Friday, 28 August 2009

More 'Haunting Activity'....

The following account was recently sent in to the W.M.G.C. and involves a Council property in an area situated on the periphery of the West Midlands region. The occupants concerned kindly gave us permission to repeat details of their interesting case here.

The family concerned a husband, wife and 2 children moved into the property in March 2003. They tell us that they have shared their experiences with a few other people, but the tales of strange occurrences have frequently been laughed at.

At first, nothing untoward was noticed in the house, but upon beginning to decorate - removing layers of old wall paper, and tidying the upstairs – the alleged activity began. The family tell us that the previous owner had not decorated in the 10 months she lived there and neither had the lady before that. As a result, the property seemed rather old fashioned…..

One of the main things reported by the family are seemingly inexplicable noises. While sitting in the living room area of the house, loud, heavy footsteps have been heard moving from one end of the upstairs hallway to the other. On one occasion, the footsteps were heard so clearly that the family were sure that an intruder was in the house with them!

The floor boards upstairs and those on the main stairs creak as if someone is moving around coming down them. Sighs, whispers and a voice calling the name of the father of the house have also been heard. There are bumps and sounds of things moving about; clothes and other objects moving from one room to another… but the occupants have never been able to discover – never been able to ‘witness’ - the cause of these happenings.

Interestingly, it would only seem to be upper part of house which is affected by the activity; the landing, bathroom and sons room and occasionally the main bedroom were all mentioned… but never the daughters room, which is situated at the back of the house. As soon as you reach the top of the stairs, it is said that the atmosphere changes.

Non-family members entering the house have mentioned that they do not ‘feel right’ in the property. Other members of the family were asked to walk around the house – without any form of prompting - and reveal which parts of the building they didn't feel right in. They all came up with the same answer – seemingly, the top landing.

While the family were on holiday this year, the grandmother was asked to sporadically ‘check the house over’ in their absence. During one visit, she went up stairs to check everything was okay and, upon walking around, had the distinct feeling that someone was standing behind her. After this she refused to go upstairs while the family aren’t present and is still wary when using the toilet when they are there!

Our confidante admits that, for a while, such happenings had been regarded as ‘a bit of a novelty’, but the longer they had stayed in the house the more pronounced the activity gets. They also stress that they would – specifically - very much like to know who it is that they can hear walking around, as there appears to be two sets of footsteps. One seems heavy and sounds like a man, while the other is small, light and quick…. like that of a child. Interestingly, over one particular Christmas period, they only report having heard the heavy footsteps twice and not the smaller ones at all.

On occasion, the daughter of the family claims to have had her hand stroked during the night when sleeping in the front bedroom… while their little boy refuses to sleep in his room - again the front bedroom - as he frequently says that there is a man in the room watching him.

The boy keeps talking about a man in the house – something which he has done for some time - but the family put it down to a childs imagination, as he has only mentioned it in passing. However, over one Christmas period, he twice woke his mother during the early hours to tell her about the figure. She asked him to tell her what the man looked like. He told her that the man stands outside the bathroom - watching him - and sometimes he is up on the ceiling! He told her that the man has brown hair like his daddy, a ‘horrible blue shirt’ and black trousers……

The boy was given a ‘room guard’ toy by his Auntie and it was placed in his bedroom so that his sister couldn't ‘get at his toys’ without it detecting her presence and ‘giving the game away’! Not long after, the family went to bed as normal one particular night, but the mother found herself waking during the wee-hours and, looking at the clock, discovered it was only 12.27am. She reports having heard the room guard (which was actually facing the sons bed on the floor) ‘activate’, as if someone was in the room. (Needless to say, you have to pass the sensor for it to start up). The device duly began to go mad, as if someone were passing by it, to and fro. The mother ran into the room and removed the guard and it immediately cut itself off. The boy will no longer have any thing to do with the toy, saying it is horrible and insists on it being covered up. Interestingly, it is claimed that the device only starts up when in the sons room, while, if left down stairs, it stays quiet. The family put such activity down to a draft, perhaps, but admit that it did give them the creeps somewhat!

Elsewhere, a rather peculiar aspect of the presumed haunting – something which causes great consternation for the family involved - is the fact that the bathroom window is found to be wide open when the family arise each morning?

Having spoken to a local medium regarding a completely unrelated matter, the mother of the household was advised to contact someone, as the psychic felt that there was definitely more than one presence in the house…. and such activity has something to do with other tenants who had lived there. She also said that ‘they’ were ‘trying to get the attention’ of the family.

The medium claimed to be under the impression that the ‘spirits’ were attracted to the children… and that they liked the way the mother of the family habitually talked to herself - as they seemed to think that she was actually talking to them!

We are told that the family involved are not particularly scared by all this, but merely left feeling ‘just a little nervous’. They admit that – more than anything else - they are more curious to find out who their resident ghost might be?

Of passing interest in such matters is the fact that the mother of the family informs us that her parents house has always had ‘strange things’ going on in it. Apparently, her parents do not go to their top floor when it dark. Their television turns over by itself, footsteps come down the stairs and both parents have seen things. She muses that, having ‘grown up with such things’, you become use to it and that is why they are so ‘curious’ regarding their own house and why they are not that afraid.

The mother says that she has recently been told by a medium that certain spirits attach themselves to people…. and the activity reported might not be associated to the history of the house, but her instead(?) This is a particular motif which the W.M.G.C. are rather familiar with from a first-hand perspective.

The family are currently logged on a waiting list to move within the next twelve months….

Regards,

The West Mids Ghost Club

The Tale of a 'Haunted Bed'....


The property which currently houses Shrewsbury Museum and Art Gallery - formerly known as Rowley House Museum - is situated in the picturesque county of Shropshire. The building itself – initially a warehouse - was constructed in wood during the late 16th / early 17th Century by one William Rowley, a local brewer and draper. Around 1618, an adjoining, section was erected in brick by Willams son. It is claimed by some that the site was possibly the first brick built house erected in Shrewsbury…..

It is also claimed that the property is haunted (of course!)…. however, as with a lot of ‘legendary’ hauntings, details and, subsequently, theories surrounding such matters, are invariably convoluted….

