My night in a haunted asylum

I’ve wanted to stay in a haunted house for as long as I can remember. I’m not sure where my interest in the paranormal came from but I’ve always enjoyed the uneasy fear of the paranormal. I used to read short ghost stories when I was a child, and loved shows like Sapphire and Steel which definitely went in for that paranormal vibe.

So, a night in a haunted mental asylum was a perfect opportunity to explore this side of my personality. Would I be so comfortable with the paranormal fear when I was there, standing before it?

I organised to go on an organised ghost hunt with a well known company and went with my friend Ged. The other names in these notes have been changed to respect their privacy. Some of these notes are my own rambling reflections on what happened. I wrote these all up within an hour of getting back home, and have not adjusted them at all (save to correct a few typos). The notes have proved invaluable to me as they’ve formed the basis of a novel I’ve written (as yet unpublished).

Welcome

Went to wrong gates first of all but they were already unlocked. Could have gone through there and had something bad happen. Good idea for story.

  • Met organisers at the real gate. Signed in on the clipboard. Told to follow the road round. The road was hard to spot. At one point wasn’t sure if I should go left or right. Went left. Big metal gates blocked the courtyard with barbed wire over the top.
  • Man waved torch over to get our attention on where to park.
  • Felt really dark. Could barely make out the edges of the rest of the buildings. We were effectively sealed inside the complex at the point with no obvious way of getting out.
  • People met inside the base room. Table with hot drinks, cold drinks and biscuits.
  • Little battery LED candles lit the edge of tables.
  • The main room was cavernous. The dumb waiter in the middle seemed innocuous. Too modern for such an old structure. Bare wires. Ripped off light fittings. Trolleys left in the corner. A mixture of chairs arranged to listen to the speaker at the front.
  • Nice wooden floor. Few holes here and there.
  • One woman trod in dog shit and brought it inside.
  • Everything was delayed whilst she sorted it out.
  • Tried to speak to the medium (Tony), asked him how long he’d been doing it. He said a long time then kept shut. Didn’t seem very chatty at all. Bit of a bossy twat. I asked him if we’re going to get a bit of a history lesson and he told me that that was what Google was for.
  • Got read instructions. Get read a disclaimer effectively saying that we could take away from the event what we wanted and that it was their opinions.

 

First vigil – The Autopsy Room

 

  • This was a kitchen but was converted at some point.
  • It all felt very badly designed, which I suppose it was. It was never designed to be a hospital so everything they did to the original orphanage would have been a compromise.
  • Shining torches into rooms we weren’t going into just yet.
  • An old sheet resting on a pipe.
  • Papers scattered across a desk. Food orders dating back thirty years.
  • In the autopsy room. Emerald green tiles around the wall. Many cracked and broken. The cooker hoods still in place. The other end of the dumb waiter in the corner. A series of metal stairs leading to a boarded up office overlooking the room. A child’s broken unicorn toy strewn on the steps.
  • Glass bottles with fake bits of body in them to set the mood.
  • A plain brown table in the middle of the room. Chairs around it in a circle.
  • Told to go in a circle around the room holding hands. Reaching for gloved hands of strangers.
  • EM reader placed on the table. Green light. Barely visible. Orange light occasionally flickered and Tony the medium used this as a sign that a spirit was present.
  • We introduced ourselves to the spirit. He might have been called John. He was a porter who worked there. Tony did most of the questions.
  • We stood in the dark for close to an hour. One lady kept getting scared and asking for the torch to go back on.
  • Ged felt something touch his knee and got panicky. Then something touch his neck.
  • Others spoke of smelling formaldehyde (how would they know).
  • Then a second spirit. He was patiently waiting in the corner. Kept making me want to glance in the corner although I couldn’t see anything and it didn’t matter what direction I was looking in.
  • Someone had brought their own EM reader and placed in on the floor in front of GED.
  • The girl next to Ged felt something.
  • The man two away from me was getting into it.
  • Everyone kept commenting that it was cold, and it was! It was cold. But there was no breeze.
  • Tony opened by getting us to imagine a safe place. This would protect us. He asked us to tell the spirits if we were happy being touched or not.
  • Reminded of sensory deprivation and how your mind works to fill in the lack of stimulus.
  • In summary, nothing ultimately happened in this room. We left and went back to the main room. Tony told us we couldn’t have a drink yet, we had to go off in our groups for smaller vigils.

