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Gemma King takes the reader on an eerie journey through the haunted streets of Boston, Lincolnshire, where the Devil’s breath can be heard whistling around St. Botolph’s Church Stump and the ghostly Grey Lady still lingers following her gruesome suicide centuries ago. Also featuring hauntings at the ancient Guildhall of St. Mary’s, and specters spotted at the town’s former monastery (now a 12th-century theater), Haunted Boston tells the stories of well known and previously unpublished ghostly experiences. With eyewitness accounts, exclusive photographs and the results of paranormal investigations, some of the locations featured will surprise you and the chilling testimonials will make your blood run cold.
About the Author
Gemma King has studied the supernatural in great detail and investigates various locations as part of a team called SPI (Spalding Paranormal Investigations), on a quest to find irrefutable evidence of the paranormal. Gemma is the author of Haunted Spalding.
Read an Excerpt
By Gemma King
The History PressCopyright © 2013 Gemma King
All rights reserved.
AS a paranormal investigator, I have explored many haunted locations over the years. As part of my research for this book, and in fulfilment of my hobby, some of the locations featured have been the subject of investigations and I have therefore opted to include this chapter, which gives insight as to how I conduct the process of investigating and the equipment and techniques that I personally recommend in order to achieve the best possible results.
I always visit the location that I am planning to investigate before the planned investigation night, as this enables me to tour the building, familiarise myself with the surroundings, listen to the testimonies of activity that has taken place and give consideration to other possible causes of the activity that has been reported. For example, I take note of where fuse boxes and other power sources are located as this will affect electromagnetic field (EMF) meter readings. I also look for doors and windows where periodic draughts could be causing reported 'cold spots', or perhaps where sources of light penetrating through windows or building fabric could cause visual anomalies. Another thing I check for is general noise levels, although buildings and their surroundings are typically quieter at night. Investigations are usually conducted in the dark, so as to increase awareness of all the senses, and also because visual anomalies are best captured on night vision or with a camera flash. It is therefore vital that investigators are familiar with their surroundings. On the night of the investigation it is important that the building is locked down and noise contamination is kept to a minimum. After all, it is only when these factors are taken into account that we can consider the real possibility of paranormal activity occurring, and I want to stand the best possible chance of capturing the evidence.
I am always very interested in the particular testimonies that people give relating to their paranormal experience, and one of the things I am always keen to try and establish is whether the encounter they have had relates to a residual ghost or an intelligent spirit. Certain characteristics of a haunting can be quite telling at the testimony stage of the investigation process, in the sense that some people describe a visual spectacle that carries all the hallmarks of a residual ghost. If, for example, an apparition of a person in period costume was seen walking through a wall where a door was once located, seemingly completely unaware of their surroundings, this would suggest to me the likelihood of a residual ghost. These are most often seen walking through walls; across gardens; sometimes even above or below ground level – ground level may have changed since their lifetime – and they have no 'intelligence' or 'awareness' whatsoever because they are merely a replay of a past event; a visual spectacle. It is widely believed that traumatic events are most likely to lend themselves to residual playback, and there have been many experiences reported all over the world where people have witnessed the 'playback' of suicides or even murders known to have taken place many years before. Sometimes the experience is visual; sometimes it is audible and visual. Scientists have accepted the phenomenon of residual energy becoming captured in certain masonry materials such as slate, rusted nails and stone (rusted or oxidised materials) as they contain properties similar to those of videotapes, which have to go through an oxidisation process to enable the capture of visual/audible information. As yet, however, it is not known what triggers the release of the residual energy.
Another point that I always note in my initial consultation at a haunted location is the exact location(s) within the building where the paranormal events have occurred. This gives an idea of where would be the best place to set up digital video recorders (DVRs) and electronic voice phenomenon recorders to maximise the possibility of capturing evidence.
Equipment and Techniques
Base Reading Meter
This tests various measurements, and is used at the beginning of an investigation to test general levels of sound, temperature, electromagnetic field and sound levels in different parts of the building in order to get a 'base' reading, so that anomalies and variations of the base reading can be easily detected during the analysis of the data at the end of the night.
Sometimes referred to as the KII, these detect levels of electromagnetic energy, which spirits use in order to manifest. The theory is that spirits take energy from sources of power such as appliances and lights in order to manifest in a remote space away from those power sources. For example, I was in a building, talking to the owners about how we can use EMF detectors to try and communicate with spirits by encouraging them to come towards you and touch the machine. On this particular evening, as I gave my demonstration, there was a notable dimming of surrounding wall lights, right on cue. Moments later the EMF meter flickered all the way up to red – as though the spirits were taking the energy from the wall lights and using it to light up my machine in the centre of the room. On many occasions, I have found that the machine lights up on request, and then goes back down to green when I ask the spirits to step away from it. Repeating this process is a good indication of possible interaction with an 'intelligent' spirit, and these can also be used to invite 'yes or no' answers from the entity that is communicating, so long as you explain to them what the machine is for, and what you would like them to do in order to interact with you.
