The Guildhall itself is the forth building to actually be located within the City centre of Salisbury.
‘The Bishop’s Guildhall’ was the first to be built on the site and dated back to Tudor times. The Bishop would implement his feudal rights of criminal and civil justice from there.
The ‘Merchants Guild’ built a new headquarters in 1585 to the north of ‘The Bishop’s Guildhall’ near to where the present War Memorial stands. This new headquarters was known as ‘The Council House’.
After a banquet in 1780 ‘The Council House’ was burnt down. A generous offer of a new building was provided by the City Recorder, the Second Earl of Radnor. Due to the situation regarding the current ‘Bishop’s Guildhall’ an Act of Parliament was passed in 1795 to surrender the current Guildhall and create a new Council House and Guildhall Gaol combined.
The new ‘Guildhall’ was built pretty much on the site of the old one. The addition of the Grand Jury Room, extensions to the size of the courts and new accommodation for the judges were made during alterations made to the building in 1829.
Salisbury District Council, previously City Council has had the whole building under its control since the Municipal Corporation Act in 1835.
As me and my girlfriend Claire drove the two hour journey to Salisbury Guildhall, we spoke about how we were feeling about the night ahead of us.
Being my usual sceptic self and the Paranormal Tour at the Guildhall my first field investigation I was preparing myself for a quite night out. Whilst Claire on the other hand had one of her feelings! She doesn’t have these feelings regularly and they are usually related to the paranormal, although most of the time she would rather not experience these feelings. Claire told me that she felt we would experience something, but it was no more than a feeling just like anyone would have.
I took this onboard, but still believed that nothing would happen and prepared myself for nothing more than explainable events.
We arrived early as ever and promptly parked up outside the Guildhall. I rang Jim and met up briefly with him for a little chat. We then waited patiently as the Paranormal Tours Team set things up before heading into the Guildhall to get started.
Paranormal Tours Intro
We walked into the Guildhall and took a left into the main hall. Finding our allocated Teams table, we took our seats and waited for the event to begin.
Martin made the initial introductions to the Paranormal Team, himself, Kevin, Jim, Jenny and John (the medium). He then continued by explaining some of what we may expect during the night and what was planned for us.
The team then moved on to the Investigation Equipment which each team had on their table. They explained the items and their uses within a paranormal investigation. Each table was given the following equipment to assist them, a Canum, a Non-Contact Digital IR Thermometer, Torches, Digital Dictaphone, Dowsing Rods, EMF Meter, and a crystal.
Paranormal Tours Ghost Walk
The last member of the team to run through things with us was John the medium. John explained a few things regarding the evening’s events and how we shouldn’t be shy about coming forward about what we may feel or experience in a location during the night.
And with that we were prepared and briefed for the Salisbury Guildhall Paranormal Tour. The Team then led us onto the first location of the night for the Ghost Walk. This was so the historian could brief us on the location following John’s initial reaction to the room.
The first location was the Oak Court Room, where John picked up a few things, but mainly a Judge. He believed that connected with this Judge was possibly some negative energy and the name ‘James’. The Historian couldn’t confirm this, but did indicate that there was a very tough Judge Park, who had 28 death sentences to his name.
On the way to the second location, on the main stairs John picked up on a woman or possible two women that walked the stairs.
The second location was the Grand Jury Room where John felt as though the room had been used as a meeting place involving heated discussions. He believed it could be linked to the war and possibly D-Day.
We then moved onto the final location, the Juvenile Court and Cells. As we paused in the Court John picked up on a young girl and felt everything from laughter to anger. John also had a feeling that the room may have had a fire at some point. This was later confirmed, as the Elizabethan Guildhall was destroyed by fire in 1780.
As we headed down the stairs towards the cells, Jim of the Paranormal Tours Team pointed out a door lock which was unusually hot. It seemed to have no real explanation or reason for being hot too. My initial thoughts were more technical than paranormal, but at this point I didn’t have time to investigate.
We were shown the first group of cells and John picked up a few things. The historian added the history regarding the actual conditions criminals may have endured years ago. We then continued down to below ground, through the basement and then back up an alternative staircase into the Oak Court.
From there we headed back into the main hall for a break before heading out for our first Vigil in our teams.
