Sunday, 30 September 2018

The search for the answers to be found in a hidden corner of Essex - the ghosts that just won't rest.



The sight that greeted us on our very first visit.


Ever since Laura and I first started working together, there has been one location that has remained a constant, even as we found ourselves relocating several times around southern and eastern England over the past ten years.

An ancient place of Christian worship, located deep in rural Essex, insular and isolated and, as far as we could tell from our initial visit, of little historical significance - although further research could reveal otherwise.

As any visitor will attest, as they often have, it cannot be denied that the location has a certain atmosphere, one that Laura herself is not to fond of, so we have always found ourselves being drawn back to the church, time and time again.

Needless to say, with so much time spent at the site, we hold a large set of notes on file, that have produced numerous lines of research that we have still yet to investigate fully.

However, we thought that it was time to share with you some of our experiences and discoveries that we have made there, over the last decade or so.


Background
The church building itself dates back several hundred years, of a very distinctive design and, without intending to be unkind in anyway, it certainly looks and smells its age. Over the centuries there have been several major alterations made to the current building, in more recent times, being mostly been enforced due to damage and decay.

The church was effectively abandoned to the elements some 50 years or so ago and now classified as redundant.

The building was only saved following a series of fortunate decisions that initially commenced with a demolition order in the 1970’s, leading ultimately to the substantial conservation work undertaken to halt the decay and underpin the church, that was completed a couple of years ago.

This is how the visitor will find the church today.

Even now, the church is little known outside of the local community and it still retains its sense of isolation.

We first came across the location whilst searching for new research projects in the East Anglian area, where we were both based at the time.

We’d found several reports made by various people mentioning the high number of EVPs (Electronic Voice Phenomena) that were allegedly being recorded there, but little else of note concerning the history of the church, which still remains elusive, even now.

However, this was still enough to pique our interest, so notes were made and the site added to our ever growing list of future locations that we intended to visit.

Thinking nothing more of the matter, we then turned our attention to other areas of interest and simply forgot about the church.

Several months later, during a quiet period, we went back over our notes and decided that it was finally time to undertake a field trip to see if there was any substance to the reports that we’d read.

The start of our relationship with the building had begun.


The visits commence
Our initial visit took place on a warm summer’s evening, the air filled with the rich evening chorus of blackbirds ringing out to accompany the setting sun, greeting us as we left the car.

Despite this pleasant welcome, Laura immediately commented that, to her, the location had a foreboding atmosphere and I noted that she appeared apprehensive as we entered the church grounds.

The entrance to the church stood in front of us, at the foot of the Tudor Bell Tower, almost obstructed by a grave memorial, which in itself we found unusual.

We soon realised that the doorway was a more recent addition to tower, the main entrance being located on the North side of the building, via an impressive 17th Century wooden porch, that complemented the tower.

The present view, looking up from inside the Tudor Belfry.
To our disappointment, we found that both entrances to the church were securely locked, upon safety grounds as we later found out, due to the desperate condition of the building and the imminent risk of collapse.

Indeed, apart from an annual service, the church had been closed off to the general public for a number of years, until the conservation project was undertaken and completed.

The restoration itself was completed a couple of years ago and thankfully saved the church from demolition, with the added bonus that the public were now able to view the interior of the building, but we digress....

Finding ourselves restricted to the small churchyard, we decided to walk around the structure and examine the building and explore the surrounding churchyard to see what was revealed.

We found that the land surrounding the church was very overgrown, with trees encroaching right up to the building itself in places, adding to the atmosphere of the location.

At the time we recall thinking that someone would need to act quickly, as nature was clearly looking to reclaim what was originally hers with a vengeance.

Thankfully, as events transpired, action was taken.


Darkness falls – a secret to uncover?
As we strained our eyes and looked as far as we could into the wooded areas, we could make out old gravestones dotted amongst the trees – a particularly eerie sight as the sun finally set.

General maintenance of the graveyard had evidently long stopped here, although the remaining grassed areas had clearly been recently mown.

We continued our exploration and, Laura remained unsettled.

In addition to some names and dates, Laura also felt that the location was being used for occult purposes and not in a particularly nice way. This use was both historical and, something that was continuing to the present day.

A quick search of the surrounding area thankfully found no psychical evidence of such activity.

There was one particular monument that Laura was drawn to and which continues to be so to this very day, a very large slab of (type of stone), surrounded by a set low, decorative cast iron rails, protecting the monument.

The memorial was engraved with the name of family members covering a number of years, even some that had left these shores and commenced a new life in a distant country.

However, despite being in a relatively good condition for its age, it was covered in ivy and other fauna and its inscriptions proved difficult to read.

Thankfully, this memorial has also been restored and we now have a complete copy of the inscriptions.

The memorial, now restored, helpfully providing us with a lot of information.

An interesting back story surrounds the family commemorated by the memorial, although we have still to undertake any further research relating to this.

Laura felt that the whole location held a secret and that the memorial, or the people listed there, were the key to unlocking the whole thing. The memorial indicates that most of the family emigrated in mid 19th Century, which obviously will form one line of our ongoing research.


The EVPs
Over subsequent visits, various EVP’s were recorded and the ominous feeling that Laura was getting from the location intensified, to the extent that Laura was eventually reluctant to visit the church, even in day light hours.

Laura has never been keen on visiting the church......
It is worth mentioning that, despite continually searching, we’ve thankfully never ever found any evidence of ‘occult’ activity to this present day. Although, in spite of the lack of physical evidence, Laura is absolutely certain that the location is still being used for such purposes.

The EVPs that we record at the location are of varying quality, but at a more frequent level than we experience elsewhere. Helpfully, they are usually in direct response or in context to the conversation that we were having at the time.




We’ve also recorded the same EVP on two separate audio recorders that were recording at the same time, one of the few times that this has occurred for us.

Of greater interest to us, looking back through our notes, Laura has been receiving the name ‘James’ during the majority of our visits, although we weren’t really conscious of this due to the time that had passed between our visits and this has only come to light recently when looking back through our notes.

