Friday, 31 October 2014

HALLOWEEN AND `WITCHES` - AN HISTORICAL CELEBRATION OF THE ABUSE OF WOMEN?

How Hopkins was perceived in the
17th century

It was interesting to read in a post on a social media site that in the eyes of this writer, a devoutly religious person,  that Halloween represents a debasement of society, and encourages people to `worship evil`.

Obviously the true meaning of what Halloween actually represents, has certainly evolved from a pagan Celtic harvest festival to a social celebration that is often epitomised with representations of witches and other characterisations of the horror genre, but traditionally in modern folklore, it is witches that take the centre stage.

Trial by water - a favourite of Hopkins.
 If they survived tthey were guilty, and
if they drowned they were innocent.
I certainly do not see Halloween as the slightest celebration of `evil`, but if truth be known it could be argued to be a celebration of the abuse of women in history.

Within this context, we must look back essentially to 17th century Britain, and the works of the likes of Matthew Hopkins, the self-styled, `Witchfinder General`, who persecuted, raped, abused and murdered innocent women whom he and his supporters `outed` as witches.

Mostly these victims were the pilloried excuses of `religious folk`, for all the ill`s and wrongs in their daily lives.  Examples being poor crops for the farmer, or sick cattle for the dairyman who were `hexed` by devil worshippers.

A typical 17th century `witch`
Medical knowledge and general hygiene was still largely trapped in the late Medieval period, and any general understanding of the spread of diseases were still many years distant in the future.

So many odd,,old, or crippled women, (and many of whom were herbalists), were deigned to be in liaison with the Devil and by proxy, were responsible.

The Puritans, who also emigrated to America, were very much caught up in the consummate belief that Satan was responsible for all social ills, and that these women were the `daughters of the devil`, and they sent many to an early grave on the charges trumped up by Hopkins and his acolytes.
A 17th century `help guide`
to identifying a witch

The signs of the witch, he declared, were easy to see.
Many of these victims were poor, unwashed
 people, who developed carbuncles, warts, and facial sores, which were caused by poor health and  low cleanliness. These were the signs of evil, he observed.

 Even today these maladies are depicted in most characterisations of witches at Halloween. And these helped Hopkins and his supporters pick out these women for torture , confessions, and later murder.

Sometimes Hopkins for his own pleasure would identify attractive young women as `witches`, and without anyone to stand against him, he would rape them and have them later disposed of as witches after they `confessed` to these false allegations under brutal torture.

It wasn`t until he was eventually confronted by a brave Yorkshire priest, that his reign of terror was finally broken.

Bjut the damage sadly had been done. Hopkins work was later adopted by the new American colonies, and the same cycle of outing and death was to repeat itself once more.

So one must consider my earlier point. By adopting witches into Halloween, are we de facto,  celebrating the abuse and debasement of women?  To reiterate, I personally do not see this as such, but merely offering an alternative view of a dark chapter of British and American history


Story: Chris Halton

Wednesday, 29 October 2014

IS THIS THE `GREY LADY` GHOST OF STRANOCUM, IRELAND?



The Grey Lady has long been rumoured to haunt the iconic Dark Hedges in Stranocum...and now it seems that a Ballycastle man might just have managed to capture her on film.

Gordon Watson took this photograph at the Hedges on Friday and when he processed it on his computer, he spotted the wispy, grey shape in the centre which looks almost like a grey figure floating in the air.

Well-known local photographer Kevin McAuley examined the photograph and stated that there was no way the image had been digitally enhanced in any way.

Kevin said: “It looks like a dress going towards the shape of a figure and it’s at this end of the trees where the Grey Lady has been seen by a variety of people over the years.

“This is the only known version ever to have been recorded in any fashion,” he added.

Legend tells that a supernatural ‘Grey Lady’ haunts the thin ribbon of road that winds beneath the ancient beech trees. She silently glides along the roadside and vanishes as she passes the last beech tree.

Some say the spectre is the ghost of a maid from the nearby house who died in mysterious circumstances centuries ago.

Others believe that she is a lost spirit from an abandoned graveyard that is thought to lie hidden in the fields nearby.

On Hallowe’en night, the forgotten graves are said to open and the Grey Lady is joined on her walk by the tormented souls of those who were buried beside her.

