Halloween Ghost Hunt: Lancaster Grand Theatre, Lancaster, 31st October 2009

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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My Third Ghost Hunt: Walton Hall, Warrington, 13th January 2007

This was a very strange place to visit. As soon as I walked through the large front door I felt unwelcome and that its inhabitants did not want our presence. The spirits wanted to be left alone but we couldn’t help but interfere with all good intentions.

Our Medium channelled a Lady in one of the bedrooms. It was very strange watching him take on a female persona and I could almost see her superimposed over his body like a shadow. She was not happy that we were in her room and she took a particular dislike to one of the men in our group. She was generally very hostile. In the same room we contacted a slave boy named Charles using glass divination. He was afraid of the Lady and didn’t speak to us for very long.

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In another room the glass we were using starting twisting under our fingertips and we spoke to the mother of one of the men in our group. It was very strong. We then asked if my friend’s deceased sister was present with us. The glass seemed to hesitate and then moved very weakly as though the spirit was struggling to gain enough strength to move it.

Later in the hallway we decided to attempt table tipping and the table was pushed about a foot across the floor. During the whole of this investigation I felt very unwelcome and could almost feel the spirits pushing us out of the house. I actually would not want to revisit this venue because I know that they just want to be left in peace and I do not want to disturb them again.

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*** I actually visited this venue for a Mind, Body and Spirit event in 2012, and the atmosphere was totally different. It was light, friendly and welcoming, although I feel this was because the living visitors purposely avoided communicating with the dead. I simply gave my regards, and moved about respectfully as I enjoyed the day.

*Walton Hall Gardens image courtesy of Cheshire Now

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My Second Ghost Hunt: Rileys Snooker Hall, Oldham, 16th December 2006

This location has to be the most active place I have personally visited. It is here that I experienced my first physical ghost manifestations and the memories are still vividly etched in my mind! It is interesting to note that the building itself isn’t very old, dating back to the 1930s I believe. It was a theatre in its first existence, and over time it morphed into Rileys Snooker Hall with Butterflies Nightclub in the basement. Situated on the end of one of Oldham’s central shopping streets it seems an unlikely venue for a ghost hunt but inside it is full of surprises!

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We began our investigations in the abandoned nightclub in the basement. The previous landlords had done a moonlight flit about 6 years previously we were told, and we were surprised to find crates of Schweppes Orange Juice bottles that had just been abandoned along with odd glasses, cocktail sticks, and all the tables and chairs. When we first walked around the large room me and two other people saw the figure of a man standing in a doorway behind the bar. He seemed so solid that we ran around to investigate, expecting to find a caretaker or stray ghost hunter but there was no one there! When we switched the lights off there were odd flashes from the fake torches on the walls, as though someone were flicking the switches on and off, but we knew this was not possible as we were locked in from the inside and had switched the lights off ourselves.

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There were twelve people in our group and we decided to sit in a circle on stools on the dance floor. We felt surrounded by people yet we were the only ones there. It felt like there was a big party happening all around us, almost like an echo of previous big nights out for local revellers. Suddenly my heart leaped as I saw the disembodied face of a young man just above a speaker that was suspended from the ceiling. It was totally unexpected yet I was suddenly really excited! He seemed to be in his twenties and had spiky blond hair and a cheeky grin on his face. I had certainly never expected to see an actual floating apparition especially so soon in the night! I saw his image for only a few seconds but he knew I had seen him.

After a while we moved around the room and I sat on a bench against the wall near to the bar area. As I looked across to the balcony leading to the entrance I saw the same man but this time he was leaning casually on the railing as though watching people on the dance floor. When he saw me looking he grinned again and then proceeded to lean further over the balcony and pull faces at me almost as if he were drunk and having fun with me! I was intrigued! He seemed quite handsome and not in the least scary or intimidating. I did start to get a little nervous when he moved from behind the railing and I sensed him walking around the bar towards me. Then some plastic carrier bags rustled near me and I lost my nerve and moved closer to someone else in my group.

