A Haunted Holiday – The Royal Oak Swanage 

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Sun, Sea & Ghosts! 

Okay this time of year usually means holiday time and where better for me to take a few days out, but in a haunted pub in Swanage! Granted I’m not usually the type to label locations as haunted because let’s be honest we are still not entirely sure what the term ‘haunted’ means, more on that in a future post no doubt. 

The Front of the Royal Oak in Swanage
However if you wish to check out a few of the locations around the UK that I feel should receive the label of ‘haunted’ go to My Top Ten Most Haunted Locations.

So, with a few days off work and my children on holiday with their mum I decided that it would be good to get away for a few days to one of my favourite places, the Royal Oak Pub in Swanage. In fairness I think I picked a great few days too, the weather has been brilliant and on a occasion so hot you could easily believe you were abroad somewhere. However this isn’t Tripadvisor! 

The reason that I like the Royal Oak is simple really and it’s not just because it’s a haunted pub either. In a time when so many classic British pubs have become very much commercialised in order to survive this remains a proper little local. Something that’s inviting not only for those with a paranormal interest, but also for those that fancy a nice cool pint in the beautiful garden the Royal Oak also has to offer. Then comes the character of the place, the old stone cottages blended into one to make a pub a couple of hundred years a go I think, was a touch of genius. However the character of a place like this doesn’t just emerge from the building alone! When you spend a little time here you begin to understand the true meaning of ‘a local’, the diverse characters that frequent the pub and without a doubt support each other locally. It’s this extended family that gives you an excellent understanding of how places could be haunted. The very energy in this place where people’s lives cross constantly, where they seek advise and where they discuss their day is something that surely never really leaves. Even after last orders. 

Not Your Conventional Haunted Pub!

When we think of a haunted pub we often associate it with physical phenomena such as moving objects, audible phenomena and the odd apparition popping in for a pint. However at the Royal Oak I’ve found it a little more philosophical than that! 

Don’t get me wrong when I first investigated the pub back in 2010 I had come for that exact reason, in fact I came to debunk the reported physical phenomena. At that point in time, if memory serves me well, that was in the form of a net curtain which moved by itself, pictures falling off the wall, glasses moving, footsteps and a few other bits and pieces. For the record at that point in time I was most certainly more sceptic than I am now! Although these days it’s more that my perspective has changed to be fair. 

However from the first visit I believed there was something a little different about the Royal Oak than the other public locations I had investigated. It was its character, it’s personality and warmth. Something that you wouldn’t consider a building to have, but does. Perhaps something that has developed due to the Royal Oaks landlady Rachael or perhaps something that has been here all along. 

The Beautiful Garden of the Royal Oak

Rachael’s own interest in spirituality and mediumship meant that she has brought that into the pub in a big way and perhaps this acceptance of the paranormal world has enabled the pub to become more spiritually connected somehow. After all if belief, faith, understanding, intent, actuality and education have anything to do with creating stronger spiritual connections then surely the Royal Oak has been primed for this. Rachael has held a spiritual circle at the pub with friends for many years and more recently started the Acorn Spiritualist Centre from within the pub. In fact once a week, a Wednesday I believe, she will often have an evening of mediumship or similar spiritual activity. Something which I sat in on this Wednesday. Granted I’m not a massive fan of the group reading situations, but that’s simply because I personally don’t like to talk about personal things in front of strangers. However the Medium this Wednesday did seem reasonably good and the group as a whole were very pleased with her. 

In all honesty, if I was to delve into Spirituality more I would prefer it was in a pub rather than one of these Spiritualist Churches, not that there’s anything wrong with them, just not for me really. Oddly the pub itself is a very calm place and the garden too is an excellent place to gather your thoughts. Perhaps it was always a kind of Spiritualist Centre, just without the title? 

Time! Not Last Orders!

One of the oddest things that has come up over the years is the connection to time in the pub. Firstly, there’s a huge back story that seems to link the pub to a local family in the late 1800’s. I won’t go into too much detail there, as it’s always interesting to see new visitors pick up related pieces of information. Many of this family appear to communicate through the local mediums using various types of mediumship; including Trance Mediumship, automatic-writing, and more. 

The Bar in the Rotal Oak

In fact during a seance that I held at the pub, during a trance state, this was described as ‘two times crossing over’ and at times this can certainly seem to be the case. 

