Saturday, 12 March 2016

The Mermaid Inn, Rye, East Sussex

The Mermaid Inn, at the top of a long hill
Glad we had a car.........

Reorganising our files recently provided us with the opportunity to review some of our earlier experiences and see how we have developed our methods and processes from when we first started our journey.

One of the first times that we worked together exclusively as a two person team was at a relatively well known location, especially for those in the UK, The historic Mermaid Inn, in Rye, East Sussex.

Readers of our previous articles will no doubt note that early on, our research took us on a more traditional approach, consisting of monitoring, observation and recording, although Laura would often supplement our research with any ‘information’ that she received, it was not the focus of our research.

As a result, this piece will probably read a lot different to what you have read previously, but we hope that you will find it interesting all the same.

The ancient town of Rye, a member of the Cinque Ports, rises like a citadel out of the marshes as you approach and Rye, a sight that never fails to impress.

Here, amongst the maze of streets on the western side of the town, you will find the historic, timber framed Mermaid Inn, dating from the 12th Century and in the 18th Century, haunt of the infamous Hawkhurst Gang, a criminal organisation linked to smuggling operations along the southern coast of England.

Dr Syn's Chamber, you know you want to....
 It will come as no surprise to many, that a building with this history is reputed to be haunted by several ghosts, including a pair of duellers.

Whilst Laura was not familiar with the location, I was well versed in the history and had wanted to visit the Inn since a young age.

It’s with this background that we arranged a visit and see for ourselves the history, paranormal or otherwise, of this important building.

We arrived at the Mermaid in the late afternoon, just as the sun was fading in the weak winter light.

I had arranged that we would base ourselves in Room 17, know in modern times as the ‘Kingsmill’ room, which has been named after Thomas Kingsmill, who, in 1747 was second in command to George Gray, the leader of the Hawkhurst Gang.

The room contained two secret passages, now sealed up, one to the south wing and the other through the oak panelling to the Royale Room.

Offending Exhibit No. 1 - The Rocking Horse
It was also the original location for a rocking chair and horse, now on display in a recess above one of the stairways elsewhere in the Inn, that were removed from the room because of their frequent rocking, as if by an invisible user, as well as depression forming in the cushion on the chair, as if someone was sitting down on it, that disturbed guests staying in the room.

Laura was unaware of the history or structure of the room, nor of the Inn itself, with just the passing knowledge that it was an old property and alleged to be haunted.

Offending Exhibit No. 2 - The Rocking Chair
We made our way from the reception area to the Kingsmill Room and immediately passed a series of photographs of past guests who had visited the Inn, including the likes of Johnny Depp, Pierce Brosnan, Charlie Chaplin and Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother, we spotted a small staircase to our left, which led to Dr Syn’s Room, amongst others.

As we passed the stairs, Laura commented that she was drawn to them, but we left things at that as far as this area of the Inn was concerned.

Making our way up another set of stairs further along the corridor, we found ourselves up on a landing, which we walked along to a door that opened to the wing where, along the corridor the Kingsmill and Royal Rooms could be found.

The Kingsmill Room
Entering the Kingsmill Room, it felt like a different atmosphere to the rest of the building. This could simply be down to a difference in temperature or even expectation, but it felt difference nonetheless. As I closed the door, Laura turned to me and commented to me that she felt a headache come on at this point, which was usually a precursor, as we got to know over time, that it was possible that she would be able to ‘pick up’ some information .

Not wanting to waste any of the time that we had available to us, we got straight to the task in hand and set up our monitoring equipment at various points in the suite. Whilst not too heavy handed, these included a couple of audio recorders, camcorders and environmental monitors.

During this period, Laura drew my attention to a female figure, stood in the far corner of the room (which I could not see or even sense).

 The figure stood next to the window, next to a dressing cabinet. Laura described her as dressed in brown, possibly a uniform and then, the woman was gone.  Laura also advised that she’d got the impression of prostitution, but could not be sure of this was related to the woman that she had seen.

Finishing our task, we decided to take a break and left the room to get some food. Upon our return to Kingsmill, Laura immediately sensed a man, stood in a corner of the room, next to the door.

We hadn’t even started our investigation, so hopefully this augured well for the rest of our time at the Inn.

The Investigation
With all the monitoring equipment switched on, we decided to commence the investigation with a scrying exercise, utilising a crystal ball, which was a continuation of a series of experiments that I had been undertaking privately, with Laura observing.

All the lights in the room were turned off, with the exception of a table lamp located on the chest of drawers next to the bed.

No matter however hard Mark stared into the Crystal Ball,
he just couldn't see that night's winning lottery numbers.
I commented that I still found the lamp distracting, but the room would simply be too dark to allow Laura to observe the experiment without its illumination.

At this point we both felt that the room had become very warm.

After a couple of minutes focusing on the crystal ball in front of me, I suddenly observed a dark shape, or shadow, in the shape of a human form, obscure the light from the lamp reflected in the crystal ball, as if someone had walked in front of the lamp.

