On Saturday 18th February 2012, Twilight Shadows Paranormal investigated a wonderful private home. We were invited to investigate Debbie’s home after she read the report on Drews Pond Wood on the Twilight Shadows Paranormal website.
The original buildings of Roundway Hospital have been converted to private homes. Upon my first visit I found this place extremely eerie which is a strange concept as there are people living there with cars parked outside the residences so it had a modern ambience. But I could still feel the past and its horrors locked away inside the original facade of the buildings.
These beautiful Italian style buildings are constructed out of Bathstone, designed by Mr. Thomas Henry Wyatt. The Roundway County Lunatic Asylum circa 1851, only closed its doors as a Mental Health Hospital in 1995.
Asylums were notoriously cruel institutions during the 18th and 19th century. The most famous asylum was Bedlam, the Bethlem Royal Hospital in London. This asylum is well known for the severe treatment of the mentally ill. Public torture was rife and viewing of its crowded cells became a macabre pursuit for trendy Londoners.
Physical restraint was generally used in asylums and some asylums had a tranquillizer chair installed with straps, handcuffs and other restraints attached to it.
Another 'treatment' which was used to shock patients out of their illness was the Plunge Bath. Unsuspecting patients were told to walk across the floor by staff. As the patient was walking, a trap-door opened underneath them and they fell straight into a bath of icy water.
During my research into Roundway Hospital, I discovered that this asylum admitted 'patients' who were too poor to afford private care and better treatment (the Old Manor Hospital in Salisbury was a private asylum in Salisbury for the wealthier patient). Roundway hospital housed 400 patients, many of whom were alcoholics and the homeless. People with learning difficulties, epileptics and women with illegitimate children were detained there alongside people who were suffering from depression, schizophrenia and dementia.
I have found some information on patients admitted to Roundway County Lunatic Asylum. Although their names have been published I will not name them on this website, out of respect for them.
In 1881, a 22 year old survived less than a month after admission to Roundway. He came to Roundway from the workhouse in Swindon. This man's condition was described by the doctors as "congenital idiocy - having little power of thought or understanding" and upon his paperwork they wrote "idiot" for his occupation. The staff described his behaviour as disgusting and claimed that both the staff and other patients were afraid of him. They stated that he "threw a knife at the wards man." Staff documented that he "tore off his clothes and was generally half naked" most of the time. The words "disgusting behaviour" was recorded repeatedly and "his habits are dirty and depraved, having no sense of proper decency." He died three weeks after admission to Roundway. The cause of death was not recorded.
Also in 1881, a widowed labourer was admitted to Roundway following a suicide attempt. This man had unsuccessfully tried to strangle himself with his leather braces by making a slip-knot and tying one end to the head of his bed-stead. The diagnosis given to this man was Senile Dementia and his records claimed that he was "confused and irrational in his mind and appears to have had little thought or expression." This man died from a brain haemorrhage the following year.
Another patient was a 53 year old cloth worker who was admitted to Roundway after he threatened to kill himself and his wife. His diagnosis was Mania and his records say that he was "restless and talkative and converses in a rambling and childish manner without proper reflection. His demeanour is flighty and he passes sleepless nights. He is possessed of the delusion that he is instigated by unseen persons to acts of violence." This man died a year later of epileptic convulsions.
One horror recorded is that of a man who was confined inside an oblong trough, chained down and whipped.
Many of the patients admitted to Roundway (and other asylums) would now not be considered to have a mental health problem at all.
After being welcomed into this lovely home by Debbie and her sister Cat, we split into three teams. I went upstairs with Debbie, Loretta and Matt.
We settled into Debbie’s bedroom and chatted for a while. Debbie told us that this part of the hospital would have been the ‘Contagious Diseases’ ward.
After a while we heard a gentle tapping sound. I suggested to Debbie that she ‘called out’ as it was her home and the spirits of the house would know her, rather than us. Debbie asked any spirits present if they could make themselves known in some way. We all heard a tap. Debbie saw ‘something’ go past the light that was shining on the telephone. Loretta was sitting nearest to the telephone but she had not moved.
We started talking about this and suddenly Matt said “Shhhh.” Matt stood up, opened the bedroom door and checked the landing. Nobody was there. Matt said that he had heard a sound like “Hauuh” right behind him. He had thought that the sound had originated from inside the bedroom but he just wanted to make sure which is why he checked outside. Debbie asked if it was a spirit voice which had made the “Hauuh” sound. The audible tone (which can signify a ghostly presence) was activated on the EMF meter which had been silent until that moment.
Debbie ’called out’ and the EMF meter got louder and louder. Debbie asked “Can you make the machine stop making that noise?” The EMF meter stopped omitting any sound. We talked for a while about this and I told everyone about a previous occasion where we used an EMF meter to converse with a spirit.
