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A 'classic' haunting?

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  • A 'classic' haunting?

    The Haslingfield Old Vicarage incident.

    In the summer of 1977 I went with my partner, Naomi, to visit some Scottish friends who were renting a house called The Old Vicarage, at Haslingfield, near Cambridge. It was a large house with gravel courtyard in front of it and several substantial outbuildings, and gardens extending to the rear and the left side.....on part of which the 'New' vicarage is now built. The house had a lot of original 1930s furniture in it, a billiard room, library etc, and had one strange feature which I remember clearly, the upstairs corridor had a bathroom with toilet off it where one of the incumbents had painted an amusing mural....a Vicar, chasing a lot of little red devils with a Flit-gun...an early DDT sprayer which you had to pressurise with a pump action.

    We were all sitting in the large salon, Naomi went upstairs to use the loo.

    When she came back, the first thing she said was "Who was that girl upstairs?"

    The guys said "It was probably Madge" and Naomi explained that she'd just asked Madge the same thing, as she was in the kitchen. She said she'd been to the loo, which was upstairs off a wide, dark corridor.....she had started to come downstairs and had seen something appear behind her reflecting in the leaded window which was at the turn-in-the-stairs landing, she had then turned round to see what it was, and been confronted with the figure of a blonde girl, late teens or early 20s, in a white nightgown. The girl had just gazed at Naomi, then turned and walked away down the dark corridor.

    They all rushed upstairs to do a thorough search, leaving me sprawled in my overstuffed armchair, the worse for Stella Artois ....(They were Scottish, remember )

    When the herd of people came back into the room they were all discussing this strangely disappearing girl.....they had no explanation.

    I said "It's a bit bloody obvious isn't it, Naomi saw a ghost!"

    They said "There's no way it was a ghost, the people who lived here before us were some sort of spiritualists and they "did an assay on the house" and there was according to them "no signs of anything odd in the atmosphere"

    So, very odd.

    The very next day, I had to go and see a guy I knew named Vincent Cluderay.

    I'd never been to his place before, and he wasn't in, but his girlfriend, who I’d not met before, invited me to wait, saying he'd be back shortly.

    To pass the time, I started to tell her about the incident, but only got as far as to say "Something strange happened yesterday at the Old Vicarage at Haslingfield...." when she cut me off with:-

    "Stop!!! Let me tell you something.....I was born in Haslingfield, and I used to take a diversion on my way home from school to avoid walking by the Old Vicarage, as it was well known in the village that it was haunted by the ghost of a girl who hanged herself on the upstairs corridor in the 1920s!!!!"

    The Scottish people had not heard about this, having only spoken with the previous tenants, who themselves hadn't been there long.

    This story remained a piece of unfinished business for me, till 2000, when we had a family reunion in an old windmill in Norfolk.

    One of my brothers happened to mention that he knew someone who knew the new Vicar at Haslingfield, so as we were driving back to France via Cambridge, we decided to drop in and try and film the house and talk with the new owners, at least.

    We arrived, to see the old Vicarage fully scaffolded and with a lot of plastic sheeting in position, in the process of exterior renovation. Parts of the building date from the 18th century, though the facade is newer.

    I knocked on the door and explained my strange story to the woman of the house, who was on her own there. She invited us in, and showed us around. She said they had not noticed any strange presences since they moved in.

    I was lucky to be able to get the last few little devils, and the Vicar with the Flit-gun on video, as the old loo walls were being demolished, if I'd been a week later, all trace would have gone.

    Our host suggested we should go and see the Vicar, Peter Owen.

    We drove round to the courtyard of the new vicarage, and I got out......and heard a voice from a small brick outbuilding. When I entered, I saw a man wearing cowboy boots, feet up on his desk, dog collar on, but very casual looking......with a poster behind saying "Jesus saves" or something similar.

    I explained about the ghost at the Old Vicarage and he said "That is very interesting and may explain something which has puzzled us.

    We moved here when my son was about 18 months old, just starting to talk, and he often talked about a woman in white, who walked in the gardens......."

    I asked him to try and verify the ID of the girl who had allegedly hanged herself, but I never heard from him again.

