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20 Aug 2013

The Horror of Uncertainty

Last Saturday I took part in a ghost hunt at Thackray Medical Museum, a local museum near me that
Thackray Medical Museum
has a reputation for being haunted.  It was formerly an old Asylum and the Leeds Union Workhouse, built in 1858 to accommodate the poor.  During the First World War it was known as the East Leeds War Hospital caring for wounded soldiers.  In 1997 it was opened and since known as the Thackray Medical Museum.

Two reasons I signed up as soon as I saw it advertised:

1) I've always wanted to do a ghost hunt so that can be ticked off the bucket list.
2) I have a duology about teenage ghost hunters so this was the perfect research.

I love paranormal.  I love horror.  But I can still be a cynic.  I watch Most Haunted and roll my eyes half the time.  I don't believe in it at all and I'm sceptical of people's personal accounts.  Ironic since I've got a few claims myself after this ghost hunt.  But even on this ghost hunt I was thinking to myself 'yeah, sure. Whatever' at times. Still, odd things happened that even had the hair on the back of my neck stand up.

We never saw an actual ghost appear in front of us.  But we saw, heard, and experienced things that had everyone, even the sceptics, viewing things from a different perspective.  And that was where the horror was lying.  The events that were happening that may have a logical explanation to it but could also be explained as something else.  We were all unsure.  And that's what scared us.

There were parts of the ghost hunt that I thought could easily be contaminated as evidence of the paranormal and after life.  There were Ouija boards, table tipping, glass moving and while these things moved I was suspicious of a couple of people in the group.  I don't think any of the moving was paranormal.  What I was unsure of was the feeling of the table being kicked when we asked the spirit to.  We only had one hand on the table.  The torches stayed on to allow us to see.  If someone had moved to kick that table themselves we would have seen.  I'm not leaning towards the table creaking or moving from weight.  I could feel the table being violently kicked.  Real, hard thuds.  That's just my personal experience, you're quite welcome to laugh and roll your eyes.  I would if I was hearing this from someone else.

The worst place to be in that museum for me was the Wilkinson Gallery.  We went there twice, one as a whole group and then again split up into smaller groups.  The first time I was there I suddenly got a huge weight on my chest and it was very difficult for me to breathe.  Others felt heavy and there was a mixture of cold drafts and people feeling like they were burning up.  The second time I went in there I was in a smaller group.  We were all holding hands, calling out for anything to make a noise.  Light was coming from the hallway so again it was easy to see if someone was moving out of the circle.  We constantly heard tapping on the glass around us.  Like a fingernail gently tapping on it.  That's another thing I was finding hard to explain logically.  Then as we were using a glass to communicate (basically works like an Ouija board. Everyone puts a finger on it and it's supposed to move around) I started to burn up.  My forehead was dripping with sweat and I wanted to throw up so I had to leave the room.  The rest of the night I felt fine.  I was quite happy to walk around in a partially dark building.  But in that room I felt awful both times.  And I'm unsure.  I don't know whether it was all psychological or paranormal. 

There's a small theater room in the museum that shows the story of a young girl who had her leg crushed when working with machines, back when Thackray was a workhouse.  Again while we did a seance in pitch black there was a dim light from the hallway so we could see out at least.  Along with a few others I saw shadows moving around outside, some saw them walking by, I saw a tiny shadow just dart behind the wall.  Almost like I'd caught them peeking in and they quickly hid.  Pete had seen dark shadows moving near the stage and he'd seen them again during the second seance in smaller groups.  From that stage there was quite a bit of banging, whistling and at one point I'd even felt cold breathing on my neck.  Both of us had our backs to the stage so I thought it was quite strange that Pete had seen shadows moving right behind us and I'd felt someone's breath on my neck.

In the Victorian street we were told the ghost of little children roamed about.  We were each put in different parts of the street and had sweets in our hand, which the children apparently moved about in your palm, pinched them, and even unwrapped them.  In darkness one girl swore her sweet had just been knocked out of her hands but it was pitch black.  Honestly, she could have easily dropped it or knocked it out herself.  I didn't think that was a great way to prove spirits existed.  But something strange did happen.  Before we had been given our sweets and sent into different areas to put our torches down and turn them off I'd had my camera strap around one wrist and my torch strap around the other.  I'd set them both down right next to my feet and we did the seance.  When our lights came

back on I'd picked up my torch and my strap was gone.  I had a look everywhere in the area I had been but it was gone.  It later turned up in the theater room.  The strap connects to the torch through two little holes and you fit it in on like a keyring.  I've tugged on it, shook it, held it only by the strap but it doesn't come off easily.  I honestly can't explain that unless the ghost team eat a lot of carrots and can see perfectly in the dark to pull a prank like that.  Maybe someone can find a reasonable explanation for me? I could do with Jonathan Creek for this.

The little knocking in the dark, the tapping on glass when requested to, shadows moving in front of a clear light, my missing wrist strap, cold drafts on one side of your body but not the other... these little things that aren't quite clear.  Things that could have a reasonable explanation but at the time it happens it makes a cold chill run down your spine.  It makes the skin on your arm rise up into tiny bumps and the back of your neck prickle. Experiences that happen in one split second but it's enough to make your head buzz and the sense that actually, maybe, that moving shadow in the dark is not your eyes playing tricks on you and it really does feel like it's watching you...


  1. That sounds like an amazing experience! I would love to go on that ghost hunt, just to see what happened. :O

    1. Have a look at Haunted Happenings. They do investigations all around the UK. It's a tad costly but it's worth it for an experience like that! :)

  2. Sounds like you had a really good time, Robin. And from the way you describe your experience, this was quite effective research for your duology.

    My theological convictions demands a belief in the supernatural, so I have no problem accepting that such experiences happen. I'd agree that there are a lot of so-called supernatural phenomena that have very natural explanations (whether physical or psychological), and people like Derren Brown have gone out of their way to demonstrate that. But there are some experiences that can't otherwise be explained. Perhaps some of your more spine-tingling moments fall into that category...? :)

    1. There were a few things that I honestly can't explain logically. I trusted the company in providing an honest ghost hunt and I believe that's what I got. If we don't get anything, we don't get anything. If something does happen, it's not because it's been set up. I do think some of the guests may have been faking or getting too carried away but some of the events that happened definitely had me leaning towards supernatural. It was too bizarre to be explained.

      Most definitely the best experience I could get for writing. The information and experiences I came out with is helping the books already. Glad I went out and did it. :) Also, not going to be the last ghost hunt I do in my life. I plan on tackling York at some point. ^^