Case#26-01012014 – Wardown Park Museum Investigation

Wardown Park Museum
Wardown Park Museum

Case Introduction
In 2013 I investigated Wardown Park Museum with the Farsight PRS team with the aim to see what we could discover and as ever to find out what we could debunk. This was the case and along side the activity we debunked we also managed to discover some more interesting points too. At the time I have to be honest I didn’t feel overly impressed with the location, but when you read back through the notes there are a number of elements I wanted to revisit. I also believed this would be an excellent location to attempt some techniques in order to utilise both a spiritual and scientific approach side by side. I also had a couple of theories of my own I wanted to explore, more on those later. As I did last year, I hoped that this would be a good location to kick off my 2014 investigations, experiments, communication and general paranormal exploration.

Location History
Situated in landscaped park land on the outskirts of Luton town centre, Wardown Park Museum offers a range of exhibits.

However, the building’s history goes beyond that of a town museum. Perhaps even to 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.

Known Related Names
Richard How – Mid 1800’s
Robert How – Mid 1800’s
Frank Chapman-Scargill – 1870 to 1903
J Forder – 1879
Stewart Family – 1903 to 1905
Sir Malcolm Stewart – 1903 to 1905
Asher Huckleby – 1903 to 1905
Edwin Oakley – 1903 to 1905
Thomas Wyatt Bagshawe – 1925 to 1930
William Wentlock – 1340 to 1391 (Wentlock Jug)
John Wentlock – 1340 to 1405 (Wentlock Jug)
Anthony Roberts – Witnessed ghost of housekeeper/nurse in 1955
Bramingham Shott – Original House Name.

Names Picked Up During Investigations
Amanda – Possible name of 5/6 year old girl spirit – Picked up by LPS member in 2007
Pat (Patrick) – Associated to Amanda – Also picked up by LPS member in 2007
George – Picked up during 2013 Farsight PRS Investigation
Sir Percy Waynwright – Picked up during 2013 Farsight PRS Investigation
Lady Mary – Picked up during 2013 Farsight PRS Investigation
Francis (possibly married to Lady Mary) – Picked up during 2013 Farsight PRS Investigation
Richardson (possibly had an affair with Lady Mary) – Picked up during 2013 Farsight PRS Investigation

Reported Activity
Full Apparition Sighting – Various Locations
Reported to be that of a former housekeeper accordingly to the story which states she committed suicide by throwing herself in the River Lea. This was following a brief affair with a gentleman that later scorned her. However the only relationship ever made is that she worked at the house for the How family, when it was known as Bramingham Shott.
However, I think its important to mention that one witness account of this apparition locates it in the basement and the individual believes it to be that of a nurse, not a housekeeper. Anthony Roberts recounted statement of his 1955 encounter in the basement is in my mind an important one, as he could actually be making the correct assumption. That is as the location was used as a hospital, there is a possibility he is correct.

Temperature Fluctuations
Cold Spots and significant feelings of temperature drops. (Basement, First Floor)

Shadow Movement
Small figure seen running possibly a child.

Audible Phenomena
Sounds of footsteps, whispers, male and female arguing,etc. Some have been caught on devices too.
Canum Device (picks up audio we cannot like a dog can) reacted to questions. Farsight PRS Investigation 2013

Visual/Light Phenoma
Flickering lights, red lights, balls of light, blue lights, etc.
Light activation on demand

Odd Feelings
Individuals have often felt a presence (Basement)
A Spirit of a Young Girl sensed. Aged 5 to 6. Honey blond hair tied in a pony tail, reaching half way down her back. Possibly called Amanda. Colour green associated. Stubborn. LPS Investigation in 2007 mentioned this.

Odd Smells
Chocolate, Flowers, Urine, Smoke and Herbs

Witness Reports
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.

The Basement Staircase
The Basement Staircase

‘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 serge 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’

Investigation Team
As ever with a location of this size and a team of this size we needed 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 decided to mix things up a little between the following.


Joining me on this one

Location Assessment & Equipment Setup
Wardown Park Museum has three floors for investigation:-

Ground Floor
First Floor

There are reports of activity from all three floors, which means we had to cover them all. However, with two teams on the night we had a good split.

Given the activity associated with Wardown Park we needed to cover all three floors with CCTV and where possible audio too. Using the information from our previous investigation, RSVP UK placed CCTV as follow:-

Main Stairwell – CCTV & Audio
Main Stairwell Top – CCTV
Basement At Base of Stairs – CCTV & Audio
Ground Floor Art Gallery – CCTV
Ground Floor Old Kitchen (HQ) – CCTV
Ground Floor Corridor to Main Entrance – CCTV
First Floor Gallery (Top Left) – CCTV
First Floor Gallery Toys Area – CCTV & Audio

We were lucky to have RSVP UK’s assistance on this investigation and the equipment they brought with them too. Thank you RSVP UK.

