My Night In The Most Haunted House In Britain
I spent Saturday night locked inside a house with the reputation of being not only the most haunted in the UK, but also the location of the most violent poltergeist case in Europe. The ghost hunt was hosted by the paranormal events company Haunted Happenings.
I've been on a few other HH events but I was really excited about this one. I've been interested in the legendary haunted house since the hosts of the comedy podcast, 'The ParaPod' spent a night there. Of course there's also the memory of that classic 'Most Haunted Live' episode where one of the crew was dragged up the stairs.
Despite the house having such a sinister reputation, I was a little unsure what to expect from this event. The previous hunts I'd been on have been at grand old buildings, places of historic interest, and even a vast underground network of tunnels. This time we were just going to a normal council house, on a pretty average street in Pontefract.
There were six of us in the house in total, plus Mandy from the paranormal events company. I'd gone along with two of my friends, and I actually felt a little guilty about dragging them along. It was a bit of a trek to West Yorkshire from Bristol, a four hour journey in total, and I knew all we were going to visit was a regular three-bedroom semi-detached house. Like me, both my friends are also skeptics so I was a little worried that they wouldn't enjoy being locked in a house all night.
We arrived at number 30 just before 10pm and walked in through the infamous front door and met our guide for the evening, Mandy. The house wasn't exactly what I expected. Although I'm a skeptic I thought the house would feel oppressive, I assumed that it was would be this negative vibe that has helped the house keep its haunted reputation for the last five decades. But actually, the house was cozy and welcoming, the living room was was lovely and warm, a contrast from the freezing temperatures outside.
We got the usual welcome and health and safety briefing before talking about the house's sinister past and ghostly goings on.
The Haunted History Of 30 East Drive
The house is said to be haunted by the evil spirit of a 16th Century monk known a the Black Monk of Pontefract. It's believed that the monk assaulted and murdered a young girl. He was hanged for his crimes and he was then thrown down a well and left for dead, that well is said to be right underneath number 30.
The house is also said to be haunted by the ghost of the monk's victim, a little girl who answers to the name of Emma. Her spirit is said to be much less violent than the Black Monk. She's often described as friendly and mischievous.
Reports of strange goings on in the house first appeared in a national newspaper in 1966 after the family living in the house claimed they were experiencing poltergeist activity.
The Pritchards, were Jean and Joe and their two children, 15-year-old Philip, and 12-year-old Dianne. It was Philip and his grandmother who witnessed the first creepy occurrence in the house. A cascade of chalk-like dust falling from just below the ceiling.
This was just the start of countless inexplicable paranormal events which included the appearance of pools of water, lights turning themselves on and off, green foam oozing from taps, cupboards shaking violently, doors banging, photographs being slashed, and countless objects were witnessed levitating or being thrown.
On one occasion a large grandfather clock on the landing toppled over and tumbled down the stairs and smash. In a more violent incident, Dianne was dragged up the stairs by an invisible force.
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The Ghost Hunt
With out orientation out of the way and the lights turned out, we headed up stairs to start our investigation. We had until 3am to find out for ourselves if the house really does play host to the Black Monk.
Like with other ghost hunts I've been on, the evening started with a group vigil in the middle bedroom which originally belonged to Philip. There were a few gadgets scattered around the room, some of which were provide by our host, others guests had brought along with them.
The group all said they felt as comfortable upstairs as down, despite the fact it was dark and noticeably colder. Mandy started calling out to the spirits, "if there are any spirits here, can you try to make yourself known please."
Things started slowly, the EDI+ meters did register vibration at various points around the room, there were also a few flashes on the KII EMF meters. Then all of a sudden one of the balls (which are actually flashing cat toys) that were places on the floor lit up with seemingly no stimulation, no one had moved.
After about half an hour, while we were chatting about a small room in the house known as the coal hole, out on the landing one of the two ghost hunting gadgets known as a REM Pods started beeping. I called out, "can you do that again for us? Can you make a noise?" And instantly the REM Pod responded with a beep.
I then asked, "can you do a nice long beep for us again, show us that you're there?" and once again the device seemed to respond by beeping with the longest sustained sound yet.
Steve, my skeptical friend who was on the ghost hunt with me said, "I have to say that was quite creepy." We later discussed whether there could be rational explanation for the REM Pod triggering. The device works by generating an electro-magnetic field via its antenna, when conductive materials or energy passes into its field it sounds its alarm.
What's interesting is that the REM Pod didn't trigger at any other point in the evening which rules out any local EM field interference. The common things which produce false positives are static, fluorescent lights, magnets, and magnetic devices like speakers, headphones and compasses... but none of these things were present nearby as far as I'm aware.
However, other ghost hunts I've been on have been in big old buildings with thick stone walls, or underground tunnels. Locations that are well shielded from the outside world. 30 East Drive is just a regular house, it's much less protected from outside interference from neighbours and passing vehicles.
The Master Bedroom
After three-quarters of an hour in the room, we left to moved into the master bedroom. Gathered round the bed with the ghost hunting gadgets laid out on the mattress, we continued our vigil.
We spent about 25 minutes in this room, which proved to be a little quieter than our first location. However, Steve did reported feeling unusually cold, specifically on his arms. Then words and phrases started popping into his head, he said "it's weird because it's just like glimpses every now and again."
On of the visions he saw in the darkened room related to the phrase "wheat field," he said he saw the crop, fences and even a well.
As we were about to head downstairs, someone noticed a marble against the skirting board on the landing. No one was sure if it was there earlier, but I later noticed many similar objects in odd locations around the house like dominos placed on their end on side boards, jigsaw pieces in the corner of rooms. Presumably they'd all been placed to encourage the spirits to interact with them.