Curiously, during a recent visit, Laura once again picked up upon ‘James’, only this time our audio recording also picked up another female voice whispering ‘James’ immediately following Laura asking if James was with us at the time.


(As always with EVP, best listened to via headphones)


‘James’ is undoubtedly a person of interest for us in our research, although we have made no progress as to his identification to date.



The restoration...... and a new chapter begins
The restoration of the church itself a couple of years ago affords visitors access to the interior, after many years of being sealed off.

In 2015, having recently moved back to the area, we visited for the first time since the restoration work had been completed and finally found ourselves stood inside the building at last.

Opening the door for the first time, we found ourselves inside a church that looked far bigger inside that it did from the outside, causing us to look around quickly for any Time Lords in the vicinity.

Breathing in the musty air, we found bare plaster walls, compete with sections of 300 year old murals and even older wall paintings.

The pews and pulpit, which, at the time, we took to be of a similar age to the murals, but have subsequently found out had been salvaged from another church locally, were in excellent condition.

The floor mainly consisted of black and red clay tiles, straight onto an earthen floor, that looked to date from Victorian times, but we could be wrong.

Almost immediately, upon entering the building, perhaps unsurprisingly, Laura started to pick up people’s names and dates, together with what she described as a ‘young boy’, around 11 or 12 years old, who was holding her hand.

This was not the first time that she had experienced this at the site, although she was unsure as to whether this was the same ‘boy’ that has been attracted to here on previous visits.

She also felt that there was a room or area beneath the church floor itself, where young children were secretly taken and ‘punished’.

At one point Laura received this impression so strongly, she knelt down to examine the floor for any signs of an entrance to the room below.

Was there a room beneath the floor here. Research has indicated that there isn't, but
was something here in the past?
 When I later pressed Laura for an explanation, she told me that all this activity was linked to a person (or persons) that was connected to the large monument outside (the one that she’d always been drawn to and mentioned previously) – if we could identify the person(s), we would get closer to what had happened and, perhaps, the truth behind it all.


More Research and another visit
Over the following months, I made some discrete enquiries and undertook further research, but could find no mention of an underground room or area - although, tantalisingly, I did find references as to the reason why the church building had been in danger of collapsing, necessitating the restoration, which was down to subsidence, in part caused by vaults, or crypts under the church.

Could it be that one of these vaults be the room that Laura had referred to, where the ‘punishments’ to the children had taken place?

This new information led to me to visiting the church once again, without Laura, to see if I could find any trace of the vaults in the fabric of the floor that remained, although I had my doubts, as the tiles were clearly of a relatively recent vintage.

I particularly wanted to inspect a gap under a pew that we’d noticed on a previous visit, although the task would be made more difficult, in the fading winter light at the time I made the visit.

Although I was unable to determine as to whether there was anything underground, my inspection was nonetheless worthwhile and, undoubtedly necessitated a further visit when the light was better.

Of more significance however, it appeared that my visit to the church had acted as a trigger of some sort, as later that evening Laura received an image and a vision, relating to the church.



The good the bad and the Pigman.......
The image was that a shard of white frosted, or smoky glass, self standing, in the area of where the font is now located, containing an image of a female saint, in prayer.

The Praying Saint
This image quickly faded and was immediately followed by a ‘vision’.

It should be noted that we use the term with reluctance here but there were no other words to describe it – a vision.

In it, Laura was stood at the threshold of church itself, at the entrance in the Tudor Bell Tower, the door wide open.

Here, she found herself facing a priest, who was stood immediately inside the church.

Beyond the priest, she could see a figure, a man with a pig’s head (the skull being almost skeletal, coloured brown, but she could definitely see ears, albeit dried and curling over).

The ‘pigman’ (for the lack of a better term) was stood at the end of the pews, in the open area adjacent to the font, next to the North Entrance to the church.

In her ‘vision’, as Laura strained to see beyond the clergyman, the ‘pigman’ asked her if she was coming in.

As she thought carefully about the invitation, the vision faded and ended.

Laura, re-enacting her 'vision' of the pigman

Looking at my phone I could see that it was approximately midnight (my phone was displaying the time of 00:00 am).

Things did not end here and, at approximately 00:40 am, Laura received her final image of the night, of a rectangular, almost square headstone, that was in the churchyard, lying flat on the surface of the ground but raised (rather than level with the surface), with the inscription of a young woman’s name and age.

To bring this particular episode to a close, the next day Laura saw a set of symbols that she drew for my inspection when I returned home that evening.

At the time, I attempted to link these events together and felt that perhaps the best to interpret the whole affair was on a symbolic level – clearly British history had not been awash with reports of pig headed men, from our current level of understanding at least.

We therefore decided that a further visit was necessary, this time with Laura in attendance, to try and make sense of the vision.


The follow up
Within a week Laura and I found ourselves at the location, this time late morning - the first time that we’d visited the location at this time of day.

Laura, having just had her hand 'held' by a child once again.
As I stopped to get my equipment ready, Laura stopped ahead of me and turned to tell me that she’d been touched by a child, although she was not certain that it was one of the ones that had made contact with her previously.

We started off with a tour of the graveyard, meeting a friendly dog (and owner) out enjoying the crisp spring air.

This was the first time that we’d really inspected the area surrounding the church together in detail since its restoration, so we spent some time looking at the memorials, wondering if any of the names were familiar to us from our previous visits.

We then turned our attention to the church and began to walk the circumference of the building in a clockwise direction.

At an area on the south side of the church, Laura suddenly knelt down and started ‘sweeping’ her arm across the grass.

Catching my attention, I asked her what was wrong?

Laura informed me that, at this spot, she had felt the urge to immediately kneel down and pray, which then quickly turned to the desire to uncover something that was buried, or concealed, beneath the ground.

The ‘spot’ was close to the south wall of the church, immediately next to a bricked up (very large) door or window, with the ground being uneven or disturbed, which we’d always put down to rubble being dumped there in previous years.

Subsequent investigation revealed that the bricked up aperture was the grand entrance to a private chapel attached to the south side of the church, which had been destroyed and removed in the past. This had resulted in the disturbed ground where Laura had felt the need to pray.