    I mentioned this to Guy Lyon Playfair, and he put me onto a Cambridge based solicitor active in the Cambridge ghost club or something similar, I sent him the account, and again, have never heard back. Guy is going to prod him.

    Anyone who can do a bit of research on this, please do!

    I still have the video of the house and the Vicar talking about his son's sightings.
    Last edited by Ian Holfield; August 1st, 2010, 10:49 AM.

  • #2
    Originally posted by P_Synthesis
    Great story, sounds like a classic haunting from what I know of ghosts, which is close to zero.

    Where did the cheap cheroots go? (You see I do pay attention)
    I copied and pasted from an old 'private' correspondence file. I hadn't noticed that snippet myself.....and in fact I'm not at all sure whether that bit was accurate. We had definitely had some Stella though, and the Scots did like the exotic cheroots.......

    Comment


    • #3
      I like these kinds of accounts

      And here is where I'll reveal my particular bias when it comes to interpreting these kinds of experiences.

      Could ghosts be extra-sensorily triggered hallucinations?

      This isn't a new idea by any means. I think something along these lines was suggested in Phantasms of the Living in 1886!

      'Haunting' experiences do tend to be associated with a particular location rather than a person, correct me if I'm wrong. But perhaps what is important in triggering these experiences is not the location per se but the experience of being in that location. The experience of being in particular surroundings might be a factor in creating the circumstances by which information is 'received' about other people's experiences associated with that particular environment. If this psi information is strong enough it may be expressed outwardly as a hallucination.

      Just my thoughts on the matter.

      Richard Broughton briefly mentions this idea in a very interesting article on memory, emotion and psi, thankfully available from his website:

      http://www.rsbroughton.com/PDF/Broughton2006EJP.pdf

      Comment


      • #4
        Originally posted by davidsmith73 View Post
        I like these kinds of accounts

        And here is where I'll reveal my particular bias when it comes to interpreting these kinds of experiences.

        Could ghosts be extra-sensorily triggered hallucinations?

        This is unlikely at least for the many cases where there are video and sound recordings, including EVPs. My impression is that most "ghost" experiences are real sensory experiences of either non-sentient residual energies from former occupants, or deliberate physical manifestations from sentient "spirits" - dead persons or whatever they may be. The hallucination theory is also improbable if there are multiple witnesses.

        A more counterintuitive hypothesis would be that these are physical psychokinetic manifestions originating from the subconscious minds of the witnesses themselves, along the lines of poltergeist phenomena. Responding to the unconscious desires or fears of the witnesses.

        A variant of this would be that these are psychokinetic manifestations arising from a collective unconscious substratum embodying contemporary fears and concerns and desires.

        Or a combination of all of these.

        Comment


        • #5
          Originally posted by nbtruthman View Post
          This is unlikely at least for the many cases where there are video and sound recordings, including EVPs. My impression is that most "ghost" experiences are real sensory experiences of either non-sentient residual energies from former occupants, or deliberate physical manifestations from sentient "spirits" - dead persons or whatever they may be. The hallucination theory is also improbable if there are multiple witnesses.

          A more counterintuitive hypothesis would be that these are physical psychokinetic manifestions originating from the subconscious minds of the witnesses themselves, along the lines of poltergeist phenomena. Responding to the unconscious desires or fears of the witnesses.

          A variant of this would be that these are psychokinetic manifestations arising from a collective unconscious substratum embodying contemporary fears and concerns and desires.

          Or a combination of all of these.
          I don't know.....in this particular case it's hard to see any of these explanations being of much value, in the circumstances.

          A 2 year old boy isn't going to have much stored memory to choose from, and why would whatever the psychic trigger is cause him and a 22 year old woman to conjure up the same images?

          I don't know what to think about ghosts, but I am coming more and more close to accepting the discarnate surviving entity hypothesis, having been in contact with SandyB and heard her story, and realised the same idea is repeated so frequently, and seems to cross cultures without too much change.

          The recently presented Icelandic report of what seems to be a watertight case of a 'drop-in communicant' from Copenhagen, contacting a young medium being studied by an academic circle in 1905, when there was no radio or telephone link over the 2000 miles distance, and in which the exact ID of the communicant has recently been verified, lends more weight to the possibility of survival as a discarnate entity, at least for a period.

