Stood within a secluded valley deep in the Gloucestershire countryside, this grand Victorian mansion complete with menacing gargoyles and Gothic architecture, has the look of a classic haunted house. But when you realise that no one has ever lived in its unfinished and forgotten rooms, it makes it even more strange that I saw a ghost there.
Yep, that's right. I saw a ghost in the dark corridors of Woodchester Mansion in Gloucestershire, but since the construction of the house was never completed and no one has ever lived there, what exactly did I see?
This belief-shaking moment happened when I joined Haunted Happenings (HH) for a night at the mansion. They give members of the public the chance to visit spooky locations across the country and try their hand at ghost hunting using various gadgets and pieces of equipment, all of which are explained by the HH team.
Driving up to the front of the amazing rural hideaway, I could tell I was in for a good night. The house, which is an amazing example of Gothic revival architecture, is somewhere I've wanted to visit in search of ghosts for a while, and on this event I wasn't disappointed.
We were welcomed into the unfinished house by the HH team, Lisa, Andy and Tracey, who were joined by local paranormal
expert, Paul Hobday, who works closely with the Woodchester Mansion Trust and knows all about the property's ghostly goings-on.
The night began with a tour of the house, guided by Paul, who told us that the mansion had been the dream of Liverpudlian, William Leigh and was constructed on the site of a much earlier Georgian country house called Spring Park. Work on the mansion started in the 1850s, but progress was slow and the project was eventually abandoned.
At one point on the tour I was stood with the rest of the guests in a corridor as Paul told us a little about this part of the building. The lights had been turned off in the corridor, but Paul was holding a torch, which let out a decent amount of light, so it was easy enough to see our surroundings.
From where I was stood I could see along an adjoining corridor that lead to the chapel. This was before the ghost hunt actually began, so I wasn't expecting to witness anything, but totally unexpectedly I suddenly saw something. A human-sized, grey mass appeared about 1.5 meters into the opening of the corridor opposite me. It was human-sized, stationary and it appeared to be floating above the ground.
This wasn't something I saw out of the corner of my eye, my head wasn't moving, I wasn't even looking around. I had been staring along the corridor and it appeared in my field of view. It was visible for one or two seconds, and then it vanished. With such a fleeting glimpse it's hard to describe what I saw, but at the earliest opportunity I went back to the base room and drew a sketch of what I'd seen and jotted down as many details as I could.
I wouldn't go as far as saying that I saw the spirit of a dead person, although I could have, but I saw something that I can't explain. It didn't look like a human figure as such, but it was the size of a human. It was a tall shape that appeared to be draped in fabric. There were no obvious shoulders, limbs or head.
It appeared to be grey in colour, it didn't glow and wasn't shadow like. It felt like it was consistent with the lighting in the space. Oddly, the object looked two dimensional and it had an aura around it, not a glowing aura but a grey outline that was actually detached from the main body of the shape.
The best way I can describe it would be as someone holding up a bed sheet. It wasn't too far removed from that classic comic book image of a ghost wearing a sheet.
After writing down my description and sketching my sighting, Paul told me that other people have seen things in that exact part of the building. It's been described as a dark or grey figure, some even describe it as a hooded monk.
I didn't personally use the word "monk" to describe what I saw, but I can certainly understand why someone might. It was human-sized and draped in fabric, it would be easy to leap to the conclusion that it was a human figure wearing a hooded robe, especially if they only saw it for a couple of seconds too.
However you describe it, it's definitely the closest I've been to seeing what could be called a ghost. It's possible that I was mistaken or that there was another explanation, but to me it's unexplainable and it's comparable to sightings that other people have reported. Rightly or wrongly, those people are often confident enough to call what they experienced a ghost, so I think it's reasonable to classify my experience the same way. Therefore, I do feel that I saw a ghost.
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The rest of the event consisted of vigils across various parts of the building. We started in the cellar, a part of the building with vaulted ceilings and plenty of history, dating back to the former house that stood on the land. A few of the guests felt a little uneasy here, we heard a few unexplained sounds here, and some of the team's ghost hunting gadget lit up in the darkness around us.
We were then split into smaller groups and headed out on vigils across the building, including in an ornate stone bathroom on the first floor. This room was one of the only finished rooms in the house, and thankfully one of the warmest too on this cold night. Here guests tried to contact the spirits of the building using Ouija boards.
We then moved down to the kitchen, which although never finished, uses the flagstone flooring of the previous house which stood on the land. This means that the room is a potential hotspot for residual hauntings
for anyone who believes in the idea of stone tape theory.
In this room we did some very dramatic table tipping. It worked very well and the table danced around the stone floor. The table rocked wildly, spun around, lifted up on to two legs and even fell sideways on to the floor.
Later there was an hour of free time, which is when guests could go off and conduct their own paranormal experiments and explore the house. I used this time to go back to the place where I'd seen the grey object to try to look for non-paranormal explanations.
I'd noticed that some parts of the building had electronic sensors of some kind with a green light that flashed every few seconds. So I thought perhaps if there had been some kind of mist in that corridor, then a light flashing on might have illuminated a slice of it for a few seconds leading to the image I saw, but on inspection, there were no sensors in that corridor and I was unable to find any other rational explanations.
The night end with all the guests coming together for a final vigil, which was held in the chapel, an impressive room which would have been the largest chapel in a private home had it ever been finished.
My ghost hunt at Woodchester Mansion will of course go down as being one of my most memorable. The Haunted Happenings team made it a fun night, kept it fast moving and engaging. It was also great to have Paul Hobday on site to tell us a little about the house. He was also a great help when it came to documenting my experience as quickly as possible to ensure I didn't forget anything.
If you want to hunt for spooks at Woodchester Mansion for yourself, you can book your own ghost hunting experience at the location with Haunted Happenings, who currently had various dates available throughout 2022, including on Halloween night. You can find out more at hauntedhappenings.co.uk.