On Saturday 13th October 2012, Twilight Shadows Paranormal joined in a paranormal investigation at The Rifles Museum in Salisbury, Wiltshire.
58 The Close, appears to be a 19th Century building although it has 13th Century origins which are still visible in the general shape of a central hall with two service wings.
It was initially the residence of one of the canons who served at the cathedral but it was later passed onto the Bishop of Salisbury. It is thought that it was then utilised as a storehouse and administration base for the Bishop’s household. In 1543 the function of this house earned it the title of The Wardrobe.
In 1568, the Bishop required a more convenient building and he subsequently exchanged it with the Dean and Chapter thus letting the house to a succession of non-clerical tenants. The house then underwent many alterations. During the 18th Century, the Coles family divided the upper and lower halls, built an entrance hall on the ground floor, a staircase hall and a dining room. This is how the inside of the house looks today. On the courtyard side of the original lower hall, a central entrance replaced a large window.
Additional building work during the 1830’s resulted in the east front of its gables, barge boards and gothic portico. Following these renovations, tenant Dr. John Grove lived in the house. Dr. Grove’s daughter Henrietta married James Hussey who was a local JP. The house then stayed in the Hussey family until Margaret (James’s and Henrietta’s daughter) died there, aged 90 in January 1941. The house being a family home came to an end upon Margaret’s death. The ghost of Margaret Hussey is frequently seen in the house to this day.
The house has since been used as a hostel of the Auxiliary Territorial Service during the Second World War. It was then rented by the Diocesan Training College for Schoolmistresses in 1945, providing accommodation for 25 students and 2 staff until 1969, when the building was empty for many years.
After numerable years the Museum of The Duke of Edinburgh’s Royal Regiment (Berkshire and Wiltshire) was officially opened by HRH The Prince Philip, Colonel-in-Chief on 29th July 1982.
Books thrown off of shelves
Smell of tobacco
Manifestations - Margaret Hussey sitting on the sofa inside the Regimental Room
Books stacked up on a table or just thrown around the floor
Ghosts of children in the attic
Things being moved around in the attic, especially shiny objects
A dark, aggressive atmosphere in the armoury
The ghost of a Roundhead Soldier
A bricked up window that is heard opening and closing
The intense feeling of women not being liked inside the library
In the top attic, a bell which rings on its own
The ghost of a servant called Lucy seen looking out of the window, believed to be watching, as her illegitimate child is being taken away
With all this ghostly activity, we couldn’t wait to get started with our investigation.
THE REGIMENTAL ROOM
We started off our investigation in the Regimental Room. This is the room where the ghost of Margaret Hussey is seen. Museum employee Alistair who was present for the investigation told us that he had been closing up the museum one evening and when entering the Regimental Room, he had seen a lady sitting on the settee. He had just began to speak to her to inform her that the museum was about to close when he realised that he could see the window behind, through her body. So he just left her to sit there.
I sat on the settee that the ghost of Margaret sits but I didn’t feel anything out of the ordinary. I must admit that my attention kept being drawn over to the door opposite the settee but there appeared to be no particular reason for this.
There were drums in the room and a previous investigation heard them being tapped but they did not tap for us.
We entered the library. This is the room which is supposed to make women feel unwelcome but I really liked it and could have happily sat in here all night. Poltergeist activity has been recorded in this room. The museum staff have entered this room in the morning to find books stacked up in piles on top of the table and also just thrown around the room. Other investigators have had books thrown at them. The museum have now fixed locked covers to the bookcases to prevent this from happening which was a shame for us as we now knew that we would definitely not be experiencing action from the resident Poltergeist.
We sat around the huge table ‘calling out’ to any spirits within the room. I could feel an atmosphere in this room which I had not felt in the Regimental Room. It felt delightfully spooky. Someone said that they thought they could smell fresh tobacco smoke. I couldn’t smell this. As we carried on with our séance I heard movement within the room, like furniture being moved slightly. It wasn’t movement from the table. I heard this a couple of times. Everyone was being very still so it wasn’t them. I also heard rustling.
After a while we made contact with a soldier called George but apart from him not really wanting to talk to the women in the room, we did not receive much more information then that.
DAVE’S LONE VIGIL IN THE TOP ATTIC
Halfway through our vigil in the library, Dave decided that he was feeling brave and he went outside into the corridor, up a ladder into the attic.
“I was up there alone in complete darkness with just a splatter of light from the small window. This was a room full of military jumble and old mannequins and many boxes containing old files. I sat in a chair by a desk that was up there. At first nothing seemed to happen and I could hardly see around me, but after a while as my eyes became more accustomed to the light I could make out the shapes that surrounded me.
I ‘asked out’ to any spirits or astral beings that were with me in this attic space. There was no reply. After a short pause, I asked the same question again. There was no response. A short while later after looking around me to see if I could see anything in the gloom, I tried again. The room began to get a lot colder and I was just about to repeat the question when there was a loud knock in the recess of the attic. I turned towards the origin of the noise and I asked if it was a spirit who had made the knocking sound. I asked that if this was a spirit knocking, could they please knock again. There was another knock from the same direction but it was not as loud as the first knock.