          I used to be very contra this idea.....but I can't ignore stuff like the Icelandic report.

          I have 99% positively seen a pair of ghosts on Christ's Pieces, a green in central Cambridge, when I was about 14 and my sister a year less. We both saw them, and they were in 18th century clothes. The colour was wrong, and we couldn't hear them properly.

          Comment


          • #6
            Originally posted by Ian Holfield View Post
            I don't know.....in this particular case it's hard to see any of these explanations being of much value, in the circumstances.

            A 2 year old boy isn't going to have much stored memory to choose from, and why would whatever the psychic trigger is cause him and a 22 year old woman to conjure up the same images?

            I don't know what to think about ghosts, but I am coming more and more close to accepting the discarnate surviving entity hypothesis, having been in contact with SandyB and heard her story, and realised the same idea is repeated so frequently, and seems to cross cultures without too much change.

            Certainly my second hypothesis wouldn't account for this particular sighting, since as you point out such a young child supposedly wouldn't have such a complicated unconscious mind. My third suggestion would appear to be applicable for both witnesses since it would emanate from a collective unconscious. My first suggestion also seems applicable in general: since the apparition seemed to respond to the witness but in a sort of automatic programmed fashion it could be a semi sentient "thought form" originating from the previous person but not being the actual surviving departed person. There are a lot of ghostly apparition cases where it seems to go through a sort of automatic programmed behavior as if was just a remnant thought energy form, not the actual entity.

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by nbtruthman View Post
              Certainly my second hypothesis wouldn't account for this particular sighting, since as you point out such a young child supposedly wouldn't have such a complicated unconscious mind. My third suggestion would appear to be applicable for both witnesses since it would emanate from a collective unconscious. My first suggestion also seems applicable in general: since the apparition seemed to respond to the witness but in a sort of automatic programmed fashion it could be a semi sentient "thought form" originating from the previous person but not being the actual surviving departed person. There are a lot of ghostly apparition cases where it seems to go through a sort of automatic programmed behavior as if was just a remnant thought energy form, not the actual entity.
              It's very hard to be sure, of course. I wish I'd seen it rather than Naomi, and we are making an assumption that the little boy saw the same thing, though not in the same place.

              I think the key to this is yet to be found.

              I talked with Guy Lyon Playfair about this case years ago, he referred me to Alan Murdie, President of the Cambridge Ghost Club, but Alan retired in 2005, and I never heard back from him.

              I tried sending the thing to the editors address via the Ghost Club site yesterday but it's a dead link.

              Someone based in Cambridge could do some useful records research here, it would be wonderful to find out

              1/ If some girl of the right age actually did hang herself on the corridor in the early part of the 20th century and if yes,
              2/ what exactly were the circumstances, who was she and
              3/ are there further reports of this apparition?
              Last edited by Ian Holfield; August 1st, 2010, 10:28 AM.

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by nbtruthman View Post
                This is unlikely at least for the many cases where there are video and sound recordings, including EVPs.
                Could you recommend a reliable online source for cases where there are video and EVP recordings? It seems possible that EVP could just be an auditory form of paradolia, although I haven't looked into it in detail.

                My impression is that most "ghost" experiences are real sensory experiences of either non-sentient residual energies from former occupants, or deliberate physical manifestations from sentient "spirits" - dead persons or whatever they may be. The hallucination theory is also improbable if there are multiple witnesses.

                I don't see how there being multiple witnesses would detract from the ESP-hallucination hypothesis. If a number of people share the same kind of internal mechanisms that respond in the same way to certain enviromental triggers (in this case, ESP information) then they are likely to generate similar hallucinations. I remember a tv show that described a case with four witnesses to a ghost within the remains of an old castle. Although there were many common elements to their respective experiences, each of them saw saw something slightly different.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by davidsmith73 View Post
                  I like these kinds of accounts

                  And here is where I'll reveal my particular bias when it comes to interpreting these kinds of experiences.

                  Could ghosts be extra-sensorily triggered hallucinations?

                  This isn't a new idea by any means. I think something along these lines was suggested in Phantasms of the Living in 1886!

