Monday, 26 June 2017

Ghost Hunters: The Hauntings of Castle Leslie.

Photo by Sean MacEntee
Mark Leslie: Living ten years in London with the noise, and the traffic, and the underground, one had got used to a very different – you know, the madness that the British take for reality, the sort of standard Greenwich Mean Gloom, everything’s normal, and anything’s a bit eccentric that doesn’t conform with this. It’s a particular form of English madness, which is different from the Irish madness.  When you live in the Irish countryside, you take the presence of fairies or banshees when people died, as not at all odd. Because in the Irish country it’s sufficiently dark and sufficiently quiet for the other world to make its presence felt.

Desmond Leslie: We came here, we were just married, and we were up in the greenhouses, picking grapes. And she had her hand out, and she suddenly felt little fingers pulling off her wedding ring. And directly below her there was stone, and it never hit the floor. It should have gone ‘ping’! So we searched, we searched, we searched, we dug up the greenhouse. And I knew that greenhouse had often childish laughter been heard, so I said ‘Well it’s the little people who live just one octave up, and they have a naughty sense of humour.’ So I went up and I said ‘Well very funny, we’re all very amused, and here’s some silver for you,’ and I buried half crowns, and I lit some incense, and said ‘And now can we please have our wedding ring back!’ I went back to the house, and a few days later Helen was turning out some old bags, and in this inner zipped pocket here, there was our wedding ring. [laughs] Explain that if one may! But it was the sort of thing you expect to happen in Ireland.

Narrator: Castle Leslie lies in the rolling green countryside of County Monaghan, almost on the border between Southern and Northern Ireland. It stands on the edge of a lake, a huge neo-gothic pile that was built in the middle of the last century, on the site of a much older castle. Like so many of these houses in Ireland and elsewhere, it seems to be an extraordinary focus of paranormal activity. People talk, for example, about the eighteen ghosts of Castle Leslie, and link them to various generations of the family and their servants and retainers, stretching back across the years. Like for example the story of Old Ned, the gardener.

Ann, Local Resident: Well my two uncles, Uncle Ned and Pat both were the top gardeners here, and I think they were here from about when they were 14 to about 75 or so. And I remember we had moved from the village up to a new set of houses in the village, and we took them with us because they had got asthma. And my uncle Ned was dying, and he couldn’t be left in the room on his own, and each night we sat there and he would be pulling at the bedclothes and I would say “What are you doing?” and he would say “I’m washing the roses,” because the roses were fabulous here, and his job see was really looking after all the flowers and the hedges. And he’d be always watering the roses and it fascinated us, we’d look at him and say “God he thinks he’s really in the garden, he’s watering the roses now.” We’d go and say “Mum, he thinks he’s in the garden,” and she’d say “Leave him alone, he probably is there.” And one day, he was still working away, as he thought, in the garden, and he said, round about ten o’clock, “Ann, I’m going to work.” And we used to tell him, “Right, yes, ok.” And just a few minutes after I looked and he seemed to have just fell over, and I ran out and said “Mum, I think Ned’s dead.” And she “Oh not at all,” but she went in, and he was. And about twenty minutes after that, the doorbell rang, and I went to the door, and I was in tears because we loved him. And Desmond Leslie was standing there with a red rose in his hand, and I said, “Oh you’re late, he’s just died.” And he said, “No, I just met him in the roses, I’ve just come from the gardens and I just met him down there. He was walking through the rose bed.” I couldn’t believe it.

Narrator: The Leslie family goes back a long long way. They claim to be able to trace their ancestry back to Attilla the Hun, one of the men that came out of the East to bring down the Roman Empire. But the estates in Ireland go back to the time of Charles the Second, they were part of a gift for fighting Cromwell. Originally they were vast, but over the years they’ve shrunk to about a thousand acres, around the village of Glasloch, which was built to house the workers on the estate. Generations of people in the village have worked at the Big House. And many of the stories of paranormal events would suggest they are woven into the very fabric of the place.

Photo by Lukiebaggs
Mark Leslie: Well there was an extraordinary continuity, because many of the people about the place had been right back from the time of my great grandmother. In fact only last year, Brigit, the housekeeper died, who’d joined my great grandmother’s staff, you know, Lady Leonie Leslie, one of the Jerome sisters, and effectively ran the house – you know Leslies came and went, but the staff were sort of permanent, it was their house really. One felt one was there on sufferance, one would creep down to the basement level, which within my lifetime still had Annie the cook, and the boy who polished the boots and lit the boiler in the morning. There was still the kind of last vestiges of the upstairs-downstairs Victorian set-up.

Sammy Leslie: The kitchen which we have now for the dining room used to be the butler’s bedroom and the corridor along it seems to have quite a lot of activity along it. I think maybe one of the reasons is it was the corridor between the male and female servants. And the butler’s bedroom was on the corridor, and what the old cod used to do was loosen the tiles so as they used to sneak up and down the corridor after hours he would hear them, and of course there was great war if they were caught. So eventually what they realised was that if they got out one window and crawled along a parapet, they could avoid his bedroom. But, both Jacqui and I work in the kitchen, and quite often you’ll see a fleeting shadow go up and down the corridor, or get a sensation of somebody walking past. And when we had a freezer in the corridor about two years ago, I was counting something in the bottom of it, and the corridor has a door at either end of it, and I heard somebody walk through the door and walk down the corridor behind me. And I saw the figure start to go past, and I thought it was Elton wearing his grey sweatshirt. And I called up to him that I wanted something, and the figure walked behind me and out the other side, and he didn’t respond. So I stood up and looked round, and the figure had gone. And the door coming out of the corridor was shut firmly, and it was no way that it was a person that had walked past me, and that gave me a little bit of a fright.

Judy, Personal Assistant: I was actually showing  a group of children around the basement, and we’d been here in the wine cellar. And you have to remember that this was a very normal run – I could have done this a hundred times. But on this particular occasion, and it was five o’clock on a sunny day, a summer’s afternoon, high summer, as I said this had all been done before. We finished the tour in the wine cellar, and I stepped outside just to finish off with a little talk about the historical aspect of the basement. And just as these things happened, we just slipped into that other time, and I looked up and he was standing there, looking at us. And I knew he was a servant who had always been here. And my feeling was not a feeling of those dreadful horror stories, it was a feeling of ‘I’m trespassing here,’ and he’s telling me that. And I also felt foolish – ‘What are you foolish people doing?’. You see this was their territory, this was their home, and it still is.

