The Cromwell Hotel Brief History
The Cromwell Hotel in Stevenage dates back to the middle of the 18th century, but there was an earlier building on the site. The earlier building was a farm, which may have stretched back as far as Church Lane. Perhaps the farm was acquired by John Thurloe later as one of several that he owned during Cromwell’s time, but that doesn’t necessarily mean he lived there.
The 1911 census places the Solicitor Cuthbert Corbould-Ellis and his wife Eveline at number 25 High Street, now the main part of the Cromwell Hotel. Uniquely for the time Eveline has an occupation separate from her husband listed, which was that of an artist or painter. In fact the reality was that Eveline decorated miniatures. These would occasionally come up for auction with an alternative spelling of ‘Evelyn’. Her daughter Enid, not listed on the census, but would have been around 15 at the time was also an artist. Enid later moved to Australia where a portrait of her mother Eveline and Grandmother is on display in the New South Wales Art Gallery.
The marriage between Cuthbert and Eveline was actually rather unique. This was because they had combined their surnames; Cuthbert (Ellis) and Eveline (Corbould-Haywood). Corbould was actually Eveline’s mothers maiden name. At this point Eveline was a fourth generation artist and she was very proud of it too.
The couple also had two servants, a cook and housemaid.
Next door at number 27 at the Temperance Hotel (currently the Cromwell Hotel’s Old Business Centre under refurbishment) were Mr and Mrs Hood. At the point of the census the Temperance Hotel was empty.
In the local area to the Cromwell Hotel there’s a lot of possibly connected history, such as the great fire of 1807, which destroyed and damaged many buildings on the High Street.
Also, across the road and a little south is the White Lion pub (recently renamed). This was often used as a staging post on route to Peterborough’s prison of war camp around 1796 to 1816. At this time prisoners were often held in the stables and possibly the tunnels rumoured to be beneath the pub over night. The tunnels are believed to run from the White Lion cellar to the Cromwell Hotel across the road. However looking at this logically, the nearest point of the Cromwell Hotel to the White Lion is the Old Business Centre end, originally number 27. I wonder if the tunnel possibly connects there.
Reported Paranormal Activity
As far as physical activity goes the reports from the Manager and Staff members seem to indicate possible low-level poltergeist activity. This included a couple of the rooms having linen messed up after being tidied up and lights being switched on too.
One room, number 100, which is located in the older part of the building is particularly interesting. This has a couple of reports from the staff and guests. In this room the TV has been known to switch on by itself, the hangers have been heard to be moving by themselves for no reason, there have been notable temperature changes, some have heard children’s laughter, some have reported being touched, some electrical issues, knocking has been heard and possible object movement.
Other physical phenomena has been reported in other parts of the building, but not as many as in this one room.
However, a lot of possibly related information was picked up by Medium Michelle Crate during a tour of the location. This included quantifying some of the above for room 100. Although some was very vague and possibly had relation to the current staff rather than the location history, it was interesting and much was quantified.
The main cellar in the Cromwell was interesting and Michelle picked up on people being touched, light anomalies (which were also mentioned I believed), some heavy breathing or growling too. There was also a feeling that there may be something more dark in nature in the cellar, but there was nothing to support this.
In the old Cromwell Business Centre Michelle picked up on some information that had possible ties to Witches and Witchcraft. There’s no current research that supports this though. Could this be triggered by the ‘1667’ plaque above the fireplace. However that said Michelle did make reference to Books and Documents in the building, perhaps something behind the walls. Also, a man with a pipe that sat near to the fireplace was picked up.
The Plan for Room 100
As Room 100 seemed to stand out distinctly from the rest of the individual rooms, with its wide range of activity being reported, this stood out as a good location to attempt an initial overnight investigation. The previous reports seemed to have been made by most of the guests that had stayed there too, so this appeared to be the logical approach for me.
Through the Manager I arranged an overnight stay at the Cromwell Hotel in order to experience Room 100 for myself. It’s important to realise at this point that location investigation isn’t always something that can be successful in one visit. Often with any investigation of a location we must keep an open mind and gather data continuously drawing conclusions as we do so. During my first overnight investigation of Room 100 I kept this in mind and kept a balanced mindset.
Knowing the previously reported activity I decided the best approach would be to spend some time looking around the room for logical explanations to the reported activity, both internally and externally to the room. Then I would spend the night as a normal guest would and hope to experience what previous ones had too. A simple approach you may think, but often this can be the best way. After all we have to start based on the data we have to start with.
My Stay in Room 100
I began my stay in Room 100 by familiarising myself with the room in relation to the reported activity and noting the associations to obvious auditory and visual contamination. This initially focused on the wardrobe and its reports of the door opening and the clothes hangers rattling. My theory on this was related to vibrations from the near-by railway or the High Street below. However after being present in the room for a few hours I soon realised that this wasn’t the case, as neither had any effect on the wardrobe.
Next up, I conducted a quick sweep of the room with MEL Metre to check the EMF and Temperature readings. Now, it’s very important to understand that I didn’t do this in search of ‘ghosts’, the reason was simply to gain a better measurement of my environment within Room 100. This paid off too, as it highlighted some high EMF readings around some ceiling light fittings. These levels of EMF and their location probably wouldn’t be considered cause for the activity or conception of it, but its good to know it’s there. Temperature was pretty much normal throughout though.
I spent the next few hours just being present in the room as someone might in Hotel room. This albeit slightly mundane is specifically useful in understanding the relative aspects of the location. In this case the traffic and external noises to the room, which on observation noises from outside the room were obviously identified. Also, the radiator nearest to the bed made a continuous low-level noise which was a little similar to white noise.
Just before I went to sleep I decided to attempt a very basic version of the Ganzfield Experiment (Effect) by laying on the bed wearing a blindfold and listening to white noise through earphones. This would create a simple sensory deprivation scenario and should the theory be correct, allow me to be more able to tune into other possibilities. During this mini experiment my right leg from just below the knee down felt freezing cold.
Following the Ganzfield Experiment I checked the temperature where my leg was situated to see if I could locate a reason for this feeling, which I could not. Interestingly enough though when I first visited Room 100, both the Manager and Michelle picked up on a cold draught just close to where my leg was situated. Was I now picking up what they had or perhaps because I knew what they had picked up was I now recalling the scenario? How confusing is the human mind and the paranormal?
I took the opportunity to sweep the room with the MEL Metre too, which proved that once the ceiling lights were off the EMF spikes dropped dramatically. Switch the lights back on and the EMF fluctuated again.
I decided to leave a Voice Recorder setup in the room with me whilst I slept. The Voice Recorder would only come on and record should there be a certain amount noise in close proximity to it. However on this occasion on review the Voice Recorder didn’t record any anomalies.
The Morning After The Night Before!
I woke up the next morning without having experiencing any physical phenomena during the night. There’s probably a joke in there somewhere too. Still there was a very odd feeling which left me a little uneasy. During the night on a few occasions I felt as if I was being watched. This ‘sense of being starred at’ originated from different parts of the room too. A couple of the corners, near the window and also right up near the bed on one occasion. A little weird to say the least.
Although the night wasn’t massively eventful I believe that the Cromwell Hotel still has more to investigate within its walls. I feel, lets call it a hunch, that the place still requires a more fuller team investigation at some point. So, with that in mind I look forward to returning to the Cromwell Hotel to investigate further.