AS THE nights close in and the evenings grow longer, people draw in their curtains and light their fires.
They throw an extra blanket on the bed, get the marshmallows and hot chocolate out and enjoy cosy nights in, curled up in front of a roaring fire.
Unless, of course, you happen to be part of a group of ghost hunting fanatics who are getting hyped up for a new season of extreme paranormal activity.
Haunted Southampton is getting ready to bring its team of investigators and paranormal enthusiasts to the Groundlings Theatre, in Portsea, in Portsmouth, to look into reported ghostly goings on.
Pete Collins, owner and director of Haunted Southampton, explains, ‘The Theatre housed children in the 1700s and we have heard that it is one of the most haunted in this area.
‘It’s also famous because Elizabeth Dickens attended a party there in 1812 and went into labour - and gave birth to her son, Charles, soon after.
‘Suffice to say, our team has great expectations for this event.
‘As far as I’m aware, there are reports of up to nine spirits in that plac, including a poltergeist.’
Pete says he is particualry keen to find evidence of a ghost by the name of George. George is the ghost of a little boy who apparently sits on the stairs, and a little girl called Emily who has been seen in a classroom.
‘We’ve been told stories of children laughing, orbs, and cold spots,’ he says with a gloint of excitemnet in his eye.
In the world of ghost hunting, cold spots are seen as an indicator for the presence of a sprit, and an orb is thought to be a ghost taking the form of a ball of light.
Pete says, ‘It’s interesting that there are rumours of both ghosts and a poltergeist at the Groundlings as people very often don’t know the difference.’
He explains, ‘A ghost haunts a particular place for a particular reason, whereas a poltergeist tends to turn up and cause chaos for a period of time.
‘Poltergeist means noisy ghost and that is pretty much what they do. Make noise and cause a bit of trouble.’
With whisperings rife that all is not actually as still as the night when the lights go down at the Groundling Theatre, ghost hunters are already queuing up for tickets.
Rachel Parry regularly attends paranormal events. The 99-year-old says, ‘I like going on the ghost investigations to see ghosts.
The best evidence we got was one time when we were at Wymering Manor, which is the oldest building in Portsmouth.
‘There were just five of us in the room and when I played back the dictaphone, a man’s voice shouted ‘get out’ when we asked if there was anyone there.’
Ghost hunters use a vast array of technololgy to detect paranmormal activity.
Rachel says, ‘Using the equipment is fun.
‘We use dowsing rods, Ouija boards and electronic gadgets.’
Rachel says for her it’s not just about the ghosts, that it’s actually a good way to make friends and meet new people.
‘It’s really good to meet people who have the same interests as you.
‘Some know there is something after this life, some aren’t sure and some don’t believe at all.
‘It’s really good going on an event hosted by Haunted Southampton because they bring loads of kit for you to play with which the others don’t and they provide refreshments.’
One of the ways of detecting activity is by dowsing - using a Y-shaped rod which is meant to twtich nearr ground water, buried metals or ores, gemstones, oil as well as so-called currents of earth radiation (ley lines).
Pete explains, ‘It is believed that a dowsing rod acts as a sort of amplifier allowing the dowser to tune in to an energy force which effectively forces the dowsing rod to move if there is an entity present.
‘Anyone who attends our ghost hunting events is free to use any of the equipment. Full training is given and the equipment is simple to use.
‘Novices are encouraged to make full use of the technology available to them to maximise their experience any record any ghostly encounter they may have.’
So, if you are dying to see what secrets the Groundlings Theatre has hiding in its wings, fancy taking a trip to the other side or just want to venture on ground where angels fear to tread, the ghost hunters have just entered into their ghost-hunting season.
Their next investigation takes place at The Groundlings Theatre on Kent Road, Portsea, between 8.30pm and 3.30am on Friday, October 25.
Tickets are on sale at hauntedsouthampton.com.
HOW THEY DO IT...
All paranormal investigations are based upon theories such as cold spots, fluctuating electromagnetic fields and detecting sounds and movement.
Pete Collins, organiser of Haunted Southampton, explains, ‘In order to test these theories, we invest in state of the art equipment to keep up with the ghouls.’
Here are just a few of the pieces of kit used by the ghost hunters.
· Electromagnetic field detectors - These analyse changes in electromagnetic fields in the environment. Changes like this are crucial to ghost hunters as it is thought spirits need to draw on some form of energy to move things or manifest themselves.
· Night vision cameras - The thermal imaging camera enables the monitoring of hot and cold spots, useful in areas where it is reported that unexplained footsteps have been heard.
· Full spectrum cameras - These cameras allow people to see within the full spectrum of light. Many people witness ‘corner of the eye phenomena’ so these cameras monitor, record and research all alleged paranormal activity.
· Four-way CCTV - The CCTV has the benefit of full night vision and can record either all night, or in sound or movement activation mode.
· Digital voice recorders - These are set up in various places to capture the voices of those said to be haunting a place or building.
· The Sixth Sense - An exclusive piece of equipment designed by Steve Ranger, which the team has the sole use of. It analyses the environment for changes in temperature and electromagnetic fields. It has a shadow detector, a device for detecting vibrations and a motion sensor. It also analyses the amount of static electricity within a specific range.
MEET THE TEAM
RUN by husband and wife team Pete and Juliet Collins, Haunted Southampton is made up of a team of specialists including historian expert Rebecca Lysandrides, health and safety officer Pat Collins, location manager James Lysandrides and several mediums.
The medium at each event may differ but there is always at least one present to take charge and supervise the use of Ouija boards and any other spirit calling activity.
Mediums provide the spiritual non-scientific element to a ghost-hunting event to balance out the experience for those attending.
The mediums that regularly attend the ghost hunting events are medium and psychic artist Kathy Bavister, and mediums Andy Ford and John Taylor.
Andy Ford will be at the event in Portsmouth and explains the difference between a ghost and a spirit.
Andy says: ‘For me a ghost is like a recording.
‘For some reason the play button gets pushed and you see the image.
‘A ghost will not acknowledge your presence as there is no intelligence there, where as a spirit is totally the opposite and can communicate with you.
‘A ghost is the recording and the spirit is an ongoing life force.’
Each member of the ghost hunting crew is passionate about the paranormal, but Pete was particularly keen to stress the importance of being supervised when dealing with the unknown.
Pete says: ‘Never open a Ouija board without proper supervision. Attempting to contact the dead can be an incredibly dangerous activity. You may encounter bad spirits and the board must be properly closed.’
GET IN TOUCH
The ghost-hunting group holds an event every month.
Anyone who fancies a bump in the night with a ghoulish twist can contact organiser Pete Collins on 07843 784273 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
You must be over 18 to attend and anyone under the influence of drugs or alcohol will be refused admission.
To find our more go to hauntedsouthampton.com.