Narrator: Castle Leslie was in its heyday in Victorian and Edwardian times, and throughout the place there is the sense that those times haven’t entirely gone away. There are countless examples of incidents that would seem to link the characters that occupied the house then, with the people who live in it now. The story of great aunt Constance is a typical example.

Sammy Leslie: The house was built by Lady Constance, and it is still very much her house, I think. If you see her portrait, I think she is still quite a strong presence here. She died, I think, in 1927. And in around 1944 her son, Sir John Leslie, died, and his young wife was very ill, and she was in the mauve bedroom, just literally the one above here, and quite literally that was her favourite room and where she wanted to spend the last of her days. And her nursemaid was sitting in a chair by the door, and the door opened, and a figure swept in and came over to the bed, and Leonie recognised here. And shortly after, Leonie passed away very quietly and peacefully. And the nurse assumed it was a member of the family, and hadn’t said anything until after the funeral, she was in the dining room. And she pointed to the portrait to the left of the fireplace, and of course it was Constance that she’d seen at Leonie’s bed. But it’s the third time in this house alone, where somebody has come back to take somebody else with them.

Narrator: As several psychic investigators have put it, it’s as though the entire fabric of the house has absorbed the colour and the flavour of the people who’ve lived and died here over the generations.  Every room has its story, and it seems they can be witnessed other than by members of the family. Many visitors to the house, for example, have very strange stories to tell.

Marion and Lucy, house guests.
Marion: Lucy and I were down here for the evening, and had gone to bed early, and had decided to read books, and we were cuddled in bed and I was reading her one of her Beatrix Potter books. I’d left a pile of the books on the side of the table. I suddenly heard this dragging sound, and I thought  - had one of the dogs come in? or what had happened? And I heard it coming from the far side of the bed, where Lucy was. And we both looked over at the same time, and I noticed that the books on the top of the pile were sliding off one by one and just falling to the ground. And for no reason they just stopped, and Lucy then said to me, “Mummy, can you see the people?” but I couldn’t see anyone there.
Lucy (about 5?): They were children. They were dressed in shiny jumpers and dresses. I saw them moving the book.   They were sliding down to the ground. They fell down and disappeared. I assumed they went through the wall because they were magic. They were ghosts.
Marion: How did you know they were ghosts?
Lucy: Because I looked at their faces and they were ghosts.
Marion: It was frightening, the sound, when we first heard it, because we didn’t know what it was, but when I realised the books were dropping off the edge of the table, I knew there was no reason for it, and when Lucy said “Look at the children,” then it dawned on me that we were experiencing something really strange and inexplicable. But she was comfortable looking at these children that I couldn’t see.

Photo by Sean MacEntee

Part Two.
Narrator: Here at Castle Leslie in Ireland, one of the families most recent heroes is Uncle Norman. He became heir to the estate around the turn of the century, about the time when he joined the Irish Fusiliers. When the Great War came he went to France, and took part in some of the very earliest fighting. He was never to see Castle Leslie again, because he died in a furious charge on a machine gun post, wielding his officer’s sword, in October 1914. But around the time of his death there were many reports of his actually being seen walking the gardens in his family home.

Sammy Leslie: I think one of my favourite stories here is about my great uncle Norman. He was the second Earl [?] at the turn of the century, and his older brother [Shane?] didn’t want the running of the estate so it was passed to Norman. And Norman had joined the army and then graduated in 1906. When the First War came and he set off dutifully for war, and on the 18th of October that year, 1914, he was seen back here – he was seen along by the lake by Jimmy Vogan[?] the old gamekeeper, and checking round the grounds.

Desmond Leslie: Uncle Norman, you see, was killed at the very beginning of the First War, leading a charge with a sword, because the war office didn’t think it was quite good show for officers to carry guns, by gad, it was up guards and at ‘em. It’s not a very good thing for attacking a German machine gun nest. He came walking down that garden path there in broad sunlight one afternoon, and the old gamekeeper said “Oh Mr Norman, you’re home!”, and he smiled, and walked on in.

Sammy Leslie: And it was assumed he was home on leave and checking his estate before he came to the house. And his room was got ready and his mother was told, and there was great bustle in the house to prepare his meals. And there’s still a little note in her diary saying ‘Norman’s home’. And that evening he never came to the house, and everybody feared the worst. And within a week the letter would come from the War Office to say he died early on the morning of October 18th, hours before. He was seen here hours after he died.

Narrator: The Norman story is typical of the ghosts of Castle Leslie. They all seem to involve people who had a profound spiritual or emotional connection to the place. And perhaps because there are so many people around the house, there are almost always multiple sightings.

Mark Leslie: None of the stories or sightings of hauntings in the present Castle Leslie are sinister. The old Castle Leslie that was stood on the same site, that was demolished in the [? Years] – there apparently was a sinister presence in the back stairs. And interestingly enough, one of the few spooky, frightening experiences that happened when I was living there, was when they were repairing the roof in the sixties, the workmen refused to come after night because right where the old castle stood in front, white figures were seen moving about where the back stairs had been, and they refused to carry on working on the house after dark.

Sheila St Clair, Paranormal Investigator: I don’t think we have ever found that Castle Leslie was ever associated with anything unpleasant. I think  that has to be said first off, because so many of the houses of Ireland have really bloodthirsty, unpleasant stories attached to them. Castle Leslie is what you see – a lovely family estate with a kind of feeling of being cared for.

Mark Leslie: The fact that the Leslies were able to stay put in one house for 350 years, and it was a big enough house, 96 rooms or whatever it is, it could accommodate all their clutter – most people have to sort of purge to stay sane, they have to keep purging the clutter of their lives. But somehow at Castle Leslie the sediments of each generation remained, to be hopefully not too much of an impediment to the next generation.  It meant that the family memory, the folk memory extends back over a much greater number of generations. So the feeling of reality of people in the past, because you know what they looked like, their pictures are there, their clothes might be in a cupboard, “This is the chair fat Charlie Leslie  had made in 1780 when he developed gout“ – you can see the leather patch where it was worn away, and you can see how fat he was because his breaches and waistcoat are still hanging in the cupboard  – it made him a real person. I think that was the unique element to Castle Leslie, it’s like a time capsule with the vibrations and objects of 350 years of interesting life – it remains, there’s nothing to disturb it.

Narrator: Many psychic investigators would argue that what you find at Castle Leslie is exactly what you’d expect to find. The house is filled with the relics and paraphernalia of people who have lived and died here over the generations. And so you find a long history of coincidence and association, building up to a very high level of expectation – creating an anthology of ghost stories, you might say, around births, marriages and deaths.

