Smelting Pot

Moira Furnace

front of the engine house

Shenanigans, inappropriateness and people getting injured. It could only be Calamityville Horror. We were invited to spend the entire night at Moira Furnace by our FB friend, Helena and her team, Boleyn Paranormal. Neen was meant to still be working on Galavant, so we decided to go alone. Turned out Galavant finished early. Balls. Anyhoo, we set off Saturday afternoon, later than we intended leaving, which is becoming our trademark. And yet we arrived on time. Yes. On. Time. At half past four exactly. The time we said we’d be there. Then we spent half an hour trying to find a way in. There were only a few places where we could get phone signal – parts of the woods, the loading bay and by the toilet in the engine house. We failed to break in then eventually managed to find phone signal and rang Helena.

Moira Furnace

lime kilns

Moira Furnace was built in 1789 by Francis Rawdon Hastings, who later became the 2nd Earl of Moira, after he inherited land in Ashby Woulds. He recognised the potential of the area’s coal and iron ore deposits and began developing it. In 1792, a company was formed to build a 30 mile canal to link the Woulds with the main canal network. The first coal mine was sunk in 1804, a lime kiln was built and construction started on the iron-making blast furnace. It was brought to blast in 1806 and closed in 1811, due to some features not being successful as it was a period of blast furnace development.

Moira Furnace

engine house

A foundry making iron castings continued functioning for another 30 years. Moira Furnace was converted into housing for the mining community. In the 1850s there were three families living there. Also in the 1850s, the foundry and lime kilns closed, ending industrial activity, except for coal and clay extraction. The canal was abandoned in the 1940s due to railway competition and mining subsidence and filled in. The last residents moved out of the Furnace buildings in the 1970s and coal mining finally stopped in the 1980s.

Moira Furnace

lime kilns

The foundry was demolished in the 19th century, but the bridgehouse and engine house were converted to dwellings. By the time the families moved out in the ‘70s, the dwellings had become derelict and the engine house was demolished. The bridgehouse and furnace were scheduled as ancient moments after pressure from Philip Riden and the Leicestershire Industrial Historical Society.

Moira FurnaceMoira Furnace is one of the few remaining blast furnaces from this period because it was a commercial failure. If it had been successful, it more than likely would have led to the site being developed and the furnace replaced. Documents mention bad management, construction, raw materials and design, but many of the documents were written by people who were trying to deflect blame from themselves. When the furnace was abandoned, its final charge was still inside, partially smelted. A high sulphur count was detected in the raw materials, which may have contributed to the failing, as well as a design fault or operating problem in the chimney, which led it to overheat.

Moira Furnace

engine house

Staff, visitors and paranormal investigators report feeling unwell in certain parts of the building, shadows are seen, people are touched and screams are heard from the bridgeloft. In a book, Shadows on the Water: The Haunted Canals and waterways of Britain by Allan Scott-Davies, he said during the building of Moira Furnace, a number of ghosts were seen. One was a small boy seen crouching in the corner on the upper floor by the mouth of the furnace.

Moira Furnace

furnace where workers fell to their deaths

There were a number of accidents during the short run of producing iron. The dangerous job of feeding the furnace fell to women and children. As they tipped the wheelbarrows of iron, ore, coke or limestone into the furnace, it wasn’t uncommon for the weight to pull them to their deaths. They would die from asphyxiation before becoming part of the next batch of cast iron.

Moira Furnace

attic

There was a fatal explosion in Moira coalmines in the Bath Pit on 9th August 1845. Seven men and boys died of burns from the explosion. Francis Hastings has apparently been spotted in the woodlands surrounding the furnace and apparently someone died from falling off the top of the furnace. Children also are rumoured to move stuff around on the top floor.

Moira Furnace

Mary’s Parlour

We did a quick walk round, dumped our stuff in the kitchen and promptly loaded the fridge with Red Bull and soya milk. In the loading bay, we found children’s dressing up clothes. Cat walked into a cart. When the lights were on. We returned to the engine house and split into two groups of three. Helena, her mum, Liz and stepdad, Nick stayed in the engine house while us and Helena’s husband Alex ventured into the woods. And so began the calamities. There is a reason that word is in our show name! We found a small clearing. Hanging from a tree was a piece of bark with a hole in it for the string. There was also a stick tied in front of it. We have no idea what this means. If anyone can identify it from the photo, please let us know. We’re intrigued. We decided this would be the perfect place for a vigil.