It is widely accepted that two, seemingly separate ghosts haunt Rowleys Mansion (as it’s known locally); those of a man and a woman, allegedly seen in period costume of the same age. Some references suggest that the man is young in appearance, though, lacking any real, first-hand descriptions of the ghost concerned, such details can only be catalogued as ‘vague’ at best…. One source states that the male figure is regarded as having been an otherworldly ‘resident’ of the property for many years before the female figure was ever seen – experiences with the figure supposedly being reported by occupants of the property while it was still a private residence. Having said that, of course, others have suggested that there may well be some form of association between the two apparitions…?

Of great interest to the would be researcher and chronicler of ghost-lore is the fact that the Lady ghost – and we do mean ‘Lady’ here, as she has been named as one ‘Lady Jane Corbet’ – is directly associated with the splendid, four poster bed at the top of this post. (Pic taken yesterday - Aug. 27th!) The bed itself - dated 1593 – is made of walnut, holly and bog oak and carved with the initials R.C. and the ravens of the Corbet crest. The apparition of the woman has allegedly been reported ‘on’ the bed, legend dictating that this was where she died in childbirth. A remarkable aspect of this haunting is the supposed ‘fact’ that the ghost has seemingly travelled with the bed and has been seen wherever this lavish piece of furniture has been housed! Her ghost has also said to have been reported at the house from which the bed was originally taken. (The piece was loaned to Rowleys House during the 1980’s by the Victoria and Albert Museum, but, prior to this period, is recorded as having 'travelled quite extensively' throughout it's lifetime!!!).

Whatever the true provenance of these two apparitions – if, indeed, they do exist, of course – it is an intriguing detail to note that it is invariably stated that the male figure has never been seen to interact with the female – leading to a somewhat romantic debate by some over the prospects of some form of ‘lovers quarrel’ between the two…? This is a perplexing detail indeed, given the suggestion by many that the male ghost is that of Lord Corbet, husband to Lady Jane!?

Of course, from a more objective point of view - based on the former allegedly being reported before the seeming arrival of the latter – is perhaps a sign that these figures are (in death, as in life), completely unrelated and, therefore, utterly oblivious to one each others existence?

At the end of all of the above rumination, it has to be said that - despite a somewhat ‘creaky’ foundation to these stories - the aforementioned is indeed a truly endearing ‘legend’. Such detail has kept W.M.G.C. members captivated, perplexed and brimming with debate since our first visit to the site some 17 or so years ago.... It has also, invariably, assured a keen return to the site ever since, whenever we might happen to be in the area.

Best wishes to all,

The W.M.G.C.

Friday, 21 August 2009

A Darlaston Encounter.....


The following 'peculiar' encounter was related to the W.M.G.C. by Mr. Dave Bourne of Darlaston.... a good friend to the group and a regular contributor to our online forum. Over the past year or so Dave has shared a number of ghostly happenings and stories with us, the intriguing case mentioned below being the first of his experiences to be used on the blog.....

This first 'encounter' occured when he was just 18 years old, taking the reader back some 30 years to the middle of Autumn, 1979..... Dave told us:

"I was nearing home, just before Midnight, after walking from Wednesbury to Darlaston along the Darlaston Road. I turned into what I have always know as the "Blossom", which is an un-adapted part of School Street, beginning next to the Chapel opposite the Scot(s) Arms public house. It was a beautiful, bright, moonlit night - not a breath of wind - and just a little bit cold as we were at the end of October.

As I walked along the Blossom - to a point where it opens out into the main part of School Street itself - something caught my attention to my right hand side. I should explain that to my right, was the high bank of the edge of Kings Hill Park, which is scattered with trees and bushes, and had / has a low privet hedge along the top. As I looked up I just froze with instant fear, as looking down at me from the very peak of the bank was what I can only describe as a "Cavalier" style figure in full dress! I could clearly see his hat complete with feathered plume, his cape.... etc, etc.

Now, as I said, I was 18 at the time, 6ft tall, around 15 Stone, very fit and not frightened of anyone or anything much.... but after standing stock still for what was only probably 4 or 5 seconds I'll admit that took flight and must surely have covered the last 100 metres or so to our house in under 10 seconds. I managed to let myself in, just as my Mom and Dad were just going off to bed. On seeing me, they were shocked at the state I was in and, as my Dad said, I looked 'as white as a ghost !' I told them what had happened, and my Dad said: "Right come on then, lets go and sort this weirdo out". It seems that he was convinced that someone was most likely parading around the park dressed up in some sort of costume.....!!

So, somewhat 'reluctantly', shall we say, I went over to the park with the old chap and we had a good old look around. Needless to say we didn't find or see anyone. What I can clearly remember though was the precise spot where the "Cavalier" had stood and looked down at me..... This was on the top level of the park, on the edge of what we have always called the Bowling Green. This is where the park bandstand used to be situated before being vandalised and demolished some years previously. And although the night was going chilly anyway - and I was still basically still a bit shocked by what I had seen - it was absolutely 'freezing cold' on this top level.... much colder than the rest of the park.

Anyway - as I said - we could not see anything or anyone, so we made our way back home. 'Me' being 'me', I subsequently continued to walk home along the Blossom late at night......but never saw anything else, ever again!!"

For the sake of a little background information on the region concerned: Kings Hill Park was created in 1900, developed from land left over from colliery waste, utilising the local unemployed as free labour. It has been suggested by some authorities that the name of the region originated with the 'hill' of Kings Hill Park itself, on which Dave saw his strange, period figure.... Certain sources have intimated that some form of Civil War activity in the region may well have given the hill a somewhat regal monicker....??? However, research has since revealed that the 'hill' is certainly not a natural - or particularly 'old' - feature.... being a direct consequence of industrial activity in the area - a 'slag-heap', for wont of a better term - occuring in the centuries long 'after' the Civil War period.

So much for a romantic sounding setting then!! Laugh!!

Seriously though, the above-mentioned data does actually give rise to a rather perplexing connundrum involving the case: i.e. if the hill itself was not extant during the Civil War period, then what right does a stereotypical 'Cavalier-type' figure have to be appearing on it??? A question somewhat flippantly put, of course, but a most valid query non-the-less! Such motifs seem to have appeared in many other cases throughout the history of ghostlore, but - unless we are actually dealing with some form of 'sentient' beings in such cases - how do 'ghosts' frequently appear to interract with objects and places which never actually existed 'within their time period'??