During a break my friend and me went into the Ladies’ toilets near the club entrance but the atmosphere was so uncomfortable we barely stepped through the door. The trigger object that had been placed in that room earlier had moved and the whole entrance and toilets/cloakroom area felt very oppressive. During the next vigil a few of us decided to sit in this vestibule area. I sat in the spot where I had seen the young man earlier. It felt to us as though the spirits had moved to the other side of the room and were watching us from across the dance floor. It was almost as if they didn’t want us intruding on their party. As we decided to move again we heard a tap running in the Ladies’ toilet and then a toilet flushed in the Gents’. On investigation we found there was no water plumbed into either room as it had been disconnected when the building closed down.

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Later we spent some time in the derelict rooms in the upper floors of the building, adjacent to the snooker hall. I was amazed at how much disused space there was and it seemed such a waste. Perhaps there was a supernatural reason as to why it had not been developed for public use…? Using glass divination we made contact with a woman named Isabella who was murdered. She used to work at the nightclub and had been having an affair. After we spoke to her a male spirit came through but he was reluctant to tell us about himself. We believe he was the gentleman that Isabella had the affair with and that they were both murdered when the truth was discovered.

We moved into another abandoned room, which used to be the main theatre, and as we stood in a circle in the dark I saw a Harlequin clown stood in the middle holding his belly and laughing. He reminded me of ‘The Laughing Man’ at Blackpool Pleasure Beach and I wasn’t in the least afraid of him! I could then see him on a unicycle going round the circle and juggling and when I told everyone the Medium started laughing and said he had dropped a ball! After that we explored the old kitchen area and encountered a very territorial chef who told us all to leave. We did as we were told!

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Another unique experience I was lucky enough to enjoy was to climb up onto the roof of the building and see the view across Oldham and Greater Manchester all lit up on a Saturday night. We had some fun watching drunken people on the streets below and we couldn’t resist making a few ghostly noises to confuse them! I thoroughly enjoyed this event not least because it made a change to your average haunted house.

*Rileys Snooker Hall image found via Google Images

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My First Ghost Hunt: Ordsall Hall, Salford, 25th November 2006

My very first overnight ghost hunt! I arrived at the site very excited and a little nervous, not least because I didn’t know anyone else there. I soon felt at ease with North West Spirit Seekers and was chatting with a couple of other first-time ghost hunters over a cup of hot coffee in the base room. We were all very impressed with the beauty of the Tudor building and couldn’t wait to explore.

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Our investigation began in the kitchen. This is laid out in the medieval style, as it would have been back in the day. There is a huge fireplace with large pots and cauldrons, a tiled floor, and an enormous scrubbed table in the centre. Looking around you could almost smell the smoke from the fire and see the kitchen maids and cooks rolling pastry and carving meat to serve to the Lords and Ladies. Our group sensed movement in the inner chamber leading from the large room and we noticed that the herb rack hanging from the ceiling was swinging even though there was no breeze. Once we sat in a circle on the floor the rack became still as though someone was waiting for us to say something… The Medium could see a man and two children in the room with us but they seemed reluctant to communicate.

We then moved into the Tudor Room. Here we used glass divination and spoke to a man who claimed to be Sir John Radcliffe, his daughter Elizabeth and a maid named Jane. Sir John told us he died in battle at Crecy, his children died of illness when they were nine (Elizabeth) and eleven (his son). He told us that his wife committed suicide while consumed with grief and depression. The maid, Jane, knew the children as she was a carer during their lives and she appeared to be a kind, friendly woman. Sir John would only answer our questions when we addressed him correctly which we found quite amusing! Elizabeth seemed quite playful and jolly. Two members of our group had sensations of their hair being pulled and movement around them, which was very interesting. We also sensed a terrier running around us, possibly a former playmate for the children. Generally the atmosphere was happy and welcoming, a nice family home environment.