My own greatest exposure to a time related oddity was one which I have documented previously. During an investigation with one of the locals called Pete, I sat in an attic room. The attic room has now been converted to the land lady’s bedroom. We decided to call out and used my grandfathers pocket watch as a trigger object. I asked if there were at spirits present to move the pocket watch, which both Pete and believed to mean the whole watch physically across the floor. However moments later Pete thought he could hear ticking. I checked the pocket watch and it was running and continued to do so for at least twenty minutes after. This was my first lesson from the pub in perception. For the record I spent the next three months trying to recreate the situation and never did. When I placed that watch on the floor it wasn’t running. 

However the lesson in perception and communication was relatively simple. I asked for the watch to be moved and it did! Just not quite the way I had perceived it. Sometimes communication isn’t quite what we expect and other times we try to fit it into what we expect. Now to this day I don’t know if spirits moved the watch or Pete and I unconsciously made the watch move, that I can’t prove. Suffice to say the watch moved without physical contact. Even if it was Pete and I, that’s pretty amazing too and clearly makes us Jedi’s right? 

The Sword in the Waterfall at the Royal Oak

Other experiences around time have been related to individuals perception of time. For example we have held vigils in the pub and where the whole group believed we had been only away for say twenty to forty minutes, we had actually been gone hours. Lost time like this is always a good one, but at the Royal Oak it always seems far greater amount of time has passed than you realise. 

A Few Weird Experieces of My Own! 

Now I’m not one to go jumping to conclusions or accepting the presence of spirits, as many know. In fact it probably annoys some of the Mediums I work with as they probably think I should be fully immersed and acceptant of the existence of spirits all around us by now. However I still question the whole concept, I can’t help and it’s not because I believed it to be complete rubbish, it’s just not quite enough for me. Over the years as an investigator and researcher of the paranormal and psychical phenomena my own understanding of what evidence is has changed. That doesn’t mean I don’t believe what those I trust tell me, it just means I need to understand it for myself in my own way. For those that truly understand the concept of spiritual enlightenment, this is how it works. We each have our own journey of enlightenment which only we can understand as each journey is individual by its nature. Religions and ideas are there as guidance, often they can be enough too, but many of mankind need to go beyond that in order to understand more, grow more and that’s where you find meaning. 

For me personally, I believe there’s more to understand and with that find it hard to simply accept things on face value. That’s why I research and investigate. 

However all that said, doesn’t mean I haven’t had a few weird experiences of my own and at the Royal Oak too. Firstly, during a seance once I witnessed an illuminated arm. That was pretty mad! However the fact it was also seen by two of my team clarified that it wasn’t a construct of my mind alone. Secondly, a personally witnessed the Trance Mediums face go through three or four dramatic physical changes in under a minute . One of which made him look as if he had a fatter face, a beard and glasses. He had none of these! Thirdly, most dramatically was that I witnessed a very large dark mass in one of the bedrooms. For the record, I wasn’t the slightest bit scared! I’ve also seen shadow movement in my peripheral vision in the pub and heard the odd audible phenomena too. Also, I have on several occasions felt a presence too. As far as I am aware I am as about as sensitive as a brick, a medium I am not! However that said, I equally believe the ability to tune into this kind of thing is within all of us. 

So, you see quite a few weird experiences, which often bring me back to the pub to know more. 

A Lesson or Two To Be Learnt Perhaps 

What is evident about this lovely little pub in beautiful Swanage is that it’s provided me with some excellent lessons, both in life and the paranormal. For starters, the whole concept of perception of communication came from here. Also, it taught me to question beyond the obvious or the simple and look at more complex possibilities, thinking outside the box. Then there’s the theory of telepathic interaction, that spawned from this pub and when I have worked with the mediums that visit there. Although I am not sure they would agree with my theory, but then that’s another reason we get on. They’re open to other possibilities and approaches within reason. For me this non-local local has become a great place for me to gain a wider understanding for my psychical research. It’s helping me to construct theories and possible understanding of telepathy and mediumship on several levels. It may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but if you’re interested in the paranormal or mediumship, and you’ve got an open mind then pay it a visit, see what you think. 

The Rotal Oaks Stone Henge

If you’ve been to the Royal Oak, I would love to hear your opinion on it? 

Equally if you have questions about it, fire away ?

If you’re interested in visiting the Royal Oak then please check out their website here..

The Royal Oak was also kind enough to be the location of my Singapore Theory Victorian Seance Experiment and some of the locals even got dressed up with us and joined in with the experiment. 

If you have any questions about this location or any of my research please feel free to comment below or alternatively come see me and others in the field at the upcoming Sage Paracon UK 2016 in October. 


Gypsy Caravan at the Royal Oak

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