Saturday, 30 May 2009

What Do You See?


On Friday the 19th of October, 2007, West Midlands Ghost Club members had the great fortune to be able to - inedependent of any other groups and commercial concerns - investigate the magnificent fortress of Warwick Castle in Warwickshire. Accompanying group members for the first part of our visit was Radio WM DJ, Danny Kelly and three BBC staff members....

The investigation itself incorporated three separate sections of the castle which are allegedly associated with numerous reports of paranormal activity: the Barbican, the Dungeon and the Fulke Greville Tower (popularly dubbed 'The Ghost Tower').

During the early hours of the morning, group members were being interviewed by Danny, for a forthcoming radio broadcast, at the base of the Fulke Greville Tower. While the session was being recorded, one of the W.M.G.C. members had busied theselves taking photographs of the proceedings.....

One of the resulting photographs - shown above - caught the attention of Danny following the investigation and was mentioned to some length on a number of his shows...... W.M.G.C. members stressed that the image involved was certainly not 'of a paranormal nature' and almost certainly a by-product of close proximity contamination. In this particular instance, the effect shown is most likely the breath of the photographer - or a nearby group member - being picked out and illuminated by the camera flash.

However, despite our protestations and due to the media coverage on the shot, the picture - dubbed the 'Hoodie Ghost' by Mr. Kelly (Laugh!!) - ended up being sent (emailed by BBC Radio WM) to about 40 different destinations around the world!!!

Unfortunately, the bulk of alleged 'paranormal images' that are seen today fall into the above sort of category - i.e. an easily explained effect of camera technology and external factors. The best example of this sort of anomal is the (so called) 'Orb'.... nothing more than a simple digi camera / C.P.C. 'glitch' which has now been invested with paranormal significance.....

While the key problem with this sort of photograph lies in the technology (being used) itself, the main 'complication' with such things - from a research point of view - definitely originates within the psyche of people becoming exposed to such imagery. To part-plagiarise something written by a W.M.G.C. member on the subject of orbs: "At a core level, the acceptance of the Orb (as an aspect of ghostly phenomenon) is undoubtedly rooted in societys current ‘quick fix’ attitude to most matters. Interest in the paranormal has never been so strong and, as with any topic that attracts the attention of the masses, there invariably follows an overwhelming need to immediately ‘experience’ a subject first hand. For many, the quirks of camera technology provides the opportunity to fulfil this requirement without question or too much effort, no matter the end cost to the field concerned".

Within the past week and a half of writing this post, the W.M.G.C. have been contacted by three separate sources offering photographs showing circular / orb-like anomalies. After first explaining what such things usually amount to, we have - in all instances - offered to still take a look at the shots concerned in an endeavour to try to be sure of the type of phenomenon being depicted. In all instances, after our explanation - and despite promises of the sources mailing the shots concerned - none have surfaces in our inbox.

The optimist in us 'would like to think' that our explanation was just possibly enough to put the sources minds at ease and the pictures were not sent because it was now realised that they were probably non-paranormal in nature. The pessimistic side of us pretty much 'knows' that the sources concerned probably continued to contact ghost related groups until they found what they were looking for in an association who also believed that orbs were somehow ghostly in nature......

Regards to all,

The W.M.G.C.

Tuesday, 26 May 2009

Capers At The Mansion!!!


The following notes are included here as a matter of interest to all of those people who say that the W.M.G.C. never seem to experience anything of interest - let alone anything of a potentially paranormal nature - on their investigations!! Laugh!!! Of course, we're not saying that any of the following information amounts to a hill-o-beans when it comes to possible ghostly happenings.... but the site concerned stands as one of the more 'productive' - and certainly 'impressive' - places that we've come to visit in some 20 years of investigation and the resulting data can almost certainly be referred to as 'of passing interest'.....

Given the nature of the area being covered on the investigations concerned - an allegedly haunted, ruined mansion house and a nearby (equally haunted) graveyard - a ‘casual’ approach to the site was adopted by group members during our visits. Due to the fact that the main building itself was in a most terrible state of decay, it was deemed unsafe for group members to actually try and enter the structure. Instead, general patrols of the region concerned were undertaken, as well as static observation periods and recording sessions.

Historically speaking, the ruined property itself was built in the 14th Century as a moated manor house and, in it's time, had passed through the hands of a number of influential and well known figures. Ghost-wise, the site is allegedly walked by the shade of a former - now 'headless' - owner! The nearby church was also built in the 14th Century and is said to be haunted by a friendly, phantom monk....

On our very first visit to the area, the group began by walking around the perimeter of the mansion moat. Having almost completed our tour, a club member happened to look up at one of the windows of the property and saw, what he initially took to be, half of a pure white ‘head / face’ disappearing behind one side of a window frame. It appeared as if someone had just been taking a quick look at the group and speedily withdrew their head when they'd been spotted. Somewhat perplexed, the member was about to say something to his companions when, through a nearby window on the same floor, a large(ish) bird, possibly a pigeon or dove, took off in the same direction that the ‘shape’ had appeared to dart. From this, he immediately presumed that the head / face he had seen was actually just a bird… Having mentioned this to his companions, he was asked if he was sure it had been the bird, and he had to admit that – although likely – the fleeting glimpse seen was not bird-like in any way, but more oval and, as mentioned, approaching pure white in colour(?)

