This was originally brought to my attention by a fellow investigator and author, Damien O’Dell. Damien’s Team APIS had recently investigated the location and he suggested it as a location for investigation. In fact Damien stated that he would like Farsight PRS to investigate this location to see what we found. I of course jumped at the chance to get a team together, kick off Farsight’s 2013 investigations and be one of the first teams to investigate this possibly active location in 2013.
Situated in landscaped park land on the outskirts of Luton town centre, Wardown Park Museum offers a range of exhibits.
However, the buildings history goes beyond that of a town museum. Perhaps even to more darker times.
In the mid 1800’s the park itself started out more as a private estate which was owned by Richard How. The first property was built by Richard’s son Robert and named Bramingham Shott. This is now what we know as the museum.
In the early 1870’s, Frank Chapman-Scargill took over the estate. Frank rebuilt much of the earlier house around 1879 which cost around £10,000. When Frank late left Luton he let the house to J Forder who then renamed the estate to Wardown.
The Stewart Family (famous son Sir Malcolm Stewart, founder of the London Brick Company) decided to sell the estate in 1903. The sale price was £17,000. However the property wasn’t sold and in 1904 two local councillors purchased the property for £16,250. Asher Hucklesby and Edwin Oakley donated the park to the people of Luton. Asher Hucklesby later became the Mayor of Luton.
The next few years saw vast improvements to the park including footpaths, trees, bridges and a bowling green which was completed in 1905, possibly the first in Luton.
Hucklesby’s vision was for the estate and house to become a place of education and a museum. However, the house fell into neglect over the years, suffering from dry rot. With extensive repairs required the local council could not afford the price and the building remained empty for several years.
However, during the First World War the building sprang to life as the building was used as a military hospital. Following the war, its rooms were let to council employees with a public tea room opening on the ground floor.
1925 saw a committee set up with the view to creating a museum and art gallery in Wardown House. However when a room became available in the Carnegie Library, Luton Museum was established there in 927. Thomas Bagshawe was honorary Curator. Bagshawe shared Hucklesby’s earlier vision of housing the museum in Wardown House. This vision became a reality on the 1st July 1931 when the museum was transferred to Wardown House following a strong campaign, led by Bagshawe and The Luton News.
1931 to 1939 saw the museum occupy two rooms and the hall, then rapidly expand through the building.
During the Second World War (1939 to 1945) the museum rooms remained open, whilst other parts of the building were requisitioned by the military authorities. This included the basement, which was used as an air raid shelter. Museum visitors continued and increased in numbers, the collection also expanded.
Following the end of the War the building went through various changes. In 1955 Bagshawe donated his previously loaned collections to the museum. The Luton Life galleries opened in 2003 and The Rural Life collections went to Stockwood Craft Museum and Galleries in 2008. The changes that were made enabled the museum to display more from its collections.
Full Apparition Sighting – Various Locations
Temperature Fluctuations and Cold Spots
Audible Phenomena – sounds of footsteps, whispers, male and female arguing,etc. Some have been caught on devices too.
Flickering lights, red lights, balls of light, blue lights, etc.
Light activation on demand
Individuals have often felt a presence
Odd Smells – Chocolate, Flowers and Herbs
In 1971 two heating engineers were working in the cellar late one night when they heard footsteps coming down the stairs behind them. They turned and saw a woman wearing a long dark dress and carrying a large bunch of keys on her belt. The figure said nothing just turned around and went back up the stairs. The two workmen found the caretaker having a cup of tea and asked him about the woman but he said that neither he nor anyone else had been near the cellar. After this the figure was never seen again but the sounds of footsteps were heard on the stairs late at night or early in the morning when there was no one about. Nothing has been seen or heard now for over twenty five years.
A sighting of the apparition has been reported by Anthony Roberts, who reportedly witnessed the ghost in 1955. Below is his testimony as reported by the Luton Paranormal Society. The testimony was recounted in April 2010, some 55 years after his experience.
