Monday, 1 August 2011

Edited Version of Main Website Update for November 2009.

'Welcome Re-Visit'

On August the 7th, group members paid yet another visit to one of our favourite sites of recent times - namely, 'Richards Mansion', in the heart of the Midlands. As our more regular visitors will no doubt know, the property concerned has been the focus of numerous W.M.G.C. investigations over the past few years.

An added bonus for this most recent visit was the fact that a young lady had recently contacted us with details of a peculiar incident in the general locality. She informed us that she had been travelling down a particular lane, only a stones throw from Richards Mansion, when she had seen a 'monk-like figure' with a 'glowing face', standing at the side of the road. She said that a few other people known to her had also reported seeing such a figure too, including passing taxi drivers. The road in question is notorious for traffic accidents, despite being a completely straight stretch of road. It is said that a number of people who had crashed in the area had spoken of a 'figure' stepping out in front of their vehicle, prior to their accident.

Our informant made the comment that, despite the fact that monks are supposed to be 'holy people', both she and her partner sensed a presence of evil during their encounter! While Richards Mansion isn't mentioned in the account concerned, the lane in question lies very close to the building and the figure mentioned - or something almost identical - does tie in with the ghostlore surrounding the site. However, the monk associated with 'Richards Mansion' itself is always said to be a most benevolent soul.....

While the road remained quiet during our visit, two group members - Marianne and Deborah - reported a strange experience in the churchyard that adjoins the mansion grounds. While situated on the lawn on the Northern side of the church - in position shown in pic above - they clearly heard a brief sequence of, what seemed to be, some 3 or 4 steps on the wet grass at a point close to their rear. The event had stopped them both in their tracks - they having initially considered that another of the group members were running up behind them. Needless to say, there was no one else present when they checked!?.....

'I'm a Footballer - Get Me Out Of Here!!!'

It's true to say that, sometimes, the most ridiculous stories and events can merit close media attention... especially when a celebrity is concerned!!

In mid to late August, the W.M.G.C. were called upon by a handful of media related sources for input concerning the alleged haunting associated with the luxurious New Hall Hotel in Sutton Coldfield. The underlying story behind this interest apparently concerned Aston Villa striker, Fabian Delph, asking to be removed from his rooms at the aforementioned hotel after colleagues joked with him over the sites supposed 'haunted' reputation! The 'Sunday Express' newspaper reported on the matter thus:

'HOW A SCARED PLAYER GHOSTED PAST DEFENDERS AND HOTEL STAFF TO ESCAPE TOMB SERVICE'

Sunday August 23, 2009

Premier League hot shot Fabian Delph has been left quaking in his boots by ghost stories. Aston Villa's teenage star made a hurried departure from his temporary digs in a former manor house last weekend after team mates told him it was haunted. The 19-year-old was supposed to stay at the New Hall Hotel in Sutton Coldfield, a few miles from the club's training ground, but refused to spend a night there after hearing about its phantom guests.

To avoid any brushes with the paranormal he has switched to a modern hotel in the centre of Birmingham. Villa skipper Stiliyan Petrov revealed: "Like most of us, he finds that kind of thing a bit disturbing so it didn't help when he was booked into the New Hall Hotel to be told by some of the lads that the place is haunted. He went along but couldn't bear the thought of spending a night there, so he asked to be moved."

Delph's fright-fest came as he arrived at the Midlands club after transferring from Leeds United.

New Hall was built 800 years ago and has been run as a hotel since 1988. Guests and staff have reported several bone-chilling encounters. The most commonly seen spook is the white lady who has been blamed for unexplained loud bangs. Other restless spirits include the former owner George Sacheverell, who was suspected of practising black magic and devil worship, a cavalier who appears in the kitchen courtyard and a mysterious lady in dark clothing always accompanied by a spectral hound.

The most gruesome tale concerns a man executed by the Duke of Cumberland in 1785 whose severed head apparently floats across the estate looking for his body. A hotel worker said: "There are a number of ghost stories but perhaps the best known is the one about the white lady. She was a former maid from the days who apparently haunts the corridors. Having said that, we have had a number of famous names, including footballers, who have stayed here and slept soundly."

John Conway of the West Midlands Ghost Club said: "One of the most interesting stories concerns guests at a dinner party who were startled by crashes and bangs from one of the rooms. Expecting to find someone trashing the place, they dashed to the room only to find it untouched.

Over the years, Pavarotti, Robbie Williams and Kylie Minogue have all stayed without any problems so I have no idea why Fabian Delph couldn't handle at least one night."

