Four Haunted Campgrounds… with No Escape?

As an outdoor enthusiast, I love haunted places in the wild. It’s one reason I especially enjoyed the book, Haunted Hikes of New Hampshire.

Of course, other parts of the US have haunted hiking trails and campgrounds. Now that the warmer weather is here, you may want to explore them.

The following video starts with an annoying ad. It’s worth sitting through it to get to their top 10 list of haunted campgrounds and parks in the US.

In the UK, my first choice for camping – and ghost hunting in the wild – might be Dartmoor. The Paranormal Database lists many ghostly hotspots around Dartmoor. And, if you’re not sure where to camp, this link takes you to camping information for Dartmoor. (Camping / Dartmoor)

(Of note, “As part of a Dartmoor walking expedition, it is acceptable to backpack camp for one or two nights in some areas of open moorland, well away from roads or settlements using a ‘no impact’ approach.” But be sure to read the rest of the related rules.)

In the US, summer is an ideal season for camping in cooler, northern states. In places like Florida, winter is a better choice.

Start with campgrounds that have verified ghost stories.

The following are a couple of them from an article, 4 Haunted Campgrounds with No Escape. (The full article is linked at the foot of this page.)

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If you knew there was a chance you may end up as a late night snack for long lost souls on a feeding frenzy, would you do it? Even knowing you couldn’t get away? All you need to do is pitch a tent. It’s that easy. But you have to know where…

Malakoff Diggins State Historic Site – Nevada County, Calif.

Nevada County is smothered with small ghost towns, but none as haunted as North Bloomfield which was preserved as part of this historic site.

Legend has it, a strict disciplinarian schoolteacher slaughtered a student and hung him from the schoolhouse rafters for answering too many questions incorrectly. It’s said to be the most haunted building in the deserted mining town.

Faces have been seen peering from windows inside of some of the preserved buildings. Some have even been captured by a camera.  If you really want to, you can spend the night with them. Pick a spot. Sleep tight.

Malakoff Diggins State Historic Site – Nevada County, Calif.

Big Moose Lake – Adirondacks, New York

The ghost of Grace Brown is said to haunt the area. Brown, unwed and pregnant in 1906, begged the father of the child, Chester Gillette, a well-known womanizer, to marry her. He initially refused and in one her love letters she wrote, “If I die I hope then you can be happy. I hope I can die. The doctor says I will, and then you can do just as you like.”

Gillette finally agreed to the marriage and the couple took a trip to Big Moose Lake to privately tie the knot. But Gillette had ulterior motives. He was accused of killing Brown with a tennis racket while they were in a rowboat in the middle of the lake. He then dumped her body in the water where it was later discovered. Gillette was arrested and two years later was executed.

In 1988 an employee at one of the lakes lodges, Rhonda Bousselot, felt a strange presence as she reached inside of a cabin door to turn on a light switch. Three other employees who were standing just outside as Bousselot exited the cabin said they saw a shadowy figure seemingly gliding very close to her.

Sometimes the ghost of Brown is seen in the lake drowning while at other times she is seen wandering the lake shore. It’s been reported she likes to turn off lights in cabins and some guests have suddenly found themselves sitting in a darkened room with no explanation.

There are plenty of campsites surrounding Big Moose Lake. Pick one right by the shoreline.

(… read the full article (linked below) for two more creepy places to camp)

Ghosts of Woodchester – Celebrity Haunted Mansion

Ghosts inside Woodchester MansionToday, a new celebrity reality/game show – Celebrity Haunted Mansion – debuted on W (and, this episode only, was also on Really).

This new show seems to be part Survivor, part Big Brother… but in a gorgeous, truly haunted house.

The site – Woodchester Mansion – looks tremendous. Woodchester’s history is very weird. It offers many quirky nuances for researchers. That’s promising.

But, the idea of making paranormal research into a sort of game show – makes me uneasy.

On one hand, I’m thrilled to see another great, haunted location receive attention. This is the kind of site that should be investigated.

Here’s an short (5 minutes) video about Woodchester Mansion and its ghosts.  It covers a lot of history.

And as usual, I’m hopeful that new media coverage will attract fresh researchers to this field. Of course, I’m glad to see Jason Hawes get another gig, as well.

But… (You knew that was coming, right?)

The first two-hour episode of Celebrity Haunted Mansion didn’t show enough of what I’m looking for. It wasn’t an actual investigation.

Maybe it wasn’t supposed to be. I’m trying to keep an open mind and be okay with Celebrity Haunted Mansion as entertainment (as opposed to real life).

