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Saturday, 26 November 2011

And More Ghost Stories…….

photo: (c)M. D. Hooper

    The “Henacre Road Haunting” very briefly got into the Press in 1990 [1 & 2].  Apparently,Kim Jye and her children had moved into the 1960s first floor flat in Henacre Road, Bristol, sometime in 1988/1989 –the local council would not specify the exact date.  By August,1990, a priest had been called in.

    Kim Jye had reported seeing the ghost of a man wearing dark trousers, white shirt and “with an old-style bobbed haircut” on at least four occasions.  But the 21 year-old was not the only witness.  Christopher, 3 years-old, had a rather bad time of things in his bedroom.  According to his mother: ”My little boy would not sleep in this particular bedroom for at least seven months –he said a man was coming to get me.”

    The newspaper account didn’t make it quite clear whether young Christopher was stating that he’d merely seen the ghostly figure and felt it was ‘after him’ or his mother.

    Whatever, Father Michael O’Regan, of Our Lady of the Rosary, was called in and he performed a blessing ceremony.  By July, however, the events at the flat had driven Kim Jye and her three children to take refuge at her mother’s home, the first blessing having failed.  Father O’Regan contacted Bristol City Council who took the alleged haunting seriously.  Mike Griffiths, a council spokesman, told a reporter:-

                 “We are taking it seriously.  We are taking it as a legitimate
                 problem,taking it on face value,bearing in mind we have a
                 letter from a man whose moral credence must be impeccable.”

    Presumably the Jyes were moved.  The council would not discuss the matter as it concerned a tenant and they could give no information.  So far I’ve not managed to track down Kim Jye and there appears to have been no further disturbances at the flat –that I’ve been told of.

    The Parkside Hotel stands next door to the ITV West TVstudios, Brislington,
Bristol.  In the 1970s I had visited the hotel on a number of social occasions, as I had been in the local newspapers regarding other investigations at the time I was recognized by one staff member who furtively asked me: ”Are you on an investigation here?”  When I pointed out I was attending a function the person in question clammed up and left.  I later learned he was an assistant manager.

    The twenty-two room hotel itself dates back to 1760 and was at one time a convent for the Sisters of the Good Shepherd. In 1997 a Dutch TV crew stayed in the hotel to see whether they could film anything.  As far as I can find out they never did.

    But what was being seen at the hotel?  According to Chris Romer of the Cheltenham Student Parapsychological Society Research Group [CSPSRG], who had been one of the investigators to look into the goings on in 1996, quite a lot was happening. 

    There had been reports of a ghostly nun walking across the restaurant by several witnesses.  Of course, the nun ties in with the old convent which, interestingly enough, some of the witnesses had not known about.

    Then there was the bar –and any number of jokes you can make out of ghosts seen in bars.  Sounds had been heard and what was called a “poltergeist” had moved glasses in the bar.  However, as noted in the chapter on the Ghost of All Saints Church, this was not what you could categorize as a poltergeist but rather a haunting in which objects were moved.

    According to Manager Rob Green, when I talked to him in 1997; ”quite a few people who work at night have seen some odd things.”  Mr.Green suggested I contact the CSPSRG as they were preparing a report.   It was now Chris Romer who told me of events at the hotel while his team was investigating.

    A camera was set up in one particular room with a bad reputation, apparently visitors had not stayed long.  A male and female investigator were left to keep the room under observation and the camera had, I was told,picked up a vertical bar of red light that appeared above the bed.  There was embarrassment over the next part of the report; apparently the two observers felt “odd” and the next thing they were engaged in frantic sexual activity!  More the embarrassing because, apparently, neither was “very keen” on the other.

    There were also other manifestations and a report/case file did exist.  However,by 1998,Mr.Romer still had not been able to find out who had this document [3-5]. 

    In 2005 there was a report of another ghost sighting at the hotel by a staff member –this filtering through to me from a newspaper reporter.  The hotel has kept its mystery tenants it seems.

But there are other little known ghosts in Bristol and some harken back to the siege of Bristol during the English Civil War.