The former entrance to the chapel, that stood in the grassed area to the lower left of the image. It was in this area that Laura felt the need to pray and uncover a concealed object.
With nothing else forthcoming, we made our way to the Tudor Bell Tower and into the church itself.

Once inside the church, Laura pointed out where she’d been standing during her vision and, where the ‘pigman’ and priest were stood in relation to her, but nothing further was forthcoming.

As we moved further into the church, Laura mentioned (as she had done on her previous visit inside the church), that she felt that we were once again being watched by a man high up in the church, against the Bell Tower. She felt that the man lived in the church, or at least had the habit of staying overnight there and, was possibly a curate that was attached to the church.

Laura walked towards the altar and sat down on the step in silence and attempted to tap into the atmosphere of the building.

After several minutes in quiet contemplation, she arose, walked forward several feet and then bent her knees and touched the floor at a certain point in the aisle. She insisted that there was still, or had been, a room or chamber below.

It was at this point that Laura asked out aloud if James was with us now, sensing that he was possibly close, resulting in us recording the female voice whispering ‘James’ that we referred to earlier.


The present day.
As we mentioned right at the start, our research is still ongoing and there is clearly far more to be revealed at this location.

However, we have reached the point where we have started to make some progress, so perhaps this is an opportune moment to cover some of our experiences at the location, together with our current findings date:

1.     There are a lot of children connected to the location
This has been a constant for Laura ever since we first visited the location - the building would have served at sometime as a sort of workhouse, possibly a school.

Whilst we’ve been unable to establish anything definitively, in a recent conversation with a local historian, from his research, he believed that there was a second chamber within the church, no longer existing, that was used either as a school room at some point, or indeed where a priest lived (which also ties us to point 5. below).

As you can imagine, this has been an important development for us and has now become a strong line of research for us, which we will hopefully be able to expand upon at a future date.

2.     An underground vault, where children were abused (not sexually)
This has, so far, proved a dead end for us. Apart from a reference to underground vaults, or crypts, being mainly responsible for the subsidence at the church, we’ve not been able to progress this any further so far, even with physical inspections at the location itself.

a.      A secret connected to the family mentioned  in the large memorial slab, adjacent to the Tudor Bell Tower
b.      A woman, her young son torn away from her, still upset; and
c.      James

Laura feels strongly that these three separate ‘events’ are potentially linked.

Throughout our visits Laura frequently senses the presence of a woman, who is grieving, having had her son taken away from her.

In the same way, she feels that this woman is linked to the family detailed on the memorial slab and that the child was taken away because of the shame that it brought onto the family.

Less confidently, Laura feels that the James that lingers there could possibly be this child, but she has never receive any answers to this when she has asked.

At this moment, this remains an ongoing line of research, with the only facts that we’ve been able to establish is the names on the family memorial. However, Laura feels that we’re close to getting an answer here, so only time will tell.

3.     Something concealed beneath the ground where the chapel was located.
Again, our enquiries are ongoing, but details of the former chapel are sparse and obviously we’re not in a position to go around digging up church yards.

However, the fact that Laura felt the strong need to kneel pray and then uncover a concealed item beneath what we now know would have been the chapel floor provides an interesting line of research for us.

4.     That the location is used, both historically and currently by people for occult purposes
Whilst we are not in possession of any supporting evidence whatsoever for this, the relative seclusion and remoteness of the location would not appear to exclude this. Interestingly, Laura has felt that a particular person could have visited this location and, in a completely unrelated conversation recently, another person suggested something that could support this.

This is one aspect that we’ll maintain a watching brief upon.

5.     The man, possibly a curate, that watched from high, who lived in the church
As mentioned in point 1. above, a recent discussion with a local historian revealed that he believed that historically, there used to be a second chamber within the church that was where the priest used to live or was used as a school room (possibly both), who produced an historical plan of the church, a few hundred years old, to illustrate his point.

When asked why would the priest live inside the church and not elsewhere, the historian explained that during Henry VIII’s Dissolution of the Monasteries, from 1536 to 1541, the priest in residence was ejected from the neighbouring Manor House when it was seized by Henry's men and he therefore took residence in the church itself.

 This would support what Laura had picked up, but how does this explain the ‘watching from above’ element?

The area of the Nave from which Laura has always felt that we were being watched, from above.

This part was clarified by another historian, who advised that in the past, there was a former upper floor gallery at the rear of the Nave, as was popular in churches at the time, which would clearly have provided the platform ‘from above’ that would allow the man to observe visitors.

6.     The gentleman, unflatteringly referred to as ‘Pigman’
It probably goes without saying that Laura’s vision of the ‘pigman’ was the most difficult to understand.

We initially thought that we needed to interpret this at a symbolic level, especially in light of the symbols that she received and drew, the following morning after the vision.

We thought that we arrived at a plausible interpretation for the vision and symbols, when taking into account other things that were occurring with Laura at the time. However, subsequent events led us to dismiss his interpretation.

A few weeks later I met an historian at the church who, whilst discussing the development of the building over the centuries, mentioned the upper gallery at the rear of the Nave, as discussed in point 5. above.

As I’d tentatively touched upon the reason for enquiring about the gallery during our conversation and hadn’t been rebuffed, I pressed on and, after providing a lengthy introduction as to what I was going to say, explained what Laura had seen and threw myself at the historian’s mercy.

To my surprise, the response was not what I was expecting.

The historian explained that the grave immediately outside the ‘new’ entrance, in the Tudor Bell Tower, was that of a gentleman, an ex-serviceman, who served the church and, was in the habit of standing at the corner of the building, directing people around to the North Porch entrance. Being ex-military, he had a certain way about him and the historian could imagine him standing there, asking, of any stragglers, are they coming in?

Although the gentleman was of a different age, the historian knew that he had a certain reputation locally, of being a ‘pig’........

Another possible explanation provided by the historian was the locality’s connection to pigs, dating back to Anglo Saxon times, if not earlier. Was the vision a link to this?

