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Haunted Southampton Investigates‌

NORTHWOOD HOUSE

Saturday 7 July 2012 th

By Kind permission of The House Owners And With Medium Kathy Bavister


Contents

Introduction Initial Assessment The Event Mediums Walk Round Experiments Other observations Conclusion


Introduction In 1793 George Ward – a successful London merchant was persuaded by his friend William Arnold, Collector of Taxes, to buy a large house called Belle Vue in Cowes – possibly on the heels of the fashionably popular ideology of ‘taking the waters’. “One would think the English were ducks, they are forever waddling to the waters”, said Horace Walpole in 1790. After also purchasing the neighbouring farm in 1798 he created a large estate that he called Northwood Park. In fact a very large portion of the northern side of the island was bought up by the Ward family. After his passing in 1829 his son George Henry Ward decided to redesign the house and had plans drawn up by the office of a friend of the family, the famous architect John Nash. Though never fully completed, the new ‘Northwood House’ was the scene of High Society evenings, entertaining many a local VIP – even royalty. George Henry Ward, or ‘King’ Ward as he was often referred to by the locals, lorded it over practically the whole of the northern side of the island – from Cowes to Totland - the house was built to impress and he demanded the very best of everything.

Engraving of Northwood House in its grounds, including St Mary’s Church – probably from around 1840

The grounds were as impressive as the house, but as time went on it is entirely possible that the lavish lifestyle which George Ward insisted on maintaining was in danger of bringing ruin to the financial empire he had inherited from his father. (This of course is entire speculation on my part.) After his death in 1849 the next son Edmund Granville refused to live in the house – preferring the seaside home of Egypt House to the manufactured parkland. The


Ward family, though continuing its ownership, never stayed in the family home again, and the records as to the reason why have been lost. Used as a school for the sons of noble men, a temporary sanctuary for nuns and even a hospital in two world wars, in 1929 it was eventually bequeathed to Cowes Urban District Council, with the grounds and park being given to the People of West Cowes by one of the descendents of the family, Captain Herbert Joseph Ward, who eventually became the Chairman of the Isle of Wight Council as it was known then from 1956 to 1967. The reasons for this decision are unclear, though possibly financially the house was a large burden and in view of the crash of 1929 it may have been a means for the Ward family to save money. Since then it has been through various permutations of council ownership until very recently in 2010 when the house and is grounds were completely handed over to the Board of Charitable Trustees, who had been involved in the management of the estate since 1978. The House itself is one of the grandest on the Island - with many fascinating features such as hidden servant’s doors, a secret staircase to the first floor and a large rambling cellar – which is thought to date to the large property that occupied the estate before the present building was put up. People who have worked in the building have often experienced noises, unexplained figures and mists, but the origin or cause of these phenomena is unknown – the documents pertaining to the history of the house and records of its past having been accidentally disposed of by an overzealous council employee. Who occupied the original building? What caused the family to abandon its inheritance? On July 7th 2012 Haunted Southampton joined members of the public and the managers of this wonderful building to try and help them find out a little more about its shrouded history.


Initial Assessment Before the event it is customary for the Team to visit the venue to undertake baseline readings – in the event of anything out of the ordinary occurring on the night we need to know if what happened is a product of the environment or something otherwise unexplainable. Throughout the house the baseline EMF readings stayed within normal limits, with one exception – the disused Caretakers flat. The EMF Meter being used gave sporadic very high readings in one specific area, by the derelict bathroom. However this wing of the building has no electricity supply – on the ground floor or the first floor. It is also an area that has been highlighted in previous investigations as having unexplained activity. Compass readings throughout the house were all normal, though various handrails and fireplaces proved to be iron and were noted. In one area – the Rotunda – was a beautifully realised large star mosaic on the floor. The manager Chris Buckett said he had always wondered why it was there, and if it was significant, so I placed the compass on the centre of the star. It was aligned perfectly along magnetic north, but interestingly the star was not in line with the orientation of the building – magnetic north being slightly to the right of the doors. Though the room was used as the main entrance in the past it was curious that the design was not symmetrical, considering the opulence and detail that was observed elsewhere. It could be that the presence of the star was not for decoration but had some other meaning to the builder or owner – my own speculation leaning towards a possible Masonic link. Various ‘secret’ doors were explored throughout the House – all created presumably so that maids and other servants could move about without attracting too much attention. An unusually painted hidden stairway also provided food for thought. For whose benefit had so much effort gone into creating the illusion of wood on painted walls when the staircase was secret? The cellars were extensive and one area particularly had a strange optical effect – when a member of the team went into the alcove they seemed to vanish – possibly down to the angle of light as it entered the aisle. Pictures taken throughout would act as a guide to any possible anomalies that might appear during the investigation – we have found that taking these has helped enormously in proving what appears to be a figure is actually a feature of the building itself. The initial assessment complete, we now could approach the investigation prepared for most eventualities.