    Having been born and raised in the St Werburgh’s area of the city, I and other kids liked visiting the old bomb sites in the early 1960s and especially the “haunted houses”.  We also trekked regularly to Eastville Park and Stapleton Woods.  Prior to his attack on Prince Rupert in the Civil War, Cromwell had mustered his New Model Army in the area of the woods.  I had heard, as a youngster of a ghost in the woods but as none of the gang had ever seen it who cared?

    A Roundhead figure was once seen quite regularly;he would approach people as if to say something –but then walk right through them.  Had the Roundhead seen the modern day walkers –and if he had,did they suddenly vanish in front of him?  I can find no record of the figure being seen after the 1980s, quite odd.

    My grand dad, Bill,being “Hanham born ‘n’ bred”, told me that a serving girl whose name had been Sally, lived on a farm in the area and during the Civil War refused to tell the Roundheads where Royalists were hiding.  In an attempt to escape, Sally got to the roof –it’s uncertain whether she jumped or was thrown or was simply killed there.  Her ghost has always been seen on the roof though I have failed to discover which farm –if it still exists.
    Another spectre no longer seen, I believe since the 1970s, is “The Starving Monk”.  At a time when saying Mass was illegal,priests often visited stately homes and were  hidden in “priest hid holes” if the authorities turned up.  The ghost in question was said to haunt Oldbury Court and originated from a time when there was a stately home in the area. 

    The monk was said to have been hidden,forgotten and to have starved to death –a not very likely tale.  But for a long time the monk was seen but modern changes may not condusive to ghostly wanderings?

    Another ghost I’ve heard very little of in recent years was that of Jenkins Protheroe, aka: ”The Evil Dwarf Highwayman”!  Protheroe would beg for money but if he didn’t get as much as he had expected he had a novel method of getting more –he held up the person in question and robbed them.  However, you can only get away with this behaviour for a certain amount of time.  Protheroe was captured and tried for his crimes.  In 1783, at the top of Pembroke Road, Clifton, Protheroe was hung and haunted the area –but no longer? 

    I’m still trying to find out whether a German Luftwaffe aircraft did crash at the old Whitchurch Airport during World War Two.  The area, now Hengrove Park, has been undergoing a great deal of development in recent years and I’ve heard of no sightings of a German pilot said to haunt the site. 

    Interestingly enough,the mid-1990s saw a rash of ghost reports.  At Mulberry headquarters, Kilver Court, Shepton Mallet, Somerset, “something” was up-setting the security guards.  Everyone was keeping tight-lipped but one security guard reported that when he switched off all the lights they were suddenly turned on
   again –  this happening several times and “strange things” happened but that was all we learned of the affair [6 & 7].

    In 1995, another couple fled their council home due to a ghost.  Michaela Barber and her partner, Shane, lived in a house in Leg Of Mutton Road, Wells, Somerset.  Things would often vanish from where they had been placed and were not seen again.  On one occasion, having left the house, the couple looked back and saw a curtain very clearly lifted.  No one living was in the house.

    One morning, at 8.00 a.m., the couple fled their home and swore never to return.  Apparently, Michaela had found her five-months-old baby under his high-sided cot.  A toy tv suddenly turned itself on.  Again, tenant confidentiality meant the council would not tell us where the couple were eventually moved to [8& 9].

    But we note, again, this movement of objects –and  that includes the baby.

    The Royal Clarence Hotel, Bridgwater, Somerset, was in the news, albeit a small column [10], in 1982.  Why so little space was given to the incident in question seems odd because the ghost spoke to a member of staff.

    A woman in white had been seen many times over the years,several times outside a blocked off door which used to lead to the minstrel’s gallery.  Mrs Rita Walsh had worked in the hotel kitchens since around 1977/1978 but had seen nothing odd.  In December of 1982 this changed.

    Mrs Walsh was working alone when she saw the infamous woman in white move toward her.  Mrs Walsh told a reporter:

                  “When the woman approached,I tried to scream for the
                  night-porter,but I just couldn’t get a word out.

                  “The ghost told me I should not be frightened as she
                  would not hurt me.  She was so friendly that I was
                  able to ask her why she wasn’t resting,and she said
                  she just couldn’t,then she disappeared.”