Either way, had we finally found our ‘pigman’?


The future?
It must be said that we both found this very difficult to write.

Not only was there so much that we could have written (there is a lot that we’ve simply left for another time), but things that have been moving at such a rate, we have had to constantly re-write, add or remove elements.

 Indeed, we started writing this over 15 months ago and even now were in two minds as to whether or not to publish what we had written.

Unlike most if the other pieces that we’ve written about here, there is no conclusion to our research and we simply, at this stage, do not know where it is going, so it’s fair to say that we will be issuing further updates, from times to time.

However, what we are certain about is that this location has many secrets to reveal, which we both feel we are on the cusp of discovering.

 In some ways, our journey with this location has most definitely only just begun.

Saturday, 16 December 2017

The 'ghosts' of Landguard Fort

Landguard Fort, Suffolk, location of the last seaborne invasion of England (2nd July 1667), is a place that has gained popularity for organised ghost hunt events over the past ten years or so, although it’s yet to reach the dizzy heights of paranormal folklore that haunts such as Fort Amherst or Dover Castle enjoy.

However, from an historical perspective, the location is quite significant, the current fort being the last in line of three military buildings guarding the entry point to the Stour and Orwell estuary and, onwards to the important ports of Harwich and Ipswich.

None of the three buildings had been built on the same location, although the current Fort (dating from 1716) has one small corner, the Holland Bastion, that overlay’s the site of the previous building.  

The Dutch invasion of 1667 is recognised as the first ever engagement of the Royal Marines, so overall, a very notable location.

It was due to the Fort’s popularity as the venue for paranormal events, that we'd never really been interested in making a visit.

At the same time, we'd always avoided reading any reports or reviews from these events, or indeed the alleged paranormal history of the location, as not to taint any future visit that we could have possibly made, especially from Laura’s perspective.

Nevertheless, we eventually succumbed and finally paid a visit, on what turned out to be the final opening day of the 2017 season.

Subsequent research has revealed the reasons and motivations behind the Fort having a secondary role as a paranormal event venue and we’ve listed the alleged haunting and ghosts present at the location in the footnote following this blog.


Arrival
After parking up outside the Fort, in the small car park, adjacent to the entrance, we found ourselves in front of an impressive 18th Century gatehouse, not too dissimilar to some of the medieval castles that we had visited in the past.

Crossing the stone causeway, which replaced the original wooden drawbridge in the 1930’s, across the moat, we paid for our entry, deciding to skip the free audio tour option and explore the Fort in relative ignorance, so to speak.

Taking the wrong turning once again.....


The Wash Suite
Leaving the gatehouse, we found ourselves in a curved, narrow area, which formed an outer courtyard. This had originally been part of a larger parade ground that had been divided into two as part of the re-modelling of the Fort between 1871 and 1875, resulting in an inner and outer courtyard that we now see today.

As we looked back towards the gatehouse, we saw a series of adjoining rooms lined up against the outer wall of the Fort.

Deciding that this was as good a spot as any to begin our exploration, we entered the nearest doorway and found ourselves in a shower room, Victorian or later in appearance, which we subsequently learned formed part of a wash suite, with baths and an old boiler being located in adjoining rooms.

Almost immediately, Laura began to relay information to me – in the past, the room had been a make-shift prison, where people had been kept chained.

Something had happened to a person in here. This person was very scared, a man.

I noticed that Laura appeared to be greatly affected by what she was sensing, going on to tell me that there was one person here, who had their...... At this point she found herself locking her hands together and telling me that her hands were held together with such strength that the blood was beginning to drain from them.

Laura described that it felt as if someone was wringing their hands really tight, or if their hands were bound, locked together.

Laura, clasped hands, in the wash suite

Turning to face me, she exclaimed that her hands were clasped together so tightly that she could feel them ‘pulsing’ strongly.

Laura felt herself compelled to keep her hands in this position, which she did so for the entire duration that we were in the wash suite.





With no further information and, having completed our inspection of the adjoining rooms, we left the wash suite, returning back out to the main court yard.

It was at this point we subsequently discovered that we’d recorded our first EVP, although unfortunately indistinct, of our visit.

Deciding to continue our tour in an anti-clockwise direction, we soon found ourselves in front of a concrete staircase to the upper level.

Laura, at the point on the stairs where she
saw the ghost of a young girl, walking
down towards us.

At this point, Laura grabbed my arm tightly and exclaimed that she could see a young child, a girl of around three or four years of age, three quarters of the way down the staircase, on the lower steps, walking down towards us.


With my camera already out, I took some photographs as quickly as I could, in the hope of capturing that ever elusive picture of a ghost on film, but sadly, not to any surprise, nothing of interest came out in any of the images that I took.















The Sally Port
Immediately to the right of the stairway, was the entrance tunnel into the bowls of the Fort, the Sally Port.

The tunnel ran through the outer defensive walls and allowing access to the casemates and powder rooms, a crucial component of the 18th Century fortification.

Again, within a minute of us entering the sally port, I noticed that something was up - Laura was clutching her leg and walking stiffly, with a limp.

Laura, indicating where the pain in her
leg was located.


Any questions that were beginning to form in my head were answered by Laura, who told me that she was experiencing a severe pain in Laura’s right groin, affecting her ability to walk normally.

With Laura attempting to walk the pain off, we made our way to the magazines. As we approached the entry barrier, Laura raised her hand to her left shoulder and neck and grimaced, she was feeling a sharp pain from what she thought was a wound, a wound to the left shoulder.

A couple minutes later, we later found that we’d recorded our second EVP, a chid asking “What’s down there?”, swiftly followed by a third, a couple of minutes later, answering Laura’s (general) question with “Yeah”









After completing our exploration of the lower level, we re-entered the courtyard and decided to walk through the secondary gateway, to the inner courtyard, where we found ourselves within an enclosed muster yard, or parade ground, with a two story crescent of what we assumed to be Victorian living quarters and related facilities now immediately behind us.

In the lower level of rooms, we spotted a shop and cafeteria, but finding the attendant preoccupied with customers, we took the nearest staircase to the upper level and explored each room, one by one.


