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.)

Walpurgis Night – The Other Halloween

Moon in trees - haunted WalpurgisMany ghost hunters think Halloween is the only night when “the veil is thinner between the worlds.”

That’s not true.

The last night of April can be equally spooky. In fact, I think it’s one of ghost hunting’s most overlooked opportunities.

April 30th is sometimes called Walpurgis Night. (That’s the English translation of the German and Dutch holiday, Walpurgisnacht.)

It is exactly six months from Halloween, and it can be just as good for ghost hunting.

April 30th Festivals

The last night of April is the eve of the feast day of Saint Walpurga, also spelled Walburga and Waltpurde (c. 710 -779), who was born in Devonshire, England.

During Walpurga’s childhood, she was educated by the nuns at Wimborne Abbey in Dorset. (Sites around Wimborne have many ghost stories. Knowlton Church may be one of the most famous; see my “for further reading” links, below.)

Walpurga traveled to Francia (now (now Württemberg and Franconia) with two of her brothers. There, they worked with Saint Boniface, her mother’s brother. Eventually, Walpurga became an abbess and, when she died, she was buried at Heidenheim. Later, her remains were moved to Eichstätt, in Bavaria.

This festival is known by many other names — especially Beltane — and celebrated in a variety of ways, from the May pole to the Padstow Hobby Horse (‘Obby ‘Oss).

Walpurgisnacht in Heidelberg
Walpurgisnacht celebration in Germany, photo courtesy Andreas Fink

In Germany, it’s still Walpurgisnacht, and widely celebrated. (In folklore, it’s also called Hexennacht, or “Witches’ Night.”)

In Sweden, the celebration is Valborgsmässoafton, the Festival of St. Radegund of the Oats. In Finland, it’s Vappu. Other events include the Roman festival of Flora.

April 30th in History

Whether by plan or by coincidence, many significant events occurred on April 3oth.

  • Christopher Columbus received his commission to explore starting April 30th.
  • It’s the day George Washington took his first oath of office as American President.
  • The Louisiana Purchase took place on April 30th .
  • On the last day of April, 1937, Filipino men voted to grant suffrage to women in their country.
  • April 30th was also the day the Viet Nam war ended, Virgin Radio first broadcast, and American automaker Chrysler filed for bankruptcy.

April 30th to May 1st

Offenham - May Pole danceMay 1st, also known as May Day, is a holiday in many countries around the world.

Among some, it’s known as International Workers’ Day or Labour Day. For many years in France, May Day was the only holiday of the year when employers must allow employees the day off.

So, in countries celebrating May 1st as a workers’ holiday, the night before is ideal for ghost hunting; you won’t need to go to work the following day.

Ley Lines and More trivia

The night between April 30th and May 1st is when bonfires lit on the peaks of the St. Michael’s Mount line — one of the best-known ley lines in the world — formed a line pointing directly towards the May Day sunrise.

(I’d spend Walpurgis Night at — and investigate — any of those peaks that are open to overnight visitors. At the very least, those sites should retain residual paranormal energy.)

And, if you want a somewhat ghoulish cast to the day, look to the Czech Republic’s čarodějnice traditions, and Germany’s Brocken Spectre celebrations.

In other words, the days (and nights) of April 30th and May 1 st have a deep significance almost everywhere around the world… and it’s been that way for millennia.

Many ghost hunters — including me — look forward to Walpurgis night as “the other Halloween.”

Ghost Hunting around Walpurgis Night

Ghost hunting at the end of April can be as eerie and powerful as Halloween.

In fact, sometimes it’s better, because we’re not dealing with as many crowds and party goers looking for a “good scare” at haunted sites.

For example, Salem (Massachusetts) can be practically a ghost town (pun intended) on the night of April 30th.

Around April 30th, I’ve seen a higher number of shadowy figures — definitely not living people — at Salem’s Howard Street Cemetery.

When the weather is good, that’s an active late afternoon (and night) at Gilson Road Cemetery, in Nashua, NH, too.

In London, England, watch the windows of the Tower buildings, after dark. I don’t think those fleeting, whitish figures are always guards.

