Investigating "Hell's House" In Middlesbrough
There seems to be more and more paranormal investigation shows appearing on television and these programmes make the science of ghost hunting seem exciting, action packed and enthralling. However, the truth about the paranormal is that investigations are far from the exciting world of reality TV. Investigations really involve a lot of patience and they usually fail to deliver any paranormal activity.
Over Halloween I joined an YouTube paranormal team as they embarked on a 48 hour investigation of an ordinary looking residential property in Middlesbrough with a haunted reputation. The reason I was keen to tag along on this case was because of the promise of spooky goings on in the semi-detached house. In fact so much has happened at the house that it has been given the nickname "Hell's House."
I also wanted the chance to see the team in action, because I really respect their rational and calm approach to paranormal investigation. The team are all about getting to the genuine root cause of hauntings, away from the flashing lights of ghost hunting gadgets and the over-the-top drama that we see in ghost hunting shows on television.
The two-man team know better than anyone that investigating the paranormal requires patience and a level head above all else. Paranormal activity never happens on command, it can take several investigations to see, hear or experience anything unusual. It can involve hundreds of hours of vigils that result in just one unexplained sound or vision, but Hell's House promised to be much more active, especially at Halloween.
The Ghosts Of Hell's House
Hell's House is a privately owned home in the Middlesbrough, England, not to be confused with another house with a similar name in Skegness. This Hell's House has not been the subject of mainstream press and has not featured in any television shows. We will be among the first to investigate it.
It's fair to say that the house is quirky, decorated in a vibrant and unique style. Originally the house was a bungalow but an upstairs was later added. This extra floor is squeezed into the roof space and as a result feels a little disconcerting due to its odd layout and uneven floors.
The owner of the house, a lady called Rose has lived there since the 70s and has been tormented by what she described as terrifying and even violent poltergeist activity all this time. Rose eventually contacted the team to investigate the property in the hopes that they might be able to validate her claims and establish what is causing the activity.
The house has really taken its toll on Rose and her husband over the years, even making family members ill. Most of the activity comes in the form of audio phenomenon such as unexplained knocks, bangs and even growls. The activity regularly escalates to physical phenomenon, including whole beds shaking, covers being pulled off of people while they sleep and even violent attacks in the form of scratches.
The activity that Rose experiences in the house can be categorised as classic poltergeist activity, but some think the haunting may be the result of a demonic presence. The house has been unsuccessfully blessed twice and before the visit and has only been investigated by one other paranormal team.
Most haunted locations have paranormal hotspots, which are the most active parts of the property, but every room in Hell's House is said to be just as active and every room comes with its own stories of strange goings on. In the living room, Rose's husband is said to be regularly scratched while sitting in an armchair. A dark shadowy figure has been seen walking through the kitchen and into the conservatory, the bedrooms are said to be constantly plagued by unexplained noises.
One of the bedrooms, known as "the mirror room" is the location where a skeletal hand has been seen emerging from the corner of the room. The hand is said to be that of "the Hat Man", just one of the house's eight resident ghosts, each of which Rose has named.
As well as the Hat Man, the most prevalent ghosts to haunt the property are the Shadow Man, Grumpy and the Fat Ass Lady. The activity these spirits drum up is said to be frequent and almost constant. In fact the night before the team's visit, Rose and her husband were forced to move down to the back bedroom during the night as the master bedroom was simply too loud to sleep in.
Rose has chosen to keep the location of the house private and has not told her friends and neighbours about the paranormal phenomenon that haunt the location. So, it was an honour to be allowed into her home to investigate and experience the strange goings on for ourselves.
The Halloween investigation was actually the second time that the team have been to the house and although last time the house was fairly quiet, one of the team did experience something strange. He had been left in the house and within about five minutes he heard heavy footsteps running down the wooden stairs towards him. The footsteps finished at the bottom of the stairs right next to him, causing him to move back in to one of the downstairs bedrooms. He then heard what he described as a clear growl coming from within the room. He described the occurrence as being aggressive and as if something was trying to force him out of the house.