The Event Mediums Walk Round Arriving before our guests we reacquainted ourselves with the House and started to set up our equipment. At this point one of team will explore the venue with our guest medium for the night, to gain their impression of the venue. This is so we can try and offer our guests a balanced view of the event – from both a scientific and spiritualist opinion. What follows are the notes taken as our Medium for the night, Kathy Bavister, toured the House and described what she was aware of.

Banquet hall The first thing Kathy sensed was a female playing the piano – she felt that the best of the best people had been invited here and that if you were here you had made it. She picked up that people invited here were wined, dined and entertained; anything you wanted was provided. She also felt that Royalty had been entertained here and that originally there had been a lot more gilding around the room.

Dining room Kathy felt that the décor in here was much more to the style of the original building. She also talked about servant’s doors – almost hidden – made to appear as part of the walls and that there were probably several to be found around the building. (I was personally impressed.)

Drawing Room Kathy after a few minutes reflection asked about a portrait that she believed had once been on the wall and that someone was wondering where it had gone. She believed there had apparently been a picture of a pretty lady in a long flowing blue dress on the wall to the right of the fireplace. She also got a throbbing in her ear which for her usually meant that someone may talk to her at some point in the event – as in spiritually.

Morning room Kathy felt that this room was less formal and that people had been more relaxed in here: chatting, sewing, working at their jobs, and picked up two names – Susan and Eleanor.

Rotunda Kathy wondered if there had originally been statues in the alcoves – in a Greek or Roman style, and that they had been portraying a story? She did not sense any presences in here or any other information.


In the corridor by the bar she stopped and said she had caught two names - William and George. She also mentioned an image that had come to her on the Ferry over – that of a workshop, with tools and a lathe, and felt that it was here somewhere, and then continued with the tour.

Egypt corner Brighton Pavilion came to mind but nothing else was apparent at this time.

Staff areas This wing of the building, as mentioned before, had no water or electricity supplied. Kathy felt that in this particular area there was the energy of busy people and lots of bustling around. She then pointed to where the Stable block had been (it had burnt down several years before and been replaced by administrative buildings) and asked of there had been stables over there. I confirmed this to her – she then said that someone had had an accident out there in the stables years ago; she was unsure how they had been hurt but felt that they had been brought back to this area. She later pointed out the door where he had been bought in.

Caretakers flat Kathy immediately felt that the person that had lived here was part of it all but in some way separate from it all. She did not at this time pick up anything else in this area.

Kitchen prep area As we wandered we came upon a workshop area and I asked if this is the one she envisaged but she was not sure if it was the right one. However she could see a man in a leather apron by a bench – possibly next to a lathe but felt that this was more like a housekeeping area. She was aware of cooking and hard work going on – and pointed out the exit where she believed that provisions had been brought in and out.

Stairs

Kathy felt drawn to the stone stairs rather than the Grand Staircase, but at the time was not sure why.


2nd floor She felt that the left hand area was for the female staff and the other for the male servants. Paradoxically she picked up the name ‘Annie’ going along the corridor of the ‘male’ area.

Secret Kitchen We backtracked to the grander stairs and visited halfway up in the so called ‘Secret Kitchen’ – which she felt had actually been a linen storage area so servants would not have had to traipse up and down all the stairs with bedding etc.

Bar room On the first floor there was a room that initially looked as if it had held a bar but had actually been an office for planning applications when the Council had been in control of the building. She felt that there was someone looking out of the window, at the open doors of the Drawing Room below at people spilling out, wistfully as if a child at a party that they were excluded from. She also felt children in the adjoining room and possibly the presence of a nanny or maybe governess. She also had a specific date come through – March 4th 1826.

