2009 Cases

Farsight PRS Investigation – Llanthony Secunda Manor

The Brief
I first stumbled across Llanthony Secunda Manor and read about it on the Dead Haunted website. After I had read that more recent refurbishments may have stirred things up a little and realising this location was said to be quite active I contacted the owner and secured a date for the Farsight PRS investigation.

History and Activity
Llanthony Secunda Manor is cleverly tucked away in a small village in Monmouthshire, Wales. Originally utilised as a two storey grange by a monastery, the building dates back as far as the 12th century. With its history and links to other historic places the property has many stories.
Over hundreds of years, the property has seen its fair share of re-fits, extensions, modernisation and customisations, all of which have managed to leave a little of the previous style and build behind, making the inside a really interesting and inspiring mix of styles.
In 1972 the Manor stood empty and derelict in the middle of a development area. During this time local teenagers met there and the developers used the area as a builders’ yard. It seemed all was lost for the property with the floors rotting, windows smashed and it was generally ransacked throughout. However, in 1978 Mrs S. M. McLeod brought the Manor, saving the property before it collapsed and began its restoration.

Recently the current owners have done more work to the property, as ever including some styles from the past and adding their own personal touch too. The Manor is now split into two parts, the first where I believe the owner lives and the second is a guest house which can be hired. It is the guest house section which my team and I investigated.

Witness Reports
The Manor has many reports of the paranormal including; possible poltergeist activity, light anomalies, cold spots, the smells of food and animals, growling voices, people feeling that they have been touched and some people becoming aware of various energies at the property.
The most recent account of activity was from the owner. She informed me when I first arrived that recently she had placed two soft toys in the centre of one of the beds. When she returned a short time later the toys had been moved out of the middle to each of the sides. She ensured me that no one could have moved them.

It would seem that previous visitors to this location, either on a team investigation or as part of an event have experienced something too. On discussions with others that had been to the Manor, what they described seemed to fit the possibility of some kind of poltergeist activity. Objects were moved or thrown occasionally, voices were heard, people touched and even pools of water were said to appear by their own accord. There have also been reports of shadows, figures, and even phantom monks seen, as well as light anomalies, battery drain and cold spots.
I remained sceptical though. The psychological impact of a number of people in this small location in the dark, bound with centuries’ worth of history and the belief it was haunted could easily fuel the imagination.

With this abundance of reported activity Farsight PRS hoped to capture something for themselves, if not to rationalise reports or debunk possible activity, then to maybe support previous reports.

Attending Investigators
Ashley Knibb – Lead Investigator
Leanne Knibb – Documentarian
Lucy Harkness – Assistant Documentarian
Keith Huckfield – Photographer / Interviewer
Jim Bridgeman – Lead Investigator
Ian Pegg – Tech Manager
Cliff Rose – Investigator / Sensitive

Location Hotspots and Equipment
On the Ground Floor, we really only had access to the foyer and toilet. The rest of the Ground Floor is the owners residence.

On the First Floor, the kitchen and staircases were the only places we had access to. Something that is hard to communicate is the odd levels of the Manor. When entering the building, you head up a staircase into the kitchen area and then from here you ascend a second staircase to the next landing on the second floor. Confusing I know! To ensure we covered the kitchen area properly, we set up a CCTV camera to capture most of the room and the two staircases. The kitchen was also our base of operations for the night.

The Second Floor was the focus for most of our investigation. The staircase from the kitchen leads onto a landing area. We covered the landing and bedroom access with two CCTV cameras which almost crossed each other to provide supporting evidence if found. From the landing are three bedrooms and a bathroom. The master bedroom, the second bedroom and the small bedroom were all locations we would investigate. The bathroom was less significant, but we were still going to check it out.