I’ll admit it: Like many researchers in this field, it’s far too easy for me to take myself – and ghost hunting – too seriously. (That goes double when I’m putting in long hours, as I am now, working behind-the-scenes on the free ghost hunting course.)

Paranormal Prep School

Apparently, the cast learned about ghost hunting in a “paranormal prep school.” I ranted at the TV screen when they showed clips from that training.  The staging seemed to mimic (parody?) Hogwarts, and the lessons made me even more uncomfortable.

For example:

  • Whether you call it a “spirit board” or a Ouija board, it’s not a toy and people should be aware of the risks… and how to avoid them.
  • Generally, ghosts do not follow anyone home. I felt that the instructors unnecessarily frightened the cast members, especially the two who’d already expressed concerns about that exact issue.

That’s when I took a few deep breaths and reminded myself that it’s not a documentary. It’s a TV series. It’s entertainment.

The Cast

Among the celebrity guests, I especially liked Simon Gregson (Coronation Street). He spoke honestly about seeing a ghost (in the past), while remaining rather skeptical about it. That’s a balance I like to see among team members. I hope he’ll be involved in other ghost-related TV shows. He seems like a level-headed, intelligent man. We need more researchers like him.

I was not expecting Katie Price (“Jordan”) to be an experienced ghost hunter. That impressed me. I liked how she described “the cobwebby feeling” at actively haunted locations.  I hope she continues similar, serious research on the show. But, realistically, I’m expecting her to focus more on getting audience votes so she can stay on the show.

In general, I felt that the celebrity guests were a good balance of curious, skeptical, serious and humorous.

Mostly, today’s episode of Celebrity Haunted Mansion focused on introducing the cast and the location.  Since this was a live broadcast, it was alternately amusing, interesting, and embarrassing to watch.

It’s difficult to broadcast a show like that. Ghosts don’t perform on cue. Filling the show with interesting content can be a challenge. I think the cast did a good job with the sparse material they had on hand.

Hosts Christine Lampard and Matt Richardson did a very good job of filling the time. I liked both of them.

Also during the show, Jack Osborne and Jason Hawes each made some good points about real paranormal research. I wanted to hear more from them, and see them working directly with their teams.

But, I felt as if they took a back seat to the celebrities, and that may be be planned. As I said, I’m not sure I get what this show is supposed to be, and perhaps it’s finding its own path, spontaneously. (Sometimes, the most interesting things are unplanned and unscripted.)

The Ghost Hunting Equipment

The cast seem to have some good, basic ghost hunting tools. I saw a K-II, an Ovilus, a Paranormal Puck 2, and a REM Pod.

I also heard reference to a Mel meter, and – in the “paranormal prep school” – the cast were shown a pendulum, with confirmation that it’s okay to use it in a stand. (Pendulums aren’t 100% risk-free, but they don’t present anything close to the dangers of Ouija boards.)

Most ghost hunters can afford some of those tools, especially if you find used ones at eBay, etc.  And, from my experience, they’re all good tools. (I still prefer my Ghost Meter Pro to my Ovilus III, but that may be a personal quirk.)

Not Available in the US

The rest of the episodes will air on W, a UK network that isn’t available on the American UKTV app. So, I’m unlikely to see the rest of Celebrity Haunted Mansion. Not unless it appears on Hulu or Netflix or something, later.

Meanwhile, the location intrigues me enough to continue researching its past.

Quick Historical Research

For now, those who want to leap into historical research immediately, here’s a link to an in-depth history of the site: Woodchester Park, Gloucestershire, by Oliver Bradbury. (PDF)

You may find even more interesting bits in A History of the County of Gloucester, Volume 11, at British History Online.

And here’s what I found in Burke’s Peerage.

Leigh family in Burke's Peerage

As time permits, I may continue researching Woodchester’s history and ghosts.

Here’s what I’d look for:

  • Contemporary reports from when the workmen “vanished” from the mansion. For that, I’d search old newspapers.
  • Anything odd about Spring Park. (There’s already a gruesome legend about the Wildcat of Woodchester and animal mutilations. So far, it looks like a wild panther more than, say, a Black Shuck.  This link has the kinds of photos that I’d rather not see, and do not recommend.)
  • Whether there’s anything strange about the repeated building-demolition pattern at the site. For that, I’d dig deeper into the Historic England summary of Woodchester Mansion. Everything I’ve skimmed so far – including that history – seems to be studiously avoiding something. (Or maybe I’m reading too much between-the-lines.)
  • At that link, I read this:

“A park noted at Woodchester from 1311 which lay near the church and manor was abandoned soon after 1600 when George Huntley began to create a demesne, including a new deer park and warren, in the Inchbrook valley. This park, which was walled, included much of registered area, and was composed of what had previously been common and open-field land.” (Emphasis added.)