The Upper Level
We found the rooms, as expected, to be very small, some with additional rooms, that could best be described as walk in cupboards.

The first room we visited was F7, which was nearest to the stairs that we’d just climbed up.

Hardly left impressed after being
told to "fuck off".....


This room which, along with F6, formed part of pair of rooms used as Fire Officers Quarters, had an adjoining bathroom. Entering the bathroom, Laura was immediately told to ‘Fuck off’ loudly by a male. She also picked up a symbol, possibly a badge (military), that we’ve yet to identify.

Moving onto the next room, F6, which could be entered by a short connecting passage, Laura picked up ‘Kirkaldy’, which she took to be a place. I assumed that this referred to Kirkcaldy, a coastal town in Scotland, which Laura had not heard of before. They’ll be dancing in the streets of Raith tonight......

We could only assume that this possibly related to an unknown serviceman, but with no further information forthcoming, we had no way of knowing.







Have you seen this badge before?



As we continued along the upper levels, we found ourselves on the opposite side of the inner keep, in what could be described as more functional rooms, related to World War 2, including an Operations Room, that was only rediscovered relatively recently, in August 1995, complete with large oval table, that had been sealed up when the Army vacated the Fort almost 40 years earlier (3).

In a gun bastion, occupied by a replica, 12 ½ inch, 38-ton cannon, reported feeling ‘heady’, perhaps an echo from the past, replicating the experience of a former WW2 gunner suffering from the fumes that emitted from the original gun.

In room 10, the radio room, inexplicably, Laura was given the phrase ‘Duke of Canterbury’ – a nonsensical name we knew, but could it have related to a code name used at the location in WW2? Subsequent research has revealed nothing unfortunately.

The Radio Room - no sign of the Duke of Canterbury here.

With the Sun getting lower we decided that it would be time to depart, but not before we’d visited the upper level above the gatehouse.

As we made our way along the battlements, towards Chapel Bastion, the breeze from the North Sea finally began to bite and the chill sunk in. It was at this point began to pick up some more information – “Rook”, “Lathwaite”, with the name “Daniel” possibly connected to the name Lathwaite. Again, I’ve found no reference to these names since but, with the number of people passing through the Fort other the centuries, information like this can be like searching for the proverbial needle in a haystack.

Just before we got to the Bastion, Laura asked to be left alone as someone had been trying to get her attention and she felt compelled to immediately sit down, so I left her sitting on a set of robust concrete steps that allowed you to look over the battlements.

It was here that Laura picked up the image of a man, together with the name “Toby Jarvis”, but no other information came through and Laura eventually rejoined me back down in the outer courtyard, where we made our way back to the car.

Laura, in the distance, sat alone to the right of Chapel Bastion, making notes of her impressions and, a sketch of 'Toby Jarvis'

Summary
Both Laura and I were pleasantly surprised by the condition of the Fort and could thoroughly recommend it to anyone who was looking for somewhere historical to visit for a day out at little cost.

From a paranormal perspective, Laura felt that there was more that she could tap into under more favourable conditions and that it would be a different proposition at night.

For myself, subsequent research revealed how significant to british history this location was and, how undervalued it was by the public, which I thought was a shame but, at the same time, I was looking forward to our next visit.

However, the question remains, what did ‘Toby Jarvis’ want? Will we ever find out?

 
Toby Jarvis



Footnote: The alleged ghosts of Landguard Fort
Over the last 15 years or so, with the ever growing popularity of paranormal groups sprouting up at a drop of a hat, complete with an army of mediums, the haunted history of the Fort has become very muddy indeed, resulting in what Laura and I generally refer to as two distinct categories of hauntings, namely ‘traditional’ - historically documented cases of hauntings and, ‘contemporary’ – those that have originated since the advent of the internet and social media.

Here follows therefore, a selection of hauntings at the Fort, for both categories:

1.       Traditional Hauntings
a.       Ghostly Footsteps
b.      The ghost of Nathaniel Darell, Governor of the Fort during the Dutch invasion; and
c.       The ghost of the Earl of Holland, first Governor of the original Landguard Fort, riding a white horse.


2.       Contemporary Hauntings
a.      The ghost of John Lowes, a clergyman, tried and executed for an act of alleged witchcraft at the Fort by Matthew Hopkins (the so-called Witch finder Genera), in the Holland Bastion.
b.     The ghost of a musketeer, the sole English casualty (at the Fort itself) of the 1667 engagement with the Dutch, patrolling the upper battlements in the area of the Holland Bastion.
c.      The ghost of a Portuguese lady, Maria, wife of a paymaster sergeant serving at the Fort, who threw herself from the battlements following the unjust execution of her husband, who allegedly haunts the areas of the Chapel Bastian from where she jumped.
d.     The spirit of a plague victim, in the ground floor of the Chapel Bastion, where he had been kept, in isolation, until his eventual death
e.      The spirit of a drowning victim, accidental or otherwise, in the wash suite
f.       The ghost of a suicide, full of remorse due to his involvement in the drowning in the wash suite, in the magazine corridor
g.      The ghost of a horse, witnessed in the area outside the Fort, during World War Two. It’s unclear if this horse in linked to the traditional ghost listed in 3. of ‘Traditional Hauntings’ above
h.     The sound of marching troops approaching the Fort, again reported by a guard during the Second World War; and
i.       The sound of workmen, accompanied by a possible time slip, in the 1960’s, after the Fort had been abandoned.


Sources:
1.       ‘Suffolk Invasion’ – Frank Hussey (pub. 1983)
2.       ‘An Update on Landguard Fort’ – Doreen Rayner (pub. 1995)
3.       ‘Things that go bump in the Fort’ – Richard Bradshaw (pub. 2009)

Sunday, 1 January 2017

Remote Viewing Exercise – Update


Just your ordinary memorial....

More than a few months have passed since the remote viewing exercise that we undertook back in July and we suspect that many may be curious as to how (if at all) this has developed in the ensuing months.

