Haunted History: The Slaughter House, Liverpool

history of the slaughter house, liverpoolIf you’re a ghost hunter interested in the history of the Slaughter House, here are notes from my off-site research.

(If you’re looking for Slaughter House ghost stories, see my related article, Most Haunted: The Slaughter House, Liverpool.)

The following history might connect to ghosts in and near Liverpool’s Slaughter House.

First, I researched Jane Ellison. She was a previous owner of the Slaughter House site. I’m not sure those notes are useful.

Then, I studied old maps — and business directories — looking for local clues. That historical information may be very helpful for future investigations at the Slaughter House.

Jane Ellison

Using Tom Slemen’s list of historical owners of the haunted Slaughter House site, I researched early owner Jane Ellison.

For some reason, Jane’s name seems to “light up” for me. (When I use that expression, it means the item seemed to hold my attention more than it should. That’s when I go looking for something odd to explain it.)

Jane Ellison #1

Here’s one interesting Jane Ellison, but I don’t know if she had any connection to the history of the Slaughter House.

This Jane Ellison was born about 7 March 1820 as a “female bastard” child of James Ellison, a laborer (from the nearby borough of Knowsley), and a woman whose name might be Margaret, but I can’t quite read it.

Here’s part of the court record:

court record Jane Ellison Liverpool

However, Ellison isn’t an unusual name in England.

This document does tell us that, in the early 1800s, at least one Liverpool-area Ellison caused some drama. He didn’t show up at court when charged as Jane’s father.

That’s a big red flag, if this Jane Ellison was connected with the history of the Slaughter House.

Also, in the 1766 directory, I found only one Ellison actually in Liverpool. (He was David Ellison, a watch maker on Ranelagh Street, not far from the Slaughter House site.)

So, maybe “Ellison” wasn’t a popular surname in the area, until much later.

Jane Ellison #2

Next, I found a burial record for “Jane, daughter of Jane Ellison,” who was buried 4 Oct 1819 in Liverpool.

The oddity there is that she’s just the “Jane, daughter of Jane Ellison,” without a father listed. Other entries on the same page list the mother and father of each deceased person.

Here’s the burial record:

Jane Ellison burial record 1819 Liverpool

Below, you can read the detail.

Burial record Jane Ellison Liverpool 1819

That record shows:

  • She lived on Dale Street. (It was just around the corner from Fenwick Street, where the Slaughter House is.)
  • She’s noted as a “spinster.”

So, there are two red flags connected with the name “Jane Ellison.” One was an illegitimate child, Jane Ellison, who was born in 1820.

The second (but lesser anomaly) was another Jane Ellison who appears to be a single parent, and – in 1819 – she buried a child named Jane Ellison.

In my research, I always note those kinds of anomalies. At least half the time, if they’re connected to a haunted site, their stories will be related to that site’s ghostly energy.

(Additional — but less unusual — Jane Ellison notes are at the foot of this article.)

Next, I looked at Liverpool maps and city directories. If I were investigating at the Slaughter House, I’d definitely study the maps in greater detail. I’m sure more clues are hidden in the history of the neighborhood.

MAP STUDY

If you’re researching the haunted Slaughter House’s history, here’s how the immediate area looked in 1766 Gore’s Liverpool Directory. (That directory is available, online.)

Slaughter House area Liverpool - 1766

Here’s a transparent overlay of the current Slaughter House site (courtesy Google Maps), on that 1766 map.

Overlay Google Maps and 1766 Liverpool

So, if you’re studying what was where in the late 18th century, the green arrow, on the map below, points to the current Slaughter House site.

I’m not sure what the “Dry Bn” was, or if that’s what the map says. But, I’d look at the history of the area where Fenwick Street (circled in red) intersected with Moore Street and — on the 1766 map — what’s indicated as Castle hill.

I’d also look at what was on Castle Street, in or close to the same building.

Fenwick Street and the Slaughter House 1766

In 1766, these were businesses on or near Fenwick Street:

1766 directory of businesses at or near the Slaughter House

“Peter Carson, dancing-master” caught my attention. From my previous research involving dancing-masters, he’s likely to have a colorful history. (But, to be fair, “dancing-master” didn’t always indicate something other than dancing lessons.)