As to the question of Civil War activity within the area concerned: while there were no major battles or actions listed for this region, the site involved lies very close to two, major garrisons..... those of Rushall Hall and Dudley Castle. Looking into details from that period for suitable candidates for Daves, somewhat lonely, figure, we find that a Wednesfield farmer by the name of Pitt is recorded as having served as a 'spy' between the aforementioned encampments. Sadly, his activities did not go unnoticed and, cutting a potentially long story short, he was duly executed in Smithfield in London in 1644 for his actions.

Regards to all,

The W.M.G.C.

Haunting Activity??? (Part One).

The following account hails from the Black Country region and serves to outline some of the classic features frequently experienced in (so-called) cases of domestic 'haunting'.... The details herein are certainly typical of a great many cases of presumed haunting which have been sent in to the W.M.G.C. over the past 20 years.

The matter in question began with an email to the W.M.G.C. from the wife of the family concerned. It was mentioned in this initial note that a similar letter had been sent to another, local based group at the same time.

The family - wife, husband and young baby - had purchased and moved in to the 1950's property some 4 months earlier. Pretty much all of the subsequent weeks at the site had been taken up in decorating the house. We were told that the family had only really started 'noticing things' some 2 months earlier..... and then particularly so over the last month.

With regards to reported activity, the bulk of what was mentioned was a variety of 'feelings' being experienced by the wife of the family. A sensation of being 'watched' was the main feature of the case, along with an 'inability to settle' in certain parts of the property. It was noted in particular that the kitchen was possibly the worst room - often resulting in a direct, physical inability to enter that area. The main bedroom was also pointed out, the wife frequently finding it hard to spend more than a couple of minutes at a time here because of the feeling of being watched.

With regards to potential, physical effects, there was very little reported to the group. The wife mentioned that their baby seemed to move around the cot a lot - suggesting the positions that it was found in couldn't be naturally attained by the child. Noted as being 'the strongest episode' perhaps, was the tumble dryer being left on a 60 minute cycle one evening, only to be discovered still spinning at 6 o' clock the next morning. It was mentioned that this error hadn't occurred before or since the aforementioned instance.

Noises appear to have been heard around the property... mainly in the form of doors closing - a glass, kitchen door heard sliding of it's own volition - or the sound of creaking. A sensation 'like the feeling of someone walking around on the landing' was experienced by husband and wife on one occasion.

In an endeavour to find (an albeit tentative) cause for the experiences, it was mentioned that a particular, somewhat unusual, 'ornament' had been found in the garage when they had moved in and this had subsequently been displayed in the house. The wife had wondered whether their problems were related to the object being brought into the house in some way? This matter had been discussed with the other research group during a visit to the house and the item was subsequently moved first to the porch and then back into the garage.....

With regards to their general attitudes to the paranormal, the wife admitted that she had bought books on the paranormal for some years and was a 'total believer in this kind of thing'. The husband was a sceptical type - this being a viewpoint which appeared quite clear when a W.M.G.C. representative briefly spoke with him (!!) Despite this attitude, the husband had apparently shared in some experiences..... having suffered an 'Old Hag' type encounter - waking one night to find himself paralysed and sensing something in the bedroom with him - hearing doors banging, etc.

The group was told that the family had come to feel that they had 'another person' now living with them. However, the wife did comment that they weren't sure whether 'a series of coincidences were just playing on their minds....'

As par for the course in such instances, the W.M.G.C. conducted background research into the general area and found that, up until the houses (in the street) were built, the region had been open field, containing nothing more than a pool and a gravel pit. The name of the area itself derives from an ancient name concerning a clearing or a glade.

During the mid-1800's, three pit men were killed nearby when a brook flooded the mine they were working in and they drowned. In ancient history, a Saxon earthwork of some description is said to have existed in the region, but this was totally destroyed by mining activity.

In part two of this matter, we will be outlining some of the issues, items of interest and general queries that such, presumed instances lead to from a very basic, research point of view....

Regards,

The West Mids Ghost Club


Saturday, 15 August 2009

Wolverhampton Investigations....??


The W.M.G.C. has recently been contacted by Wolverhampton 'ghost enthusiast', Phil Ansell and asked if we have ever conducted any investigations in the City centre...... Many thanks for your kind words regarding the blog / website Phil. Please do stick with us mate......

With regards to Wolverhampton cases, we have to admit that - for such an historic area - we have not conducted anywhere near the amount of investigations that we should like (or hope) to carry out in the region!! (Laugh!!) Over the years, we have visited a number of sites in an investigatory capacity, including Rowfers Shop (in April last year); an office suite in Kings House (the following month) and a location which must remain anonymous (at least for the time being). Of course, on October the 31st, 2004, group members carried out a large investigation, incorporating 4 separate sites: The Giffard Arms public house, The Atlantis Nightclub, The Civic Hall and the Mander / Wulfrun Centre. This latter mentioned event was conducted in conjunction with the Mander Centre itself and covered, throughout the night, by the Wolf FM radio station.

One of the more interesting places that we've investigated in Wolverhampton is the wonderful Madam Clarkes Coffee House in King Street... a site which we are currently planning a - long anticipated - return visit to. Below is an edited version of the report produced following our first visit in early November 2007.

Investigators Present: 4 W.M.G.C. members, along with site staff: Alex, Tracey, Anne-Marie, Charlotte, Kelly and Sarah.

For the sake of the visit, attendees split into three groups.

Vigil One – 10.00pm to 10.30pm

Group One – Top Floor.

10.12pm – Julie hears creaking in far left corner of room, near the window. Julie also reports having a sense of being watched in the store room area.
10.22pm – ‘Cold Spot’ detected in office. (Situated to left of picture depicting trees).
10.28pm – Kelly and Sarah situated in room where fridges are housed. Report hearing noise akin to a ‘bead’ dropping on the floor and rolling. Nothing to be seen.

Group Two – 1st Floor.

10.20pm – Charlotte experiences a cold draft on right arm in landing area. Feeling preceded by a smell of perfume – like sweet roses. Smell detected by Anne-Marie and Charlotte.
10.22pm – Charlotte and Anne-Marie both hear a ‘tap’ sound coming from downstairs, near the dishwasher. (Steve, unfortunately, out of the area at this point in time).
10.27 / 28pm – Lots of creaks and taps heard originating from surrounding area. (Natural cooling of the building cannot be ruled out).

