Lately I needed to plan a special surprise for someone I had already used up all my best ideas on the previous birthdays, festive times and other celebrations and was totally STUCK. I thought about our shared interests and settled on ghosts, scary things, being scared… things that go bump in the night. I thought about ghost walks in creaky old towns or spending the night at a haunted inn. Then I stumbled across Dusk Till Dawn Events and it was a no brainer. The description was vague: 8.30pm – 4am in an allegedly very haunted stately home (now museum) Bolling Hall doing all manners of ghost hunting. A few clicks and gulp when I entered my visa details and we were booked on….. and then I started to get THE FEAR. I have to admit to a few sleepless nights running up to the event on Saturday, as I have been known to get so scared in my own flat that I’ve slept in the bath (why that is somehow safer I dont know?)
We rocked up at 8.30pm and were met by an instantly smiley, bubbly girl Jo – our host for the evening - who showed us to our base room the room where we could return any time for teas, coffees, biscuits and inbetween vigials to gossip about what we’d seen and heard. The fact the base room had severed deer and boar heads on the wall… well, just slightly un-nerving. But hey at least they weren’t the heads of previous ghost hunters who met sticky ends.
There were about 25 other people on the ghost hunt, mostly fellow newbies to the whole thing. Various ages, backgrounds and from all over the UK but all equally friendly. Jo was joined by Joanne, our medium for the night. I instantly warmed to her as she was quick to alliviate any silly fears that had prickled my brain eg. NO a spirit will not follow you home, NO you will not be possessed, NO the idea is not for you to spend the night so paralysed with fear that you cannot enjoy yourself! She also educated us on the difference between Residual Hauntings (where a ghost is played over and over almost like a video projection) and Intellegent Spirits who are aware of the living world and therefore can communicate – through noise, moving objects etc. The first spooky moment of the night happened when Joanne was mid explanation of Residual Spirits and said …so they definitely cannot communicate with you which was promptly followed by a large, rattling knock, knock that exploded into the hall! Cue lots of nervous laughter and a sign that we were in for a very active night. After our introduction a nice chap from the Bolling Hall staff team gave us a tour of the museum, including usually closed to the public areas – making a museum geek like me very chuffed.
Rather than dry historical facts he told us tale after about the ghosts and spirits that were reported in each room through history, along with a few first hand sightings and recent reports by staff and local dog walkers! It was about an hour long and definitely geared us up to hunt out some of the nicer sounding ghouls (the 8ft tall angry Victorian man with a huge butchers knife however, I was very much hoping not to bump into..)
We then were given various ghost hunting tools (dousing rods, temperature gages, laser guns, electronic frequency recorders, crystals…) and allowed to scamper off on our own in pitch black museum with just our torches for company. I definitely got some interesting readings and close encounters with things that then turned out to be part of the museum decour (stuffed dogs?!) . This was followed by three hours of vigils. We went into various rooms where for an hour Joanne or Jo would attempt to contact the spirits and encourage them to communicate. The scariest of these was in the Red Room where mid vigil, the door FLEW open and I had a real scooby doo moment of jumping on whoever was closest! There was also a huge amount of knocks, flickering lights and spooky goings on.. and just a few “WHAT WAS THAT?!” … “Sorry, just my belly grumbling” to lighten the mood.
After the vigils there was just another hour left to go off using the hunting equipment again and then it was home at 4am where I had the best nights sleep of my life (no bumps in the night followed me home obviously!)
I would absolutely recommend this experience to anyone. I had previously thought I might be paralysed with fear and unable to even get in the building. But actually it was just really interesting and exciting and only a tiny bit good-scary. The staff make you feel so comfortable that you just relax and throw yourself into it Ghostbuster style! Running around an empty museum at 3am is going to be a novel experience to anyone anyway, and the added creaks and knocks and eerie goings on just added to it. I wouldn’t say it has made me come away more of a believer or more of a sceptic… just feeling a little bit smug with my own bravery and desperate to go on another one.