I’m wondering how much local residents protested the enclosure of commons that had been theirs to use for nearly 300 years. That’s the kind of history that can lead to residual energy, if not outright hauntings.

That’s as much as I have for you, today. If you pull any of these threads and find something interesting, I hope you’ll leave a comment.

Whether or not the Celebrity Haunted Mansion TV show is compelling (or at least fun), I think Woodchester sounds like an excellent site to investigate.

If you want to see what people are saying about the show, you can follow related Tweets at #CelebHaunted.

Ghosts in the News: Nov 2017 [2]

newspaperHalloween may be over, but these fresh news reports might interest ghost hunters.

Some suggest places we can investigate. Others are only worthy of a raised eyebrow.

Pluckley (England) is a good example of why ghost hunters need to look for fresh investigation sites.

Oh, Pluckley sounds like it’s very haunted. That’s not the issue.

One article, Is Pluckley still England’s most haunted village?, suggests that – at Halloween – the entire village might be off-limits to ghost hunters. It was, a few years ago.

Despite that, Pluckley is practically a cornucopia of delightful ghost stories. A 2015 article from The Sun described them nicely in Britain’s most haunted village.

YouTube offers several videos about Pluckley’s ghosts. Some are more sensational than others. I like this old-school 1995 video:

I’d eagerly visit Pluckley to see if it’s truly haunted. But, I’d be very discreet about my research, relying on observation more than obvious ghost hunting equipment.

Pluckley’s tales have far more credibility than a 2017 story from St. Osyth in Essex (England).  It’s describe in an article in The Sun, Britain’s most haunted house on the site of witch prison goes on sale… Ordinarily, I’d guess that “witch prison” story was a parody, but it’s presented as actual news.

Well, maybe…

Any site that claims to have a “satanic goat” (not sure what makes it “satanic”), recurring blood spatters, and three apparitions – and then boasts of a prison door and “Coffin Alley” just outside… that stretches credulity past the breaking point.

The owner claims she didn’t know the site’s history when she bought it. That may be true. But, I’d think the old sign in the wall, describing the site as The Cage – Mediaeval Prison, might have been a hint.

In general, this seems as over-hyped as last October’s Deerpark school videos. They show a preposterous collection of “poltergeist” incidents.

In the most recent video, I can’t see the fishing line clearly. (Other viewers said they saw it.) It’s probably off-screen, close to the camera. I’m fairly sure it’s attached to two legs of the chair. Then, they ran the line around the pipes at the lower right corner of the screen. Off-camera, a tug on the line would drag the chair across the room, just as in this video.

Neither October 2017 Deerpark video is credible. But hey, if that Irish school raises money from YouTube advertising revenues, I’m okay with that. Just don’t take the videos seriously.

If you’re ghost hunting in Ireland, the Irish Mirror suggests Co. Offaly, instead. That article describes a haunted triangle formed by castles at Kinnitty, Leap, and Charleville.

(Irish Central adds a fourth point: Clonony Castle. The videos in that article may raise eyebrows, but the historical notes are interesting.)

Kinnitty castle seems worth investigating. Someone left a long, negative review of it at TripAdvisor, including a reference to a ghost in her room:

We went to bed and when the lights went out, the room was black dark… then we heard breathing coming from the corner of the room. I never slept a wink all night. My boyfriend then told me he saw a shadow in the room at 3am!

Though that could be a fake review, she’s so critical of everything, I’d take it seriously. (It’s the kind of thing I look for, when I’m searching for haunted hotels and B&Bs to visit. A rant about the site’s ghosts is more credible than half a dozen raves about them.)

Americans interested in Irish haunts may appreciate the following video. (The special effects and unfortunate pronunciations are distracting, and I started to hate the word “creepy” after the first few minutes. Despite that, the overview of each location is pretty good.)

In the near future, I’ll post more information about haunted places in the U.K.

(Meanwhile, my friend Jen recommends Pendle Hill, Bolsover Castle, and Jamaica Inn in Cornwall. The latter surprised me, as I’d expected that to be pure hype. But, I trust Jen’s advice. I’m pretty sure she’s investigated more of England – and more recently – than I have.)

Closer to home (currently the U.S.), I’m interested in ghost reports around Niagara County in upstate New York.

I believe that part of the U.S. may have many undiscovered haunts… more than most other parts of the country.