Main Bedrooms As we toured this area for the sake of the amount of time it would have taken (there were about 12 main rooms) we only visited the rooms that Kathy felt drawn to. Room number 2 was a strange shaped room, and Kathy felt that this had been a ladies room – she could picture floral wall paper on the walls. The next room drew a blank – as did three more. In what appeared to be the Master bedroom Kathy felt that one of the people who had lived here had had lots of dogs, and the names ‘George’ and ‘Herbert’ were linked with this room, as well as the letter ‘S’. We then entered the room with an imposing pink and white marble fireplace. Kathy was again pulled to the window, this time facing the church, where after a few minutes silence she asked if people from the house were buried there. She then said she felt as if she was watching a funeral cortege and that someone in the room we were in did not go to this funeral, that maybe there had been an argument that had not or could not be reconciled and said that this event dated from about 1840’s or 1850’s.


The view from the window where Kathy felt that someone was watching a Funeral Procession. The Church yard of St Mary’s does indeed hold the graves of members of the Ward family.

Further on we entered a room that had a hatch in the wall connecting it with the room adjacent that she felt may at one time have been a suite of rooms, belonging to the same person. She then came up with the name ‘Edmund’, felt that it was an unusual name but it was pertinent here.

Cellar On entering the cellar Kathy felt that the bench and tools and workshop she had sensed earlier would have been down here rather than on the ground floor. Further on in, in an area where it is thought that wine may have been stored she sensed the name ‘Jack’ – and that someone who had worked here had taken things from here. Also felt that a couple of children had hidden in here. This was the area that had the odd visual effect of ‘vanishing’ the person who walked into it.

Though lit up by a strong camera flash, the alcove still seems gloomy at the far end.


Further back she felt that there had been ‘vats’ here – and sensed trolleys – or dolly’s (double wheeled small trolleys that goods could be wheeled round on) had been used to transport goods down a long tunnel. In what was thought to be a laundry she instead sensed fruit in jars and things packed in boxes – she used the words ‘harvest bounty’. When in the coal cellar she felt that this was where there had been a very long tunnel - with an entrance at the far end – that it had been about man height but quite narrow – she felt the presence of a young boy and sensed that not only coal but coke and logs had been stored there. Also that there was someone who lingered that had been in charge – just of wines and spirits etc. The walk round finished, we then joined the guests in the Library for the start of the night’s investigation.


The Investigation After the meeting, greeting, and safety talks we again toured the building so that everyone could get a feel for the venue, and orientate themselves properly to the fire exits and amenities. After this everyone had a brief break and then scattered throughout the building to conduct their own experiments for the rest of the night. They were asked to fill out report sheets so I could use their evidence in this report, the results of which are shown below. It must be said that other experiments were carried out of which no record was made, but anything else of interest was reported back and made note of in ‘Other Observations’, a section later on in the report. As it will become evident there were obviously experiments being conducted at the same time, all over the building, but I have tried to provide a decent snapshot as it were of the entire event. If anyone has any further evidence that they wish to have included please contact me and I can add it in at a later date.

Experiment reports Experiment in Bedrooms labelled as Teaching Room 60/61 Time: 00.10 Temp at start 19.5, humidity 74% Equipment used – Séance table, K2 meter, digital thermometer, dowsing rods The group asked out if anyone was present, got ‘YES’ straight away. The indication was that it was a male who passed with breathing difficulties, but also a heart problem. The letters ‘PE’ were given and the group asked if name was Peter, to which the answer was ‘YES’. At 12.25 the temp was checked but there was little change at 19.9. Tapping was then heard but it was not noted where from. Using the dowsing rods, positive and negative responses were given to the following questions. He was schooled here, had a governess he didn’t like. Has been seen and heard lots of times. The group said that the rods were moving really well. Had a good relationship with his parents, and then a banging noise was heard from behind one of the guest’s chair. Another temperature check was done at 12.50 – 19.5. Peter had a dog, a spaniel, and liked singing, so the group then sang an impromptu nursery rhyme and the rods seemed to move in response. When asked for a noise the rods tapped together. He lived when there was a queen on the throne and died during that time. When


