Thursday, July 23, 2009

What do I need for a ghosthunt - apart from the obvious?

I was bemoaning my lack of recent ghosthunts on Twitter and a fellow twitter pal Ghost_Chaser pointed out that all you needed for a ghosthunt was a camera and a recorder. That's true but you also need evidence of paranormal activity - at least in the last five years - and an open mind. Recent activity is a must, otherwise you find yourself camera in hand but nothing to record. You may find a few orbs, hear a few creaks but that's about it - which all adds up to a Saturday night that could have been spent more productively watching "All Star Mr and Mrs" or such like (or maybe not). The latest investigation from the Ghost Club is on the 1st of August and typically I have other plans. However the Club will be investigating a building for the very first time - now is that a good thing or a bad thing? Certainly you have the element of the unknown and this reduces the chances of investigation fatigue which I experienced after the 8th investigation at Ham House. When a haunted place becomes very familiar you can develop an unholy desire for more and more exciting activity - "I don't want that coin to move, I want a shower of coins to descend from the sky!" "I don't want a ghost dog - I want an army of Roundheads to march down the stairs!"etc etc. Which is not only unrealistic but also clouds your judgement. I guess the conclusion is - it doesn't matter how often a building has been investigated as long as its new to you and if there is something active to investigate then go ahead. Note to self - must do better on the investigation arranging....if you want to go somewhere decent then you have put in the time.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Ghost stories and pictures

Found a link on Youtube/facebook to one of my favourite ghoststories 'the Signalman' by Charles Dickens where a man is haunted by a figure who proves to be a herald of impending doom. Harbingers of death rank among the most terrifying ghosts you could ever wish not to meet. There is the banshees whose scream precedes the death of a family member and numerous other ghosts, who legend has it, should you seen them, will lead to your certain death. These include the grey lady of Bury St Edmunds and the black shuck a dog with eyes of fire who roams the fens of Norfolk. My favourite story is of a churchyard where once a year the ghosts of all those who will die in the next year pass though at midnight. Should you see yourself amongst the start choosing those hymns. It seems rather an unfortunate hazard of ghost hunting to think that one may be risking ones life and sometimes one's sanity in pursuit of the paranormal. However, to date the most dangerous ghost hunts Ive attended seem to involve the old bruise or scratch from a restless spirit. One girl I know did have her chair pulled away from under her but a sore bum seemed a minor price to pay for such an interesting development that certainly livened up the evening.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Variations on a ghostly theme

Giving recommendations to tweeters on Twitter on haunted places in London reminded me of some of the alternative ways ghosts make their appearance. Seeing a ghostly figure walking through a wall is not the only way you can experience a ghost!

Ham House was known for the smell of Roses - specifically Attar of Roses which was a rare flower. The smell was experienced by the Ghost Club on several occasions but unlike normal scents that gradually fade in intensity this seemed to almost 'switch off' one minute it was there next minute gone! What always surprised me most at Ham, were the objects that would appear and disappear as if by magic. One night we searched everywhere for a coin that was placed flat as a trigger object. Suddenly it reappeared sticking upright from between the floor boards. A dowsing rod also played the same trick. The largest object that moved around was a wheelchair (see picture above) that journeyed around a locked room late at night - very strange.

Sound is another way that an echo of the past can make itself evident. During my years of investigating I have heard an assortment of knocks and raps but most spectacular was the sound of footsteps thumping on the landing above in a haunted council house. I also heard a voice say "Do you want me?" in the Waterstone's bookshop in Guildford but was a trick of my hearing? I was impressed at the time. However as with a lot of ghostly phenomena trying to get this recorded can sometimes be problematic. Usually at the time of the ghostly noise the tape recorder will malfunction or the batteries will drain even if they were new at the start of the investigation. More evidence of ghostly sounds will hopefully be coming to light very shortly as the Society for Psychical Research has recently completed a study that shows that ghostly knocks and noises have a different soundwave pattern to those created by normal means. This may be some of the most exciting research to emerge on the paranormal for a very long time. Certainly ghostly noises are being taken seriously. I know a man who did his PHD on the phenomena of ghostly music earning himself the title of Para-musicologist. Sounds impressive to me!

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Can ghosts follow you home?

Had a strange experience walking through the park today - a couple of times I felt as if i was being followed but when I turned around no-one was there. In my time as a ghost hunter I have experienced this sense of being on several occasions including when walking through the tube after visiting the Legal and General Building by the London Wall. What I have sensed more strongly however is the feeling of being watched. The first time was when I was 17 and staying in my friend's house at Fornham St Martin. I was in the living room and had a strong feeling I was being watched and thought that her little brother or sister must be hiding behind the sofa playing a trick but no one was there. My friend said that the previous owner had committed suicide by jumping out of the top window and that her and her sisters had seen something in the landing. She has now moved away but certainly ghostly activity does seem to follow her. The second time was in a haunted council house where a young mother was terrorised by the figure of a man who late at night would appear in the corner of her bedroom and watch her. Although I saw no-one I felt that on the landing someone or something was watching my every movement.