Dr Richard Wiseman: In many stately homes there is a real sense of history. There are big portraits of ancestors, there are lots of stories about what the ancestors have achieved. And so it’s not difficult to believe, you know, that those people are still around. That they would have had strong emotional links with the house, and that’s why their ghosts are there. But obviously the stories, the pictures, the books have a big influence on the people living in the house. There is a feeling those people are still around. They see an apparition, a figure at the top of the stairs, and so in their mind they convert that to be the great grandfather who was killed in the battle of X, and that’s why he’s still coming back to see us. It doesn’t mean these things are true, it may just be that the expectations bring on this sort of experience.

Narrator: But that having been said, it’s very important not to write off sightings of the same event by several different witnesses. And there are many stories that are immensely difficult to explain away. The witnesses are sane and balanced people – the events are apparently impossible. Take Patch the dog, for example.

Sammy Leslie: Late one night I was sitting on a box painting the skirting boards in the bathroom. And the next thing I saw a Jack Russell jump off the floor and land on my knee. And just as he landed on my knee he disappeared! And I looked at my friend, and we both decided it was too late and we needed some sleep, and that we both should go to bed. So that was fine, we both went to bed and didn’t think too much about it. And a few days later she was in the bathroom and the radio was on the bathroom floor, and it was tuned out of any station – it was just making lots of noise. And as she walked in, the next thing she heard was someone go “Patch! Patch!” and it was like someone calling quite desperately. And she shouted at me and I ran up, and I just heard one or two calls at the end as it faded out.  A number of weeks later you’d be lying in bed and the next thing you’d hear something scratching on the floor. You’d hear the scratch, scratch on the floor. One particular night I was sitting in bed reading my book, and the light was on and I could hear where the scratching was coming from, and I assumed it was mice or something, so I threw the book at it. Nothing happened, and a few minutes later the scratching resumed, so I shouted to my friend who was in the other room and she came in and the two of us shared the bed that night. And the next thing in the middle of the night she woke me up because she heard the scratching on the floor. And all these little fragments didn’t really make sense until one day I bumped into my aunt. And she said “Oh I hear you’ve got a new small dog – we hear him yapping and barking sometimes.” And I said, well we haven’t really got a small dog, but we do have a small problem! And I started to tell her of the dog being seen, and the scratching and the barking and everything else. And she said “Well that’s very strange”  because her father, my great uncle Seymour, as a small boy had a little brown and white Jack Russell called Patch. And he’d had TB as a child. For some reason some of the boys were taunting him and teasing him, and they decided they would taunt his dog, and things went badly wrong and they killed the dog by mistake – and of course, the dog’s name was Patch.

Narrator: The events surrounding the burial of Aunt Anita are of a very different category. All we can say is that there seem to be a surprising conjunction of nattural events witnessed by many people. It was a still, calm summer’s day. Aunt Anita was about to be buried, across the lake.

Photo by Sean MacEntee
Mark Leslie: My aunt Anita was the primary person in residence there when I was a young child, and she was a remarkable and charming beautiful woman, a great writer of historical works, and was a great focus of the family. When she died, ten years ago, she insisted on being buried because of her Red Indian heritage in the family, she wanted to buried between the roots of two trees. And we had a very remarkable and moving burial service for her, on the bank of the lake, opposite the castle. And at the climactic moment, when my father read  out a particular poem that my aunt had wanted read, about her soul rising and going home – a sort of wind spout came up the lake, which until then had been mirror calm, and all the autumn leaves got sucked off the trees and it formed a great golden vortex that came right over where the funeral was, and sort of shot up, cascaded up into the air. Now this is a perfectly natural phenomenon. The strange thing is that this tornado should pass up the lake at the climactic moment of the funeral sucking all the leaves, and the lake which up til that moment had been mirror calm, boiled, you know. If a hand had come out the lake with a sword and taken the prayer book away, nobody would have batted an eyelid. And all the Irish were saying “Ah, there goes Anita’s soul,” and they all sort of waved bye-bye to the leaves. We, coming from London, were like “What, this, this can’t be happening – look, good grief!”  and everybody thought we were just a bit, you know. It was the difference between passing between the psychic force field of a busy urban life to rural Ireland.

Narrator: There is no doubt that Castle Leslie is a beautiful and romantic place. A place where it’s immensely difficult to unravel fact from Celtic mystery. But many of the stories that cluster round it are little different from the kinds of stories that in our research we find linked to old family houses right across Europe. Most of them can perhaps be written off as coincidence or anecdote, or embroidery of a half remembered event – but not all. We are left with that mysterious core of stories that would seem to defy rational explanation.

Sunday, 25 June 2017

Ghost Hunters: Spectres of the Severn


Another transcript from the series.

The Spectres of the Severn

Narrator: The Severn Valley in the West of England is renowned for its beauty. Although it’s close to the cradle of the industrial revolution, it escaped the worst ravages. So you still have great stretches of rolling farmland and woods, and unspoilt river valleys. The market towns and villages like Dursley and Wootton Under Edge remain unscarred by industrial development. They have whole streets that go back hundreds of years. But the unspoilt beauty is not the reason we came here. We came to put a major paranormal theory to the test. Is there a link between geology – the rocks under our feet – and psychic events? Particularly where those rocks are under great stress, as they are where they’ve been cracked and folded and faulted. This is one of the most actively researched ideas among paranormal investigators. And it’s given rise to a whole range of controversial theories.

Chris Romer, Parapsychologist: One of the things that’s always intrigued researchers into the paranormal is why some areas appear to be more haunted than others. Why some buildings have many legends attached to them. Could it be that the answer lies in the rock strata beneath our feet? In recent years, parapsychologists have paid more and more attention to fault lines. There is a growing belief among certain schools of parapsychology that these fault lines in some way are generating an energy which is allowing the haunting to happen. There are various schools of thought on the matter. The more orthodox or conservative parapsychologist or sceptic might say that minor earth tremors, minor seismic activity, could cause many of the poltergeist type effects which we see in this part of the country. Another school has argued that radon gas, an inert gas, is released immediately prior to earth tremors, and that this can take on a luminous glowing form which can appear as an apparition to some people. But perhaps the most intriguing possibility is that a form of energy, possibly a sub-microwave level radiation, is released by the fault, and that this in some way interacts with the human neural system, with the human brain. Does it make us more psychic?  Does it make us more likely to hallucinate? We don’t know at this stage.