We re-entered the churchyard and Steve Chew placed his camera on a tomb lid, facing towards the Castle ruins. Frazer Smith had taken a seat some 40 or so yards away (on a bench) and was generally looking in the direction of the other members. While he is sitting, he begins aiming questions at the air around him – specifically mentioning one of the historical figures said to haunt the locality. As the group re-join him, he reports having just seen a ‘bright light’ appear some 18 inches from his face – slightly to the left of his head, but at eye level – which seemed to shoot off quickly, out of sight, to his left. The light itself was 18 to 24 inches in length and 2.5 to 3” thick, tapering off to a point at both ends. (This happened approx. 10.18 p.m.) It was seen clearly and was brilliant white in colour.

As we sit discussing the matter on the bench, Steve sees a greyish ‘arc of light’ just in front of us and slightly to our left. (Around 5 feet from the group and fairly close to the ground).

A short while later, Frazer reports seeing a ball of light – about the size of a melon – with a surrounding glow about it. This was spotted among some trees near the churchyard / Castle gate, not far from Steve’s (still recording) video camera. Frazer offers to show us where the light was and, as we begin walking towards the spot, a quick moving, hazy, semi-circle of light - travelling both under the trees and then to the left of them - is spotted. It is suggested by one member that the presence of passing cars on the road a few hundred yards behind the spot is the cause for this, but Frazer says that the light he saw couldn’t be accounted for in this way. Investigation at the spot in question reveals that a certain amount of light activity in this region is being generated by traffic passing along a section of road about a mile or so distant. (Note* Having said this – the fuzzy, moving, light effect generated by the traffic mentioned does not sound at all akin to the ‘round’ and ‘static’ light seen by Frazer. Therefore – also trusting Frazers observational skills – it is in no way stating that the obvious traffic ‘effect’ was alsothe cause of his ‘anomaly’. The ‘passing car effect’ was spotted by all present, sporadically throughout the visit, but the light which Frazer reported only occurred once).

The group move to the small pathway leading from the churchyard to the Castle and Steve reports having just seen a round, ball of light, approx. half the size of a human head, situated in the tree’s to the right of the Castle moat bridge.

Standing on the path, talking amongst ourselves casually, Steve suddenly lets out an almighty, startled cry – scaring the life out of the assembly, who were facing in the opposite direction at the time!

Following a query as to what had happened, Steve reports having turned slightly to look over his left shoulder – whereupon he instantly spotted a ‘figure’ standing immediately behind him!! He subsequently describes what he saw as taller than Frazer (in excess of 6 feet) and grey in colour. Only having a fleeting glimpse, he could say little more, save for the fact that there was something like a long, ‘cloak’ effect to the form and that it was standing completely still.

While Steve is still recovering – and in the period when endeavouring to explain what he had seen - Frazer clearly appears mildly agitated about something……

Interestingly, it turns out that - just prior to the sighting - Frazer clearly heard a brief, rustling sound. He described it as ‘akin to the sort of noise made by flapping fabric’, which was seemingly originating from directly behind Steve. This occurred at 11.25 p.m.

Frazer suddenly says out loud: “If that was you with us there – please come back………”

Steve instantly reacts again and – most unlike him - appears to try and flee the area in which we are standing! It transpires that, as Frazer delivered his question, Steve saw a figure situated some 8 or so feet away, apparently moving quickly towards the group……… I happen to be looking in the direction of the church / Castle gate at this exact time, but see nothing at all.

Steve is all too evidently shaken by the encounter for some while after. A description of the figure is given as: appearing to have some form of diamond / net type pattern to it’s clothing and most probably female. It appeared to be wearing something akin to a ‘Dracula-esque’ collar – i.e. the collar wings sticking out – and it had straight shoulders… Steve gets a feeling of the ‘Tudor’ period associated with the form. Because of this, it is suggested that the previously mentioned patternation of the clothing might have been reminiscent of the padded, diamond designs that you frequently see associated with the period. However, Steve says the effect wasn’t padded, but more like ‘engraved’… To illustrate his experience, Steve sketched what he had seen. (Image shown at top of this post).

In comparing both of the figures recently witnessed, Steve states that he believes they were not the same form. The 2nd figure appeared smaller than the 1st and the 1st lacked the detail that the 2nd had shown. He now laments the fact that he hadn’t tried to view the 2nd figure for longer, instead of attempting to escape it! (Laugh!!)

Of considerable interest is the peculiar fact that Steve says he couldn’t see the head of the 2nd figure? (Note* In this, he is not stating that the form was necessarily headless, but, in the brief time that he saw it, he didn’t actually ‘notice’ a head - i.e. as with some form of 'partial apparition'). Of passing interest is the fact that such details evidently fit in with some of the historic figures directly associated with the site......

Despite the comparative brevity of our inital investigation of the mansion / churchyard site – in opposition to our usual ‘all-nighter’ vigils at that point in time – the site in question certainly appears to have furnished the group with a host of potentially paranormal occurrences.

Of considerable note, when looking back at the above visit, was the simple fact that a few of the events (potentially) encountered were of such ‘impact’ as to catch certain group members off guard and, doubtlessly, led to reactions not normally associated with these members. Needless to mention, Steve – while being prone to ghostly experiences at times – is certainly not a person one would never, ever regard as ‘jumpy’ or ‘flighty’ in a potentially paranormal situation. One can only conclude, from some of his reactions during the visit, that the events experienced were of such magnitude as to throw him totally off kilter..... Also, given the alleged, ghostly history associated with the site, a number of the experiences shared by the group during the visit would certainly seem to have had possible connections with the region and its history / folk-lore(?)

This groups second visit to this site, took place in late May 2006.

At approx. 11.20 pm, group member were carrying out a general 'patrol' of the curchyard site. Kevin Wallace was walking thorough the graves on the mansion side of the cemetery – towards the tower end of the building – when he felt (what he describes as) a ‘vibration’ in his left ear and the feeling that someone was standing close to him. He admits that he did jump slightly and instantly checked... but there was no one present. He reports having 'felt strange' for some minutes afterwards.

