The Worst Ghosts of 2016

Welcome to the 2016 instalment of my “Worst Ghosts” yearly summary tradition! I’ve been looking back at the year just passed and choosing the worst ghosts to have made the headlines each year since 2011. You can find the links to the 2011-2015 posts at the end of this post.

I’ve always been interested in the relationship the media have with ghosts and monsters, especially in a world where news coverage is 24/7 and online now. I used to write a feature on this blog called The Weakly Ghost Summary that chronicled the worst ghosts to make the headlines each week, but this turned into The Spooktator Podcast – episodes of which are released at the end of every month.

So, in keeping with this tradition I have looked back at the year and narrowed down the ridiculous ghost stories that made the headlines to what I consider to be the worst 5 and, without further ado, here they are:

#5 The Bronllys Hospital Ghost

Face at window

The photo was taken by someone called Adam Smith at a former psychiatric hospital in Bronllys, Wales. The Mirror reported that ‘the creepy snap seems to show a ghoulish face in shadows on the first-floor window of the former psychiatric hospital – despite it being closed for 15 years.’

Some research discovered that it was a Halloween mask placed there by pranksters. Awkward…

#4 Witch on a Stretcher at The Cage

Some paranormal researchers seem to take the claims coming from The Cage in Essex seriously and I can’t quite get my head around it. I’ve written about The Cage before in a post titled ‘The Problem With Britain’s Most Haunted House‘, but to summarise, the building once briefly housed women accused of witchcraft and the current owner claims that it is actively haunted and charges ghost hunters for the chance to investigate it. The previous owners state that nothing ever happened while they lived there and the activity and evidence produced is disappointing. Also, a lot of ghost hunters who visit the building come away disappointed with their experience.

Earlier this year, the photograph above was taken by Chris Halton who claims it shows the body of a witch being carried away by other ghosts on a stretcher.  You can see what he claims are the figures outlined in the photo to the right. The Sun quotes Halton:

‘“I just took a couple of pictures with the flash on just to document it like I had throughout the house. As soon as I looked at one of them I saw there was some light distortion on it but I just thought it was something wrong on the picture.” It was when Chris got home and examined the picture closely he saw a “clear shape of a hooded figure wearing Elizabethan clothing and carrying a stretcher”.

Chris, mate… it literally is light distortion because you moved the camera while taking the photo, and I think you know that. In fact, you even stated it yourself, and that – coupled with the unconvincing nature of the haunting at The Cage – lands this photo in the #4 spot on this list.

#3 The Haunted House of Abbey Wood

Where to begin?

Earlier this year I think England played host to a potential first in the field of paranormal research when alleged ghost activity was caught on camera at a home in Abbey Wood while the investigation was being broadcast live on Facebook. As the livestream commenced plates were sent crashing to the ground as the ghost was egged on by those present. Watch here: 

The homeowner, Ian Hawke, called in Danny Taylor to investigate the weird things happening in the house and what took place was a typical ghost hunt. Danny Taylor, who claims to be a paranormal investigator, actually works for a paranormal events company called Ghost Hosts Events UK which seems to be pretty new. On their website he is listed as the “tech guy” but I can’t find any suggestion that these guys are legit investigators.

During their visit to Hawke’s home, a woman claiming to be a medium gave a “reading” and talked about a murder that had taken place on the street outside of the home (which is quite distasteful to then post online, but that’s a different blog post for a different day…)

Then, the team conducting the ghost hunt used a fancy sounding piece of camera equipment which is actually just a Microsoft Kinect rip-off, and claimed that it was picking up on an invisible presence in the room. You can watch this on Youtube in the first four minutes of this video by clicking here. Suffice to say, the camera being used simply picks up on artefacts and creates meaning where there is none because it is programmed to detect people as they enter its field of vision. Anyone who has used a Kinect camera for their x-box will be familiar with how glitchy it can be at times.

Now, following this – and while broadcasting live on Facebook, some crockery was thrown to the floor. The men in the video who I believe are Ian Hawke and Danny Taylor seemed shocked by what has happened, but I’m not entirely convinced that they’re not acting. What is seen in the video (at the top of this listing) appears to me to be the result of fishing wire or “invisible thread” being used to pull the crockery by somebody off of camera.

Interestingly, Hawke is the same guy who captured this CCTV footage which he claims is a child’s ghost outside of his house which looks like a lens flare to me: 

In conclusion, the haunting of Hawke’s house in Abbey Wood isn’t very compelling and the evidence presented leaves a lot to be desired…

#2 The Soldier’s Ghost at Gettysburg 

The Daily Star reported that these two US-based ghost hunters visited a Gettysberg battlefield to see if they could capture anything ghostly on camera and, low and behold, they did indeed film the figure of a soldier walking across a field and stopping next to some old cannons. This was filmed in 2013 and yet started to go viral this year with 53% of people who answered a poll on the Star website claiming they believe in ghosts.

Figure by cannons

I decided to include this ghost in the #2 spot on this list because it’s pretty terrible. As Kenny Biddle reported though, the whole thing felt very staged and is something that can be created very easily using free video editing software. In fact, Kenny was able to recreate the video which can be watched here:

#1 Tom Buckmaster’s “Black Eyed Kid” Video and Photo

I’m not overly familiar with Buckmaster or his work, but he strikes me as the kind of guy who can’t tell the difference between fiction and reality and probably doesn’t want to because his version of reality is more exciting for him.

He has been “investigating” the ‘Black Eyed Kids’ said to haunt the Staffordshire area and this is the photo of an alleged “Black Eyed Kid” that he presented as paranormal evidence:

a pixellated photo mess

Compelling stuff, right? Those red, blue and green pixels just speak for themselves. The Daily Star went with the headline ‘Return of black-eyed ghost child’ when reporting this but the problem with this is that thanks to Zak Bagans wannabes like Buckmaster, the idea of these ghosts never fucking went away in the first place.

Buckmaster made the paper again with a video that apparently shows him witnessing a BEK up close.

“We haven’t, like we usually do, been able to check out the area in the daytime” reports Buckmaster, letting you know just how rigorous his investigative methodology is. Why try to establish the facts when you can just run around in the woods in the dark, right?

“Woah, woah, woah, woah, woah, woah, woah. Did you hear that? Did you just not hear that, John?” Buckmaster exclaims dramatically on the video in which nothing remotely weird can be heard. “Something went “wuuuuuuurgh” to my left-hand side. oh my god.”

Sure it did, Tom. You’re in the middle of some woodland in the dark. It’d be weird if you didn’t hear a strange noise, you muppet. Buckmaster takes the #1 spot on this list simply because his over-dramatic, attention-seeking ghost hunting nonsense got on my nerves when I first encountered it and is exactly what’s wrong with ghost hunting culture.

So there you have it. This list isn’t exhaustive of all of the terrible ghosts that made the headlines this year – why not check out The Spooktator where we bring you the worst we find on a monthly basis? You can also check out previous lists like this below:

The Worst Ghosts of 2011
The Worst Ghosts of 2012
The Worst Ghosts of 2013
The Worst Ghosts of 2014
The Worst Ghosts of 2015

This post is dedicated to the memory of Tracie, Ken, and our dog Lucky. All died this year and will be missed.

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Hayley Stevens

Hayley is a ghost geek and started to blog in 2007. She uses scientific scepticism to investigate weird stuff and writes about it here while also speaking publicly about how to hunt ghosts as a skeptic.

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