Farsight PRS Investigation – Peterborough Museum

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The Brief
With reports of activity throughout the building from the dark cellar all the way to the top of the building, Peterborough Museum seems perfect.

My aim was to take Farsight PRS in with some additional investigators who have investigated the location before. That way we should be able to approach the location with a bit of background knowledge.

History & Activity
Land for a mansion was given to the Orme family by King Henry VIII in 1538. The main part of the current museum building dates from 1816, when it became a grand Georgian house of former Manchester businessman Thomas Cook, along with his wife Charlotte. Thomas lived in the house until his death in 1854.

The 3rd Earl Fitzwilliam brought Preistgate Mansion in 1856 and allowed it to be the city’s first Hospital. It remained the Peterborough Infirmary from 1857 to 1928.

The museum building was then acquired by Percy Malcolm Stuart, who was chair of the London Brick Company. It was then donated to the Museum Society and opened as a museum in 1931, with the art gallery added in 1939.

Peterborough Museum has varying reports of paranormal activity throughout the building. This includes the usual light anomalies, odd noises, footsteps, temperature fluctuations, notable hotspots and discarnate voices. This activity appears to be still occurring too, with constant new reports.

The Cellar area has had reports of noises, moving objects, feelings of breath, possible sightings of a figure of a monk and more. Lone visitors to this area have reported feeling uneasy or not being alone!

On the Main Staircase during the 1970’s and possibly before and more recently, there have been reports of a figure on the main staircase of the museum. This figure has been since identified as possibly being an ANZAC soldier who died in the building in July 1916, when the building was a hospital. The most recent sighting was in June 2009, with another strange figure caught on camera in April 2007.

On Back Staircase there are reports of a form of a young woman. Visitors have said that they have felt as if they have been pushed or touched. Slight taps or knocks have also been heard on this staircase.

There have been some reports of a white lady or woman in the upper parts of the building.

There have been reports of a Roman Soldier who stands by a sword on display in the museum and also seen in one of the upper rooms.

In a room on the ground floor there have also been some reports of poltergeist activity, with furniture moving by itself.

Witness Reports
Knowing that Peterborough Museum was quite an active location I wanted to approach it slightly differently from some. Including some experienced investigators that could advise us during the investigation as we went.

Simon Ranson – Investigator who joined us at Peterborough Museum
‘1st floor when a child’s building block was ‘thrown’ 4 foot across the room and appeared to come from nowhere’

Laura Baird – Eye Witness 18 June 2010

‘then I saw what looked like a small dog crawling along the floor towards us (like a terrier).’

These statements and some other reports gave me some background to base my investigation plan on, helping to identify those all important hotspot areas.

Attending Investigators
Ashley Knibb – Lead Investigator
Leanne Knibb – Documentarian
Lucy Harkness – Assistant Documentarian
Keith Huckfield – Photographer / Interviewer
Simon Ranson – Guest Investigator
Judith Hardy – Guest Investigator
Kev Ling – Guest Investigator
Stuart Orme – Peterborough Museum

Location Hotspots & Equipment
After arriving earlier on the day of the investigation and from a previous visit I had a good idea where things would need setting up. With a good plan based on the witness reports which identified some of the hotspot areas, I knew where I wanted to focus the investigation.

With this in mind I placed a CCTV camera on the ground floor just passed the entrance to the Medieval Exhibit covering as much of the main staircase as possible. The second camera was in the Cellar covering the corridor and area where the apparition had been seen. The third camera was on the first floor covering the Victorian Shop. The fourth and final CCTV camera was on the second floor covering what we could of the back staircase.

I also had a Camcorder setup on the tripod covering some of the main staircase, which I set off when I kicked off my Singapore Theory Experiment. This was basically an iPod playing several musical tracks from around the 1916 era out loud at the bottom of the staircase. The theory is that the ANZAC Soldier that has been seen on the staircase is a Residual Haunting and the music might trigger the activity. Rather than do this all night, we began it half way through to give us a little time without the eerie background music drifting throughout the museum.

We split into two Teams, Team One would be Judith, Simon, Keith and I whilst Team Two would be Leanne, Lucy and Kev. As one team investigated the other team would remain in the HQ monitoring the CCTV.

Team Walkaround
Before splitting into our teams and kicking off the first vigil, Stuart Orme from the Museum gave us our health and safety talk, all common sense really. Then he took us around the building telling us some of the history and associating a few of the reports of activity I had heard.