It is also very important to offer reassurance to the spirit that you mean them no harm.
As well as confirming paranormal activity, EMF meters can also debunk it, in that some reputedly 'haunted' buildings have had various testimonies of activity, all reported to be emanating from the same room – it may be that the occupants of the room have all experienced feelings of paranoia as though someone is watching them – or they may have been experiencing feelings of nausea or seeing dark shadows. These symptoms, whilst similar to those of a paranormal experience, can sometimes be attributable to high levels of EMF given off by nearby fuse boxes, exposed cables or appliances, and in such cases anyone spending lengthy periods of time in that room would more than likely be suffering the unpleasant effects of excessive exposure to EMF.
These can be positioned in a closed-off room while investigations are taking place elsewhere in the building. If they go off, it can be an indicator of a ghostly presence in that room. It is always good to note the time if that does happen, so you can review the event alongside other data such as audio and DVR footage. In fact, if you put talc on the floor, you can then check for footprints that don't match any of the investigation team.
EVP and Digital Voice Recorders
This is my personal favourite piece of equipment; its use has enabled me to capture what I would consider to be some of my most compelling pieces of evidence of possible interaction/communication from intelligent spirits. The theory is that recording devices can capture disembodied sounds and spirit voices known as 'Electronic Voice Phenomena', which are inaudible to the human ear at the time of recording but can be heard after the investigation, during playback of the recorded session. When playing back the session, specialised computer software is used to extract and analyse any anomalies in the recording. The average human voice is recorded within a frequency range of 500–3000HZ but spirit voices and other anomalies are captured on audio devices measuring at frequencies far beyond this range. You can maximise the chance of capturing a good EVP during an investigation by introducing yourself and your equipment to any spirit entities present and inviting them to communicate with you. You then need to ask lots of questions, making sure an appropriate period of silence is left to allow for answers. It is also good to leave the voice recorder running during silent vigils to enable the capture of any random disembodied sounds. It is important to remember when using EVP recorders that they are very sensitive, and as such should be placed on a flat surface where possible and left untouched while investigating – it is also incredible how loud footsteps are when listening to the audio following an investigation, and for that reason it is also best to minimise walking about whilst recording. When it comes to playing back the audio after the investigation it is best to use good headphones and computer software that enables you to view the sound waves, identify anomalies and extract the clips where you have heard a voice or noise that cannot be considered to have come from any other person or source on the night. EVP clips can then be graded into three categories as follows:
Class A: Easily heard and understood from the speakers of a sound system.
Class B: Can be heard over the speaker but there may not be agreement as to the message – some words may be agreed on.
Class C: Can only be heard with headphones; these are often difficult to decipher.
To date I have had much success using the EVP recorder, and I feel they are a good validation of intelligent communication. For example, sometimes my statements or questions have been responded to by use of my name, which rules out the argument put forward previously by some sceptics that the sounds are merely interference from outside sources such as radio. The EVP recorder is extremely fulfilling in terms of my main objectives in paranormal investigation – to capture irrefutable evidence of spirit communication, and to present evidence that enables ordinary people such as myself, with no psychic ability whatsoever, to witness paranormal events and spirit communication for themselves rather than relying on what they are told by mediums.
I take a good quality camera on investigations, and I invite spirits to appear in my photographs. Doing so has produced some very good results, from large orb-like anomalies the size of a football to a half-bodied apparition. Pictures are best taken in a dark or a dimly-lit room as that will show up the anomalies better than in daylight. With regard to orbs, not all balls of light will be ghostly manifestations – I have to rule out dust or other debris. However, it is believed that spirits need a lot of energy to manifest in full-bodied visual form and as such will often manifest as a ball of light. Spirit orbs are unmistakable in appearance with a ring formation around the edge. Some are also very large and very bright. I find the theory of orbs interesting, given that many people who have had near-death experiences have reported becoming an orb of light and quite often on investigations, pictures will show large ones that are clearly not insects or dust, due to their size and formation.