At 11.45 pm, while standing with John Conway and Julie Badger, relating the above mentioned incident, the three saw a light seemingly moving through the kissing gate trees from (Mansion) left to right (behind the church). Kev reported that it looked like a torch, while John says it appeared to be like a car. The same light was seen again a little later and it does appear to have been the by-product of car headlights.

Moments later, Kev happened to take a head count of the group – shining his torch on the figures for illumination - while standing on the grassy portion of the house side of the graveyard. (Just roughly in front of an ancient, stone head carving situated on the church wall). In his words:

“We turned around and I shone the light at the tree with the bench and I could see 2 people there. I said to Conna and Julie, ‘there’s two’, I then shone my torch towards the newer graves in the corner of the yard where I thought Clare had gone and I saw another two people (Claire Chew and another). I said to Conna and Julie, ‘there’s the other two’.

Conna then said, well that’s everyone accounted for.

It took me about 20 seconds to say: "Hang on - that makes 7 people and there are only 6 of us here".

It would appear that Clare had been at the newer graves by herself, and whatever I had seen had just registered as another person right close to her.

All I had been doing was a headcount to see if the lights in the tree was one of the group”.

Unfortunately, as Kev had only been taking a cursory glance around the group, he did not note any real detail about the ‘extra’ figure, except for the fact that it was dark in appearance. (In opposition to Claire C. who was wearing a light coloured jacket).

Despite the fact that the group have made a further handful of visits to the region concerned, nothing else of any real passing interest has occurred. Well - not in a paranormal sense, that is...... Ahem......

During our last visit to the site, 3 of our group members (who shall remain nameless) were conducting a walk along one side of the mansion ruins, when they happened to arouse the interest of a sizeable herd of cattle! The resulting 'chase' was worthy of any 'You've Been Framed' style show, resplendent with flailing limbs, flying equipment and epic dives to safety under an electric fence!! Laugh!! For the duration of the visit afterwards, our bovine 'friends' certainly kept a watchful eye on the attending ghost hunters!! Laugh!!

A most disturbing and macabre aspect of this visit was our exposure to a grisly and bizarre country pastime.....: ‘Mole Hanging’!! Despite the somewhat humourous title, this barbaric practice consists of displaying the corpses of deceased moles – usually suspended from barbed wire by their noses – as a means to display the prowess of the mole catcher involved.....!!!

An array of photographs from our visits to this fascinating site are hosted at this 'LINK'.

Monday, 25 May 2009

Staffordshire 'Ghost Writer'..... Strikes Again!!!


Successful Rugeley author, Carol Arnall, admits that she has been interested in the paranormal since childhood. Her first ghostly experience - a run-in with the apparition of a young girl - occurred at the age of 10, while living in Northfield in Birmingham. In her younger days, she visited a psychic fair in the city centre and loved nothing more than to immerse herself in books about the supernatural. "I like real things and to me ghosts are real," she tells us. "It's just another universe.... we just need a key. You don't have to die first to be able to see it or acknowledge it...."

Some time later on and Carols daughter persuaded her to visit a clairvoyant. Greatly intrigued by the positive result that she received during the sitting, Carol found herself fascinated by the subject and, as a result, was determined to learn more. She began to practice with the Tarot and admits that she found it relatively easy: "Within six months of teaching myself, I started giving readings. Some of the people I saw said some of the things I told them came true...."

Within her success, she readily admits that her motivation was not - and never had been - fiscal. Her drive revolved solely around learning more on the subject and helping people.

By this point in time - outside of her paranormal related interests - Carol had set up a thriving business with her daughter in her home town of Rugeley. However, a serious road accident in 1987 left her with lasting injuries which, sadly, led to the decline of her work venture. Typically, Carol remained progressively minded about matters. "You have to focus" she says. "You have to be positive - and decide either to sink or swim. I decided I was going to swim... and this was an ideal opportunity for me to do something different".

It was now that she decided to turn her hand to writing and, given her life-long interest in the paranormal, finding suitable subject matter for the bulk of her literary projects was never really much of a question. "I'd started collecting ghost stories in the mid-80's", she explains."When people visited me for their card readings, they would tell me of their paranormal experiences ... and I'd make little notes about it". Not long after her accident, Carol wrote an article on ghosts for a magazine in Ireland and it's acceptance and subsequent publication was just the spur she needed on the road to a hobby of researching and writing-up accounts of supernatural events.

In just over the space of 20 years, Carol has written some 11 books, as well as numerous articles for different magazines and periodicals. The bulk of her paranormal related writing has, to her credit, stayed firmly within the Midlands area... and, in particular, her home county. Her popular booklets, 'Mystical Staffordshire', 'Haunted Staffordshire', 'Staffordshire Hauntings', 'Ghostly Staffordshire', 'Mysterious Occurrences' and 'Eerie Happenings' are collections of true life paranormal encounters and experiences which Carol has collected over the years. In 2005, a further hefty volume called 'Mystical Happenings' - a fusion of all of the aforementioned titles - was released.

Other titles released by Carol include 'Dream World' (a book on dream interpretation) and the non-paranormal related 'Memories of Rugeley' and 'Brummagem Girls'. Her most recent book, a fictional work entitled 'Dancing With Spirits' (in which the W.M.G.C. are featured!) has just been released within recent weeks. Never one for sitting back and letting the grass grow under her feet, Carol tells us that the follow up novel 'Spirits of the Lights' is planned for the end of this year..... A further ghost related publication 'Out Of Step' is currently in the planning stages.

