By Carl Jackson Friday 11 January 2013 Updated: 11/01 11:59
BROMSGROVE’S Ye Olde Black Cross re-opened its doors to the public in October.
The 17th Century building used to be a former court house and convicts were imprisoned in the cellar before been hung at the back.
Just before Christmas, after several spooky sightings over the years, Standard reporter Carl Jackson joined paranormal investigators to see if they could find any spiritual activity.
I AM probably what you would call a typical sceptic, I have never seen a ghost. But in this line of work you have to be open minded. So when newly formed JP Paranormal invited me to the pub for some supernatural experiments, I was happy to accept.
Thankfully, I was not the only cynic among the group. Phil Downing, from Droitwich and one of JP’s co-founders explained few men generally came along and were usually always sceptical. But worryingly he said they were ‘always the ones who had things happen to them’ because the spirits thinks ‘right I’m going to have you’ he said. Gulp!
To ease us in, we did a few exercises. We were instructed by guest medium Janet O’Carroll from Bromsgrove, to close our eyes and imagine ourselves in a white bubble which would ‘protect us thought the night’. Next were a few aura-based tasks.
The first was to exchange a personal item with a partner and see what we could ‘pick up’. I was unable to gain anything from a silver ring with an black onyx stone, despite the piece looking like it a had story or two to tell. Strangely my partner divulged the name Pamela from my black pen, although it is not a name which has any obvious significance to me.
Next up, three people had to stand facing a wall and see if they could tell who was directly behind them. It would appear my auric field needed recalibrating as the woman in front of me thought I was a 5ft woman in her 30s working as a carer.
Finally we were asked to try and see if we could tell anything about a stranger who had passed away from a photograph of them.
Phil said with some authority that everyone is psychic, even if they didn’t know it. However, after this exercise, my psychic ability was nought for three. One man said the more you come, the better you become at ‘opening yourself up it’, so I remained upbeat as we began the tour of the pub where things soon became more eventful.
A handful of us went into a bedroom which is set to be used as a bedsit for a séance. The room was typically 17th Century with curved walls, and crossed by thick wooden beams. It certainly wouldn’t have been out of place in a classic horror tale, however, despite the best efforts of Janet calling out, nothing happened and the EMF (electro magnetic field) meter remained silent.
Then the night turned. We passed another group coming out of a bedroom with a couple of people in tears and being comforted. One man in our group approached his partner and asked if she was alright, to which someone replied ‘She’s okay. She’s just spoken to her mom, we’ll look after her’.
We entered the room ourselves now with a new feeling of foreboding and gathered in a circle around an ominous looking glass placed upside down in the middle of a small wooden table.
The experiment which lay ahead was called glass divination, something akin to a ouija board only without letters underneath. Pondering as to how it would work, I placed my finger on the glass as we were told someone in the previous group had been pushed. We began.
After a few call-outs from regular member Matt, the glass remained still. ‘Here we go again’ I thought. Then at the fourth attempt it began to slide gently across the surface. Matt asked who it was here for and it moved out to the lady next to me.
After a series of questions the woman believed it was her mother and she ended the teary exchange with ‘love you mum’ and the glass moved on to another. It was gliding around fairly swiftly at this point and it was clear the five other people in the circle were firm ‘believers’. The sceptic in me questioned whether they were genuine or ‘in on it’. I stared intently at Matt to see if I could see any stresses in his finger in case he was moving it, but there wasn’t. I even attempted to manipulate its direction myself just to see how plausible it was, but it is nigh on impossible to push a glass around a table with a single finger without tipping it or making it blindingly obvious. Then it moved towards me.
I’ve had two relatives pass away this year, and my cynicism was certainly shaking with every glide of the glass. Matt questioned addressing the glass as ‘spirit’ and believed he was talking to my grandmother, who died before I was born. He said she sent her love and the glass moved away.
Before long it was over. Two more people left the room weepy-eyed, and the calm pleasant mood of the early parts of the evening had been replaced by an perpetual tension. There was so much enthusiastic chatter going on at this stage I hadn’t had the time to gather my own thoughts on my own ‘encounter’.
A fundamental part of JP Paranormal’s experience hinges on what other group members report back, and whether you choose to believe it. Some had taken part in a white noise exercise where they sat in a lone corridor blindfolded with nothing but noise played into their ears. All but one said they felt something with many saying they heard a girl’s voice and music. One man said he saw his face visibly age in the mirror after a bout of ‘scrying’ - searching for psychic visions in a reflective or translucent surface.
Phil said for the believer no proof was needed but for the non-believer no amount of proof would suffice. After seven years experience he said his most paranormal experiences including a man in full Victorian clothing walking past him, came when he wasn’t even looking for them. In his view many ghosts are recordings or the past that are just going about their normal routine and don’t even know you are there. He believes spirits on the other hand have fully ‘crossed over’ and have chosen to come back to haunt places, with some trapped between realms following an untimely death.
And as for my conclusions. Am I converted? Not quite. But I certainly don’t think the people there were ‘in on it’ or anything was set up. My sixth sense has certainly been pricked enough to make me want to go again.
At the very least JP Paranormal’s investigations are a great chance to meet new people. Whether all of those people are alive or not is another matter.
Search JP Paranormal on Facebook to find out more about forthcoming events.
Their next investigation takes place at The Washford Mill, Studley, on February 1 between 8pm to 2am.
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