Paranormal Tours Vigil One – The Oak Court Room
On entering the Oak Court Room for our first Vigil, in fact my very first Vigil I found myself apprehensive and more sceptic than ever. However, not one to miss an opportunity I grabbed my instrument of choice, a non-contact IR thermometer and began to take random readings around the room. Claire began snapping photo’s in the background. It wasn’t long before Martin announced that the lights were to be turned off. I think it was Kevin that flicked the switch and then we were in darkness, with nothing but torches and external light.
As we got going Martin began to feel cold near him up on the Judges chair, I pointed the thermometer to get a reading, the difference was only a couple of degrees and could easily be attributed to the external windows behind them.
I think it was then that Martin was to attempt calling out, for this he asked us to shut things off for complete quiet and darkness. I placed the thermometer on the desk in front of me and Claire turned off the digital camera and placed it next to it. Martin began to call out, for me the response was silence. However, it wasn’t long before that all changed.
The room was completely silent when Claire leaned over to me and whispered; ‘I think there’s a little girl here with us, I think her name is Emily!’
As Claire finished the word ‘Emily’ our digital camera vibrated and moved across the desk towards us. This shocked us both. We were totally unprepared for this kind of activity. Whilst everyone else in the room was working out what had just happened, we questioned each other trying to find a logical explanation for what we had just witnessed. There wasn’t one! With this Claire decided to take a breather outside the room to get her head around the event. I remained in the room and advised Martin of what had occurred.
I went through what had happened, trying to explain it. Could the desk have been knocked in some way? Well no, we were stood back from the desk. The desk was slightly angled, could it have slid down? Again, no it had been there for a while and not moved. Also, the thermometer had remained where it had been placed, nest to the camera. Plus the camera’s back had rubber on it making it difficult to slide. It would seem that whatever explanation we came up with, it really didn’t explain how a camera would vibrate and move by itself.
When Claire returned to the room, Martin thought it would be a good time to try some glass divination. He found a good suitable location and set things up. Two other ladies and Claire were to take part. I was going to too, but early on I decided not and continued to take some temperature readings. As ever to begin with there was no reaction to our initial questions, and then Claire tried to speak to a young girl spirit identified as Clare. This spirit was identified by Kevin as a possible sighting in the Oak Court. The divination returned a few more answers to questions regarding age and if the girl moved the camera, but nothing amazing. It’s easy to explain things like glass divination away though, such explanations as subconscious movement of the glass, for me it’s not really enough. That doesn’t mean I rule it out or exclude it.
Another display of possible activity was placed marble rolling to the floor. However, when this occurred I actually knocked a connecting desk, which may have caused the movement. Although myself and Martin tested how much force would be required to knock the marble to the floor, which was more than when I knocked it, I am still not convinced I had nothing to do with it.
This busy room also had some noticeable shadows moving about in the balcony and some additional names picked up.
Myself and Claire returned to the main hall on a Paranormal high, after witnessing the camera move. We were ready for the second location now and probably already hooked.
Paranormal Tours Vigil Two – Grand Jury Room
As we entered the room behind Paranormal Team member Jenny and the medium John, I felt like I could smell cigars for some reason. However, I kept this information to myself.
We quickly found our places and began to ready ourselves for the next vigil. Jenny explained that we would be trying out the planchet at this location and as soon as the lights went out we began.
The ladies of the Team started using the planchet and calling out to any resident spirits, I switched my camcorder on. I grabbed the IR Thermometer, placed the camcorder on the table pointed at the ladies at the end of the table and took a few readings.
It wasn’t long before John was picking up on a few things and mentioned that he felt a presence around where the ladies were seated. Claire asked John if the presence was close by to her and if it was that of a man, to which the answer was a yes. Claire believed that the presence was so close that she felt as if it was touching her.
Although Claire, John and other members of the Team felt a presence of one, two or even three different spirits, the planchet seemed to be unsuccessful.
I checked my camcorder on the table, which had appeared to have turned itself off. However, I wasn’t sure if this was me or the camera possibly at fault. I set the camera to record and returned it to its original location on the table.
A little while into the vigil, John suggested to Claire to maybe sit in the Judges Parlour (connected to the Grand Jury Room) by herself to see what she may possibly experience. Claire’s initial reaction was ‘No’, but I managed to talk her into it with me to go in with her. So we took our digital camera and headed in.
Claire sat on a chair, pretty much in the middle of the room with me crouched in front of her. She called out to see if we could gain any reactions, but it was hard to be sure of anything as there was quite a bit of noise coming from outside. However, once again Claire felt a presence and briefly as if something or someone touched her. Then she thought she saw something by the door and decided it was time for us to leave!