Normally I would be sceptical of stories like this, simply putting it down to the imagination or other normal factors, but in this case I know that he is as rational as me, which makes his story all the more interesting.
Night One: 30th October
The team were already at the house when I arrived, I was also greeted by a follower of the channel who'd been invited along for the investigation. In fact, this was only Jamie's second ever investigation, his first was with the same team at the infamous 30 East Drive in Pontefract.
We had a few quiet hours in the house before they started their live stream at 8pm. As a guest, I thought I'd just be lurking in the background during the evening, but I ended up being the first to do a lone vigil. It was decided that I'd go into one of the downstairs bedrooms alone, the room known as the mirror room.
About 15 minutes into my vigil I noticed something odd. The chandelier in the room was swinging. I hadn't been near the chandelier and it had been quarter of an hour since he left the room after setting up the camera, but that seemed like a long time for a chandelier to swing.
As it was just a glass bead hanging down from the light fitting that was swinging, I decided to try to debunk this and stopped its motion. I then continued to call out to the spirits of the house asking them to swing the chandelier again. After trying for about five minutes, the motion hadn't resumed. I then swung it myself to see how long it would keep moving for and found that because the bead was so heavy, it swung for a surprisingly long time.
So, unfortunately my lone vigil failed to summon up any paranormal activity. Next up was Jamie, who was a bit of a natural and did really well. Sadly, he too failed to experience anything paranormal. The rest of the evening the night vision camera was placed in various locations around the house while we monitored the feed from the living room.
This is the reality of ghost hunting. It involves sitting in silence in the dark just waiting for something to happen and on night one nothing did, despite us waiting up until 4am.
Sleeping in a haunted house was interesting and a first for me. It's fair to say that Jamie was a little nervous about bedding down and had quite a restless night, but this was only due to his uncertainty about sleeping in the house, there was nothing paranormal that kept him awake. In fact, we all had a very peaceful night in the house, I fell asleep as soon as my head touched the pillow and got a good night's sleep, which was a little disappointing because Rose had said that the night before the house was too active to sleep in.
Night Two: 31st October
Despite a quiet first night, I was excited about night two as it was Halloween. If anything was ever going to happen in a house with such a haunted reputation, then this should be the night. It did turn out to be a more eventful night.
We decided to take a different approach on night two and started out with some group vigils, hoping that our combined energy and efforts might tempt the spirits in to showing us what they could do. There were a few minor knocks and bangs that were heard during the vigil, but nothing that couldn't be explained as the house naturally expanding and contracting, the fridge turning on and off, and sounds from outside the house.
At one point we left the camera in the conservatory and again monitored the feed from the living room. We suddenly started hearing a very loud sound like hailstones on the conservatory roof. I went to investigate and through the door couldn't hear anything, it was only when I opened the door that very light rain could be heard on the roof. Weirdly, when we went outside we found it was barely even drizzling and the ground was dry, which just goes to show how much a sensitive microphone can boost and amplify the tiniest sounds when in a completely silent environment.
Like the previous night, we continued through until the early hours of the morning, but sadly as we went on things only got quieter. In fact the most dramatic moment of the night was a bizarre series of events that took place at the beginning of the evening and wasn't paranormal at all.
There was a knock at the door, assuming it was trick-or-treaters, we rushed to the door with the camera thinking it would make an amusing moment on the live stream. Of course at this point we were in complete darkness, so we opened the door by torch light. However, we weren't confronted by cute little trick-or-treaters, but an old lady who said, "hello, it's only Eunice," as we blinded her with our torches.
It seemed that Eunice was worried about the house, presumably after seeing four strange men going in and out dressed in black and wandering around with torches. As one of the team tried to convince her we weren't a threat, I some how managed to set off a motion detector in the kitchen, which sounded like a burglar alarm. The timing couldn't have been any worse and I'm surprised the police weren't called, but it did make for a funny moment in the live stream.