Moira Furnace

unknown object in the woods.

Alex felt a warm spot near him.  Cat moved closer and could also feel it. It was about three feet off the ground. Lynx also felt it. We tried pointing the temperature gun at it but the readings went weird. Then we realised by trying to find the warm spot, we may inadvertently be groping a ghost. We hope you enjoyed it, possible spirit person. We moved on. Alex got stuck climbing over a log in his two pairs of trousers then Lynx walked straight into a bog. She thought it was the path, until she started sinking. She made a hasty retreat. Cat then got caught by a tree. It had her hair and camera bracket and refused to release her. We ended up walking in a big circle and returned to the clearing.

Moira Furnace

us and Alex in the woods

After a creepy sounding owl kept contributing to our calling out by imitating someone screaming horrifically, we started hearing voices. Alex called out to them, wondering if they were fleshy people and not spirit people. We hoped they weren’t. We’re here to hunt for ghosts, not perverts. We decided to find where the voices were coming from. Except Alex slipped in the mud, fell to his knees and smacked his face on his camera, cutting his lip. Cat, who was answering a text at the time, quickly checked her camera. Yes, it was pointing at him. We will now be able to watch it in slow motion replay. We look after people on ghost hunts. This is also probably why locations keep asking if we have insurance and a first aider. Nope and like bollocks.

Moira Furnace

in the loading bay

Meanwhile in the furnace, Liz had asked the spirits to imitate her whistle. The three of them heard a whistle in return and it was captured on EVP. It’s really clear. They played it to us over our walkie talkies while we were in the woods. We regrouped for a warmth then we headed out to the loading bay with Helena for a ouija board session. Although the three of us spent most of our time falling over the steps. It’s a wonder none of us fell into the furnace. We got nothing on the ouija board but on the sp7 spirit box, there was this weird noise. Cat thought it was a sheep, Helena thought it was a horse, Lynx thought it sounded like the Gremlins laughing.

Moira Furnace

lime kilns

We started asking if there was the ghost of a horse present, but it wouldn’t stamp it’s hooves or neigh in response to our questions. Yes, we tried to do an EVP session with a horse. There were some strange bangs, but we couldn’t identify where they were coming from. Moments after we asked the ghosts to push us or push something of ours, Alex radioed to say one of their cameras had fallen off the box it was on. He tried debunking it by shoving the box, but it didn’t tip the camera.

Moira Furnace

romantic candlelit ouija board

We moved the ouija board to the other end of the room and had swapped the planchette for a candle, which was easier to move. Cat moved outside to the furance chimney for a lone vigil while Lynx and Helena amused themselves by discovering that the thumb of a gardening glove looks a lot like a penis in night vision. They shared their finding with Cat and the vigil was soon abandoned for channeling our inner teenage boys. Lynx poked the tip, which looked decidedly dodgy in night vision then Cat made it dance. Only on Calamityville could an innocent gardening glove lead to inappropriate shenanigans. Alex, Liz and Nick joined us for a group photo at the chimney before we all headed back inside to thaw.

Moira Furnace

us doing the ouija board session with Helena

Our next vigil was up in the attic with the sp7. There were some voices coming through, one male voice seemed to be the same person, but we can never understand electronic devices. The SB7 was sweeping in reverse, which hopefully means it wasn’t picking up radio stations. Helena sensed someone on the stairs so went to investigate and felt dizzy. Cat joined her then Alex moved further down the stairs. He felt himself being pulled. Then he tripped climbing the stairs, which was nothing paranormal 😀 When we returned to the room, Alex found witches hats, so we conducted part of the vigil whilst wearing them and no doubt looking absolutely stylish. The K2 spiked a couple of times but the voices on the SB7 died down. After about an hour, we returned to base camp.

Moira Furnace

Roxy being a trigger object in the attic

We split up again, with Helena, Liz and Nick staying in the engine house while us and Alex investigated the lime kilns and canal. We could hear distant voices that sounded like they were in the woods. Maybe the perverts had returned, believing they were safe from our cameras. No-one is ever safe. We invited any ghosts in the canal to bob to the surface like creepy corpses but none would oblige. On the furnace are hand prints from people from where the furnace overheated. We called Helena and Liz out for a group photo on the stage bit by the tower.