Our original article relating to the remote viewing exercise can be found HERE

In truth, since we last updated the blog, things continue to tick along and, along with other projects that we’re working on, we were able to get an update on the situation regarding one particular piece of information that Laura picked up upon, which had intrigued everyone involved at the time – the symbol that was suggested to be found on the back of a stone memorial in the grounds of the location.


The visit
A couple of months after the exercise,  Jason, who had kindly provided the images for the remote viewing session, was able to return and visit the location for the first time since July and was keen to examine the memorial, a Celtic Cross, to establish whether there was anything etched onto the reverse of the memorial.

The Celtic Cross

Upon entering the grounds, Jason advised that he approached the area of the church yard where the Celtic Cross was located and went straight to the cross.


He examined the reverse of the Cross carefully, but could find nothing of interest. Jason found that the reverse of the Cross was textured and appeared unsuitable for any symbol to be left there, etched or otherwise.










The symbol
Casting the net further afield, Jason approached the gravestone immediately behind the Cross and examined its reverse.


                 The discovery of the symbol, by Jason

The reverse of the memorial immediately behind the |Celtic Cross


Beneath the moss he could make out a faint symbol scratched into the stonework. Scraping the accumulated moss and lichen away revealed a circle, intersected by two lines.


Interesting.


Whilst there appeared to be a connection with what Laura had originally picked up remotely, it was not a ‘direct’ hit – there was indeed a symbol, but it wasn't on the gravestone that had originally indicated by Laura.





A close up of the reverse of the cross, showing the symbol.

Nevertheless, Jason found himself face to face with a symbol, found as a direct result of the suggestion made by Laura as part of the remote viewing experiment.


This also begged the question as to what the symbol meant?


Jason informed us that he felt that the symbol had actually been there for quite some time and was not a recent addition – he had to remove the moss and lichen to view the symbol fully and for him to be able to photograph it adequately.


Apart from this, there were no other clues as to its origin.


What does the symbol represent?

To be brutally honest, at the time of writing, we have absolutely no idea – our research and that of several contacts with knowledge of the Occult that we have been in touch with regarding the symbol, have found no reference to this design, nor had anyone encountered anything like it previously.

The location does have a history of occult use, with some unsavory incidents being noted in the past that may still continue to occur to this present day. However we believe that the symbol relates to the historic use of the location, not that of more contemporary times.

So let us take a closer look at the symbol itself.

The circle, also referred to as a sun disc, sacred hoop or indeed a ring, is a widely recognised symbol within the Occult world, representing ‘Protection’. However, it does hold other meanings, not all good, such as a serpent (forming a circle as it eats its own tail) or as a representation of the Fire element.

However, with our symbol, this has clearly been modified slightly by the addition of two lines. Furthermore, it then looks like a couple of further rough lines have been added, in an effort to strike the symbol else – either by the originator of the symbol or, someone else who had encountered it afterwards.

The Red lines represent what we feel was the original etching, whilst the lines in Blue is an attempt to strike out the symbol.



Of course, we do have a couple of theories relating to its meaning but, until we have something more concrete to present, we will leave it at that, unsatisfactory as it is.


Its important to stress that we would welcome any information or suggestions as to what the symbol represents, so feel free to leave any comments or thoughts that you may have below.

We will obviously post updates to this development as and when they occur.

Laura and Mark.

Tuesday, 2 August 2016

Remote viewing exercise, 26th July 2016



The focus of our remote viewing experiment
 For a number of years now, we’ve been aware that photographic images can be a form of stimuli for Laura, especially with focused concentration.

Initially, in the past, this has led others to contact us for Laura to view images and report back, where the feedback on her output has been positive but, until recently, we have never examined or utilised this aspect in any great detail, mainly due to other areas of focus for us rather than any disinterest.

When our paths initially crossed, a number of years ago, we briefly visited a location, a disused church on the Suffolk / Essex border, not far from Borley, with Jason, a friend of ours who we have mentioned in previous writings.

The visit, on a clear, crisp February evening, proved relatively uneventful, although Laura, at the time, reported that she was ‘drawn’ to a particular corner of the location, with perhaps a ‘connection to children’.

Neither Laura nor I have been back to the location since, although it must be noted that I was relatively familiar with the site, but with no in depth knowledge of the history connected to it.

In recent weeks, over general conversation, Jason casually made us aware that he was organising another visit to the location, he himself having not visited for some time. Sadly, whilst we were unable to join him, he kindly offered to provide some photographs of the location, which we could use for what would be effectively be a remote viewing experiment.

Jason visited the location on the 25th July, a Monday, kindly providing a set of eight images the following evening, to enable us to undertake the exercise a couple of hours later, when the house would be quiet.

The images themselves covered three areas of the location.

No further details of his visit were provided, other than the comment ‘it was a quiet evening’ and, at that point in proceedings, he hadn’t analysed any of the media output from his time there.

As for the location itself, as previously mentioned, I was relatively familiar with the spot itself, but not the surrounding area and, had general knowledge of certain features and alleged history of the location, which I had never discussed with Laura.

Laura knew nothing about the location, other than she had previously had a brief visit and that it was near Borley presuming, correctly, that it was in Suffolk.

Finally, we have not provided any references in this article, although they are available privately. This is to help prevent the location from being easily identified by what follows.


The experiment
At 10pm the following evening, we sat down in from of the computer, where Laura was able to view the images for the first time.

We were apprehensive, it must be said, as with previous attempts not all images provided stimuli, therefore the whole exercise could have turned out to be a bit of a damp squib.

However, as it was, this turned out far from being the case and Laura got the strongest reaction to the set of images that she had ever had to date.

As we alluded to previously, some of the images were of the same scenes, taken from different angles, so the summary below condenses these to four main images, to avoid the risk of over complication.

In addition, Laura was able to pick up some names, which have not been provided in the summary below, to allow further research and avoid influencing any future visitors to the location, that could possibly occur should they read this.

Jason and I have subsequently had some private correspondence on some points, to provide additional clarity


Image 1

From this photograph, Laura picked up a male’s name (both first name and possible surname) and the compass point ‘East’

Laura also sensed in her right arm, some elbow pain and associated muscular spasms.

