Monday, April 18, 2005

St Botolphes, Skidbrooke Church, Lincolnshire.

St Botolphes, Skidbrooke.

My interest in Skidbrooke Church began when I came across it in a Polygram video in 1991 entitled, Ghost. In one segment Robin Furman leader of the Grimsby Ghostbusters (hate the name, love their methods) was asked by a group of students to look at Skidbrooke Church which stood abandoned but still consecrated in the middle of the Lincolnshire flatlands nestled behind a row of tall trees. They described how they had visited the church for fun but once the sun had gone down the atmosphere changed and became quite threatening. The group fled from the building after a rotating grey cloud materialised in the altar and chased them out across the graveyard and down to their car.

Furman and his team turned up at the church to find black magic symbols etched onto the walls and floors, some of which were constructed from red wax, decaying corpses of dead birds littering the grounds, and tombs which had been vandolised and opened. That night the Ghostbusters equipment picked up wild fluctuations in temperature in the porch and the female member of the group claimed she was touched by unseen hands. Later in the investigation a revolving cloud manifested in the altar which one of the group dispersed with a light gun the team call a tractron beam. Furmans final word on the case was that the church had become home to a kind of vampire. He even claims to have seen a vampire bat flying about in the rafters...

Amazing stuff? Well, it seemed to good to be true so in 1992 three friends and I began a series of vigils at the church to see if there was any truth to the tale. We got there to find that the tombstones were indeed disturbed, there were pentagrams on the floors and walls, and there were decaying birds corpses littering the footpath but were they caused by a vampire? We think it is far more likely they were caused naturally by the Kestrel which was nesting at the front of the church.
During are over night stays we experienced footsteps criss crossing the church, incredibly loud crashes, stone throwing, the grass and bushes in the graveyard moving in a weird way, a transparent figure stood in the altar, and on more than one occasion,doors slamming shut in front of are faces. A tape recorder which was running constantly on the font steps managed to pick up a series of footsteps followed by a deep sigh.

So impressed was I with what I had witnessed that I wrote up my findings in the SPR (Society for Psychical Research ) journal, resulting in two other groups visiting the church and carrying out investigations. An investigator from Leicester later wrote to me and told me how his equipment continually malfunctioned while in the church but was fine when he returned home, and two members of the Anglia Paranormal Research Group, said they heard loud bangs but they decided they were down to a plastic bottle falling from a window ledge !
Finally, Uri Gellers Encounters magazine (January 1997) interviewed all involved and managed to get the facts hopelessly wrong.

The nights I spent in the dark confines of St Botolphes Church are without doubt the most terrifying I have ever experienced.

Bispham Hall, Billinge, Lancashire.

Bispham Hall.

Ancient Bispham Hall until farely recently was a burnt out shell with a huge tree growing within its ruinous walls, until the present owner bought the property and began the slow process of restoring this building back to its former glory.
The hall that now stands was completed on the 15th August 1559 by Thomas Bispham and William Smalshaye, although an earlier hall built about 1346 once stood on land which is now a boy scout carpark.

Scouts used to dare each other to enter the ruins after dark in search of the white lady ghost who is most commonly reported during August. She is said to appear at the front entrance before wandering some hundred yards down to an ornamental fountain which has long since disappeared.
Another ghost seen here is that of a young man dressed in riding clothes which look like they are from the early 1900s, who stands deathly still on a patch of ground once used by the scouts.
The third and last ghost is that of a small white dog who is seen to sit quietly on his own grave. During the sixties a witness followed the animal into the dense undergrowth and found a tomb stone with the words, Alas Poor Faithful inscribed on it.

In August 1995 Ghost?quest began a series of investigations at this hall. During these vigils terrific crashes and bags were recorded, pin points of light were seen in the attic, now known as the Gallery, and shuffling footsteps were heard at the same time a movement sensor was activated.

Sunday, April 17, 2005

The Aintree & Fazakerley Social Club, Aintree, Liverpool.

