Investigation Report: Lulworth Castle May 2015
Over the past week I have been running an investigation into reported sightings of a ‘Grey Lady’ apparition at the Dorset seat of the Weld family. I would like to thank the Historic Houses Association (HHA) for their patience, permission and support.
The history of the family seat of the Weld family is intriguing. The castle was built as a status symbol and not as a defensive structure. Its design is very traditional, being a square fort with four buttressed towers on each corner. It has four floors, although the original structure now stands gutted and has been rebuilt following a catastrophic fire that burned for 3 days in 1929. The castle, in the 1970’s, was rebuilt and is now open to the public. Only approximately 60% of the original structure remains intact, the rest has been added during the renovation.
Sighting: During the first day of the fire, one of the farm hands who was involved in attempting to fight the inferno saw a lady at one of the upper floor windows, he immediately and bravely entered the building with a ladder in order to rescue the damsel in distress. When he arrived under the window where he saw the lady he was unable to rescue the lady as the floor had, sometime previously, already collapse. There was no possible way anyone could have been at that window! There was no bodies found in the ashes of the fire and no reported missing people. This unexplained event is just one of the sightings that date back to the 16th century, since the castle was built.
Other sightings and strange events: it has been reported of a physical manifestation of spectral activity keeps reappearing. In the Nursery, or what was once a nursery, on the wall kept appearing a luminescence spot. No matter how well the wall was cleaned, plastered, painted or even after the cleansing effects of the fire, the spot kept reappearing and would precede a sighting of the ‘Grey Lady’. Much like many reported sightings of a spectral female associated with estates or families, the ‘Grey Lady’ appears to herald a calamitous event for the family, normally the demise of the head of the family, much like the Irish stories of the wailing banshee. But in the case of Lulworth Castle, its appearance foretold 3 events that ultimately led to the fire of 1929. The Christmas of 1928 saw a virulent and ravaging virus that claimed the life of the lady of the house. Following this a contested will saw the master loose all his contents from the castle and then the fire. It was 8 months of disaster for the Weld family and as a result draws into question how the fire began. It begs the question, ‘Was this Arson?’
For the purposes of this investigation I have focused my efforts in the north of the building, in what was the great hall and under what was the main living quarters, where the sighting of the lady in the fire was and the probable location of the nursery. I used a mix of Temperature monitoring, EMF detector, EVP recorders, UV observations, Motion sensors, 35mm camera’s, control objects and finally the use of a medium.
My investigations are mostly undertaken solely by myself. This is because I do not trust that the interference of more individuals will only skew the findings and ruin impartiality. I realise that this may go against many other investigators that like a large crowd of people. But lets be honest, the more people the greater the risk of false readings. I have found on investigations in the past that a group of people tend to invent tension and heightened alert to the spectral as they want to believe, they generally want to find ghosts and as a result hold on to the merest glimmer of paranormal activity and explode in hysteria. I tried this method and nothing was discovered of relevance.
Night 1, was unremarkable. I recorded no variation in temperature, no abnormal readings on the EMF spectrum and recorded no EVP activity. There was no visual signs of a presence and no effect on control objects.
Many investigations also only attend a site for one night. I will be honest I have never understood this attitude. How can a balanced and thorough investigation be done in one night? If they find nothing, does that mean nothing is to be found? Do the residual spirits inhabit a location constantly? In my experience, No, it is usually an intermittent phenomenon and requires time to observe. I work on the mantra of, ‘Absence of Evidence is not evidence of absence.’
As before, no remarkable findings.
It is my belief that the intrusion of myself for a third night began to unsettle the residual energies. My first indication was a physical chill. I felt cold and it was localised in a single area by the central wall underneath the nursery. I felt the chill, it ran through my body chilling every part of me. I have never in my investigations felt a cold like it and it was localised, two metres in any direction and the temperature returned to normal. I set up the equipment in this spot. The temperature variance was 5 degree’s Celsius. This was encouraging. My first action was to powder the floor and table. The application of talcum powder is an antiquated procedure but effective. I then placed on the table the thermometer, an EMF detector and EVP recorder. Finally 2 control objects. Firstly a feather in a low vase stood upright and secondly a coin. I marked their locations in order to track any movement. I waited!
At periods of 30 minutes I would scan the area with the UV light. Nothing apparent.
The temperature remained at a constant 5 degrees below the rest of the room. The powder remained undisturbed the feather immobile. There was no draft that would explain such a localised temperature variance.
All control objects remained stationary.
As the sun rose the next morning so did the temperature. No other equipment picked up any abnormal readings. I was encouraged by this, it felt like a presence was definitely within the castle and that it was restless.
