A ghost hunters privilege

The hundreds of ghost hunting teams in the UK create a unique market that can be sold products and services that the normal consumer wouldn’t consider parting with their money for. From Iphone applications and devices that are supposed to be able to help you work out if a ghost is causing a reported oddity, books on how to hunt ghosts and personalised team clothing, to guaranteed time at the top haunted hot spots across the country.

Ghost hunters tend not to worry about having to pay for the kit they use, or the personalised clothing they all wear because these are things they choose to have. However ghost hunters often kick up a fuss when it comes to being charged to enter certain famously haunted places across the country.

These tend to be buildings that have featured on paranormal television shows, or are listed in ghost folklore books or on websites dedicated to ghost lore. They often have infamous ghosts such as ‘the blue boy’, or ‘the grey lady’, or ‘the brown monk’ or ‘the judge’ and so on… often the ghosts are named; ‘Nanny rabbit’, ‘clogs’, ‘Burke & Hare’, ‘Mr. Boots’. These are the things that whet the appetite of the ghost hunter and ultimately makes them part with their cash.

The ghost hunter who happily pays to visit such locations is essentially a tourist who happens to like having the lights turned off. Yet there are ghost hunters who believe they have some sort of privilege that means they shouldn’t have to pay, or pay as much, to access these locations ; many complaining that they’re being “out costed” from being able to fairly access places to investigate.

Ultimately though, ghost hunting in such places is done so as a hobby as the associated ghost stories are often decades old with no new experiences from independent eyewitnesses to study (i.e. not ghost hunters having experiences on ghost hunts, but location staff/owners). There are only a handful of groups that study anomalous phenomena for educational or scientific reasons in the UK and those tend to be charities or linked to universities and similar – if they need access to locations that are famous for ghost lore then it’s usually for academic reasons and a mutual agreement between researcher and venue is met.

Having to pay to visit a location to carry out a hobby is not an outrageous demand, and to accuse supposedly haunted places of charging ‘too much’ and ‘out-costing’ people is unfair.

Many ghost hunting groups (but not all) have public liability insurance to cover them while they visit locations that they do not own, but insurance isn’t always the only thing on a location owners mind when it comes to letting in a group of people who aren’t professionals at what they do and, ultimately, are tourists.

I’ve personally researched in venues for years at a time and happily handed over cash because of the extra electricity we’re going to be using while there. Most ghost lore is linked to ancient buildings owned by charitable trusts that look after our wonderful and important heritage sites that need constant funding to keep them maintained.

Should such venues not ask for money when people want to visit them? Should ghost hunters be allowed to visit for free or next to nothing when it is the very heritage of a site that has attracted them in the first place?

I’m not sure what the justification for such a demand is, and for those who are skeptical that ghost groups make such demands a quick search on google or facebook will reveal that I’m not lying.

Many ghost hunters blame commercial groups who make a profit from ghost hunting enthusiasts for the rise in the fee that locations charge, often citing profiteering ghost groups as bad people who need to be tackled.

It is often said that by groups making a profit from charging members of the public to go on ghost hunts with them at these locations, it makes the locations aware of how much people are willing to pay – thus “out-costing” the regular ghost hunter.

I don’t agree that this is something that profiteering groups should be tackled for though. I would suggest that we should be looking at the claims such profiteering groups make to the general public about what service it is they provide (e.g. a serious paranormal investigation when it isn’t? Proper scientific research when it’s not? Just for entertainment?) And we should tackle misleading claims and bad behavior if the need arises.

Making location owners aware of the amounts they can charge people isn’t a terrible thing and in some cases is actually good (charities, for example).

It bugs me when ghost hunting groups complain about having to constantly pay loads of money to visit apparently haunted locations because it shows that they’re not really very serious about researching anomalous phenomena. In the six years that I have been studying ghosts and the places they’re said to hang out, I’ve only ever visited a handful of places that requested money and the money paid helped towards the running of the site.

Most places that I visit don’t charge because they’ve never had the need to ask paranormal investigators to visit. The experiences have mostly been recent and current and not founded in ghost lore books and websites.

One problem that arises from venues being able to charge people to access them is the rise in the number of venues claiming to be haunted when they’re not, just so that they can make money from Yvette Fielding wannabe’s. This is a serious problem, and one I’ve encountered first hand when investigating what appears to be a genuine report, only for investigators to catch people faking activity.

However, if such fakery is occurring, then asking the right questions and looking for the right signs should help investigators rule out ‘genuine’ reports from those that are fraudulent. If you simply hang on to every word of a story and let that be what drives your curiosity – to experience the ghost the story centres around – then you’re an easy  target for such frauds.