Aintree & Fazakerley Social Club.

Rumour has it that the social club began it's illustrious life at the turn of the last century when local tram and railway workers were given land in exchange for demolishing the Warbreck College which once stood on the site. Once the land was clear of debris an old railway carriage was dragged onto the site which eventually became the first club. Over time the club evolved and grew until builders moved in to install beer cellars. As the diggers moved in the ground collapsed and they found themselves standing in a white tiled corridor which must have been connected to the colleges old boiler room. Since that day strange things began to happen in the club...

In the 1980s local school children (me included) would wait on the club steps for the cleaners who would pay us to enter the dark building and switch the lights on. One cleaner described how she always felt as if she was being watched while another opened up one morning only to have an indistinct human shape run across the lounge, push past her and leave through the main doors.
Glasses vibrate on shelves while some fly across the bar and shatter into tiny shards, and on at least one occasion all the glasses were collected from the tables and neatly left on the bar top apparently ready for washing, when the club was locked and empty...

Some people claim the ghost is that of an old life member affectionately known as Whisky Wilf, while others point to the fact that the club backs onto land previously occupied by an old curiosity shop where a gruesome murder took place back in the late 1950s.

Whoever the ghost is it must be comforting for him to know that he is surrounded by spirits....even if they are the bottled variety!

Liverpool Town Hall.

Liverpool Town Hall.

The original town hall dates back to 1350 when it was a guild house and court. Over the eons the building was damaged by cannon shot and a fire and was eventually replaced by a new building in 1740. Besides a few alterations etc, this is pretty much the building we see today.

On the 25th April 1998 five members and myself, plus a freelance camera crew of three, investigated Liverpools Town Halls murky cellars and splendid banquetting rooms in search of ghosts. One of the MARA members present described herself as a sensitive who could detect the presence of so called spirits. CCTV and video cameras and audio equipment were installed throughout the building, especially down in the basement where remnants of the old dungeons could still be seen. Although not convinced by the claims of psychic mediums I was interested to listen to the information which the sensitive picked up on.

In the basement area she sensed an unease and death, and an entity which was dressed in a grey dress, apron and hat, and in the cloakroom she detetcted the presence of a little girl who was about five years old who said her name was Molly. During the next minute or so a steady stream of names came forward including the name Wallacre, a William Eccles, a Rob and Peter, plus a large threatening man who was in charge of the cells named John McGregor.

Objective phenomena experienced that night included equipment malfuctioning, the sound of coughing being recorded in the main foyer when no one was present, footsteps heard in the ballroom and an assortment of bumps and bangs some of which may have originated outside in the street.
Although most of the night passed by peacefully Liverpools Town Hall is definately worthy of further investigation.

Coach & Horses, Northgate Street, Chester.

Coach & Horses.

Originally a 17th century coaching house and stables, the Coach and Horses is now a beautiful Inn with seven ensuite bedrooms. Many inexplicable happenings have kept the Inns staff and guests on their toes including the gas taps which controll the lager pumps being turned off and the special spanner vanishing. This later turned up when work men removed a false ceiling in the cellar. The owner, guests and staff alike have also seen indistinct shapes, ghosts which disappear mere seconds after being seen. Most of these apparitions show themselves on the ground floor near, or directly outside the owners private room. Blue balls of light have been seen to strike the walls between room four and seven and footsteps have been heard pacing this very corridor in the dead of night. The televisions in these rooms also have the unnerving habit of turning themselves on and off during the day and night.

Shortly before Tony Eccles and I stayed the night in the Inn a packed bar had watched an ashtray slide across the table top and fall to the floor numerous times. When it was replaced it was said to have vibrated for quite a while.