Any visitors wishing to check out Carols work are advised to click on the following links (But please contact her directly at the email address at the end of this post for queries about book / booklet availability, etc):

http://www.carolarnall.co.uk/

Alternatively, Carol is always on the lookout for material for future publications and would love to hear from anyone who would like to share their stories and experiences with her. All mail should be sent directly to: cas.arnall@ntlworld.com

Here's to the next 20 years Carol!!!!

Regards,

The West Midlands Ghost Club

Thursday, 21 May 2009

Haunted Darlaston Chapel.... or potential Time Slip?


Details of ‘peculiar happenings’ at a particular Darlaston chapel was brought to the attention of the West Midlands Ghost Club, via their online, internet forum. The tale concerned struck us as so intriguing, one of our members wrote the piece up for inclusion on the Bugle newspaper. An edited version of the story appears below:

Sadly, the building involved in this story is long gone and a number of relatively modern buildings now stand in its place. As a matter of interest, alleged ghostly activity has been reported in some of the properties adjoining the site concerned; though, it has to be speculated that the actual ‘mechanics’ of the following tale may well fall into a different paranormal category to that of ‘spooks and spirits’? The more analytical and probing mind might possibly suggest an event somewhere along the lines of a time-slip style scenario….?

Whatever the foundations for such an intriguing encounter, its principal witness has kindly given me permission to share his story with you here.

To briefly set the scene, our confidante – John - tells us that he and some young friends formed a band in the late 1960’s and, being too loud to continue practicing in the front room of his family home, alternative arrangements were duly sought! After some, considerable searching, the friends stumbled upon an old chapel, which – despite being in a bad state of repair – hired out rooms very cheaply……

After rehearsing at the site for a few weeks, the group officially hired the room which meant that they were given keys to the building and allowed unrestricted access until around 8 p.m., when the building had to be cleared for the night.

It had been wintertime – John doesn’t remember the month exactly - but it was very cold and already dark by 8 o’clock. Johns band had been the only people in the building on the evening in question and, as their rehearsal had gone well, the other group members had already gone home, leaving John and their ‘roadie’, Alan P, to lock up.

While Alan busied himself putting away equipment, John found himself having to answer a ‘call of nature’. He left the practice room and went along a corridor - past a number of other, little locked up rooms - to the back of the chapel hall and through a door into the main, church area. Behind the altar was a door leading into a couple of rooms that appeared to be some form of vestry area and, leading off these, was the toilet.

Whilst going about his ablutions, John says that he suddenly felt very strange. He cannot say exactly what it was, but he wasn’t at all happy and didn’t like the sensation one bit! He opened the toilet door and was shocked to find that the vestry-type room now both looked and smelled quite different: it appeared polished and clean…? There was now a vase of flowers situated on a large desk that he hadn’t seen previously and, hanging on a peg, were the vestments of a priest……

John suddenly found himself very scared – more scared than he had ever been previously and has possibly been ever since! Fleeing the room, he opened the door into to the main church area and was instantly stunned to find that the room was now, seemingly ‘packed out’ with people; not ghost-like, but solid, real people!

In his terror, a huge feeling of intense pressure filling his head, John only managed to look at the assembled rows for a split-second before (as he describes) ‘taking off like a rocket!’ As a consequence, he cannot say much about the physical appearance of the ‘congregation’, save for the fact that he had an impression of ‘antique finery’ from an earlier age…..?

Perhaps the most disturbing aspect of this, wholly surreal, scene was the fact that - while the crowd were evidently in the process of singing and having a good time - he didn’t hear one single sound throughout the duration of this experience! The best comparison that John could think of to explain such an effect is to: “turn off the sound during ‘Songs Of Praise’ and you can still tell when they are in the middle of a hymn… and those I saw were really belting it out!”

In panic, he fled across the front of the altar and out through the door, back into the corridor. The assembly had given no indication of being aware of his presence and no one had made to followed him…. “Bloody Hell - what a horrible thought that would have been!!” He says!

As he ran through the building, he couldn’t help but notice that all of the familiar, little locked rooms and boarded windows had now gone…. The place now appeared bigger and a smell of fresh paint filled his nose! His flight could only have taken a matter of mere seconds - but it felt like hours….

On entering the practice room Alan was nowhere to be seen, so John ended up continuing out of the front door of the building and into the street. With some relief, he found that his friend was already outside the chapel, waiting for him on the pavement nearby. They both ran, like the wind, away from the building… and it was only after they had time to calm down and compare experiences that John learned his friends portion of their uncanny tale.

It transpired that, while John had heard absolutely nothing throughout his encounter, Alan had experienced the exact opposite! He had physically seen nothing at all, while clearly hearing the sound of an organ playing in the building, together with the noise of people singing and moving around the main church area! He had actually ventured out of the practice room to investigate, but had become too scared and had run from the building only a few seconds before John!

The group only ever visited the chapel once more – and then in bright daylight, with Johns father for company. The latter had been told that his presence was needed for the sake of transporting equipment in his car, but John readily admits that this clearly wasn’t ‘just’ the reason. The band quickly collected all of their belongings and left….

Almost 40 years have passed since this mind-boggling encounter, though John says that, until this point, he has never mentioned his experience to another person. In relating the above story to our forum members, He admits that: “I know there are loads of you brave folks who can wonder round old places looking for this kind of thing, but I never expected it at the time and I am still scared to death at this kind of stuff!”

Best wishes,

West Mids Ghost Club

The Haunting of the Blue Ball Inn...

The following article, written by a W.M.G.C. member, appeared in the Bugle newspaper in November 2007.