Other directory notes

Surveying the area, I have an uneasy feeling about nearby Castle Street, where a “cabinetmaker and toyman” business was mentioned. Perhaps something there was connected to the Slaughter House’s ghost stories.

And, Thomas Banner was an innkeeper at the Golden Fleece on nearby Dale Street. It was a long street, so that may not be near the Slaughter House site. It simply caught my attention as I was studying the area. (Also on that street, an inn called the Golden Lion. Interesting juxtaposition of names, particularly if they were near one another.)

Note: Every “Golden Fleece” I’ve researched has had more ghost stories than average. One usually involves a man chasing a woman as she fled for her life. Some of those tales ended more happily than others.

If you find more useful history related to the Slaughter House ghosts, let me know in comments, below.

Slaughter House photo courtesy Rodhullandemu

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Additional notes about jane ellison

I’m including the following notes about Jane Ellison of Liverpool, for dedicated researchers who may find them useful. At this point, these Jane Ellisons don’t necessarily connect to the history of the Slaughter House or its ghosts.

Jane Ellison #3

This is not unusual; I’m including it in case it’s pertinent, later.

A Jane Ellison, age 75, was buried on 24 Jan 1838. (Born around 1763.) She died in the workhouse.

Aside from living to a grand old age (for that era), and the sadness of dying in a workhouse on a cold January day, there’s nothing of note in this. But, she could have been the surviving Jane Ellison #2 (above).

Jane Ellison died 1838 Liverpool workhouse

Jane Ellison #4

I’m not sure this has anything to do with the Slaughter House, either, but I found the “Will of Jane Ellison, Spinster” in Liverpool. (Reading it requires a fee, and I’m not that interested… yet.)

Note: If she is related to history of the Slaughter House, I’d read that will. Wills and probate records sometimes include the oddest details that can shed light on paranormal activity.

Jane Ellison #5

Here’s the marriage record of another Jane Ellison. Nothing odd here, but it may be useful, later.

Marriage: 26 Oct 1871 St Michael in the Hamlet, Aigburth, Lancs. (in Liverpool)
Joseph Craven – 25 Mariner Bachelor of St James Place
Jane Ellison – 22 Spinster of Collins St
Groom’s Father: William Craven, Builder
Bride’s Father: John Ellison, Labourer
Witness: Thomas Craven; Mary Ann Ellison

Most Haunted UK – It’s Back!

Most Haunted Season 19 - 2017Yvette Fielding is back with Season 19 of “Most Haunted.”

From the first episode (at the Abbey House Museum), it looks like she’s keeping the show authentic, with genuine frights.

Yes, she still startles easily. And shrieks.

But, she also resumes her composure quickly, and follows-up with an immediate second look at what might have caused whatever-it-was.

I respect her for that. (No matter how long you’ve been investigating paranormal sites, there’s always something new to startle you.)

“Most Haunted” airs on Fridays at 10 PM in the UK. (It’s on Really, also available through the UKTV channel on Roku and other US streaming services.)

I’ll be watching the second episode tonight. The location is likely to be the stables at Wentworth Woodhouse in South Yorkshire, England.

For background on the site, see Project Reveal – http://www.project-reveal.com/wentworth-ghosts/4540123959

I’m most interested in Wentworth’s “Black Shuck” legends. I have no idea whether the “Most Haunted” team will encounter one of those sinister creatures.

Weird, Scary & UnusualI wrote about the Black Shuck in Armchair Reader: Weird, Scary, and Unusual. (That book is out of print, but you can still find inexpensive, used copies at Amazon.)

The word “shuck” may come from the word “scucca,” meaning “demon.” Or, it might be from a local term, “shucky,” meaning shaggy or hairy. (See Black Shuck at Wikipedia.)

My research also connected the sinister Shuck to real dogs and to the English Civil War (1642 – 1651).

The Black Shuck appears in the truly eerie Cabell family legends (basis of Conan Doyle’s “Hound of the Baskervilles” story) in the town of Cromer, in Norfolk, England. That story had an English Civil War connection.