One night an elderly man entered the bar and had a few drinks while he told the staff about how his beloved wife had just died. Infact he went on to say that he couldn't bare returning home so he booked a room, took his key and said that he would take a quick walk around the city walls before retiring for the night. When midnight came and went and the man didn't turn up, the owner phoned the police who quickly searched the walls for the man but he was nowhere to be found. The police then decided that the elderly man may have returned home in a confused state so they drove up the M53 motorway to Birkenhead where he apparently lived and knocked on his front door without any luck. Neighbours later told the police that all the information they had on the old man was right, even the description fitted the man, but he had died shortly after his wife eight years previously..!

Wycoller Hall, Colne, Lancashire.

Wycoller Hall.

The ruins of Wycoller Hall stand lonely and neglected beyond the tiny hamlet of Wycoller high on the moors near Colne in Lancashire. Thought to have been the inspiration behind Ferndean Manor in the Bronte's novel, Jane Eyre, Wycollers haunted legacy goes back centuries. In Elizabeth Shackletons diaries from the year 1776, it is referred to as that haunted hall. And haunted it certainly is...

There are a variety of ghosts to be found at picturesque Wycoller including a spectral horse and carriage which sweeps through the hamlet, across the narrow stream and on up the lane towards Parsons Lea. The Guytrash, a huge black dog with fiery red eyes has also been seen prowling in this area as well as a women dressed from head to foot in black who is often encountered in the rear rooms. However, the most infamous ghost is that of Squire Simon Cunliffe who is supposed to have horse whipped his wife to death after finding her in the arms of another man. Another story tells of how Simon Cunliffe, during a hunt, chased a fox across neighbouring fields only for it to enter the hall and climb the stairs. Cunliffe is said to have followed on his horse giving his wife such a shock that she immediately fell in a faint and later died.

Across the stream, nestled in the hamlet is Wycoller House which is also reputedly haunted for here it is said that on certain nights one can witness the terrifying apparition of a man who wears two hats, one round, one square, who wears a long black cape and has no hands or feet.

Ghost?quest carried out half a dozen investigations of the ruins with some success. Although several nights passed by without nothing happening, on many occasions knocks, singing, sighs and the sound of a whip were caught on tape. Also several photographs taken in the hall by John Hall showed light anomalies that some refer to as orbs.

Saturday, April 16, 2005

Chingle Hall, Goosnargh, Preston, Lancshire.

CHINGLE HALL.

Originally built by a knight named Adam de Singleton, circa 1260, Chingle Hall has become a mecca for ghosthunters, paranormalists and the just plain curious. Twenty seven seperate ghosts are said to lurk within the white washed walls of the hall, although a more realistic estimate is sixteen or seventeen. These include the spectre of a Roman soldier who is seen on the stairs, a little girl and boy, a black cat and of course, the star of the show; the blessed John Wall.

During the English Reformation Chingle Hall became a safe house for jesuits roaming Lancashire who brought the illegal mass to the Roman Catholic families of the county. Many priests were said to have been sheltered in the halls many hides, none of which were ever discovered, which is probably why sightings of monks account for over three quarters of all ghost sightings at Chingle. These are usually seen in the porch, the small bedroom over the porch, the upper corridors, the chapel and the great hall, although they are not entirely restricted to the hall. A phantom monk was once knocked down on Whittingham Lane that runs along the bottom of the halls drive, by a disc jockey returning home late at night, and a troop of monks walking in single file were seen crossing the car park in broad daylight while a dog show was taking place.

Other ghosts seen here in include some of the past owners such as Eleanor de Singleton and Margaret Howarth who has taken many a visitor on a tour of the hall when the owners are away on holiday even though she died some time ago.
If that wasn't enough a ghostly chandelier hangs in the small front bedroom, an ugly monk is often seen looking into the hall through the upstairs window at the top of the stairs, and poltergeist phenomena takes place at the foot of the stairs, the chapel and in the private living room where a model galleon was once seen to levitate.

Ghost?quest has carried out over a dozen investigations of this fine atmospheric building with some amazing results. Although none of the team sighted any of the halls ghosts, knocks, bumps and bangs, doors opening and closing unaided, cold spots and deep gutteral sighs were heard and caught on equipment on more than one occasion.