A hair-raising night with ghost hunters in Valentines Mansion
The question of whether ghosts exist is one which more or less divides us into two camps – the believer or the sceptic.
Despite not being completely closed to the idea, I have always been firmly with the cynics, focusing on hoaxes like the photographs which supposedly have a ghostly figure or orb in them, which turn out to be a reflection of light.
Therefore, I was the perfect candidate to join “believers” at a paranormal investigation at Valentine’s Mansion in Emerson Road, Ilford, on Saturday to see if my mind could be changed.
The evening, led by P.I.G.S. (the Paranormal Intelligence Gathering Service), kicked off at 8pm, with participants, who had all paid £44 for the night of ghost-hunting, divided into three teams.
After being treated to a demonstration of her work by medium Debbie Dean, my group of eight and our two team leaders headed off to the Victorian kitchen.
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Nothing untoward was felt here, but a few individuals said they sensed something awful had happened in a nearby room.
After attempting to use a pendulum and dowsing rods, which sway to answer questions, I undertook “table tipping”, where you place your fingertips on the surface and ask spirits to move it.
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Through this process, my team-mates decided there was a boy ghost, two girls and possibly an adult, who they sensed was an unpleasant character.
As the experiment was not yielding results, with the furniture only rocking a few times, we placed a glass down and put our fingers on there instead. The reaction was instant, with the item moving rapidly across the table. I didn’t check around it, but was fairly confident no one was moving it themselves.
After a Oujia board sesion, it was time for a seance with Debbie, for which we sat around a table and joined hands.
The practice, where people ask spirits to come forward so they can communicate with them, became popular in Victorian England.
P.I.G.S. staff member Lauren said she could feel someone pulling at her hair and some team-mates saw a mist around the door.
I didn’t see any strange occurences myself, but did feel a cold chill on my legs.
We ventured to the attic rooms at 12.50am, where artists who use them have heard footsteps, but have seen nobody there when they turned around.
The left one felt warm and inviting at first but turned cold, with participant Paul Holloway commenting that he had a pressure around his throat and sensed the “unlikeable man” from the kitchen.
Our photographer Ellie Hoskins said she felt a hand touching her face and playing with her hair before a pressure bore down on her chest, as if someone was pinning her down.
Again, I didn’t experience anything untoward myself, but did hear a knock and clicking when we sat in the corridor.
Our last room, an old library we entered at 2.05am, saw us take part in automatic writing.
Placing our hands on a wooden object with a pen attached, we asked spirits to move it on the paper.
Like the glass earlier, the object moved swiftly, first drawing flowers before answering questions.
A harrowing story emerged about a 13-year-old girl, killed by the head of servants for becoming pregnant with his child.
The man, thought to be the “bad man” sensed in other rooms, attacked and killed other girls and women.
Every team came back with the conclusion that, without being led on, some form of child abuse had happened in the house.
But did the evening turn me into a believer?
Well it was certainly memorable and entertaining and the experiments and their results were more intriguing than I imagined.
Having not felt or seen any ghosts myself, I can’t say I have fully switched camps, but my eyes have been opened to the possibility.