Saturday, 18 April 2009

'Manor House' Experiences...



I was having a chat (over a cuppa) with a researcher friend the other night and conversation turned to that rarest of topics: 'instances of potential paranormal activity during investigations'. Inevitably, under such circumstances, the subject of the Manor House in Stone Cross, West Bromwich came up - both of our groups having visited the site numerous times - and, at some length, we began recounting all of the 'experiences' that we had listed for the property.

My friends group - the Black Country Paranormal Society - had begun investigating the Manor House in 2002, while our own club first visited in 2004. Over the subsequent 4 years, the W.M.G.C. paid in excess of 15 more visits to the site and, during one period, carrying out some 12 investigations there in the space of as many months. With regards to potential 'results' during investigations, it has to be stressed that this site far exceeds anything else that we have experienced by far....

Very few people interested in the paranormal these days need any introduction to the Manor House. Thanks to the likes of (shudder!!) 'Most Haunted' the site is now a nationally recognised property of some considerable paranormal repute. (It's just a pity it takes such utter drivel to bring these matters to the fore, really!)

Historically speaking however, the site itself was originally built in the late 13th Century and had been very much presumed 'lost' until being duly 'rediscovered' again during the process of slum clearance in the 1950's. After a remarkable renovation, the property was opened as a public house during the 60's and remained a fairly popular watering hole until the recent recession. Sadly, at the time of writing, the Manor House now stands empty and abandoned and it's future is a matter of some speculation.......

As a result of this recent conversation, I have decided to list some of the more interesting incidents that group members have reported during the course of our visits. I thought that - for wont of a better starting point - I might begin with visual encounters, i.e. potential apparitions, etc.

Our first visit to the property was on May the 31st 2004. During a vigil at 3.50 am in the function room of the site, group member, Steve Chew, suddenly informs the group that he had just seen a tall, thin figure travel - (from his) left to right - past a pair of glass doors directly opposite to where he is sitting.

He described the form as wearing a long cowl or dress, down to feet level - folds of some form of cloth visible - and being a drab, light grey in colour. It appeared to be stooping forward, as if walking against a strong wind, and he had the impression that it had it's hands held in front of it's stomach area, much like when you see monks with their hands 'tucked' into their sleeves. It's movement was described as gliding, with no discernible leg movements. He saw the shape of a head, but wasn't sure whether it was hooded or not.

The fact that Steve mentions that the figure was 'moving fast' when he saw it is of considerable interest, as, just to the right of the glass doors, is a groin high fence and - beyond that - an immediate drop into the moat! Had this figure been a solid person travelling at that speed and in that direction, they would literally be a second or so away from 'flipping' the rail into the murky waters beyond......

On Tuesday the 6th of August 2004, a further investigation was held at the site. At 1.56 am, all of the group members present had entered the panelled room (upstairs section to the function room) for the purpose of a vigil. Darren Simpson had been travelling some distance behind the rest of the group during the move, due to the fact that he had to first retrieve a notebook from the great hall area.

As he entered the doorway to the function room - endeavouring to switch off his torch in the process - he looked up to see a dark, short, shadow-like figure moving left to right in front of him. (He describes it as being a silhouette of someone from the side. Features to the figure were clearly visible). He says that the form was already moving when he saw it, travelling in the direction of the steps leading to the lower function room area. The figure had gone - walked - out of Darrens site behind the wall of the stairwell leading up to 1st floor. Darren thought that a group member had possibly been in the process of exploring the area prior to the beginning of the vigil and called up to the panelled room to check. All of the members were upstairs at the time. He subsequently checked the upper and lower levels of the function room, but there was no one else on site.......

During an investigation on Halloween 2006, the group were taking a break in the great hall (at 5.15 to 5.20 am) and one of the members were busying themselves in collecting used coffee cups from the tables. Frazer Smith was standing in the bar area of the hall and reports having seen a small, child-like figure - some 3.5 to 4 feet high - following the group member, at some speed, down the length of the hall. He sketched what he had seen and revealed a triangular shape, as of a long dress, with a corset-like motif / pattern above it. (Not exactly laced like a corset, but ribbed). He said that he could make out hair on the figure and likened it to the daughters of another group member. Needless to say, the member being followed was oblivious to the entire event, or cleaning up the coffe cups might have been momentarily forgotten, under the circumstances!!

What is of passing interest about the sightings reported by Steve and Darren in particular is the simple fact that - comparably, dealing with the original layout of the property - 'both' occured 'outside' of the confines of the modern / current building!

In Steves case, this fact is obvious, of course. Looking at old, pre-renovation photographs of the property, a door is clearly visible in the angle of the walls created by the passage to the function room and the function room itself. Prior to the moat being excavated, it isn't too much of a stretch of the imagination to assume that a path of some description would have run away from the doorway in the direction that Steve saw the figure travelling(?) Certainly food for thought....

However, in Darrens case, the wall, behind which the figure had left his sight, was originally the 'outside' wall of the property. The section of function room where the figure was seen walking was an extension, added to the building during the 60's / early 70's and the ground concerned was originally part of the gardens to the property....... Again, given access from the nearby (old) doorway, is it presuming too much to see a path leading round to the rear of the property, just in the position where Darrens figure was seen walking?

While it means nothing at all, of course, it seems a little intriguing to consider that two of the ghosts experienced at such an allegedly haunted building would seem to have (technically) appeared 'outside' the property!! Laugh!! Flippancy aside, there are a number of stories attached to the area that speak of a monk-like figure being seen on the huge expanse of lawn to the side of the building itself...... Interestingly, group members only learned of such stories well after the date of Steves experience......

More to follow at a later date.....

Regards to all,

Enderfay

The West Mids Ghost Club

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