We returned to the main Grand Jury Room to continue investigating with the rest of the Team.
As we sat around the table with Jenny and John, many of the Team picked up on a few things, possibly spirits. I wasn’t one of them. However, as we sat there Claire sensed something. A little embarrassed to bother John, Claire asked me to pass on the information. I asked him if there was someone stood close by to him. He said ‘yes’, but then looked to Claire to answer his question. ‘Where about?’ he asked. Claire told him that the person was stood between me and John, but wasn’t that much taller than him sitting down. Claire then asked if John knew whether this person was a man or a woman. John told us he did, and Claire immediately asked if it was a woman. John replied ‘yes’. Then Claire and the other Claire in our group went onto describe what the woman was wearing, to which John confirmed most.
It wasn’t long after this that the Grand Jury Room vigil came to an end and we returned to the main hall for a coffee break.
Paranormal Tours Vigil Three – Juvenile Court and Cells
This was our final vigil location and to be honest the one I thought maybe something may occur. Jim our Paranormal Tours Team Member for this location lead there and took us straight through to the cells. However, for us this was decidedly the least active area. I spent at least ten minutes with two other team members in one of the cells, but experienced nothing. In fact I felt decidedly comfortable.
As we left the cells, myself and Jim paused to investigate the warm door lock, which was a little unusual. On initial review it seemed odd that the lock could be hot at the centre, but around the edges it was a great deal cooler. The wood frame didn’t even seem affected by the heat either. Is this Paranormal or logical explanation? Jim and I concluded that it was the actual lock and that the paranormal didn’t have a hand in this little mystery. Later analysis would show that this was a ‘Mag Lock’ and thus could get hot if installed poorly or left open for long amounts of time.
The Juvenile Court was also quiet and more of a wind down to the end of the night. We attempted a little calling out and placed a marble on a desk, asking a spirit to move it. However, we had no reaction to our requests and after a while called it a night.
We waited for the call on the radio for us to return to the main hall before heading back.
Paranormal Tours Conclusions & Round Up
With all Teams and the Paranormal Team Members returned to the main hall, Martin kicked off the debriefing. He crossed referenced our findings with the other Teams, asking each Team what they found in each location.
It was interesting to hear the variations between the Teams and what they experienced. For example my Team found the Cells fairly inactive, but other Teams found the Cells full of activity.
Martin’s final question to us all before wishing us on our way was simple. ‘Had the evening changed what we believed when we arrived?’ It hadn’t though, as it seemed I was the only sceptic and only one possibly who may have changed his mind. I hadn’t though, still sceptical through and through. You see after all what I had experienced I was still only left with evidence I couldn’t truly explain.
We thanked the Paranormal Tours Team and headed off on our two and bit hour journey home. Even though I was slightly tired and more than ready for my bed, I was on a high after what I had just experienced.
My Thoughts and Feelings on the Investigation
For me and Claire this was an excellent introduction to Paranormal Investigation. I had approached the event with the felling that I wasn’t going to get a lot out of it, but actually did. As a sceptic I always look to explain things away, with this investigation there was plenty of things I experienced which could be easily explained away. However, the movement of our camera for us was totally unexplainable. We tried along with Martin to debunk the movement, but couldn’t find a viable explanation.
This was a successful opening to field investigation in my mind, with plenty of good information and experiences.
Paranormal Tours present a good evening of ghost hunting of which I am now hooked, so hopefully won’t be too long before I join them again for another investigation.
Salisbury Guildhall had some good activity and is an excellent location, which deserves a proper all night investigation with all the ghost hunting gadgets.
Paranormal Tours proved excellent guides, but there are limitations to an investigation when you are attempting to guide several people around a haunted location. I realised that as soon as I experienced some activity I was hooked and wanted to investigate further, but time for us was short.
Is the Salisbury Guildhall haunted? I’m too sceptic to answer that, but I know some unexplained stuff happened there, which has left an after effect on me. If you get the chance to go to the Guildhall on an investigation, it may be well worth it. Although, I know others may not share this opinion as they experienced fairly little at the Guildhall.
All in all though a good night of ghost hunting with the Paranormal Tours Team. Myself and Claire thank you all.
As ever, please feel free to email your comments to the below address. Thank you for taking the time to read this and remember to keep an eye on Facebook and this site for my next post.