It has been 5 years since I visited the Lancaster Grand Theatre, so in honour of the season, here it is. This is the diary of my first Halloween ghost hunt…
I love this venue and cannot wait to return again. The building actually seems very unobtrusive and not very grand from the outside. It is still used for productions but once you step into the auditorium you can’t help but feel the anticipation of everything that has gone before.
During our walk-round I could actually feel the anxious energy of previous performers over the decades in the backstage area and I felt very jittery myself. I led a séance on the stage, and as we sat in a circle in the dark we all felt strong cold blasts of air across our hands and around the edges of the circle, as though the spirits were walking around us curiously. We heard a shuffling sound at the door leading to the basement dressing rooms and knew that we were the only people in this area, so it was most definitely spirit activity.
The dressing rooms apparently had a reputation for being haunted and for making people very uncomfortable. So we decided to test them for ourselves! We started in one small room which was very cramped, and when we turned the light off and tried to communicate with spirits everyone in our group felt very uneasy. After only about 5 minutes we decided to move on. In another dressing room we tried to be a little braver and we spoke to a woman using dowsing rods. She wanted us to leave. We asked her to give an obvious sign like making a loud noise or showing herself, so she pushed the man holding the dowsing rods. He jumped forward with a shout that she had touched his shoulder and we agreed to leave!
When we stood in front of the stage I sensed a woman in one of the upper boxes. She appeared to be a lady of title, and was waving, apparently to the crowd sat in the seats below. She seemed unaware of our presence so I believe her to be a photographic memory in the building, an old-fashioned unconscious haunting. I asked my colleague and medium Gemma if she could see anyone in the stalls and she nodded and said yes, she had already seen the woman when we first arrived.
Upstairs in the bar area there is a huge mirror on one wall and when we entered the room we could clearly see small handprints across the bottom of the glass. We watched the theatre manager clean all of the marks away while he told us that there were stories of child ghosts in there. Later we returned to this area and the bottom of the mirror was streaked with tiny handprints and finger marks! I had not seen this phenomena before so was very impressed. Eventually while in the upper stalls we spoke to a child named Emma via the dowsing rods. She responded to my sister Emily who was the youngest person in our group and Emma seemed comforted by her. We think she was approximately eight years old.
When I first walked into the central aisle of the upper stalls I had an overwhelming fear that someone would push me down the stairs and over the balcony. It was so strong that I found myself hurrying to the side and literally holding onto the handrail as I pressed my back to the wall! It was an irrational fear but I was not comfortable at all in that upper area. While up there we checked that all the seats were in their upright positions and then after a walk around we found that some of the seats had been moved into sitting positions. I wasn’t the only person who felt this uneasy in the central upper aisle, a couple of fellow ghost hunters experienced the same irrational fear and we heard from the theatre manager that there was a story about someone who fell over the railing and died as a result of their injuries many years ago. Again there was no obvious ‘conscious’ spirit presence so I think this was another memory imprinted in the energy of the building.
We finished the night with some attempted table tipping on the floor in front of the stage, and then a few people sat in seats in different parts of the ground floor area to see if anything happened. The table did move a little for the people that were using it, and I think it was the spirit of a friend of theirs communicating. At this time I had chosen to sit down in the main theatre and watch what was happening but I found that I suddenly went very drowsy and had to stop myself from falling asleep! Now this might have been due to the late (or early!) hour of the night but I was interested to notice that I felt quite comfortable here and as though I was surrounded by friends, even though I was in a place I had never visited before with people I had only just met, and we were in the darkness with just our torches. Obviously there were more friendly spirits in this theatre than there were malicious. We were roused from our quiet mood by the sound of a bell being rung in the theatre lobby. I went out with a colleague to investigate, wondering if maybe somebody had walked past outside and rung the doorbell, but we found no bell and all the doors were securely fastened. It was also long past pub closing time and any late-night stragglers would not be likely to have been passing the theatre.
So it was a very active and exciting night in the Lancaster Grand Theatre. Here I experienced various forms of spirit and ghost activity, one of which was new to me, so it was a very rewarding investigation.