Paranormal Lockdown UK: The Royal Oak
In the third episode of Quest Red's newest ghost hunting show, paranormal investigators Nick Groff and Katrina Weidman spend 72 hours locked inside of Winchester's historic Royal Oak Pub.
The pub, which was originally a row of cottages built in the 17th century, has over 400 years of history, tragedy and hauntings. The building has been used as a court house, a hospital for soldiers, an ironmonger's and of course, a pub. A former landlady and her daughter died in the pub, adding to the misery and emotion attached to it.
There's been a public house on the site for over 1,000 years, so it's no wonder its got a few stories to tell. The pub is said to be haunted by dark shadows moving across the room, objects inexplicably moving and strange light anomalies have been seen. It's also believed that Edward the Confessor spent part of his early years at the building, in fact its name comes from its English Civil War connections.
According to Rachel Aplin, who bought the pub in 2011, the spirits of these past occupants have never left. After moving in, she experienced a string of paranormal activity and began to open the pub up for ghost tours, allowing local paranormal investigation groups in.
She believes the pub is haunted by Jack Stevens and his family. Jack was a former landlord, who lived in the pub in the 1800s with his sister, Mary, and daughter, Elizabeth.
Rachel showed Nick and Katrina around some of the pub's paranormal hotspots, but suddenly became very emotional. She said this was a result of the presence of a female spirit. Katrina said, "I wasn't expecting Rachel's reaction, it kind of happened out of nowhere. One minute she was fine and the next minute she became very emotional and upset, and Rachel doesn't strike me as the type of person who would get easily upset."
While this spirit is known to Rachel as that of Mary, there are some entities in the house that don't have a clear origin. There is one room on the second floor, dubbed "the vortex room" that Rachel refuses to open unless necessary and is the most negative room in the building. Rachel told Nick and Katrina, "I don't like coming in to it, I don't like staying in it. I would never sleep in here again for anything."
Rachel's friend, a psychic medium called Terri Powell, thinks there is a vortex in the room. Nick explains, "a vortex is almost like a doorway, and when this doorway opens other entities can crossover into our reality, but the problem is some negative entities can come through."
Rachel has always felt at home with the spirits of the pub, but over the last few months she feels the hauntings are growing in intensity and aggression. Nick and Katrina have 72 hours confined in the pub to try to find out why the ghosts have grown so active.
Before they were locked in for the night, Nick said, "it's a little bit concerning knowing that the owner of this establishment is channelling something that she doesn't even know what's happening to her. I think we're just going to have to be cautious on this investigation because we don't know what we're dealing with."
They begin their investigation on the first floor hallway, where Rachel had previously channelled the spirit of Mary. They started by using a device called a Geoport, which randomly scans through a bank of phonetic sounds allowing entities to produce intelligent responses to their questions. They had a few voices come through, but Katrina got the impression that the spirits weren't talking to them, but to each other.
Suddenly Nick was interrupted when he thought he saw what he described as "the scariest, nastiest looking thing" stood behind Katrina. He said the "negative blob of darkness" scared the s**t out of him. The spirit was stood at the bottom of the staircase to the second floor, so they went up to investigate.
While in the second floor bedroom, known as "the poppy room", they picked up a few more voices through the Geoport but were interrupted by a loud thumping sound coming from the floor below them. They went to investigate and an uneasy Katrina said, "something feels so off here." She called out to the spirits of the Royal Oak, "were you trying to get us back down to this level?"
The pair had some inaudible responses through their ghost hunting gadget, Katrina picked out one word which sounded like chateau, which lead them to believe that the spirit might be talking French... but it just sounded like random noises to me. It's like no French I've ever heard.
They then had the phrases "the baby", "I will never forget" and "let me out" come through. As they walked into another room, the Geoport spewed out, "the baby... in here." Nick asked where the baby is, the voice said, "in a room, on the second floor." Now, this is a bit weird, because throughout the episode so far Nick and Katrina have been referring to the floors by the American standard. They call the ground floor the first floor. What we call the second floor at the top of the building, they call the third floor. So, they take the spirit to mean the middle floor, but a British ghost would mean the top floor when they say "second floor."
But, it didn't seem to matter. Instead of staying upstairs, they went down to the bar on the ground floor to try to convince the spirits to communicate with them and perhaps even share a shot, but this proved unsuccessful.
Now 15 hours into their investigation, camera man Rob Saffi leaves for the night, leaving Nick and Katrina to try to get some sleep in the haunted pub. Nick decides to stay on the first floor hallway, where he has experienced most of the energy so far. Nick surrounds his bed with motion sensors in the hope of capturing the movement of any spirits throughout the night.