Moira FurnaceWe retired to bed around 4:40a.m. We slept on the attic floor under the watchful gaze of the Sony (until battery/tape ran out). Got up around 8 and packed up. We lingered to do daytime shots then left at 9:30. And we still didn’t get lost, despite not printing out reverse directions! Our map reading skills are improving. And then we started to run out of petrol. There are no petrol stations along the M50. There’s one before the A40 but we thought we’d be ok. We were wrong. As Pinky dropped to 5 litres then 4 litres then 3 litres, we began to panic. Especially as there’s no petrol stations along the A40/A449. We dropped our speed and drove behind a caravan to reduce the drag. Had one satisfying moment when we overtook a police car though. Made it back to Cardiff with 2.5 litres of petrol. Even when we don’t get lost we can’t drive without some sort of adventure! But we had a fantastic time with Boleyn Paranormal and we’ll be teaming up again on other adventures. In fact, we have our sights set on Italy…Moira Furnace

Power of Three

You know your ghost hunting trip to Stratford is going to be a disaster when your friend says she’s refusing to use her Sat Nav because she enjoys our meltdowns when we get lost. But we’d printed out directions and we were leaving 2 hours earlier then necessary. We were confident.

We were wrong.

We’re not entirely sure where we went wrong. We’d like to blame it on the road closure but we were already lost by that point. We could say travelling in the dark in an unexplored area of England played a part, but previous getting lost excursions have taken place in the day. In reality, we just suck. Then as Cat was driving through traffic lights, it was decided we should go right, not straight ahead. So she turned right. Realising too late that the right lane had a red light. But she was committed. And there was traffic. Cue action film stunt driving and small shrieks of terror and Mickey the Mini Cooper lived to drive another day. Until she nearly ran another red light when reading road signs. This is what happens when functioning on only one Red Bull all day. The world is safer with us caffeinated.

The College Arms, Lower QuintonWe arrived at the meeting place with one hour to spare. Us being…early? Angels gasped, Santa fainted and somewhere in the world a dinosaur egg hatched. The meeting place was the College Inn car park. So we took the opportunity for a chip and vodka & lemonade break to set us up for a night of ghost hunting. Then Cat got lost on her way back from the toilets and alerted some dogs to her wanderings. We did our usual set piece about what we’d discovered through research for our first location, Meon Hill. Except despite reading the info in the car on the way down, Lynx completely forgot it and had to do the talk whilst reading from Neen’s phone. In 1945, a man named Charles Walton was found murdered on the hill, with his trouncing hoook embedded in his throat, his pitchfork in his stomach and a cross carved out from his chest. To this day the murder is unsolved and rumoured to be related to witchcraft. The bar staff overhead our spiel and one of them revealed her grandfather was actually interviewed at the time! We were gutted we didn’t have time to conduct a proper interview. We’d parked round the front of the pub ‘cos we couldn’t find the car park so we jumped in Mickey and drove. All ten feet of road before we reached the car park. And we were the last to arrive, despite having been there an hour. Ryan was at his work’s Christmas meal in Bridgend so we didn’t have a patsy to lay blame on. And people think Calamityville is a professional outfit! *disclaimer. No-one has ever said that Calamityville Horror is in any way, professional.*

Meon HillWe got back in our car to drive to Meon Hill in a convoy. Driving right past where we had been previously parked. We were last in the convoy, which included a transit van, a Land Rover, a Range Rover and Mickey. We had to park in a layby to get to Meon Hill and Mickey’s arse was sticking out in the road. Who brings a transit van ghost hunting? People really need smaller cars. Us and Neen were the only ones who thought to bring wellies for the trek and smugly trampled through the boggy pathway while the rest of the group did their best to avoid the mud. The two mediums from Dusk Til Dawn events were Sue, a witch, and Michael, her husband. Sue conducted a seance at the base of the hill. We were hoping to climb the hill to see the scene of the murder but this was as close as we would get.

old funeral parlour, EveshamThen it was on to the next location, an old funeral parlour that is now a tattoo parlour. Conducting a ghost vigil in a tattoo parlour was a first for the Calamityville team. Lynx sat next to a cheery looking skull wearing sunglasses. We would’ve invited him to join the team but he looked busy. A doll was used as a trigger object for a girl called Alice but Alice didn’t seem to want to play. Apparently interesting EVPs have been captured here so when we review our recordings of our DVRs, we’ll hopefully have caught something. Though judging by previous recordings, we probably won’t. The vigil was interrupted by phantom voices during the silence, but this wasn’t paranormal. In the dark, Cat accidentally PLAY on her DVR, not REC. Whoops. Then Lynx dropped her Canon camcorder. Remember what we said about being professional?