An Aston Villa spokeswoman said: "A few of the lads probably wanted to welcome Fabian into the team by ribbing him about the ghosts. He feels settled at his hotel so we hope he'll continue to show plenty of spirit on the pitch."

Of some note to the above mentioned case is the fact that the group has subsequently received a document from an interested party - alerted to our passing association with the site by a local, related article - seemingly outlining details of individual 'ghosts' at the property, gleaned, it is claimed, from 'conversations' with the 'spirits' themselves!?!... Hmmmm???

Hot on the trail of any such stories these days - certainly a most unwelcome sign of the times - we are horrified to hear that a commercial ghost hunting concern is now conducting paid events at New Hall Hotel! With regards to the former status of the site as possibly the most luxurious example of such a property in the West Midlands..... how the mighty have fallen, eh?

'Shropshire Investigations'

On two separate dates within recent months - June 26th and Sept. 12th - W.M.G.C. members conducted investigations at Shrewsbury Library in Shropshire. The events concerned were secured and organised by John Conway.

Historically speaking, the building itself began life as Shrewsbury School, which was housed here from 1550 to 1882. The building was subsequently given to the borough and a public library and museum opened. The oldest part of the library building - 'Riggs Hall' - dates from around 1450 and once served as the Headmasters House...

Needless to say, by far the most famous pupil to grace the school with his presence was none other than the eminent, Charles Darwin, whose impressive statue sits in the gardens at the front of the property.

With regards to the sites more 'ghostly' heritage, the library is said to have been the focus of a number of preternatural experiences. A number of years ago, an archaeologist was working in Riggs Hall late one night and - while looking into a particular excavation trench - kept hearing someone making a 'psst' noise in his ear, as if trying to get his attention. Whenever he looked to see who it was, there was no one there.

The same gentleman slept a few nights at the building and, one evening, heard someone trying to open the padlock that secured the door of his room. He quickly hatched a plan to climb out of the window, in an endeavour to catch the suspected 'burglar'. Having carried out this energetic feat, it was discovered that - while the outer doors to the property were found to be still locked and bolted - the padlock to his room had actually been 'opened'!!! This was apparently more than enough for the poor chap and he shot off back home to Birmingham.... and reports having had the best night's sleep in ages!! Laugh!!

The W.M.G.C. were also told of the figure of a woman - in period costume - being seen walking through the stacks area of the building. A similar form was witnessed both in the old school library and in the basement section of the property by staff members. Also, the figure of a young boy has allegedly been spotted on a small staircase leading up to the clock tower room. The ghost of an old gentleman has also supposedly been seen sitting in a chair in the former Headmasters House....

During our investigation of June 26th, three group members were in the music library when they heard a peculiar 'twang' noise. No one present could account for the sound heard, which was very similar to the 'boing' noise made when someone vibrates a spring, door stop. It was only when one of the group members mentioned having made a similar noise with a ruler on the edge of a desk while still at school that they realised that they were in a part of the building that served as a former classroom....?! Could this have possibly had some bearing on the noise heard, perhaps?

Following this first investigation at the site, group member Steve Chew discovered a section of footage on one of his video recordings which appears to contain the sound of a female voice, when only two male investigators were present at the time!? Nothing untoward was heard by the investigators during this same period, however.

This piece of film caught the attention of the Shropshire press following it's discovery and it's inclusion on our online photo album has resulted in thousands of visits at the time of writing!! The video snippet itself can still be accessed via our album and a slightly enhanced version of the recording heard on the W.M.G.C. Juke-Box, on our web site.

On the weight of the aforementioned events, a second visit to the site was soon arranged.

On the evening in question, a vigil was carried out at 9.52 pm. During this period, the overall group split into 4 separate teams and covered the music library, the old school library, the offices above Riggs Hall and the basement level. At approximately 9.56 - 57 pm, a very loud, metallic sound and a noise akin to a door being slammed shut were heard by the groups stationed in the music library and old school room.

Those in the music library indicated that the sounds had seemingly originated somewhere down a large stairwell at the centre of the room, which runs the depth of the building. (No one inside the building that night were anywhere near the area specified). Immediate investigation revealed nothing of interest and neither of the two other groups had heard anything during the period outlined.

Luckily, digital sound recording equipment was running in the stacks section of the site - downstairs - at the time, which caught the sounds concerned. Samples of the noises can be heard at the Juke-Box link given above...

