Investigation at a Jacobean Manor House
in London (July, 1999)
The Case Of The "Magic Mushroom"This house, whilst not terribly well known (at least outside ghost hunting circles), is possibly one of the finest and best preserved 17th century mansions in the London area.
The outside of the building is very imposing, giving the appearance of a typical 'Haunted House'. These days however, the interior is a little less so as it is partly used as a Conference and Community Centre, Jacobean furniture being replaced in many cases by rows of identical chairs. The House has however become known as a place where phenomena has occurred during previous investigations, and the Ghost Club was therefore more than happy to take up this opportunity.
The legend of the haunting at the House principally surrounds that of a previous owner, who lived there until his death in 1817 aged 85. Though twice married (on the second occasion to a seventeen year old shortly before he died), he did not have children and it is said that his Ghosts pursues living ladies that take his fancy. Another of the more 'attractive' ghost stories is that of a servant girl seen wandering through the grounds with a baby in her arms, and in fact the mummified remains of an infant were discovered in a chimney during renovations after a bomb attack during the Second World War.
The picture on the left above shows a view of the Long Room; the picture on the right shows a view of the top landing of the staircase.
Summary of the Investigation of 30th July 1999.
As I mentioned previously the House has been investigated previously on several occasions by other groups, and has produced interesting results including some apparent poltergeist activity. Most of the group of 15 investigators that we took had only a general knowledge of this , and knew very little regarding what to expect.
The evenings activities began at about 9 PM. Shortly prior to this however as the groups were informally chatting in a downstairs room, a loud bang was heard around the window area (on the inside apparently) of that room. While the grounds were still occupied at that time, an inspection showed that no one was nearby on the outside. This event set the tone nicely for the rest of the evening.
The participants were initially asked to take a general tour of the house, and note any feelings and observations down onto a map of the house as they passed through each room. Whilst several people commented that the Long Gallery on the top floor was the most atmospheric, it was thought at the time simply that this was due to to the fact that it furnished less like a lecture theatre than the rest of the building.
We then split into four groups, each one spending four separate sessions of about half an hour each in rooms that they considered to be interesting. I offer a brief summery of the events that occurred below.
During an early session in the Long Gallery, one of the participants felt something apparently push her out of the room as she was sitting in front of the fireplace. A later session in the Long gallery with a separate group resulted in another participant picking up the distinct sound of a sigh. I will make particular comments on both these events later.
A particularly quiet session in the one of the smaller rooms provided for some experimentation. It had been understood that on previous investigations the windows in the room would inexplicably rattle. It was found that rattling could be caused by standing on a particular floorboard near to the fireplace (and not at all near to the window itself).
A later session resulted in two of psychically gifted participants picking up a male 'presence' apparently rooted to the left hand side of the fireplace. He was aware of our existence but either unwilling or unable to communicate.
By far the highlight of the evening took place in the Long Room (see left hand picture, below). It is customary on our Ghost Hunts to take a number of objects which are ringed in chalk and which it I hoped may be used as apports should their be any poltergeist phenomena. Past Ghost club investigations have sometimes resulted in the 'unexplained' movement of such apports by up to an inch. For this investigation we had quite a variety of such apports including a wooden mushroom (see right hand picture) supplied by our Chair Alan Murdie.
During this session the Mushroom moved about 10 FEET at a time where, although the participants were not looking at it, everyone in the group were in sight of each other. When (apparently) falling to the floor it did so with a bang that was far louder than would have been expected from such a small object. This bang was heard by three out of the four groups. This incident became all the more impressive when it was discovered that immediately prior to this bang one of these groups (in an adjoining room) had picked up a psychic message that something was about to happen. It is interesting to note that this loud bang occurred in an area that was associated with previous activity, and is part of the house damaged in the World War 2 bombing.
Since the investigation some of the phenomena experienced has been reinforced by anecdotes from previous investigations. It was already known that there had been some fairly powerful poltergeist phenomena previously.
I have since discovered however that previous investigations have apparently picked up in separate incidents a 'sigh' and somebody having their chair pushed from behind, in The Long Gallery, which seems to correlate closely with our experiences there.
This is therefore very much an incomplete story. In particular I would like to discover which chimney the body of the infant was found in (as some of the events occurred near fireplaces), and if possible to compare notes with those who conducted previous investigations at the house, to see how similar past phenomena were.
A further investigation concentrating particularly on the rooms of interest must of course be a distinct possibility, especially in such a site that has provided us with one of our most active evenings' investigations for some time.
John Fraser (Vice Chair Investigations)
N.B. The identity and location of this House has been withheld at the request of the owners.
The authors would like to acknowledge the courtesy of Alan Palmer for his permission to reproduce the pictures of the house (in the "Background" section) from his website. The pictures remain the copyright of Alan Palmer.
Postscript: On October 29th, 1999, a return visit to the house was made. Despite the best efforts of a dozen or so investigators, plus some good equipment (including "mushroom" trigger objects), nothing was seen or heard, although a few psychics did allegedly pick up on something. In this author's opinion, any feint bangs were due to fireworks being detonated. A sample of a controversial double bang will appear on this website soon.
Summary of the Investigation of 14th April, 2000
A follow-up visit to the House was conducted in mid April. We are grateful to Ghost Club member Gemma Regan Feldman for the following report and photographs:
The investigation on the 14th April was, as had been previously experienced at earlier investigations, an eventful evening, and again possibly provided evidence of ghostly phenomena at the house, but this time through the use of the latest digital technology.
The group was not given any information about the history of the house or incidents that occurred at previous investigations. While making an initial walk around the top floor of the House I experienced an eerie feeling and shivered as I approached the gothic-style marble fireplace in the Grand Salon. This uneasy feeling was also shared by another member of the group, although neither of us claim to be psychic.
The Ghost Club investigators divided into three groups to carry out vigils in the Long Gallery, the Grand Salon and the Newton room. During the first vigil I sat next to the fireplace in the Grand Salon for 30 minutes, wondering why I had chosen to spend a free evening sitting in the dark in a supposedly haunted mansion, when I and another member saw a blue globe of light streak across the fireplace and out of sight. Another flash of light in the nearby Dutch room was also noted by the same member, but there were no other events in the Grand Salon. After the vigil I took several photographs of the Grand Salon using my digital camera, concentrating especially around the fireplace where I had sat. The photographs were taken in the dark at many different angles using a flash, some including Ghost Club members as they entered the room. The results provided an incredible five digital images out of eight taken with single or multiple Orbs clearly visible. These images were viewed by some of the Ghost Club members on the camera viewfinder while we were still in the room! Nothing significant took place during the further two vigils and no Orbs were recorded on my camera in any of the other rooms.
Orbs are one of the most common forms of phenomena to be photographed around suspected ghostly areas. In the year I have owned the camera and taken pictures, I have not seen any images similar to these Orb images. Is it possible that this is evidence of a ghost in this house?
Gemma Regan Feldman
A close-up of one of the orb photographs:
*Some examples can be viewed on the International Ghost Hunters Society web pages at www.ghostweb.com/free.html
The Philadelphia Ghosthunters Alliance in the USA also have several dozen pictures of orbs on their internet site at http://members.aol.com/Rayd8em/Photos.html .
Using night vision scopes(1) with infra-red attachments, their members have reported being able to see orbs moving, going between people, under a bridge, through a wall, and, in one instance, an orb was seen to brighten itself, prior to having a flash picture taken, as if it wanted to be photographed!
The US site of the NCPRI is at members.tripod.com/~blackdragon_1998/
(1)These are available through the Innovations Catalogue, tel: 0870 908 7002.)