Jamaica Inn, England, sign
photo courtesy MilborneOne

It should be a good night to stay at the Jamaica Inn in Cornwall, England, too.

On the other hand, Tudor World (formerly Falstaff Experience, when I investigated it) is such an intensely haunted site, I’m not sure it’s a good idea to be there at Walpurgis. (Any other night…? Yes, but only if you have nerves of steel. It’s one of the weirdest haunts I’ve ever witnessed.)

And in general, around late April, fewer ghost hunting teams converge on the best haunted sites.

All in all, Walpurgis night may not have the popular, modern traditions of Halloween, but it has a very powerful foundation in history, folklore, and a wide range of spiritual traditions.

It’s not a solstice or equinox, but — in spite of that or perhaps because of that — Walpurgisnacht, like Halloween, deserves special attention.

What’s behind the mystique of Halloween and Walpurgis night? No one knows, for sure. However, both are supposed to be nights when the spirits can enter our world.

That makes April 30th as important as Halloween for ghost hunting.

Busy on April 30th?

When May Day falls mid-week, I add investigations at the nearest weekend, too.

I’m not certain that these kinds of festivals — Halloween and Walpurgis night — are “on-off” switches. I think the spectral energy intensifies and then wanes, for a few days on either side of the celebrated dates.

However, I might be wrong; we really don’t know why those two dates were set aside with ghostly connotations. (And why didn’t ancient people simply merge the festivals with the respective equinoxes so close to them? It’s an interesting question.)

Add April 30th to your ghost hunting schedule. I think you’ll be glad you did.

For further Reading

Also, for those who want more confidence in the ancient roots of April 30th, I recommend Goddess Obscured: Transformation of the Grain Protectress from Goddess to Saint, by Pamela C. Berger.

Her book references a variety of grain-related festivals celebrated at the end of April, similar to the harvest festivals of Halloween or Samhain, in the northern hemisphere.

ghosts

If you have ghost hunting insights related to Walpurgis, I hope you’ll share them in comments, below.

And, if you investigate Jamaica Inn or Tudor World, especially around Walpurgis, I’d like to know how intense it was.

I’m also very interested in any hauntings in or near the former site of Wimborne Abbey. I haven’t visited it, yet, and it intrigues me.

Houmas House Ghosts (and The Bachelor TV Show)

A recent episode of the American TV series, The Bachelor, was filmed at Houmas House in Louisiana.

Ghost orbs at Houmas House (Louisiana)
Orbs hover at historic (and haunted) Houmas House, LA (This is my own photo, during my stay at the site.)

Many people have written to me, asking if that house is really “one of Louisiana’s most haunted houses.”

The answer is: yes, Houmas House is very haunted. More than most Louisiana “haunted” houses, and perhaps more than most houses in America.

In fact, I once recorded a lengthy podcast about Houmas House. I may restore it in the future, once I’ve updated it.

Until I do, this article should answer most questions.

Houmas House’s ghosts don’t bear much resemblance to the way they were presented in The Bachelor.

In fact, I strongly object to how Houmas House — and its spirits — were portrayed in that show.

My husband and I had the honor of spending a night inside Houmas House, thanks to the hospitality of its owner, Kevin Kelly.

He knew that I would thoroughly investigate the house, unsupervised. He also knew that I’d write a blunt and honest review of what I did (and didn’t) find there.

He put no limits on what I could explore, day or night. He was a superb host, and — after a tour to show us what was where, and explain some of the house’s history — he let us wander around the house & its grounds.

I was impressed.

Houmas House is haunted for many reasons

I believe the house is truly haunted, and the energy comes from multiple sources.

First, there’s the history of the house. That includes its connection to the creation of what’s often called the Confederate flag, from the War between the States.

The house has also been the scene of several tragedies, including the loss of a family cemetery that was washed away in the early 20th century.

Then, there’s the energy that’s been brought to the house by the public. I believe that public perception can energize otherwise dormant spiritual energy. (It’s sort of like the Law of Attraction. If you believe a place is creepy and haunted, maybe your beliefs & energy contribute to it.)

