Friday, May 07, 2021 17:12

Shire Hall Courthouse

May 7th, 2021

Event Showcase: Shire Hall Courthouse

http://www.ghosthuntevents.co.uk/shire-hall-courthouse.php

History of Shire Hall Courthouse
The Shire Hall Courthouse was Dorset’s courthouse from 1797 until 1955. Notable dates are the 1834 trial of the Tolpuddle Martyrs to the 1856 domestic abuse case that inspired Thomas Hardy to write ‘Tess of the D’Urbervilles’.

Ghost Hunting
We haven’t investigated #ShireHallCourthouse yet due to various covid lockdowns. On our site visit we had a real sense of being guilty ascending the staircase from the cells to the Courtroom! The cells and the holding pen just at the bottom of the staircase into the Court room was an unpleasant place.
The cells where the Tolpuddle Martyrs were held are a very foreboding place, which we hope will be good for a number of ghost hunting activities.

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Oxford Castle

May 6th, 2021

Event Showcase: Oxford Castle

http://www.ghosthuntevents.co.uk/oxford-castle.php

History of Oxford Castle
Oxford Castle has history dating back nearly one thousand years. Experience the confines of the 18th-century Debtors Tower, long corridors of cells of the Prison D-wing, the dark 900 year old underground Crypt and the outdoor punishment cells.
There have been many reports of ghostly activity at Oxford Castle including; The Murderer Mary Blandy from 1752 walking the Castle Mound, a strange white mist has been witnessed rising up a flight of stairs only to disappear in front of witnesses, ghostly footsteps have been heard along the Prison Wing corridor and loud thumping sounds from within the Padded Cell, plus many people have experienced the feeling of being watched and followed.
Immediately upon entering the building the visitor is confronted with the original wooden floor of the treadmill. This is amazing to see what 1000’s of footsteps over a long period can do to the floor. Also as part of the prison there is a device that prisoners would have to crank/wind for no reason as part of their punishment. This is where the nickname “Screws” came from as the Prison guard would tighten the screw to make this pointless task harder for the prisoner.

  

Ghost Hunting
We investigated #OxfordCastle for the first time in 2018. On our site visit we encountered a sense of loneliness in the Debtors Tower and cells, plus some unusual feeling in the punishment cells.
During our first investigation in the Crypt some shadows and/or shadow people were seen. Several guests felt unwell and had to be removed from the room (they were fine after they left the Crypt).
We also had a lot of unexplained noises and voices heard in the Cells of D wing as well as the padded cell.
Our favourite areas were; The Crypt (good for seances and EVPs), the Punishment cells (good for tech, gadgets, EVP) in the exercise yard and the Cells (good for EVP, Tech, Gadgets and solo vigils) including the Padded cell. Human Pendulum and Table tilting including Ouija boards were good in the Debtors Tower and the area outside D Wing.
Currently we don’t have any video from Oxford Castle

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Photo review

December 15th, 2020

Photo Evidence Review – Part Three

Quite often we only notice something unusual in our photos after the event, when we are at home reviewing the footage or possible evidence from the event. This is a shame as more often than not we wished we had known at the event, because we could have asked more meaningful questions to spirit or taken more photos in a certain area.

The Lowndes Arms
The first photo was taken in the upper floors of The Lowndes Arms, a pub just outside Milton Keynes.

The landlady had asked us to investigate as there were quite a few “strange” things going on. From objects being moved, to doors being slammed and the sound of furniture being moved, especially late at night, but no furniture was found out of place.
This first photo is half out of focus, this was a series of several photos, all taken at the same time but this was the only one that was 50% out of focus, literally across the middle vertically. We could understand if it were horizontally out of focus, as that could have been the difference in temperature (hot air rises, for instance) but for one half of a room to be hot or cold to cause this, is highly unlikely if not impossible.