They say that every pub has its ghosts…. but, if the stories are to be believed, it would seem that the Blue Ball Inn - which used to stand on the outskirts of Oldbury - had certainly experienced more that it’s fair share of activity over the years…….

When the Foster family took over the pub in 1966, they were warned that the property already had a considerable ‘spooky’ reputation. Little notice was taken of such rumours until their daughter Glynis, a science student at Keele University, was working in the bar one night and happened to notice the face of a very old man staring at her through the glass panel of a door. This incident occurred at 10.30 pm, when the pub had already been emptied of most of its patrons and locked up for the night.

Presuming it to be a customer who had arrived just too late to catch ‘last orders’, the girl went out to tell the man that they were now closed. However, upon opening the door, she discovered that he had mysteriously vanished from sight. Puzzled, she returned to her glass washing duties – only to look up moments later and find the old man staring at her through the glass pane once again!

Her mother Alice was then called into the bar and she too saw the face. Endeavouring to discover whether the effect might be some form of ‘optical illusion’, the pair carried out a number of experiments to ascertain whether the peculiar vision might well have been created by some form of environmental factor. Various lights were subsequently switched on and off, bottles moved around and so on, but – no matter what they did – the eerie face remained. Two customers, still present in another part of the building, were duly called. One of the men went to investigate, but, as with the landlord daughter, found no sign of anyone outside the building. Upon re-entering the pub – there was the face, still staring through the window! This experience supposedly proved too much for the customer and he instantly fled the building and sped off into the night…..!

In all, the face is said to have appeared at the window for some four nights in total and was seen by no less than nine people. All signed statements, agreeing that the features they’d seen were those of an old man with a beard; a small enough detail, but one that has cropped up in descriptions of the resident ghost over the space of some decades and numerous, frequently unrelated witnesses.

According to research conducted on the area by Foster family members, a coaching inn had once stood on the site, dating back at least 200 years. Local legend seemingly has a number of worthy contenders for the identity of the Blue Ball ghost. Among them is one William Parker, a servant of the Turton family of Brades Hall. It is said that he was making his way home one night after a visit to the Inn, when he was crushed to death by a collapsing chimney! Other suggestions include an old regular who was murdered in the pub during the Victorian era, or possibly another customer who had died of natural causes and ‘subsequently’ returned to visit his favourite watering hole! Whoever the ghost might have been, he was invariably described as a ‘friendly’ soul…

During the 1970’s and into the 80’s, the Fosters continued to experience peculiar happenings at the pub. The bearded figure, wearing a tweed jacket and muffler, was spotted around the property; lights were seen swinging and switching on and off of their own volition and the telephone tampered with.

One of the more startling incidents once again involved their daughter. While she was readying herself for bed one night, she happened to notice that her pet dog was cowering in the corner of her bedroom and seemingly watching something. Upon turning to see what was disturbing the animal, she says that she found herself confronted by a ‘fairly large, blue apparition’….. Perhaps not unsurprisingly, her immediate reaction was to dive into bed and hide, shivering with fear, under the covers. The encounter came to an end when her mother called to her, enquiring what she was doing walking around on the landing? In fact, no one had been on the landing during this period; though reports of ‘inexplicable footsteps’ were certainly not an uncommon feature of the Blue Ball haunting…..

After the aforementioned incident, a cold, unnerving atmosphere remained in Glynis’ bedroom, eventually forcing her to move to another part of the property. The family dog also refused to ever enter the room again. Some reports outlining the Fosters experiences claim that the family were so perturbed by the ghostly happenings that they were forced to stop using the entire first floor of the property.

Sadly, the Blue Ball Inn has long since shared the same fate as many other Black Country hostelries and fallen to the might of the bulldozer….. A recent visit to the area in which the pub formerly stood reveals that a commercial premises – which sells garden sheds - now stands on the site.

But what of the ghost now, we wonder?

Regards,

West Midlands Ghost Club

Sunday, 17 May 2009

Roman Soldier Sightings?


Throughout May 2007, the letters page of the 'Tamworth Herald' newspaper published a number of correspondence outlining potential sightings of 'ghostly Roman soldiers' around the Ashby Road area of the town.

Of 10 letters sent in over this relatively brief period, 5 were alleged witness accounts, involving 9 different people. The remaining 5 letters were from parties interested in commenting on the events concerned, including messages from W.M.G.C. friends, Carol Arnall and Colin Gooch. Just over half way through this rash of correspondence, an article on the subject was published by a Herald reporter.

For the sake of brevity - in this first post dedicated to this subject - only the notes involving the alleged 'sightings' themselves are reproduced below. (Individually numbered, in the order that they were published within the 10 letters).

Letter 1: 10th May 2007

Last Monday evening (April 30), I was driving along New Road (between Newton Regis and the B5493) when I was amazed to see a man dressed in the attire of a Roman soldier walk in front of the path of my car, some 20 yards ahead. As I slowed to drive around him, feeling exasperated, I noticed a group of people dressed in similar Roman uniforms standing on the edge of the road. One of them must have been holding an industrial strength torch as I was aware of a very bright light which dazzled me. However, I did manage to get a clear look at the group; some of them were even made up to look bloodied as if they had been in battle. Are any readers aware of a stag party or Roman pageant or historical film production that was taking place in the area last Monday? Did any other readers see this group? The uniforms looked very authentic and this would solve this mystery for me. I am a professional woman and a rational human being, but am annoyed at the fact that I drove off with a sense of fear after the incident.

Elaine Edwards, Mile Oak. (Via email).


