Woman Catches Grey Lady Of Longleat House On Camera… Sort Of…

new longleat image

Don’t ask why but I recently felt compelled to pick up the September 2015 issue of Chat It’s Fate magazine as I wandered through my local supermarket. It’s the magazine for the type of person that I’m not – people who are trying to be at one with themselves and trying to aligning their chakras while cleansing their houses and colons of negative energy. It was full of the usual waffle about miracles, too-good-to-be-coincidences coincidences and spiritual awakenings but scattered throughout were pages on which regular readers could send letters and photos in and, if they were lucky (ha) they might be chosen as letter of the month, pic of the month or spooky photo of the month for which there is a monetary award.

longleat gray lady hoax

Imagine my complete lack of surprise to discover that the spooky photo of the month for September 2015 was a staged ghost photo. According to Diana Barrett who sent it into the magazine on behalf of “a friend” said “friend” has ‘recently visited Longleat Safari and Adventure park in Wiltshire and took some photos in Longleat House. She didn’t notice anything strange until she looked at the pics later. The manor is allegedly haunted by a Grey Lady – and if you look between the two portraits, there she is, clear as day.’

grey lady close up

Diana is right, her “friend” did capture the ghost of the Grey Lady on camera… that is, the projection of the Grey Lady. I live in Wiltshire and I love Longleat House and I would visit the Safari Park often throughout my childhood. Longleat House embrace their gruesome ghost legends and every October host a Halloween festival which includes a ghost walk in the house which I can thoroughly recommend after attending last year. Not only that but in the main hall- where this photo was taken -they have a projection of the Grey Lady which appears in front of a set of wooden doors between two portraits, looks around the hall as though searching for somebody (which is part of her legend), and then she vanishes only to reappear a few moments later. Down in the creepy cellars of the house you might witness the disembodied shadow of a body tumbling down a servants staircase only to run off into the cellars – a hologram of the ghost said to linger in that area of the house. It’s all quite fun, really.

When I contacted the Longleat House media team they confirmed that the projection of the Grey Lady of Longleat was played throughout the year and that this wasn’t the first time that someone has tried to sell such a photo to the press. Hilarious then that the publication to fall for it is Chat It’s Fate and that not only did they publish the photo, they paid the reader for the privilege of doing so.

It’s almost as though it was destined to be…

Who You Gonna Call? A Lawyer!

scoleri bros

We’re all familiar with the classic ghost story trope. A family moves into a beautiful new home, confident that the new life they’re going to start there will be joyful and then weird things start to happen. They catch shadowy figures out of the corners of their eyes, can’t quite shake the feeling that they’re not alone – perhaps their child will talk to someone who is not there, things will move, neighbours give them a knowing look… then we reach the crescendo of the story in which their child gets dragged through a portal, it turns out that they are the ghosts all along or they get raped by a ghost wearing a gimp suit.

If these fictional scenarios played out in America then the characters would have a case for legal action. It’s the law that faults at the property should be disclosed prior to sale… including ghosts.  In the Stambovsky v. Ackley case it was ruled that the original owner of a house was at fault for  publicising their haunting in Reader’s Digest but not mentioning this to the new tenant.

Now, the skeptic ghost researcher in me wants to point out that poltergeist activity is rare and is usually a symptom of an underlying physical or mental health problem, but that’s not the point of this post.

The “Watcher” case in the US has recently made headlines because the couple who bought a house and then received threatening letters from an anonymous person called “the Watcher” were not told about this prior to moving in, despite previous tenants knowing about the situation. I’m not so sure this counts as a haunting as it’s obviously a living person writing the letters (and ghosts aren’t real) but that’s what the current home owners are classing it is in their lawsuit. As Eli Mystal reports on Redline ‘The “lawsuit” is not against the Watcher — who would surely be jailed and locked in the Ecto-Containment Protection Grid if the cops could catch him. The Broaddus couple is suing the previous owners for selling them a goddamn haunted house!’

Interestingly, this attitude towards selling haunted houses without disclosing that the house comes with a ghost isn’t just a US thing and is becoming more routine here in England too. For example, a friend of a friend recently moved out of their rented accommodation and the landlord asked them to fill in a form (shown below) that would enable them to inform potential new tenants about the house. On the form were the questions ‘is there any known history involving tragic death(s) at this property?’ and ‘is the property currently reputed to be affected by paranormal activity?’

landlord form

It seems silly at first but there are tales of people refusing rent increases or changes to their tenancy agreements because of ghosts. In some cases people are genuinely terrified of the house they’re living in and will want to call in an exorcist, or move.