Narrator: It was this latter theory in particular that interested us. The possibility of a link between stresses in the rocks, the earth’s magnetic fields, and the electrochemical activity in the brain. And to put these theories to the test, we chose a small stretch of the Severn valley, only 10 miles or so square. It’s an area that’s criss-crossed with stress and fault lines, like cracks and wrinkles in a well-worn face. It’s also an area that has a long association with unexplained and unusual events, that stretches back over many hundreds of years.

Dr Roney-Dougal, Parapsychologist: This area has got an incredibly diverse range of paranormal activity. So you’re saying really that it’s a hotspot of paranormal activity. And what I have noticed in my research is that if we look at the ancient megalithic sites, the stone circles, the tumuli, the barrows, the standing stones, that they are all to be found in areas where there are geological faults. Most of them, I think 80% of them are in Cornwall, up through the west part of Somerset, through Wales, the Lake District and in Scotland, and these are the parts of Britain that are intensely geologically faulted.

The Bell Hotel, Dursley. Photo by Philip Halling.

Narrator: But all that was far too general for our purpose. We needed a much more specific linkage. We were looking for places where two things came together. One, pronounced paranormal activity over many years – not just the odd event but repeated unexplained occurrences witnessed by two or three or more people. And second, proximity to well-established fault lines. We started at the Bell Inn at Dursley, an old coaching inn. It’s hemmed in by no less than three well-marked fault lines.

Sonia, Publican: We had two builders at one stage staying – they were burley “men’s men” builders – typical builders. And they were coming down to breakfast, it was about 7:30 and they came running down the stairs, white as a sheet, and they were really scared. They’d just met an old man in the corridor, they’d said good morning to him, and he’d disappeared in front of them. And they were really frightened.

Chambi, Publican: I had a long-distance driver stopped here. He parked his cab in the carpark, went to bed as normal. We’d arranged for an early breakfast. I came down, got it all ready, waited and waited, there was no sign of him. I assumed he’d decided to move on without paying. I checked the carpark, only to find he was sleeping in his cab. I tapped on his window, enquiring what was going on. And basically he said, “I can’t come back in” – he’d actually seen a figure of a gentleman, an old gentleman, he said he was very well dressed. He just walked in, and walked straight out through the door without opening it! With that he panicked, got dressed, and spent his night in the cab.

Marie, Waitress: I went up the stairs, and as I was starting to do the tables – I was in the middle of the room doing one of them – when I thought I heard somebody call. And I looked in the mirror which was down at the bottom of the room, and nobody was there. So I continued to set the table. But as I was setting the table again I had this awful feeling of somebody staring at you, and you just had to turn around. So when I turned around there was a woman in the doorway. And she just put her finger up and said ‘come here’ like that [beckoning]. But she didn’t mention a word, it was just as if she was saying ‘come on’. So I looked and I said ‘just a minute, please’. And I put the dishes down and started doing it, and I turned around again to see had she gone, and she was like this and I thought I’d seen a guest I hadn’t seen and she wants something. So I went and as I got out there’s two steps there. I thought ‘Did she jump those steps or am I imagining it?” And I stood. And then she went round the corner and she was half way. And instead of walking she was just gliding up those stairs. So I came down and I told Mr Lloyd, and he started to laugh at me. I thought he was going to give me the usual Irish jokes about it but he didn’t. He said ‘Oh you haven’t seen her now!’ I said ‘Seen who?’ He says ‘She’s out again is she!’

Narrator: There were many other stories of apparitions. But also accounts of repeated poltergeist activity. Sudden unexplained bursts of energy that cause strange noises or move things around, or just simply surprising events.

Tim, Builder: When… a Thursday or a Friday I came here, I can’t remember when it was, in the afternoon, a hot summer’s day. Came in to quickly check about what was going on the weekend, and all of a sudden we spotted above us in the corridor downstairs, that the central heating pipes were all frozen over. Completely crusted over, white ice. Same as inside your refridgerator cooler box, that sort of white stuff. So anyway, me and Ben were saying that was quite strange, so we followed it down into the cellar, where the system is. And we got down there and [laughs] we couldn’t believe it – it was even switched off – how can anything be going wrong when it’s even switched off? And you know, bearing in mind it was a blimmin hot day. We had no explanation for it so we came back upstairs, carried on talking the conversation just sort of – couldn’t really work out what it was and trying to forget about it. And within a couple of minutes it all started dripping on our shoulders, thawing out. It just cleared slowly, you could watch it clearing all the way back down.

Narrator: Old ladies floating up and downstairs, severely frightened lorry drivers – it would seem like a positive strike. The Bell Inn met both our conditions. But it didn’t end there. The fault line of the Bell happens to run along the main street. If our theory has any validity, shouldn’t we expect to find at least some activity in one or more of the neighbouring houses. As soon as we began our enquiries, we did.

Chris Romer: One of the faults, one of the three faults runs directly under the street, or just behind the street, within 30m of the length of the street, according to my calculations. The other two faults actually run at 90 degrees and frame the Bell on either side. Down the road from the Bell are the sites of two other pubic houses which again have their own hauntings associated with them. Even further down the street we have another house where I was once informed a monk has been seen. I’m always sceptical of monks because of course they can be any kind of shadow, but if we move  further up to the other end of the street we have a shop where yet another apparition has been encountered.

Narrator: We spoke to one of the people who lives above the shop in the house at the top of the road. She didn’t wish to be identified, but she and her partner had experienced such an overwhelming number of strange and other-worldly events over the past two years that they were no longer frightened by them – they’d become a familiar part of their lives.

Anonymous woman: It’s just weird little things… like you can’t believe, like the room’ll be absolutely immaculate. You’ll come… you’ll go out, you’d come back – everything would be all over the place, you know – all over the place as if someone has come in, trashed it, and gone back out, you know. It’s weird. And sometimes when we’re watching telly you hear funny noises and you see like shadows. One, I think yesterday morning, my boyfriend woke up and he seen something stood there, at the side of him, and he just went cold and he couldn’t get to sleep again, he put his head under the covers, like, and he told me next day, this morning – and I said ‘Oh it’s probably because you don’t talk to it.’ And Steve, my boyfriend, says to me – ‘Oh you shouldn’t talk to it, you know, something might happen.’ When you talk to it, you just feel like a cold sort of, the room goes a bit cold. But then it’s never actually physically hurt me. It’s touched me on the arm, and down the side of me, but it’s never actually gone to push me or physically hurt me in any way.

Owlpen Manor. Photo by Derek Harper.
Narrator: In our quest for paranormal events possibly linked to geological faults, we moved east from Dursley to the village of Uley, where we called upon Owlpen manor. It lies close to the centre of the village, and the geological map shows that it lies very close indeed to a clearly established fault line. What about paranormal activity? Well it seems there was indeed a long history of unexplained incidents in the house. One of them had occurred only a few weeks earlier.