The movie “Hush, Hush, Sweet Charlotte” left Houmas House with a lasting connection to ghosts, madness, and gruesome events.

Yes, that movie was filmed at Houmas House. If you saw The Bachelor episode, you may recognize the style of the staircase in the following movie trailer.

Next, I believe Houmas House contains a larger-than-average collection of haunted objects.

From quirky artwork to antique “vampire hunter” kits, to some of Anne Rice’s furniture, objects at Houmas House provide an energy mix you won’t find in many other haunts, anywhere in the world.

The other structures — small cabins, etc., that may (or may not) still be on the property — also provide reasons why the site is haunted. They have their own stories to tell. And, their energy lingers.

And finally, the location of Houmas House — near a large body of water, and where it’s placed on the road, in energy (or feng shui) terms — makes it a prime location for paranormal reports.

Some of the house’s eeriness can be attributed to infrasound from the nearby water. However, even if I discount the “creepy feeling” that seems to drift through Houmas House from time to time, infrasound can’t explain everything odd I experienced at the site.

During my visit to Houmas House, I saw several ghosts, mostly during the day.

The tall man at the front gate

In broad daylight on a sunny day, I saw a ghostly figure at the front gates. Another guest saw him, as well. We were up on the “widow’s walk” viewing deck at the top of the house.

The figure looked like a distinctive, slim, very tall man, pacing back and forth as if waiting for someone.

When I mentioned him to Kevin Kelly, he showed me an old photo. The dark-skinned man in the picture was an exact match for the slightly translucent person I’d seen at the front gates.

I had no doubt that it was the same person.

And, since I think I was the first person to report seeing that ghost, there’s no way Kevin was prepared to provide supporting evidence. (In fact, he had to go looking for the photo. When I confirmed what I’d seen, I think Kevin was more surprised than I was.)

The little girl on the stairs

Visitors and construction workers (making repairs and renovations) have reported a little girl on the house’s distinctive spiral staircase.

Kevin showed me one photo that I didn’t think was credible. But, I’ve heard and read other reports of the figure, and those were believable.

During my visit, I sensed something on the stairs, but I can’t claim that I saw a convincing apparition.

The ghost in the Bette Davis room

I believe that I saw a reflection of a reflection of a little girl in the room where actress Bette Davis had slept during the filming of Hush, Hush, Sweet Charlotte.

The reflection appeared on the glass front of a clock in that room.

I turned to see who was behind me. That’s when I saw the reflection of a little girl across the room. She was very small, no more than about five years old… maybe slightly older, if she was particularly petite.

She was there… and then she was gone. All I can tell you is that I had the idea that one of her arms was injured or even deformed. It’s as if she was concealing it.

As I recall, I saw her in a mirror in that room. But, I’ll need to find my notes (and my old photos from that visit) to confirm that.

Kevin didn’t seem to think that Bette Davis experienced anything unusual when she slept in that room.

However, any ghost with an ounce of sense would stay far away from Ms. Davis. She was known for being strong-willed and sharp-tongued. She would not willingly share her room with a ghost.

Those are the ghosts I clearly recall from my visit to Houmas House. (My husband and I slept soundly in a guest room on the top floor of the house. If that floor was haunted, the ghosts didn’t disturb me that night.)

The Bachelor TV show… and poor production decisions

The Houmas House episode of The Bachelor was embarrassing to watch.

From the start, I was skeptical when the ghostly little girl was given a name, “May.”

Perhaps someone has successfully documented the ghost’s identity, but the Houmas House website doesn’t suggest that.

Then, the doll that they showed in the glass case did not seem to fit the correct time period. (Also, the staging with “Boo” outside, saying that someone had disturbed the doll… it seemed added as an after-thought. It didn’t make much sense.)

When Houmas House’s lights suddenly went out, and then when the chandelier seemed to crash (almost) to the floor, I was ready to stop watching the show.

Those kinds of things don’t happen in most truly haunted houses. Most of the time, they’re staged for silly movies and TV shows.

My biggest complaint was related to the Ouija board scene.