Letter 3: 17th May 2007

Mrs Edwards, whose letter appeared in the Herald, May 10, is not the only person seeing Roman soldiers around here. Ironically, my seven-year-old daughter has been telling me for weeks that one of the men from Ben Hur has been appearing in the field across from us. When I asked her to draw what the man looked like, she instead produced a picture of a Roman soldier in his armour. I thought this was the over-active imagination of a seven-year-old. Then, two weeks ago, my two teenage sons, who were returning from the pub, said they had been chased by men in armour who had 'emerged from the mist' as they put it. We all laughed it off as a combination of alchohol and the dark. I don't know if my family and Mrs Edwards have been merely witnessing film extras in action, but I thought it was a strange coincidence of experiences.

Jean Hocker, Austrey

Letter 4: 17th May 2007

I am writing in response to Elaine Edwards' letter in last week's Herald concerning the men in historic military uniform that she saw near the Ashby Road a week last Monday. You are not imagining things Elaine! My son and I saw them too as I was taking him for an evening drive near Shuttington on the evening of april 30. The party were emerging from the top of New Road onto the Ashby Road. Yes, they were dressed as Roman soldiers and yes, there was a flood-light or some light source on them from the adjacent field. Although the whole thing looked very bizarre, I didn't pay it too much thought. My son thought it was a stag party, but I felt the uniforms were far too elaborate and expensive looking. They were dirtied and bruised exactly how Mrs Edwards described them. I feel it must have been part of a TV production although the group's complete indifference to the pasing traffic surprised both my son and myself.

Chris Ball, Wigginton. (Via email)

Letter 5: 17th May 2007

In response to your question, 'Did I really see Roman soldiers?' I would say 'Yes, Elaine Edwards, you did'. I was heading along Ashby Road on the date you mentioned and saw the same party of men dressed as Romans marching up the New Road. I got off my bike to watch them as I presumed someone was making a film as New Road had been floodlit. What surprised me was the fact there were no road blocks as the group were dominating the road and it would have been difficult for any passing trafffic to have driven by. I felt awkward because I was sure I had wondered on to a film set and didn't wait for them to reach me before riding off. Why weren't we told a film about the Romans was being made right on our doorstep?

Mark Griffin, Leyfields

Letter 7: 7th June 2007

Whilst reading the Herald online, I came across recent letters concerning sightings of Roman soldiers in the Ashby Road area. In Response to J Caesar's warning about his little incident of UFOs, black panthers and mystery Roman soldiers. At the end of April 1999, I was working in Ashby and living in Tamworth, where I had been born in 1972. One evening, about 6pm, I was coming home down the Ashby Road, approaching Seckington at the end of the very long straight. I caught up with a lorry (from one of Tamworth's top firms and normally very well-driven trucks) which was trundling along about 30mph. Once over the crossroads at the top of the hill I could see down the other side and saw it was safe to overtake, but for a guy part way down the hill on the left verge, who I thought was standing in some light from somewhere. I started to overtake, at which point the lorry lurched violently towards me, nearly hitting me off to the right. Once I was past, the driver flashed his lights manically and stopped. 'No way Jo' I thought (assuming he wanted words) and went into Tamworth, down to his works and made a formal complaint that he'd tried to run me off the road for no reason. His boss got back to me some days later saying you won't believe the story, but I have got to say my driver is adamant. The driver said there was a guy on the left verge who he was looking at because he'd got his back to the truck and was right on the edge. There was a light on him from somewhere so he thought it was someone being photographed. As he got nearer to the guy, he turned and he was dressed in fancy dress like a Roman, held up his hand and stepped out in his path. He'd swerved, trying to avoid me and him, but hit the guy in the road. There was no noise, no bang. So he stopped (when I had thought he wanted words). The guy was gone... there was no damage to the truck... no blood... none on the verge or thrown into the field. So reading the Romans letters made my blood run a tad cold! I hope it helps flesh out the bones a bit.

Simon. (Details supplied).

So - what could have possibly been going on in this relatively small area on the outskirts of Tamworth town? Are we to truly believe that there was indeed a rash of separate experiences with ghostly, ancient soldiers in this tiny region... a glut of which just happened to occur on the night of April 30th, 2007?

At face value, what we would seem to be looking at in the case of the above information is something fairly 'unique' in this day and age , i.e.: Some 9 witnesses apparently coming across pretty much the same phenomenon - definite, corresponding motifs, etc - in the same, small area, (with the bulk of which occuring) over a small period of time. In truth, such detail transcends the usual standards of a potential haunting - again, with the corresponding, seemingly accurate details proferred, pure volume of witnesses, etc - and would seem to exceed 99.9% of cases with it's sheer, overall intensity....

Perhaps just a little too good to be true, however? In our next post dedicated to this particular subject, we mention some of the interesting thoughts and queries raised by the correspondence themselves and ask the question: Tamworth Roman ghosts: a case of 'haunting evidence' or 'simple fraud'?

Regards,

West Mids Ghost Club

Manor House Experiences - Part 4.


A short post this one, but intriguing non-the-less.....

The photograph shown above was taken by W.M.G.C. member, Steve Chew, during an overnight investigation of the Manor House. It was taken in the Chapel area of the building, looking back down the room concerned in the opposite direction to that shown in the perplexing footage covered by our last blog entry. The video camera involved with the aforementioned recording was - at the time of filming - situated to the immediate right of the (open) doorway shown in the left hand side of the picture. Through the doorway, you can see the top-most part of the rickety stairway 'heard' creaking on the film.

Obviously, the layout of the furniture shown in the room had changed, with the large, covered table seen in the foreground of the photograph being absent during the taking of the video footage. The Chapel area itself was frequently used for different functions at times - i.e. W.M.G.C. meetings, etc - and the room shown in the image above was laid out for a seminar-style event. In the middle-ground of the picture - left hand side of shot - is investigator, Kevin Wallace, with (just going out of view, on the far right) the arm of Frazer Smith.....