Stuart began his tour at the bottom of the main staircase telling us about probably the better known character of the building, the ANZAC Soldier. Particularly interested if the identification of this ghost had been made by assumption and association, I asked how they knew his name! Stuart was quick to answer and it was something that I did not expect. He told us that a woman who used to work there when it was a hospital returned years later, she had been involved in the Soldiers care and knew him. What no one expected was for her to have witnessed the ghost on the stairs too, who she identified as Thomas Hunter the ANZAC Soldier. Although some could put this kind of association down to wishful thinking, this usually occurs between loved ones who wish to reconnect. However, it’s an interesting link to make from the world of the living to that of a spirit years later.

Stuart continued to show us around the rest of the building telling us about his own and others experiences there and a little of the associated history to back up the phenomena.

However, there is more, but we were not privy to such information as Stuart likes to keep some to him. The reason for this is so he can compare what he knows to things some people may pick up on their visit to the museum. This is an approach I can totally understand and appreciate, especially considering the gems he had already given us.

Vigil 1 – Team One – Back Staircase & Second Floor
After some quick initial readings, EMF was flat and temperature was a comfortable 21.2 degrees C, we began to call out! However, as we settled we could hear a knocking sound coming from the landing. We headed back up the landing towards the door on the main staircase. We tested the door and it sounded similar. However, to be sure we sent Simon back to the back stairs and we tried to recreate the sound, which Simon instantly confirmed it as the same. We cannot rule out air flow up the stairwell, but at the time no exterior doors had been opened!

Vigil 1 – Team two – Back Staircase & Second Floor
As my team settled down with a cuppa to watch the exciting CCTV Live, the second team headed to the back staircase. Although they didn’t report any audible phenomena such as we experienced, Leanne did report to me an odd experience of her own. As she walked down the stairs she also felt something hit her shoulder.

Vigil 2 – Team One – First Floor
For our second vigil my team headed up to the first floor and began our vigil around the Victorian Shop area. The reading at the time were, EMF flat and temperature around 21 degrees C.

We explored the rest of the floor finally settling in the Peterborough People exhibit, where Simon had experienced object movement on a previous visit. So, using the building blocks and calling out we tried to engage with whatever was there. After a while we moved to a rug on the floor, stacking some blocks and setting up various trigger objects. As we done so we continued to call out, this time Judith took the lead trying to communicate as if she was speaking to a child. Then remarkably one of the objects closest to Judith moved by itself! Simon and Judith saw the full movement and I caught it as it came to a halt, but more importantly our camera man Keith caught it too! We decided to leave the blocks and other toys setup to see what else might occur, but we had to end our vigil there, although on a high I would say!

Vigil 2 – Team Two – First Floor
Whilst the second team were on the first floor they attempted some calling out from near the Victorian Shop area. As they did they heard a faint banging or knocking sound which sounded distant. However, not much else occurred for them.

Mid-Way Briefing
The whole team decided to continue as planned.

Before heading out on the next vigil I kicked off my Singapore Theory Experiment. The sound of 1916 music filled the main stairwell and I have to admit it did sound a little like something out of a horror film! Hopefully the period music would trigger the ghost of the ANZAC or something else!

Vigil 3 – Team One – Cellar
We began by settling in the far end room first. As we sat quietly allowing ourselves to adjust, Keith believed he could hear some faint knocking through the camera. We tried making contact! After the conventional methods returned little results, we decided to step things up a little and provoked a little.

Given the information we had heard on the Cellar we decided to split the group, leaving Judith alone in the end room. Keith, Simon and I sat next door. We continued with the provocation, this time with both Judith and I calling out. As we continued Judith believed the corridor between her and the door to the room we were in was getting darker! I looked out and agreed! It was then I thought I saw someone or something peering around the door. However it could be my eye adjusting and playing tricks on me. Then as we paused briefly and silence fell, I am sure I heard a voice albeit very faint.

Vigil 3 – Team Two – Cellar
Leanne reported hearing faint voices and slight tapping sounds. They also believe that they may have seen a hooded figure in the shadows and possibly a stout figure or shadow pass across the corridor right to left.

However, it was whilst Team Two were in the Cellar that things happened upstairs near HQ!

As my team sat watching the CCTV monitor, we saw Stuart walk from his office (at the bottom of the main staircase) towards HQ. However, he paused briefly before the door to HQ, turned and looked back at the stairs. When I quizzed him about this, he responded simply that he felt drawn to look at the stairs. The odd thing here is that Stuart is more used to the strange things that happen at the museum than anyone else!

