By day Warwick Castle is a popular family attraction, but by night the imposing building with its dark rooms, cold underground spaces and exposed towers takes on a completely different feel. I got to experience the historic building's dark side at the weekend during a public ghost hunting event hosted by the paranormal
events company Haunted Happenings.
I often say in these sort of reviews that it was the best event of its kind I had attended. Well, that has to be true of this event, based partly on the impressive venue we got to investigate and the structure of the evening and its fast-moving set of vigils.
The event kicked off with a history tour led by two of the Haunted Happenings team, SJ and Lia. The tour highlighted Warwick Castle's strategic significance and its contrast with nearby Kenilworth Castle. We learned about the castle's transition into the hands of the Greville family and their contributions to its architecture.
A significant portion of the tour revolved around historical figures associated with the castle, notably Piers Gaveston, a favourite of King Edward II. Gaveston's complex relationship with the king and his eventual tragic demise at Warwick Castle painted a vivid picture of political intrigue and personal tragedy.
The tour also shed light on the castle's decline post the death of the last male heir and its subsequent restoration by Sir Fulke Greville. An intriguing story about Greville's murder by his manservant, Ralph Hayward, added a chilling aspect to the castle's history.
Other highlights included the Bear Tower and Guy's Tower, each with its own set of fascinating stories and legends. The tour also covered the castle's formidable defences and touched upon the Victorian era, particularly focusing on the Countess of Warwick and her societal influence.
Group Vigil: The Kingmaker Experience
With the tour complete and the scene set, we held our first paranormal vigil of the night in 'The Kingmaker Experience', an attraction built within the undercroft of Warwick Castle.
The team started the group vigil by introducing the guests to various devices used for paranormal detection. These included tools that respond to physical touch and EMF (Electromagnetic Field) detectors. EMF detectors, often used in ghost hunting, react to changes in the electromagnetic field, which some believe indicate the presence of spirits. Participants were asked to set their phones to flight mode to prevent false readings.
The guests were encouraged to take an active role in the investigation, with each person introducing themselves and invited spirits to interact. This approach is common in ghost hunting, where it's believed that acknowledging and inviting spirits can encourage paranormal activity.
Throughout the vigil, there were reports of various potential paranormal activities – fluctuations in the equipment readings, unexplained noises, and sensations of cold spots, which are often interpreted as signs of a ghostly presence.
Perhaps the most curious part of the vigil was the unexplained sound of two male voices deep in conversation. This was heard several times by multiple guests. What made the voices particularly interesting was that there were no male groups amongst the guests. The men were spread out throughout the room making the possibility of two men talking to each other unlikely.
Later in the night in this area, participants reported physical touches, shadow sightings, and disembodied giggling.
Vigil 1: Dungeon
After the first group vigil we were split into four smaller teams and headed out into the castle for the night's main vigil. My team were taken to the dungeon, where we attempted table tipping, a form of spirit communication where participants place their hands lightly on a table and wait for it to move, supposedly by spirit intervention. We stood around the table in the dark, encouraging any spirits present to move, rock, or tap on the table as a form of communication. Haunted Happenings team member SJ then placed an ordinary-looking torch on the stone floor, and we called out to the spirits, encouraging them to turn the flashlight on and off as a sign of their presence.
Vigil 2: Witches Room
Next we moved on to the Witches Room, where Lisa was hosting a very active Ouija board session. The group believed they made contact with a young girl, aged seven, with the initial "O," and a young boy named Zack. Zack provided his birthdate as September 9, 1720.
While most of the guests were huddled around the Ouija board, me and the group I was attending with - Kerry, Jemma and James - took the opportunity to slip next door in the pitch-black mirror maze where we thought it would be interesting to try some mirror scrying. This is a form of divination that involves gazing into a reflective surface, such as a mirror, to gain mystical insight or communicate with the supernatural. Throughout the experiment, we called out to any spirits present, asking them to reveal themselves in the mirrors or change our reflections.
We gazed into mirrors, looking for supernatural signs lit only by one single torch that produced a dim light. One guest, James, observed a fleeting change in his reflection, which is a common expectation in scrying sessions. While Jemma reported seeing her eyes blink in the reflection without feeling it.
Vigil 3: Bedroom
After a short break, a chance for a cup of tea, we continued in a wood-panelled bedroom next to the Great Hall. This vigil combined traditional ghost hunting tools with the Estes Method. This involve one guest wearing headphones connected to a spirit box, relaying any words or phrases she hears through the device. The spirit box scans through radio frequencies, and the idea is that spirits can communicate through this device.
Jemma volunteered to wear the headphones while the rest of the group is tasked with asking questions to the spirits, with Jemma relaying any responses she hears.
The responses Jemma provides were a bit of a mix. Some responses seemed random and unrelated, while others appeared to be specific answers to our questions. However, this may have been influenced by our attempts to find relevance and meaning in the words and phrases she relayed.
Interestingly, at one point during the night an alarm was heard in this bedroom. It turns out that a security tag attached to a suit of armour in the adjoining Great Hall had been triggered, indicating that an artefact was touched. What makes this occurrence all the more curious is that the hall was locked and inaccessible during the night.
Vigil 4: The Kingmaker Experience
For the final vigil of the night we returned to the castle's undercroft where Mel was waiting for us. Here guests got stuck into some glass divination, a form of spirit communication where participants lightly touch a glass placed on a table, and it is believed that spirits can move the glass to answer questions or convey messages.
As the glass slid across the board, me and my group went to the adjoining room where we conducted a more relaxed 'watch and wait' vigil. This involved some more casual conversation and attempts to call out to any spirits present. We tried using a ghost hunting app that utilises the phone's proximity sensors, if triggered it plays music in the style of an antique music box. Unfortunately, the app did not trigger at all during our time in this area.
Meanwhile, next door the glass divination proved to be very active, with the glass moving to answer yes/no questions. The guests felt they were dealing with an agitated spirit, who they identified as a female imprisoned for stealing food.
Before we left the castle, there was an opportunity to hear from the team how the other three groups had gotten on during the night. Lisa told us about the Ouija board sessions in the Witches room, where participants communicated with spirits, including a young girl and a boy from the 18th century. Lia described the increased paranormal activity in the bedroom vigils, including unexplained sounds and responses from the spirit box.
The ghost hunting event at Warwick Castle was fast-moving, well-organised, and gave us plenty to think about. The combination of guided history tour and five carefully orchestrated vigils meant there was never a dull moment and plenty of variation.
If you want to hunt for spooks at Warwick Castle for yourself, you can book your own ghost hunting experience at the location with Haunted Happenings. You can find out more at hauntedhappenings.co.uk
More From Haunted Happenings View All