 

Fort Horsted, Chatham
The next photo is a curious one and one in which we didn’t fully understand until the event had nearly finished and the phenomena wasn’t occurring as frequently as when we first heard the guests talking about it. Taken by a guest during the ghost hunt at Fort Horsted in Chatham, in an area known as room 10, which was a cartridge store, with a cartridge lift to the guns on the roof of the fort. The face was seen in one of the lighting openings.

The ‘face’ was seen by the guests at the time, without the use of a camera. However we thought that the face was only seen in a camera and had ruled it out of being anything paranormal as it sounded like pareidolia. What didn’t realise is that people were seeing the face themselves, which then makes pareidolia an unlikely explanation. The photo shows a “Scream” like face or mask.
We visited this fort on numerous dates for five years and this was the only occasion that this phenomena was seen. However we don’t have an explanation or a firm decision on whether this was a spirit related incident or a mass pareidolia trick of the mind type of experience.

 

The Walpole Bay Hotel, Margate
The next photo could be a non-eventful photo, it could have been deliberate, or it could be something paranormal we don’t know. One thing for sure is that it is an odd photo.

The photo was taken at a charity ghost hunt arranged by The Children’s Trust at The Walpole Bay Hotel in Margate, which is steeped in history and has been visited by the rich and famous over the years. Today however the hotel doesn’t have any sparkle, just a run down hotel, with lots of junk or memorabilia depending on your view point.
On the mirror is a scrawled number 2 and a circle, which is reflected on to the wall in the camera flash (as an S in a circle). This wasn’t seen at the time of the photo and a group spent a session in this room with many photos taken by the guests and no-one saw this. When looking at the mirror you couldn’t see anything drawn on the surface, it was only this photo that showed a number and circle.
As we said this could have been drawn on by a member of staff (to what end we don’t know) and wiped off so nothing visible had been left. But how was it drawn on the mirror? What could leave no residue?
After the event and whilst reviewing the photos, we had thought that this could have been lipstick on the mirror, but we tested that and it wasn’t (as lipstick smears on a mirror, especially when wiped off).
Therefore we don’t know what this could have been, or whether it was intentional or not nor what could have been drawn on the mirror to leave no residue. It is just one of those odd occurrences.

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EVP – Part One

December 7th, 2020

EVP Evidence (Electronic Voice Phenomena)

We have recorded hundreds of EVPs over the years however some of them are not as clear as we would like. We have always tried not to influence the interpretation of the audio, which is why we don’t tell you what we think is said until after you have heard the file. Admittedly you might need to listen to the file a few times before you hear something that makes sense.

Most of the questions that we get answers to our questions are just one word answers, either Yes or No or something similar. We like it when we get multiple word answers or a sentence as this proves that the spirit is actually answering the question. It is very easy to think you heard your name or a yes or no, but a whole sentence or several words makes the evidence more real.

Some of the best evidence is recorded in the least likely of places or after someone has asked an unusual question and given the number of times that we would undertake an EVP experiment (at least once per event with all groups) we have hundreds of responses from the questions that have been asked.
The best questions are those that the spirit answers which is not the same as what we think or want them to answer. We often tell our guests to ask the sort of question that you would answer if a complete stranger asked you.

This example below; Toys Hill & Weardale Manor is one of those locations which can have so much more activity than you would expect. We would put this location on par with Pluckley Screaming Woods as we have held the most ghost hunts at Pluckley, but Toys Hill was our second popular venue. We don’t visit either of these places anymore due to the fact that we hold events at indoor locations every Friday & Saturday night of a year.

Toys Hill & Weardale Manor Listen here
17th August 2012 and a relatively big group of 11 people. As normal everyone in the group had the opportunity to ask a question and a 5-10 gap of silence for the spirit to answer before moving onto the next person. This answer was one of the clearest we had heard and it was recorded as we were standing beside the Old Water Tower (which is now home to bats).
It is answers like this that we strive to get on all events, the more unusual the question, the more likely the spirit will answer, we have found.