A second door led from the landing up another flight of stairs to the Attic Room, which has a set up similar to a living room. We covered this room with our last CCTV camera. In fact, whilst setting up the CCTV, Ian had a personal experience of his own. As Jim and I set up the camera at the top of the stairs, Ian sat in an armchair in the room, and was the only person on the top floor. Whilst sat there he felt what can only be described as a small vibration. On attempting to recreate this, we discovered that it was representative of someone walking across the floor. However, there was no one walking across the floor as Ian was alone at the time. All three of us were witness to that! I cannot rule out a natural cause but to date we have been unable to explain what Ian felt.
We also took EMF and temperature readings from all the rooms to be investigated as a baseline, prior to the investigation.

Team Walk-Around
The whole team began our investigation having a walk around and spending a little time in each of the rooms. This turned up a few anomalies and kicked the investigation off with a positive note. In the second bedroom a few of the team members picked up on the smell of a wet dog! This fits in with previous claims of visitors picking up on the smell of animals at the Manor, animals which were not there at the time. I don’t think this is something that lingered from a previous visitor either, as not everyone picked this up. Perhaps the Manor holds a ghostly pet, which only a few people are sensitive enough to pick up on?
The oddities didn’t end there. Whilst sat in the attic room, calling out with the attempt to communicate, something rather peculiar occurred. The Freeview Plus box light went from red to green. Although we were in the room asking for some kind of sign, we did not jump to conclusions and began investigating straight away. After checking the system thoroughly we could not find a valid reason why it switched on during our vigil. Slightly confused and not entirely convinced that it had been switched on by something paranormal, we re-grouped in the kitchen and observed from the CCTV camera.

Mid-Way Briefing
With the Team Walk-Around providing a good start we thought it would be an appropriate time for our Mid-Way Briefing, which would give us a chance to discuss personal experiences, odd animal smells and haunted Freeview boxes. However, none of us seemed convinced that the Freeview box was haunted and we all had our own theories.
We quickly decided on an approach for the rest of the investigation, given the activity and location size. We split into two groups; myself, Jim, Ian and Lucy making up the first (Team One). We were, as ever, to concentrate on the more scientific approach. Leanne, Cliff and Keith (Team Two) would be taking on a more spiritual or sensitive approach. Also, as the location was not that large, we decided to have just one team performing a vigil at one time.

Vigil – Team One – Main Bedroom
For Team One and possibly Team Two, this room proved to be one of the most active. Each visit to the room seemed to produce a few anomalies. For example, both Jim and I seemed to pick up on a presence in the room: at one point the feeling was so strong that I felt that I had to move from where I was sat.

Also, whilst attempting some EVP (Electronic Voice Phenomena) work, Jim and I heard something. When it occurred again, we believed that we had heard someone calling out ‘help’. It sounded as if it was in the room, but far away.
Another strange occurrence was a temperature variance which affected Jim directly. Although the temperature anomaly didn’t harm him it was more than a little odd! After complaining of an ever so slight pain in his shoulder I decided to use the Infra-red thermometer to check Jim’s body temperature. The top of his back measured 28˚ and the bottom read 22˚. We couldn’t find an explanation for such a change in temperature; there were no draughts or reasons for this. However, it did occur at the same time that we heard the voices. Whether these two incidents are related or even paranormal is unsure, but they both remain unexplained.

Vigil – Team One – Second Bedroom
Although Jim and a couple of the team picked up on the smell of wet dog in this room during the Team Walk-Around, it didn’t return much on our second visit. There was a brief instance when we thought the bedroom door was closing by itself, but this was quickly debunked as it turned out that when the door is at a certain point it closes due to its weight.

Vigil – Team One – Small Bedroom
This room didn’t seem to return many results, but the vigil was brought to an abrupt close when we heard a clicking noise from the landing, possibly coming from the Attic Room.

Vigil – Team One – Attic Room
Following the clicking noise we headed up to the Attic Room to investigate. We carried on the EVP work but the only thing we found was a gurgling pipe!

