With reports of knocks and bangs throughout the house, plus an odd feeling in the Garden Hall. Also, more significantly is the report of an actual apparition in a window at the rear of the building. Watlington House seemed ideal for a Farsight PRS investigation. More importantly there hadn’t been that many paranormal investigations at the location, which would make us one of only a few teams to investigate.
I decided to take Farsight PRS in to try and debunk some of the claims and hopefully find some truth behind what we can’t explain!
History & Activity
Watlington House is the oldest secular building in Reading. The current building was built by Samuel Watlington, a successful Reading merchant in 1688, with the front being added in 1763. Samuel owned business premises in Broad Street and was very successful in his time.
Robert Watlynton (1542) was recorded as being Mayor for Reading no fewer than 4 times, he died in 1601 and is buried in St Laurence Church. The Watlington’s show a close relation to the St Laurence church because Samuel became the Church Warden. However, Samuel Watlington never took residence in Watlington House.
The first resident for the building was Captain Edward Purvis in 1794, renting the house for 25.00 annually. Purvis fought in the Peninsular War (at Corunna) with the 4th Regiment of Foot; and, as an adjutant, trained the Berkshire Militia in Orts meadow near his home. He often used to sit in his window, pigtailed in his red military jacket, smoking a pipe.
Then in 1816 Mrs Stevens resided in the property and from then the Town Clerk used the House for their local office. In 1877 the building was adopted by Kendrick School.
1931 saw Watlington House acquired by the Trust to provide accommodation for social and educational organisations. With the money from the rents being used solely for the upkeep of the House.
With an abundance of history its not uncommon for a location such as Watlington House to be home to paranormal activity. Although there isn’t an abundance of said reports, there are a few. These range from audible knocks and bangs, strange feelings in the Garden Hall to the sighting of a full blown apparition.
We didn’t manage to obtain any complete witness statements as such, but the building manager did inform us of a few reports of activity. The most prominent of which was the report of a figure stood at the window of one of the rooms on the first floor. The figure was reported to be in military clothing, perhaps that of an officer. The only downside to this report was the simple fact the observation was made from outside of the building and that the information we were receiving was more than third hand. Regardless of that fact, there is still the possibility that Watlington House is home to a full blown apparition.
Ashley Knibb – Lead Investigator
Leanne Knibb – Documentarian
Aaron Hardy – Case Manager
Ian Pegg – Tech Manager
Simon Ranson – Tech Manager
Liz Egan – Investigator
Joanna Botcherby – Investigator
Andrea Harvey – Investigator
Location Hotspots & Equipment
Following a brief walk around the location and some additional explanation from the Building Manager, we decided to set up our HQ for the night in Basement Kitchen. As with Morcambe, I had decided to hand over the setup of the CCTV to Simon and Ian on this occasion. We spoke briefly to ensure that we all were agreed on the camera locations, then Simon and Ian proceeded with the setup.
The first camera was setup in the first floor of the archive area. Although we wouldn’t be actively investigating this part of the House we thought it would be a good place for a camera, given its the oldest part of building.
Camera two was setup in the room on the first floor where the apparition was reported to have been seen. Simon and Ian placed it to cover the window, that way if the spirit appeared we would hopefully capture it.
Our third camera covered as much of the Garden Hall as possible. There had been a few reports of odd feelings within the Garden Hall, so this was an obvious hot spot. Hopefully the camera would capture anything odd if it appeared in the Hall.
The fourth and final camera was placed in the ground floor hallway, which allowed us to cover the hall, the stairs up to the first floor and the down to the basement. This camera wasn’t setup to monitor a hot spot, but capture the teams movements during the investigation. There were also a few residence who’s movement we could monitor using this camera.
The CCTV hub was placed in our Basement Kitchen HQ, where it recorded throughout the night. However, we did have a couple of problems with the CCTV system, where it froze up and required a restart. Although we still continued to capture video, there were a few minutes when the system was offline. Sometimes even the best plans and tech can have a few problems. Regardless we continued as planed with the investigation, double checking on the CCTV System as we went.
We then split into two teams before beginning the investigation. Myself, Andrea, Ian and Liz made up Team One. Aaron, Simon and Jo made up Team Two. Leanne would jump between both Teams, swapping between Vigils filming the investigations.
Vigil One – Team One – Garden Hall
Team One began their investigation in the Garden Hall. With reports of knocks, bangs and strange feelings, I started things off by asking the more sensitive in our team how they felt. It wasn’t long before Andrea picked up on the presence of a young boy. She said that it felt as if the boy ran round and round the Hall without a care in the world. Andrew believed that mentioning the War stopped him in his tracks. We tried a couple of EVP sessions to see if we could capture anything to support what Andrea picked up on. Although we did hear a couple of odd sounds, after some brief investigation we believe that they were caused by the electrics.
Just before leaving the Hall Andrea believed that the boys name was ‘Jonathan’, this maybe something for further investigation and research.