The Coal Hole
Steve was getting a little freaked out upstairs, but we managed to convince him to venture in to the coal hole on his, while the rest of us had a break and a brew to keep us going for the next few hours.
The coal hole is the small room which was used as a coal store by the Pritchard family. It was in this room that Joe Pritchard became trapped by an unknown force.
Steve lasted about 10 minutes in the coal hole, which was pretty good I thought. Having not heard a sound from him, we went to see if he was already and let him out. Despite his initial concerns about spending time in the cupboard alone, he said is was "fine actually, I think because it's so small you know what's around you, upstairs is much worse," he added that in coal hole he was "very very cold though down my right arm, you can see there's condensation in there."
Usually these sort of events have a bit more structure but because this location is smaller and has fewer people than other ghost hunts, it's bit more fluid. That's not a bad thing though, as it suits the venue. It's also a little different because the owner of the house, Bil Bungay, doesn't allow ouija boards to be used in the property. Spirit boards are usually a staple at events like this.
The lack of structure meant that we were freer to do what we wanted. So, just after midnight the six guests were split into two groups and each headed to a different part of the house to conduct vigils in whatever way we wanted.
Myself, Steve and James went back up to Philip's bedroom, our vigil proved to be a bit quieter this time around but Steve did get some more words a phrases come through, including "fisherman", "stillborn" and the name "Carol Sunder."
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We then went into the smallest room of the house, the room which was formerly Dianne's bedroom. Steve and James sat themselves on the bed and tried to contact the spirits using the ghost hunting gadgets, while I took the opportunity to wander around the bedrooms on my. In the dark it was a little unnerving.
Steve also agreed that the house can be a little disconcerting in the dark, he said "I scare very easily, so even though I don't think it's anything [supernatural] it doesn't' make me immune to it."
While in the small bedroom, James had a bit of a spiritual breakthrough with the EDI+ meter. The device seemed to respond with flashing lights each time James asked a question aloud. James started by asking the Black Monk if he was with us, using his nickname, "are you here with us, Fred?" The device instantly lit up indicating a sudden drop in pressure.
I then stepped up and said, "we need to go in a minute, Fred. If you want to give us a message..." and again the device flashed, seemingly to indicate a response. But with the time fast approaching 1am, it was time to swap locations with the other team.
My Turn In The Coal Hole
We then headed downstairs while the other three guests went upstairs, they had experienced a quiet vigil in the living room. Steve and James replaced them on the sofa with Mandy, while I went to the coal hole on my own. This was the bit of the evening I'd been looking forward to the most. If I'm ever going to get scared in a haunted house, it's going to be in a cold, dark room on my own.
I actually spent 25 minutes in the coal hole alone armed with just a camera and an EDI+, which told me that temperature in the cupboard was around 10 degrees. The ceiling was dripping with condensation and I was surrounded by cold brick walls.
At the end of the coal hole there were two wooden shelves on the wall, below this on the concrete floor was a pile of coal and a shovel.
I have to say, I was more worried about spiders than ghosts, I tried my best to soak up the atmosphere at let myself get scared, but I didn't find the room that uncomfortable. In fact some of the bedrooms in the dark were scarier, just because they're bigger and could contain much more scares.
The Living Room
Meanwhile Steve and James sat in the warm cozy living room around the fire with Mandy. She first talked them through another ghost hunting gadget, the P-SB11 spirit box. It's a fairly new device which scans through AM and FM radio frequencies in fast bursts, the idea is that you can hear spirit voices in the noise.
Mandy wasn't the biggest fan of spirit boxes, "I don't believe these because I've never had anything out of these that would make me say 'wow'." which is fair enough, every paranormal research has their favourite ghost hunting gadgets and techniques.
Instead she switched to an app called iOvilus which is a random word generator, so while they chatted that app spat our words like "does," "thread" and "stigmata." However it was the words and phrases that Steve was spitting out that were more interesting.
Mandy suggested Steve took part in a little psychic experiment, "can you close your eyes and take yourself back to that wheat field?" She asked him what else he could see in his vision. Steve said there was also a red barn, trees, a fence and oddly "above my head is a plank of wood."
As Steve sat in the darkness and let more thoughts flow into his mind. He saw a dog, which he described as "an Irish wolf hound" with a red collar, a blue bucket. And then things started to get really weird.
Almost like an astral projection, Steve said he felt like he had floated upstairs where he saw five people hunched over a bed mourning someone, only the bed was empty. The mourners were all wearing black veils.
The scene was unfolding in Steve's mind in the master bedroom and he could tell the group of people was made up of two crying women and a man, as well as two other figures that he couldn't identify.
At this point in his vision quest, Steve said he was starting to feel sick. He said, "many a time have I tried to do stuff like that when I was younger and less skeptical, but I've never felt sick from it."
After the experience, Steve said that the sickness felt like it was as like motion sickness. He also then realised that in his visions his head was to the side and he was looking down. Eerily Steve then said it was like he was hanging. He then realised that this could explain the plank he'd seen over his head in a vision earlier. Could he have been channeling the the Black Monk who was hanged on the gallows nearby, long before the estate was built?
James had been quite throughout Steve's experiment, he said "that was quite interesting, the reason I was so quiet was to just let you keep coming out with that."
The final 25 minutes of the evening were spent in Philip's bedroom. We'd all regrouped in the room for one final vigil, which oddly involved us singing the 'Postman Pat' theme tune in an attempt to get a reaction from Fred.
But despite are many attempts to get the Black Monk to interact with us, it seemed that with the time fast approaching 3am it was getting a little late for the spooks of Pontefract.
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