Vigil – Team Two – Main Bedroom
Team Two picked up on a few things here. No team members claim to be mediums or especially in tune with the spirit world, but they don’t disregard their more sensitive side, which can sometimes link in with some of the locations we visit. In this case Cliff picked up on a presence that he refers to as ‘Lady K’. He believed that ‘Lady K’ may have brothers and sisters that passed.

Vigil – Team Two – Second Bedroom
It would appear that this room would yield good results for the Team, as they picked up more from who they believed to be ‘Lady K’. Cliff began the vigil by calling out and attempting to make contact. Although their approach was more spiritual, the team still attempted to note the environmental situation. At the beginning the temperature read 18˚, but this soon changed. As soon as Cliff asked if there were any spirits present, both Leanne and Keith began to feel cold, although their skin was warm. Cliff used dowsing rods to ask ‘yes’ and ‘no’ questions and as he did, the temperature dropped to 14˚. At this point Leanne felt as if someone was standing beside her, felt cold air down her side and her eyes began to well up. As she became overcome with emotion, she handed the camera to Keith and broke down. Cliff asked the spirit to back away from Leanne which it instantly appeared to, and Leanne described it as a weight being lifted from her.
The emotion wasn’t focussed on Leanne alone as Keith also felt sad and cold. The team continued their questioning and at the end of the session the temperature returned to 18˚. Had the team experienced paranormal activity? They may have, but unfortunately what they experienced was personal to them and not backed up with any real solid evidence.

Captured Evidence
Although there doesn’t appear to be any actual physical evidence, video, pictures or audio captured at Secunda, that doesn’t mean the investigation didn’t go without its highlights.
I can honestly say that the entire team, including myself, had some kind of personal experience at Secunda. I witnessed Jim’s temperature change and I heard the voice in the main bedroom. Jim heard the voice also and smelled wet dog in the second bedroom. Leanne and Keith were overcome with emotion and Ian’s chair vibrated for no apparent reason. All experiences I cannot prove, but memories my team will never forget.

It may be possible that the odd interior style, with its mixed variations of centuries of change, could hold the answers to disorientation and belief of ghostly goings on. It’s possible that in the dark this could convince visitors that what they see is paranormal and not simple shadows. However, this doesn’t explain everything! Voices and vibrating chairs are still open for discussion.
We did debunk the TV Freeview Plus box though, as it turns out it has a built in hard disk which powers up every so often to ensure the disk doesn’t become corrupt.

In the kitchen we also found a pool of water, which was not paranormal either: there was a simple leak, probably a roof tile which had slipped. There were some high EMF readings in the kitchen but due to wiring. However, these high EMF readings are believed to affect individuals in various ways. The levels we found would probably only make someone feel a little nauseous.

Conclusions
Is Llanthony Secunda Manor one haunted? Well it certainly has character and didn’t disappoint my team. We had plenty of personal experiences and the more sensitive of us picked up on a presence of some kind which included some environmental changes.

It’s an excellent location which I would love to return to, and perhaps even investigate the rest of the property. I can’t say it’s haunted though, as I feel there is a lack of evidence, but I can not equally state that it’s not haunted! The personal experiences were varied, from voices to sounds and feelings of movement. These can’t be ruled out.

I think this is a location we will return to time and time again, looking for something more concrete than our last visit. Perhaps one day we will capture the strange activity at Llanthony Secunda Manor.

Categories: 2009 Cases, Cases, Llanthony Secunda Manor | 2 Comments

Farsight PRS Investigation – Valentines Mansion

Brief

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In August 2009, Farsight Paranormal Research Society investigated the Valentines Mansion in Ilford Essex. The Mansion has been the subject of several Paranormal Investigations, returning claims of audible phenomena such as footsteps, knockings and even voices sometimes. There have also been claims of objects being thrown.