‘I left school at the age of fifteen and joined a heating and plumbing company called EG.Baker in Park Street Luton. I was put to work with a man called Hugh Upton… now he had been through the First World War and fought on the Somme battlefield. It is important to know this because that generation was different to mine. He would never be bested and he had a singular attitude to life. He was a proud and a brave man. But I saw that man rooted to the spot with fear that day in Wardown Museum cellar.
To get to the point, we were changing a section in the boiler which had cracked. I was in the boiler and Hugh was standing outside by the boiler door. The only other person in the museum at that time was the curator who was upstairs in his office. The museum was closed to the public. We knew that we three were alone. When we heard footsteps coming towards us we knew something was wrong as there was the sound of a light’ tap tap’ and then we heard the sound of a dress swishing as the person walked nearer. There were no lights in the cellar in 1955 at all. The only lighting came from a 100 watt head lamp on a long lead which was plugged in upstairs which threw out a limited light around the boiler.
As we waited a woman appeared out of the gloom about ten feet from where Hugh was standing. She continued to walk towards us then turned the corner and was gone from my sight as I was in the boiler.But Hugh saw her for longer as I could see his head turn as he watched her until she was no longer to be seen. Now that would have been something to talk about between us, but no old Hugh was old Hugh and he was saying nothing. I could not believe it, and after I got over the shock of what I had seen I begged him to talk about it. But he would not. But he stood there in front of the boiler frozen.
It took a while for him to move and when he did he turned to me and said something like “load of rubbish” or words to that effect and that was the last word he ever spoke of the subject. Now let me try to describe what she looked like. She was tall and wearing a dark possibly blue surge dress. White ruffs at her wrists and a white front or ‘V’ down to her waist. I don’t know if she was wearing a bonnet or not and her face has faded from my memory as indeed old Hugh’s has….. When you get to my age you will know what I mean, anyway that’s about that.
But as a footnote I thought she was a nurse, could be wrong and one more thing, she was not holding a lamp of any sort. That means there was light in the cellar at that time possibly gas. I have just found LPS online and read about the other heating engineers in 1971. This caused me to put pen to paper and get this on record’
As ever with a location of this size and a team of this size we will need to divide into two smaller teams. To ensure an even split of those that are more spiritually sensitive and those that usually approach with a more sceptical eye, I have decided on these two teams.
Ashley Knibb – Lead Investigator
Andrew Marsey – Investigator / Sensitive
David Sealey – Newbie
Martin Gregory – Investigator
Aaron Hardy – Lead Investigator / Case Manager
Liz Egan – Investigator
Kevin Ling – Investigator
Location Assessment & Equipment Setup
Wardown Park Museum has three floors for investigation:-
There are reports of activity from all three floors, which means we will have to cover them all. However, this does help us with two teams on the night we should have a good split.
Given the activity associated with Wardown Park we will need to cover all three floors with CCTV and where possible audio too. Using the heads up from Damien O’Dell and information from the LPS investigation, I believe that we should place CCTV as follow:-
Main Stairwell – CCTV & Audio
Basement Corridor – CCTV & Audio
Ground Floor Military Gallery – CCTV
First Floor Gallery (Top Left) – CCTV & Audio
It’s odd we kick off 2013 and I am thinking we need more camera’s.
Due to the reports of temperature fluctuations, I think it would be an excellent idea to continuously test/check the localise temperature. With this it may be perfect to also grab an EMF reading too.
During setup I’ll ask some team members to see if they could baseline for Temp and EMF at various points on all three floors. This will need repeating during Vigils too.
Given previous reports on the location, I think it would be brilliant to kick off each Vigil with a brief EVP session. These need to follow the standard format of asking out loud a few questions, leaving around 30 seconds for responses. Please ensure any noises or oddities are verbally identified during these sessions and each is verbally labelled at the start with Location, Date, Time, Floor, Room, Individuals Present. Each session need not exceed 10 minutes and can only be 5 if required. It may also be of value to the investigation to attempt this towards the end of each Vigil too and of course if you believe it to be a good time/location during a Vigil.
