I'm A Skeptic But Finally I Saw A Ghost
I saw something odd at a haunted building, which I can't explain and can only really describe as a ghost.
It happened during a public ghost hunting event at Woodchester Mansion in Gloucestershire. The property is a strange one, it's a grand rural home that was abandoned by its builders during construction and never completed.
This strange occurrence happened while we were being shown around the property before the ghost hunt by its resident paranormal expert, Paul Hobday. He was telling us about the former uses of the land, the history of the house, and a little about the family who attempted to build it here.
At one point on the tour we were stood in a corridor near the back of the house on its north side. I was at a T-junction looking along the empty corridor in front of me that lead to the chapel. Paul was talking to the group about the history of this part of the house. We were in darkness other than a torch Paul was holding, which let out a decent amount of light, so it was easy enough to see our surroundings.
Suddenly something appeared in front of me. It was about 1.5 meters into the opening of the opposite corridor, it was human-sized, stationary and it appeared to be floating off of 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 was 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 I recorded a description at the time on a voice recorder and at the earliest opportunity I drew a sketch of what I'd seen and jotted down as many detail as I could.
What I saw 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 was just a human-sized fabric shape with no facial features.
It appeared to be grey in colour, but since I was looking at the object in low light, it's hard to really say. The object didn't glow and wasn't shadow like. It felt like it was consistent with the lighting in the environment. Because it was fairly dark, even a sheet of white paper would have appeared dull and grey, so it's hard to get a feel for a true colour or shade.
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. It's hard to describe, but it was as if there was a buffer or gap between the object and a lightless outline around it.
I'm reluctant to call it a figure, because it lacked the characteristics of a human body, but it was a shape that appeared to be the same height and width of a human. The best way I can describe it would be as someone holding up a bed sheet.
I've tried to create the most accurate representation of what I saw using a photo of where it actually occurred. What I saw was clear but very brief, so it's hard to recall the details such as the lines and folds in the fabric. I feel in reality these lines were more jagged and less flowing.
After writing down my description and sketching my sighting, I was told 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 want to be clear. I 100% did not ever use the word "monk" to describe what I saw, but in hindsight I can certainly understand why someone might describe exactly what I saw as a monk, especially someone with a better imagination than me. It was human-sized and draped in fabric. Although it didn't look like it to me, 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.
So while I wouldn't describe what I saw in the exact same way, I do think it's possible I've seen the same thing as other witnesses.
Since sharing the news that I saw something odd, I've been inundated with questions asking about my experience. The mostly commonly asked and a summary of my answers are below.
Did anyone else see it?
There were a lot of us in the area, but only four or five of us could have seen down the tunnel in front of me at that time. Because the attention was on Paul who was giving the tour at that moment, no one was looking in the direction of what I saw.
Was it capture on camera?
It would be fantastic if I had video evidence to back this up, but in all honesty, I don't think a camera would have helped in this situation. The corridor was dark, not pitch black, but dark. A regular camera without a light source wouldn't have seen anything in these conditions, it would have probably just captured a black screen. Of course there are night vision cameras, but then the camera would be seeing a well-lit view that would be flooded in infrared light. Therefore, I don't think the camera would be seeing the same thing as my eye in that moment. Whatever I saw was almost certainly influenced, caused by or made possible by the environmental conditions and ambient light level, a night vision camera would see right through that.
As someone pointed out on Twitter, even with video proof there are always going to be those out there who instantly cry fake, which I think is understandable. So without video evidence you can either choose to conclude that I just totally made it up and I'm lying, or respect the fact that I believe that I saw something that I can't explain. It's not proof of the paranormal, it's simply something I experienced.
Was it paranormal?
It's very hard to say. If I had to commit to an answer, I would say no, but it was definitely unexplained and very unusual, which as a skeptic is quite high praise for a possible paranormal happening. The incident didn't give me any reason to conclude that what I had seen was the spirit of a dead person, but since it could so easily be described as a shrouded figure or a monk, it does help me to better understand what others have seen, no matter what the cause of that it.
Could it have been a trick of mind or an issue with your eyes?
Yes, of course. This is always a possibility, especially when it's only witnessed by one person and it's not caught on camera. However, I've not seen anything like it before or since. I'd be very interested to hear from an optometrist whether something like this can occur as a one off.
Was it a ghost?
It wasn't the type of apparition I would hope to see as a ghost hunter, as it had no face or features, but it's definitely the closest I've been to seeing what could be described as a ghost. It's very possible that I was mistaken or there's 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, yes, I feel I did see a ghost. There is still some doubt, but I think it's on a par with other people's experiences.
How did you feel about it afterwards?
Disbelief, really. It took me by surprise and I was bit taken aback, because I just didn't think it was possible to experience something like that in the way I did. I don't believe in ghosts and normally when people report sightings like this one it's things they've seen in the shadows or out of the corner of their eye. I wouldn't go as far as to say that I now believe the spirit of the dead roam around, but I have experienced something I never thought I would.
It was a really interesting experience and one I thought I'd never have as a skeptic to be honest, but my main concern immediately afterwards was getting back to the base room and sketch it out and make notes so I wouldn't forget
Did it scare you?
No, it was too quick to be scary in any way. It was more of an "ooh, what was that?" situation rather than a scary one.
Did you remain skeptical when you saw it?
I wasn't skeptical of what I experienced because I did see something, but I did remain rational. Seeing something doesn't mean it was the spirit of a dead person. I obviously went back to that area, spent some time there and tried to look for non-paranormal explanations.
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.
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