Ghost hunters - we join psychic investigators for a spooky night at Wareham’s 18th century Black Bear pub (From Bournemouth Echo)
When news happens text pix and video to 80360. Start your message with BE then leave a space.
Ghost hunters - we join psychic investigators for a spooky night at Wareham’s 18th century Black Bear pub
The landlady of the Black Bear hotel in Wareham looks me square in the eye and says: “You’ll remember Geoffrey when you see what he does.”
I wouldn’t have minded if Geoffrey was a member of staff, or a family pet.
But Geoffrey is a ghost.
The words chill me to the very core.
What on earth is in store for me on this windy autumnal night?
Ever since the hit TV programme Most Haunted hit our screens, ghost hunting has attracted a number of interested participants, including the likes of Louis Walsh, Boyzone, Paul O Grady, Cheryl Cole and the cast of Corrie.
And now it’s my turn.
With me at the traditional Dorset inn on Wareham’s South Street are Paranormal Troubleshooters International (PTI), a team including psychic medium Angie Freeland and her parapsychologist husband Keith.
They have featured prominently in the Irish media. Last Halloween alone they appeared on two TV programmes and three radio stations on one night.
Now the Poole couple are launching their talents to the public in their home county. As well as investigating private homes they are running overnight public paranormal experiences at the Black Bear, built in 1722 as a coaching inn.
Little more was known about the premises ahead of this investigation. I purposely didn’t look into its history and neither do the PTI team.
“We go into it cold and keep away from any information,” Keith explains.
What we do know is that staff feel uneasy in certain areas after the pub doors are closed to the public, in particular the kitchen, bar, cellar and event room (into which one girl steadfastly refuses to go). Some employees head home ‘sick with fright’.
Lynda Maytum, who has been landlady for a year says: “We’ve had a mirror flying off a wall, and a long trumpet-like instrument repeatedly coming off its secure hooks behind the bar.
“Then, one night not so long ago my son was cashing up, and suddenly all the notes were thrown up into the air by an unseen force.”
As part of PTI, Angie Freeland tries to find evidence of spirit with her psychic ability and Keith backs it up with readings from technical equipment.
Cameras, and meters to read temperature, sound, humidity, and electromagnetic currents are our companions during our long night-time vigil. Keith also uses a piece of equipment called an Ovilus 3 – an electronic speech-synthesis device which utters words depending on environmental readings.
“I’m a scientist by trade,” says Keith who has a degree in physics.
“I’m also a coach and was the HR manager for BP at Wytch Farm. I think I can read people quite well, so the transition into parapsychology (he trained with Most Haunted’s Ciaran O’Keeffe) was an easy one.”
A small group of us, armed with torches and a steely nerve, huddle in a bedroom. Angie asks for any spirits to make themselves known with a noise or touch.
Suddenly, a low growl pervades the room.
“Sorry, that was my tummy rumbling” admits a man to my left. Laughter ensues. And that’s the thing about many of these ghost hunts. A lot of noises, sightings and changes of temperature can easily be explained away.
“I think I saw an orb in my camera!” exclaims another.
“Probably just dust,” says Angie matter-of-factly. Activity in the EMF metres could be put down to electrical wires or mobile phones.
But then, there are things for which an explanation is less forthcoming. In the same bedroom, Angie thinks she’s picking up on the presence of a woman who used to work at the hotel and was aged around 25 when she died.
“If you are here, darling, please make yourself known by making a noise.”
Chink chink chink chink. The tea tray rattles, briefly.
“Can you do that again my love?”
Chink chink chink chink.
“Thank you. Now, I want to say that you are called Anne or Annie.”
Then to our utter disbelief, one word comes out of the Ovilus 3 machine.
Anne. By this stage, Angie’s throat begins to burn so it’s time to go downstairs for a tea break.
And to meet Geoffrey....
Gathered in the bar area, we begin taking random photos of the environment. When the first flash goes off, a loud crack is heard at the unlit fireplace, and the Ovilus 3 machine says simply: Foe.
Did I really want to communicate with the male ghost thought to be in this area? I find myself taking my place around a pub table, putting my fingers lightly on top, through which a spirit could channel their energy. After a spell of inactivity, the table begins to rock back and forth.
On command, Geoffrey lifts the table up on two legs, and spins it around before it tips right over. Much has been written about ‘table tipping’ being simply down to the people around it and I purposely watch everyone’s hands with a cynical eye. Yet how could a table be lifted with people’s fingers resting gently on top?
Angie picks up that Geoffrey had done some sort of business at the hotel (possibly smuggling), but he wasn’t a harmful spirit.
More of the same occurrs when we hold vigil in the events room. “Spirits love communicating in this way,” says Angie who picks up on a different male presence with a large body build.
“Ooh, someone you’d like to put your arms around,” exclaims my friend.
‘Hug’ comes from the Ovilus 3.
The cellar, where a more menacing entity has been felt, proves an inactive room on this particular night, though I think I feel someone breathing on my neck when there is no-one behind me.
Before I leave the curious night behind, I ask Keith the million dollar question. Do ghosts exist?
“I can’t confirm it, but things have happened I simply can’t explain...”
Suddenly, their dog, previously sleeping quietly, starts crying and bolts for the front door....
- After the investigations, it came to light that The Black Bear Hotel was damaged by the great Wareham fire of 1762. A paramedic confirmed that a burning throat is a symptom of smoke inhalation, which could have explained Angie’s sore throat while connecting with Anne – the spirit in the bedroom – who possibly perished in the fire.
- The next public paranormal investigation will be held at The Black Bear on Friday, November 1. Call 01929 553339, or visit blackbearwareham.com
This article appears in this weekend's Seven Days magazine. Meet the author of the new book Paranormal Purbeck and discover what happened when we joined a ghost walk in Dorchester at bournemouthecho.co.uk/sevendays
Comments are closed on this article.