Debbie asked if we could communicate with the spirit in this way with an audible sound and we set the ‘Yes’ and ‘No’ responses. The EMF answered in an affirmative manner.
Debbie continued to ask the following questions and received these responses via the EMF meter.
“Were you a patient here?”
“Did you live here?”
(We were unsure about the response for this question but we think that the answer may have been ‘sometimes’).
“Did you stay here for a long time?”
“Did you work here?”
“Were you a nurse?”
“Were you a doctor?”
“Did you die here?”
“But you still stay here?”
(We weren’t sure of this answer but we think it was ‘sometimes’).
“Are you male?”
“Did you work in the contagious diseases ward?”
“Did you see a lot of horrific things here?”
“Did you work here for a long time?”
“Did you stop working here before you died?”
“So, you died during your career in this asylum?”
“Did you catch a contagious disease which you were treating?”
“Did the disease kill you?”
“Did you come to harm when you were working here?”
Suddenly, Loretta exclaimed “Can any of you hear music, like the sound of a mechanical music box?” Nobody else had heard it. We discussed whether they may have had a mechanical musical box on the ward. The EMF meter suddenly started to make a very loud sound.
“Did you have a mechanical music box?”
“Was it therapy for patients?”
“Did the patients enjoy the music?”
We started chatting amongst ourselves and we all felt as if the conversing spirit was a kind, gentle soul. Deb told the spirit that it was very nice of him to play his musical box to the patients. Matt said that his mouth had suddenly gone dry. I had a very strange feeling, like the skin on my face was moving on its own. I had previously felt light-headed when I was downstairs but that feeling had abated. Loretta was quiet so Debbie asked her how she was feeling. She said that she was feeling a little light-headed. She said that she could still hear the music. She couldn’t work out the tune but it was repetitive.
“Doctor, do you like how the hospital is now?”
“Do you think it should still be a hospital?”
“You don’t like the people living in here?”
“When the hospital closed, did you still work here?”
“Did you retire?”
We discussed the doctor and after further questioning we realised how much he did not approve of the hospital being converted into public housing. He did not like people living their ordinary lives there and he thought that it should still be a hospital. He said that he liked Debbie but she should not be living there.
I wondered if the doctor was worried about other spirits that may linger in this building. We know that some patients were volatile and we wondered if the doctor thought that the mortals were under threat from the hospital spirits who were formally patients.
“Doctor, do you think that families living here now are in danger?”
“Are you looking out for us?”
“Is there any danger for us here?”
“Do you have a perception of what was once a hospital for the mentally ill has now been transformed into private houses for ordinary people to live in?
“Don’t worry doctor, we are happy for you to be here but I would ask you to respect that this is now our house.”
Debbie said that although she didn’t get the answer that she hoped for, she understood that the doctor could not see the building as anything other than a hospital.
Something touched my head. We chatted about the film ‘The Others’ and wondered if it was possible to live in a parallel universe. We wondered if perhaps the doctor was aware of Debbie and her family living there but still saw the building as a hospital and wondered why they were residing there. We heard the sound of footsteps coming up the stairs. Matt popped his head around the door to see who was coming upstairs but the landing was empty.
We chatted for a while about the increase in paranormal activity when a building is being renovated. Debbie said that when she moved into her home, “things were quite mad but they eventually settled with the occasional flare-up.”
Debbie asked “Are you still with us Doctor?” There was no response.
Matt said that he had been feeling low in mood earlier but now he was fine. Debbie said that her face had been boiling hot but it felt really cool now. The EMF meter was reading a ’normal’ background level. It felt like we were alone. We realised that the atmosphere had felt heavy but it wasn’t now.
We talked about an ‘angry woman’ who had been ‘seen’ downstairs. She had screamed “Why are you here?” Debbie also told us that sometimes her bed shakes a little bit. She said that she had felt scared the first time it happened. Matt wondered if perhaps ‘someone’ was trying to get Debbie’s attention by shaking the bed.
We were sitting in such a pretty bedroom. It was so difficult to imagine it as a large hospital ward. We were happily chatting amongst ourselves when Matt saw a shadow on the other side of the room. Suddenly, he jumped and he said that he could feel something coming towards him and then breathing behind him. Matt said that he couldn’t look around to see. I had a Camcorder pointing that way but nothing showed up on the screen. The EMF meter started to give out a positive reading again. Matt said that whatever it was, it had been crouching. Matt felt that ‘he’ had been a patient. I looked towards the direction of the door and asked “Are you going to be nice?” The answer (via EMF) was “No.” Matt seemed quite affected by this spirit. We wondered if ‘he’ was ‘picking’ on Matt as he was the only boy in the room. I looked towards the door to where Matt could feel the entity and it was certainly darker than it had been previously. Matt said that he had the urge to sing in Latin.