What is weird is why the motion detector triggered in the first place. They normally use these devices during their investigations, but for two days they'd been in their box and hadn't been touched. Then suddenly one triggered as I walked past it. This happened two more times during the night, both times as I walked past. It was odd, but it's more likely that they some how turned on in the box than it being a spirit of a dead human triggering it.
The Halloween investigation was a stark reminder that paranormal research above all else involves patience and a lot of time sitting in the dark with no activity at all.
So, is the house haunted? If I knew nothing about the alleged hauntings in the house and spent two days there and experienced what I did, I would have no reason to even think that the house is haunted. It was completely quiet and still, sometimes quieter than my own house where I often hear natural creaks and sounds.
Despite this, none of us were willing to completely rule out the fact that the house might be haunted. After all, they visited 30 East Drive countless times before they experienced any activity there. What was agreed upon however is that Hell's House was much quieter during our time there than it seems to be for its owner Rose.
Plus, I can't rule out the team member's experience with the footsteps on his first visit. He's a credible and rational witness who has no reason to lie. I can say this because I know how he works having watched previous investigations and after getting to know him over Halloween.
However, I don't know Rose. She seems lovely and genuine, but the truth is, I can't rule out the possibility that she is either imagining the activity or is making it up. The YouTube channel is known for their truthful verdicts on hauntings, if we're going to fairly judge this case and get to the truth, then we do need to question why Rose experiences activity in the house when others don't seem to.
The team carried out their Halloween investigation fairly and rationally, but sadly it failed to deliver any paranormal activity and this is the reality of paranormal investigation. It could be that the haunting is focussed around Rose or that the spirits of the house simply chose not to show themselves to us during our time there.
It might just be that sounds that we attributed to normal things like external noise, the fridge or central heating, Rose attributes to the spirits of the house. A lot of what she witnesses is through her own YouTube live streams that she monitors while away from the house. Because the broadband in the house is pretty poor, this video is streamed to YouTube in such a low bit rate that it is full of visible video compression glitches and audio noise. The team didn't encounter this same issue as they were broadcasting using their own 4G-based WiFi router.
I personally don't think Rose is lying or intentionally trying to mislead anyone, but her motivation is a little unclear to me. Rose has said that she doesn't want any publicity from the house and says she's kept the tales of hauntings away from her neighbours. However, on Halloween night we overheard a little girl in the street who was out trick-or-treating say to her Dad "I'm not going in there, there are ghosts in that house." So, it would seem the reputation of the house is known to some extent locally.
Furthermore, Rose has said that a producer from the long-running ghost hunting show 'Most Haunted' came to the property to validate its haunting, but Rose decided not to let them feature it on the show. She says this is because she's not doing it for attention, but a coincidental online encounter makes me think differently.
I was watching a YouTube video the day after Halloween catching up on what Zak Bagans got up to during his live US television show the previous night. I happened to notice Rose had posted in the comments section saying "I've been trying to contact Zak about my haunted house but nothing." Her Twitter account is also full of tweets to other celebrity ghost hunters including every single member of the 'Ghost Adventures' team and Nick Groff of 'Paranormal Lockdown' fame.
This doesn't mean that Rose is making the whole thing up, but it does contradict what she's told us about her own motivation in relation to publicity of the case. This is just our opinion and we can't take away from the fact that Rose is experiencing something odd in her house. The only thing we know for sure is that we didn't.
Although our investigation proved fruitless, this is the very nature of paranormal research and it didn't detract from the enjoyment of the two-day vigil. It was a pleasure meeting they guys and an honour to be a part of their Halloween special. The channel's fans and viewers were really friendly and welcoming in the chat and helped make the investigation a fun couple of nights.
Hell's House is due to appear on 'Paranormal: Captured' on UK television channel, Pick, in 2019.
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