the experiment concluded at 01.15 the temperature had not significantly altered at 19.9 and humidity was 70%. The group then moved to the servant’s quarters, in what they felt might be a female area, the last room along the long derelict corridor at 0150. The temperature was showing on digital thermometer at 22 degrees, though it felt colder. It started to fall as the experiment progressed, dropping very quickly to 21.5. Using the séance table and the dowsing rods, established that they were talking to a lady called Annie, from the IOW, who had family here. The temperature in ten minutes dropped further, to 21.2, then to 20.8. The entire group believed they then heard whispering at the door. Over the next fifteen minutes or so, the temp steadily dropped as ‘Annie’ interacted with them. One of the guests felt a stabbing pain in his side, which ‘Annie’ indicated was to get attention to the fact that she had aborted her baby in this room, and had also died. Another servant, ‘Rose’, had found her dead on the floor. At the end of the séance the temperature had dropped to an impressive 17.6 – 4.4 degrees in total. As an indicator of paranormal activity most experienced investigators feel that a drop in temperature is an indicator that, if no other form of air conditioning or heating is used, is not easily influenced. One theory is that energy is needed to influence and affect their surroundings, and heat is a form of energy. Spirits may be able to use and manipulate heat in order to manifest or produce enough force to move objects or make a noise. In large rooms where no obvious source of external influence such as heaters, open or ill fitting windows, gaps under doors etc, the expectation is for the temperature to stay the same or indeed rise slightly as a group of warm blooded individuals will provide a good amount of body heat. For it to drop, and significantly, means that something is affecting it. With no obvious normal cause we have to assume that there may be a paranormal cause.

Experiment in the Cellar with five guests Time: 12.12 Equipment: Franks box Temp at start 20.1 As the group settled down and turned on the Frank’s box the first intelligible words it produced were” Hello Sam.” After this strange beginning they started out by asking for any spirits present to make themselves known. There was no apparent response from the Frank’s box but on checking the thermometer the temperature appeared to be dropping quickly. Asked if anyone there could touch one of them – the response was ‘Can do’ but it was not mentioned if there was physical contact occurred.


Main cellar corridor

They then asked the question ‘Do you know ‘Henry’ [Henry is the name given to the apparition of a Pirate that has been apparently seen in the cellar] but there was no response. They then asked if the presence brought things through the tunnel to which the response was ‘Wasn’t me’. The name ‘Mick’ came through and it was asked if the presence knew anything about Belle Vue to which there was again no response. The temperature at the end of the experiment was much lower, at 16.6. This is another impressive and significant drop but as at present I am unsure of the location in the cellar in which the experiment took place so I therefore cannot rule out environmental factors, especially as parts of the cellar did have open chutes and grates to the outside.

Experiment in the Drawing room with five guests Time: 12.30 Equipment: night vision camera, Séance table, K2 meter and Voice recorder. Initially there were noises heard but they were not sure of their origin. Contact was made with a lady who worked here in 1737 for the Butcher family as a nanny. She apparently died in 1778 which is before the present house was built. The information from the table said that the previous house had been called Belle View. Her name was given as Connie; she was 46 and died in childbirth. The child was fathered by the then Master of the house. No further information was forthcoming so the experiment was terminated.


Experiment in the Caretakers bathroom with five guests Time 12.30 am Equipment: Thermal imager, laser grid, 2 K2 meters, digital thermometer, séance table Temp at start – 20.5 Darren, a local medium, had been here before on a previous investigation so he led the experiment. He initially became aware of a nurse by the name of Margaret or Mary who had served here in WW1. He then encouraged the group to form a circle to get the energy going. One member of the group then felt a breath on her face from the right- she felt that it was steady and consistent but could have been a draught. A small noise was then heard at the back of the room. After a few more moments they relocated to the larger living room in the apartment. Again forming a circle Darren felt that a small boy was present going by name of ‘Jacob’ and one of the group felt a touch on their side. At this point both K2s started to react – mine going right up the red three times. When Darren asked the boy to confirm if it was him making the lights go on mine reacted again in response. Using the board a series of questions was asked, and the answers are as follows. Can you spell your name? ‘Yes’

Darren and two guests in the dilapidated living room, in the Caretakers Flat.


How old are you? 9 Asked if his name was Jacob: ‘Yes’ – the glass started to spell out ‘J’, ‘A’… We then asked if he was playing games: ‘Yes’ Asked for the glass to be moved towards where he stood and the glass moved towards me. Did he like it here: ’Yes’ Did he see anyone else here? ‘No’ What year was it? ‘1867’ Can you make the light flash? ‘Yes’ - however the K2 did not light up at this moment. Did you die here? ‘Yes.’ There was then a noise at the back of the room. The glass then moved on the table to the seemingly random letters I A Y E X. When asked if he was playing the answer was yes. Then there was a quite noise that sounded eerily like a whine, heard by the entire group. It was then asked if there were any other spirits here – the response was ‘Yes’ – Darren wondered if these might be children as well, as they seemed to want to play. Did you have a dog or pets? ‘Yes’ We asked again how many spirits may be in the whole building and got the surprising response that there may be as many as 26 ghosts here. At this point I unfortunately had to leave the experiment but I gather that not too much more information came through – thought Darren was intrigued to have had a child come through that he had not encountered on previous visits to the House.

