Bodelwyddan Castle: Scene of several ghost sightings
By Sarah Hutchinson
Paranormal investigator Sarah shares her experiences after undertaking a series of investigations at the castle
Members of staff have experienced strange goings-on at
for many years. This perhaps isn't surprising. With its varied and diverse history, the house and estate extends to before 1460. The castle has been used as a recuperation hospital for the World War I, as a girls' private school and is now home to the National Portrait Gallery.
Unexplained sightings have included a lady in Victorian dress in the Sculpture Gallery, a soldier in one of the galleries and shadowy figures in the corridors. I am the founder of North Wales Paranormal Research (NWPR) and we conducted a preliminary overnight investigation. A few strange noises were heard and light anomalies (often referred to as orbs) were photographed.
We returned to carry out a second investigation. Because NWPR investigate the paranormal from a scientific angle wherever possible, we come armed with a host of technical equipment.
On this particular investigation, it included the usual night vision video cameras, negative ion detectors, motion sensors, infra-red thermometers, etc, right through to more specialist equipment, like CCTV cameras and infra-red lighting arrays.
After setting up all the equipment in the most active locations around the castle, we welcomed the mediums. Despite focusing on science wherever possible, NWPR work alongside mediums too, as we feel mediums deserve investigating just as much as any ghosts. They're just as paranormal!
The mediums walked around the castle and picked up on a number of spirits. Some of the information they came out with seems to be historically correct, and, following some research, they seem to have discovered something that even castle staff were unaware of until they unearthed an old floor plan.
At around midnight, the mediums left, and we (NWPR) set up locked-off experiments to make sure the experiments weren't tampered with by any (living) human. Lock-off experiments were placed predominantly in the cellars, as one of our members experienced something down there on our very first visit. Two night vision camcorders were placed facing one another from across the cellar in order to validate any strange phenomena that may be recorded. We also placed a negative ion detector, motion sensors and trigger objects in the cellars, to try to record any sort of paranormal phenomena on camera.
At the same time, infra-red lighting experiments were taking place in other parts of the castle. CCTV cameras and microphones were left filming, and streaming continuously throughout the night back to the 'base camp' in a room on the second floor. Some NWPR members were watching the footage all night and claimed to have seen and heard a few potentially interesting things. Detailed analysis needs to be completed before any conclusion can be reached on this though.
At about six in the morning, we left the castle to embark on many hours worth of video and audio analysis. Preliminary analysis of the footage from the cellar lock-off experiment seems to indicate that something triggered the motion sensors at 2am. Nothing was visible on the camcorders at the time.
The trigger object remained where it was placed and the negative ion detector didn't pick up on anything unusual. So, what was down in the cellars at this time remains a mystery. A light anomaly (often referred to as an orb) was noted on a camcorder in the Victorian toy room. Further investigations will be conducted in order to try and get further, conclusive proof of the paranormal.
Contributors' experiences at Bodelwyddan Castle
Tony Butterworth, Halifax: My wife and I stayed at the castle and in the evening we went for a drink in the bar opposite the hotel reception. We were sat with another couple chatting away when my glass flew off the table for no apparent reason. The table was solid and not on a slope. The barmaid gave me another drink for free as she said that this had happened several times in the past. She said that the rumour was that it was the ghost of the old headmistress of the school as the bar used to be the library and she did not approve of drinking.
Angela Jones, Wirral: "I lived in the castle for four years when it was a girl's boarding school. When I was in Upper 5 my dormitory was in the annexe and we experienced, on many nights, noises and dragging noises in the room where we slept. We were terrified and refused to sleep in that room. I remember it vividly as the noises were going on right there in our room in the middle of the night. We were so scared we had to get the headmaster involved to investigate."
Sue, Llangollen: "When I visited Bodelwyddan Castle a few years ago I sensed a lot of ghosts in the car park area as well as entering the castle itself in the hallway. Plus, the billards room and upstairs where the computers were and also down in the cafe and in the ladies' toilets and the backstairs, even walking outside in the gardens. The ghosts seem to be from all ages."
Amanda's mum, Manchester: "My daughter Amanda was an entertainer at the castle. She took some pictures of her brother and his friend when they gave her a lift back. Above her friend's head you can clearly see an 'orb'. When she first showed me the picture she had no idea what it was. It was only through investigation that we realised that this was a recognised phenomena. I find it fascinating. There are things that defy explanation!"
Wanda: "I have been on two overnight vigils at the castle. Many things happened on both occasions. Glasses on tables were moved in response to questions, footsteps were heard, dowsing rods moved, drastic temperature drops were experienced and orbs were captured on cameras. At one point my left shoulder and arm were absolutely freezing whilst the rest of my body was warm. I also felt a hand move across my head in one of the rooms even though I was standing with my back to a wall and no-one was behind me. After all this happening I'm still sceptical but it has definitely kindled my interest in the paranormal."
Ben, Rhyl: "I went to school in the castle in the 1980s for a couple of years when my school was flooded in the Towyn floods. I also lived there as a refugee for a short time. When I was in school there something strange happened but I'm still sceptical. It was in the grounds outside, on a field one play time me and some friends saw an old looking big top tent like you get at a circus. We climbed the fence and some people dressed in old fashioned clothes beckoned us in. They showed us tricks like spinning plates on sticks and we watched them for what seemed like ages. We left hurriedly when we realised we were late back to lessons and ran into a teacher on the way back who was out looking for us. She was mad with us and demanded to know where we had been. We told her about the tent and she told us to stop talking rubbish and to get to class. She then walked up the field and to investigate what we had said. When we saw her later she told us there was no tent and suggested we had made it all up."