Not so surprising then that landlords would ask people to disclose a potential haunting when you think about it. They’re just covering their backs and although it might seem more logical to call in a paranormal researcher with experience of spotting a ghost hoax that isn’t always possible, and it isn’t always ethical either. Read more about the ethics of ghost research here.

Interestingly I know of one or two Wiltshire based estate agents who rent out their empty hard-to-sell properties to paranormal event groups so that they can make money from taking people on ghost hunts in spooky looking properties, making a small profit from the empty property. Imagine the lawsuit that could result from that should the UK continue to treat allegedly haunted houses as our friends in the States do. Hmm…

Weakly Ghost Bulletin #5

WEAKLY GHOST BULLETIN HEADER

Watch moment mysterious ‘spirit orb’ comes out of Teesside Ghostbuster’s head | Gazette Live

During a paranormal investigation at The Green Dragon Pub the Ghost Hunters of Stockton on Tees (G.H.O.S.T) reckon they captured footage of a spirit orb shooting out of the head of one of their team members. The Gazette reports ‘John Skerritt, 21, says that he felt a burning sensation on his face just moments before the strange occurrence – which you can see between around 36 and 46 seconds into the film.’

The footage can be watched on the news website by clicking the link above. It’s has been widely demonstrated that so-called spirit orbs are not at all paranormal in nature and happen to just be out-of-focus particles in the air that are moving around in the air. These particles- dust, hair, pollen, insects, fibres -get illuminated and appear out of focus as they pass close to the camera lens in an area often refered to as the orb zone *cue twilight zone theme tune* 

Seriously, there have been proper studies into the cause of orbs and yet people still choose to ignore this and scrape the barrel and believe that they are evidence of ghosts. Then again… we see Skerritt using a spiritbox in the video too so it’s very clear that this team has a pseudo-scientific approach and a very low threshold for evidence.

Eerie images captured by ghost hunters in Sir James Craig’s former home | Belfast Telegraph

craigavon house ghosts

 

The two images above show ghostly manifestations in Craigavon House according to Belfast based ghost hunters. Paul Black, founder of the East Coast Paranormal Society told the Belfast Telegraph “That big mirror sits at the top of the stairs. We caught the image of a spirit in it standing up against the doorstep … the figure has a full-grown beard – and none of us has a beard.”

Although the image on the left (above) does look quite creepy I’m not completely convinced that a) it isn’t a living human, and b) that isn’t a beard, but a jacket collar. Do ghosts even cast shadows? ‘cos the figure in the left photo is casting a shadow. The second photo (on the right, above) is said to show the spirit of a woman mid-manifestation. In all reality (haha, reality) it is nothing more than vapour illuminated by a camera flash or some other light source. There are dozens of reasons that there could have been a vapour or mist in the air that was unseen by ghost hunters walking around in the dark.

There have been many more ghost related news stories but I’ve made the decision to only showcase a handful of naff news stories in the WGB each week. This is mainly because most of them are just the media repeating eye-witness testimony or ghost hunting event companies trying to get free publicity off of the back of some shoddy ghost photos and I won’t further that coverage. Hayley out!

 

 

REVIEW: The Longleat House Ghost Tour

longleat 2

Something strange has happened to Longleat Safari Park. A vampire has taken up residence in the Bat Cave, enormous pumpkins are sprouting up all around the grounds, a coven of witches have taken up residence in the main hall of the beautiful Longleat House and things that ought to lurk only in the shadows have taken to roaming the corridors in the dark basements and attics.

longleat ghostI may have led dozens of real-life ghost investigations, entered allegedly haunted houses to try to solve their ghostly mysteries, and busted my fair share of dodgy ghosts in my time as a paranormal researcher but nothing could have prepared me for the moment this afternoon when I found myself in the creepy and cold attics of Longleat House resisting the fight or flight instinct that we still-alive humans feel when something scary or dangerous happens to us.

I was part of a group of ten people participating in one of the ghost tours of Longleat house that happen in the lead up to Halloween and although I’m not going to tell you what happened or any of the stories that we were told during the tour, I am going to tell you to buy tickets. This is a must do tour for anyone remotely interested in ghosts. If you can’t get there for 2014 then put it in your diary for Halloween 2015.