Luckily there have been only two occasions where I felt something was in my house and when I told he or she to go away the feeling quickly past. Was this just my imagination? People say that ghosts can follow you home and can attach themselves to people or objects - hopefully I will never have to test this theory too closely.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Looking for Ghosts - the filming continues

With the horrors of swine flu now behind me (although still getting worried looks from colleagues back at work) I returned today in the midst of a heatwave of volcanic like proportions in the office. At least last night I could officially set foot outside of the house and while not allowed in the hospital until today I felt the open air would be pretty safe and I had certainly missed my freedom. The camera came out again and it was off to Seven Island ponds to record the story of the Phantom Cyclist which I detailed in an earlier blog. Certainly walking to Mitcham Common gave me a reminder of how lonely and mysterious the countryside could be and when I reached the spot, I felt the same strange mix of fear, excitement, and anticipation I feel when I visit a haunted house for an investigation. It was the middle of the evening and a group of teenagers were larking about in at the other end of the lake, so I made my way to other, more quieter end where a large group of canada geese were tending their young at the waters edge. On a warm balmy night it felt strange contemplating that in June exactly 40 years ago a small boy lost his life and drowned here and since then he has never rested in peace. To read a ghost story may produce a feeling of fear but to visit the spot where the ghost story took place brings with it more deeper emotions. With filming finished I walked back across the common and out again onto the bustling main road - time, as it must carries on.

To view my film visit YouTube

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Horrors in the haunted cottage

Another frustrating day stuck at home with suspected swine flu. Still plenty of time to reflect on plans for the paranormal and to watch old horror movies. Watched the boogieman last night - a right piece of horror hokum and yet as usual I had the cushion forming a comforting barrier between me and the TV and therefore the Boogieman. The boogieman came out of the closet (no not in that way) and dragged in whoever was cowering under the covers at the time usually children but the odd parent. Fear of the Boogieman taps into some very real primeval fears of being ambushed and killed by an enemy or large man-eater hiding in the bushes. It is a fear of the unknown and as a child I remember firmly shutting the wardrobe door so that I could go to sleep and my fear of the dark remains to this day. I remember one of the most frightening ghost hunts I went on involved spending the night in a haunted cottage in Levington near Ipswich. I spent a horrible night alternating between being violently ill and horribly scared, especially when some of the participants started doing a Ouija board and something came through purporting to be the devil. A sign was asked for but nothing happened and the board was abandoned and we all went upstairs. When we came down all the candles had blown out, although there was no obvious breeze. Sitting in the darkness later on I felt that at any moment something was about to touch me on the leg at which point I would have probably run from the cottage screaming. Another reason why I never do ouija boards on ghosthunts and don't take part when others do. Although we never got to the source of the Levington ghost it was not a place I would return to willingly and certainly not at night. As a postscript on the door of the cottage there was a knocker that resembled the head of a devil. The legend was whoever touched it would be dead in a week. My friend John was brave enough to test the theory and is still alive today but we later found that a few days later the village pub burnt down - bad luck or just coincidence....

Saturday, June 27, 2009

The Haunted Cyclist

Started the day researching a haunted ghost cat but the story I found was rather disappointing - a couple had found a skull of cat in their garden and brought it into the house. In the middle of the night and independently of each other they felt a cat walking across the bed but when they put the light on nothing could be found. Normally this would be a great story if it happened to me but I have one eye on capturing ghostly stories on film so this doesnt give me much scope. However then a much more exciting story emerged from a collection of stories on Mitcham. It concerned a pond called Seven Islands on Micham Common where the figure of a small boy was seen riding his bike into the pond in the 1970s. The witness saw him cycle into the pond but instead of submerging he carried on riding above the water. It was later found that a young boy had drowned there in 1939. A perfect story to pursue.

Llooking forward to attending the next Ghost Club meeting. The challenge will be how to bring a society that has been around since 1862 into the 21st century. I am amazed at how many paranormal networks have sprung up. I'm registered on Twitter and there seem to be literally hundreds all twittering away particularly in America. You can see some examples by looking at my followers and who I'm following at

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Ghost hunting gets rusty

Scanning through old photos I realised that's its now over a year since my last official ghost investigation. This took place at the Viaduct Tavern in London and during the course of the evening I took some interesting photos of 'orbs' and a strange shape emerged in one of the upstairs rooms which looked like a monster
a club to the middle right of the photo.
We spent a lot of time that night trying to get messages about with a planchette and pencil hoping that someone would write us a message. A former pub landlord allegedly came through who had an old horse but there was little in the way of convincing evidence and a lot in the way of tea drinking and the munching of biscuits. The full account of the investigation can be found on the Ghost Club website.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Do ghosts disappear when we hunt for them?