Experiment in the Ballroom Time with six guests Time : 01.28 Equipment: Night vision camera, K2 meter, séance table. Temp at start: 20.7 Again using the board it was ascertained that they were talking to a female going by the name of Sue – full name Susannah. Aged 62 she apparently died in 1826, under the reign of Queen Victoria. The letters then given were T, E, O, S, and Y. As this was happening the K2 was frequently indicating strong fields, up to the red light. At the end of the experiment one of the group went to pick up the torch and it was apparently opened – though no one had been near it during the time in the room. Also the


camera battery – which had been full at the start, drained quickly and failed. However the temperature at the end was unchanged.

Experiment in the servant’s rooms with 6 guests Time: 02.25 Equipment used: Night vision camera and K2 meter. No data or evidence obtained. The same went for the planning office, and the Cellar hallway. However when went into the Bench room – a figure was seen moving in front of the camera. Suddenly went dark and a squareish green light appeared on the other wall for a few seconds. Also a green light kept flashing behind the camera. Nil else of note occurred.

Experiment in the Ballroom with two team members Time: 02.30 Equipment: Thermal imager, digital camera, K2 meter. Kathy and I spent about half hour in the Ballroom and dining room – initially having to contend with the sound of rain outside.

Our medium Kathy Bavister sat in the Ballroom. The chairs were arranged for a wedding earlier that day. Investigating such a large space has its disadvantages, but the carpet helped stop any rebound noise.

There were several heat signatures showing on the Thermal imager but on closer examination of the walls they were found to be smoke detectors and warm pipes, so no


paranormal cause there. There were, during the course of our stay several slight noises in various locations around the room but nothing significant – most likely again environmental. However Kathy did at one point state that she thought she could hear whispering voices – and standing very still I did indeed catch the very faint serration of what appeared to be hushed voices but they very soon fell silent. On checking outside I was surprised to see that it had in fact at this point stopped raining – so eliminating that as a possible cause. There was no one in the adjoining rooms, and nothing unusual on any images caught on camera – so what caused the whispering noise?

Experiment in the Cellar with four guests Time: 03.30 Equipment: Thermal imager, digital thermometer, dowsing rods, Marbles, Temperature at start : 20.7 This area was one I was particularly interested in as there was an unusual optical effect caused by the structure of the room. This area consisted of an entrance hall and then two identical shelved passages that ran to the left of the corridor – one after the other, but the farthest one was of the most fascinating as when observed the individual concerned would walk down the second isle and about halfway along vanish into the gloom. {In the day when there were lights on in the main tunnel this would also happen – on the initial assessment I watched James who was wearing a light coloured T shirt walk down the aisle and vanish about ten foot from me. At the end of the alcove there was a brick wall – with stone shelves either side, and all were painted white. But still as I watched there was no sign of James or indeed anything – even though he was jumping up and down and waving his arms. He, however, was perfectly able to see me.} Kathy stood about half way down this alcove, just at the point where she was becoming ‘dim’ and proceeded to ask if there were any individuals present. During the next twenty minutes or so we appeared to establish contact with a gentleman called Henry – who had worked in this area and had been caught stealing. Kathy was holding the dowsing rods, asking for a crossing of them as a positive answer and a parting as a negative one. As she continued to question it seemed that the ‘individual’ that she was communicating with was becoming agitated – the dowsing rods became very unpredictable and she actually had to be quite firm with the presence she was communicating with. There were positive responses to questions of were you in charge of the wine area, were you caught stealing from here, were you punished, did you used to hide down here and a particularly motivated response to my question of do you know the name of ‘Butcher’, which I had been told previously was the name of the master of Belle Vue, the house that had stood here before it was converted to the big House that now stands here. (It is worth mentioning that the


cellars are thought to have originally been part of that structure, before being incorporated into Northwood House.)