Bicknor Woods has also proved to be another haunted place, a mysterious atmosphere awaits the casual visitor, the church is eerie because it stands alone with just fields surrounding it. The woods which were called Gore Woods in times past hold another gruesome past. The orchards here were supposedly the scene of many illicit encounters and a convenient place to murder someone. Even the locals who live in the village say there are nights which don’t feel right.

Once again this was a group of about 10 people and this time it was a cold night in December
Listen here

This question and answer is the type of question that anyone would answer as it isn’t intrusive at all.

On the same night, another guest asks another good question and you can hear two different responses, probably from two different spirits.
Listen here

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Unusual Photos

December 3rd, 2020

Photo Review – Part Two

The photos that we have on our evidence page are there because they relate to something paranormal, not necessarily paranormal in nature by themselves but a reminder for what occurred on the ghost hunt.

The first photo shows nothing paranormal, it looks like a footprint on a wooden floor. Hopefully, that is what it is.

 

It was our first visit to Nothe Fort, Weymouth in 2012, which was a cold November evening, it was raining heavily. During part of the tech session one of the guests asked spirit to “show us your footprints” which is not what he was meant to ask, he should have asked “can we hear your footsteps” but as the session progressed, this footprint appeared on the floor in front of the group. It was approximately measured, and it turned out to be an adult size 7 footprint.

We have often been asked to explain what an orb is or what we think it is. Which is a manifestation of energy, the first level if you like and the easiest shape that energy can create of its own accord. True light anomalies will self-illuminate, therefore there is no need to use a flash (as this is how dust in the air gets illuminated).

 

This photo could be dismissed as dust, as it looks very similar to a photo of dust. There are a few notable features though. The “orb” or light anomaly is behind something else (a tree branch) which then places the orb in the photo. Photos don’t tell you how far away on object is unless there is a shadow on it, then you know which item is in front. It is outdoors and dust doesn’t often “hang about” outdoors and from the experimentation that Steve has done, it isn’t water (rain), pollen or an insect. So whilst it may not be paranormal it is certainly unexplainable, photographically speaking we don’t have any other photo like it from the 1000s that we have taken.

When it comes to photos, we are very intrigued by mists, because mist or fog only occur when the atmospherics are the right combination (cold air hitting warm air e.g. the respiration coming from your mouth on a cold day). Mist or fog doesn’t generally occur in a wood or under a tree canopy because there isn’t a great difference in the air temperature.

This photo taken in Pluckley Screaming Woods on a relatedly mild evening in April 2012 was unusual because we cannot think of any reason why a mist would form under trees when it wasn’t cold. The chap on the left in the photo was also taking photos, but he had nothing. Steve who took the photo was generally taking random shots, not really looking into the viewfinder so didn’t know that he had taken the photo until reviewing them afterwards. The spot where the photo was taken was a “scheduled stop” and on many occasions the group would hold a séance on this path, with many paranormal occurrences happening on this path.

We finish this roundup of photos with another from Pluckley Screaming Woods taken with an Infrared camera. Infrared (IR) light shines from a camera about 2m (6 feet), which is why we need big infrared illuminators for our indoor ghost hunts. Plus we can use the ceiling and walls to bounce the IR light around to get a more even spread of IR light. Outdoors we don’t have anything to bounce the light around and generally don’t use IR cameras or lights outdoors because the IR light would be absorbed by the trees.

In this photo you can see Steve (in the center) and a few people either side of him (there was a group of about 8 people). The pregnant lady in the background about 20m away from the group (wasn’t part of our group, not only that but we didn’t allow pregnant women on events at that time) shouldn’t be illuminated because the IR that was on the camera would not have reached her. For her to be illuminated it would mean that she would have had to have an IR illuminator herself, which is a strange thing for someone who is pregnant to do. (walk around a wood at night in the dark carrying an IR illuminator & battery pack!) It might have been a real person, but the group didn’t hear or see anyone else that night and walking around the woods in the dark whilst pregnant isn’t a wise thing to do. Whilst it may or may not be paranormal it is definitely unusual just on the technicalities alone.