In the top far distance of the image, a tree trunk can be seen. In all of the images that featured this scene, she sensed ‘shadows’ watching / observing, from behind the tree trunk.

The first name of a female was also picked up.


Image 2

Laura immediately picked up a female forename, followed by what could only be described as a bad reaction to the image, she felt her heart racing, together with the sense edginess, and she described it as not a pleasant feeling.

She also felt that there were headstones or similar low stones amongst the undergrowth in the trees show in the background.

By now, Laura’s scribbling on the note pad was not keeping up with the information that she was relating to me, so I decided to switch on the audio recorder so that we were able to capture everything and avoid the risk of missing any details.

This recording also, inadvertently, captured the context and emotions of what Laura was experiencing, which proved very useful when documenting the experiment and will therefore be something that we will continue to do in any future experiments, where practical.

Original image, with the 'face' circled.
At this point, Laura drew my attention to a face of a male that she could see in the trees at the rear of the image. The face had a beard and was on the right hand side of the photograph, which you can see highlighted in the image below.










'Face' enlarged





Laura acknowledges that this is pareidolia caused by the foliage of the tree, but stated regardless, that this is the way that the male chooses to reveal himself.

Laura then started to feel nauseas and picked up upon on a young boy, who she felt was involved in a hit and run accident nearby.  She advised that he probably died as a consequence of the accident, but at this point she couldn’t be entirely certain.

After spending more time dwelling on this point further, she felt that the male (face) could have had something to do with this and perhaps this wasn’t an accident.





Image 3

Again, within seconds of viewing the photograph, Laura related to me that she felt that she should be kneeling down at the gravestone on the right, at the foot of the tower, looking up towards the top of the tower, at a male looking down at her. She got the impression that he, the male, was wondering what she was doing there.

She then picked up on a female forename and surname.

This was accompanied by sharp violent pains to her abdomen, possibly originating from being stabbed, but at the same time she was also sensing a forced abortion related to the female, linked to the church somehow, either a direct link or via a family linked to the church.

It was this, Laura advised, that was causing her to kneel at the gravestone.

After a couple of minute’s silence, Laura asked me if there was a lake nearby? I advised that I wasn’t aware of one – I was not aware of the geography of the local area and I had only previously visited the location in the dark and, in all this time had never noticed a lake.

Laura went on to explain that she had got a view of a lake from the top of the tower, in a northerly direction towards the rear of the church. She also picked up upon an arch, but she couldn’t explain any further.

Later, Laura advised that the man on top the tower was looking towards the direction of the lake, to see if anyone was approaching the church.

Laura then picked up a male forename and surname, a French one, before exclaiming that there was something structurally missing from the church, as you view this image today.

Before we moved to the next photograph, Laura stated that she didn’t like the feeling she got from the lower right hand side of the image.

After a pause, Laura mentioned that she felt that there was also a chapel, nearby.

There was then a long pause before Laura announced that it felt like, to her, that the church was funded, or had benefactors from one family, that helped support the church. In return, the church had to suffer, or remain silent about what that family wanted, the deeds that it did, for fear of losing this funding.

Laura then clarified that this was not necessarily the church itself, but the church people that ran it. She also added that there were five family members, three being brothers, who were the ‘main’ members.

Changing key, Laura felt that someone fell from top of the tower, straight down over the edge, but with the emphasis that someone was accused of pushing them.

Nothing further was forthcoming on this point.


Image 4


Laura straight away picked up upon children, particularly that of a young boy, aged around 7 or 8 years old, who was sat near the small pile of broken stones / headstone that can on the left hand side of the image.

She felt that the boy was sat there all of the time, watching.

Not necessarily watching the three gentlemen that we can see in the image, but watching and observing, looking on.

I asked if the boy was a site guardian, but Laura responded categorically no!

She also picked up a forename for this boy, as well as what she presumed could be his surname. However, she couldn’t be entirely sure if the surname was connected with the boy.

She then got the forename of a young girl, who was associated with the area of the crooked cross gravestone visible on the right hand side of the photograph.

After a pause, Laura asked about a ring of graves, or even possibly trees. I advised unlikely, but she was repeatedly getting the phrase ‘within a ring’.

For clarity, I asked if this was why the boy was watching, but Laura never directly answered, simply stating that he was outside of the ring.  

Laura then asked me if there was a carving, or something etched, scored into the rear of the Celtic cross gravestone in the centre of the image, which I obviously couldn’t answer.

Laura then went on to tell me that she felt that there were grave stones missing in front of the three gentlemen - there were more buried, but not acknowledged.

Finally, Laura asked if there were houses in the back ground of the image (which, if you look very carefully, you can just make our small areas of brickwork through the foliage, to which I advised that there were indeed offices / business units on the other side of the trees.

Laura pressed on and commented that there was nothing there originally, the church was isolated.

This final statement effectively brought the experiment to an end.



The work begins......
As always, Laura’s output potentially provided many areas of research.

Names are always problematic, even with the access to genealogy records that I had, it was a very difficult task – there is no guarantee that a name you get was born or lived in a particular area, so to some extent names can be a lottery.

There was a family associated with the location, who’s name did not come up with the information that Laura got, but I will cover this below.

Events are also tricky to navigate, often we are dealing with the minute details of an event in someone’s life centuries ago, interesting as it may be.

Unless we are dealing with something of the magnitude of the assignation of Archduke Franz Ferdinand, most events rely on them being recorded in local folklore and history, if deemed important enough.

Finally, we have geographical features that may be described. Sometimes these can also be difficult to research, but fundamentally, this area is often the one that you are able to quickly validate when commencing research.

Looking back at Laura’s output from the session, we therefore chose to commence research in the following areas:

1.       Death:
a.       Did anyone die (or was badly injured) as a result of a fall from the church tower, or indeed a road traffic accident nearby?; and
b.      Was there any history of abortions associated with, or someone (presumably female) being stabbed at the location?