Vigil One – Team Two – First Floor
Team Two started their investigation on the first floor in search of the uniformed apparition. Interestingly enough Simon did record a few spikes on the EMF Meter. As the team investigated the room where the apparition was sighted they heard some noises from the landing. Unfortunately the team were unable to determine the origin of the sounds and equally can not state them as being paranormal. After all an old house can have many normal sounds of its own.
The team also reported an odd crackle on the radio’s, but this could have easily had a logical explanation. However, Simon did see faint odd lights on the curtain in the Science room, which was completely dark. The team couldn’t easily explain these lights at the time.
Vigil Two – Team One – First Floor
Team One’s second vigil took them to the first floor, where Andrea picked up on a military man. However, Captain Purvis didn’t fit for Andrea, even though he is connected directly to the House. Captain Purvis is believed to be the apparition seen in the window, but Andrea picked up on this in a different room.
Liz and I also spotted some odd lights on the wall. Although they were there for a brief moment, we both spotted them ad couldn’t explain their origin.
As we came to the end of our vigil and headed back out to the landing, Andrea felt that someone liked to use the lower landing on the stairs as a good view point.
Vigil Two – Team Two – Garden Hall
For their second vigil, Team Two headed out to the Garden Hall to investigate. During this vigil the team didn’t really pick up on much, but the oddest was that Aaron’s camcorder battery totally drained for no reason. The camcorder had a six hour battery, of which about an hour and half had been used in the previous vigil. The team also heard some noises which they described as being similar to dripping.
Following the first two Vigils, we decided to combine the two teams into one team. Given the size of the location and number of us, we thought it may make things easier going forward.
Vigil Three – Team One & Two – Ground Floor & First Floor
For the second half of the investigation we decided to investigate the ground floor as one team and began by heading to the library. Although Jo’s Tri-Field meter spiked here briefly there wasn’t much else to report.
Meanwhile Aaron, simon and I headed to the first floor and decided to see what the KII meter would pick up. We soon got a result, as we sat on chairs leaving one empty with the KII on it. After further investigation we realised that this occurred more when we moved our hands closer. We continued to investigate trying to determine why this was. After a few tests we realised that a static charge was begin transferred from the carpet to us and onto the chair. It was this static charge which was creating the spike on the KII. In fact it was so prominent we could recreate it a few times over. Something to bear in mind for future use of the KII meter I think.
Vigil Four – Team One & Two – Garden Hall
The final vigil of the night took the whole team back to the Garden Hall. We wanted to attempt to reconnect with the boy spirit and hopefully capture some evidence of this.
However, this wasn’t to be the case, even after attempting to play various ball games nothing seemed to work. It all seemed to have gone a bit quiet!
With activity quieting down, our sensitive members struggling to connect we decided to call it a night and pack up.
Captured Evidence & Personal Experiences
The team did manage to pick up on a few things and have some very minor experiences at Watlington House, but actual solid evidence seems to have escaped us on this occasion. However, we did have a few things of note; a six hour camcorder battery which went flat in a matter of seconds, but was fully functional before and after the event. Battery drain has been associated with paranormal activity in the past and our team has experienced similar occurrences at other locations. Also, the drain occurred in the Garden Hall, where the strongest spiritual connection was made by Andrea with the boy.
Although some of the team heard some odd noises around the House, we can’t determine their origin and cannot rule out that they were normal noises for the house. After all houses of that age tend to make various noises as they settle down at night. The noises heard in the Garden Hall by both teams, in my opinion were coming from the electrical system, but I was unable to prove this at the time.
Finally, members of both teams reported seeing some odd lights on the first floor. Although they were in different rooms, they were still hard to explain. They were not the usual passing car lights or a light from an external source. As quickly as they appeared they were gone to. If only one member of the team had spotted them I may have disregarded them, but three members is a little more odd.
Watlington House turned out to be an interesting location for our second investigation of 2011. Located almost in the centre of Reading, initially the House seems relatively normal in appearance. However, coupled with the towering church across the road, the older part of the building and its history you soon have a character filled location.
However, I think it will have me a little on the fence in regards to my opinion. If you look at the captured evidence of audio and video, there isn’t anything to go on. This doesn’t mean there is nothing there though. I can’t rule out what our sensitive’s picked up on, which oddly enough didn’t include the more documented Captain Purvis. Still for Farisght PRS we like to have some good evidence before declaring a location as haunted, something which is lacking here.
Evidence wise the strongest appears to be that of Aaron’s battery drain.. What makes it odder is the fact it occurred in the Garden Hall, where it seems the spiritual connection was strongest.
Is Watlington House haunted? Well from this single nights investigation, I don’t think I could really conclude either way. There maybe something there, something picked up on by the teams sensitive’s, but more positive experiences and evidence was lacking during our investigation. If anything its possible they have a couple of residual ghosts, which will continue doing their thing without interacting with us living. That’s just an opinion though and supporting evidence still needs to be located.
Farsight PRS leave Watlington House, but I think we keep the case open and look into it some more soon. Perhaps the boy ‘Jonathan’ will be identified or even the officer from the first floor. We move onto our next case, which is the Arundle Jailhouse in Sussex. Perhaps we will discover some evidence as some of the team spend time in the Cells ..