Yes, the letters had been painted white. That doesn’t make the board any less dangerous.

There is no way I’d allow anyone to use a Ouija board at a haunted site, unless everyone involved knew exactly what the risks might be.

(I’m not saying that Ouija boards are inherently evil. My personal issue with Ouija boards is that too many people use them for “fun,” not realizing that some divination tools open doors. Once a door is opened, an unprotected person can be at risk.)

Ouija board issues

In the following YouTube video (actually, an audio with video added later), John Zaffis talks about his experiences with Zozo and Ouija boards.

(I’ve known John Zaffis for about 20 years, and I respect him. He’s very different from how he was portrayed on the Haunted Collector TV show. If I’d ever considered accepting a role on a ghost-related TV show… well, after seeing how they edited John, there’s no way I’d put my reputation in the hands of TV producers.)

Also, in this video, that silliness about Aleister Crowley using the Sun symbol as something evil, and other text & images added to the video…? Ignore them. I’m including this video only for John’s description of the Zozo phenomenon.

And, since I mentioned the weird, strange, and possibly haunted objects at Houmas House, here’s a video of John Zaffis sharing his views on that topic.

I don’t agree with him on all points, but I definitely defer to his greater experience in the field of dangerous haunted objects, and demon-like entities.

Houmas House is worth visiting

Despite my skepticism and irritation with how Houmas House was portrayed on The Bachelor, the site is definitely worth visiting.

That’s not just because you might encounter a ghost in broad daylight.

It’s also because the house is magnificent, it has a fascinating history, and it represents an era (and architecture) you rarely see so well-preserved, anywhere in the South.

[When I find my old notes & photos related to Houmas House’s ghosts, I’ll add them at this website. For now, this summary should explain why I believe the house is haunted… and why you shouldn’t judge it by what was shown on The Bachelor.]

[NH] Spalding Inn, Ley Lines (Whitefield, NH)

Update: The Spalding Inn has new owners, and — as far as I know — they’re not highlighting its haunted past.


In April 2013, I visited the Spalding Inn for a ghost hunting event hosted by Jason Hawes. It had been about two years since I’d last investigated the hotel.

Things had changed… really changed.

nh-spalding-side1My April 2013 experiences:

The upper floor of the Spalding Inn’s carriage house seemed just as strange, but more had focused energy.  That is, many of us (including me) didn’t encounter the usual off-the-wall weird energy there.

It was as if whatever’s there had a purpose for being there.

However, some investigators experienced profound encounters and confirmations.  Those seemed to be very quirky experiences.

The “hottest” areas were in and near rooms 15 and 17.

Also, the spirits (ghosts, energy, whatever) at the main level (ground floor) of the Spalding Inn’s carriage house were a lot more responsive to the various electronic devices in use.

During that 2013 visit, Jason Hawes’ wife, Kris, shared many stories.  They were fascinating, because she was describing encounters that complemented mine.

I’d visited the hotel late in 2008. That was after the Ghost Hunters International team investigated, but before the hotel was officially opened.

At the time, I preferred to keep a low profile. Another guest at the hotel was eager to claim the spotlight, and I was happy to let him do so. In general, I’m fairly shy, especially in a predominantly male setting.

Also, unless asked for details, I usually keep many of my observations to myself. I like to think about them for a few days. That gives me time to evaluate my experiences, away from the turbulence of the hauntings.

So, I didn’t talk much about what I’d seen and felt at the hotel. It included an apparition in the coach house, an astonishing collection of dead flies in another room in that building, and a voice — heard aloud — that mimicked me.

Then there was the figure dragging itself along the floor in the main building, the haunted mirror on the first floor, and — back in the coach house — the completely unplugged old-school phone with the “call waiting” light blinking.

So, yes, what I’d witnessed in 2008 was very weird. I just didn’t say much about it at the time.

Five years later — in 2013 — when Kris confirmed many of my experiences, without knowing about them ahead of time, I was delighted.

As of 2013, it seemed like the ghosts were learning from visitors. The ghosts’ responses were more specific, more consistent, and involve more senses so the Spalding Inn had become a more useful research location.