Group Three – Cellar Area

10.21pm – All hear the sound of movement coming from upstairs. Alex and Tracey suggest sound was near cellar door, but it might have possibly carried down from an upper floor of the building.
10.23pm – Sound of movement again. (Same as above).
10.28pm – Movement again – most probably other groups returning to ground floor base room.

Vigil Two – 10.40pm to 11.15pm

Group One – Cellar Area.

10.55pm – Noise akin to thunder heard from above. Possibly chairs being moved. Also, barrels being moved in property next door and in street.

Group Two – Top Floor.

10.58pm – Steve reports a female vocal (‘sigh’) sound coming from near the doorway of the office. Both Charlotte and Anne-Marie in office at time, but no one else heard the sound.

Group Three – First Floor.

*Nick notices throughout the vigil that the lighting in this area is conducive to a state of ‘seeing something out of the corner of the eye’ – i.e. fleeting movement – to a great degree. (Dining room at top of stairs area).
10.53pm – Barrels heard being thrown around from bar next door. Excessive street noise.
10.56pm – Loud, sharp ‘click’ seemingly originating from dining room at top of stairs. Alex says that this is not a sound that she recognises as occurring naturally within the building.
11.00pm – Two definite ‘clump’ sounds from office above. (Though Group Two are in that area at this time).

Vigil Three – 11.20pm to 11.50pm

Group One – 1st Floor.

11.26pm – Kelly and Sarah hear 3 light tapping sounds while in toilet area.

Group Two – Cellar Area.

11.23pm – Charlotte hears hissing, vocal sound (male) in the vicinity of the bottom of the stairs. This was closely followed by a creak which was heard by everyone.
11.27pm – On ‘questioning’ the room, Charlotte heard the same hissing sound as mentioned previously.
11.30pm – Loud ‘bang’ coming from upstairs. Random creaks.
11.32pm – Anne-Marie feels sensation of ‘touch’ on left calf.
11.40pm – Temperature drop reported.
11.43pm – Footfall heard by Charlotte at the bottom of the stairs.

Group Three – Top Floor.

11.23pm – Talking heard from group downstairs. Someone sitting on stairs below.
11.29pm – Door heard shutting somewhere in building.

Break – 11.50pm to 12.25am

11.54pm – Nick standing in front of main door to shop on ground floor. He looks up at the stairs and the mirrors on the wall (which run up the stairs) and gets a fleeting impression of movement from the 1st Floor eating area. (Roughly above where he is standing). Akin to a person moving quickly – but only a very fleeting glimpse for a fraction of a second.

Vigil Four – 12.25am to 12.55am

Group One – Top Floor.

Nothing to report.

Group Two – 1st Floor

12.32am – Charlotte and Anne-Marie hear shuffling noises, like feet, coming from near the sink at the bottom of the stairwell.
12.40am – Sound of movement, twice in quick succession, in the same area as mentioned above.

Group Three – Cellar Area.

12.28am – ‘Clunk’ sound from door which Alex is leaning against. Alex sitting on floor with back resting against the door. Noise concerned was probably door moving under weight of her pressing against it, though she did not visibly move.
12.34am – Sound of someone walking in ground floor passage just outside cellar door.
12.36am – ‘Plop’ noise heard, seemingly originating from near the door previously being leaned against by Alex. Noise seemed to come from area of wall in corner of room.
12.41am – Definite (male) cough sound, seemingly originating from upstairs.
12.48am – ‘Baiting’ session conducted. Tracey asking the questions. She subsequently reports having gone cold on her left hand and arm – later, her nose too. Right side unaffected. Possibly as a result of the emphasis suddenly being drawn to the temperature, the entire group suddenly feel as if there has been a considerable drop in temp in the room.

Group pack up and leave premises around 1.00am.

Best wishes,

The West Midlands Ghost Club

Thursday, 13 August 2009

Have You Got What It Takes....?????

As part of our 20th birthday celebrations, members of the West Midlands Ghost Club are currently considering some form of 'expansion' of the group, either via the addition of new affiliates or through the introduction of an active associates section. We woulds mainly be interested in hearing from people who live within the West Midlands area, though locations in the immediate surrounding areas (Shropshire, Staffordshire, Warwickshire, etc) would also be of interest.

Ideally, we would be interested in hearing from people who are:

*Friendly, intelligent and, preferrably, with a really good sense of humour!! (The latter is certainly needed, we assure you!!!)

*level headed, no-nonsense - non-hysterical / non-dramatic - towards paranormal related topics.

*Truly 'open minded' - in the fullest sense of the words - i.e. willing to swing both sides of the coin .

*Objective and hold an unbiased attitude towards investigation / research.

In short, we would be interested in fostering contact with people who are able to work around the (wholly erroneous) cultural / social stereotype and look and think well beyond the facade of utter rubbish being passed off as 'paranormal research' generally illustrated by satellite TV and, it has to be said, at least 95% of so called investigative associations out there.....

What we are hoping for are people who believe that they might, in some way, complement or simply 'bring something positive' to the current group membership and structure. We urge anyone interested in contacting us to please - first - read the following details, which serve as the opening paragraph of our 'Group History' page. This is so that they get a general insight into club attitudes and motivation to the subject in question:

"What sets the W.M.G.C. apart from most other self-professed ghost societies, is the simple fact that our investigations are purposefully carried out in a purely ‘objective’, no-nonsense manner... casting off all of the unnecessary blatant chicanery, ‘New Age’ bunkum and pseudo-scientific trappings that appear to have become the trade mark of late 20th / early 21st Century investigator. While group membership consists of a necessary mix of both ‘sceptic’ and ‘believer’, the W.M.G.C. constantly strives to promote an 'impartial' standpoint for the sake of true investigation, which – by definition – has to remain undogmatic and neutral. Unlike most other societies, the W.M.G.C. does not run to a ‘biased agenda’: we have no interest in either proving the existence of the paranormal, or disproving it. In the field, our research work is mainly based on observation and impartial study - consisting of audio / visual recordings, manned ‘vigil’ sessions and attention to environmental factors.

The W.M.G.C. do not endorse the use of psychic / mediumistic types in investigative situations. Unlike most other groups, we do not make false claims in professing to be able to ‘alter’ a haunted situation in any way, shape or form. The groups motivation and intentions are refreshingly honest and purely research based. We are not interested in attempting to falsely prove that we have any form of ‘insider knowledge’ or ‘special powers".