Catching up on my haunted blog. So far its taken me from Wimbledon, to Mitcham, to Highgate and I even found myself learning of the ghost of Maude Carew also known as the infamous Grey Lady of Bury St Edmunds. I've also visited two haunted pubs - the Flask (although no sign of a ghost picture behind the bar or a bullet) and the Gatehouse boasting a ghost that managed to put the owner of the pub in hospital!

As yet I have not directly experienced anything of the supernatural. The phantom chicken failed to appeared and I escaped the clutches of a haunted highwayman but I did feel frightened on Wimbledon Common and when darkness fell, walking up Hillside road felt rather eerie. Was this my imagination? Perhaps. Do ghosts disappear when we go and hunt for them? Let us see where my journey takes me next....

Friday, June 19, 2009

A Folly in Micham and a candlelit ghost

Delighted to find I have a haunted house right on my doorstep discovered in a publication on the ghosts of Micham - Mysterious Mitcham.

Situated near Phipps Bridge Tram Station, The Folly is a strange building, half house half flint tower almost like a tiny ruined castle. The Folly sit at the end of a row of tiny cottages, one of a collection of buildings owned by the National Trust at nearby Morden Hall Park. The author of the book recounts a tale he heard from a lady whose family lived there at the turn of the 20th century. On several occasions the family witness a figure climbing the stairs carrying a candle to light their way. Eventually the appearence of the apparition got too much for the family and they moved to another cottage nearby. The lady of the house was of gypsy origin so perhaps it was her 'second sight' that enabled her to see the ghost. I have as yet to find any more witnesses for the ghost and thought it best not to ask the current owner of the house in case they were unaware of the story. However when I took my photo this morning all seemed quiet.

Tonight more of the same heading up to North London for another instalement of one hundred haunted hours.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Haunted highwaymen on Wimbledon Common

After finding the haunted chicken resides in Highgate and is thus unlikely to be strutting her stuff down in Wandsworth I resort to plan B and head for Wimbledon. Walking past the pond and the fair that has set up nearby I make my way through the undergrowth to Wimbledon Common. It's about 8 o'clock and most of the joggers and dog walkers have now gone home. I can hear the distant hum of traffic and the eerie cry of crows like an echo of an Alfred Hitchcock movie. The common has a number of ghosts - the figure of a convict is seen running from and then disappearing into the bushes and the figure of a highwayman is seen on horseback. How many murders and robberies have taken place on this spot and how many have ended their careers hanging from the Gibbet that used to stand in olden times on Wimbledon Hill. It is not a place I wished to linger.

You can hear more about these stories in one hundred haunted hours - wimbledon common on YouTube

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Sources and a haunted chicken

I'm beginning to identify places to visit and ghosts to hunt. Sources for my search are coming from a few places but they include Walking Haunted London by Richard Jones, books by psychic research Andrew Green and remembrances of anecdotes past.

An internet search is revealing - well not much really. I've heard rumours that the Gala Bingo (once the old Granada Cinema) in Tooting Broadway is haunted but there is little on the internet to provide details. However the spirits are with me as I stumble on a book called Haunted Wandsworth by James Clark. Wandsworth is hardly famous for its gothic castles and cobwebed dungeons but I've had a whiff of a story about a ghost chicken and that has to be worth pursuing!!!

Monday, June 15, 2009

A Hundred Haunted Hours

So how to begin to engage with the parnormal while living a semi normal life? I still have to go to work and I have limited time, so how do I discover the unknown without opening myself up anything dubious? I have no interest in dabbling with the Occult in a magical sense only to the discover the stories and folklore and the echoes from history that we past by everyday. A plan seems to be to start with something simple. London is one of the most haunted capital in the world so for 100 days I will spend 100 haunted hours discovering these stories for myself.

Have travel card - will travel!

Sunday, June 14, 2009

A step into the unknown....

Of course every day starts off with a question. What will I do today? Who will I meet? What do you mean last night's encounter with Hugh Jackman was only a dream?!" That sort of a thing... But today I have found a new area to explore. Could I reconnect with a side of myself I had shut off for so long? Had hidden deliberately to let 'normal' life play out, safe and familiar, like a Richard Curtis movie rather than say, Resident Evil. The latter is perhaps a little extreme. The other side emerging would be more at home in an M.R James novel. A wander through a churchyard in Suffolk where something almost invisible suddenly catches your eye, the scent of a rare perfume, the sound of footsteps on a deserted path that leads you...who can tell. These are the things that interest me and I will explore them again in my notes from beyond.....