Thomas Wentworth 1641 Earl StraffordLikewise, the Yorkshire Wentworth family (in this new “Most Haunted” episode) faced tragedy during the Civil War.

For example, Thomas Wentworth, the 1st Earl of Strafford — shown at left, with one of his dogs — was impeached under the reign of Charles I, and executed in 1641 at Tower Hill.

(When King Charles I was beheaded several years later, he said his own death was a form of penance, because he’d allowed the execution of Wentworth.)

So, the Wentworth family history was turbulent. It’s the kind of story that often leads to hauntings. Any location associated with the Wentworths is a good site for ghost investigations.

Meanwhile, I’m not sure why these “shuck” stories seem consistently connected with the English Civil War. That will require more research.

However, similar spectral hounds have been sighted regularly:

  • Near Blythburgh’s Holy Trinity Church (also called Cathedral of the Marshes),
  • Along Shuck Lane in Overstrand (Norfolk), though some claim that was a hoax. (My research uncovered reports long after the 1820 “hoax” story. So, I’d take that location seriously.)
  • And — through the 20th century — especially Coltishall Bridge, just north of Norwich.

You can read more about Black Shucks at On the trail of Black Shuck, at In:Sights, and many articles at Shuckland.

Is the Black Shuck a ghost, or from the fae world, or something else altogether? I’m undecided.

Whatever it is, it’s disturbing. I’m not sure I’d ever want to see one. According to legend, anyone seeing a Black Shuck will soon die. (However, since there are reports by those who’ve seen a Shuck recently, I’m not sure I’d take the curse seriously. I’d just prefer not to test it, myself.)

I’ll be watching “Most Haunted” tonight (Season 19, Ep. 2) to see what Yvette & her team discover. Early reports suggest the ghost of Thomas Wentworth himself.

(Unable to watch on UKTV? Catch up on recent “Most Haunted” episodes at https://uktvplay.uktv.co.uk/shows/most-haunted/watch-online/?video=5325442486001 )

Also, if you’re a fan of shows like the Haunted Collector, they’re available on UKTV’s “Really” channel, too. (This week, the Haunted Collector has been airing at midnight in England, which is late afternoon or early evening in the U.S. See the schedule at the Really Channel website.)

And yes, the hashtag for this is #FrightDay (because it sounds like “Friday,” when new “Most Haunted” episodes air). I like that.

[UK] Ghost Boy Photo Hoax

“Ghost boy” appeared in a widely-publicized photo in late February 2010.

The story was: A British builder took the photo at a school in England that was being demolished. When he reviewed the pictures he took of the demolition process, he saw the image of a little boy in one photo. The builder claimed that the hairs on the back of his neck went up.

The school was Anlaby Primary School, near Hull, East Yorkshire, in the U.K.  Part of the original 1936 building was being demolished.  (The rest of the school is still in use.) The site has long had a reputation for being haunted.

At least two major UK newspapers considered the picture newsworthy, The Sun and the Daily Mail. (Click on the Daily Mail screenshot, below, to see the full-sized image and article.)

Daily Mail news story

However, this photo was a fake… one of many hoaxes we’re seeing online.

This particular photo was created with a 99-cent iPod/iPhone app called Ghost Capture.  The image of the little boy is at the center of the app screenshot below, in the second photo row from the bottom.

iTunes sold this app for 99 cents

This kind of nonsense is among the reasons why I don’t analyze or critique “ghost photos” for readers.

People send me photos all the time; reporters and journalists are especially eager to get me to say that a “ghost picture” is real, when they know it isn’t.  (I’m pretty sure they want us to look gullible or stupid.)

While we want to assure readers when their genuine photo shows an image that they find comforting, we can’t confirm that ghostly images in pictures are really ghosts.

Any photo can be made to look like it has an anomaly.  From 99-cent iPhone apps to Adobe Photoshop, these pictures can look utterly fake or convincing.  Anyone can be fooled.

I’ve said it before: A ghost photo is only as reliable as the expertise and integrity of the person who took it.