I noticed a shadow move past the window. I turned towards where I had heard the knocking noise and asked if it was the spirit who had been knocking that I had just seen as a shadow. I heard a rustling noise from behind the shelf of files behind me. I turned towards this noise and asked if it was a spirit person making the rustling noises, could they please knock twice. There was no response from behind the desk for a while and then I heard a shuffle and the sound of footsteps. I asked if the spirit could knock twice so that I could ascertain whether it was actively communicating with me. This went on for approximately thirty minutes.
Another member of the team joined me in the attic at this point asking me if I had experienced anything. She came to stand beside me and we both heard footsteps from within the attic. We both looked towards the direction of the footsteps and asked “Is there anybody here with us?” We were hoping to get some audible phenomena. We heard a few light knockings and a shuffle. After a further fifteen minutes, we decided to descend the ladder and rejoin the group in the library. As we were going down the ladder we heard heavy footsteps from above us back up in the attic. We rejoined the other group in the library and shared our experiences with them.”
(Written by: Dave Wicheard).
STAIRS AND LANDING
The staircase and landing areas felt quite light. I didn’t experience anything here although some people said that they kept smelling lavender. I looked around for any air fresheners that may be there but I couldn’t see any. I did not smell lavender.
We walked around the exhibits area. There was so much to see. There were lots of mannequins which were very scary in the dark. Dave was using an EMF meter. It started to respond and we looked to see what was making it react. It seemed to be the artefacts from the Belsen Concentration Camp. We looked for anything electrical that may have been affecting the EMF meter. There was nothing and Alistair confirmed this. The EMF meter was literally screaming. We looked into the display case and we saw a swastika armband and other Nazi artefacts. I felt shocked as many years ago I had visited the Belsen Concentration Camp and I remembered the eeriness of it. The feeling of loss, desperation and despair was palpable there. I had heard that birds do not sing at Belsen and in the short time I was there, I had not heard the sound of birdsong. I remembered walking around the mass graves at Belsen and feeling completely shocked. I managed to bring myself back to the present and became aware that the EMF meter was still screaming. By the Belsen artefact display case was a mannequin wearing an army uniform. It had sergeants stripes upon the sleeves. The EMF meter seemed to be reacting to this also.
We decided to conduct a séance in this room and we assembled around a table. In no time at all the table began to move and literally dragged us down the corridor towards a dark and creepy extremity of the room and into another room at the end. Jacky was really unnerved down here and requested that we go back to where we were. We dragged the table back to where we had started.
We looked back to where the table had dragged us and Jacky saw a figure at the bottom of the corridor. She told us, “I saw that as clear as day.” Dave said that he didn’t like a knife that was on display. We were then joined by two women from another group who asked if they could investigate with us. They told us that they had heard tapping and banging in here earlier. They had also seen a figure where Jacky had seen one and there had been banging around that area.
We decided that we would try a séance in here again and we gathered around the table. In no time at all, the table was dragging us back towards the same area as before. As we looked back towards where we had assembled around the table, we saw a manifestation at the opposite end of the room. We all saw it. It was dressed in black and its face was a black void.
The women from the other group said that they had seen a shadow there earlier and a white swirling mist. Although we were all a bit scared, I really wanted to laugh and I couldn’t keep it in. Everyone else started laughing as well. We were still connected around the table and it started to move again. This felt as if it was a different spirit than before. Jacky asked if this spirit had ever worked in this building to please make the table stop moving. The table stopped. She then asked if the spirit could lift the table and the table completely elevated into the air. We were astounded. We have never experienced that before. We have had tables lift but there is always one leg left touching the floor. This table had no legs touching the floor and was suspended in the air. We asked for the table to be lowered and it lowered itself steadily to the floor. Jacky asked the spirit to take the table to where it was standing. The table didn’t move leaving us to assume that the spirit was standing with us. The table elevated again. Jacky was saying “Higher, higher” and it did. When the table was lowered to the ground again, it started dragging us towards the corridor where we had all seen the figure. The table stopped moving and Jacky asked if the spirit could tap twice underneath the table. It didn’t.
Other investigators joined us and we told them about the levitating table. They asked us to try again so that they could see this. We asked if the spirit would levitate the table again. Initially, it stated dragging us along again but then it lifted the table again off all four of its legs. When the table returned to the floor, it started dragging us again, this time to a display case of Native American artefacts. I had not noticed this before. Alistair from the museum was with us once again and he was excited about the insistence that the spirit was showing, in dragging us over to this exhibition.