 

Second vigil – Enter the Wards

We were with Janet, a young girl who thought that working here was better than working in Aldi.

We went into a ward. It was a bit odd. Looked like it had been make shifted together. Old rubbish mattresses on steel beds. Not proper hospital beds. No real bedside furniture. A few of the cubicles had curtain dividers half pulled across. Wouldn’t really want to wander around there on my own. At least, not at first.

Went into a smaller room. Windows all boarded up. Most of the glass had cracks in it. You could hear the traffic from the main road. Strip light fitting had been leant against the wall.

Janet placed a green light gun across the doorway and into the corridor beyond. This was meant to help us detect movement outside as anything crossing the beam would be detected. I just thought it was intended to help fuck up our perceptions.

She took out the first of the two Ouija boards we’d be using. Only she forgot something and had to go and get it. We wandered around a bit in pairs sizing the place up. Occasionally you’d walk into a room and catch sight of another group in the room beyond and do a double take.

Sarah’s group started on the board with Keith and his partner. 5 in total. They started calling out. They were told to move the glass around themselves to build the energies up. Questions were always fairly basic.

  • Are you a man?
  • Are you a patient?
  • Did you die here?
  • How old were you when you died?
  • Are you happy for us to stay?
  • Do you want us to leave?
  • Was somebody cruel to you here?
  • Etc.

Nothing of significance so moved to the far end of the ward. An empty room apart from a couple of tables. Janet set up a planchette with pen attached like a kids game. A3 flipchart paper put down on the table.

I took part in this. Curious to see it move. And it did move but I had nothing to do with it. Suspected Keith was doing stuff. Curious to see how much pressure it would take to get it to move where I wanted. Fairly tricky, but then it probably would be if others were already moving it.

Squiggles came out and looked like nothing. Questions were directed, assuming it was a child, like that activity would attract a child rather than a mental raving lunatic.

Got bored of the game and they brought in another Ouija instead.

Took the opportunity to peek through some of the holes in the chipboard around the windows. First one overlooked the first set of gates we were going to drive through. Looked proper spooky. You could imagine Michael Myers just stepping out of the shadows at that point.

The next Ouija session, Sarah and her daughter took control off pretty much from the off. She seemed determined that the spirit they’d contacted was her dad. The board spelled out monster and talked about a dog. Wouldn’t reveal its age and seemed to imply bad things would happen to someone they cared about. She challenged the spirit, saying she didn’t think it was her dad.

Break

Coffee. Queued up. Cup a soups and buns, chocolate biscuits. Crisps. Water.

Third vigil – Naughty Boys’ Corridor and Morgue

Went with Claire upstairs. Up the far staircase with the suicide fence. Didn’t look like it would really stop anyone from jumping over the edge though. A great looking door ripped off its hinges and resting against a sealed off part of the hospital. Shining torch through the gap to try to see what was down there.

Went out into a ward. Similar to the one for the first vigil. Lots of eighties furniture.

Nothing creepy. Getting used to it by now.

Went into the naughty boys corridor. The corridor outside it had no windows and there would have been no natural daylight in this part of the hospital.

The NBC is a long corridor with a door at either end. About ten cupboards against the right wall, each separate. Doors matched them on the other side but they might never have been used as naughty cupboards as you could crawl through from one to the next.

Not a nice place but then we’d been conditioned to think that it was almost a place of torture. Yes, it was inhumane, and rumours are that a boy died in there.

We did human pendulum. Sarah told Claire how she wanted to do it. We got in a circle and Claire asked us to close our eyes. If anyone felt anything moving them they were to become ‘it’.

Sarah didn’t want to be it, but she was nominated. Claire put one hand in front of Diana and one behind and asked the spirit to show us what the sign for a yes would be–Sarah tipped backwards, then what the sign for a no would be–Sarah tipped forwards.

With a series of yes no questions this was pretty much what was established.