Given the similarities with this location and Peterborough Museum I am also going to attempt the Singapore Theory Experiment. As with Peterborough Museum I will place the audio of music from the 1916 era at the bottom of the stairwell, hoping it will be heard on all three floors. This will run during one Vigil.
As we have reports of a possible child apparition/presence at the location I would like to also set up some kind of trigger object experiment. Most likely in front of a CCTV camera with audio.
Beyond trying to capture the paranormal or even triggering activity, we need to also keep our eye out for logical explanations. Check the location for some logical reasons for temperature changes or even sightings of apparitions, weird lights, etc. As we all know sometimes there can be a natural simple explanation which is far from paranormal.
Vigil One – Team One – Basement
Start Time – 21:42
Team Present – Ashley, Martin, Andrew & Dave
We headed down into the basement for our first vigil and to investigate the reports of the apparition of a housekeeper or nurse.
Initial temperature and EMF was normal, but Martin did discover a few bits of cable work where the EMF did spike. However, the EMF Meter had to be pressed against the cable to make it spike, which ruled out EMF seeping into the area.
Andrew felt a presence towards the plant room at the end of the long corridor. He and Dave also experienced a slight temperature fluctuation, which could be cool breeze or cold spot. I measured this with my MEL meter, but it wasn’t significant in its nature.
After attempting to connect with a possible presence in the corridor, myself and Martin focussed on the witness statements to try and get the best results. Our discussion led us to question the location of the basement CCTV camera. With this in mind we moved the camera at around 22:22 to cover the bottom of the basement stairs. The reason being is that the statement seemed to indicate the witnesses heard footsteps on the stairs, then saw the apparition briefly before it vanished or by our understanding moved through a nearby door possibly.
Soon after this we returned to our base as the vigil came to an end.
Vigil One – Team Two – First Floor
Start Time – 21:42
Team Present – Aaron, Liz & Kev
Aaron, Liz and Kev headed up to the first floor to investigate that area for their vigil.
However, the vigil was a quiet one returning nothing of interest apart from Liz feeling very hot in a cold room.
Singapore Theory Experiment – During Vigil Two
As the team took a break I setup the Singapore Theory Experiment at the base of the main staircase. This basically involves for Wardown Park, playing songs which date back to around 1912. In fact its a short playlist of about four tracks, which are repeated for the course of the second vigil. The idea is that the audio may trigger some kind of activity off. We have seen some interesting results from using this method, most notably at the Peterborough Museum.
Vigil Two – Team One – Ground Floor
Start Time – 23:00
Team Present – Ashley, Martin, Andrew & Dave
With the almost eerie audio seeping through from the main stairwell, we headed first off into the Military Room. Initial temperature was normal and the EMF too. Andrew picked up on the name ‘George’ in this room earlier when we were setting up and also witnessed an EMF spike at the same time. Oddly as I placed my MEL Meter on a surface to make some notes, the EMF spiked up.
Andre believes the room may have been used as a dinning or banquet room in the past. He also made the association to the name ‘Sir Percy’ and then the surname ‘Waynwright’, but isn’t sure if they are connected. Also, the name ‘Mannering’ was picked up by Andrew, which made us laugh due to the very obvious link to the military aspect of the room and ‘Dad’d Army’.
We later moved into the Main Art Gallery where Andrew picked up on a ‘Lady Mary’, although she wasn’t actually a ‘Lady’. Apparently she had a fling with an employee possibly called ‘Richardson’ causing a scandal at the time. Andrew explained she was a socialite and loved to dance, maybe married to a man called Francis. Andrew also believed this may have occurred around the year 1861, he also linked the name ‘Poly’ to this.
We moved on through the Ground Floor and Andrew stated that he believed there may have been a link between Wardown Park and a building in nearby Dunstable.
Martin decided to try and google this link and did make a connection, but it was a loose link. The link was using the name Forder which linked to the Stewart family.
Soon after this our vigil came to an end and we returned to base.
Vigil Two – Team Two – Basement
Start Time – 23:00
Team Present – Aaron, Liz & Kev
Aaron, Liz and Kev headed down into the basement to investigate, as the music played in the background.