The Alcove in the Cellar where, without extra light sources, people seemed to disappear. Kathy is using the Dowsing rods to indicate where the spirit is allegedly situated.

The rods were increasingly energetic and started to spin round – on occasion hitting Kathy in the shoulder and face if she did not react quickly enough. I had never seen rods do this before. She then asked if they could indicate where the individual was standing and both rods stopped spinning and pointed over her left shoulder towards the back of the alcove. All the time this had been going on I had been keeping an eye on the temperature, and it had been steadily decreasing until it reached 16.6. At this point I decided to gather my wits and go stand at the end of the aisle. I heard the startled exclamation of Kathy and the others as I appeared to vanish into the dark at the end of the tunnel – lighting my torch enabled them to get a reference point as to my whereabouts. As I stood at the end of the aisle – I turned my head towards the area where Kathy had indicated the individual had been standing. I was still looking towards the others assembled at the front of the aisle. As I did this one of the most startling experiences of my career as an amateur investigator happened – in the corner of my left eye at head height there was a blurred white oval – almost head shaped but I cannot be certain – I must admit I froze, turned my head away and then turned back again. It was still there. As I turned further however, to face it directly, it faded. I at this point must admit my nerves got the better of me and I walked very quickly back up the aisle – to which Kathy said but isn’t this why you are here? So I returned to the same spot, turned and faced the people at the mouth of the aisle and turned my head very slowly towards the shelf again. It was still there


– but as I fully turned it seemed to melt away and I could not repeat the experience again. It also seemed to get a little warmer.

One of the shelves in the alcove with our digital Thermometer and a K2 Meter in clear view. Unfortunately the K2 did not react at all during this experiment.

I returned to the front of the alcove and Kathy then walked half way down and threw a marble into the gloom asking it to be thrown back. We heard it roll to a stop, checked its whereabouts (at the end of the alcove nearly against the wall) and waited about 15 minutes – asking for any phenomena to make it known – and then Kathy went to retrieve the marble. We shone the torch on her as she walked down but about a third of the way I said to stop – as the marble was on the floor by her foot. It was about three foot nearer to us than Kathy had been when she threw the marble but none of us present had heard it move. Try though we might we were not able to repeat this. We ended the experiment at about 0420 – and the temperature had begun to rise again and was reading 17.3 when we left.

Experiment in the Cellar with six guests Time: 03.45 Temperature at start: 20.6 Equipment used: Night vision camera, Séance table, K2 meters, Franks box The first name that came up on the table was ‘Ken’ who lived but not worked here. He was here in WW1, a patient who died after the war in 1927. The letters ‘ESCUD’, were also given, and then ‘ESCSASO’, and when asked for a surname none was given. He was apparently injured in a work accident. Then the letters ‘HOSFSD’ were indicated. When asked where on the table the spirit was, the glass went to between two of our guests, Tom and Emma.


Asked if the name of the nurse could be spelled out, spelt ‘GUBRBS’ and then ‘EMMA’. It was indicated that the spirit does not like the state that the house is in. He also indicated that there are nine spirits in the house. Asked if it was true about Henry – indicated ‘YES’. Is Henry here now – again indicated ‘YES’ and that Henry was in between Amanda and Sam. Asked what Henry did – indicated ‘CLENE’ – clean? – ‘YES’. Did he do anything else? ‘DEAD’ - as in died here. Asked if could make it very cold – indicated yes, and also asked if the table could be moved – again yes. The name Gordon also came up. No further information was forthcoming however and the experiment was terminated, with temp at end being 21.

Experiment in the First Floor Servants Quarters with three guests Time: 04.45 Equipment: K2, digital camera At first the group stood in one of the rooms just past the left hand turn of the corridor – asked for a response, and stood quietly waiting for any indication of noises, touches or any other interaction, and then moved on to the room at the very end of the corridor before the blocked crumbling stairs. After spending about 20 minutes in each locale it was apparent that nothing was happening - unfortunately things seemed very flat and quiet and there was not even the sense of being watched. The group then slowly made its way back to the Library for the final debriefing, taking pictures as they went, but nothing of note was found on those either.