Story: BallyMoneyTimes


Sunday, 26 October 2014

HAUNTED EARTH INVESTIGATE HAUNTED SANTON CHURCH WITH SOME SURPRISING FOOTAGE OF THE PARANORMAL

Chris Halton on location outside the entrance to Santon Church
What can I say about Saturday`s (25th Oct 2014) excursion to Santon Church on the Norfolk/Suffolk border?

A truly delightful experience in the company of Sean Kim and our host, Mr Eddie Mallet of the paranormal group `Whispers in the Dark`.

Santon is a very tiny church cobbled together with stone and flint, and sits almost alone on the edge of a huge forest virtually forgotten in the midst of time.

Everything about it is a surprise that here within its compact structure, is literally a shrine to English Gothic Revivalism, which would have received praise and merit from the likes of art critics such as John Ruskin for it`s adherence in design and fluency to the high altar of Gothic art.

Augustus Pugin - Influenced Santon?
The chancel reflected that ideal with the pervasive influence of no other than the father of Gothic Revivalism, one Augustus Welby Pugin.  This was amply reflected in the star studded ceiling and the beautiful Gothic Revivalist altar table which set perfectly within a frame of some wonderful  wall tiles that would simply have been a precursor for the later `Arts and Crafts` movement which flourished towards the end of the Victorian age.

Indeed Pugin was a friend of the then rector who had commissioned this great work, and it is known that he was staying as a guest at the rectory whilst the rebuilding of the church was taking place.

While there is no written document that ascribes Pugin as the architect, it is no mere coincidence that everything about this church from the interior and exterior screams his name, almost as an atonement for the earlier 17th rebuilding of what is essentially a medieval church by the supporters of Archbishop William Laud.

It is known that much stone was incorporated from nearby medieval West Tofts church, which was a Pugin rebuild commission, and that this mixture of art and material had effectively,  disturbed the spiritual foundation upon which this church was first constructed over 700 years earlier.

After shooting an introduction, we set about recording an EVP session during the late afternoon. Save for the occasional passing of the Norwich to London trains on the railway line in the near distance, the site was perfectly quiet and still, with no modern intrusion by cars or pedestrians.

During this session the chancel felt uncommonly heavy, and left me feeling very uncomfortable, and dare I say, with a hint of nausea but strangely without the unpleasant side-effects. I felt that my presence here was received as an unwarranted intrusion, and having remained a few minutes I was compelled to leave and return back into the main part of the church which had seating for around 50 souls - such was the small congregation it was built for.

Sean Kim who was listening to audio through the radio mic claimed that he heard someone walking briefly behind me, and from a brief initial inspection of the video tape, I can confirm that his suspicions were confirmed - someone or something, was indeed walking in my shadow.

My initial impressions were simply of two people, a man and his wife who I suspected were past incumbents, possibly a rector and his wife, and the feeling of tremendous pride and joy with this church.

I then stood in a lofty pulpit where the earlier feelings of unpleasantness from the chancel had followed me into this narrow box. Again I felt I had to leave, and returned to join Eddie and Sean below.

Eddie Mallett & Sean Kim
With regards to any EVP, I haven`t yet been able to inspect the entire tape of this session but have no doubts that it will supply some interesting recordings of some of the incarnate souls that remain keeping a watchful eye over the church.

Other than the mild smell of age and decay, I did not pick up any unusual odours, and after remaining for some time we left to enjoy the fading sun on a late autumnal October afternoon.
It is worth sharing at this juncture a short clip from my introductory speech at the entrance door to the church. We were all surprised that the heavy oak door decided to open itself possibly as a welcome to this strange yet obsessively beautiful church.



We returned a few hours later in pitch darkness. And the inkiness was perhaps more blacker as the church
and surroundings were bereft of any artificial lighting, and the moon was hidden at the beginning of a new lunar phase.

When opening the church door I stepped into the inky blackness to smell the overpowering odour of alcohol on someone's breath.

The smell permeated throughout the entire church, and was occasionally interspersed with a musty smell of incense and sweat. Not a very pleasant combination of  odours that I was later informed by Eddie to be the presence of the residential ghost, one Richard Kendall MA, who was rector here from 1638 to 1669.

The Demon and Vices - 17th century Puritan woodcut
During the English civil war, Kendall was ejected from the living on a charge of "refusing to contribute to the rebellion, swearing, haunting (frequenting) inns, being distempered (drunk) with liquor, keeping malignant company (prostitutes) ... and saying the puritans were hypocrites". He was later reinstated to his position when the monarchy was restored.