They reported a couple of small knocks and creaks, but this could easily be attributed to Team One moving around on the Ground Floor.
Vigil Three – Team One – First Floor
Start Time – 00:15
Team Present – Ashley, Martin, Andrew & Dave
With the Singapore Theory Experiment now shut off, silence fell upon the building once again. We headed upstairs to investigate the first floor.
We headed to what we believed to be the original Main Bedroom, as it overlooked the Main Entrance, these days it houses a display of toys. We sat on the windows seat and attempted to communicate, recording the session to check for EVP later. The temperature and EMF were both registering as normal.
As we sat calling out to ‘Lady Mary’, Andrew saw a stream of yellow light on the ground not far from me. The light anomaly didn’t seem to have a natural source that we could find.
Oddly shortly after this both Dave and Martin believed they could smell flowers or perfume. Andrew, who was sat between them did not smell this.
Later in the Vigil as I walked in front of Martin into the room where our CCTV camera was, I thought I heard what I can only describe as someone exhaling. I immediately asked Martin about it and he confirmed it wasn’t him and hadn’t heard anything.
With this I gathered the rest of the team into the room to attempt an EVP session in front of the CCTV camera and its audio. Andrew used his Canum device during this session too.
After asking numerous questions, Andrew had a massive spike on his Canum device. This appeared to be in conjunction with the reference to the name Amanda. The Canum device appeared to continue to be responsive to Martin’s questions. This continued for about 8 minutes, as Martin asked questions it appeared to react to them. At one point Martin checked that none of us had a phone on us which may have caused this, although there was no pattern to the responses to indicate. However, Dave did have his phone on, but following pulling its battery the Canum reacted again. Then as oddly as it had began it stopped. As this occurred I thought I heard some kind of movement behind me, but this was inconclusive. We brought the vigil to a close, but knowing that we had EVP and the CCTV covering this event, we hoped that we may have some evidence to support the Canum spikes.
Vigil Three – Team Two – Ground Floor
Start Time – 00:15
Team Present – Aaron, Liz & Kev
The team investigated the ground floor, but had nothing to report.
During Vigil Three – Old Kitchen (Our Base)
As we investigated the first and ground floors of Wardown Park, my wife was sat in our base room, which used to be the old kitchen.
As she did she experienced some odd activity whilst she sat alone. It began with a bag on a table which appeared to fall over without assistance. This event on its own isn’t something I would particularly measure as there are a number of reasons which could cause a bag to fall over in this way. The most obvious being the slow movement of objects within the bag following someone removing an item, which may cause the bag to fall over. However this was shortly followed by the lights in the room turning off leaving my wife totally in darkness. I believe the lights are reactive to movement, but my wife stood up left the room to check with the staff, still darkness! The staff advise to return to the room and move about to turn the lights on. My wife tried this again, but this didn’t help. In fact the lights remained off until Aaron’s team returned to the base room and the lights then came back on.
As ever completely inconclusive and hard to prove this to be paranormal, after all it could just be a fault in the lighting system. Perhaps what ever was creating the spikes on the Canum was drawing its energy from the Kitchen somehow, then once Aaron and his team returned it ceased?
Possible Evidence & Personal Experiences
My team began to experience a few oddities from our first Vigil with a slight temperature fluctuation. Although this was not a significant temperature drop it did coincide with Andrew sensing a presence near by. Oddly as we experienced a drop in the basement, Liz was feeling hot in a cold room.
Vigil Two returned slightly less results apart from an EMF spike in the military gallery, which occurred almost in the same spot as an EMF spike experienced by the team earlier when they were conducting baseline readings. Again on both occasions this happened around the same time as Andrew picked up on a few names.
Meanwhile the team in the basement heard a few knocks and creaks, but these could have been from the team investigating the ground floor. Unfortunately we didn’t check at the time of these sounds to confirm, which is a shame.