Due to the reports of temperature fluctuations, I thought it would be an excellent idea to continuously test/check the localised temperature. As we were logging temperature I thought it would be good to grab the EMF readings to.

During setup some team members gathered baseline readings for Temperature and EMF at various points on all three floors. These points were marked so we could gather readings from these locations throughout the night.

Given the similarities with this location and Peterborough Museum I also decided to attempt the Singapore Theory Experiment. As with Peterborough Museum I placed the audio of music from the 1916 through the years to the 1980’s era at the bottom of the main stairwell, hoping it will be heard on all three floors. This ran during the first few hours of the investigation.

As we have had reports of a possible child apparition/presence at the location I decided to set up some kind of trigger object experiment. This was in front of a CCTV camera on the first floor using building blocks.

Beyond trying to capture the paranormal or even triggering activity, we needed to also keep our eye out for logical explanations. With this in mind we checked 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
My team headed to the basement for our first vigil of the night. Early on as we stood in a room that stored art work, both Laura and Ann believed that they heard footsteps on the stairs. An experience which fits the witness statement. Unfortunately my audio recorder didn’t capture this at the time.

We investigated other parts of the basement, but there wasn’t much to report back.

Vigil One – Team Two – First Floor
Team Two began their investigation on the First Floor looking into previous claims for this area, but the vigil was quiet with nothing to report.

Vigil Two – Team One – First Floor
My team headed up to the first floor for around 20:27 to begin our investigation of the First Floor. Annie let me know that she felt as she was being followed when she walked around earlier with Jo. It was then that she felt a presence.

We managed to debunk a few simple things straight away such as a few floorboards that when you step on them can produce a sound in another part of the room. We also pointed out the alarms in the area which had motion sensors that ‘clicked’ when approached.

We decided to sit for a little while on the window seat in order to attempt to climatise to the area better and allow those that were more sensitive to tune in. It was whilst I was sat at their that I witnessed a light anomaly. A light simply illuminated the exhibit of the scales nearby. It was odd enough to draw my attention, but as we were sat near the window we looked into the possibility that there could have been an external source. This was an anomaly which was inconclusive due to the window.

The Toys Exhibit - visible from the window seat
The Toys Exhibit – visible from the window seat

The group then moved further around into an area of the museum floor where the Bar and Rocking Horse exhibits were located. We sat on and around the bench in this area. Pam expressed that she felt a different energy present. She also commented on smelling urine in the area, this was confirmed by Laura and Harriet too. We theorised that the smell could possibly be the flooring, perhaps a polish or similar.

It was around this time that members of the team began to hear the sound of a ticking clock in the area. Myself and Ross went in search of the clock believing that it must be on the floor somewhere, but we were unable to set eyes on it. Harriet and Ruth drew our attention to a section of wall between the hat making exhibit and the bonnets. As I pressed my ear against the wall sure enough I could hear the clock ticking away, but still could not see it.

As I sat back in the area between the Rocking Horse and the Bar exhibits with Pam I witnessed yet another odd light anomaly. This time a column illuminated followed by the front glass of the Bar exhibit, but nothing in between! Usually light travels, but on this occasion it hit one place and then another with nothing between. There were no windows or viable light sources in the area either which was very odd. I couldn’t find an explanation for this.

Some of the more sensitive team members picked up the following names during this vigil; Ben, Judd and Fulton.

Vigil Two – Team Two – Ground Floor
Team Two didn’t have much to report in regards to most of the Ground Floor area. However one of the Galleries towards the front of the building caught their attention slightly. Whilst using the KII device they appeared to receive a hit in response to communication. As they continued to investigate they used a second KII to attempt to clarify the results. The team were not entirely convinced though and decided to investigate further for logical reasons for this. It wasn’t long before they narrowed down the signal and came to the conclusion that the responses were caused by the alarm system sending some kind of signal check out. They proved this theory and debunked the communication. It’s always a shame when you realise a logical reasonable explanation for activity, but equally rewarding in the fact that we have got to the bottom of something.

Vigil Three – Team One – Ground Floor & Back Stairs to Top
We started our Vigil by heading up the Back Stairs to the very top. Ross and Ruth brought this area to my attention during a break between Vigils as it wasn’t on my original plan as an area to investigate. However Ruth highlighted that when they headed up there to take baseline readings she thought it would be worth a look as it had an odd feeling about it. Often an investigators gut feeling can find the most interesting of things, be it evidence or simply an experience.

At the top of the Back Stairs was a corridor located pretty much at the top of the building. The ladies of our group almost immediately mentioned feelings of possible oppression. My voice recorder also ran out of battery quite rapidly in this location, but in all honesty I am not sure if this was a case of low battery or paranormal intervention. As I can’t be sure, we will rule it out! Again the women of the team mentioned a sick feeling in their stomach.

As we stood there in pretty much pitch black, Annie mentioned that she felt as if a man was watching us from the door at the end of the corridor near to the stairs.