Laura made no comment.

I continued with the exercise, but soon brought proceedings to a halt as I was finding it very difficult to focus on the ball.

Laura then commented that, just prior to the moment when I reported the shadow, that my breathing had changed, possibly causing the effect. I advised that I was unaware of my breathing changing at the time, although I could not rule it out.

We next decided to move to the adjoining timber framed bathroom, located at the far end of the room.

We left the recording equipment running and decided to take another audio recorder with us into the bathroom.

As we prepared to move to the bathroom, Laura advised that, whilst she was observing my experiment, she had picked up on the spirit of a cat walking around the room whilst she had been sitting.

She had also picked up a name, but she couldn’t tell if this was related to the man that she’d seen earlier standing next to the door.

Laura felt that the left side of the main room (the wall) shouldn’t be there and in a similar vein, she felt that the bathroom had been ‘added on’ at some point – this was a very strong feeling for her.

Upon hearing this, I closely examined the offending wall. I noticed that behind the large mirror attached to the wall above the chest of draws, bizarrely, there were a set of windows. I called Laura over, who confirmed that I was not seeing things.

The Kingsmill Room, to the rear, the fireplace, where the offending Rocking
Chair and Rocking Horse were originally to be found.

To the right, you can just make out the mirror, screwed to the wall, where Mark
discovered a row of windows.

Undertaking a similar investigation of the bathroom, it did appear to be of a different structure to the rest of the room and out on a limb. 

Had it indeed been added onto the main building at a later point after the Inn’s original construction?

The Bathroom
Upon entering the room we activated the audio recorder and tried to make ourselves comfortable on the floor.

Mark appeared really pleased to find himself sat on the cold
Bathroom floor.
After a couple of minutes had passed, Laura commented that she felt that we wouldn’t ‘get much’ from the bathroom, it just ‘felt’ different to the main Room, not so much atmosphere so to speak.

As it was considerably colder in the bathroom, who was I to argue? I agreed that relocating back to the main room was a great idea.

Back in Kingsmill
For our next stint in the Room, we decided to undertake a period of quiet observation. I sat on a small sofa located just outside the bathroom, whilst Laura sat on the small chair near the bed, where she had positioned herself when observing my scrying experiment.

 We both sat there for approximately 15 minutes, observing the room silently.

After about five minutes I broke the silence to report that I thought that I’d seen a small dark shadow move across the floor opposite me, near to where Laura was sitting.

The shadow was cat / dog like, complete with what appeared to be an upright tail as ‘it’ moved, but I confirmed that this could simply be auto-suggestion following Laura’s earlier comments about picking up the spirit of a cat walking around the room.

There was nothing of further interest to report from this session.

Next, Laura suggested that we should attempt a glass moving experiment, to pass the time more than anything else.

I retrieved a clear glass tumbler from the bathroom and we relocated to the mirrored dressing table, where the scrying experiment took place and commenced the exercise and both place our fingers lightly on the upturned glass.

Almost immediately, we both commented that the glass felt as if it was vibrating or trying to tip over, although we also acknowledged that there was no discernible movement from the glass.

Encouraged by this, we continued the experiment for a while, but nothing else of note occurred.

At this point, we were entering the early hours and were both feeling the effects of a long drive, so we decided to slow things down and spend our remaining time observing and writing up our notes.

Nothing further of note occurred other than for one curious event that appeared to continue throughout the remainder of the evening.

Laura advised that she had continually felt that there was someone pacing up and down the corridor outside the Room, pausing outside our door ‘just standing there’, then eventually repeating the process.

The stairs, at the end of the corridor where Laura had
sensed a man pacing up and down all night
I suggested that this could have just been the night watchman doing his rounds, but Laura was adamant that this action was continuous throughout the night and probably not representative of a night watchman’s rounds.

We closed our investigation by returning to the other areas in the Inn that Laura had felt drawn to, taking photographs, but there was nothing further to report during our visit.

Writing this summary of our visit, several years after the event, has brought it home to us how much our methods have changed since we first started working together.

Whilst we still possess all our equipment and, even adding to our inventory over the following years, we now find ourselves less reliant on our equipment, limiting ourselves to pen and paper, along with some high quality audio recorders and visual media recorders. We only use the other equipment as and when the ‘job’ requires.

What has also changed is Laura’s confidence in what she senses and the ‘information’ that she is given.

Laura, taking some final shots
Early on in our journey, this information was truly random. However, over the passing of time and with improvements in our research techniques, we have found that we have been able to validate a lot of the information, no matter how obscure and how long it takes and indeed which we have written about in previous articles.

This validation has allowed Laura to have faith in what she experiences, that is if faith is the right word, to the extent that she is now able to go along with what she perceives without question and concern herself with the validation in the cold light of day.

For myself, I guess that my role has become more of a recorder and researcher but, I still polish my large arsenal of recording equipment, just in case we every have need of it.....  

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