                  'Haunting' experiences do tend to be associated with a particular location rather than a person, correct me if I'm wrong. But perhaps what is important in triggering these experiences is not the location per se but the experience of being in that location. The experience of being in particular surroundings might be a factor in creating the circumstances by which information is 'received' about other people's experiences associated with that particular environment. If this psi information is strong enough it may be expressed outwardly as a hallucination.

                  Just my thoughts on the matter.

                  Richard Broughton briefly mentions this idea in a very interesting article on memory, emotion and psi, thankfully available from his website:

                  http://www.rsbroughton.com/PDF/Broughton2006EJP.pdf
                  Just because the phenomenon is unusual doesn't mean the explanation must be also. It seems to me more logical to accept them for what they appear to be, even if it conflicts with one's worldview. If later they are proven otherwise, then fine, but I think the given answer "that's a ghost" is easier than these more complex ideas, and more likely to be correct as well.

                  AP

                  **Just spotted another post referencing the idea of astral tape recordings. This sounds a bit like the astrally created entities mentioned by Colin Wilson in his various books and I am not inclined to discount the idea. Given the evidence, it seems reasonable to apply it to some "hauntings"
                  Last edited by paqart; August 1st, 2010, 10:33 AM.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by davidsmith73 View Post
                    ....I remember a tv show that described a case with four witnesses to a ghost within the remains of an old castle. Although there were many common elements to their respective experiences, each of them saw saw something slightly different.
                    Dave, can you remember how their memories or sightings differed?

                    That is very interesting if correct, but people's memories (as witnesses) are notoriously unreliable at the best of times, and differ noticeably, just recalling a 'normal' situation!

                    For example our conflicting memories of Stanley Krippners presentation at the PA.....

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Aha! Found a description of the event from one of the people who were there:

                      My Own Ghost Story "And sometimes he&#039;s so nameless"

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by davidsmith73 View Post
                        Aha! Found a description of the event from one of the people who were there:

                        My Own Ghost Story "And sometimes he's so nameless"
                        Well found!

                        One odd thing in his report is that he saw (from OUTSIDE the building) the figure "running down the stairs, and noticed he had 3 spots on the front."

                        How could he see the front of the figure if it was running down a flight of stairs inside the building? The façade wall would have been in the way. He doesn't appear to have noticed this obvious problem.....

                        (EDIT) I am not casting doubt on this report, just pointing out how on first reading it does seem as though there's something strange with how the witnesses perceived these details....which is actually just the point Dave Smith was making initially! If, as in Dave's hypothesis, the imagery WAS generated internally using stuff from memory, though triggered by an external psi input, maybe you would expect there to be differences in the reports. I was puzzled by how the prime witness report seemed to be somewhat at odds with what I understood to be the layout of the building itself. What I was getting at was that seeing the 'spots' on the figure so clearly, in the circumstances, implies some sort of altered perception (other than that which would be expected in a situation where someone is seeing a building as it was hundreds of years in the past...a since removed staircase, upper floor, etc.)

                        Other than that, I don't think it's that unusual for witness testimony to vary in detail, of even normal events. It's a standard stunt in psychology for criminology...stage an attack on the lecturer and watch the differences in reports!


                        One thing that does ring true is the unreliability of the memory of some of his friends.....ok, he had no response from 2, so we don't know, but the others seemed a bit vague after 20 years.

                        I've noticed this, in fact I'm constantly amazed by how bad the memories of people I know well seem to be!

                        In particular to do with anomalous events.....it's as if a censorship sub-routine cuts in.

                        As an example, when we lived near Chepstow, in 1991, I had a friend who lived on the outskirts of the same tiny village as we did. He had been a research biochemist, but had packed it all in to become a master carpenter, in fact a cabinet maker, as he made very high quality furniture.

                        One day I went down to see him, and he told me a most extraordinary story.

                        He said he had just seen something completely weird.

                        He described how he had been leaning on the stone wall in front of his cottage, which was built into a steep hillside, and faced the lane. The other side of the lane, the land dropped lower again, and was heavily wooded.