Upon first seeing the image concerned, group members were mystified to see the 'transparent figure' shape, seemingly standing in front of the whiteboard in the right hand side of the picture(?) Could this actually be some form of paranormal effect - a ghostly extra, perhaps - or possibly just a by-product of the camera technology itself? We would love to hear your comments on this matter........

Regards to all,

The W.M.G.C.

Friday, 8 May 2009

Manor House Experiences - Part 3.

The video shown on the following link was obtained during our very first overnight investigation at the Manor House in May 2004.

http://westmidlandsghostclub.myphotoalbum.com/view_album.php?set_albumName=album67

A video camera had been set up at the stairs end of the 1st floor, chapel / solar room, facing down towards the glass partition wall that overlooks the chapel itself. The recording session was started at 12.28 am, with group members retiring to the great hall for the duration of the session.

In reviewing the resulting footage, it was discovered that - at precisely 12.40 a.m. - the sound of someone noisily traversing the solar staircase (situated directly behind the camera position) is heard. The footsteps are clearly 'ascending' the stairs, 'towards' the camera position... and appear to halt abruptly, upon reaching the landing. No further noises are heard following this, until some 20 minutes later, two investigators are heard coming up the stairs and, on entering the room concerned, enter the field of vision of the camera.

Of some passing interest is the fact that the two club members were both in excess of 15 to 16 stones in weight, but, in comparing the two sets of sounds on the footage, made 'far less' noise in their ascent of the rickety stairs than the sequence caught at 12.40 a.m. (?) Both sets were pretty much identical, save for the fact that the former was significantly louder than the latter......

On another investigation, group members are recorded sitting quietly in the Great Hall, talking amongst themselves. A video camera has been set up some distance from the group to survey the scene and records their casual conversation as subdued and quiet. All of a sudden, a peculiar, Monty Python-esque voice invades the footage, screeching loudly above the background noise..... 'Maiiiiiiiiyyy'. No one present at the time heard the voice concerned and the figures in the recording are seen to carry on their hushed converations, oblivious to what the camera has seemingly caught!!

Over the duration of our visits to the site, a considerable variety of different, seemingly anomalous noises were recorded or heard by group members. Incidents involving knocks and taps and noises akin to someone 'barking like a dog' were frequently reported. Investigators heard footsteps proceeding across an empty, panelled room above them and the sound of a door apparently unlatching itself and opening was detected during one stay, in the kitchen area. Something striking a metallic barrel in an empty cellar has been caught on video... The list could go on and on.....

Group members would very much like to hear from visitors to this blog with regards to the footage concerned. All contact - suggestions, observations and so on - would be greatly appreciated.

By the way - a big 'Thank You' to Wayne Pickrell of the 'Black Country Paranormal Society' for recently presenting us with this previously 'lost' Manor House footage!!

Best wishes to all,

The W.M.G.C.

Thursday, 7 May 2009

The Windy Oaks Ghost.

From The Archives...

Hailing back to the beginning of 2006, W.M. Ghost Club members took an active interest in one particular Shropshire ghost.... namely, that of the infamous 'Madam Piggott' who has allegedly haunted the old A41 in Chetwynd, near Newport, for almost 250 years.

Local legend has it that Madam Piggott, the wife of a Chetwynd squire, was due to give birth. Forseeing a most dire and problematic delivery, the attending doctor warned her husband that the situation looked bleak for the baby, but, with a struggle, the mother could possibly be saved. However, the Squire had longed for a son for many years and, as a result, allegedly informed the doctor: "The root must be lopped to save the branch....."

Unfortunately, despite the doctors best efforts, both the mother and child died in the end. Some sources suggest that Madam Piggotts spirit was so outraged by her husbands callous and unloving attitude, it simply could not bring itself to rest and ended up walking the region in torment......

Long time group member, Steve Chew, first became interested in reports of this legendary phantom during 2005 and soon drew other members interest to the case. A preliminary visit to the area in January (06) led to the appearance of three appeals in the Shropshire press for information potentially related to the haunting. Overall, the resulting feedback ranked as probably the best - volume-wise - response ever received by the group.

One contact rang in to tell us that a relative of theirs had supposedly experienced the ghost in the late 1800’s, while a number of other, independent witnesses claimed to have physically seen Madam Piggott - or at least some form of potentially phantom figure - along the relevant stretch of the A41 in recent years. Relating to the 'some form of...' comment, it was interesting to note that, while all of the sightings were made on the section of road between Newport and Chetwynd Church, pretty much all of the sightings were (related to us as) quite radically different in appearance!?

A hint of potential 'fraud' was first injected into the case when a young lady called to tell us that her father and a group of friends had ‘tackled’ a tall, grey ghost in Chetwynd churchyard one evening during the late 1960’s….. only to find that it was a local ‘colourful character’ who had been dressing up to scare passers by!! Further contact from a retired policeman, another member of the public and a local councillor would also appear to back up this particular, definitely non-paranormal, angle on the case….!! Laugh!!

Whatever the truth behind this alleged haunting, W.M.G.C. members had continued to research this perplexing matter up until the present day. Only recently, we have been in contact with a respected TV producer who hails from the Newport area. He had long been intrigued by tales of the ghost and is planning to write a script based on some of the details surrounding the case.

As a matter of interest, another Shropshire based press appeal in mid-April of this year resulted in further news of the Chetwynd ghost..... and, yet again, the experience described greatly differs from other reports received by the club....?

