|Chris Halton on location outside the entrance to Santon Church|
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?|
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|
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|
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`?|
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)|
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