Matt heard the sound of a ‘step’ by the door. We asked for it to walk towards us. I could see a shimmering haze by the door. Debbie said that she could see it too. Around the haze, it seemed darker than before. Debbie and Matt thought so too. Debbie asked the spirit to “Go away.”
Debbie said that the back of her neck had gone cold. Matt said “When you told him to go away, he went back to crouching by the door.” Matt said “I can’t see him but I can hear him.”
We went downstairs and joined the others. We discussed our experience with each other. They told us at one point, they had heard footsteps going up the stairs and we told them that we had heard them coming up. This was exciting.
The other team went upstairs to conduct a vigil and we stayed downstairs, facing the hallway. I ‘called out,’ and we heard a strange noise. Matt was still feeling a little strange following his experience upstairs but was starting to feel better. He told us that at one point, he felt like his body couldn’t move.
I ‘called out’ again. The other group said that they had seen a ‘figure’ peeping around the door. I saw a shadow figure rush across the room. Debbie asked “Why are you here?”
Matt was talking and we heard a sighing sound. Matt said that he saw a flash of light.
At this point in the evening we decided that all groups would join together and we would conduct a séance in the kitchen. We assembled in a circle and ‘asked out’ to any spirits that may wish to communicate with us. We soon became aware of a male presence. He said that he was a patient who had died there. He claimed that he had been seen as a spirit entity. Jacky asked if this was the spirit who threw something at Dave’s leg. He confirmed that it was. Jacky said “Did we see you in the hallway, you were very tall?” The reply was “Yes.” This spirit seemed glad that we were there and liked the communication with us. He told us that he had not understood what had happened to him when he was a patient at this establishment. He claimed that he had no diseases, no illness at all and that he was wrongly admitted. He was a young man in his twenties. We established that he was over the age of 25 but we could not ascertain his exact age. He told us that he knew ’Hobber.’ This spirit told us that his name was ‘Henry’ and that his name was scratched into the wall outside, very high up. That would explain the tall apparition that the other group had seen. Henry said that although he and some of the ‘others’ who lingered in this place were friendly, some of the spirits who resided here were unfriendly. This is not surprising really.
Henry told us that his family had put him into this hospital with suspected epilepsy (although Henry had previously stated that he had no illnesses). He said that people thought he was mad. Henry said that he had been listening to our conversations during the evening. Jacky said that she could see the year 1891 imprinted in her mind. Henry said that this was the year of his death.
Henry said that he had told someone that he was hungry. Debbie said “Hungry Henry” and Henry seemed to find this funny.
Henry said that he was unhappy with the way that the building had changed. We asked Henry if he knew the doctor that we had been communicating with earlier. Henry confirmed that he did. We asked whether he had ever heard the musical box. Henry said that he had but he did not like it. A strange feeling descended upon us at this moment, a rather unpleasant feeling. Jacky asked if the playing of the musical box signified that something unpleasant was going to happen. We all noticed that the room became suddenly cold and the unpleasant feeling exacerbated. Jacky asked “Ice baths?” Another spirit joined us, we think it was the doctor again.
We discussed how our information concerning the playing of the musical box was conflicting. The doctor said earlier that the patients enjoyed it and that the playing of it was therapeutic. However, Henry seemed to indicate that the playing of the musical box indicated that something bad was going to happen. During our original research into this place we discovered that ‘Plunge baths’ were used in asylums. However, communicating with spirits who may have been suffering with mental illness (and disbelieving their diagnosis) may give us inaccurate information. We realise that any attempt at communicating with the spirits of the dead may provide inaccuracy from both ends of the spectrum, theirs and ours. They may deliberately falsify their accounts or they could just be giving us their opinion. Also, we may be unable to comprehend their information accurately. We could only do our best to understand.
Jacky told us that when her team were upstairs in the bedroom, they had seen a figure who was pointing at the wall. We asked Henry if he knew this ‘figure.’ He said that he didn’t.
Jacky said that she could feel something ‘building up.’ Matt said that he felt nervous about the spirit he had encountered earlier, the spirit that had been crouching. The table knocked a couple of times.
Henry told us that he moves freely around the building. It is still a ward to him, not separate houses. But he remained inside that one ward apart from when we went outside. He told us that he (and the others) had been reprimanded severely when they had inscribed letters and names into the outside wall. Henry’s presence seemed to be growing weaker so decided that we should close down our circle.