Karin, Restaurant owner: Now the little girl who has suddenly appeared in the house – I’m sure she’s been here for a long time, it’s just we haven’t been aware of her. But suddenly now after the last six months, she’s definitely much in evidence.

Hugo: I had to put some towels out up here, and I was coming through the corridor over there, and I came along and I saw this figure standing on the stairs. It was a couple of weeks ago. She was standing here but I couldn’t see the whole of her because the door frame was blocking the rest of her view. But I could see legs and some socks and black shoes and I think she had a short dress on. And I was utterly petrified, I couldn’t move, I was kind of rooted to the spot. And it couldn’t have been any light or anything, because it was about 11:30, there are no lights on, there was no moon and no sun. She was just standing there, unmoving, completely unmoving, and I couldn’t quite believe that I’d seen a ghost. Then suddenly I just thought ‘I’ve got to move’ and I like, dropped the towels and ran back. And I was completely shocked that I’d seen something bizarre and not of this world.

Karin: His whole face was sort of drawn, and he said ‘Oh I’ve seen the little girl, I’ve seen the little girl!’ and I then went  through – I mean I wasn’t particularly happy about seeing this little girl either – and I went through and all I could see was a light in the staircase. And I asked her to go to bed. And that was, so far the end of it, I don’t know.

The Ancient Ram Inn. Photo by Brian Robert Marshall.

Narrator: By now, word had got around about what we were doing. We were asked to call in on the Ram Inn, the Ancient Ram Inn, to give it its full name, in the village of Wootton Under Edge. But did it lie close to a fault? We checked, and indeed it did. A fault runs down the valley under the house. Again at short notice we called in to talk to some of its customers.

Simon, Printer: Myself and a friend come down one night, and we both sat in the dining room over there, I think it was then, and John the owner said to me, and to my friend, ‘There’s something very strange about that corner over there.’ He pointed, and from then I was launched off the sofa – literally picked up, physically thrown off the sofa onto the floor- coughing, spluttering – it took all the wind out of me. And thereafter, I mean I heard John say ‘Quick, look at me, look at me’, and we both looked up, and he was literally pinned up against – there was an old oak dresser, he was pinned up against it, there were both his legs off the floor. Just ‘Look at me look at me’. It’s something I don’t think I’ll forget in a long time. I mean even ten years ago. Those sorts of things will stay in your mind, something very frightening, very real, something really intense, yes.

Dave, Labourer: I’d recently lost a relative, and I mentioned this name, Tom, and we was just talking about it. John was talking about ghosts. When all of a sudden, as soon as I’d said that name, Tom, this heavy presence come down, and that’s all it was at the start, like a presence, like you could feel it. And that weren’t really a lot, I didn’t really go with it then. But all of a sudden, I went to move but I couldn’t move. It was like I couldn’t move, like being shocked by electric. John’s hair was stood up on end. My hair was stood up on end. The radio in this room was going up and down, up and down for about ten minutes, and then stop. We just couldn’t stop it. It was really getting out of control.

Caroline, Secretary: I was sitting one end of the attic, which was our front room, and the attic’s an L shape. And the other end of the attic was our bedroom. Me and Stuart were sat in the front room, and it was about nine o’clock one evening and we could hear all this crashing and banging around. And we’ve got a big dog, he’s a Rottweiler, and I thought perhaps he was trying to get in behind some furniture, because it sounded like furniture moving. Anyway the noise stopped, and we just sat and looked at one another, and then the noise started again so we decided to investigate. We got to the bedroom doorway and looked in the bedroom and we couldn’t see the dog. We did notice however that a cupboard next to the double bed was missing. The usual bedside cupboard with a drawer at the top and a few books in it and a door in the bottom. And it had gone! And we decided to look for the dog then, and we looked down the stairs to our right then, and we noticed there was no dog but the actual cupboard was stuck sideways in the doorway at the bottom of the stairs. Well that was a bit of a shock really. We had to move the cupboard in order to get out of the attic stairway. I carried on down to the bottom floor to see where the dog had got to, and I found the dog all cuddled up in a ball against the door of my father’s front room, shivering.

Rob, BT Supervisor: It was about two o’clock in the morning. I’d turned all the lights off and got into bed. And a few minutes later I was actually starting to fall asleep. And then suddenly all the lamps started flickering, just very briefly like that all around the room. Which unnerved me a bit, it was a bit scary but it wasn’t too bad, you know, I thought it was a bit of joke to be honest, that someone was playing a joke. So I unplugged all the lights apart from the one by the bed, for obvious reasons. Then they kept on doing it after that, so I figured you know, that’s something a bit weird, something a bit weird was happening. So I actually still stayed in the room, because flickering lights aren’t that scary, but suddenly I felt this thing jump on the bed, there was kind of a weight and I felt pawprints walking up my body. And I turned the lamp on by my bed because I hadn’t unplugged that one, and I couldn’t see anything, except these four indentations, two on my chest, two at the top of my legs. And I just got up and left the room and slept downstairs for the rest of the night.

Narrator: We actually visited seven or eight locations, all of which were very close to fault lines, for all of which there seemed to be a clear record of paranormal activity. Most of them were older houses going back for 100 years or more. But there is a predominance of that kind of house in the area. But one of them was modern: a filling station on the M5. Where during the building of the motorway, there had been many reports of sightings that seemed to be related in some way to the Civil War – a mounted cavalier, for example.

Chris Romer: Another case which we’d looked at very briefly, recently, is a petrol station, a very modern hi-tech service station on the M5 motorway. And there we found that there were throughout the late 70s and early 80s rumours of a phantom cavalier. More recently, a chap who was driving home one night down the road behind the service station saw a figure appear in front of him, and then pass through his car and vanish. And if you were to draw the connecting line, the geological line down from the service station towards Dursley, you would find the actual point at which the encounter occurred, it’s actually on the fold.

Narrator: So, at least seven sites all very close to established faults, all with repeated reports of paranormal activity. Of course that does not mean there is a causal link between the two, it doesn’t amount to scientific proof. But it undoubtedly is a remarkable coincidence, that in this small area, we should find this close correlation between faults on the one hand, and long continued psychic activity on the other. Of course, this is not the only part of the country where this relationship has been observed. So what’s going on? What is the nature of the theories about the linkage between the stresses in the rocks and the psychic events? As you might expect, there is no shortage of controversy.