If you want to learn how to evaluate ghost photographs, browse my articles on the topic. I don’t know anyone else who’s spent nearly as many years as I have, trying to make sense of “ghost” photos.

Generally, ghost photos don’t show crisp images of people.  At best, the ghostly images are blurry, indistinct, and sometimes difficult to identify unless you know exactly what you’re looking for.  (The same can be said for many EVP recordings.)

Though I’m delighted when I see an eerie image in my own ghost photos, many strange photos can be explained as tricks of the light or something natural, rather than an actual haunting.

It’s smart to rule out the normal explanations, before placing ghost photos online.

[UK] York – Golden Fleece Orb

York - orb over chair in Golden FleeceOrbs can appear anywhere.

They appear to be floating or gliding energy forms, so they can be anywhere at all.

I’ve heard reports from people who successfully ask orbs to move to certain locations for photos.  For example, they tell the ghost to move the orb over a particular doorway or gravestone.

(Generally, I only ask ghosts to manifest however they can, if they’d like to appear in a photo. I’m uncomfortable with the idea of ordering them around.)

During many years of studying ‘ghost photos’, I’ve noticed an odd pattern among many orbs. They appear in consistent places. The trend is so predictable, we believe it’s beyond coincidence.

In an unusual number of photos, I’ve seen orbs directly over the head of a person. In most cases, the photos were taken at a significant event (such as a wedding or prom) or a family gathering.

Other orbs appear over chairs, as if the ghost is sitting there.

The photo above shows an orb ‘seated’ at the haunted Golden Fleece pub in York, England. (A group of us investigated at “York’s most haunted pub” in June 2007.)

Because that restaurant has many shiny surfaces, I discounted most orbs from that casual investigation. Nevertheless, the placement of this one caught my attention.

Looking back on our experiences at the Golden Fleece, and the many odd photos that resulted, I believe the Golden Fleece is one of York’s most intriguing haunted locations.

WHAT ARE ORBS?

To be honest, I don’t know what orbs are.

Many investigators call them ‘ghost orbs’ when we can’t explain them, after considering humidity, dust, reflected light, and so on.

In 2013, after several years of intense study, I concluded that humidity, dust, reflected light, and other apparently reasonable explanations rarely cause convincing orbs in photos.

(I stress “convincing” because — to an experienced investigator — it’s fairly easy to spot an orb caused by dust, pollen, and so on.)

So, I’m having to retract over 10 years’ advice that most orbs are the result of natural, reflective objects — large and small — at sites where the photos were taken.

They’re not. (Yes, that’s an embarrassing admission. I wouldn’t admit to it, except my tests have shown, conclusively, that convincing orbs really are anomalous.)

Ghost hunters have ample proof that unexplained orbs appear in haunted places in dramatically higher numbers. Orbs seem to appear in areas where EMF levels spike. We’re not sure if orbs contain higher levels of energy, but some researchers believe that they do.

ORBS IN PHOTOS v. ORBS YOU CAN SEE

A small — perhaps gifted — minority of researchers are able to see orbs in real life. However, the orbs that they see don’t usually appear in photos taken at the same time.

In most cases, researchers don’t see anything before, during and after taking photos that — when viewed on the monitor or printed — reveal orbs.

After over a dozen years of professional research, I’m still astonished when investigator see vivid orbs in photos, though we saw nothing unusual when the photos were taken.

SPARKLES AND ORBS

Years ago, I was the first ghost hunters to use the term ‘sparkles’ to describe an odd visual effect that occurs with some cameras.

I’ve learned that, when people see sparkles, there’s a good chance we’ll find orbs or other photographic anomalies in our pictures.

SENTIENT ORBS?

Ghost hunters aren’t sure if orbs are related to spirits that are aware of us and can respond to the people around them.

However, we’ve seen enough ‘ghost photos’ to know that orbs often appear in similar locations, as if they’re comfortable among us.

Whether they’re posing for group photos or sitting comfortably in a favorite chair, the placement often seems deliberate.

[UK] Stratford-upon-Avon – The Falcon’s Haunted Bedroom

The Falcon Hotel (Stratford-upon-Avon) is haunted. It’s one of England’s most charming hotels, with 20 rooms in its haunted 16th-century wing, and 64 rooms in the more modern wing.