Here’s one recent article: Niagara County is home to many ghosts, part II.

In that story, I’m most intrigued by Cold Springs Cemetery in Lockport, NY. I don’t see much about it, online, and – as of late November 2017 – no YouTube videos about its ghosts.

To me, that suggests a site that hasn’t been over-investigated… yet.

But, it seems to be a private cemetery, open to people who own cemetery plots, and only between 8 AM and 8 PM. (See site info: Cold Springs Cemetery.)

That might dampen my enthusiasm, but the Lockport area offers some great investigation sites. For example, Lockport Caves was featured in an episode of Ghost Hunters, and on Off Limits.

The following video shows some of the area’s highlights. (Info starts around the 1:03 mark, and Lockport is more prominently mentioned around 4:55.)

Mix abandoned buildings, a labyrinth of tunnels, a tragedy or two, plus lots of water… that’s exactly what I look for, as a ghost hunter.

I’m not sure how often the caves (and nearby building sites) are open for ghost tours, except at Halloween. If I were in the area, I’d organize a group of interested ghost hunters, and ask the tour company about specialty tours for investigators.

Those are a few recent ghost hunting news articles that interested me. Several feature locations I didn’t know about, and I’d like to explore.

If you’ve visited any of these places and have insights, I hope you’ll share your comments at Hollow Hill.

Ripon Prison and Police Museum, Yorkshire

Ripon Prison historical plaqueMost Haunted’s Season 19 takes viewers into haunted Ripon Prison and Police Museum, during Episode 7 (airing 26 May 2017 on Really).

The Ripon Prison — originally known as Ripon Liberty Prison — dates back to the 17th century. The current building was the prison site from around 1816 – 1878.

After the enactment of the Prison Act of 1877, the building was empty for about nine years. Then, it became the local police constabulary station through 1958.

It became a museum and visitor attraction around 1984. Today, it offers many opportunities for ghost hunters.

From my current research, no reported ghost has a specific name and history that can be verified.

Several researchers reported a spirit called “George.” (That seems to be a surprisingly popular name among British ghosts.)  He’s described as a warder, not an inmate.

Note: When addressing prison ghosts, try using both “warder” and “warden.” The former is an older term and more popular in Britain, especially in connection with prisons.

However, warder’s secondary meaning (in history) includes “a truncheon or staff of office or authority, used in giving signals.” (ref. Dictionary.com) So, a warden might carry a warder, and a “watch out for the warder!” message might be more about an impending assault than a prison guard.

Another spirit is called Mary, Meg, or Margaret. She’s too young to have been a prisoner, unless she was there with her mother. (In past centuries, babies and very young children might be in a cell with their mothers, particularly if there was no one else to take care of the child.)

However, always be cautious when a prison ghost claims to be very young. In some cases, the spirit is actually malicious. (Remember: Prisons held criminals.) That spirit may be hoping you’ll drop your guard/protection, and he (or she) can achieve viciously self-serving goals.

In both past descriptions of Ripon Prison investigations, and the early reviews of this Most Haunted episode, it sounds as if something very dangerous — possibly not a ghost, but something much darker — might be loose.

One of the most useful triggers I’ve found in my research was the 2013 opening of an exhibit of photos of “lady prisoners,” at Ripon Prison.

Link: The wanted Victorian women: History mugshots reveal the cunning faces of England’s Nineteenth Century bad girls.

From my experiences, images of possible ghosts — especially unsavory men and women from the past — can leave an imprint. This can trigger a residual energy haunting, or even give the ghost a reason to actively haunt that location. (After all, people see him or her there.)

In the case of Ripon Prison, those photos may help investigators match ghostly figures and apparitions — as well as psychic impressions — to specific faces and names.

A casual survey suggests that Ripon Prison’s ghosts are an equal mix of prisoners and wardens or police officers.

That’s somewhat unusual. In most prisons I’ve investigated, the site’s ghosts were mostly prisoners or mostly wardens and guards, not in equal number.

If you’ve been to Ripon Prison and Police Museum, I hope you’ll leave a comment with your observations.

Note: Remember that many hauntings are related to extreme emotions and feelings. So, at a prison, you may encounter ghosts (and residual energy hauntings) related to feeling powerful (wardens) and victimized (innocent prisoners).

If you use questions that show admiration (for spirits reliving their glory days) or sympathy (for those unjustly jailed), you may have better investigation results.

Ripon Prison and Police Museum seems very active and offers many kinds of ghostly encounters.