Chris Romer: Some parapsychologists believe that all that’s happening, is that underground earth tremors or underground seismic activity generates movement or the release of gases such as radon which are seen as apparitions or objects, and that people are mistaking underground movement, or even underground water under their house or subsidence, those conditions are causing people to believe that their home is haunted. Other parapsychologists would go much further and say that the underground seismic activity in these faults can generate sub-microwave level radiation which can affect the brain and can affect our consciousness. Some parapsychologists go as far as suggesting these may affect our neural transmitters and possibly open up new realms of insight that make us in some sense, more psychically susceptible, more able to see things we normally can’t.

Dr Roney-Dougal: The theory as I understand it at the moment is that the human body is exquisitely sensitive to chan1ges in the earth’s magnetic field. The pineal gland that is within the centre of our brain is sensitive to the most minute change in the earth’s magnetic field. And in response it makes chemicals that take us into an altered state of consciousness. Whereby we shift into a mode of thinking that is more dreamlike, connecting with archetypal, mythic type reality. When we’re in an area like this, which has got multiple fault lines, the energy of the earth is such that the fault line tremors, or just the presence of a fault line is going to affect the earth’s magnetic field.

Dr Richard Wiseman, Parapsychologist: Some scientists have argued that there could be a physical explanation for these phenomena;  that geomagnetic activity either caused by fault lines or power lines somehow interfaces with the brain and causes anomalous experiences. And they’ve presented various types of evidence to support that. For example if you map where the fault lines are in this country, and then map where the poltergeists and haunting sightings are, you get something like a correlation, that the two things appear to be matched. These things are very controversial theories, it’s early days yet with them and there are lots of different measures of geomagnetic activity, and if you search around hard enough in the data perhaps you’ll find one that matches up with the ghost sightings. So it’s not a hard and fast theory. Maybe it’s true, maybe it’s not. It’s certainly one that needs to be taken into account.

Narrator: One of the most interesting developments is that this issue is now being researched scientifically at the faculty of parapsychology in Edinburgh. And it’s coming up with all kinds of fascinating insights.

Paul Stevens, Psychologist: [unclear]…we have a lot more than five senses. Five are all we tend to admit to in ordinary life. But on top of that we have heat receptors, movement receptors, we have tactile receptors in our skin, lots of different types, pressure sensors and so on. So we’re already picking up a lot more information than we’re normally aware of. And some paranormal phenomena could be due to this, it’s just things we’re not normally aware of, that’s being brought into our awareness. As well as that there’s this whole range of electromagnetic and other phenomena that we’re starting to see do have an effect on our brain. Part of the problem has been that most of the scientific models of the human brain have been computer simulations, they’re digital models  - brain cells can be on or off, whereas our brains are actually analogue, there can be a whole range of frequencies in between these on off states. We’re starting to see we’re a lot more responsive in ways we hadn’t realised before.

Narrator: All over these islands, indeed all over the world, there are specific sites that seem to have a long association with spiritual or paranormal activity. And many of them are linked to geological stress points, or formations of rocks and stones.  The nature of the linkage has always puzzled and intrigued scientists, and it’s long been a cause of controversial debate. And there’s no doubt that controversy will rattle on for many years to come. But could it be that we are on the verge of a whole new series of insights into the mysterious relationship between us, our human senses, and the rock strata under our feet?

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Well, this didn't seem like a totally stupid theory - after all even scientists have begun (I believe) to acknowledge earthquake lights. Things do go on that we don't understand when rocks are squeezed together. And then of course there's Mr Persinger's experiments into electromagnetic fields and weird brain experiences. You can see how the Ghosthunters producers might come up with such a programme idea.

However, the fact that Chris Romer more than once says 'rayon gas' (I have kindly glossed it as radon gas, as I imagine that's what he means, though even then...) doesn't fill one with confidence as to the fact checking behind the filming.

I felt inspired to look up maps of fault lines. The British Geological Survey has one online (you might need to tick the box that adds the fault lines. Hours of entertainment adding layers). 

This turns up the fact that Dursley is devoid of fault lines. Well according to that map it is anyway. Maybe there are tinier ones there the BGS has ignored.

And - Lo - it also turned up the fact that my house is right, slap-bang, on top of one. So I should now tell you about all the weird things that happen there. But I'm afraid I can't. It's noticeably unspooky and I have never yet noticed anything weird. And you know I'd like to.


Minor coincidence I know, but I felt ever so slightly weirded out.

Saturday, 24 June 2017

Ghost Hunters: Spirits of Bodmin Moor.



Another transcript from the 1990s British series, Ghosthunters. It's the seventh episode of the third series, and was broadcast in January 1997. My favourite is the first half. Jess, Tam and Val are totally believable in their accounts. What they saw is one thing, but they certainly believe what they saw.

Tam: It was just so plain clear that I still can’t get to grips with what I actually seen that night.
Jess: I said shall we go back and see what it is, and just everything on your body was stood up, like the hackles on the back of your neck and all that lot.
Tam: Freezing cold
Jess: - Freezing cold!
Tam: Absolutely freezing cold.
Jess: We just said no, sod this like, let’s go home like, you know.

Thijs: I saw all the time the shimmering of the air. And then it was that my wife said, “Do you see that in the far distance?”  “What do you mean?” “There – there’s something moving, like a man on horseback.” And I looked and said “Yes you are true, how is that possible?” And it was a man in gallop, he was galloping there, and he came nearer and nearer, and the shimmering of the air made the whole figure very unreal and very fantastic. I said ‘how is that possible, this, if the legs of the horse do not touch the ground at all. And this, if the whole figure is floating towards us."

Narrator: Bodmin Moor in Cornwall is one of the most beautiful parts of England – wild, untamed, mysterious. The high moorland runs down to the sea to create the romantic Cornish coastline – steep cliffs, narrow rocky coves and inlets. And the whole area is knee deep in a heady mixture of  myths and legends: part fact, part fiction, part history, part fairy tale. Stories of Arthur and the court of Camelot. Of a mysterious celtic priesthood. Of civil war and smugglers. Moreover, as long as people can remember Bodmin has been steeped in stories of the paranormal. Some believe it has to do with the strange qualities of the granite rock itself.

Colin Wilson, Author: I suspect what is special about Cornwall is that it’s mainly granite, and this may have something to do with the fact that you get such a very high proportion of so called psychic events taking place in Cornwall. We’ve got an enormous number of standing stones, and my own investigation of these standing stones has convinced me that they were stuck in like stone needles into acupuncture points in the earth. Certainly the places where there are standing stones appear to have some extremely powerful ambience to which the dowsing rod responds quite directly.