With this Simon headed out the base of the stairs to investigate further. After a few moments I asked him what he thought, to which he said he thought it to be darker!

I then also decided to try this out and spent a little time stood quietly at the base of the stairs. Although I couldn’t say they seemed darker, there was something different about it. Perhaps it was the psychological impact of standing at the bottom of a large stairwell in the dark, with that eerie period music playing! Not to rely on myself alone I asked Judith and Keith to join me at the bottom of the stairs to see what they thought.

It was as we sat and stood on the bottom few steps of the stairs quietly that I saw something on the top run of the stairs. It was a kind of orange flickering glow moving up the staircase. I think I began to ask if someone else has seen it, but Judith already knew where I was going and said she had. Not quite sure what to do next, we decided on grabbing the camcorder on the landing and chasing after it.

Follow a brief explanation, Stuart headed to his office returning with a lantern with a large candle inside. As he ascended the last flight of stairs we looked up and agreed that it represented almost exactly what we had seen.

Vigil 4 – Team One (The Girls) – First Floor Peterborough People
The girl’s attempted to reconnect with the spirit we encountered earlier, but the room was quiet.

Vigil 4 Team Two (The Boys) – The Main Staircase
The boys decided to check the staircase out to see if we could pick up anything there after the more recent activity. Stuart even joined us for this one, but it remained quiet.

Captured Evidence
Peterborough Museum presented us with many personal experiences. We even experienced the feeling of certain areas becoming darker. Not forgetting the odd candle light which appeared to ascend the staircase which Judith and I witnessed.

Which brings me to the piece of footage which will I am sure in time receive many comments, from the negative, to on the fence and the positive. I refer to the moving object in the Peterborough People Exhibit. We tried hard to connect in that room, basing what we were doing on a past experience, specifically of Simon, who had been present when a building block was thrown across the room. We used multiple trigger objects and were finally rewarded when the large draughts piece moved! The sceptics out there will refer to theories about vibrations or one of us stepping on floorboards, but I assure you we fully tested that area after the event. We moved around the floor as we did prior, nothing. We moved around more so to try and force it to move, nothing! Then we practically danced around the object, something which was tried again later, still nothing! It took Simon to physically push the object a couple of times to get it to move the distance it did! Is this conclusive evidence of the paranormal? Probably not, but it does make you think! People will have to watch it for themselves to formulate their own theories and decide what they think! I would love to hear those thoughts?

Conclusions
I had high hopes for our investigation at the Peterborough Museum. After my visit with DHN and the witness statements I had read, I hoped it would be a good night. The museum didn’t disappoint either, presenting us with audible and visual phenomena which made it all worth it. In fact for a few of us it might just have been one of the more active investigations we had been on!

The museum presented us with many personal experiences, which started almost as soon as we walked through the door! However, we have to ask the question, were these experiences of something paranormal or were they a kind of psychological effect of the location. Many of us had past experience of the museum, apart from Leanne, Lucy and Keith. Did this knowledge present something that wasn’t there? In my opinion, I don’t think this was the case with Peterborough, the team were level headed, experienced investigators and approached the investigation well. I think we truly experienced something that night, which we will all take away with us.

The usual knocks could easily be written off as some of the usual building sounds, which we were just unaware of. However, footage of an object moving of its own accord is usually something you associate with a TV programme or YouTube. Something I usually sit and discredit with logical explanations. Explanations which I am sure will come thick and fast when Farsight PRS release the footage. All I know from being there, from testing the area after it moved, is that something moved it, something I can’t explain! If that’s not paranormal then I don’t know what is! We danced practically on top of that object and it didn’t budge, explain that?

Is Peterborough Museum haunted? Phew!! I would like to jump up, dance around and shout ‘yes’, ‘hell yes’! However, I must remain logical, sensible and true to my roots. So, I would like to think so, the moving object and odd light, alone convince me. However, we only have the moving object from one camera angle; it doesn’t have a supporting piece of footage. Plus the camera wasn’t watching it from start to finish; the sceptics will find that hole straight away! It has potential for sure! Farsight PRS will return to Peterborough Museum, perhaps after its refit, to investigate again. When we do we have some new points to focus on, but I get the distinctive feeling I am going to need more cameras, more gadgets for that one.

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