The Longleat Ghost Tours, which are not suitable for minors, have only existed for two years but the experience is up there with many other such tours I have gone on. The estate has a rich history peppered with truly spooky stories of strange happenings and ghostly sightings and, to their credit, the tour guides don’t go over the top in their retelling of the ghost stories like some venues can but there’s enough tension in the air as you wander around to cause a tingling on the back of your neck…

In conclusion, the ghost tour was just perfect. Tickets cost £7.50 per person but you do have to have a day ticket to the Safari Park to take part. Although this does put the price up it does give you access to the rest of the park including the famous Safari, Safari boat, shows, playground and other attractions which was really enjoyable (even if I did get pooped on by a bat…)

I am extremely glad that Longleat have started to explore and share the ghost legends of the house and, between you and me, I think I might have spotted the infamous ghost of the grey lady…

The ghosts of Widowhood

thumb widowhood

Originally written for The Heresy Club

We are all haunted. If not by ghosts, by death – our inevitable death and the death of those around us.

In 1971 the British Medical Journal published a paper by W Dewi Rees called ‘The Hallucinations of Widowhood’ [1] that detailed how 293 widows and widowers were interviewed to determine the extent to which they had hallucinatory experiences of their dead spouse, something which had not been previously investigated. The investigation found that roughly half of those interviewed reported hallucinations or illusions (e.g. non-visual experiences) of their dead spouse/spouses, and that these experiences were most common in the first ten years following the death. Rees found that gender, pre-existing depressive illness, social isolation, cultural groups, or the area the interviewee lived in (e.g. countryside, town, village etc.) didn’t play a factor in the hallucinations. Rees wrote

It was unusual for the hallucinations to have been disclosed, even to close friends or relatives. These hallucinations are considered to be normal and helpful accompaniments of widowhood. [1]

I know several people who’ve confided in me experiences they’ve had that convince them that their deceased husband or wife are still around – including family members who I know are sincere. I have no doubt that these are people who have had real experiences that they truly believe were caused by their dead spouse, and I have no desire to tell them otherwise.

Yesterday several media outlets wrote about Andrea Samuels who believes her deceased husband has manifested as a dark smudgey shape on a wall in her house, and that her deceased pet dog is appearing in a shape on the ceiling of her bathroom.

The apparitions Ms Samuels thinks are her deceased husband and dog are actually just damp patches that vaguely resemble the dog and a man. As humans we find meaning in randomness because of something called the Pareidolia effect. Ms Samuels interprets those shapes on her wall and ceiling as her husband and pet because of the significance those deaths have in her life. Perhaps someone else might interpret them as being someone or something else, or even as of no significance at all.

This isn’t a story that should amuse us, it is a story that should worry us. The grieving process is a long, complicated and often individual thing and sometimes thinking the ghost of a deceased loved one is in your house can help. Just as W Dew Rees stated in the introduction to his paper.[1] Yet there are harmful delusions that can come as a consequence, but vulnerable adults and young people often have a professional networks of support in place to help them. That is how those delusions are addressed and dealt with – not through people sharing comments online, and not by ghost investigation teams. That is the main worry I have about Andrea Samuels story being reported by the press. I worry that irrational ghost hunters will get in touch with Andrea Samuels and offer to help her, when in fact their actions could be hugely unethical. Ghost researchers should not work with vulnerable adults, children, or the recently bereaved. You can read a past blog post by me that details the unethical conseuences of ghost hunters who don’t work to a code of ethics.

Another worry of mine is that the papers reported how a Catholic priest visited the house and conducted a cleansing on the property at the request of Andrea Samuels. If this helps Andrea then that is great, but when a spiritual cleansing is done in a house where someone believes a haunting is taking place there can be bad consequences. A spirit cleansing adds credibility to the idea that the things being witnessed that are thought to be a ghost are indeed caused by a ghost. More often than not, those who think they are affected by a ghost will report that after the cleansing takes place the activity stops. To them the cleansing has been successful. However because of the nature of seemingly paranormal activity, and the fact that most strange experiences have a perfectly logical cause, it’s likely that the activity will happen again at some point, only this time the eye-witness will think it’s certainly a ghost doing it because the cleansing seemed to work (so it must have been a ghost) and the cleansing was done in the first place (so it must have been a ghost). Spiritual cleansing can be done by anyone, but when a religious figure does it, it adds more credibility to the proceedings, and the idea that a cleansing is needed in the first place.

We’re all haunted. If not by ghosts, by death.

[1] W Dewi Rees The Halucinations of Widowhood, British Medical Journal, 1971, 4, 37-41 [read online copy]