision

Drakelow TunnelsGetting lost, horribly lost, a car crash with a twatapus and misbehaving in tunnels. It can only be Calamityville Horror’s next episode.

We teamed up again with Jack and Laura from Jack and Laura’s Ghost Series. Check them out here: Facebook, Twitter, YouTube. They regularly attend ghost hunts with South Bristol Paranormal and they invited us to Drakelow Tunnels. This place has become a huge hit recently with ghost hunters and we were more excited than Jason Vorhees on Thursday the 12th. Drakelow TunnelsThen everything started to go wrong. Badly wrong. In fact, this was the most disastrous episode in Calamityville history. And not a single damn bit of it was filmed. Our standards have really slipped. No, wait, that implies the show had standards to begin with. We were running late. Neen’s hairdressing appointment ended up taking 3 hours as her usual hairdresser was away. Then we had to get petrol for her campervan, Tallulah, who has ferried us to a few locations now. Then we got lost trying to find Laura’s house.

Drakelow Tunnels

these aren’t shadow figures, it’s us with the long exposure

And so it began. We approached a roundabout and Neen pulled into the right lane. A guy in a black Fiesta blasted his horn, even though she’d indicated. He drove around us, still blasting his horn like a deranged clown who’s just discovered his comedy nose. He cut us up on the roundabout. And slammed his brakes on. Tallulah went straight into the back of him. What the hell did he think would happen? We could not believe his idiocy. In 15 years of driving, we’ve never experienced this. The whole fiasco made us even later. Neen had nothing to write the insurance details on so Cat fetched the card sleeve from one of her camera tapes. Luckily a guy behind witnessed it all and stopped to give us his details. We’ve never had a crash on Calamityville. Was this Fate’s way of trying to finish us off? We eventually picked Jack and Laura up and set off.

Drakelow TunnelsOnly to get lost. Cat was navigating and still isn’t entirely sure what happened. The signs on her directions didn’t match the roads. It went like this: Neen: “Where are we? Which way do we go?” Cat *shrugs* “No idea. Try that road.” In the end, Neen switched her SatNav on. Then the lens cap on Lynx’s Canon camera, our main filming camera, jammed on while Cat was using it. Again, she had no idea how this happened. It’s usually jammed down, thanks to a sand dune sledging adventure, but on route, decided to attempt to close itself. And got stuck. We couldn’t use it. We finally arrived at Drakelow tunnels (after Cat got us lost numerous times) half an hour later than we were told to be there, but five minutes before the investigation started. We’re calling that a win. Then Cat tripped over in the van. She put her Panasonic camera down in the car park and when she picked it up, found a hole in the back screen. It still works fine, but that’s 2 cameras broken on one journey. And the adventure wasn’t over yet.Drakelow Tunnels

Seven deaths have occurred in Drakelow Tunnels. In Tunnel 1 on 31st October 1941, three men (one called Harry Depper, the other two are unknown) were killed when the ceiling collapsed on them when they were blasting. Mary Ann Brettel was the next to die when she was hit by a dump truck owned by John Cochrane and Sons on the grounds of the complex. Two construction workers were killed during the construction of conveyor belts that were used to take loose rock out. They rode the belt, but got tangled in the machinery and mangled. The last person to die was Eric Harold Newman, a security guard for Goods In & Out. As he left the complex on his motorbike, he was hit by a coach driven by Mr Wilkes, who transported workers to the tunnels.

Drakelow TunnelsLate in 1993, the caretaker was inspecting the kitchen in the old RSG side of the complex. He heard 1940s music that seemed to be coming from the old Rover Shadow Factory side. Thinking someone had left a radio on, he went to check. The music got louder when he approached Tunnel 1, but as he entered the tunnel, it stopped. He couldn’t find a radio . As he reached the old time office at the end of the tunnel, the music started again. After a 6 hour search of the entire complex, he failed to find the radio. The only equipment that was capable of playing music was the WW2 tannoy system that hasn’t worked since the ‘50s.