There was a feather headdress and lots of Native American artefacts and this is exactly where the spirit wanted us to be. We could sense frustration around this spirit. It felt as if ‘he’ really wanted to communicate with us. Alistair asked, “Are you a Native American?” The spirit answered that he was. Alistair then asked, “Are you someone of the 6 Nations?” The 6 Nations consisted of Mohawk, Cayuga, Onondaga, Oneida, Seneca and Tuscarora tribes. Alistair asked if the spirit was Mohawk. The atmosphere changed and felt dark as if the spirit was displeased. Alistair said “Oh, you don’t like the Mohawks.” Alistair continued to question the spirit and we felt that when he asked if the spirit was from the Seneca tribe, the spirit seemed happy. Alistair established that the spirit was not a Leader or an Elder but a young Brave who was just starting out on his journey. We tried to find out his name but we couldn’t ascertain it at all. There was a picture in the display case. Alistair asked, “Were you there?” “Did you die helping us?” Unfortunately, we were unable to find out any more information.
We were joined by medium Bradley. I ‘called out.’ Bradley said, “That light keeps going off and going lighter and darker.” Bradley was talking about the emergency light. (The Twilight Shadows Paranormal Team has experienced this before when we investigated Rollestone Manor in 2010. Here the light went on and off in response to a request to do so).
We decided to ask everyone in the group to take turns to call to the spirits. Rachel ‘called out.’ Dave had a pain in his chest. Tenisha ‘called out’ asking any spirits present with us, to knock on something. Tracey ‘called out.’ Jacky said, “I can smell candles, that smell when you blow them out. Some of the others said that they had been smelling a musty smell, but then we were sitting in the middle of a museum. A couple of other people said that they could also smell the ‘blown out candle’ smell.
The other end of the room looked much darker than before but even through the darkness, it looked as if shadowy figures were moving down there. Debbie ‘called out,’ followed by Bradley. Bradley wanted us to gather around the table which we did. Jacky asked the spirits to move the table and the table began to move immediately. It tipped up, balancing onto one leg. Jacky said, “All legs off of the floor please.” For a few moments, the table levitated completely. I asked the spirit, “Are you here all the time?” The answer was, “Yes.” Jacky asked, “Are you ever seen?” The answer was, “No.” Bradley wondered if the spirit knew whether he had been seen or not. Jacky asked the spirit to make a noise to which Bradley rapped hard on the table three times and the table knocked back, three times. This was followed by some significant tapping on the other side of the room. The table started moving and seemed to be banging out a rhythm. (This was similar to another investigation that Twilight Shadows Paranormal investigated at The Rattling Bog House in 2011). It sounded like drumming.
The table started to ‘walk’ down the corridor, into another room. Jacky said, “He’s in front of me, isn’t he?” “There’s something not right in here.” We all heard a loud tapping noise and then suddenly several team members screamed loudly. They had seen an apparition which looked solid. He was wearing a long black coat and a black hat. The figure appeared so solid that the team thought initially that he was either a living person or a mannequin, until he disappeared without moving anywhere. Bradley said, “Well, he was trying to scare us.” The table started moving along again and Bradley said that he thought that the spirit controlling the table was trying to lead us away from something.
We all heard a strange noise and Jacky said, “He’s standing behind us again, I can feel him.” We kept hearing the sound of drums. We decided to walk around for a while. As we walked around the corner, we heard a loud breathing sound.
Jacky, Dave and I went up to the attic. We quickly connected to a spirit called Frederick. We sat for a while, listening to movement at the end of the room. Frederick kept telling us the word ‘Sion.’ We really could not work out what this meant and it wasn’t until we got home that Dave did some research and discovered a Frederick Sion, who was in the 2nd Battalion Royal Berkshire Regiment. We were shocked by this and had no clue at the time that Sion was a person’s surname. Dave found out that Frederick Sion was wounded at Kin-U, was administered Morphine and taken back to Dacca in India to a General Hospital where he stayed for a period of six months. We can only assume that the museum may have something belonging to Frederick Sion for him to make such a strong contact with us.
While Frederick was talking to us in the attic, a small stone was thrown. We asked, “Did you throw that?” The answer was “Yes.” Frederick then gave us a private message for Jacky which she understood as it was very relevant to her.
We discovered that Frederick was not residual at the museum but came in visitation. We asked him, “What is your favourite place?” He replied, “Dance hall.” Frederick was then trying to tell us something which became rather complicated. He kept relating to a star and eventually we seemed to get the gist of it as he was talking about the five points of a star. We asked if it signified Spirit, Fire, Water, Earth or Air. He gave us the Water element and then kept indicating the Sun, or something like the Sun. After a lot of deliberation we asked, “Sun/Son of Water?” He said, “Yes.” Jacky said, “Why didn’t you just say that?” We all laughed and the spirit did not seem annoyed. I was wondering after this event if perhaps Frederick had side-stepped and had let the Indian Brave talk to us as we couldn’t get his name earlier. Although I have since looked at Native American names, I have not been able to find a name which resembles the name we interpreted. I have since found a photograph of Frederick Sion.
Shortly after this, our time at the Rifles Museum was over and we had to end our investigation. We really enjoyed our time here and plan to return very soon.
Written by: Maria Williams