Please note: we are most definitely 'NOT' looking for people who simply wish to attend paranormal investigations.

Anyone interested in becoming involved with the W.M.G.C. (in whatever capacity) would be required to 'donate' a small amount of their spare time to the club and take an 'active' part in the general running of the group: i.e. finding / researching local (Midlands) ghost-lore; contacting associated sites / individuals; organising / attending investigations, etc.

Sorry, but we do not require psychic / mediumistic types, or people who profess some form of expertise / insider knowledge / qualifications in the paranormal field itself. People who have no prior experience of (self-professed) 'ghost research associations' preferred, though not necessarily essential.

Please send details of your paranormal related interests to: wmghostclub@yahoo.co.uk (Please note: no single line - 'can I join your club'- applications!!) Tell us something about yourself, why you would be interested in becoming associated with the club and what you believe you might add to the mix, etc.

Regards - and we look forward to hearing from you soon,

The W.M.G.C.

Monday, 10 August 2009

Coventry Event....


Yet another 'blast from the past' regarding some of the W.M.G.C.'s investigations around the Midlands area comes in the form of one of our most enjoyable - and potentially productive - investigations, carried out in Coventry City centre in 2005......

On the 25th of November, a group of 21 people conducted an overnight investigation at the most atmospheric location of St. Mary’s Guildhall, situated next to the old Cathedral ruins. The event – a fund raising ‘ghost hunt’ held on behalf of Birmingham Children’s Hospital - was organised and co-ordinated by Kevin Wallace of the West Midlands Ghost Club.

As the visit was primarily intended as an enjoyable, benevolent event – incorporating a number of people who had never experienced a potentially ‘haunted’ situation previously – investigation protocol for the duration of the night was purposefully kept at a reasonably ‘casual’ level. However, thanks to the excellent co-ordination skills of Kevin, who was wholly responsible for this visit, the process of investigation was still maintained at a high level throughout our stay.

Overall, a general investigation was made of the property incorporating four groups of 5 / 6 people. (Each team headed by members of the W.M.G.C.) Our investigation mainly focussed on sections of building noted as being of particular relevance or importance regarding the alleged paranormal history of the site. During the night, investigation procedure incorporated periods of first person audio / visual observation, with vigils being conducted for approx. 40 minutes each. (A 20 minute break was held between every session).

As well as manned observation periods, static (area based) audio / visual recording sessions, incorporating both standard and night shot camera’s, were also carried out. General temperature recording throughout the building were also monitored for the duration of the stay and a number of ‘trigger objects’ placed in particular sections of the building.

With regards to the investigation itself, a number of potentially interesting events were noted during the night.

While nothing of interest was detected by any of the groups concerned during the first vigil of the stay, group member Steve Chew appears to have caught - what sounds like - a section of rather rough, ‘choral singing’ on a video recording made in the Great Hall of the Guildhall. While there was a considerable amount of external noise coming from the streets circling the building for most of our stay, this ‘singing’ strikes the listener as rather ‘alien’ to such surroundings. While the voices are seemingly rough and uncultured, the footage gives a definite impression of a distant choir, delivering Christmas carols or some such songs….. Mr. David McGrory – a local historian and accomplished author, who has strong connections with the Guildhall - says that he has also heard this effect when in the building during the daytime. He has always put this down to the effect that the P.A. system in the property is apparently on the same wavelength as the nearby Cathedral security….. leading to a tentative, airwaves connection. However, while this theory might cover such happenings during the daytime, surely there was no choir practising in the Cathedral at almost 11.30 at night? And from the sound of the voices concerned – such a choir would need all the practice it could get…!? Laugh, laugh!!

During vigil two, a group of people situated in the Drapers room report hearing a sound akin to something being rolled across the floor. Someone else in the group said they thought the noise was like ‘someone sweeping a chimney’. During a ‘baiting session’ a little later on, the same group hear a loud knock seemingly coming from one of the walls of the building, apparently in response to one of their questions. When confirmation was requested, however, no other noises were heard.

A group situated in the Undercroft area for the duration of vigil three heard a loud noise, like the sound of movement, coming from the nearby Kitchen. They could find nothing to account for the noise upon investigation. A little later on in the sitting and W.M.G.C. member Kevin Wallace was standing near the kitchen sink, with Ellen Wallace walking towards him along a small, side corridor. At this juncture, they both describe hearing a noise originating behind Ellen, like someone moving a series of fine, hanging chains, which make up a blind across a section of the passage. No one else was present in the area at the time. Kevin says that the noise was very distinct.

During this same period, two investigators responsible for covering the first floor section of the building reported having seen a ‘ball of light' moving around erratically inside (what is referred to as) the Sloping Room. At 1.20 a.m., the group gather within the Mary Queen of Scots Room for an experimental ‘séance’ session. Three light 'knocks' were subsequently heard in what would appear to have been response to direct questioning. However, it has to be stated that, with the amount of people in the building at the time, these sounds may well be of a perfectly natural origin.

At one point during the same session, Steve Chew heard what he took to be the sound of faint, little footsteps, seemingly coming towards the door of the Mary Queen of Scots Room. Two other members of the party thought the noise had sounded like the swishing of a long dress.

During vigil four, the group of investigators responsible for covering the Great Hall area experienced a ‘fast-moving light’ appear in the topmost section of the hall. The light proceeded to move over the balcony, down the hall wall, underneath the balcony…. then move over the side wall and half way up the hall in a sort of a curved motion. This effect only lasted a second and was very fast.

No one in the hall had their torches on, though – to witnesses - the light was evidently not that created by a torch. The light could not have originated with investigators inside the armoury as it travelled down the back wall, which is clearly not within their line of sight.

Witness Kevin Wallace says that the light reminded him of what he and a researcher attached to another society had previously witnessed in exactly the same location, but on the other side of the hall, during a separate investigation of the site.

A little later on in the same vigil and the above mentioned group heard a noise from the Stage Area of the Main Hall. They said that this had sounded like the creak of one of the wooden floor panels when someone moves across it. No one was sitting near the stage at this point.