As I investigated the area I heard some creaks, which seemed to occur in relation to questions I asked. However on closer inspection this appeared to be the wind outside. There was even a few taps, but they seemed to be in relation to the wind too.

However as I walked through one particular area at the top of the stairs I felt what can be only described as a massive cold spot which pretty much passed through me. I walked back through the spot, but felt nothing this time. I asked Ross to try without indicating to him where I had felt the cold spot, which he did. Ross also felt something similar, but once again only on the one occasion. I think we briefly discussed this, but I don’t think we found an explanation for it. Another strange unexplained experience, but at least it’s confirmed by one other.

Mid-Way Brief
Although I plan the Vigils and Teams of my investigations, I also understand that often during an investigation the direction or even the approach can change somewhat. With this in mind I have always given the Teams the opportunity to discuss the investigation so far and then reflect on that in order to approach appropriately for the second part of the night.

On this occasion we elected to go with a more spiritual approach from one Team. They would use more spiritual related approaches such as glass work communication. We also attempted to use a Ouija Board, but with a cautious approach managed by good grounding work and good protection.

This new approach reorganised the teams going forward.

Vigil Four – Team One – Ground Floor, First Floor & Back Stairs
The Team headed into the Military Exhibit Room where we had set up a table in order to attempt communication using the Ouija Board. The Team for this consisted of myself, Annie, Jo, Pam, Laura, Matt, Carl, Aaron and Ray. As we were working with a Ouija Board we created a spiritual circle and the more spiritual of the team led us by grounding the group and then creating a circle of protection around us. This was about balancing the groups energy and ensuring we were all protected prior to even attempting to communicate with spirits.

However on this occasion it would appear that communication through the board or even by glass alone was not to be as nothing transpired. We even moved up to the First Floor, hoping there maybe a better chance up there. Still nothing though.

Eventually we left the four ladies; Pam, Annie, Laura and Jo in the area near to the Bar exhibit and headed off to the Back Stairs to investigate.

Later on the four ladies advised me that as they attempted to communicate they did manage to hear some footsteps around the Toy exhibit area. This was just around from the window seat. Unfortunately I have not been able to confirm the footsteps using the CCTV.

The rest of us investigated the Back Stairs again and once again some faint knocks were heard by a couple of the Team, but nothing conclusive.

Once we reached the end of the Forth Vigil it was almost time to head home, so we made the decision to start to break the kit down. The RSVP UK Team led the way forward in breaking down the equipment with everyone else pitching in to assist. To my complete surprise we were packed up and ready to head home in little under twenty minutes. Possibly a record for one of my investigations! That was also eight CCTV cameras too.

We quickly went over want we had discovered at Wardown and then as we had time on the clock still I suggested everyone headed off and enjoyed the location for a bit. After all its nice to have a little free time at these locations.

Captured Evidence & Personal Experiences
As far as actual evidence is concerned to date in my mind there hasn’t been any located. This basically means that we have currently no located and audio or visual evidence from our devices that supports the report activity. However it is important to mention that we still have quite a bit of CCTV footage to go through. If anything does come to light during review, then I will add it to this case.

There were quite a few reports of personal experiences though throughout the night. This included shared experience of light anomalies on the First Floor; footsteps on the First Floor which were heard by four people; an interesting cold spot experienced on the Back Stairs by Ross and I; and possible footsteps on the Basement Stairs.

It’s unfortunate that at this point we have been unable to find some evidence to support these experiences.

Wardown Park Museum is not only an interesting location full of history, but an excellent old house to investigate too. Although we didn’t manage to experience the Museum’s full-blown apparition first hand, we may have had a few experiences that could have been related to it. Obviously there’s no conclusive evidence to support this, but still a few unexplainable experiences.

Personally I beleive there is still plenty to investigate at Wardown Park following my own experiences around the light anomalies and the cold spot on the back stairs. Experiences which were both given added value because they were shared with at least one other. An individual experience can be questioned even by the person that experienced it, but when that experience becomes quantified by one other we then begin to question exactly what happened rather than if it occurred at all.

At this point I believe that we need to learn from those experiences at Wardown in order to focus future investigations there. Perhaps the evidence is there we just need to find the correct approach to find it. Of course finding the ‘holy grail’ piece of evidence during an investigation is always something we keep an eye out for.

Wardown Park Museum still has much to share with us I believe and it remains another location that I have investigated that once again highlights the requirement for an open mind. It also reminds me of the need to approach from a scientific and spiritual angle in order to gain the most from it. Of course both approaches can add validity to an investigation and did during ours.

The team worked hard at Wardown Park Museum and I would like to personally thank them all for their help.

I would also like to thank RSVP UK for sharing this investigation and helping me manage the tech. The RSVP UK team helped to streamline both the setup and breakdown of the kit. They’re professional approach as ever fitted right in with the talented and experienced members of my own team. Thank you all for your assistance.
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