With these claims in mind we tried to do some experiments which may draw out this kind of activity.
We also flimed the entire investigation with the aim to create a TV style show documenting our investigation. This approach can be very useful, as it presents to others in a simple media format what we done and experienced whislt there. It also outlines to us what we should have done or could have done better. It also acts as another source for recording paranormal activity during the investigation.

Location Information

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Valentines Mansion and its 130 acre parkland can be found slap bang in Ilford London, hidden reasonably well by the surrounding houses.

Completed back in 1696 by James Chadwick, son of the Archbishop of Canterbury no less. It then changed hands many times, with ownership finally resting on Sarah Ingleby, being the last private resident. When she died in 1906 the mansion and land was passed over to the council.

Since then, the mansion has been home to wartime refugees, a hospital, a public health centre, and a council housing department. In ’93 the mansion was left empty, where it slowly fell into disrepair.

During its days of neglect, many paranormal investigation groups took an interest in the Mansion.

Some investigators have claimed to have heard loud bangs, strange noises and even had stones thrown at them.

Although logical explanations or even the psychological impact of a large abandoned house in the dark may explain these claims, they are nothing without supporting evidence.

However, some of the previous investigations have claimed to make contact with members of the Ingleby family, and have seen a figure of a woman around the sleeping quarters of the mansion. They have also, noted the smells of brandy and stale milk. As well as contact with a young boy.

Would we be able to make contact with these spirits during our investigation, more importantly would we be able to prove it, if we did!

In 2005, work began to restore Valentines mansion. This has brought about a change in layout to the original building and total refit of it interior. In fact Valentines was modernised in line with its new role.

There has been speculation in the field that restoration, rebuilding or even decorating can stimulate paranormal activity. Stir things up if you will! However, in the Valentines case there was activity supposedly before restoration, so what effect would it have now? This was something Farsight PRS wanted to investigate.

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Witness Statements

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The only main statement is that of an investigator that whilst up on the second floor of the building had something thrown at his shoulder. This was back when the building was almost derelict, a couple of years back. However, I have not managed to reach the investigator in question to obtain a proper statement of events from him. Which in turn makes the source of the information third hand in a way and thus devaluating slightly.

As you look though a few reports on websites regarding the Mansion it does in deed sound quite an interesting place, with what would seem plenty of activity. This activity seems to remain as personal experiences though with little evidence supporting it.
Perhaps after reading this report and seeing the Farsight Files webisode on Valentines more people will come forward with their experiences and possibly even evidence for the location.

Location Hotspots & Equipment

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On the Ground Floor we had access to the Holcombe Room, the Bird Room, the Gallery and the History Room. Although Liz reported the History Room being active on a previous visit, there wasn’t anything specific about the activity or evidence of it in that or any of the other rooms.

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On the First Floor we had access to the Raymond Room (the Parlour), the Drawing Room, the Landing and Main Stairwell. We setup our Base of Operations in the Drawing Room. We also setup two CCTV cameras to cover the Main Stairwell from two supporting angles. This was mainly because of past reports of a female member of the household attempting to take her own life there.

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Although we only really had access to the corridor and one side room on the Second Floor, we decided to setup the floor as a kind of ‘Lock Off Experiment’. Covering both ends of the corridor with CCTV, Digital Voice Recorders and EMF. The main reason for this was the witness statement of a previous investigator having a stone thrown at him whilst on this location.

Investigation Vigils
Vigil 1 – Team A – Holcombe Room – Glass Divination

The first team headed to the Holcombe Room to attempt a Glass Divination Experiment. The idea is to make contact with a spirit by means of lightly touching a glass, then using Yes and No questions to communicate. However, it would seem the spirits were unwilling to communicate and this method return little results.

However, on later review of the camera footage of the room when Martin was setting up the experiment we discovered some interesting background audio. This is reviewed more in the Evidence section.

Vigil 2 – Team B – Parlour – Ganzfield Experiment

Whilst the first team conducted their Glass Divination, the second team attempted a more Lab based experiment in the field, the Ganzfield Experiment.