Towards the end of vigil four, a very exciting and dramatic event occurred concerning the party of people situated on the First Floor level. Four of the girls present - non-W.M.G.C. members – had been seated at an oblong table, near the entrance to Mary Queen of Scots Room. Two members were seated one side of the table and two the other. They had been in the process of conducting a ‘baiting session’ (levelling questions to the room itself) when attendee Jennie Elwell had – through the open doorway - allegedly seen a tall, dark figure pass across the landing, just outside the toilet block. The figure had moved quickly from right to left, as if having come up the steps from the walkway to the main Council Building. When later questioned, she could not say whether the figure had gone into the toilets, or into a small kitchen area immediately in front of the steps. Upon seeing the figure, she instantly became hysterical and sparked off a like reaction in the other girls. (When group members Nick Duffy and Darren Simpson had entered the room – alerted by the girls screams – they had found Miss Elwell clutching the edge of a table, crying hysterically and seemingly unable to move for some time).

This event obviously attracts the attention of other teams nearby and the general proceedings were disturbed for a short time. Up until this point, investigators covering the Mercers Room during this period report having experienced a very ‘uneasy feeling’ in that section of the building which they simply couldn’t brush off.

At 3.39 a.m. – vigil five – Kevin Wallace and his group were situated in the Council Chambers and Treasury room, when they saw a series of lights showing under the door into the great hall. This appeared as if someone had walked past the door with a bright torch. These lights lasted a few seconds at a time, until Kevin opened the door to find absolutely nothing - except a very dark and quiet hall. On the first floor level at exactly the same time, Frazer Smith reports over the radio that his group has also seen strange light anomalies apparently coming from the Great Hall area.

At roughly the same time, Steve Chew and his group were situated in the Undercroft and Kitchen area. While standing in the Kitchen, Steve reports having heard very distinct footsteps descending the stairs that lead from the Great Hall. The steps, which sounded as if they were made by someone heavy set, were heard to stop – followed by a few more tentative steps – then by a loud noise, as if someone were 'rummaging' through boxes. Strangely, two other attendees were standing in the same area with Steve and one only heard the loud footsteps descending the stairs, while the other only heard the ‘rummaging’ noises. Two other attendees were situated in the nearby Undercroft at this point and they heard exactly the same sequence of noises as Steve. The area concerned was immediately investigated and nothing to account for the sounds was found.

On trying to recreate the footsteps, even when stamping, Steve could not replicate the same ‘hefty’ sounding footfalls. It was also noticed that the steps sounded as if they were possibly on an old creaky wooden floor, not the more 'modern’, supported floor that is in place today!

Towards the end of vigil six, it was noticed that 4 coins which had been used in one of our ‘trigger’ experiments, had been moved. The coins concerned – ringed on a sheet of white paper – had been situated on the ledge of a bureau which stands outside the toilet block on the first floor landing. Two of the coins were now on the floor immediately below the ledge and the paper on which they rested was now partially hanging off the ledge itself. Unfortunately, because of the constant human traffic moving around the building during the night, it could not clearly be ascertained whether this had accidentally been done by someone in attendance….

Following the official end of the investigation, Kevin Wallace happened to shine his torch down the stairs from the Main Hall to the Kitchen area and saw something moving at the bottom. His first impression was that it was a female figure. Having just seen three of four girls attached to one of the groups in that area, he thought that the figure he’d seen must have been the 4th girl. Going down the stairs into the kitchen, he found no one there. As he entered the Undercroft, he found that the 4th girl was already sitting at one of the tables, with a number of other people situated at the very end of the room. He asked the girl if anyone had entered just before him, or had she possibly only just come down the stairs herself? She answered no to both questions………

All in all, a considerable number of potential paranormal happenings were reported from the different teams during the night, including both audio and visual activity. The above mentioned list of occurrences only constitutes a section of incidents reported during the night in question.

The volume of possible incidents reported was quite high in comparison to other W.M.G.C. investigations, and it cannot help but be questioned whether such an increase has something to do with the sheer volume of people concerned with the event, as well as the fact that many attendee's were experiencing such 'investigative' conditions for the first time? Having said this, while a [wholly expected and understandable] state of trepidation was obvious in a couple of the attendee’s, the bulk of the group concerned acted in an exceptionally serious and level headed manner.

Whatever the validity of our findings as potential paranormal happenings, it has to be said that all who attended the Guildhall investigation thoroughly enjoyed the experience.....

Best wishes,

The West Midlands Ghost Club

Shrewsbury Follow-Up Post


In light of the publication of our recent 'Shrewsbury Chronicle' article, concerning the Library building - W.M.G.C. investigator Steve Chew has discovered some interesting sounds on the recordings made during our recent visit to the site.

As the article (slightly erroneously) mentions, group members did hear a peculiar sound during the early hours of the morning, while conducting a vigil: “We were in the top classroom above the library when a few of our members heard a twang,” said John Conway of the West Midlands Ghost Club. “Nobody was by anything that could have made the noise. It sounded like a swing door and it was only when someone said it was like a noise he used to make at school by twanging his ruler on the edge of the desk when we realised we were in a former school classroom ourselves".

What the article should have said was that group members heard a sound akin to a 'spring, door stop' being 'manually vibrated' nearby. (Not a 'swing door'). The sound heard was totally alien to the surroundings - no doors stops of this nature could be found - and nothing could be discovered to account for such a noise.....

Moving on to Steve's footage, he reported: "The main anomaly is, basically, at the start of the recordings of our first vigil. Only me and John were actually present at the time. I had finished setting the camera up, facing into the upper library - the old School Library Room - and John was just setting his camera up next to the upper stairs where there had previously been reports of a sighting of a little boy. (The distance between both camera's would be approx 5ft). The muffled tones of myself and John conversing can be heard then something that to me, sounds like a 'third voice' pipes up. At first - suprise, suprise - I thought that it actually sounded a bit like a young child speaking! This would be interesting (to say the least), given the camera's near proximity to where the boy had allegedly been seen. However, on playing the footage to Claire, my wife, she thought it sounded more like the voice of an old lady. It was only later it dawned on me; I had, at the time, purposefully placed the camera at the spot where an old woman had been sighted..... Coincidental maybe, but interesting non-the-less".

The second sound of potential interest was a 'loud crash' at 13.36 minutes into another recording. Investigator John Conways camera should have picked the noise up as well, due to the fact that it was situated in the same area. However, John reports that he hadn't heard such a sound on his recordings when checking them through......

Needless to say, group members are most interested in the prospects of a follow up investigation and the chance to conduct further recording sessions.....