Michael Williams, Publisher: Paranormal activity has been going on for a very long time on the moor, and in North Cornwall. And indeed in the whole of Cornwall. And I believe that it is an ongoing process, and my great hope is that before many years pass, we shall see a major breakthrough in the paranormal field. That the reality will be established. And on the evidence of the past I think there’s a very good chance of that breakthrough being made here in Cornwall.

Narrator: But whatever the reason, geology or Celtic mystery, there is no doubt that there are various sites on the moor where many different people at quite different times claim to have seen events which they simply cannot explain. One of them for example is St Nectan’s glen, the site of an ancient Celtic monastery founded almost 1500 years ago. The glen is one of those places where myth and magic intermingle. But that having been said, many visitors go away convinced there is still a monastery somewhere in the valley. They’ve seen the monks.

Barry, Local Resident: St Nectan’s glen is a peace of paradise really. It’s steeped in history going back to the Druids even used to worship up here. King Arthur, his knights erm were baptised in the cave before they went in search of the holy grail. And you can actually see some red stones in the glen, in the river, that are locally known as blood stones. And they’re supposed to be when King Arthur had his last battle at Slaughterbridge, all the wounded and dying coming back through the glen to get to the castle, their blood landed on the rocks and it’s just stayed ever since.

Jean, Local Resident: My granddaughter, when she was very small, often used to see a man walking across and it was always away from the patio, actually he must have been walking on the air, because there was a vast drop where he was seen. And then lots of the visitors have come up and said that they see this old man standing at the edge of the building, very old man with a beard, rather stooping, in a monk’s habit.

Narrator: St Nectan’s glen runs down to the sea at the ancient fishing port of Tintagel, the very heartland of Arthurian legend. Were the knights of the round table here in the dark years between the departure of the Romans and the coming of the Norsemen? Some years ago a Dutchman spent a holiday here with his wife. He remembers what happened to him as clearly as if it happened yesterday.

Thijs: I saw the man on the horse no more clearly I could see how he was dressed, I saw first of all a strange hat, it was a hat with a wide brim, folded up on the front and going back there [points to back of neck]. And he was totally in black, he had [?] and coat in white pleats hanging down and I saw there was embroidery on the coat. And I saw his boots which were soft leather, and as well, of course, spurs, I saw.  And then the horse stepped forward to a nearby hawthorn. And the man dismounted and he walked to the hawthorn, and tied the reins on a low hanging branch of the tree. The shimmering of the air increased. It was all waving, and at that moment, all at once, the man and the horse disappeared totally. I was totally flabbergasted. My wife said ‘How is that possible, would you believe it!’ I said, “Come, let’s go back to the beach, it’s so hot here, let’s just go back to the beach." We didn’t talk so much to each other any more, she kept my arm, we walked down to the beach.  And she said ‘Is it possible that it was King Arthur?’ I said, Who else could it have been?"

Michael Williams: I don’t think think the Dutch artist at on the cliffs of Tintagel saw King Arthur. I think King Arthur belonged to a much earlier period of time. But he undoubtedly saw something of a supernatural nature. You can’t have a horse and rider seen very vividly and in detail by the man and his wife, there one moment and gone the next. I think that the rider was stylishly dressed would suggest that it was more likely to be within a smuggling context. Because we’ve got to remember that the gentry were involved with smuggling.

Narrator: During the 18th century the whole coastline was rife with smuggling activity, the isolated beaches, the country lanes, the inns and farmhouses on the moor. And so swingeing were the taxes on alcohol that all social classes were involved – the landed gentry, as well as poor fishermen. It was a dangerous trade – if you were caught you could be hanged from the nearest tree. At the historic old hostelry of Jamaica Inn, it seems that the sounds of the smugglers still ring out.

Tony, Manager: We live here immediately above this room, and this used to be the old stable block, and you know, I imagine that in the day it was a stable block, it being an old cobbled floor, and maybe 3,4,5 times a year one can hear ponies paddling about down here, people shouting, talking, and this won’t go on for just 2 or3 minutes, it’ll probably go on for 2 hours. The dialect that people talk in, is not understandable to my ears. Erm. I would think probably it’s of a Cornish dialect. Erm. And it just goes on, you can hear people outside shouting, talking, as if coaches and carriages were being unloaded and stuff being banged about. You can look out of the window, you can come downstairs, you can see nothing, but the noise still continues.

Narrator: Val is the cook at Jamaica in. As practical and down to earth a lady as you could find. But even Val has had her ghostly experiences.

Val: The ghost that goes through the door has a cloak on. But it’s mostly a cloak, it’s not, you know... - like, with no head. No, it’s just a cloak with a big collar. It starts off here and goes over here, and goes out there in the stable bar. And it’s very frightening, and I just go down to the kitchen and close the door behind me, which makes me more secure.

Jess: I was working as head chef at the Jamaica Inn, and we’d finished on Saturday night at about quarter to eleven, and we was proceding to drive home across Bodmin Moor towards Tor Point. And about two miles down the road we rounded this corner and all of a sudden I seen this figure hanging from a tree. And I said to Tam, ‘Did you see anything, Tam?’ He looked at me..
Tam: Well I says, I know what I seen, what did you see?
Jess: I said, A guy hanging from a tree like, you know.
Tam: And I says, that’s exactly what I seen as well.
Jess: And I said shall we go back? And see what it is? And just everything on your body was stood up like that – the hackles on the back of your neck and all that lot.
Tam: Freezing cold.
Jess: - freezing cold.
Tam: I felt freezing cold.
Jess: We said No. Sod this right! Let’s go home, like, you know? But every night since then, when we was going backwards and forwards to work, when you come back at night, you just instantly freeze and your hairs all stand up on the back of your neck as you go through.
Tam: And I can remember colours that night. I can remember black, I can remember white. And I can also remember a red, a red scarf or [pulls face] not a cravat, but just something red. I can remember black boots, shiny black boots. Erm. It was just so plain clear. That [looks incredulous] that I still can’t get to grips with what I actually seen that night.

Narrator: Galloping horsemen. The sounds of smugglers. Bodies hanging from trees. Round Tintagel and Jamaica Inn such stories are almost commonplace. But ten miles or so across the moor in the village of Altarnun, there is a cluster of quite different stories around the old vicarage. Of a vicar, and his mistress, and a distraught chambermaid who drowned herself in the village stream.