Katrina was brave enough to sleep in the vortex room on the second floor, she said "tonight I'm sleeping in the upstairs bedroom because anyone who's gone in there has had experiences, especially on one of the beds. So, I'm going to plop myself down on that one bed to see if anything communicates with me." This room could seem so oppressive due to the fact that it doesn't seem to have any windows.
Four hours later, Nick awoke and went to check on Katrina. She told him that in the night she woke up at one point and found herself unable to breathe and had the feeling that someone was stood in front of her. They used the Paranologies EVP recording device to see if they could make contact with the spirit that had been stood over her in the night. They enhanced the audio and played it back, it seem to contain words but I'm not sure how they were relevant to the questions that were asked.
When Katrina reviewed the footage from the camera that was in her room during the night, she noticed a strange flickering of the light from the camera reflecting on a metallic candle arbera. It's not really clear what the flickering is, but it could well be the camera trying to focus in the dark. But Katrina says that this is the spot where the vortex is supposed to be.
On night two the duo planned to set up some paranormal experiments at the hotspots they'd determined on the initial night. Oddly, one of those hotspots seem to be the bar area, where they'd actually had no activity whatsoever on the first night. Nick set up a test here which he called the "pint sensor". The idea is if anything touches the empty pint glass, the platform it is sat on will light up. Nick demonstrated and the lights flashed like crazy, he then asked the spirt to do the same and the lights, which were already slowly blinking continuously, dimmed completely. It was a different response all together, but Nick took this as a sign of success.
They then heard a sound which drew them into the part of the building which was once used by a blacksmith. They were then drawn back to the first floor hallway, where Nick saw something moving behind Rob, at first he thought it was the door opening but then described it as a shadow. Katrina thought she saw something similar at the same moment.
They got out the Geoport device and once again the odd echoey voices started coming through, like "I miss her", "I'm right here" and once again "the baby" and "you lost your baby." Katrina thinks we're hearing two voices, a female who wants to talk about the baby and a dominant male spirit who won't let her.
They then went up to the vortex room on the second floor, but the pub's spirits seemed to have fallen silent. So, they decided to bed down for the night. For their second night, Nick chose to sleep in the bar with a motion detecting strip of LED lights across the bar. He also places an old gun which was found in the pub on the bar as a trigger object. Katrina set up her bed on the first floor hallway. They seemed to have a quiet night.
Once Nick had awoken on the third day, it was 44 hours into their investigation, which doesn't really make sense as they started the investigation just as it got dark on the first evening. So, almost exactly two days in, this would mean he was waking up in the middle of the afternoon, but in fact it was the morning of the third day. There seems to be no consistency with the timing.
After a quick game of darts in the bar and a calm day, they headed into their final night of the investigation, focussing on the hotspots on the first and second floors.
Nick set up another of his ghost detecting light panels next to the stairs between the two floors, if any energy passes this panel the LEDs will start to flash to indicate a presence... but we didn't hear any more about this experiment or whether it was successful.
Then, once again armed with the Geoport, they stared calling out to the spirits on the first floor. Katrina said, "can you tell us who we're talking to right now?" The eerie voice-like sounds replied, "I don't want to be here." She then asked, "who has a hold on you? Who's keeping you here?" And the voice seemed to say, "let me go."
The team then heard a loud thumping sound coming from upstairs and went to investigate and upon entering the vortex room, picked up on a weird smell. Nick pulls out his TriField meter, which monitors magnetic waves, radio waves and microwaves. It alerts Nick if there's a disturbance in those fields. As soon as he turned it on, Nick found some "weird spikes" and when he asked any spirits present to reach out and touch his hand, the device spiked.
They then heard a few more phrases through the Geoport, including the words "let me rest" in a clear female voice. There was an amazing moment in the first episode of the series at Shepton Mallet prison when a similar voice said "I don't want to die". Now having heard the same voice coming from the Geoport it kind of takes away from that first bit of evidence, which at the time I thought was a one-off and something the Geoport doesn't normally do. It seems the the female whisper is part of the phonic sounds loaded onto the device. It doesn't make the evidence any less credible than other voices coming through the Geoport, but it does make the Shepton Mallet evidence less special and unique.
Nick and Katrina conclude that the ghosts of the pub have come through as a result of the landlady's own paranormal investigations and séances. They feel she has opened the doorway in the vortex room and now the spirits feel trapped here.
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