Regards to all,

The West Mids Ghost Club

Saturday, 1 August 2009

Haunted Flats?

Quite recently, the W.M.G.C. received the following email from a woman signing herself 'Tracey W. of West Midlands'...... Tracey kindly gave us permission to repeat the fascinating contents of her note here, for the blog:

"Due to many strange things happening in our flat over the last 6 years, I feel as though I have to contact someone, as I cannot make any more excuses for various things that have happened here.

It started about 6 years ago when we first moved into our home. A church-going neighbour from downstairs came up to our flat, knocked on the front door and asked to bless our flat. We told her that we were busy moving in and thought no more about it. Sadly, she has now passed on... but we can’t get our heads around the fact that she was so keen?

We did however notice a cold breeze in our bathroom a few months later when taking a shower or bath. It was a cool sharp breeze that seemed to cut right through you whilst in the bathroom and we noticed our cat started to stare at things in there; we followed his eyes but could see anything. We also checked the bathroom for gaps for breezes but couldn’t find any.

The next strange thing that happened was shadows appearing on our carpet in the hall and living room. We could both see them moving, like blobs around the carpet, but only very faint. We thought it was just our eyes and thought no more about it.

A few months after this we woke up to find our barometer had been taken apart, its innards displayed neatly on the breakfast bar in the kitchen, each piece arranged exactly as it had been taken out of the case. Upon closer examination we discovered that the only implement it could have been taken apart with was via a very small screwdriver, we tried a kitchen knife and various other implements but could not get them to turn the screws in the back of the barometer as they were too big. The only screwdriver in the flat that fitted was kept in a very tight secure drawer underneath our bed. Neither of us woke during the night.

A few months later my partner was dishing up Sunday lunch in our kitchen and he called me to say that the dinner plate was moving on the breakfast bar. I ran in the kitchen and again it moved. It sort of rocked from side to side. This occurredonly briefly, but enough to see it move.

A while after this we were both in bed one night and we were both awoken by a noise. We both lay there and listened and heard footsteps in our living room. Our cat also awoke and looked up. It sounded like someone was wearing heavy boots and we could hear them walking the full length of the room, loud and heavy, but walking quite slowly. My partner ran into the living room and turned the light on but there was no-one there.

The next incident happened just before Christmas. We own a lot of murano glass and we owned a lovely red and clear glass ashtray, almost a solid inch thick. We awoke in the morning to find it broke exactly in two with a clear straight break right down the middle with no jagged edges in it. There was no flaw in the ashtray as we own a lot of glass and are always careful about what we are buying. To have broke the ashtray like this must have took great force to prevent it smashing into little pieces. Again neither of us woke.

Our final incident happened last night. We heard furniture moving downstairs. It was so loud we could hear it above our television. I phoned my neighbour as I was too scared to go across to her flat and she had indeed heard it to. We called our downstairs neighbour and she too heard the noise. Due to the fact that we thought someone had broken in down there, we called the police. The police arrived and broke the door down only to discover that nothing was inside the flat. It was totally empty. But four people had definitely heard the noises even though there was nothing in there. Surely 4 people can’t be wrong?

I am not scared to live in my home as I am used to the strange incidents that occur. I have tried to find out the history of the flat and I have found out that it has been built either on top of, or next to a very old Sunday School, but it did not have a churchyard. It has started to bother me recently as the severity of the ‘happenings’ seem to be getting worse and more severe. I am also concerned as to who I tell about these incidents in case I am made out to be a fool. One thing I do know is that I would not live here alone. Can you please advise me as to what I can do to find out whether I have a spirit/ghost in my flat or whether I am just going ever so slighty mad??!!!

Many thanks.

Tracey W"

Regards to all,

The West Midlands Ghost Club

Woodchester Mansion....


From The Archives.....

On October the 14th, 2005, 2 W.M.G.C. group members attend an overnight investigation of Woodchester Mansion in Stroud, Gloucestershire. The overall event was organised by an ASSAP affiliated society, with the attending W.M. Ghost Club members making up teams put together by (our very good friends) the Black Country Paranormal Society.

As many visitors to this site will already know, Woodchester Mansion currently stands as one of the most famous, allegedly ‘haunted’ properties in Great Britain. While the site itself has a considerable, long standing haunted reputation, it’s fame as a place of ghostly interest has only been a comparatively recent development thanks to such T.V. programmes as ‘Most Haunted’ and ‘Scream Team’. At the time of the investigation in question, the site has previously been visited by the W.M.G.C.’s Steve Chew and investigated by Kev Wallace.

With regards to our investigation itself, the visit of the 14th passed relatively quietly, with a handful of people from the overall assembly reporting potential ‘strange’ happenings. The only matter of possible significance to our particular group – headed by Wayne Pickrell (of the B.C.P.S. - shown right in pic above) – was when researcher Anne Brown claimed to have felt someone ‘breathe’ in her ear in the cellar of the building and Wayne himself heard a sequence of footsteps coming from a firmly locked room…

Personal Investigation Notes: Woodchester Mansion – Gloucestershire

Date Of Visit: 14th / 15th October 2005.
Duration Of Visit: Approx. 11 – 11.5 hours.
Time of Arrival: Approx. 8.00 p.m.

Present:

21 people drawn from a number of investigative groups, including: Melton Paranormal, Black Country Paranormal Society, West Midlands Ghost Club and assorted A.S.S.A.P. personnel (including Mike White).

For the duration of the visit, both myself and Kevin Wallace (W.M.G.C. Members) were acting representatives in the Black Country Paranormal Research Group.

The assembly was split up into 4 groups for the duration of the visit. Each group moved around the property – working on a 1 hr. vigil followed by 20 mins. break time rota – following directions from a schedule planned by our host society - the Melton Paranormal Group.

Brief Vigil Notes.

*VIGIL ONE – 2nd Floor Corridor – 9.30 pm till 10.30 pm.

Group present: Nick Duffy, Wayne Pickrell, Kevin Wallace, Rob Tudge and Anne Brown.

During vigil – night shot video camera utilised in the filming of different aspects of the corridor concerned.

10.06 pm – Strange noise (?) heard, probably originating outside building. Also noted: sporadic talking from group downstairs; people taking photographs using flash; shining torches around, etc.

10.11 pm – distant ‘explosion’ sound heard evidently originating from outside building.