The technique is used in the field of parapsychology, usually for the purpose of testing an individual for Extra-sensory Perception . Typically during this experiment one person relaxes in a chair with half ping pong balls over their eyes. This person will wear headphones playing white noise, and a red light is shone on them. This in turn stimulates sensory deprivation.

Wolfgang Metzger came up with the technique back in the 30’s when he was investigating the Gestalt theory.

However, the experiment didn’t really work out at Valentines and didn’t really return any results. Another experiment that will require some more work I think.

Mid-Way Briefing

With a poor start to the investigation with little results and things not going according to plan, we called our Mid-Way Briefing early. This gives us all a chance to re-group, discuss what has happened so far and make some decisions on how the investigation should proceed.

We are finding this a critical part of our investigations, as you can’t really plan a paranormal investigation and having everyone comment on where they think the investigation should go helps us to proceed more logically.

Two main points came out of our briefing. Firstly, someone should do a lone vigil, which we agreed on. Secondly, we should join up the teams, as sometimes greater energy can yield better results.

Vigil 3 – Martin Gregory – Outside Kitchen – Lone Vigil

Martin kicked the second half of the investigation off with a lone vigil done on the Ground Floor near the access to the Kitchen and Cellar. This location was highlighted in the Mid-Way Brief as being previously active, but as access to the Kitchen and Cellar was blocked by a locked door, the access hall outside was the next best thing.

Once again though Martin had nothing to report back following his vigil.

Vigil 4 – Team A & B – Second Floor – EVP

Whilst Martin spent some time alone on the Ground Floor, the rest of the team gathered in a room off of the corridor on the Second Floor for a little EVP work.

Once again though this returned no results during the session and none on the digital voice recorder we used.

Vigil 5 – Team A & B – History Room – Glass Divination & Trigger Object

This Vigil saw the whole team together for the first time during the night. We once again attempted some Glass Divination in the History Room, but this time we tried calling out to more specific individuals related to the location. Martin also setup a trigger object, which was a large key from a cabinet in the room.

However, once again there were no results to be found.

Vigil 6 – Team A & B – Bird Room – Glass Divination & Basic Provocation

We moved on to the Bird Room and once again tried to communicate using Glass Divination and again we were more specific to individuals that had once been associated with Valentines. Once again the results were not forthcoming and we began to feel that we should draw a close on our investigation.

Vigil 7 – Team A & B – Second Floor – Communication

The whole team went up to the Second Floor for the final vigil before the sun rose, this time we split boys going one end and girls the other end of the corridor. Then we sat and called out one by one, trying to communicate.

At one point myself and Ian thought we heard a noise from one of the locked rooms, but as we couldn’t investigate it was hard to class it as paranormal.

Evidence

The piece of evidence that we seemed to have come away with from Valentines Mansion is that of a sound , which we recorded via our cameras whilst Martin set up the first Divination experiment. Whether this is paranormal or not is also inconclusive, as we neither recall the sound or outright rule it as not being a member of the team. However, after speaking to the team we are pretty sure it wasn’t any of us.

Conclusions

With the first Farsight PRS investigation done, I realised we had a lot to learn and a long way to go!

The investigation certainly had taught us many things to bear in mind for the future and I had realised some things about myself!

Unfortunately whilst at Valentines none of us experienced anything personally. However, I have learnt that you can’t let this stop you as the evidence may still be there only to be discovered during the review.

Is Valentines Mansion haunted? I wish I knew! If we had discovered nothing I may have swayed towards a ‘No’, but the previous reports would have made it difficult to be conclusive! Certainly what we did find whatever it could be pushes me back, stuck between believer and sceptic!

It could be possible that Valentines has lost a lot of its paranormal appeal following its recent refurb, which I have to admit does look nice!

Categories: 2009 Cases, Cases, Valentines Mansion | Leave a comment

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