Buoyed by the gathering evidence of the previous evening I began the evenings investigation with renewed vigour. I set up the equipment exactly like the night before. My excitement was short lived. After 4 hours of monitoring the site yielded no results. Undeterred I began to explore. I soon located a cold spot at the opposite side of the room. It was below a window which concerned me as naturally one would expect the windows to be vulnerable to the cold as most castles have drafts. This is a unique castle. The windows are newly fitted UPVC and drafts are at a minimum. I set up a second set of kit on a table by the window. I have a policy that once I have set up an area of interest I will not move it, for that skews the investigation. The results will not be comparable if the equipment is constantly moved. I always carry enough spare kit to set up if needed.
It was in the early hours of the morning that events became interesting. The temperature in the window location began to fluctuate. As did the temperature at the central wall, the temperature dropped in both locations. What was more interesting was that under UV light the appearance of a photosensitive spot appeared above a fireplace in what I believe to be the nursery. It was pale but distinct, I couldn’t measure the spot as it was 40 feet in the air. It appeared oval, if I was to hazard a guess I would say that the shape resembled the outline of a portrait or wall mirror.
I felt a tingle. My skin began to crawl. And before you say it, it is not me being a bit over dramatic, there was an increased reading of static electricity in the room. The EMF scanners recorded a marked increase in electrical activity that lasted for 3 minutes.
The luminescence oval was now visible to the naked eye.
Over the next two hours I recorded 12 increases in readings of static charge at both locations, they were never at the same time. Once the charge dissipated by the window the charge increased by the wall. This indicated a roaming entity. It went from one side of the room to the other. Each event would only last for 3 minutes maximum. Then levels returned to their previous levels.
Coupled with the increase in electrical activity I recorded increased static on the EVP recorders. I have listened to them over and over again. I have listened to them at various volumes and I have been unable to discern any voices. The static crackle just gets louder at the same time of the increased atmospheric charge.
I am now convinced that there is an entity here. A haunting if you will, but definitely paranormal activity. It is at this point that I ask a medium to join me for the final evening.
This was the final night of the investigation. I was satisfied that I gathered enough evidence to declare the castle as a ‘Site of Paranormal Interest and Activity’ (SPIA). Following the evidence gathered I deemed it necessary to invite a medium to the site. I invited Constance Light, a very old and trusted friend of mine who has some rare gifts. She has never let me down in the past.
The investigation takes a different approach with a medium on site. I forego the usual accoutrements like EVP and EMF, and only have control objects. I have the addition of a digital camcorder to record the events as they happen. I also have interview questions for the medium in case she can make contact.
Constance immediately felt unsettled as she entered the castle. She immediately felt that there was a presence and that it meant no harm to us.
I did not led her to where I suspected the activity to be located, as part of the investigation and my constant questioning of mediums ability, I let her lead me. She had no hesitation to lead me to the spot. She started by the window where I first recorded the EMF readings. No hesitation she indicated that that was a hotspot. I try to remain emotionless when she is identifying locations of interest as I do not want to influence her findings. Constance identified the second area I recorded readings, without hesitation.
This was good news!
I then followed my own protocols when dealing with confirmed medium contact. I asked Constance if she could sense a single presence, she said Yes. I asked her if she could attempt contact and she agreed.
Constance sat in the middle of the room, equidistant between the window and the fireplace. She entered what she calls a trance. It is more like a meditative state, she is aware of me and aware of any spirits. A foot, as it were, in two worlds. I can talk to her, ask questions and she will respond.
For 2 hours she sat with no contact, she could still sense the presence but she was not able to make contact. After 3 hours she said this to me, and I shall report what she says verbatim:
“The spirit dwelling here is an old soul. She has remained here for many hundreds of years. She has nothing to do with the events of the castle. She repeats her visits every night and day. She wonders through the castle and has done since it was built. She is not the spirit you are seeking”
This was obviously a blow. I was hoping that this was the manifestation that had been seen in the window. But Constance believes it to be another soul.
The castle is obviously an area of interest and although the evidence does not support the reported sighting of a woman in the fire that destroyed the building, there is evidence of a presence. As with so many old houses and castles, history always has a say. No matter what there will be some form of residual activity. I am just surprised that there was just one that I detected.
Paranormal investigation or ghost hunting is really hit and miss. Some reported sightings are based on an anniversary instead of a location, some are malevolent and foretell of impending doom. Some reported sightings are marketing gimmicks and are purely invented. As are some of the stories, sometimes its easier to blame a departed soul instead of face the grim reality.
As long as we question the sightings, question the stories then one day the truth will be revealed. I am busy planning my next investigation, conducting research and hope to begin investigating by Wednesday next week. My future investigations will be varied and wont be just ghosts or hauntings. I am also going to be looking for spectral beasts, vampires, werewolves amongst others!
Keep you posted!