If any of you recall the comedy series, `Father Ted`, the character of `Father Jack`, typified Kendall`s behaviour.

Here my report on the proceedings will remain brief, as I have yet to examine the video of the night`s events which I am happy to report were numerous.

Kendall without any doubt was the most active presence, and throughout the evening it was more than self-evident that he was playing games with us during our stay.

Sean witnessed many large light entities on the nightshot camcorder, and with a curious interest around my physical presence which Kendall seemed pre-possessed to focus upon judging by the orb activity around me.

Sean also saw briefly during the flash of my taking a photograph, a figure of someone sat worshipping in the pews, and shortly after he started to film, the camcorder battery was drained during a spectral event captured to camcorder.

Indeed, my day camcorder was left on a side table to record audio, and that had been surreptitiously turned off by unseen hands within seconds of us starting.

An impressive capture of energy - Was Kendall `looking down`?
I soon realised that this presence wanted to remain unseen at ground level, and the orb activity started to reduce somewhat when I realised that the presence was actually looking down upon us from the rafters. I quickly tilted my digital still upwards and captured this fleeting image.

Eddie then informed me that on an earlier expedition to this church (amidst foul language caught as EVP) a voice said that he `was looking down upon them`.


In no small measure, this image seems to confirm this.

For any doubting sceptics it is worth mentioning at this juncture that I immediately performed a ``breath test` on camera to confirm that the mist was not the product of warm moisture in a cold night environment. And as will be seen in the soon to be released video, the camcorder test confirms this. The church was very warm inside having trapped the heat of a warm sunny day and outside it was quite mild.

The `haunted` boxed pew with close-up of latch (inset)
Another strange incident I recall was being sat in a box pew near to the chancel which Eddie claimed was known as the `haunted pew`.

Sean was invited by me to sit within it, but felt unable to do so, almost to the point that he felt he was being pushed out. To offer further encouragement, I decided to join him within the pew, and as we sat inside Sean locked the gate to the pew by turning a simple latch into place fitted to the outside.

Within a few seconds, the gate started to swing open, as though having had the latch opened by unseen fingers. We again locked it into place and the event replicated once more.

After that it stopped.

Eddie confirmed that this (among other incidents) was one of the reasons that the label `haunted` had been applied justifiably to this pew.

I can confirm that at various points during the night there were sudden rushes of cold breezes around us, and during the entire experiences there I certainly heard a man`s heavy voice in the background.

Whether this appears on the examination and edit of the night investigation video, I cannot as yet confirm. But coupled with the evenings experiences there I am more than confident that we have a rich stream of material to share as our Halloween experience for 2014.

It is hoped that this video can be released and published within a week to 10 days time.

Why not visit Eddie`s team videos here to get a taste of the activity inside this very actively haunted building?
Whispers in the Dark

Story: Chris Halton



Friday, 24 October 2014

GHOST CAUGHT ON CAMERA OR YET ANOTHER NEWSPAPER HOAX?

A proud homeowner was left terrified after taking a photo of her new house only to notice a ghost staring out from the window.

Michelle Midwinter, 30, had gone outside to take a picture of her new home in North Bradley, Trowbridge, Wiltshire, to share with friends on her Facebook page.

But it was only when she took another look at the image that she noticed the spooky apparition of a man peering out her window.

The mother-of-one, who was at home with her two-year-old daughter, ran inside to discover that no one was there.

Samuel Kent who died in 1872
Miss Midwinter, who moved into the house last month, believes the sighting could be the spirit of Samuel Kent - a former factory inspector who worked in the area.

She said: 'I decided to take a picture of the front of our house and post it on Facebook to show how well we were all settling in.

'I went outside and took a picture but after initially admiring the brickwork the face just sort of jumped out at me.

Miss Midwinter believes the apparition was spirit of factory inspector Samuel Kent who died in 1872
'I ran into the house to make sure no one was in there because I knew everyone else was at work, but it was just me and my two-year-old daughter.

'I studied the photo for a while and then put it on Facebook to see if anyone else could come up with an explanation as to how the face could have got there.'

Miss Midwinter, a mobile phone case designer, added: 'The photo caused quite a stir on Facebook, but no one could really come up with any plausible explanation.
'Most people thought it was a reflection of the flowers below the window but the angles are all wrong.'

'It's hard to believe but it clearly looks like the face of an old man.'