In 2013, in the main building, the dining room felt like more of a “safe haven” from intrusive ghosts. We could get away from them. But, the perimeter was odd. It was like walking through spiritual jello, if that makes sense.

The extended corridor (where the sleeping rooms are) was far more active than it had been.

Previously, I’d categorized most of the activity there as fae and perhaps Native American.

Now, several ghosts seem to have increased their presence there.

(I’m not sure what words to use for that, because I’m not sure if those ghosts were there all along, but fairly silent… or if they’d migrated to that part of the hotel, where they had a bigger audience.)

At the time, Kris confided that Jason and Grant were thinking of selling the hotel. I told her that was a good idea.

(I did not tell her that the energy at the hotel seemed angry. It was a somewhat nasty, drain-everything-from-you kind of energy. Not just a spiritual attack, but I had no doubt the malicious energy wanted to destroy the hotel’s business, crush morale, and generally tear things up. I was happy not to be spending the night there.)

I’m glad they sold the hotel. I wish the new owners very good luck with it.

My Northern NH Ley Line Map

NH ley lines mapFor the 2013 event, I’d created a special information sheet that featured ley lines at and near the Spalding Inn, and northern New Hampshire in general.

The illustration is at right. If you draw these lines on a larger map, you can see where they extend into other states. All locations along the lines are worth exploring.

The ghost figures indicate locations where ghosts have been reported. The star-in-circle marks indicate other paranormal reports (UFOs, etc.) and anomalies.

If you’re researching in NH, check sites on either line.

Choose the northern one if you’re interested in ghosts. Choose the southern one if you’re eager to find Bigfoot (yes, there are reports along that line) or see UFOs.

[UK] BBC Ghost Special (2012-2013)

This half-hour BBC TV show about ghosts is well worth watching, even with commercial breaks.  The video includes credible ghost stories as well as Vic Tandy’s quick explanation of infrasound, and his studies at some of Britain’s haunted sites.

[Update: That video was removed from YouTube, and I haven’t found it again, online, even at the BBC site. If you locate it, let me know. And yes, I should have noted the name of that show; it’s a lesson learned.]

Can infrasound cause anxiety, fear, or even hallucinations?  Yes.

But, might infrasound attract ghosts…?  That’s an unanswered question, even if it’s probably preposterous speculation.

Locations in this video are among the reasons why ghost hunting in the UK is so popular: rich history, lots of drama, and extraordinary stories and evidence.

Some related videos:

Ghost Footage in Tamworth Castle – I’ve included this video for a few reasons.

  • It provides a good sense of what it’s like to review footage after a ghost investigation.  It’s tedious, and you’ll see very little. At some points, you may wonder if your eyes are fooling you (and sometimes, they are), and then you’ll want to fast-forward through the screenshots, looking for anything interesting.
  • Either the video was speeded up, Tamworth has supersonic insects, or a couple of those images might be paranormal. (However, at least one is definitely a bug.)
  • The right wall of the stairway has something odd going on.  It’s like the surface is changing, but the corresponding wall, across the stairs, doesn’t have nearly as much activity.  Is that due to lighting?  A quirk of the camera?  I have no idea, but it’s interesting.  I haven’t seen that in other videos.  Not where I couldn’t explain it, anyway.

Medium Ian Doherty investigates Tamworth Castle – A typical summary of psychic perceptions at a haunted site.

Here’s more about the fire of Wem, the ghost photo in the BBC special, and skeptical observations by a photography expert at the National Media Museum:

[Update: That YouTube.com video has been deleted.]

The “ghost girl of Wem”  photo is further debunked in this video.  The typos at the opening didn’t give me confidence, but the images are fairly convincing… though they, too, could be fakes.

[Update: That YouTube.com video has been deleted. Until I find one that’s better, the following debunking-style video tells the story.]

Next, evidence related to Belgrave Hall:

[Update: Another YouTube video that’s now deleted. I’m leaving the text here, in case a similar video turns up at YouTube.]

And, a great explanation of the importance of Belgrave Hall’s garden, as well as its ghosts: