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07 Jan 2013

Is Forty Hall Haunted?

Article written by Jay Hollis

Over the years since Forty Hall was first opened to the public, the question “Is the house haunted?” has often been asked by visitors. Some ask simply because they expect a house as old and historic as Forty Hall to have a ghost or two, but others ask after having experienced something ‘odd’ during their visit. The focal point for most of these experiences seems to be first floor landing on the main staircase, by the stained glass windows, where people have thought that somebody is standing behind them only to find that they are alone.

Another place where strange activity has happened is in the room now designated as ‘Rainton’s Bedroom’, also on the first floor. Some years ago the bedclothes were often found to have been disturbed, as though someone had been sleeping in it, despite the room being cordoned off. Unlike now, visitors were not permitted to enter the room and could only look in through the doorway.

Paranormal research group North London Paranormal Investigations (NLPI) were allowed access to Forty Hall in November 2012. Their core team of four investigators were joined by invited guests to help spread the cost of the Hall’s hire and, on the night, twelve people attended plus Forty Hall’s Operations & Sales Manager, Gavin Williams. They were given exclusive access to all three floors, plus the cellars. The team included three spiritual mediums, none of whom had ever visited the house before or knew anything of its history and it was interesting to hear what they sensed on the initial walk around the rooms. On the first floor landing, one of them felt that an act of violence had been committed there against a young woman and another said that an unhappy elderly female servant stands mournfully by the window, looking out. Is it her spirit that has been sensed by visitors?

They all felt that ‘Rainton’s Bedroom’ had not been the main bedroom of the house but rather the room where the sick and dying would be looked after. One of the mediums, Gillian Trench sensed the spirit of a distraught young woman in her early to mid-twenties, suffering from the symptoms of a fever and subsequent research has revealed that Christian Paul Meyer’s three daughters all died at the Hall; Anne Sophia in 1838 aged twenty, followed five years later by Louisa-Joanna aged twenty-six and Eliza Maria aged twenty-one. If Gillian’s assertion that ‘Rainton’s Bedroom’ was where the sick would be looked after is correct, could it have been the spirit of one of these tragic girls that she picked up?

On the second floor, the three ‘walkie-talkie’ radios crackled into life, as if one of the team were trying to contact the others – but everyone was in the same room and the radios were not being used. Whilst this was not conclusive proof of any paranormal activity, the incident was duly logged. NLPI founding member Mickey Gocool is also sensitive to psychic activity and, while he was filming on the second floor, he kept picking up the spirit of a man called ‘Martin Banks’, who seems to have been some sort of foreman or overseer.

The mediums and Mickey all confirmed the location of the original servants’ staircase and all sensed that there had been a fire there. Three half-hour vigils were held on each of the floors and remotely operated cameras were placed in the Great Hall, The first floor landing and the ground floor corridor, facing the kitchen. However, with only four hours available to them, the team knew they would be lucky to get any good evidence, but everyone came away from the Hall convinced that the house is haunted. As Mickey said afterwards, “Overall we got some light anomalies, the radio incident was good, some EVP (electronic voice phenomena) and some orbs!”

A full report will be given to Forty Hall & Estate for future reference and NLPI are hoping to return to Forty Hall in 2013.

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