Help! My House Is Haunted: Old Cottage - Series 2, Episode 7 Review
Barri Ghai, Chris Fleming, and Jayne Harris head to a small village in mid-Devon to investigate reports of paranormal activity at a historic 16th century cottage near Crediton.
Mike and Catherine Smith moved into the Old Cottage in Morchard Bishop in 2015 and ever since have been trouble by strange goings on in their home. One such occurrence involved a small cast iron model of a stove, complete with little pots and pans. The couple returned home to find that it had fallen from the top of the fridge, even though nothing else placed there had moved.
Mike said, "it had left the top of the fridge and had made a substantial journey across the room without anybody being in the house." Catherine, who said she's not convinced the house is haunted, added "you could see where the legs had moved in the dust marks. There's just no logical explanation I can think of as to why this quite heavy object has fallen off the fridge."
The model, which is an antique miniature Crescent stove from the mid-20th century, would have been a sample used for sales and promotional purposes, but is likely to have been used as a toy ever since, and now as a decorative piece of nostalgia. The home owners blame the model for a string of poltergeist activity, which manifests itself throughout the whole house.
The couple also say they've seen glimpses of people walking past the kitchen window, even though there's actually no one there.
The team's psychic medium, Chris, always insists on being kept in the dark about the location, but before they even arrived at the property Chris became aware of something related to the location. He said, "I'm getting a white goose. Like a white duck or a white goose".
Chris' Walk Through
As always the team split up and go about their specialist roles alone in order to find out more about the property's haunting and the history of the surrounding village, leaving Chris alone at the house to conduct his initial walk around. Upon entering the house, Chris picks up on the energy of what he thinks is probably children running around.
After a while Chris felt as if something in the house was beginning to effect him and reported that he had a headache. Walking into one of the bedrooms, Chris said, "as soon as I walk in here, my skull, my head, starts just feeling compressed". He then started to feel a little light-headed and concluded that whatever haunts this house drains people's energy and makes them feel weak.
In another part of the house Chris pulled out his digital audio recorder and called out to the spirits, "are some of you spirits afraid of me?" When he played back the recording, he appeared to have caught a spirit voice in the form of an electronic voice phenomenon (EVP). The gruff voice said, "we don't care". From this lack of respect, Chris concludes that he can't be dealing with child spirits. Chris asked the spirits what they were and captured a voice in response that he thought sounded like it was saying "pixies" - a form of ancient elemental spirit.
Then out in the garden, Chris found his white duck, which turned out to be a ceramic garden ornament. Chris thinks it means there might be something important in the garden, perhaps a structure that is no longer there.
The Haunted History Of Old Cottage
Meanwhile, Barri was on the hunt for information to try to determine whether the area and the house has a paranormal past. He met up with Sarah, the landlady of the nearby Black Dog Inn. Sarah tells Barri that the village tailor murdered the butcher in the early-1900s and was hanged for his crimes.
The village also has a connection to witchcraft. There's a solitary grave on a crossroads outside the village known as Jane Way's Grave. It's believed she was a witch, hence why she was buried in unconsecrated ground, at a crossroad, something which was once common practice.
Jayne was also trying to find out a little more about the area, so met in a nearby pub with local historian, John Heal. According to John, the rural hamlet has had quite a quiet and peaceful past. Its isolated location means it's not been the site of a battle or anything else, seemingly the only event that's a little unusual was in 1952 when, what John described as a "lightning ball or a meteor", hit the church and caused considerable damage.
With their own individual investigations completed, and with more questions than answers, the team re-group to share what they've learnt and to put together a plan of action for their nighttime investigation. Putting the pieces together, Chris wonders if the history of witchcraft in the area might have been what has conjured up the elemental spirits he'd picked up on.
Barri tells us that elementals are part of folklore and ancient believe systems, he says they are "the building blocks of nature - earth, water, air and fire". Barri phones his friend Kate for some advice, she tells him "if it is an above earth elemental, that job is a guardianship job. If whatever they're protecting becomes desecrated in any way, that's meant that this elemental has become really annoyed". She warns that it will now take it upon itself to cause havoc.
Like Chris, Kate also has some psychic abilities, and despite being miles from the property feels that the act that has angered the elementals relates to an orchard, or at least one apple tree being cut down.
The team then meet up with the property's owners and Barri tells them that the spirits in the house have been "angered by you possibly chopping down trees". Catherine tells the team that they did cut down a tree in the garden. Mike points and says "by the white duck" - this must be the structure Chris was talking about.
Catherine and Mike join the team for the first part of their investigation, which took place in the cottage's kitchen. They decide to focus their attention on the stove. Holding her hands above the heavy cast iron model, Jayne leads the experiment by calling out, "we'd like to ask any spirits, entities, elementals, use my energy to move this object."
