Thursday, 21 May 2009

Haunted Darlaston Chapel.... or potential Time Slip?

Details of ‘peculiar happenings’ at a particular Darlaston chapel was brought to the attention of the West Midlands Ghost Club, via their online, internet forum. The tale concerned struck us as so intriguing, one of our members wrote the piece up for inclusion on the Bugle newspaper. An edited version of the story appears below:

Sadly, the building involved in this story is long gone and a number of relatively modern buildings now stand in its place. As a matter of interest, alleged ghostly activity has been reported in some of the properties adjoining the site concerned; though, it has to be speculated that the actual ‘mechanics’ of the following tale may well fall into a different paranormal category to that of ‘spooks and spirits’? The more analytical and probing mind might possibly suggest an event somewhere along the lines of a time-slip style scenario….?

Whatever the foundations for such an intriguing encounter, its principal witness has kindly given me permission to share his story with you here.

To briefly set the scene, our confidante – John - tells us that he and some young friends formed a band in the late 1960’s and, being too loud to continue practicing in the front room of his family home, alternative arrangements were duly sought! After some, considerable searching, the friends stumbled upon an old chapel, which – despite being in a bad state of repair – hired out rooms very cheaply……

After rehearsing at the site for a few weeks, the group officially hired the room which meant that they were given keys to the building and allowed unrestricted access until around 8 p.m., when the building had to be cleared for the night.

It had been wintertime – John doesn’t remember the month exactly - but it was very cold and already dark by 8 o’clock. Johns band had been the only people in the building on the evening in question and, as their rehearsal had gone well, the other group members had already gone home, leaving John and their ‘roadie’, Alan P, to lock up.

While Alan busied himself putting away equipment, John found himself having to answer a ‘call of nature’. He left the practice room and went along a corridor - past a number of other, little locked up rooms - to the back of the chapel hall and through a door into the main, church area. Behind the altar was a door leading into a couple of rooms that appeared to be some form of vestry area and, leading off these, was the toilet.

Whilst going about his ablutions, John says that he suddenly felt very strange. He cannot say exactly what it was, but he wasn’t at all happy and didn’t like the sensation one bit! He opened the toilet door and was shocked to find that the vestry-type room now both looked and smelled quite different: it appeared polished and clean…? There was now a vase of flowers situated on a large desk that he hadn’t seen previously and, hanging on a peg, were the vestments of a priest……

John suddenly found himself very scared – more scared than he had ever been previously and has possibly been ever since! Fleeing the room, he opened the door into to the main church area and was instantly stunned to find that the room was now, seemingly ‘packed out’ with people; not ghost-like, but solid, real people!

In his terror, a huge feeling of intense pressure filling his head, John only managed to look at the assembled rows for a split-second before (as he describes) ‘taking off like a rocket!’ As a consequence, he cannot say much about the physical appearance of the ‘congregation’, save for the fact that he had an impression of ‘antique finery’ from an earlier age…..?

Perhaps the most disturbing aspect of this, wholly surreal, scene was the fact that - while the crowd were evidently in the process of singing and having a good time - he didn’t hear one single sound throughout the duration of this experience! The best comparison that John could think of to explain such an effect is to: “turn off the sound during ‘Songs Of Praise’ and you can still tell when they are in the middle of a hymn… and those I saw were really belting it out!”

In panic, he fled across the front of the altar and out through the door, back into the corridor. The assembly had given no indication of being aware of his presence and no one had made to followed him…. “Bloody Hell - what a horrible thought that would have been!!” He says!

As he ran through the building, he couldn’t help but notice that all of the familiar, little locked rooms and boarded windows had now gone…. The place now appeared bigger and a smell of fresh paint filled his nose! His flight could only have taken a matter of mere seconds - but it felt like hours….

On entering the practice room Alan was nowhere to be seen, so John ended up continuing out of the front door of the building and into the street. With some relief, he found that his friend was already outside the chapel, waiting for him on the pavement nearby. They both ran, like the wind, away from the building… and it was only after they had time to calm down and compare experiences that John learned his friends portion of their uncanny tale.

It transpired that, while John had heard absolutely nothing throughout his encounter, Alan had experienced the exact opposite! He had physically seen nothing at all, while clearly hearing the sound of an organ playing in the building, together with the noise of people singing and moving around the main church area! He had actually ventured out of the practice room to investigate, but had become too scared and had run from the building only a few seconds before John!

The group only ever visited the chapel once more – and then in bright daylight, with Johns father for company. The latter had been told that his presence was needed for the sake of transporting equipment in his car, but John readily admits that this clearly wasn’t ‘just’ the reason. The band quickly collected all of their belongings and left….

Almost 40 years have passed since this mind-boggling encounter, though John says that, until this point, he has never mentioned his experience to another person. In relating the above story to our forum members, He admits that: “I know there are loads of you brave folks who can wonder round old places looking for this kind of thing, but I never expected it at the time and I am still scared to death at this kind of stuff!”

Best wishes,

West Mids Ghost Club


PAULA SHAW said...

Can anyone tell me where the said chapel was??
What street name

W.M.G.C. said...

Hi Paula - Yes..... the chapel was on the main road into Darlaston from the Moxley direction: the A4038, Pinfold Street.