2.       The physical features and history of the location:
a.       Was there a lake or body of water nearby and, if so would it have been visible from the church tower when looking north?
b.      Is there a record of an Arch, that no longer exists, being in the vicinity of the water (or indeed the church itself, at a stretch)?
c.       Is there a chapel (or similar place of worship) nearby?
d.      Was the church, in former times, isolated from other habitations in the past?
e.      Was there a single family with strong connections to the location / church?
f.        Was there now something structurally missing from the church, as we see it today? ; and
g.       Was something carved or etched into the rear of the Celtic cross gravestone?

3.       Optimistically, do any of the names that Laura picked up, check out?



Results of my initial research
Having decided on the areas upon which to focus our research, the quest was soon underway, which I can summarise as follows:

1.       Death
To date, we have not been able to find any record of a road traffic accident or death at the church. This aspect of the information that Laura picked up was inclusive and, perhaps it should not be a surprise in view of the implied clandestine nature of the events.

2.       The physical features and history of the location:

a.       Lake / body of water to the north of the church
This was quickly verified, looking at an ordinance survey map of the area, we found a 16th Century Manor House, complete with moat and two lakes, believed to have been originally medieval fish ponds, approximately three quarters of a  kilometre away.

Today, the lake(s) are not visible from the tower, a direct view being obscured by a small wood, which was planted in the 1930’s. Searching further, I found that the area to the north of the church, today which are fields, was previously parkland containing a herd of deer, a deer park, that were used as a source of fresh meat and for sport by the occupants of the house.

Therefore it was clear that there was a lake (which still exists) that would have been viewable from the church tower prior to the 1930’s.

b.      An arch, no longer in existence, in the vicinity of the lake
Again this was easily verified.

Although no longer present, it was recorded that historically, there was a fine archway over the brick bridge across the moat to the Manor House. This was demolished a long time ago, leaving only the brick bridge that still stands today.

Crucially, from the perspective that Laura gave, the arch would have been visible from the tower.

c.       A chapel nearby
When Laura initially came up with this, I racked my brains to see if I could think of the building that she was referring to.

Whilst I couldn’t think of any suitable places of worship, current or otherwise, I surmised that the nearest town / villages were a couple of miles away, where logically such a building could / could have existed.

Would either of these locations qualify as ‘nearby’? Probably not, to my reckoning.

However, upon commencing my research on this point, I found that the answer was staring me right in my face.

The small oblong extension attached to the north side of the church, was actually the private chapel of the occupants of the Manor House, constructed in the 16th Century, contemporary with the building of the remaining parts of the current House that we see today.

The church itself dates from the 15th Century.

Three positive results so far.

d.      The physical isolation of the church in comparison to other habitations.
Whilst the nearby town has encroached within yards of the church in recent years, the tiny hamlet in which the church is located actually pre-dates its more illustrious and famous neighbour by centuries and indeed was referred to until relatively recently (within the last 30 years or so), as the church in the fields, a lonely and isolated place.

Another piece of the jigsaw that Laura had picked up that yet again had proved accurate.

e.      A single, powerful family connected to the church?
This was indeed true and whilst at the time Laura came out with this I could not recall who, exactly, the family were, I knew they were important.

Whilst I shall refrain from naming the family at present, as Laura is still not aware of them and, they could crop up again in any experiments that we do.

The Manor House that they built was, at one time, said to be the most important in the County of Suffolk and the family has included Members of Parliament and the Grand Mother of Britain’s first Prime Minister.

It could not be ever said that the family was without influence.

At the time of writing, I have not researched that greatly into the family, so I have no comment on the other information that Laura came up with in a historical context, but this information clearly remains a possibility.

f.        There is something structurally that is now missing from the church, as we see it now, today.
This is problematic, as students of the development of religious buildings though the ages would be aware that the vast majority of churches went through periods of restoration over the centuries – the older the church, the more restorations that took place.

This church was no different.

Structurally, windows have been moved or even blocked, as can be seen in image 3 and walls rebuilt and the church possibly even extended at both ends.

However, for me, there are two possible candidates for what Laura was referring to.

The first is that is it’s suspected, via the positioning and unusual shapes of some of 15th / 16th Century windows, that the church originally contained a stairway or gallery, that has not been documented and is no longer present.

The second is that two of the large tomb chests in the chapel, contain the bodies of two prominent members of the family referred to by Laura, originally stood under canopies. These were destroyed in 1868 as part of one of the restorations of the church.

It is also thought that something else is missing, but I’ve rejected this as a possibly candidate for now.

g.       Something carved / etched into the rear of the Celtic Cross styled grave stone
This is something that will require a physical examination of the cross. Jason has suggested that he may be revisiting the location soon and has offered to investigate this for us.


3.       Do any of the names that Laura picked up check out?
My least favourite part of the research, but ultimately one that must be undertaken.

Whilst at least hopeful for the French name that Laura mentioned, a quick online search uncovered nothing of note that could be specifically linked to the names.



Reflection
Overall, the exercise proved both interesting and rewarding for us.

When I (Mark) undertake research following exercises like this, I have no expectations either way although, if I’m honest, in the back of my mind I don’t believe that I will be able to confirm any of the information that Laura obtains.

However, Laura, once again, came up with several pieces of information that was not known to us and, which could be considered obscure.

In particular, with the seven pieces of information linked to the physical and historical side of things, I was able to confirm all but one of the points, the seventh remaining elusive and will only be confirmed or otherwise by a location visit.

Are these just fortunate guesses that could be applied to any location blindly, or is there something else involved?

However, ultimately, only you can be the judge of what I’ve written. For us, our role is to simply observe, record and document the process, as it happened, along with any subsequent research.

As mentioned at the start of the article, we do have audio for most of the session and it is possible that we may post a video of the experiment on our YouTube channel, if we get enough time.

For the future, there is always the opportunity to undertake further research or even a location visit, but for now, we’re simply filing our papers and turning our focus back to other projects.

Perhaps we will return to this case at a later date.

Needless to say, if you have any comments to make, feel free to let us know and perhaps we could discuss further.

L&M



(All original images courtesy of J.T. Duke)