However Vigil Three appeared to give us the most significant results of the night. The Vigil on the first floor began well with Andrew picking up on a few things, but more importantly he saw a stream of yellow light on the floor near me. The odd thing was that there was no obvious source for the light. Soon after this both Martin and Dave said they could smell flowers or perfume. Although a distinct possibility and a good source as it came from two individuals, what makes this more interesting is the fact that Andrew was sat between them both and smelt nothing. Is it possible that they both sensed this smell or perhaps Andrew just missed it.
As the Vigil progressed we moved into the first gallery and decided to attempt an EVP session. Andrew decided to use his Canum device during the session and it wasn’t long before we were asking standard EVP questions.
The first twelve minutes of the session pass without any response to speak of, but then just after twelve minutes Andrew picked up a massive spike on the Canum Device. Andrew and Martin both confirmed that this was not the normal behaviour of the Canum Device as it hardly ever spikes as dramatically as it was. The spikes continue, but they seem to also be in relative response to some of Martin’s questions. This was made evident when Martin practically persuades the device not to spike. Then on another occasion Martin asks a question which receives what seems like a short burst of an answer, a bit like a ‘yes’ or ‘no’. Then after nearly ten minutes of responses they stopped as quickly as they had began.
However on the journey home my wife informed me of some events which occurred during our EVP session. She told me how whilst she sat playing on her iPad in our base room (the old Kitchen) she witnessed a bag simply fall over by itself. Usually this can be easily explained by objects settling in the bag, but this wasn’t the only thing that occurred. Soon after the lights in the room simply went out. Understanding that the lights were managed by motion sensors my wife stood up and attempted to reactivate the lights, which was unsuccessful. In case this was related to something else my wife then headed out to the front desk to check with the two staff members. They advised her to return to the room and attempt to wave her arms about to activate the lights, which didn’t work of course. With this she sat in the darkened room with only the CCTV monitor for light until Kev walked in and the lights then came on. Could the events on the first floor with the Canum be related to what happened to my wife on the ground floor? This can not be known for sure, but its certainly an oddity that they occurred at the same time.
It appears that although good solid evidence was lacking there were a few interesting experiences which also appeared to coincide with each other.
Although more often than not we leave an investigation with more questions than answers, we still manage to understand or at least gather some ideas and theories on what may be happening. This was one of those cases, but we did also tick off a few of the known activity at the location. We experienced a couple temperature fluctuations , some light anomalies, a presence was felt and odd smells, notably that of flowers. There are also reports of the building lights being activated on demand. Now we never experienced this, but my wife’s experience is certainly similar to this. It’s odd really as the night itself seemed quiet, but this wasn’t the case. Wardown Park certainly seem’s to have a few things going on, of which I didn’t really experience personally. Although I did experience one EMF spike!
This location most definitely could do with further investigation, perhaps focussing more on the experiences we encountered.
Looking at the experiences that occurred during our investigation I would have to say that Wardown Park Museum may be haunted. I don’t like to label places as haunted without just cause, but the number of oddities and time of their occurrences does seem to indicate that it is.
As ever it was an absolute joy to investigate with the Farsight PRS team again and just as good to start at a location like Wardown Park. Wardown was an excellent location which in my mind could do with more investigation time. I feel as if we had to finish up just as things were beginning to become active, which was a shame. It would have been good to spend more time at Wardown or at the very least return one day. It would be good to discover more about the paranormal activity which appears to be occurring at Wardown Park Museum. After all we managed to find some related names picked up by our sensitive Andrew and also experienced some similar activity to others that have investigated the location. We also managed to have some experienced which appeared to occur simultaneously to each other, which begs the question were these related?
Either way a good first investigation for Farsight PRS in 2013 and I look forward to our next one, hopefully coming up soon.
As ever I would like to extend a few thanks to my team and those that have made the Wardown Park Museum investigation possible. These include my team on the night of the 26th January 2013, the staff at the museum for having us and Mathew Robson for his background research on the location. I would also like to thank Damien O’Dell for suggesting the location and helping to make it possible. Without an of you guys this investigation just wouldn’t have happened.