10.13 pm – Distant ‘explosion’ again. This closely followed by the sound of someone – probably in the group situated downstairs – clearing their throat quite loudly.

10.19 pm – Distant ‘explosion’ again.

10.33 pm – ‘Explosion’ again.

During this vigil, Rob Tudge mentions that he can hear the sound of movement coming from above him in the roof. Others present investigate and a number of people also hear the sound concerned. Lights are shone into the roof space and it is noticed that a number of nests have been built in this area. Also, we are aware that a colony of bats live in the property. Having heard the sound, I question whether there is any plastic sheeting or tarpaulin possibly utilised in the covering of holes in the mansion roof? Being new to the property, we cannot say for sure at this point, but a quick check later reveals that the scaffolding that surrounds this particular wing of the building is protected with masses of plastic sheeting. It is deduced that the sound heard originated with the sheeting concerned.


*VIGIL TWO – Cellar Area – 10.50 pm till 11.50 pm. (Same group members present).

During vigil, 2 night shot camera’s utilised in the filming of cellar passage, and two ante-rooms. Wooden Mannequin placed in one ante-room with camera facing it.

11.29 pm – Anne Brown reports having felt sensation akin to ‘breathing’ down her neck in the cellar corridor.

At the stairs end of the corridor, a rough wooden partition (and door) contain designs in the shape of a (poorly drawn) ‘pentagram’ and some letters from an ‘occult’ alphabet. The designs concerned were photographed – and later copied down by hand in a notebook – for later research / deciphering. The cellar is pointed out as one of the main points within the building utilised by Occultists and / or Satanists in a number of unsanctioned visits to the property over past decades.

**During the following ‘Break Period’, I accompany Kevin Wallace as he goes to set up an inpromptu video recording session in the Sacristy Area of the Chapel. A video camera is subsequently attached to an unfinished ‘gargoyle’ carving in the centre of the room, facing a wooden mannequin placed in an alcove in the Sacristy wall. (Recording made utilising night shot capacity).


*VIGIL THREE – Scullery / Kitchen Area – 12.10 am till 1.10 am. (Same group members present).

12.48 am – Wayne Pickrell hears a series of brief footsteps coming from the First Aid Room. (Area concerned locked and in darkness). He stands near to the door to the room, but can now only hear sounds of movement from the group situated on the landing directly above us. Noting the sound of footsteps now coming from that direction, he deduces that the steps he’d initially heard possibly originated from that region too. As he begins to move away, he then clearly hears more – brief – footsteps from inside the First Aid Room. Wayne is certain that the footsteps are definitely coming from the area concerned and calls me through from the Scullery. The footsteps have ceased by the time I get to him, but we check that the room is locked and take a cursory look along the corridor.

At many points during this particular vigil, I cannot help but notice - through the courtyard window - that a group opposite (probably situated around the first floor bathroom / corridor area) appear to be taking an exceptionally large amount of flash photographs. The ensuing flashes light up a lot of the building and courtyard area.

Towards the end of the vigil, Anne Brown reports having had something fly past her face in the Scullery doorway to the Kitchen Area(?) A few minutes later, I am standing looking at the impressive cooking range, when a bat skims past my head and vanishes up the chimney!!

**During the following ‘Break Period’, myself and K. Wallace retrieve the video camera from the Sacristy Area.

*VIGIL FOUR – 1st Floor corridor Area – 1.30 am till 2.30 am. (Same group members present).

Video camera (night shot) covering different sections of the corridor throughout the vigil.

Nothing to report, save for evidence – talking, camera flashes, etc – of other groups in the surrounding vicinity. (Especially a group situated directly below our position in the Library / Dining Room area).

*VIGIL FIVE – Bathroom / 1st Floor Corridor – 2.50 am till 3.50 am. (Same group members present).

Nothing to report, save for seeing flashing torchlight from another group covering the 1st Floor Corridor Area up the flight of steps from our position. (Only noticed towards end of vigil).

*VIGIL SIX – Chapel / Chapel Corridor Area – 4.10 am till 5.10 am. (Same group members present, except for Wayne Pickrell, who, as a designated driver, has to sleep prior to the return journey home).

Mike White has – at the beginning of the evening – set up two security camera’s and an infra-red device in the Chapel Corridor. Two monitors and VHS video recorders (linked to the aforementioned camera’s) are set up at the foot of the scaffolding inside the Chapel itself.

Nothing to report, except for the group situated on upper floor of wing of building directly opposite Chapel (across courtyard) utilising flash photography to considerable extent. Also, group situated in Scullery / Kitchen area heard talking on many occasions and using flash photography.

The Chapel is also pointed out as one of the main area’s targeted by Occultists in their visits. (For obvious reasons!)


*VIGIL SEVEN – Library and Dining Room Area – 5.30 am till 6.30 am. (Same group members present, except for Wayne Pickrell).

Nothing to report.

*DE-BRIEFING – Approx. 7.00 am – in Drawing Room, followed by our exiting Woodchester at around 7.30 am.

*Brief Conclusions And Observations

Fantastic / atmospheric site – which may well influence the minds of any visitors to a considerable extent.

I couldn’t help but notice that – at the de-briefing – much of what was reported as potential paranormal activity by those present, actually coincided to a great extent with stories already commonly associated with the building: i.e. shadowy figures seen in the Scullery doorway – also, same in Cellar area, etc). I believe that this in itself is suggestive…. even more so when considering that all such accounts seemed to be reported by investigators who had visited the site more than once (and therefore knew of the associated ghost-lore).

Also, from a psychological angle, it was evident that a small amount of ‘feeding’ and ‘prompting’ went on between researchers during the period in which they recounted their experiences.

Apart from Wayne Pickrells experience (Vigil Three) and that of Anne Brown (Vigil Two), none of the ‘1st timers’ experienced anything worthy of mention. (Which I found also suggestive).

The underlying attitude of many of the (repeat visit) researchers present would seem to have been aptly summed up in the words of one such investigator: “How can you come to a place like Woodchester and not experience anything?” It has to be said – hardly the sentiments of an objective researcher……

Having mentioned the above, the visit turned out to be a very enjoyable experience and the company concerned most amiable indeed.

My only real complaint about the investigation – echoed by many – was the fact that the activities of one group (during vigils) would often interfere with those of another. (Talking, flash photography, etc). This was the one mildly negative point in a very enjoyable investigation.

Regards,

The W.M.G.C.