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Thermal Photos

December 1st, 2020

Photo Review – Part One

We often get asked to have a look at photos and people ask us “Is this something?” “Is it an orb” or “is it paranormal” and the best answer we have is “that’s strange” or “we’ve never seen anything like that”. We have collectively taken 1000s of photos between all of the places we have visited over the years and we can usually say with some certainty if something is explainable. To that end we can tell if a photo contains smoke, rain, or foreign objects, as Steve spent an afternoon many years ago photographing flour, dust, smoke, water, mist, dirt, pollen, dead insects and many more loose detritus just to see what it looked like. So the best answer for any photo is “we don’t know” or “that’s unexplainable” because that’s the best anyone can offer, no-one can say for sure if a photo is paranormal because there is no definition of paranormal, only the unexplained. We will over the coming weeks try to give more of an explanation as what we think makes a photo unexplainable or the reasons that we deem the photo to be of a haunted nature.

Following on from our post about Thermal Images and evidence we thought we would explain some of our evidence, especially photos or videos because you the viewer have no other information about how it was captured or recorded. You weren’t there so you have no idea about the weather conditions either.
We will also explain some photos that were thought to be evidence before we ruled them out as being normal or explainable.

Firstly, the two thermal photos posted on our Social Media channels. The first image we captured at Harwich Redoubt we knew what it was, although we were really surprised to capture it.

One of my team happened to be holding the thermal camera when other team members were asking questions to the spirit via a Ouija board. One of the questions was “Can you show yourself?” the answer was “Yes” and then the team member saw a head and body appear on the screen about the size of a 9 year old girl (which was the spirit that the Ouija board group were talking to). Nothing was seen by anyone, they only saw on the thermal imaging camera the shape of a person. Thankfully a photo was taken of what was seen at the time.

The second photo was taken this year at Shepton Mallet Prison. A group of people had noticed that a figure was present when no-one else was around. This figure once again only was visible on the thermal camera, the group checked for reflections and anything else that could have made a humanoid shape and could find nothing that could have made this shape.

If it were a direct or indirect photo of a person it would have hotter areas and the colours would be different (reds, oranges and yellow) as blue is the coldest. For comparison here is a thermal photo of a group of people.


The area that this was taken was in a corridor as you walk towards the dispensary (where inmates would get their medication), a little further along in this area is the morgue.

We cannot say for sure if these photo are definitely paranormal, but we can say is that these were only seen on the thermal camera at the time, no-one saw anything in the room without the aid of the thermal camera.

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SBox

November 22nd, 2020

The SBox

The SBox is a spirit box scanner, similar in nature to a SB-7 Spirit box except this device can record the sweeps and play them back.

Like the SB7 the direction and speed of the frequency scan can be changed, it also does AM as well as FM radio. It has a rechargeable battery, built-in torch and headphone socket and it can be used as a Bluetooth speaker making this piece of kit very versatile.

When using the SBox if it detects a spike when scanning it will stay on that frequency a bit longer in case there is a voice trying to get through. This will hopefully allow multiple words or a full sentence to be heard rather than just one word.

The SBox uses a micro SD card to record (max 32Gb)

We have used this SBox just a few times and it has shown some very promising results and we cannot wait to use it in places which have been incredibly good for spirit box or EVP recordings in the past.
It is too early to say what the pros or cons of the device is, we need to test it some more. But it will be an improvement when trying to record a spirit box session, as previously we would have to have a voice recorder recording the spirit box, this will save having two devices. Whether we record any more spirit voices or it increases the chances of spirit communication remain to be seen.

This normally retails for about $90 and is only available from Ghost Stop.

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Pen and Paper

July 28th, 2020

Pen & Paper

Finally the most important piece of kit is you!
Our senses are the best tool we can have, we can feel when something isn’t right or feels uncomfortable.

We can hear a pin drop in the right surroundings, and we know when the temperature fluctuates, we can feel it. You can hear a whoosh of a dress as a spirit walks past. Or a door slam in a prison. You can also smell the perfume or a cigar from a passing spirit.