Drakelow Tunnels

we climbed up here

In 1996, the resident caretaker and his 2 German Shepherds were locking the complex one winter evening, after people had been in repairing electrical wiring. While the caretaker was securing the GPO telephone exchange in the RGHQ, his dogs went into the next room. They began barking, so the caretaker rushed in. They dogs were staring at the wall, barking. He calmed them, put them on their leads, and continued his rounds. When they entered Tunnel 4, the dogs stopped and growled, fixated on the top of the tunnel. The caretaker tried to see what they were looking at, but couldn’t. The dogs fell silent and the caretaker saw a mist at the top of the tunnel, floating towards him. The dogs fled through the RGHQ. Thinking there was a fire, the caretaker followed and found them barking and scratching the Blast Door at Adit A. He opened the doors and they ran to his car outside.Drakelow Tunnels

Inside the tunnels was cold and darker than the devil’s armpits. We found the toilets but stupidly didn’t take lights with us, so were navigating using the glow from the screens of our flip phones. Torch apps don’t exist on the Motorola V5. Lynx then got attacked by the toilet door. She closed it, not realising it wasn’t attached. It fell on her, crushing her earring into her ear and giving her a nice cauliflower ear. Had Fate had a tantrum we’d escaped the accident unscathed and tried to take her out with a toilet door? The same door later attacked Laura, hurting her thumb.

Drakelow Tunnels

the medical centre

We were all given maps and split into groups, ours consisting of Jack and Laura and us. After Cat’s woeful navigation, we gave Neen the map. Neen’s got us through Edinburgh and York with her map reading skills so she gets lumbered with the responsibility of us. It’s not an easy job and nobody else wants it. We were all told to stick together for the walk through. That was never going to happen. We see a doorway, we’ll go through it. We see stuff, we’ll go investigate it. We may never come across it again. As it happened, the areas we’d wandered off to, we didn’t come across again, so it’s just as well we explored them. Neen regularly threatens to put us on those straps children wear on school trips to stop them wandering off. She describes going anywhere with us ‘like herding kittens’.

 

Drakelow Tunnels

what we discovered after climbing the scaffolding

Bearing in mind how dark it was, you’d assume we’d have torches. Nope. None of ours work properly. We had to rely on the night vision/full spectrum screens of our cameras. Cat walked into a chair. And a wall. And some string blocking a doorway, even though Neen held it up. After the walk through, we were allowed to go off in our groups. We were given Tunnel 1 and the areas off it. We found scaffolding leading up to a big hole in the wall. Our theory is, if they didn’t want people climbing up to the hole, they should move the scaffolding. Us, Neen and Jack climbed it. Laura decided her clumsiness meant she’d be safer staying at the bottom. Think she was actually the bravest, as she was left in the dark by herself! We found some machinery and a doorway. Cat went through first, announcing, “There’s a shaft! It’s slippery!” as she struggled to stay upright.

Drakelow Tunnels

we shouldn’t be up here

Many shaft jokes ensued. We’d found ourselves in a ventilation tunnel. Three curved tunnels led away from the giant fan, getting smaller the closer to the end we got. Neen and Jack had a light and went in the first tunnel. Lynx had a light clipped to her belt and entered the middle tunnel. Cat had no light and entered the last tunnel, finding her way through the night vision camera. The tunnels led to a sudden drop, which was covered. Cat’s end was fully open and had the others not shouted a warning, she may have ended up haunting the tunnels. The slippery shaft made leaving that area tricky, as it was lower than the door. When we got back to the scaffolding, our fear of us heights reminded us this might not have been such a good idea. We managed to climb back down the scaffolding and continued exploring.

Drakelow Tunnels

in Tunnel 4

We found a guard’s station, or office room, so did a vigil in there. We kept hearing voices so Cat ventured down the tunnel to find the source. Turns out, the tunnels’ grid system and acoustics means noise carries a great distance. Even though we were nowhere near the other groups, we could hear them, even if they weren’t being loud. So we’re attributing any voices we heard to the others. Some parts of the tunnels involved us crawling through small holes. One led into toilets then out into Tunnel 4. We seemed to find our way into random toilets. It was like playing Slender: Eight Pages in real life, but minus a rusty pickup truck and losing our sanity.

Drakelow TunnelsAfter a break, we were sent to Tunnel 4. The mist is only seen in the winter, which leads us to believe it’s down to condensation in the chilly air, rather than anything paranormal. We did a vigil in another guard station and again could hear the other groups. While Neen took a photo of the four of us in the station, she heard a noise further up the tunnel. We explored the room next to the medical centre and found a cupboard filled with chart rolls, like the type you get in ECG machines. If the lines are to be believed, the patients flatlined for a long time. Another cupboard contained wages envelopes which had spilled onto the floor, and more chart rolls. Again, the patients flatlined. We did another vigil and heard what sounded like a tap or footstep. Lynx and Laura stood in the corridor outside the room, but nothing happened. We headed to the medical centre for some more calling out. Jack saw mist in front of Laura, but we got no responses. When we asked for a name, the Ghost Radar said ‘Smith.’ A guard called Albert Smith who worked there. To be honest, the Ghost Radar sprouts nonsense more than it says accurate things so we don’t fully trust it, but it is fun.