In this instance, our contact had just attended a rehearsal for his forthcoming wedding in Chetwynd and was exiting the churchyard, accompanied by his best man. As the pair walked through the gate onto the main road, they both looked up to see a 'Grim Reaper' type figure (minus the scythe!) gliding along some yards in front of them. After only a few seconds, an approaching car cleared the crest of the hill (on the way from the direction of Newport) and, as it's headlights touched the form, the bizarre figure 'shot off' at incredible speed until it was out of sight.......

Three photographs from our visit to Chetwynd can be viewed by clicking on this link.

Best wishes,

The West Midlands Ghost Club




The Malice Of Inanimate Objects.


Alleged hauntings associated with inanimate objects are a common enough occurrence in the annals of ghostlore. While an odd concept, even in such an odd subject to begin with, the notion of charmed, cursed or haunted objects is as old as mankind itself. Culturally speaking, it is a commonly held belief that certain items might well - through whatever magicks or conjurations - 'take on', 'hold' or 'become invested with' some type of spiritual aspect, be it in the form of a curse or malign force, a good luck charm.... or, if they do exist of course, perhaps the odd, resident spirit or two?

Over the past two decades, a number of accounts dealing with such artifacts have entered the files of the W.M.G.C. These examples include stories attached to an old railway workers lamp, coins and clocks, a medieval shoe, African masks and a carved, wooden weasel.... to name but a few.

One of the most peculiar tales to come our way along such lines concerns a metal-detectorist who discovered a peculiar mask at a popular, Staffordshire site. The region concerned is a designated ancient monument, though there is some speculation as to whether the mask concerned had any real age attached to it, or was - more likely - a by-product of (considerable) 'witchcraft related' activity in the area.

Whatever it's origins, the gentleman concerned claimed that, as soon as he returned home with the item, nothing but 'bad luck' struck literally everyone around him. His wife had touched the mask once and, immediately afterwards, suffered a heart attack. A neighbour was shown the object and commented on how ugly it was..... not long afterwards, he slipped and broke a leg. Such occurrences continued until the man raced back to the spot where the mask was uncovered and promptly reburied it......!!!

Anyone who is familiar with the works of the great ghost story writer, M.R. James, might well see a passing similarity with some of the details related in his tale 'A Warning To The Curious'. (In short: amateur archaeologist digs up ancient treasure and, as a direct result, suffers terrible consequences. He tries to rectify the situation by re-burying the item [a crown], etc, etc). While we are not suggesting that the mask related experiences are a blatant work of fiction, it is most interesting to note how much (professed) life imitates art - or at least aspects of it - at times.....? (And especially so when it comes to the paranormal realm!?)

While most of the aforementioned objects could pretty much fall into the 'small, personal effects' bracket, some items do indeed - all too clearly - break this mold entirely!.....

The garage door (shown in the photograph above) had apparently been dumped - 'fly-tipped' - on the edge of some wasteland in the Streetly area of Walsall. Subsequently, it was spotted by the father of a Walsall resident who had, at that point in time, been planning to build a garage at the side of his house. Cutting a potentially long story short, arrangements were soon underway to have it picked up and the door was duly placed in the rear garden of the mans house, leaning against his garden fence.

On the night following the arrival of the door, the mans wife ventured into the garden - around 2 a.m. - in order to call in their pet cat. As she looked around for the animal, she noticed a crescent-shaped light 'quivering around' on the left hand side of the nearby door. Initially, she took this to possibly be the by-product of a lamp situated in the adjacent conservatory, but, when she checked, there was no light coming from that direction at all. Still, thinking practically, she moved to put herself between the door and the windows - in order to block out any light sources - but still the shimmering glow remained intact.

Determined to get to the bottom of where the light was coming from, she put both hands out in front of her, arms outstretched, and walked steadily forward until she was touching the door...... At the exact moment that her hands made contact with the metal, 'something' suddenly shot out of it, straight into her face!

After a mad-dash back into the comparative safety of her kitchen, her son took one look at her and proclaimed that she was 'as white as a ghost!'...... In the days following the incident, she made her husband move the door to the other side of the garden - 'face towards' the fence (as shown in the pic) - and she made a point of not turning her back on it whilst hanging out the families washing on the line. Her family members began only using the front door to their house and refused to enter the property through the rear entrance.....

Whatever the indescribable 'something' might have been, the woman concerned - and, subsequently, her family - had clearly decided that the door was haunted. She was so utterly convinced of this, she phoned the W.M.G.C. (following a newspaper appeal) and invited us round to take a look at the offending item. Needless to say, we were greatly intrigued (if not a little bemused) by what she had told us, though had to admit that 'haunted garage doors' were well beyond our usual field of experience..... as wide and as weird as it was!!

It should go without saying, the Club would love to hear from anyone who has a similar story or experience to relate!?

Best wishes to all,

The W.M.G.C.

Saturday, 2 May 2009

Birmingham Investigation.

Last night, group members conducted an investigation of an impressive financial related property in Birmingham city centre.

We were told of alleged ghostly happening at the site a few weeks ago by one of it's managers and, following a preliminary visit, were invited to investigate the site with a number of staff members.

Reported activity includes the sighting of a man peeping from behind a concrete pillar in the basement, car park level, along with the noise of trains and classical music. Within the office complex itself, poltergeist-like activity has been reported - such as coffee cups being literally 'smacked' out of the hand of staff members by something unseen - voices heard, locked doors opening and closing seemingly of their own volition and the sound of people moving around when there is no one else in the building.

Please keep an eye on our main website - next update planned for June - for a more detailed account of our visit. Photographs from the investigation can currently be viewed on our photo album at: http://westmidlandsghostclub.myphotoalbum.com/albums.php

All the best,

The W.M.G.C.