Next was the Great Hall where there was a boy hiding behind the suit of armour near the large fireplace. He was afraid of a man in the house. He made contact with us via the glass but only for five minutes and he was very weak because of his fear. There was a spotlight on one wall, which flashed on and off, but we couldn’t get any information from the boy. He soon disappeared.

Our next room was the Star Chamber, which is a beautiful medieval bedroom with an original four-poster bed in the middle. It was named because of the lead stars set into the ceiling, which are very impressive to look at. We all sat on the floor, and suddenly we started giggling uncontrollably, almost like group hysteria! It wasn’t something I have experienced before but was quite funny! Then the atmosphere changed and became oppressive. We sensed an intimidating presence. The Medium told us it was a man near one of the doors and he was purposefully upsetting the women because we weren’t supposed to be in there. We found ourselves moving closer together so we were almost sitting on each other before our nerves failed and we all scarpered!

We retreated upstairs into the Main Chamber. I liked the atmosphere here even less and everyone else agreed with me. Two people in our group felt physically sick and the Medium heard a man telling us to ‘f**k off’. He was a very grumpy man who did not like intruders in his house. A few braver people in our group attempted table tipping but I didn’t want to take part, as I was afraid of what would happen. I really did not feel comfortable in this part of the house.

I decided to return to the Star Chamber but positioned myself away from the door where we had sensed the nasty man before. I had my jacket zipped close around my neck and kept my back to the wall but I was determined to stick it out to the end! The Medium sensed a Lady Margaret trying to show herself in the darkened room and throughout the next hour we saw tiny twinkling lights around the room, shadows as it grew lighter and darker (even though the heavy curtains were drawn completely across the window) and we felt fluctuations in the temperature. At one point we sensed a hooded figure in front of us and I saw someone stood by the fireplace, possibly a man but all I could see was a silhouette. The terrier and the children from earlier came in and out at intervals and lightened the mood.

I left Ordsall Hall with a promise to myself that I would return one day (still waiting!) and the knowledge that ghost hunting is what I was born to do. It really is a beautiful and active building and I am really happy that its history still lives on even after so many centuries have passed.

*Ordsall Hall image courtesy of BBC News Manchester 

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Love an Author Leave a Review

Originally posted on Official Site of Alex Laybourne - Author:

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I know that this is a drum much beaten, but there really is no better way of showing your support for an author than by leaving a review.

ReviewAs the indie writing culture continues to develop, and strengthen its place in the writing structure (and in the term Indie I include self published writers, for the sake of not having to write it individually every time), the importance of effective advertising is becoming even more evident.

A lot of writers, myself included, do not have a big budget to operate on. Personally speaking, I don’t even have the disposable income to run a $5 Facebook promotion without seriously having to rebudget the family groceries for the week ahead.

Using Facebook groups and blogs is good. Social Media is a growing beast and has a reach that offers more than enough potential readers to justify the free postings and link shouts…

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What Does a Ghost Hunter Do? #paranormalinvestigation

Have you ever watched an episode of the popular TV show Most Haunted, or Ghost Adventures, and wondered just how accurate and true to life the events really are? Well, I am here to tell you the truth. I am a ghost hunter. It is not glamorous, but it is one of the most exciting things I have ever done, and now I am eager to return to the hunts, after taking a break for a few years to have children.

I have decided to share with you some of my Ghost Hunter Diaries in the run up to Halloween. I will share reports of the first 3 hunts I ever did, and also the report of my treasured Halloween ghost hunt back in 2009. But perhaps first of all I should explain how it all works. What do I mean when I talk about ‘using the glass’ or ‘tipping the table?’

