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.

9 thoughts on “Ghosts of Woodchester – Celebrity Haunted Mansion”

  1. I am cuŕrently watching the show and am fascinated. I can’t stop thinking about the frightened little girl ghosts who are scared of the dark entity. Why can’t they be rescued as in shown the light to the afterlife to be with their loved one’s.

    1. Hello, Maria, and thanks for your comment.

      Most spirits seem to respond well when a medium (or even a ghost hunter) explains to them that they need to cross over to the afterlife. The hauntings stop and everything is fine after that.

      A few spirits won’t cross over. They may not believe they died in this world. They may be afraid of what’s next. Or, there may be some other reason. It’s sad, but it happens.

      The thing that concerns me – when spirits seem to be helpless children – is exactly that: They seem to be helpless children. We can’t be 100% sure that they are.

      What alarms me is the mere mention – by them – of a dark entity.

      Here’s why:

      In some haunted locations, malicious entities taunt vulnerable paranormal researchers. Those spirits only pretend to be whatever life form they think will earn the trust (or sympathy) of the ghost hunter. And, for their own amusement, they refer to themselves (the dark entities) in the third person… that is, as if the child is talking about someone (or something) else, when it’s really the dark entity talking about himself.

      Putting inexperienced ghost hunting celebrities in that situation… well, it’s very risky. But, with Jason and Jack guiding them professionally, I’m hoping the celebrities aren’t in danger.

      I don’t want to frighten anyone needlessly, but if the dark entity is anything we might call “demonic,” the show’s celebrities could be facing something terrifying.

      When dealing with things we can’t see and thoroughly evaluate for honesty – and the possibility that an entity thrives on lies and deceit – it’s important to be on guard.

      Though only a small – almost minute – percent of haunted places harbor dangerous spirits, something seems very wrong about Woodchester. It’s history is so very odd, I can’t dismiss any possibilities at this point.

      I hope that explains my thoughts on this, and answers your question, at least as well as it can be answered. We still have so much to learn about ghosts and haunted places, we’re still in early days of understanding what a ghost is and what else can be lurking in places like Woodchester.

      Sincerely,
      Fiona

      1. Then again, it is possible that the children really are who they say that they are, and that they really are telling the truth. (Of course, that would still imply that a dark entity, of some sort, is hanging around that house.)

        Anyway, this is reminding me of something that happened, not too long ago. I was reading a blog written by some jerk pseudoskeptic named Jason Colavito. He was whining about the US government paying taxpayer money to have that UFO conspiracy program, despite the fact that he is British and doesn’t even pay taxes to the US. Colavito didn’t like that Senator Harry Reid (the main mover behind that conspiracy) was using the money to pay Reid’s friend, Robert Bigelow, to do a lot of the work. Nevermind the fact that that just wasn’t how Bigelow got the contract. Anyway, part of what came up in either the main post and/or the comments section was some of Reid’s comments that were made in an interview that Reid did with George Knapp. Reid said that some objected to the program on religious grounds. Colavito also tied this in and took a shot at paranormal investigator Nick Redfern, and then Redfern showed up to defend himself in the comments section. Apparently, Nick wrote a writing about a different secret conspiracy of people in the US government who were strongly religious (presumably Christians of some sort) who were working on trying to communicate with entities from another universe who these religious folks thought were demonic. (I don’t remember the name of his writing, or whether it was a book or an essay…sorry…) Redfern, himself, did not believe that the entities were demonic – in a religious sense, at least – and I don’t believe that Redfern really believes in demons in a religious sense, at all, but Redfern did say that Redfern believed that the entities are from another universe, and the entities can be dangerous. I guess a lot of that would depend on how we would use a word like: “demonic.” Interestingly, it would also line up with the ideas in that book that I mentioned, before, called “Sekret Machines: Gods,” where Tom DeLonge and Peter Levenda argue that many UFOs are not from another planet in this universe, but are, instead, from a whole other universe. DeLonge is one of the guys who deserves credit for getting that conspiracy exposed on the front page of The New York Times. (NOT the one that Nick Redfern wrote about)

        So, with all of that background out of the way, I’m wondering if that “dark entity” that they seem to be running across in that house might be one of the same entities that are being communicated with by this conspiracy of religious people that Nick Redfern wrote about. If so, I’m wondering why it is there, and what its angle is. Food for thought.

        1. Definitely food for thought. I’m always intrigued by Nick Redfern’s research and theories. He may not be 100% correct in his speculations, but – of course – that’s what speculation is for.

          Likewise, I offer a lot of theories (that I can’t prove) for paranormal phenomena and anomalies that I can document.

          Whether or not these speculations are valid, at least they open the door to discussion and further research. Any researcher – such as Redfern – willing to go far out on shaky limbs, and present myriad ideas… well, it’s why I follow his career.

          Colin Wilson is another one. I may have to wade through semi-interesting folklore but gems can be hidden there, even in his apparently mainstream-to-mundane works. (They’re often in his odd asides.)

          Thanks for your comment. It’s definitely an angle to ponder. Though semantics can get in the way, I think we have to keep these concepts in our discussions.

          Also, yes to the possibility that the spirits of the children are real, and they’re telling the truth, or at least the truth as they perceive it. That’s part of what makes this kind of research so fascinating, albeit dangerous at times: We are (often literally) working in the dark, trying to communicate with, understand, and evaluate entities that we aren’t certain of.

  2. But the big question is who’s making anything a game show?.And I am skeptical about ‘ghosts don’t perfor on cue’,infact i suspect that we all perforn on cue from that jerk who’s operating the big simulator.I won’t use stronger words for him lest he squish me into a clod.

    1. Vivek, I’m chuckling. I’m also glad I’m not anywhere near you, in case a cosmic squish-into-a-clod moment is imminent.

      Seriously, it sounds as if you ascribe to a variation of the predestination theory. That is, we’re not in charge, and we’re wholly at the mercy (or plans) of… something else?

      I can’t work with that construct and still maintain my humor and optimism. I firmly believe we can break any inherent programming and choose our own adventures. (I won’t pretend that’s easy, but I think it’s doable.) In fact, I believe that might be the point of this experience. (And, writing that, I’m mindful that this flies in the face of many of my inherent, “go with the flow,” hippie-style attitudes. Sometimes going with the flow is the worst possible choice.)

      But, within the context of someone else running the simulator-as-reality, perhaps I should rephrase my observation to say: Ghosts don’t consistently perform on cue, or at least the cues and directions that we try to give them.

      Cheerfully,
      Fiona

  3. It is doable,acknowledging the situation however is the main requirement.And,as much is implied in the program,quixotic actions might be the cue to find a path.

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