SpiritusFinally we headed to our final location, Spiritus, the shop owned by Sue and Michael. We were split into two groups, with the Calamityville team joining three other people – Mel, Tracy and Lyndon. Being the only man, Lyndon took Ryan’s place as the one getting picked on. In order to incite Colin the poltergeist, the group got creative. Never before has anyone behaved so inappropriately towards a poltergeist. Anyone walking in would’ve have thought they’d stumbled across a sex chat line. We’d like to state, we did not start this. But we did join in. When in Rome and all that jazz. As you know, we’re not fans or believers of table tipping. However there were interesting knocking responses on the table and Cat had her night vision camera trained on the scene the whole time. The knocking was not caused by anyone in the group and  during some of the times when the table was rocking, the camera showed Sue had removed her hands from it.

We then headed into the back room, which is apparently haunted by a doctor. As we held hands in the circle, Mel started to sway. She said she felt a magnetic force pulling her backwards. After a few minutes, Cat switched places with her. At first nothing happened. Then Cat felt it. A definite force making her sway backwards. It started gently then built up. It was bizarre. Lynx tried it and felt nothing. Then we did a ouija board. To his credit, Michael did not participate, which we were very impressed at. We always suspect that organisers who participate in ouija boards influence them. The planchette did move a bit and rotated but offered nothing intelligible other than H. Maybe it was a massive STEPS fan. Then we tried our hand at mirror scrying. Again, we’re not believers in this but it was pretty cool to try. Lynx went first, holding a red light under her face. Even though her eyes were closed, it looked like we could see open eyes. It was so strange, a really creepy effect that we attributed to her glittery eyeshadow. When Tracy tried it, she also closed her eyes and it looked like there were a different pair of eyes on her face, slightly higher up and looking in a different direction. Lyndon had a go and appeared to have the shadow of crab pincers on his forehead. We told him Colin had given him crabs after that amorous table tipping. When Cat tried it, it also looked like her eyes were open. Unusual effect but really cool. We moved to the cellar for a brief vigil involving a doctor’s bag but think he’d gone home for the night.

We left at one a.m. and again got diverted because of road closures. For the first time ever, we had printed out reverse directions. Except we didn’t use them because we wanted to avoid the Severn Bridge toll. And as what usually happens when we don’t sleep and are then awake all night, we become horribly sick. Got home at 3 a.m., but because of feeling so crappy we were still awake at 6. Bleurgh. The general consensus is we start staying somewhere overnight. We have a better idea.

A hearse.

With CALAMITYVILLE HORROR painted on the sides in white. Then we can just park up somewhere and sleep in the back. A ghost hunting team with their own camper hearse. You know this has to happen. Now if can we can just put some funds together…*dons balaclavas.* Be right back, we left our wallets in the bank… Calamityville Horror

The Ancient Ram Inn

The Ancient Ram InnLast night we stayed at what is the Mecca for ghost hunters – The Ancient Ram Inn. And we travelled there in style, in Calamityville Horror’s newest member’s camper van. Neen joined us on Calamityville’s Edinburgh adventure and has never left. And what was even better was her mum lent her a newer model of Sony Handycam with night vision. We spent two and a half series without night vision, and suddenly we have two cameras. We started off checking out St Mary’s church, which is apparently joined to the Ram via secret tunnels. We strutted in wearing our noisy cowboy boots, which echoed on the tiled floor. And found a group of children having choir practise. They all turned and stared. We explored the church trying to walk as quietly as possible but each footstep sounded like a gunshot. We left.

the Ancient Ram InnThe owner of the Ram, John, sadly has dementia so every time he saw us, he forgot who we were and why we there. Luckily, Neen’s uncle Rob has lived in Wootten-under-Edge for years and has even done several investigations at the Inn, so John remembered him. As we sat in the van, a loud THUD! hit the roof. We pulled the ladder down then Cat climbed onto the roof to check it out. There was nothing there. Then the motor for the camper step died. It has died before so this was just a coincidence.

We did a daylight walk through at 8 p.m. after visiting the pub. John told us not to come back sober 😀 But we did. The Ram is amazing. John’s a hoarder so the place was crammed with interesting objects and hasn’t been cleaned in probably over 30 years. The most dangerous thing in this place was the dust and the uneven stairs. It was built in 1145 on a 5000 year old pagan burial ground. In the bar area is an open grave where daggers and children’s bones were found.

The Ancient Ram Inn

the ancient grave in the bar

The University of Bristol has confirmed the age of the daggers, so it’s possible it was a ritualistic killing. As we passed through the curtains to the bar area, Cat’s head was swimming. It’s the same feeling you get when you put your arm into a fish tank full of water. Though we when we say that to people, they stare blankly at us. We can’t be the only ones who have done this. This feeling lasted until we left the Inn, but when we returned later, she didn’t have it. We attribute it to the dust, dim lighting and uneven floors.

After our uneventful walk through, we returned to the camper for food. John retired to bed, locked us out then forgot who we were. After Rob got him to open the door, we then left it on latch, otherwise we would have spent the night in the car park. Not exactly a glamorous haunted location. We returned inside at 10 p.m. There was no bulb in the light above the open grave so after we found a bulb lying around, Ryan climbed over a grate that blocked the area off and screwed the bulb in then we headed upstairs.

We set up base camp in the Bishop’s Room, which is reportedly the most haunted room in the Inn, with 5 ghosts plaguing it, including monks and a Cavalier. Yet we felt really comfortable here. It was our favourite room and the one where we felt most at home.

During a vigil in the Witch’s Room – so called because people have seen an old witch and her cat in there – we found a Ouija board on the table. Us and Ryan sat around it and asked questions but as usual, nothing came through, reinforcing our belief that Ouija boards are purely gimmicks. We moved up to the attic. The stairs are so bowed we could only go up one at a time.

The attic is rumoured to be haunted by William Crewe, a highwayman who hid there every time he returned to Wootten-under-Edge. On one occasion he received 300 lashes. Another time it was 200. He clearly doesn’t learn. He apparently robbed and killed an old woman and was executed in Gloucester in 1786. After we had been up there a while, the K2 meter started bleeping and the needle climbed to red. It bleeped faster so we did an EVP session. The K2 went silent so we played back the DVR.

We all heard a voice.

The Ancient Ram Inn

The Bishop’s Room

We replayed it. Rob thinks it said “I’ll kill her.” We need to put it on the laptop for proper analysis, but when we returned to the attic later in the night, the K2 was silent. Rob left at 12:45 a.m. so we all headed downstairs. The bulb above the grave was missing. It was on a barrel nearby so Ryan screwed it back in. The light switch was still in the on position. The bulb blew, shorting the electrics in the house. We found the fuse box and tripped the switch, which turned everything back on. We’re great at shorting electrics in Casa Raven. We suspect the bulb removing culprit was John, but he would have had to climb over the fire grate, and we have no idea why he would remove the bulb, rather than switch the light off, as the other light was left on. But we couldn’t ask him about it – he wouldn’t remember doing it even if he had. We stayed in the bar and did a vigil in the dark then we decided to split up for lone vigils. Neen and Ryan both wussed out so we headed upstairs with Neen’s night vision camera and Lynx’s Canon. Lynx stayed in the Witch’s Room with the Canon while Cat sat  in the Bishop’s Room with the Sony. The most frightening part wasn’t being alone in the dark in the two most haunted rooms but the drunks walking past our windows. The Inn is set lower than the road so the upper floors are level with the pavement, which is very unnerving. Evil ghost witches, murderous Highwaymen, Incubi and poltergeists while we’re sitting alone in the dark? Easy. Drunks passing outside our windows? Terrifying.