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Glass divination simply involves an upturned glass, a sturdy table, and a small group of people. Four people is usually enough. You each place the tip of one index finger on the edge of the glass. You do not exert any pressure, you focus your collective psychic energy using deep breathing exercises and meditation, and then you ask questions. If there is a spirit presence in the room, they may use the collective group energy and push the glass around the table. You can then ask questions, and everything will follow naturally. It is a similar process for table tipping. This time each person will lightly touch the edge of the table with their finger tips, but they can use both hands. The spirit will use their energy to move the table, tipping it in response to questions.

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I used to watch Most Haunted and I believed everything I saw. I couldn’t help it, I was sucked in by the action and drama on the screen before me. Now I can’t watch the show, because it literally makes me cringe. I mean, yes, it is very entertaining, and I believe parts of the stories must be true. But now that I have experienced séances, attended ghost hunts, and seen for myself just what happens, I know the difference between real and faked. I do not believe in antagonising spirits and ghosts by calling them out and being aggressive. I prefer to be polite, courteous, and respectful. All of the ghost hunts I attended were supervised and led by experienced mediums and paranormal investigators, and my own abilities grew over time as I also became more experienced and confident.

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Ghosts do exist. I am certain of that fact. I believe the experiences I have shared with fellow ghost hunters. I have seen a white mist apparition. I have been on the receiving end of glass divination, table tipping, and other paranormal investigation tools (including the Ouija board). And now I will show you some of the results of these experiments. During the coming days in the approach to Halloween I will share some of my early ghost hunting experiences. I hope you enjoy reading them, and please do feel free to ask questions.

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Catherine Green the Ghost Hunter

I have always had a fascination with the world of the supernatural and paranormal. It began as a child when I discovered books of ghost stories and tales of witches, vampires and werewolves. I would watch TV shows and documentaries about reported sightings of ghosts and other phenomena, and I was hooked. This stayed with me into adulthood as I became an author, but before I reached that point, I found another way to satisfy my curiosity about the unexplained world. I became a ghost hunter.

Although I had never displayed any obvious signs of mediumship, I did have strange experiences from time to time, and I would feel disconnected from people around me, as though I saw things differently to everyone else. As a child I had an imaginary friend who just happened to be a large chestnut racing horse named Drummerboy! I thought I dreamt him up after reading a particularly good story in a magazine, but it was years later while in my mid twenties that he reappeared to me one night when I was driving along the motorway. Since then I have come to know him as my travelling companion, galloping along the hard shoulder, warning me of any erratic traffic and protecting me on dark roads.

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It was the growth of the internet, and the beginnings of social media, that introduced me to other people who saw the world the way I do. Up until that point I had often felt lonely and disconnected, and I could never explain why. I have seen spirits in pubs and clubs while on nights out with my friends, but I have learnt whom I can reveal these to and who would rather not know. Many of my friends are also interested in ghost stories, but many simply prefer not to explore the hidden world. Some have joined investigations with me, and we have experienced many curious and fascinating events. Nowadays I am aware of spirit energy as I go about my daily life, and I accept it as normal. Sometimes I might speak to the spirits, and other times I am simply distracted, busy, or leave them alone.

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It is accepted by me and my husband that our house is haunted, but there is nothing dangerous or frightening here. The house is old, built in 1896, and so we understand that there are bound to be memories of previous tenants. We find it comforting that the families who lived here are comfortable in their home and like to check up on it from time to time. Being a terraced house, I often discuss the paranormal activity with my neighbour, who is fully aware of the ghosts, and likes to communicate via me and my dowsing rods on regular occasions.

I know there are spirits almost everywhere we travel these days and that some are conscious manifestations while others are simply ‘photographs’ frozen in time that show themselves in the Earth domain to people who are receptive. A building or piece of land that has seen a lot of human activity during life cannot simply be abandoned when the human dies. I believe that at the very least their memory lives on to be seen as a ghost by people that cross their territory. It seems to me that spirits and ghosts are a part of life (or death) and I will continue to communicate with them until my time comes to join them on the other side!

*Floating ghosts image courtesy of Net Animations

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