  • It was a patient
  • It was a he
  • He had mental issues
  • He wasn’t happy
  • He was happy for us to be there
  • He died in his twenties
  • He didn’t have any family
  • He was frequently locked in the cupboards when he was naughty (see how Sarah got confused, she’s now imaging the spirit as an orphan rather than a patient).
  • There was another spirit. A nurse
  • She didn’t want us to be here.
  • She enjoyed hurting the boys (nurses in an orphanage? More confusion)
  • She wanted us to leave.

Sarah then came out of her trance. Suggested I do it.
I stood there and didn’t move. I was told to relax my arms.
I was told I wasn’t receptive.

Another woman stood in and immediately starting swaying. Similar stories.

Then went to the morgue.

 

 

  • Had to go outside.
  • Ducked through an improvised wooden boarded door.
  • Into a chapel area, and the fridges beyond. Ged crawled into the cremation pit.
  • I took photos.
  • We sat in the chapel around a table to do table tipping.
  • Almost immediately with everyone around the slightly wonky table, there was a vibration. Questions were asked. Come on try and move it more. Thank you for giving us that wobble. Just a bit more.
  • I lifted my fingers off every now and then. Ged started talking to it. We went around the table asking it to reveal itself through the art of rocking a table.
  • I was sure it was Sarah’s daughter. I tried to see how much effort it would take to get a good rock on. It was surprisingly easy to get it to rock more–the other’s immediately noticed.

After about twenty minutes it was time for another break.

Break

I asked Sarah about the Ouija board. She said that she didn’t like them because they always attracted evil spirits. She knew it was her dad though because his last words to his granddaughter was ‘I’m not a monster’ at the time he was hooked up to tubes in a hospital bed.

Fourth vigil – Poltergeist and snoring

Went with Tony into the basement. Not an especially nice place because the ceilings were lower.
Went into a room with sewing equipment and maxi pads.

Stood in the dark with Sarah in the corridor outside. Tony telling us that there was a poltergeist here and that he liked to touch people up in the corridor outside. Kept telling ‘John’ to go and touch her face.

She came in quick quickly, not liking the feeling out there.

I volunteered to stand outside (at Ged’s insistence).

Not that nice.
Stood by a single open locker.
Had to shout for the others to hear me.
On my right there were open rooms and I could hear dripping water.

Tony said the spirit was interested in my beard. I told him I couldn’t feel anything.
No sensations.
And I couldn’t.
My heart was beating quickly for the first couple of minutes, but once I closed my eyes I calmed down.
Tony asked if I was a sceptic. I told him I was open minded. He asked again and I repeated. Tony didn’t like me.

I came back in. He asked why I came back in so quickly if I didn’t feel anything. I told him it was lonely out there and thought someone else might like a go.
Ged did. He wandered further down the corridor. All the way to the end. He didn’t experience anything either.
The EM reader barely flickered.

We moved to the locker room at the end of the basement.
There was a table set up. We sat down. He put the EM reader on it.
We turned out torches off and he asked a few questions. He seemed quite bored by this point. No one else wanted to ask questions. I was bored. I closed my eyes and could have fallen asleep. I noticed the lights flashing a few times but no one said anything. I wasn’t sure what we were waiting for. Then someone accused Tony of snoring.

He denied it but we all laughed and chimed in, asking why he hadn’t commented on the flashing lights. He didn’t have a good answer.

This was the most dull vigil with absolutely nothing happening. Not even Sarah managed to liven this one up.

Break

Chatted with the organisers.

Claire said the boss used to go on every single hunt, but there were so many now that he couldn’t. He was off in America setting up the American side of the business. Most of the guides are recruited from previous attendees. Claire has no psychic sensitivity at all.
Gemma thought it was a cool job. Claire had to travel from Preston.

Free time

Borrowed an Em reader and wandered around the building. Checking out the autopsy room and basement again.

Ended in the naughty corridor again and we were the last to leave.
Ged spent time in a cupboard
Tony ‘closed’ us so were able to leave.

Concluding thoughts

Did I see a ghost?
No.
Did I experience anything remotely paranormal?
No.
What I did find was a group of people who seemed to believe in something. What surprised me (or perhaps it shouldn’t) was how quickly people were ready to accept the most mundane for something paranormal.
Have you done anything similar? I’d love to hear about it in the comments.