All in all, Shrewsbury Library has turned out to be one of the most intriguing - and possibly 'productive' - investigation sites ever visited by the W.M.G.C. Our most sincere thanks go out to Kathy Berry for so kindly putting up with our presence and donating her time to our escapades! Also, a big thank you to all of the staff members and associated friends who were our keen companions on the investigations concerned.

'Walsall Investigation'.

On October the 23rd, group members conducted an investigation at the Jabez Cliff Leather Factory, on the edge of Walsall town centre. The W.M.G.C. first learned of the alleged haunting at this site in 2004, when owner Cliff Kirby-Tibbetts made contact and related some of the sites fascinating, 'ghostly' history to us. Subsequently, we have kept in touch with Cliff sporadically - our continued interest culminating in this recent visit.

It has to be stressed that this most impressive and imposing factory building has clearly been attracting the interest of research organisations of late, our investigation falling only a week after a visit by a friend, Mark Cave, and the Midlands Paranormal Investigations team. Our long standing associates at the Black Country Paranormal Society have also organised an investigation for the near future too.

With regards to the ghostly history of the site, it allegedly boasts a long standing, paranormal heritage. This includes sightings of different apparitions, poltergeist activity - i.e. the movement of objects and auditory phenomenon, such as footsteps passing across empty rooms, etc - and even 'physical assault' on at least 3 separate visitors. One gentleman - known for his size and no-nonsense attitude - was startled to find himself being pushed over by a seemingly invisible hand, while walking up a staircase in the factory on a recent visit!

Cliff himself has previously arranged a number of investigations at the site over the past few years and visiting psychics and sensitives are said to have been both impressed - and disturbed - by different aspects of the factory.

With regards to the W.M.G.C. visit to the site, it has to be said that only one event is worthy of note. In an area of the factory infamous for having a somewhat detrimental effect on electrical equipment, group members found that a freshly charged video camera battery was suddenly - and surprisingly - bereft of power.... While there could be a rational / technical explanation for such an event, a second camera (locked off and running during this same period) was found to have been inexplicably 'switched off' 43 minutes and 34 seconds into the recording!? It was also noted that the battery of the camera concerned had less charge left in it for the duration of recording made.

W.M.G.C. members would like to thank Mr. Kirby-Tibbetts for allowing us access to his superb factory complex. Also, 'cheers' to Barry and Tom for looking after us on the night in question!

'Investigation And Bookish Pursuits!'

Halloween night saw W.M.G.C. members conducting an investigation of 'The Book Farm' at Astley in Warwickshire. The visit was, once again, arranged by John Conway.

Nowhere near as surreal as it might first sound, the Book Farm is just what it implies on the tin..... a farm that sells books!! Situated on the Arbury Estate - the birth place of the Victorian novelist, George Eliot - this most unique and picturesque shop is housed in a range of old farm buildings and boasts a stock of 75,000 used, rare and out of print books!!!

Needless to mention - the reason for our visit to the area - the site is also rumoured to be haunted by three different ghosts!!!!

As usual with a great many W.M.G.C. investigations, our time in Astley passed without event. A number of recordings - both sound and video - were made during the night, but the resulting footage is still being checked through at the time of writing.

Group members would just like to say a big thank you to Book Farm owners Sarah and Vivienne for allowing us to visit their most charming shop!! Your trust in the group is much appreciated indeed!

'In The Media'.

As usual, a number of W.M.G.C. events have recently caught the attention of the media.

*The group Blog was mentioned in articles by the Walsall Advertiser and Sutton Coldfield Observer on August the 20th and 21st.

*Matters pertaining to Fabien Delph and New Hall Hotel were mentioned in the Sunday Express (Aug. 23rd) and Sutton News (See pic below - front page headlines - Aug. 28th). A group member was interviewed on the Radio W.M. Paul Franks Show on August 24th about the subject.

*On Sept. 9th, the Halesowen News ran an article regarding our interest in a potential 'phantom jaywalker' case in Romsley.

*Our involvement with Shrewsbury Library was covered in editions of the Shropshire Star (Sept. 17th) and Shrewsbury Chronicle (July 3rd).

*On September the 28th and 30th, a group member appeared on Beacon Radio and the Radio W.M. Danny Kelly Show to speak about the (so-called) 'Cannock Chase Werewolf'. The B.B.C. online website also mentions the group in a feature on the same subject. See piece HERE.

Our mate Brett Birks - author of the abovementioned article - also recently ran a piece on the B.B.C. website regarding our views on the usage of psychics and mediums in investigative situations.

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