Digital Video Recorders can capture good evidence of paranormal activity, and they work well; either set up in one corner, perhaps a 'hotspot' where activity has previously been reported, or they can be taken around the building as you investigate. Either way, they can pick up both audio and visual anomalies – they ideally need to have a night vision setting, as investigation vigils are mostly conducted in the dark.
These are items that I take on investigations that are appropriate to the description of the ghost; they assist in engaging in communication. If a ghostly man has been seen in the building smoking a cigar I take a cigar with me – or if a child has been seen, I take small toys, relevant to the suspected time period of the ghost if possible. I set the items up at the beginning of the investigation night by placing them on a piece of paper, drawing around them, and periodically checking to see if they have moved.
A good torch is essential on an investigation, as all the lights are generally switched off. If the torch has a light button on the back of it, you can put it down on the floor and invite the spirits to switch it on and off.
Air and laser thermometers are good for noting a sharp drop in temperature, often caused when spirits manifest. Air thermometers are my personal favourite as they show the temperature of the space in front of you rather than the temperature of the ground or nearby surface. On some investigations I have known the temperature to drop several degrees upon request in one specific spot where an investigator felt cold or where the EMF detector had lit up.
I do not have any psychic or medium ability, and I investigate by using technology and specialist techniques on my quest to try and capture hard evidence of paranormal activity. In addition to this, I also conduct séances using a board and a glass to communicate directly with spirits.
Being scientific and objective in my approach to investigations, what I like the most about séances is that they do not seem to have any scientific explanation – one theory behind them has been that it's telekinetic energy (the power of the mind) that moves the glass to spell words – however, I refute that theory, given that telekinesis is a very rare ability and it would therefore be extremely rare for six people around a séance table to all have that skill. It has also been said that it is the power of the mind moving the glass towards a common goal – but in cases where no one around the table knows anyone else I cannot see how this could be the case, given the very specific information that comes through directed at just one person. It would not be possible to orchestrate the way the glass moves; when it glides across the board toward one particular person they are usually quite surprised. Often, the spirit that comes through would not be known by anyone else at the table, and the information that they give can be validated by the person with whom they have connected, with further open questioning about events and memories from their past together. What I also love is the fact that the séances can be pretty accurate; they can work as a two-way conversation, and everybody can see and feel the experience. The direct communication with spirit entities means that séances can often be a useful tool in providing answers for people in relation to paranormal activity in their home or place of work, as well as resolving situations where unhappy spirits are making their presence felt in a manner that makes the occupants of a building feel uncomfortable. One such case springs to mind where a resident child spirit came through to talk to the owner of a place we were investigating. It transpired that she had been trying to get their attention because she did not like the loud chimes on the clocks – she found them scary. The owner had many clocks and they covered the walls in one particular room; he agreed to turn off some of the chimes, which provided a resolution and a positive outcome for everyone concerned.
On some occasions during a séance we encounter a spirit that asks for our help because they are grounded, unable to move on, and this can happen for a number of different reasons. Through careful questioning we are able to work out the reason and assist them in moving on. I do not know how this works, but it does work and the feeling when this happens is immensely comforting and emotional for everyone. It is good to know that through séances we are seemingly able to assist trapped energies, often reuniting them with their family members who have by this time passed into spirit and will be waiting for them. Scientific as I am, I do believe in séances and the possibility that we can help people, here and in spirit, which reinforces my passion and belief in this investigative tool.
Whilst the use of the Ouija board is perceived by some people as controversial, I feel this perception is often based on movies and television dramas of times gone by, where their use invariably lends itself to some kind of horrific drama. It could also partly be due to the experiences of some people using them in previous decades when they were sold in shops as a recreational toy – I have no doubt that many people who have used the Ouija board over the years have not fully understood or respected the seriousness of this method of communication with spirits and as such may not have conducted themselves appropriately. The séances that I have conducted over the years along with members of my former paranormal investigation team are protected by an opening and closing-down prayer. Also, no one under the influence of alcohol is ever allowed to participate and anyone who-does take part must remain respectful of spirit energies that come through at all times – after all, spirit energies are people without bodies and should be respected as such.
Excerpted from Haunted Boston by Gemma King. Copyright © 2013 Gemma King. Excerpted by permission of The History Press.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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Table of Contents
About the Author 6
1 Investigations 10
2 Blackfriars Theatre and Arts Centre 18
3 The Boston Gliderdrome 25
4 Church Key Studio, 28-30 Church Street 31
5 Haunted Pubs of Boston 36
6 Fydell House, South Street 55
7 Norprint Ltd 64
8 Silt Side Service Ltd, London Road 70
9 Boston Town - More Ghostly Encounters 76
Bibliography & Further Reading 94