Page last updated at 10:11 GMT, Monday, 19 October 2009 11:11 UK
Ghost hunting at the Guildhall
By Hannah Tobin
BBC Coventry & Warwickshire

St. Mary's Guildhall
It is thought that William Shakespeare performed at the Guildhall

Coventry's Guildhall is over 650 years old. Ghosts or no ghosts, this historic part of the city looks slightly eerie any night of the week.

BBC Coventry & Warwickshire's Tom Cooke, Rev Mervyn Roberts and I arrived at the Guildhall just before 9pm.

We met the organisers of this special paranormal night and the 35 other ghost hunters in the Undercroft before going on a guided tour of the building.

Our ghostly tour of the Guildhall would last until the eerie early hours.

The building served as the centre of King Henry VI's court during the War of the Roses, was a prison to Mary, Queen of Scots, and was visited by William Shakespeare. There have been ghostly sightings of monks, a man in a skullcap, and Elizabethan figures roaming the building.

We also heard of someone in the 1800s that died after falling down one of the steep staircases.

I had seen paranormal programmes on television and wasn't completely sure what to make of it all, but I went with an open mind.

After seeing what our home for the night looked like with the lights on, they were eventually turned off - torches turned on - and our ghost hunting began.

I was equipped with a digital camera and a camcorder with night vision, so I began snapping away in the dark, seeing if I could capture anything apart from Tom Cooke looking ghostly with this hood up!

There is a famous photograph, taken in the 1980s, of a hooded figure standing by a table during a function in the Great Hall. It was in here that I took several pictures, which could be described as containing orbs. They could be dust in the air, or reflections from torches, but one photo in particular shows a perfect bright white circle. What could it be?

Ian Lawman

Ian Lawman, a psychic medium who has appeared on Most Haunted and Living with the Dead, joined us for the night and took us on another tour of the building - this time seeing if we were joined by any unexpected guests.

It was while in the second room - the Draper's Room - that I felt a cold shiver. And I was sat by a radiator! Psychic Ian also felt that the room was cold and our guide informed us that it was the room where Mary, Queen of Scots had been held.

In the old Council Chamber we encountered a lot of paranormal activity. Ian could feel the presence of a playwright, which he believed to be William Shakespeare. The Bard was no stranger to the Guildhall, having staged plays here.

Night vision image
Tom Cooke and I look for ghosts in night vision

When we split into smaller groups, one member could sense an old council member called Peter Anderson. We don't have any proof if this person actually existed, but it was interesting to see members of our party trying to contact the spirits with their fingers on a cup and asking for it to be moved. Anderson was especially was taken with Mervyn as he had a friend who was a priest!

Our group also tried to detect any changes in temperature and electromagnetic fields at different points of the room.

Electromagnetic fields

At about 3am, we moved to the Prince's Chamber and, again, tried different ways in connecting with different energies and any spirits. We spent a lot of time in here and legend has it that blood can sometimes be spotted on the floor.

During one experiment, I somehow found myself sat on the floor with two others, holding hands, and everyone else creating a circle around us. Here we connected with someone called Jessica and someone called Archie.

Minstrels' gallery

Some members of the group were also new to this experience; some had been to several events before, and some appeared to be psychic themselves.

I didn't participate in every experiment - but still watched - and found it fascinating to see if any contact was made and how people reacted.

St. Mary's Guildhall - The Great Hall
Is this is an orb in a photograph or just a piece of dust?

The only time I felt slightly uncomfortable was during the séance at the end of the night - well, it was more like 4:30am. We all piled into The Mercer's Room - which is not usually open to the public - sat and stood around a large round table and turned off the light. I didn't take part as I personally didn't feel easy with it, but many members of the group felt connected and had done this kind of thing before.

Stories to tell

It was an enjoyable and interesting experience and a beautiful place to go ghost hunting for the first time. I'm still not sure what to make of the whole paranormal world, but a building such as the Guildhall, with so much history, has many stories to tell - so I will never say never and will continue to have an open mind.

We finally left the building at 5am and I waved goodbye to rooms as I passed them... Just in case we really weren't alone...




SEE ALSO
Step inside Coventry's Guildhall
19 Oct 09 |  History

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