                        So his house had a high ridge behind it......and he had first heard, then seen, something come over the ridge, in the air....he heard a sort of flapping sound, like a canopy flapping rapidly, and then saw this silver thing coming across the sky. He said it was very low, and seemed to be a sort of silver fabric, and it was flapping in the air....and he realised there seemed to be someone trapped inside it!

                        He assumed, in his state of shock, that this was an accident he was witnessing involving a para-wing or something similar, which had somehow collapsed in flight and wrapped itself around the pilot, who was struggling to escape.

                        It went clear over the tree line in front of him, and he started running across the lane and into the woods. He searched frantically for half an hour before deciding it was some sort of bizarre UFO sighting, as there was no sign of anything on the ground.

                        Since moving to France, I went back to see him, with my wife and daughter, who was born while we were living at the cottage.

                        This would have been about 2000, so not more than 9 years after the event.

                        I asked him to describe it for Françoise, and he said "I don't remember ever having said anything like that! I don't recall the event at all!"

                        I was quite amazed....I had other witnesses at the time he told me this strange story. It struck me as odd that anyone could 'forget' such a strikingly weird event, but I'm pretty sure it's evidence of some sort of after the event censorship we do in order to preserve our 'comfort zone'.

                        Very like Paquart's story involving his uncle.....
                        Last edited by Ian Holfield; August 2nd, 2010, 12:39 PM.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by Ian Holfield View Post
                          Well found!

                          The first odd thing in his report is that he saw (from OUTSIDE the building) the figure "running down the stairs, and noticed he had 3 spots on the front."

                          How could he see the front of the figure if it was running down a flight of stairs inside the building? The façade wall would have been in the way. He doesn't appear to have noticed this obvious problem.....
                          Er, we were standing in front of the building which you can see here
                          Thetford Priory - A Place in History - Norfolk History - EDP24

                          See the large archway? The stair case was directly through the smaller archway to the right hand side.

                          Hope clarifies

                          cj x

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by cj.23 View Post
                            Er, we were standing in front of the building which you can see here
                            Thetford Priory - A Place in History - Norfolk History - EDP24

                            See the large archway? The stair case was directly through the smaller archway to the right hand side.

                            Hope clarifies

                            cj x
                            Hi! Did you write this piece? Welcome to the forum by the way....

                            I suppose you mean the staircase was directly ahead when you went through the smaller door? For some reason I saw it as being at right angles to that door, which would have made it hard to see how anyone could have seen the front of the figure...ie the stairs running parallel to the front wall.I don't know why I assumed that, other than the fact that in many old buildings in France that I've looked at, the stairs are as I described, and rarely directly in line with a door.

                            I understand what you mean now....you could see the front of the figure once he was far enough down the stairs that you could see him coming down them through the archway opening....so he would have been near the bottom.

                            Did you have any feelings of 'time slip' during the rush to the doorway to intercept the figure? Or did everything seem perfectly 'normal'? Would you say that your noticing the 3 'spots' on the front of the figure was one of the last images you noticed before finding yourself inside the shell of the building?

                            Thanks for clarifying this. It sounds like a classic 'stone recording' case, other than the fact that the figure appears to have been aware of you!

                            I'm aware of a somewhat similar case, when a visitor to a house 'saw' it from inside with a large hole in the roof. In fact there was no hole in the roof at the time, but two people had been killed in the house by a large rock which rolled down the mountainside, crashing through the roof in exactly the place where the hole was seen...but it was in th e1920s, 70 years before she saw the hole! This was a house we owned, and it was my ex sister in law who 'saw' it.
                            Last edited by Ian Holfield; August 2nd, 2010, 11:46 AM.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Hi Ian,

                              yep the link is to my blog. See the comments under neath for a few responses from the others there that day, and how little we recall now of what actually happened.

                              Yes, the stairs were directly through the arch, built on to a wall on the right hands side of the small arch. You can still see the marks from the staircase - they led to a door that still exists on the top rear right of the building.


                              On memory, and apparitions -- also from my blog --
                              Charting the Unknown: Ghosts, Memory & the Progress of Time "And sometimes he's so nameless"

                              might be vaguely pertinent?

                              REally nice to meet. Am working today so not had much time to read thread or get involved in discussions but will do so now!

                              Comment

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