Other Observations There were other experiments that went on during the course of the event that were not as comprehensively reported, as well as our ongoing Trigger object experiment. Videos and pictures were taken, as well as images recorded from the Thermal Imager, and recordings made from Digital recorders, and these have to be analysed after the event. This section covers those items. At some point during the event there was another well recorded experiment, but there was no time included on the report sheet so I have included here. It initially took place in the Ballroom, using a séance table. Contact was first made was made with a girl, possibly aged 8 who did not know letters or numbers. The first letter of her name was indicated as B. Her father was called Albert, a footman and she was an only child. Lived under Queen Victoria when she came to house, and then the Welsh name Bronwyn was given. It then stated that she died here, had no siblings and that mother worked here as well and were called Annie. Annie died before her, and then the group said the glass moved very abruptly. A new contact came through, a male called Barry – one group member felt suddenly quite scared and the floorboards creaked when no one was moving around and the temperature did not deviate from 18.2 throughout the séance. The group then moved to the rotunda, and using the table again had the names Poppy, and Rolf or Ralph, come through, and then Barry appeared again. No further information was given after this.

Trigger Object The trigger objects were placed in a small room very near to the kitchen exit on the ground floor, an area that Kathy had noted as being full of the impression of business and bustling going on. During the course of the event it was broadcast on a screen in the rest area so people could have their breaks and watch – however – as normally was the case, the cross and the coins had not been interfered with at all during the course of the night. We live in hope.

EVP Recordings. EVP stands for electronic voice phenomena – an experiment where a recording is made of an experiment either as an ‘along side’ additional facet to a vigil or done as the experiment itself. Several experiments were done using recorders as well as other equipment, but there were no notable incidents of nose not made by those attending. Several times during the night the voice recorders were also left in empty rooms, in case they might pick up something that occurred when no one was in attendance.


The most interesting of these recordings was one done at about 05.30, towards the end of the investigation, in the Rotunda - the digital recorder was left on the mantelpiece of the fireplace until the debriefing had finished and we were gathering our equipment to pack away. At the start you can hear me saying the date, time and the venue, and then my footsteps retreating until the door closes and then they fade away as I walk to the Library. Though you can hear other voices and noises in the background, it is obvious that they are made by the Team and the guests as they gather for the last half hour of the night. And then, in the silence that follows, there is what distinctly sounds like someone quietly breathing. The sounds last for about three minutes, and then there are no more. It is not loud or fast – indeed it is as if the source of the noise is almost in hiding but when the gain is on full and the other noises dismissed you are left with what sounds like someone waiting quietly until we have gone. An emotional slant perhaps, and I can only interpret the noise as I hear it – others might say they heard only the wind or the central heating. And why would a spirit need to breath? Old habits die hard I say.

Thermal Camera. The thermal camera was in great demand during the course of the event – and in the old Caretakers flat an unusual image was caught. In a vigil there were four individuals stood close to each other, facing inwards in the form of a square, and once the vigil finished pictures were taken of the floor where we had stood. There are four very bright sets of footprints – heat signatures of where we had stood, but there are also a set of what appears to be very faint marks of what looks like another pair of feet.


Now as this picture was taken after we had finished and in darkness, I cannot guarantee that no one had moved from their original spot and stood where these marks are. However all involved said that they had not moved. The white box shows where the two brightest heat signatures are, which just happened to be mine and one of the guests. But above these, to the left of the picture, is what looks to be another faint signature. We had been stood for about twenty minutes to make the heat marks as strong as they were. You can see that the marks are not completely foot shaped, as we shuffled from foot to foot and shifted slightly during the course of the vigil. But we did not move from our original positions by much more than a few centimetres. There was no one else stood next to us, though there were two other guests in the room. One was sat behind us monitoring the other equipment, and the other was stood at the far side of the room, above and beyond the range of this photo.

Conclusion. Northwood House was one of the biggest venues we have ever investigated. There was no way that we could cover the entire house and cellars, and it is a given that we will return to continue our enquiries. Having said that – the event was both enlightening and surprising. The main physical phenomena that presented during the night included temperature drops, and then rises, audibles such as whispering, K2 responses to questions and unexplained spikes in readings, visuals such as flashes of light and on one occurrence, a dark shadow caught on a guest’s camera. There might also have been actual poltergeist involvement, though it cannot be 100% guaranteed that the marble did not quietly roll by itself across an even floor. Temperature variations, for me personally, are one of the biggest indicators of possible paranormal activity. Yes, you can influence the temperature in the room with heating or air conditioning, but neither of these were being employed that night. The average temperature outside was about 14’ Celsius and as it was officially summer the heating was not on throughout the building. Without a window being opened, or doors being left ajar, the temperature inside would drop slowly, not quickly, and if there are several people in a small room the likelihood is that the temperature will if anything rise slightly. Why would these phenomena occur if not being influenced by natural processes? Whispering was something that was heard on at least two occasions. Whispering can travel in empty rooms well – which is why most information on the subject of paranormal investigations advises that those attending should not whisper, but speak in low voices. Anyone who has been on an investigation with me knows that I am always telling people to speak quietly (or alternatively to stop talking at all!) So though we cannot rule out the possibility that the noise being heard had not travelled from elsewhere in the building, it is