We don’t need any special equipment to search for the paranormal, but we can’t remember everything so a pen and a notebook are essential so that we can record what happens during an investigation.

So no matter how much kit you have, don’t forget to write down what it feels like wherever you investigate and write down what happens, so that on future visits to the same location you can recall what happened and how you felt and compare each visit with previous visits.

Don’t forget to enjoy yourself too, investigating should be fun. As soon as it isn’t, stop.

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SLS Camera

July 28th, 2020

SLS Camera

An SLS Camera in its basic form is used to detect people. Originally designed by Microsoft for its Xbox range to detect movement for sports games. The software and sensor bar has now been modified for use as a standalone device for the paranormal community. SLS stands for Structured Light Sensor but most people prefer to call it “the stickman camera”.

Frequently these cameras are now used to detect or interact with spirit energies and has been used on many Ghost Hunting TV programs.

The idea of using one of these cameras is that the sensor bar emits thousands of small infrared dots. The camera can see the dots and when something blocks the light the sensor can detect how far away the object is and its shape. This is then displayed to the user via a tablet. This can be used in daylight or night.

Interpretation is by itself a limitation for the use of the device. Simply, these devices and the software is designed to show people, therefore any anomaly will be displayed as a person, as that is what the software is designed to do. However frequent use, the user can understand the sensors limitations and uses. For instance, reflections must be accounted for as this sensor can accurately pick up reflections in items that you would not expect to be reflective (e.g. solid wooden doors, kitchens or wooden panelled rooms). Flowers, trees and plants can inaccurately be displayed as people especially if they are displayed on a stand. Recording the sessions can be harder as the tablet usually has no capacity or space to record a whole night. We know that this involves storing the footage on a SD card, but then we also recognise that this will have to be analysed which we know from our other camera footage, this will be time consuming.

We like these cameras because they can sometimes pick up anomalies that we would have missed by any other means. The camera has on a few occasions helped us communicate with the spirits and we have had some amazing results by simply asking the spirit to wave or stand up. The rig’s that we have are fully portable, although battery intensive. Batteries only last for a few hours (3-4).

There are now several versions of these SLS cameras for sale. The best deals are those that have been converted by those who know what they are doing. The software for the Kinect system is free from Microsoft, but there are many people who charge for this. That said it is always better to get the software installed with the sensor and sold as one unit, rather than trying to install it yourself to save a few pounds. We would expect to pay between £300 – £450 for a V1 with a camera & tablet (fully installed). You can purchase these from many places including Infraready, Amazon & eBay.

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Ovilus

July 23rd, 2020

Ovilus

An Ovilus is used by the spirits present to pick word from the devices memory to help with communication. There are 2500 words in the dictionary which isn’t many by our verbal vocabulary but there is also a relevancy bar, the more of this that is displayed, the more relevant the word is to the conversation or question.

This version, which is version 3 is probably the most popular version of this tool as this was the first time that the word was printed on the screen as well as being heard. This is the dictionary mode. There are other modes including a phonetic mode, but the dictionary mode is by far the easiest to understand. This is also one of the most requested tools during any of our investigations.

Since there is a limited dictionary, the words picked can be the wrong words or not relevant to the conversation, as we, human beings have a vocabulary of about 50000 words, 2500 words is not a lot to explain anything. Therefore there will be times when the words don’t mean much.

We often try to explain to our guests that these devices are not designed to answer questions, but to assist in communication and will help answer questions, but not directly. The word that come out are usually relevant but not a direct answer. Unfortunately this leads to misinterpretations which is perfectly normal, but like so many other paranormal equipment, we don’t rely on just one tool, we use several at the same time so that we can understand and communicate with the spirits.

Version 3 of the Ovilus was the better version in our opinion, there have been improvements but for the ease of use and the size of the device, this version was the best. The newer version Ovilus 5b has more features and more capabilities and costs about $400 from Digital Dowsing  however, you may be able to find a version 3 on Amazon or eBay, but we would expect to pay about £300 for a used one.

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