If you are open minded in your approach and consider all possibilities (and not just that there’s a ghost there that could be contacted) then you’re less likely to be caught out.

It is possible to conduct paranormal research without being charged phenomenal amounts of money to do so, but if you’re simply in it for the thrill of the hunt and the folklore stories that excite you then you’re a tourist and paying is inevitable.  That isn’t a product of the profiteering paranormal companies – it’s a product of your approach to ghost phenomena.

Photo credit: Tristan Barratt

About Hayley Stevens 425 Articles
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.

12 Comments on A ghost hunters privilege

  1. I’ve never been able to satisfactorily explain why lay groups feel they have the right to be heavily subsidised.

    One groups was, rather oddly, trying to lobby the Queen to command all National Trust locations to open their doors to paranormal investigators for free. Feeling they had such rights. Never really followed the logic of the argument.

    I try to think about this from a locations perspective. They have the make special staffing arrangements to allow a group in – and many recieve requests on a weekly basis – why should it be their responsibility to do this for free when, 9 times out of 10, the group is persuing a hobby which is neither useful nor internally or externally improving.

    On the flip side of the coin when serious groups and research charities make a case for a research project which is in some way more useful, my experience is that the majority of ‘charging’ venues are more than happy to waive or substantially reduce fees to reflect this.

    Antoher question I have often asked is why is it necessary to visit a TV location that others visit every week when every town has a string of non-investigated and willing locations. I rarely hear a good answer to that question, although I did once hear an honest one: someone once told me that it was easily, you didn’t need to spend all that time working with a client reassuring them. Speaks for itself.

  2. “One problem that arises from venues being able to charge people to access them is the rise in the number of venues claiming to be haunted when they’re not…”

    This threw me for a moment, but your meaning is clear from what you say further on.

    Just as true investigators need a way of distinguishing “genuine” paranormal reports from faked ones, venues need a way of filtering out non-serious investigators from genuine ones. Charging investigators for visits would seem to be a legitimate means of achieving this.

  3. I’m kind of glad that many ghosthunting groups stick to ye olde haunted tourist trappes. Given the horrendous ethical issues involved in private cases with distressed clients, at least in a “haunted pub” or stately home potential harm to private individuals is minimized…

    cj x

  4. It is market forces, as always, if I could charge people for entering my home I would, although I think that ghost hunting groups are being let off too lightly, I would be charging in the hundreds if I had a GENUINELY haunted home, which of course I do not, nor does anyone else for that matter 😉

    Nah, the whole ghost thing is bunkem and a figment of peoples minds, I have no sympathy for ghost hunters pleading a special case for cheaper admission. Some of these groups spend a fortune on ridiculous gadgets then moan when charged a few quid to enter a venue. Fact is, with thousands of hours of study by idiots and the educated alike, there is NO evidence for ghosts, anyone who is still looking for them are perhaps delusional or have too much spare money and/or time on their hands 🙂

  5. I personally have no problem with venues charging what they like…for instance there is a reputed haunted castle near where I live with a long history of ghostly sightings and they hire the castle out for £350 for the night till 2am..ish
    Simply put charging 10 people £35 would cover the expense of the hire yet some “Non-Profit” groups have tried to charge up to 20 people £50 for the nights event.
    That is where I have a problem with groups that call themselves “Non-Profit” over charging for an event and clearly doing it for the money and not as part of real on-going investigations.

    I have often over the years gone into a reputed location and carried out a non invasive investigation and sometimes you do have to pay for the privilege and if that’s what you have to do then so be it….group events after all are far from being investigations and are simply entertainment or scare fests…(but occasionally you may get someone telling you that they have had an experience that will tally with other reports prior to the event.)

    Just my pennies worth…take it as you will…after all everyone is aloud an opinion 😉

    • I don’t see how paying to visit a location for one night can count as an investigation. There are so many variables you are unable to account for in such a short space of time.

  6. I agree…a proper investigation requires hours and hours of and even tgen who’s to say you will actually experience anything…a group I am with have been carrying out an investigation at a local village church for several years…doesn’t cost us anything and we don’t have to hang around getting cold in the early hours of the morning..

    • …but why the early hours of the morning? And why would experiencing something be the goal of research? It sounds as though your methodology is biased towards proving ghosts.

    • Early hours….how many event groups do you know that do daytume events…
      My methodology or should I say the groups methodolgy is to find answers for the reports that come in…and almost all are prooved to be anything but paranormal..so no we aren’t biased towards prooving ghosts exist…

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