Thursday, 27 August 2015

Orford Castle Keep, Suffolk (United Kingdom) - 25th August 2015

Orford Castle Keep
After a dull start to the day weather-wise, we decided to pop over the border to Suffolk and pay a visit to Orford Castle, on the East Anglian Coast. We’d both visited the location in the past, but we hadn’t been for a number of years, so it would be good to reacquaint ourselves with the Castle.

To provide some background, Orford, these days, is a sleepy Suffolk village on the East Anglian Coast, about a 20 minute drive from Ipswich.

However, back in its heyday in the middle ages, it was an important shipping port, so much to the extent that, in 1175, Henry II commenced work on his new castle, to consolidate his power in the region.

Orford Castle is a bit of a misnomer as today, only the Keep remains - the curtain walls being robbed long ago in the 18th century, after the port fell into decline following the silting up of the River Ore. This prohibited the entry to the port of the larger trading ships, sealing the fate of the town.

In passing, it cannot escape mention that the Castle is also famous in its association with the Wild Man (or Merman) of Orford legend, where the Merman was held captive in the Keep for six months, until he made good his escape.

I had also taken part in a couple of investigations at the Castle previously and was aware of the paranormal history, including some reports that had not been reported in the public domain.

We arrived at the Castle in the late afternoon, giving us a couple of hours before closing time. The weather was warm but wet, further reducing the number of visitors at the location.

Entering the Castle Keep
Having negotiated our way past the two ladies on reception, trying to ply us with English Heritage’s finest home grown cherry wine (and very nice it was too), we entered the Lower Hall and began our tour of the building.

We decided to leave the basement level containing the Well Room until last and make our way up to the roof, exploring the side chambers and passages on each floor as we progress.

Although we’d planned our visit just a normal day out, things started to develop on a paranormal level as we made our way clockwise around the Lower Hall, when Laura reported the she felt that there was ‘something’ about the fire place, but she couldn’t establish anything else.

Nothing further was forthcoming from this level, even from the Constable’s Room, where I had heard a disembodied whistle immediately behind me whilst retrieving equipment following a previous investigation back in 2005.

Making our way up the main staircase, which was contained within the South Turret, to visit the Chapel, Laura was given a name of a female. This appeared to be the precursor for a rush of information that Laura appeared to be able to tap into.

The Chapel and Chaplin's Room
We entered the narrow corridor that contained the Chapel (on the immediate left) and, at the very end, the Chaplin’s Room.

The Chapel itself was a small room, still containing a rudimentary brick alter still in situ. It already had a couple of visitors intently listening to their audio guides, so I continued my journey along the corridor, leaving Laura to take a closer look at the Chapel herself.

As she left the Chapel, Laura was given a male name (forename / surname), but then things started to take a turn for the worse , as she felt her chest tightening and a strong feeling of anxiety overcame her.

The corridor, looking back towards the staircase
Laura then felt a need to get to the end of the corridor and, unbeknown to her at the time, the Chaplin’s Room.

As she made her way along the corridor, Laura felt that someone was following her, someone was chasing her along the corridor and she was expecting to hear footsteps behind her any second.

Upon reaching the end of the corridor, Laura found herself outside the Chaplin’s Room. Pausing, Laura decided that she needed to get out of the area as quickly as she could and re-join me, where I was now waiting at the entrance to the Great Hall on the next floor.

Laura made her way upstairs, relieved to leave the unpleasant atmosphere that she had encountered in the Chapel corridor.

Our ‘tour’ of the Great Hall proved uneventful it itself, apart from in one of the side rooms where Laura felt ‘someone’ tugging the hair on the back of her head.

The Well Room
Exhausting the areas that we could explore contained in the upper levels of the Keep, we made our way down to the basement, to the Well Room, where the food and supplies would have originally been stored when the Castle was in daily use.

Again, we found the room reasonably empty, so I used the opportunity to take some photographs.

As I fired off some shots, I suddenly became aware of Laura crouched down on her haunches, in one of the storage chambers set into the side of the room, arm outstretched, as if she was feeling for something.
the chamber where Laura sensed the body of the girl
Now looking on with great interest, I could see her hand hovering, manoeuvring back and forth, as if tracing the outline of a large object. Curious.

After a short while, Laura turned, left the storage chamber and went back up the stairs to the Lower Hall.  

When I had caught up with her later, Laura informed me that she had seen a girl’s body on the floor in the corner of the chamber, lying in the foetal position. The body had been concealed there, to delay its discovery.

The ‘vision’ was so strong; it was if the girl was laying there in real life.

the spot where the body lay
The girl was dressed in a fairly nondescript slip / night dress / undergarment, very flimsy, which, unfortunately for us, makes it next to impossible to date the period that she was from.

Laura also got a forename for the girl.

Whilst she was in the chamber, Laura suddenly felt that she had to go to a particular location in the Keep to find ‘something’. The feeling was very intense and conveyed a matter of urgency in the task – she needed to find ‘it’.

Leaving the Well Room, Laura returned to the Lower Hall and found herself entering one of the side chambers. Travelling to the end of the short passage, she looked up and immediately spotted her goal.

(At the time of writing, we’re still making enquiries, so unfortunately we’re unable to reveal exactly what Laura found, but we will issue an update on the situation when our enquiries are complete.)

From Laura’s perspective, this was a strange experience for her, as this was the first time that she’d ever been compelled to find something.

She later advised that she wasn’t entirely sure where her final destination would be until she had physically reached it. However, once she had got there, she spotted immediately what she was meant to find.

As for what exactly finding her target means, at this point, only time will tell, as nothing further was forthcoming.

After Laura had spent some time at the location, she came back out to attempt to find me and show me what she’d found for confirmation that she wasn’t imagining things.

As bizarre as it sounds, I was able to validate what she’d found and took some photographs, for the record,  although they were not of good quality due to the poor lighting and a flash having to be used.

By now, we were nearing closing time, so we made a final visit to the museum on the 2nd level, where Laura heard a male voice shout “bitch” in the side room at the entrance to the great hall (Laura didn’t think that this was directed at her in particular).

After spending a short time looking at the exhibits in the cabinets, we made our way back to the Lower Hall, paying the Constable’s Room a final visit before we left the location.

As a parting gift, as we entered the room, Laura immediately felt her chest tighten, as it had done earlier on the main stair case, near the Chapel.

This was interesting, as she’d got no reaction when we’d first visited the room earlier in the day.

She immediately got a full name and a place name.

By this point I could see that Laura was physically shaking, so we exited the room and left the building, making our way back to the car, taking some outside shots of the Keep on the way.

Obviously our visit left us with a lot of food for thought and further research, which contained a certain irony, as we only intended a pleasure visit to pass away the afternoon on a wet summer’s day.

It would not have escaped your notice that our account fails to mention any of the names that Laura picked up, not what Laura actually found. This is a deliberate action on our part as it stops the names getting out into the public domain and potentially influencing any experiences that other visitors to the location may have.

However, once we’ve completed our research we will issue an update to this account, even if our research turns up a series of blanks, but we thought that an account of our visit, combined with the launch of our blog, would provide an interesting platform upon which we can build.

If anyone is able to add to what we have written, we would encourage you to contact us, in complete confidence, so we can discuss further.

Laura and Mark. 

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