In June 2007, several Hollow Hill investigators spent the night in the haunted wing of the Falcon. It was comfortable and quiet, even though our rooms overlooked the street.

Though we had a good night’s sleep, we encountered a variety of low-level paranormal phenomena. Odd noises, unexplained chills, creaking floorboards with no one there… it was routine for a cozy, haunted hotel. And, it was fun!

However, we’d heard that one room at the hotel is especially haunted. It’s a corner room in the 16th century wing.

It was one of the silliest hauntings I’ve seen in awhile… but, the UK is like that. It has the widest possible range of ghostly phenomena. (I absolutely love investigating in the UK, and especially in England.)

We were lucky to have brief access to the hotel’s most haunted room.

Our adventure began when I was in the lobby and overheard a guest talking about how chilly his room had been. He said he couldn’t find the air conditioning controls.

The hotel moved him to another room, and his previous (chilly) room had been prepared for new guests.

But…

One of the hotel clerks quietly explained to us why the guest couldn’t find the a/c controls: There was no air conditioning in that room.

We rushed to see if the door to that room was still vacant, and if the door had been left open.

It was.

Our team had just a few minutes to explore the room. It seemed elegant and very comfortable.

Haunted bed, Falcon hotel, SuAOur EMF readings and pendulum work — as well as our ‘gut feelings’ — indicated that the bed was the focal point of the hauntings.

The bed seemed to have a ‘hot spot’ over the center of it.

It’s unlikely that the bed itself is haunted. But, if that’s an antique bed frame, the bed (not the mattress) might have its own ghost.

(If anything tragic happens in a bed, such as a death, hotels generally replace the bed immediately. Some even close the room for a week or so, as a precaution. The Driskill Hotel in Austin, Texas went to extremes with one room they sealed up for years.)

Also, in Stratford-upon-Avon’s Falcon Hotel, an earlier bed in the room might be where something — or several events over the past 400+ years — left an imprint.

Just as ghosts don’t always realize that time has passed, they may not realize that the current bed is different from the one that they slept in, centuries ago.

We each took photos of the bed. I took several with my film camera and at least a dozen with my digital camera.

That’s when this story turned silly.

Only one of my digital photos of the bed shows the bed. All the rest show random corners of the room… the kinds of photos I rarely take.

(And, when I do, they’re just “extra” photos, in case an orb is hovering in a corner. Corners are never the main subjects of my photos. That’s especially true when, in cases like this, I have just brief access to a haunted site. Every moment is important. I take pictures of the objects most likely to be haunted.)

The following are two of the preposterous pictures I saw later, when I studied my photographs.

Falcon Hotel, another corner of the haunted room

Falcon hotel - one corner of the room

I know took five or six photos of a team member using a pendulum. Also, in at least one photo, I focused on my own hand (holding an EMF meter) and I was sure it was in the frame.

But… it seems that my cameras recorded almost everything but the bed.

Yes, I know that this sounds odd, but the other investigators will tell you the same: I took many photos of the bed.

When I looked at the images, later, only one photo shows the bed. The rest are photos that I didn’t take.

It’s not a malicious haunting. I wouldn’t hesitate to spend the night in that room, and I’m fairly sure that I’d get a good night’s sleep.

However, I’d be sure to have enough blankets on the bed, in case the room seemed as chilly as described by the previous guest.

That guest’s innocent comments about the air conditioning convinced me that the room is haunted.

In fact, in early June 2007, the Falcon Hotel didn’t have air conditioning. The guest was describing a large ‘cold spot’ around the bed.

(Of course, if it’s a sultry night, that’s probably the room you’ll want to be in.  Ask the concierge for information about the hotel’s most haunted room.)

This is a good example of how ghost hunters sometimes find haunted locations: We listen (overhear) others’ conversations about odd and unusual things. If it’s something that could be ghostly — like a “cold spot” — we follow-up, if we can.

To learn more about the Falcon Hotel in downtown Stratford-upon-Avon, England, or to reserve a room, visit their website: The Falcon Hotel. (Site will open in a new window.)