The Ancient Ram Inn

The Witch’s Room

Lynx heard footsteps clumping up and down the landing. She assumed it was Cat and called out to her. When she got no response, she went to the Bishop’s Room. And couldn’t open the door. The footsteps weren’t Cat – she was locked in. When Lynx finally opened the Bishop’s Room, Cat asked her if she’d been to the toilet, which was opposite the Bishop’s Room. Cat heard a door squeaking open. The only time Lynx left the Witch’s Room was to check where Cat was. We’ll have to play back the cameras to see what caused these noises. Downstairs in the bar, Neen and Ryan kept hearing footsteps walking around and assumed it was us pacing the rooms. It wasn’t.

We headed downstairs and regrouped. We set the JVC camcorder up as a static camera pointed at the light bulb to see if it was John who removed the bulb then headed to the barn. When the barn was partly excavated to build a new wall, posts found in the foundations were dated – they were 3000 years old. We returned upstairs and stayed in the Bishop’s Room for a while, eating cake and drinking Red Bull before asking questions using a crystal. Ryan didn’t get much response from the crystal. It behaved a bit better with Neen. As we were lounging in the Bishop’s Room in complete darkness, we decided to break out Ryan’s iOvilus, which is always good for a laugh. After sprouting a load of gibberish, at 1:26 a.m, three words came through in quick succession.

‘Demon. Hour. Run.’

The stairs in the Ram are way too dangerous to run down. It would have to better than that to scare us. Then something started flapping by Cat and Neen, landing on them then vanishing. The night vision  identified it as a butterfly. Knowing the butterfly would die if we left it, we captured it, put it in our empty food tub and went to every window to try and release it. None of the windows open. To get out of the Ram we’d have to pass John’s room, so we opened the tub slightly to give the butterfly enough air until we left.

So…all that happened in the demon hour was…the butterfly. We now suspect the butterfly to be the cause of all the paranormal and poltergeist activity. At 3 a.m., after an impromptu zumba session in the Witch’s Room (in keeping with our zumba moves in Edinburgh’s witches’ circle), we were all knackered and nothing else had happened for a long time, so we packed up and headed out to the camper. The bulb was still in above the grave. We released the butterfly and it flew off into the night. We fully expect all paranormal reports to now stop 😀 Then we can quote a line from The Simpsons. “It was the butterfly!”

We went to bed in the camper about 4 a.m. and weren’t attacked. We got up at 9 a.m., only to realise there was not an accessible toilet nearby and John was still asleep. There was only one way to save our kidneys – with a plastic cup. We then took more photos of the outside then returned home.

So our first solo overnight investigation started with what is considered the most haunted house in England and ended with peeing into a cup.

That’s how Calamityville rolls.

Calamityville Horror

World Goth Day

Soul Asylum C L RavenIn case you don’t know, today is World Goth Day! */* and time to appreciate all things dark and Gothic. What could be more Gothic than a haunted asylum? Soul Asylum has plenty of the Gothic elements – a spooky location, madness, ghosts, despair, etc, so to celebrate, Soul Asylum is FREE on Amazon until Friday. But in order to make it free on Amazon, we had to pull it off the other retailers. We weren’t happy about this, as it means people who don’t have Kindles would miss out. So we’ve decided that to keep things fair, anyone who doesn’t have a Kindle, let us know and we’ll email Soul Asylum to you in a different format.

BLURB –

The blood wanted to prick a conscience that couldn’t bleed.

Poe could keep his telltale heart.

I couldn’t hear it beating.

Ravens Retreat harbours a sinister secret. Inside its blackened heart lurk the ghosts of patients and staff who died when the asylum was burned down in 1904. Over a hundred years later, the West wing survives and now the patients want revenge.

Their eternal repose is disturbed by a malevolent poltergeist and the ghost tours led by the asylum’s resident, Phineas Soul, which attract the attention of journalist Mason Strider. His attempts to expose Phineas as a fraud have catastrophic consequences when it is Ravens Retreat’s dark heart that’s exposed as it awakens to claim the lives of those who dare to enter its brutal past.

Some things should never be disturbed.

If that hasn’t convinced you to download it, why not watch the trailer  Fireclaw Films made for us?

We have also created a newsletter where you’ll be the first to know of new releases and we’ll have some exclusive content in there. If you’d like sign up, click here. We promise we won’t spam you, or share your email with anyone else 🙂

If that’s not enough ghosts for you, L K Jay‘s fabulous novel, The Ghost Hunters Club will be free on Friday. We’d love to go ghost hunting with Anna, Karen and Linda, so download the book to find out why.