Part Two.
Narrator: The old vicarage in the village of Altarnun is called Penhallow, a name which means ‘on the edge of the moor’. The present house was built in the middle of last century, by the Reverend Trip. He is actually buried in the churchyard, but notably not alongside his wife. He lies with another lady, called Mary Hurley, who may have been his housekeeper. Penhallow has been a focus of paranormal activity for many years – some of it seemingly associated with Mary Hurley herself.
Harry Cleverley, Psychic Medium: Penhallow has been there for some… you know it was the rectory originally and the church sold it off and it’s erm it’s not the original house. The original one was burnt down and this one was built in 1842. Erm, but it’s been on that site for many generations as far as I’m aware. It used to have stables and a coach house and everything. It was in the days when the vicars were really somebody, they ran the roost, they were the top dog in the village. He lived with his wife in the house, but they also had a housekeeper – who was, shall we say a little bit more than a housekeeper. And she’s seen sometimes standing at the back door of the house. She’s been seen by several people as far as I know. And she’s buried just outside the gate to the house, beside the vicar. The wife is… I don’t know where the wife’s buried. But apparently they were having an affair.

Marie, Previous Owner: There definitely is a presence in the house. We can often hear strange noises like people going up and down the stairs when we knew there was no one in the house. It wasn’t a nasty presence, it was a friendly, sort of – ghost – if you want. Perhaps it is the housekeeper. Perhaps she doesn’t approve of having a licensed premised, you know, it being like an old vicarage and I think she use to look after all the old vicars and then perhaps she doesn’t like it!

Julia, Present Owner: Last week we had a guest staying here on Thursday night who was disturbed for whatever reason in the night, and awoke to see a lady dressed in grey – Quaker sort of dress she said – standing at the corner of her bed for what seemed like several minutes, and then she just disappeared. No harm done, nothing thrown about. But definitely a sighting.

Narrator: Harry Cleverly was called in by the previous owners of Penhallow to help them with some strange unexplained experiences in the house that were occurring again and again.

Jean, Former Owner : We told him that the footsteps going across this room. And he came across and walked around the house, didn’t he.
Barry: Yeah.
Jean: But he saw something in the next room to this room. And of course we did realise that possibly the rooms have changed, you know perhaps the walls haven’t always been exactly in the same places.

Harry Cleverley: Some time ago when the previous owner had it, they called me up because they heard footsteps overhead. It didn’t frighten them but they were just interested. So I went up there and I saw in one of the bedrooms. Well there were two bedrooms they are now 3 and 4. But I think at one time they would have been one big room. And I saw this vicar, I think he was, in a frock coat, pacing up and down with his hands behind his back, as if he was puzzling out his sermon for the coming service. At least that was the impression I got.

Narrator: Harry Cleverly lives in the village. Late one evening he had another strange experience as he passed the gates of Penhallow.

Harry Cleverley: About midnight, witching hour as always, I got to the bridge and the dog stopped. And his hackles rose, and I felt cold, this icy feeling. And I looked up and there was this entity floating down, well coming down this path to the side of the church, it came round and walked straight thorugh the gate which was shut. And went up the road and disappeared. And I didn’t know very much about them at the time. And I enquired around and someone said ‘Oh you’ve seen her have you?’ And he didn’t tell me what had happened, but apparently she comes down the lane behind the church. Where she comes from nobody actually knows, or what she did. But I found out later that she.. where the… behind the post office there used to be swampy land there. And she fell in that and drowned herself. Apparently.

Narrator: As so often in these circumstances, we are left with a judgement, to believe or not to believe these stories. There are slender links with the history of the place. There have been sightings by several people. But these can scarcely be called confirmation of anything. Is there any other kind of verification that we could plug into? We decided to call in another psychic medium.  With no notice whatsoever, we took her to the old vicarage on the moor. She claims to have no knowledge of Altarnun or Penhallow. She claims to have had no contact of any kind with Harry Cleverley. Indeed, she was quite prepared to take a lie detector test. We asked her simply to recount her impressions.

Shirley Wallis, Psychic:  Well this is a favourite, a very favourite place. The man I’m interested in, whose room I believe it was. This was a reverend gentleman, and this room was much bigger, in fact it actually goes in beyond here. One long room. And there’s books – it’s lined with books, it’s a bolt-hole for this gentleman. It’s a place where he did his own personal spiritual work. And inside of the church, through this window, he walked with his sermons up and down from window to window. And this view of the way in, was almost to him as if it was his spiritual pathway through. That may sound a little… but this is how his personality comes. And he had to get away from the rest of the household many times. It feels as if there is a bit of an undercurrent which wouldn’t have been mentioned in those days – this is a Victorian gentleman. And there was a lot of things going on in this household which he needed to escape from – let’s put it that way. He became himself in this room. He wasn’t all formal. He became himself, he – I could even – I’m not sure if he actually played an instrument (I feel as if he might have had a fiddle or a pipe.  But he became himself here, and almost danced and threw himself on the bed, you know, and that kind of thing – he felt free. The only place he felt free. That’s how I feel about him. But undercurrents. Other occupants of the house – I feel that are concerned with his family – are a little more intricate. I think I would rather not particularly say how I feel about that. But he feels as if he’s living two lives here. Being a rector or a vicar, it would have to have been a double life. And I’ve felt that there’s some concern that his very personal life was wrapped  up with one of the occupants of the house. In other words, he was probably having an affair with one of the occupants of the house. It was very happy. It was very, if I may be so bold, say very beautiful. It was a very good heart connection with this lady.

Narrator: As Shirley moved around the vicarage, she picked up another contact (as she called it) in what used to be the old kitchens.

Shirley: I went into the back of the house because I felt drawn to do so. I feel that it is a very active place in the kitchen area, and I was strongly convinced of a previous scullery maid, or perhaps that would be too…  er, she was a servant that worked in the kitchen. A delightful girl. But there are undertones. And she knows more intimate stories about the owners in the Victorian period than perhaps others would. And she lived in a cottage which is no longer down by the bridge, the old bridge in the village. It is now a space. There were a row of cottages there. I saw them. And the bridge itself connected with her. And I believe that she felt at the bridge and was drowned. And this was the young woman who worked here.

Narrator: So, two mediums who claim to have no previous contact, coming up with remarkably similar stories. And right across the moor there are countless stories from people who’ve had strange experiences so real and so vivid that they’re imprinted on their memories never to be forgotten. There are as we’ve heard, theories that have been bandied about - the somewhat unusual properties of the rock itself. The mysteries of the celtic brain, and so on. But there are precious few explanations. The only facts would seem to be that the area is indeed rich in history and event. And that people have had experiences here that have changed their view of life and death.