interesting that it was observed by at least two different groups in different areas of the building. The K2 meter is a piece of equipment, that whilst its use as a tool alone is both easy and popular, is much better taken in conjunction with other tools. Its responses both in the Caretaker’s flat and in other areas were frankly amazing when asked to ‘light up’ on demand, but as an indicator of paranormal activity can only be of note when we are sure that there is nothing in the surrounding area that may cause a positive response – such as mobile phones and other electronic equipment such as Wi-Fi routers, timing mechanisms etc. However the responses in the flat are that much more interesting as no one had a phone on them, and there is no electrical supply to the flat. So what caused them to light up? Flashes of light cannot on their own be taken as proof of paranormal activity – headlights bouncing off nearby windows, torchlight, even reflections of the night vision camera screens can cause unusual flashes when not being used with care – and even then accidental light spillage can occur. In response to asked questions they are of note, but otherwise unfortunately cannot be cited as possibly paranormal in origin. The dark shadow caught on a guest’s camera’s footage is something I have not yet seen – but again the source of the shadow is always in doubt. I do not mean to detract from the validity of the occurrence, but rather say that I need to see the footage, and recreate the circumstances in which it occurred to be able to determine whether it is possibly paranormal. But for the individual who caught the footage, it must have been an amazing moment, and I for one would loved to been there at that moment. The apparent ‘breathing’ on the recording could not be rationalised by noise caused by the heating, as that was off, and though I had spent time in the Rotunda during the initial assessment, I could not remember any outside noise that might have caused this – in the day time or at night. Though I have to admit the weather was not ideal on the night of the investigation, and there was some wind as well as the rain – this had eased towards the morning, and in no way could any of the gusts of wind be described as regular. This gentle sound is, as far as I can tell, unexplainable. The incident that I witnessed in the cellar however has me really intrigued. The whole hour or so that we spent down there – myself, Kathy, Chris and Pete – was one of the most interesting that I have spent in four years of investigation. For me it was the whole combination of happenings – the temperature drop, the apparent violent response from the dowsing rods (Kathy looked as in she was doing a weird sort of dance as she kept having to quickly move her head out of the way of the ends of the rods as they spun round), the strange oval shape that seemed to appear to my left and the movement of the marble – from what I could tell about thirteen feet, without a sound or movement visible. The whole experience seems somewhat surreal now – but at the time there was a ‘heavy’, tense atmosphere, probably a purely emotional response on my part to a decidedly damp,


confined area in which to be working – but it was obvious to me that the others there were also feeling uncomfortable. Kathy was calm at the time but afterwards expressed the fact that she had been concerned by the presence she felt was there – an individual who was not pleased with our being there and would have preferred to be left alone. In conclusion, our time at Northwood House was well spent. The night sped past with so much happening – as locations go it gave a large variety of phenomena to try and explain – and we did not by any means cover the whole building thoroughly. There were just too many unexplained occurrences to be able to attribute them all as being environmental in origin. We left in the morning with more questions left to ask than we had had answered. Northwood House is an enigmatic monument to a lost age – a time when opulence and excess were looked at as being the province of Royalty, and the one who built and furnished the great house certainly seemed to believe that he was as good as any other Lord or Prince of the land, and that his fortune was his to squander – possibly to the dismay of his family. However with the House never actually being lived in by the Ward family, its grandeur seems to have been all show – a magnificent building that never fulfilled its promise. Never completed and its records lost – the echoes of its past are now all that we have to give us a glimpse of its chequered history. One thing is certain – there is something happening here – when the doors are closed and the lights are off – something or someone from its glorious past is not quite ready to give up on the glory days. Watch this space.

Northwood Manor Report  

A report of our findings from our paranormal investigation of Northwood Manor House. Isle of Wight.

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