She denies claims the image has been doctored and after witnessing a number of ghostly goings on - including a clock falling off a wall - believes the house is haunted.

'I'm a self-confessed non-believer of ghosts but the picture coupled with a clock randomly falling off the wall and smashing to pieces that morning did creep me out,' she said.

'The clock was there when we moved in, so it hadn't fallen off due to a dodgy fixture we had put up.
'Another weird thing was that my friend saw a door handle move down and the door opened in the same room the face in the window was in.

'I was just so surprised because I thought someone was in the house. We also checked the attic to make sure no one was living up there.

'I can't really say what I think the face in the window is as I honestly don't know.

'I would like to say an odd reflection but it doesn't make sense, I am a very logical person but I cannot come up with a logical explanation for this photo, it's just spooky.

'And to be honest, I would rather not think about it as we already hear strange scratches in the walls, noises from upstairs and the lights flicker on and off too.

'You end up scaring yourself if you think about it too much.'

Local historian Andrew Jones, 50, has done extensive research into Samuel Kent, the father of Constance Kent, who brutally murdered her three-year-old brother when she was 16 in the nearby village of Rode in 1860.
Michelle Midwinter with her two-year-old
 daughter who was at home when she spotted the 'ghost'

He thinks the photograph of the shadowy ghoul, dubbed Old Man Kent, bears a striking resemblance to Samuel Kent, who died in 1872.

Mr Jones, who is a caretaker at John of Gaunt School in Trowbridge, said: 'From looking at the photograph, to me it looks like Samuel Kent, father of Constance Kent, who committed an infamous murder in the area.

'There are a number of reported ghost sightings in Trowbridge but I have not come across any in North Bradley.

'I know Samuel lived and worked as a factory inspector in the area, so there's every chance it could be him.'

Mr Kent was originally a suspect in the 1860 Rode Hill House murder, but his daughter, Constance, was arrested and eventually convicted of murdering his three-year-old son.

The Rode Hill House murder case found fame again in recent years thanks to Kate Summerscale's award-winning book The Suspicions of Mr Whicher.

Source: DailyMail

My thoughts. As the Daily Mail is not too stringent on checking any type of publicity they label as `paranormal` the ghost in the window could simply be a blown up image printed on sideways to a sheet of A4 paper, and resting on the top part of the window frame.

You will note there is nothing below the head and shoulders of the `ghost`, which suggests that this image is indeed another fake ghost.

You`ll also note how quickly the paper is to ascribe someone as the `ghost` to give `authenticity`.,

And why don`t they show the entire window frame in more detail?

My only presumption is that it would reveal that this is a fake.

I could be wrong, but when a newspaper cries `wolf` far too often on questionable material, you have to treat their `scoops` with extreme caution. Check the enlarged image below of the window and read further observations within the caption.

You`ll note there isn`t any definition or detail in the lower part of this picture. If there were
you would clearly see the rest of the figure. Curiously behind the figure you can see either a chair back or a doorway which is missing in the lower part of the window. 


KEANU REEVES GHOSTLY ENCOUNTER

Just in time for Halloween, actor Keanu Reeves shared a real-life encounter he once had with a ghost.
During an appearance on Wednesday night’s “Jimmy Kimmel Live,”

Reeves answered a series of random questions from the late night host, including whether he’d ever seen a ghost.

“Yeah, when I was a kid,” the 50-year-old “Matrix” actor replied. “It was in New York. It was cool. So I’m like a little kid. I’m probably like 6, 7 years old, [in] a new apartment. … We’d come from Australia. Renata, nanny, was in the bedroom. … There was a doorway and, all of a sudden, we’re looking over there and this jacket comes waving through the doorway, just empty – there’s no head, there’s no body, there’s no legs. It’s just there and then it disappears.”

Reeves added, “I was a little a kid, so I thought, ‘That’s interesting.’ And then I looked over at the nanny.” The actor pulled a shocked face.
“And I’m like, ‘Oh wow, so that was real.’”

Reeves then turned to Kimmel and asked, “Was that a ghost? Or just some weird floating jacket?”
Kimmel quipped, “That’s a reason to move, to me.”

Reeves also revealed that he’s met another Keanu before.

“Yes, I have a cousin,” the Hawaii-born actor said. “There’s a cousin, Keanu. I didn’t meet that guy until I was 8 or 9, so I’d never heard that name for another human until that time.”



Source: ABCNews