Suddenly, something happened and the look of shock on Jayne's face is undeniable. One of the small saucepans that were sat on top of the stove seemed to jump up and hit her hand.
Looking really shocked, Jayne said, "I didn't touch it. It literally touched my hand." The moment was caught on camera from several angles. Mike described it as "quite a significant movement". Jayne described the incident as a "really unusual and unsettling experience".
Although the pan is only small, because it is made of cast iron, it is quite heavy, but despite this it appeared to leap off of the stove and hit Jayne's hand. They try to re-create the moment, and even check to see if Jayne's jewellery is magnetic, but the incident remains unexplained.
As the light fades outside, Catherine and Mike leave, and static cameras are rigged around the property. The team are then locked down inside the house for a 12 hour investigation throughout the night.
Barri and Jayne continued where they left off, focussing on the stove. This time they are armed with a device called the Ovilus III, which contains a bank of phonetics, the sounds that make up words. It monitors various atmospheric metrics, such as electromagnetic field strength. It's said that spirits can effect these atmospheric conditions in order to form words and intelligent responses.
Jayne starts calling out to the sprits and the box spewed out words, some of which might be connected to the building's rural past. They then heard a clicking sound behind them and found that the oven was on. As they discussed the possibility that something might have switched it off, the Ovilus said "burn".
Suddenly Barri felt as if they were being watched from the shadows of the adjoining room. Thinking the heard movement in the darkness, they went to investigate, but moving down the corridor the pair felt as if the feeling had passed. They returned to the kitchen where Jayne asked out, "is there a spirit that would like me to go alone into the workshop?" Barri played back the moment on his audio recorder and a voice seemed to reply saying "yes".
Respecting the spirits' wishes, Jayne went into the outbuilding alone, her experience being captured by a static camera in the room. She hadn't been there long when she heard a loud bang coming from within the room. Barri was watching from the mobile nerve centre and called out, projecting his thoughts, "can you please make yourself known to Jayne," he suggested they made a noise or "physically touch her". As soon as Barri said this, Jayne reacted as if she'd been touched. She said, "I just had a cool breeze go past my left cheek and I was just about to ask if that was the spirit".
Back inside now, Barri and Jayne tried an experiment with four mirrors, placing them facing each other at north, south, east and west - to represent the four classical elements, earth, fire, water and air. The idea behind this is that some believe that mirrors act as portals. They placed the iron stove in the middle and watched the space using an SLS camera.
The camera can map and record anomalies that appear outside of the visible spectrum. If it detects an anomaly it displays it on its screen in the form of a stickman - and one such figure appeared stood next to the west mirror. Then another small figure appeared next to the stove on the floor - could this have been a pixie?
Meanwhile, Chris went back upstairs to the bedroom where he'd first become aware of the presence of pixies. He once again became overwhelmed by an oppressive energy, and it wasn't long before he heard the sound of a creaking door coming from another room.
Entering that room, Chris felt that he got a glimpse of the elemental, when moving between the bedrooms. After calming down from the experience, he called out to the spirits of the house and asked them if they needed help to get to heaven. When he replayed the audio he captured on his EVP recorder, a voice seemed to say "heaven".
The team then re-group and all three head outside, where they continue to get hits on the SLS camera and also several significant phrases through their devices, some of which relate to the tree that had been cut down. Barri said, "to me this seems pretty conclusive, planting new trees will placate the elementals and restore nature's balance."
Barri then says that offering of milk will appease the pixies, while Chris' prayers and cleansing ritual will help any human spirits trapped in the house to move on.
Like every episode so far this series, this one had a strong theme and narrative, introducing the audience to the idea that some hauntings could have influenced folklore and ancient traditions.
They also caught some interesting evidence on camera, most notably the incident with the cast iron stove model and the saucepan that hit Jayne's hand.
In a voiceover after the incident, Jayne described the moment as "inconclusive", but the evidence is actually pretty strong. The small but weighty pan moves with quite a bit of force and clearly leaps up and off of the stove. Although Jayne's hand is near and could have accidentally knocked it, it doesn't look like she moved with enough speed or force to translate into such a dramatic movement of the saucepan.
Of course we can't say for certain that the spirit of a dead person moved the pan, but as far as evidence caught on camera goes, this is as good and as credible as anything else out there.
'Help! My House Is Haunted' continues next week on Really as part of the channel's #Freakend event, bringing viewers two nights of paranormal entertainment every Thursday and Friday.
You can watch in the United Kingdom and Ireland as part of the Discovery family of channels. You can watch Really on Freeview (17), Sky (142), Virgin Media (129) and Freesat (160), plus YouView, BT TV and TalkTalk TV. Or watch previous episodes on demand on dplay.
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