Most report:

  • Footsteps where no one can be seen
  • EMF spikes, including some that respond to yes/no questions
  • A screw (prison machine) that turns by itself and makes loud metal-on-metal noises (Reported by Simply Ghost Nights)
  • Physical manifestations, such as objects moving on their own, including table tipping.

However, since Ouija boards and dark rituals have been used at Ripon Prison — certainly in recent years, and possibly while the building was empty — use stronger than usual measures to protect yourself and your team.

Also, before going there, I’d research Thomas de Grey (1781–1859), 3rd Lord Grantham, the designer of the cell block.  Sometimes, designers and architects leave their own imprint (or even revisit) sites they’ve built. That’s doubly true when the designer’s name is permanently visible on the building. (See the plaque in the photo, above.)

I’d also explore ghost stories and anomalies reported at Newby Hall, Grantham’s home, and look for connections. I’d especially look for references to “alchemy” associated with Newby Hall or Grantham.

Note: The most famous (or infamous) “ghost” of Newby Hall is from the 1963 photo by the Rev. F. K. Lord. To me, it looks like the photo was altered or it’s a double exposure. (Photo analysis in the 1960s wasn’t entirely reliable.)

Link: The Ghost of Newby Hall

However, the photo’s provenance prevents me from dismissing it altogether.

Here’s a short YouTube video that shows the Ripon Prison building. As an investigator, I note at the amount of metal (which can hold residual energy) and the age of this building. Also, all prison sites feature “trapped inside” and “you can’t leave here” cues.

To me, Ripon Prison and Police Museum looks like a great place for a ghost vigil… as long as you take adequate precautions, of course.

NOTE: This is my last report about “Most Haunted” until I’m able to see the shows, myself. (As of early June 2017, the show’s videos are no longer on YouTube, and my U.S. viewing resources no longer offer the Really channel. I’m hoping the latter resolves, soon.)

[UK] Slaughter House, Liverpool – Albert Williams

Is the ghost of Albert Williams real? When I watched the April 2017 “Most Haunted” episode filmed at the Slaughter House in Liverpool, I was intrigued.

Albert Williams is a name that Yvette received from spirit, during the investigation. According to Yvette’s impressions, Albert “looked after horses,” may have been pushed down the Slaughter House stairs, and fell to his death, around 1913.

Was he the same spirit in the “possibly 19th century” impression received by Billy in the earlier investigation?

Or, did two young men die there, in separate tragedies?

And was the searching (and probably distraught) mother Emma, not Meg or Mary? The names sound similar and could be confusing, especially if the psychic impression isn’t clear.

It’s too early to be certain.

Meanwhile, I was not optimistic about finding a likely Albert Williams. Williams is the third most popular surname in modern Britain, with nearly 300,000 people sharing the name.

Also, the given name of Albert — often a tribute to the memory of Queen Victoria’s husband — was very popular in that era.

I expected to find too many “Albert Williams” around Liverpool.

To my surprise, a likely match emerged early in my research. In fact, this was one of those times when the research seemed too easy.

Did he want me to confirm his identity? I can’t rule that out.

Here’s the most likely match for the Albert who contacted Yvette.

Albert Williams (1900 – c. 1913)

Albert Williams was born in 1900 in Liverpool, Lancashire, England, to Emma Graham, age 36, and Alfred Williams, age 40.

“Our” Albert Williams is shown in the following screenshot from the 1901 English census. I’ve circled his name on the census page. The family lived on Anglesea Road in the town of Liverpool. (Note that, in 1901, Albert’s father was a blacksmith.)

Albert Williams Slaughter House 1901 census

Next, here’s the 1911 census. (Again, I’ve circled “our” Albert Williams.)

Albert Williams - 1911 census - Liverpool

In 1911, Albert’s father was working as an Engine Smith (engineer) for the Cunard ship line.

Blacksmith workshop, photo courtesy GraphicStock

One of Albert’s older brothers, George, was an Apprentice Blacksmith.

(Remember, their father had been a blacksmith for most of his adult life.)

So, in 1913, it would be reasonable — in fact, likely — that young Albert (around age 12 or 13) might have “looked after horses” in Liverpool.

He might have worked in or near the Slaughter House location, too. It was a popular commercial area.

So, is this a match for young Albert who haunts the Slaughter House?

It’s more than likely. Here’s why.

I’ve found no records for this Albert Williams after 1911.

That suggests that he died young. Maybe as early as 1913.

Of course, there may be another explanation. Maybe I’d find this Albert Williams in later records, if I dug deeper.

Or, maybe this is the Albert Williams who died at the Slaughter House location around 1913… just as Yvette said.