    Just what do we make of this?  A ghost actually speaking to the living without a so-called “medium”. 

    There are, of course, types of this phenomena according to researchers.

    The most common form of ghost appears to be what might be called a “Crisis Apparition”.  This is usually a “vision” or disembodied voice of someone under great stress –at the point of death, for example.  This vision/voice is seen or heard by someone close the person in crisis.  As we know nothing really about the process of dying it is possible –possible—that there may be some kind of telepathic link between the dying and loved ones.  In many cases, no doubt, these may be self-induced visions of a dying loved one by a person.

    The “Collective Apparition” where more than one person sees a ghost.  This can be at a séance or some other locale.

    The “Haunting Ghost”  is where a ghost walks about, plays or looks out of a window, is seen seated or going through some other mundane task.  Here you could class the Parkside Hotel nun or even the Royal Clarence Hotel woman in white.  Some parapsychologists feel a “psychic record” of a person may be “imprinted upon a place of tragic death, a beloved garden spot or room.

    Then we have the “Presence” where “something” is most definitely felt but nothing seen or heard.  These reports may indicate some form of electro magnetic or other phenomena creating a localised effect felt by person present –such as in the “Luminous Chamber” case.

    There are also the “One-Offs” –ghosts seen at a location with no spectral history known to the witness,investigators or others in the area.

    “Poltergeists” [angry/noisy spirits] have been recorded since at least the 12th century.  Unexplained bangs, crashes, foul smells, sudden cold spells in a house or place, inexplicable voices, objects appearing and disappearing and even levitation of of victims are “symptoms”.   Here we can place the Lamb Inn, ”Coonian ghost”, the      Parkside Hotel and the Leg Of Mutton Road events.   Parapsychologists use the phrase Recurrent Spontaneous Psychokinesis [RSPK].   ‘Demons’, ’Satan’ and even elementals have been blamed in these cases –but then so have adolescent girls/boys who are seen as the “focus” in these cases.

    In the Leg Of Mutton Road affair there was no adolescent, only a baby.  We are not aware of an adolescent in the All Saints Church case either.
    But that leaves us with the woman in white at the Royal Clarence.  Here ‘she’ knew Mrs.Watts could see her and was alarmed but placated the witness by telling her no harm would befall her!  When asked why ‘she’ was not resting, the ghost responded to the question.

    How –how—can a dead person’s ghost walk around knowing his/herself to be deceased and start up a brief conversation?  The Royal Clarence case isn’t the first of this type of “conversation” either.  It infers, rather strongly, that there is life after death and in some cases, well, hundreds of cases, something has prevented the dearly deceased from “passing on” –“finding eternal rest”.

    This I simply find impossible to accept for so many reasons.  Billions of people have lived and died on this planet and “Heaven” must be suffering some severe over-crowding!  One disaster after another adding thousands upon thousands more to the ‘population’ –and what of dead animals?  Of the highly intelligent dolphins?  Is it just humans who go into an “after life”?

    Scientifically, I cannot accept that.  So what is going on?  The truth is that I will keep on investigating and, one day, hopefully I can have a ‘conversation’ with something like the woman in white!


[1]      “Family Flee Home In Haunting Fear”,Roger Burton,Bristol Evening Post,
           11th August,1990:p.5

[2]       Henacre Road File          

[3]       “TV Probe Into Haunted Hotel”,Bristol Evening Post,15th April,1997:p.12

[4]        Personal conversations with Chris Romer and Rob green [1997 & 1998]

[5]        Parkside Hotel File

[6]        Wells Journal [date not given]

[7]         Annals no.26 ,October-December,1995:p.15

[8]         Central Somerset Gazette 6th July,1995

[9]         Ibid 7:p.14      

[10]       “Hotel’s Ghost Speaks”,Bristol Evening Post,31st December,1982

Note: a number of the incidents mentioned in this chapter are currently under re-investigation in the hope of gaining as much information as possible.  They are, still, little known events.                                                                                                                     

From Some Things Strange & Sinister (minus photos)     

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