We chatted for a while afterwards and we all felt that the spirits felt different on different floors of the house. We were amazed that both Matt and Dave had experienced the 'crouching' spirit separately. We decided to end our investigation at this point. The team would like to thank Debbie and Cat for a wonderful and most interesting evening.
Written by: Maria Williams
On Saturday 18/02/2012 we had the privilege to investigate a private house on the grounds of a well-known local mental institution that closed its doors in 1995.
The team has been to this location previously before on an outdoor investigation of the grounds.
The house is situated in what was once a ward at the hospital. We believe this to have been the infectious diseases ward.
The residents of the house have experienced a number of phenomena and believe this to be caused by more than one spirit. The residents have been living at the property for six months.
The most active areas of the house are the kitchen, upstairs hall and main bedroom.
During the initial tour of the house, we got unusual readings on the EMF meter on the upstairs landing, by the door to the spare bedroom and by the bathroom. This would prove to be very interesting later on in the evening.
We decided to split up into groups of 3 covering 2 rooms downstairs and 1 room upstairs.
My team (3) started in the kitchen where a figure has been spotted standing in the corner of the room by a cupboard door on many occasions. We started by asking if there were any spirit people with us. We had video cameras and a digital voice recorder with us to see if we could capture any spirit lights or sounds during our vigil. We didn’t get much but Dave did capture a few orbs travelling over the kitchen table and we saw flashes of light in the hall through the video cameras.
We decided to swap to the front room. Not much is experienced in this room but we did become aware of a tall figure stood in the hall way to the left of the door frame which we could see with our peripheral vision. This tall figure has been seen by a resident of the household which we did not know at the time. After a while I was also aware of an energy building up to the right of the door frame. This figure was much shorter at around 4.4ft but did not manifest itself as a decipherable figure.
I was becoming aware that since I walked into the house I felt very relaxed but I also felt very numb. It struck me that if I was a patient at the hospital I would have been sedated most of the time and wondered if this was why I was feeling so lethargic .
After a break we decided to swap with the other team and head upstairs. Straight away I noticed that the upstairs had a very different feel to it. I remarked that I would not like to sleep upstairs alone and other members of the team agreed with me.
Upon reflection, I realise that we did not ask if any spirits were with us. We all felt very uncomfortable with the lights out completely so Dave decided to keep a torch on but shaded so it only gave off a subtle light.
Dave said that he was aware of a figure crouching just outside the door to the bedroom. I moved so I was able to see the door way but was not able to see anything. We were just talking about this when Dave suddenly cried out which made us all jump. He said he saw a shadow enter the room which at first he thought was one of the cats that lived in the house but realised that the shadow was far too large. The shadow moved into the room and around the bed out of sight. After we had recovered from our shock we refocused our attention to the door. I noticed there was a shadow that looked like an arm about 2 ft from the bottom of the door. Dave could see it too. We put the torch on and the shadow disappeared but when we switched the torch off it came back. The more we looked the more we could make out. Dave could see that this was the same figure he had seen crouching but this time it was standing but stooped, with one hand holding the door and the other arm pointing to the wall. It was this arm I could see clearly. We then heard something quite solid bounce off of Dave’s leg and roll on the floor. We switched the torches back on but could not find the object. The shadow figure stayed with us for about ten minutes but disappeared as suddenly as it appeared to us.
During our time upstairs we heard someone yell and I could also hear someone singing. I first thought this was Maria singing but she later told me that she hadn’t been singing. We also saw flashes of light which we thought might be the other team taking pictures but this also turned out not to be the case.
After another break we set up the kitchen table for some glass divination. We quickly got some energy going and the glass started to move. We determined that we were talking to the tall man seen in the hall way who said his name was Henry. He was wrongly admitted to the hospital as a young man with epilepsy and died around 1891. He was aware of other spirits around him and was quite happy to share his home with the present occupants. Sometimes a music box is heard in the house which Henry told us the staff used to play to the patients just before they received their treatment. It was also determined that Henry was the spirit who whispered “hungry” into the ear of one of the occupants of the house on the first day they moved in while the occupant as the occupant was having breakfast. As Henry seemed to be tiring we decided to close the séance down and call it a night.
Other things that happened whilst we were there (during the other teams vigil upstairs) was contact with a doctor and also an intense spirit which psychically attacked Matt. We believe that this spirit is the same one that our team witnessed pointing to the wall. Also the tall man was seen by team 2 and the same flashes of light were witnessed by team 1. Names were also suggested which we are yet to be verified. Chris from team 2 said that he was aware of someone shouting at him clairvoyantly from the moment he entered the building but he couldn’t make out what was being said or by whom.
I would like to thank the residents of the house for inviting us to their lovely home and also Maria for arranging this for us.
Written by: Jacky Wicheard