Drakelow TunnelsWe heard more voices further down a tunnel, so went to investigate. It turned out to be Karin’s group. As we’d got nothing, we joined them for a vigil. We were in a crossroads. Karin, Colin, Ginny and Lee sat in the centre. Neen and Jack ventured down one tunnel, Cat down another and Lynx retreated down the tunnel we’d come down. Again, nothing. We really are the enemies of paranormal activity. You know how when the bad guy walks into a bar and everyone falls silent? That’s what happens when we walk into a haunted area. The spirits all fall silent, put down their cards and nervously touch their guns.

Drakelow Tunnels

Tunnel 4

During the break, we joined Karin on the ouija board in the break room. We got the silent treatment, so tried the planchette with Adrian. It didn’t move. We joined two groups for some table tipping in the operating theatre. We haven’t been convinced on the legitimacy of table tipping since the Victorians were doing it, so we never participate unless it’s with people we know and trust. We’re pretty sure someone was manipulating the table. Colin saw a doctor in one of the rooms in the sick bay, so we wandered off with our laser pen (we’d forgotten to use it so far) and tried to make contact. Well, Lynx tried to get him to kick Cat’s bad knee, but it counts. The doctor gave us the silent treatment. Colin told us to call out for Dr James. We burst into an impromptu version of Aqua’s ‘Dr Jones’. Some people are really unprofessional.

Drakelow TunnelsWe joined Karin, Colin, Ginny and Lee for a session with the Kinnect. It’s from the xbox and it maps your movements, so you appear on screen as an outline with a stick figure inside. Laura was positioned in front of it and spirits were encouraged to stand beside her. Jack joined her, but the spirits didn’t. Neen and Ginny were the next guinea pigs, and although Neen danced for the spirits, they refused to show their appreciation. Colin and Lee went next, but the spirits weren’t interested. We danced our way through the experiment, but even our zumba moves weren’t enough to encourage the spirits to come anywhere near us. We even performed the newly-learnt Uptown Funk routine. Karin was the final one to stand in front of the Kinnect, but she also got nothing, despite mooning the camera.

Drakelow Tunnels

Last women standing

It was now half two in the morning and we all headed back to base camp. Neen and Jack called it quits and headed back to the van. The rest of the groups also decided to leave, so while they were packing up, us and Laura snuck off for one final vigil. We made it to Tunnel 4 through a hole in the toilet wall and called out. We could hear voices at the far end of the tunnel, which we think belonged to one missing group. Then we heard a bang on the blast doors down the end. Two people came looking for the group, so we sent them to the end, too late realising we may be sacrificing them to the tunnel monster. They came back without the group, so were clearly not needed for pleasing the tunnel gods. We continued our vigil, but could still hear the others, even though the two hadn’t found them (they were later discovered outside, smoking). The two people asked us how to get back to basecamp. We directed them to a dead end. Then Lynx showed them the right way. Laura asked for tapping and tapped her foot three times on the floor. She got a response. Two taps. We’re not entirely sure whether it was the group pissing about and pretending to be the spirit, or a genuine response. We decided to find them and set off down the tunnel. It suddenly went very quiet. The feeling in the tunnel changed. It went from being a comfortable place to feeling very eerie. It was clear we were now completely alone.

Drakelow TunnelsAfter several more attempts, we got no response, so headed back to base camp (without getting lost). On the way, we joked about everyone buggering off and leaving us in the tunnels. We got back to base camp. Everyone had buggered off and left us alone. We gathered our gear and headed out to the van to sleep.

In the morning, we were woken by the comforting sounds of gunfire. The tunnels are used for Airsoft and the shooters were already in. We photographed the tunnels, as we hadn’t done it on the way in. The door was unlocked, so we all wandered in. The place was completely lit, which gave it a different atmosphere. We didn’t venture far in, because we were convinced we’d be shot in the face with pellets, but we got a couple of photos before leaving. And getting lost. We dropped Jack and Laura off and headed home. And got lost.Drakelow Tunnels