[UK] Ghost Boy Photo Hoax

“Ghost boy” appeared in a widely-publicized photo in late February 2010.

The story was: A British builder took the photo at a school in England that was being demolished. When he reviewed the pictures he took of the demolition process, he saw the image of a little boy in one photo. The builder claimed that the hairs on the back of his neck went up.

The school was Anlaby Primary School, near Hull, East Yorkshire, in the U.K.  Part of the original 1936 building was being demolished.  (The rest of the school is still in use.) The site has long had a reputation for being haunted.

At least two major UK newspapers considered the picture newsworthy, The Sun and the Daily Mail. (Click on the Daily Mail screenshot, below, to see the full-sized image and article.)

Daily Mail news story

However, this photo was a fake… one of many hoaxes we’re seeing online.

This particular photo was created with a 99-cent iPod/iPhone app called Ghost Capture.  The image of the little boy is at the center of the app screenshot below, in the second photo row from the bottom.

iTunes sold this app for 99 cents

This kind of nonsense is among the reasons why I don’t analyze or critique “ghost photos” for readers.

People send me photos all the time; reporters and journalists are especially eager to get me to say that a “ghost picture” is real, when they know it isn’t.  (I’m pretty sure they want us to look gullible or stupid.)

While we want to assure readers when their genuine photo shows an image that they find comforting, we can’t confirm that ghostly images in pictures are really ghosts.

Any photo can be made to look like it has an anomaly.  From 99-cent iPhone apps to Adobe Photoshop, these pictures can look utterly fake or convincing.  Anyone can be fooled.

I’ve said it before: A ghost photo is only as reliable as the expertise and integrity of the person who took it.

If you want to learn how to evaluate ghost photographs, browse my articles on the topic. I don’t know anyone else who’s spent nearly as many years as I have, trying to make sense of “ghost” photos.

Generally, ghost photos don’t show crisp images of people.  At best, the ghostly images are blurry, indistinct, and sometimes difficult to identify unless you know exactly what you’re looking for.  (The same can be said for many EVP recordings.)

Though I’m delighted when I see an eerie image in my own ghost photos, many strange photos can be explained as tricks of the light or something natural, rather than an actual haunting.

It’s smart to rule out the normal explanations, before placing ghost photos online.

[UK] York – Golden Fleece Orb

York - orb over chair in Golden FleeceOrbs can appear anywhere.

They appear to be floating or gliding energy forms, so they can be anywhere at all.

I’ve heard reports from people who successfully ask orbs to move to certain locations for photos.  For example, they tell the ghost to move the orb over a particular doorway or gravestone.

(Generally, I only ask ghosts to manifest however they can, if they’d like to appear in a photo. I’m uncomfortable with the idea of ordering them around.)

During many years of studying ‘ghost photos’, I’ve noticed an odd pattern among many orbs. They appear in consistent places. The trend is so predictable, we believe it’s beyond coincidence.

In an unusual number of photos, I’ve seen orbs directly over the head of a person. In most cases, the photos were taken at a significant event (such as a wedding or prom) or a family gathering.

Other orbs appear over chairs, as if the ghost is sitting there.

The photo above shows an orb ‘seated’ at the haunted Golden Fleece pub in York, England. (A group of us investigated at “York’s most haunted pub” in June 2007.)

Because that restaurant has many shiny surfaces, I discounted most orbs from that casual investigation. Nevertheless, the placement of this one caught my attention.

Looking back on our experiences at the Golden Fleece, and the many odd photos that resulted, I believe the Golden Fleece is one of York’s most intriguing haunted locations.

WHAT ARE ORBS?

To be honest, I don’t know what orbs are.

Many investigators call them ‘ghost orbs’ when we can’t explain them, after considering humidity, dust, reflected light, and so on.

In 2013, after several years of intense study, I concluded that humidity, dust, reflected light, and other apparently reasonable explanations rarely cause convincing orbs in photos.

(I stress “convincing” because — to an experienced investigator — it’s fairly easy to spot an orb caused by dust, pollen, and so on.)

So, I’m having to retract over 10 years’ advice that most orbs are the result of natural, reflective objects — large and small — at sites where the photos were taken.

They’re not. (Yes, that’s an embarrassing admission. I wouldn’t admit to it, except my tests have shown, conclusively, that convincing orbs really are anomalous.)

Ghost hunters have ample proof that unexplained orbs appear in haunted places in dramatically higher numbers. Orbs seem to appear in areas where EMF levels spike. We’re not sure if orbs contain higher levels of energy, but some researchers believe that they do.

ORBS IN PHOTOS v. ORBS YOU CAN SEE

A small — perhaps gifted — minority of researchers are able to see orbs in real life. However, the orbs that they see don’t usually appear in photos taken at the same time.

In most cases, researchers don’t see anything before, during and after taking photos that — when viewed on the monitor or printed — reveal orbs.

After over a dozen years of professional research, I’m still astonished when investigator see vivid orbs in photos, though we saw nothing unusual when the photos were taken.

SPARKLES AND ORBS

Years ago, I was the first ghost hunters to use the term ‘sparkles’ to describe an odd visual effect that occurs with some cameras.

I’ve learned that, when people see sparkles, there’s a good chance we’ll find orbs or other photographic anomalies in our pictures.

SENTIENT ORBS?

Ghost hunters aren’t sure if orbs are related to spirits that are aware of us and can respond to the people around them.

However, we’ve seen enough ‘ghost photos’ to know that orbs often appear in similar locations, as if they’re comfortable among us.

Whether they’re posing for group photos or sitting comfortably in a favorite chair, the placement often seems deliberate.

[UK] Stratford-upon-Avon – The Falcon’s Haunted Bedroom

The Falcon Hotel (Stratford-upon-Avon) is haunted. It’s one of England’s most charming hotels, with 20 rooms in its haunted 16th-century wing, and 64 rooms in the more modern wing.

In June 2007, several Hollow Hill investigators spent the night in the haunted wing of the Falcon. It was comfortable and quiet, even though our rooms overlooked the street.

Though we had a good night’s sleep, we encountered a variety of low-level paranormal phenomena. Odd noises, unexplained chills, creaking floorboards with no one there… it was routine for a cozy, haunted hotel. And, it was fun!

However, we’d heard that one room at the hotel is especially haunted. It’s a corner room in the 16th century wing.

It was one of the silliest hauntings I’ve seen in awhile… but, the UK is like that. It has the widest possible range of ghostly phenomena.

We were lucky to have access to the room.

Our adventure began when I was in the lobby and overheard a guest talking about how chilly his room had been. He said he couldn’t find the air conditioning controls. He moved to another room, and his previous (chilly) room had been prepared for new guests.

We rushed to see if the door to that room was still vacant, and if the door had been left open.

It was.

Our team had just a few minutes to explore the room. It seemed elegant and very comfortable.

Haunted bed, Falcon hotel, SuAOur EMF readings and pendulum work — as well as our ‘gut feelings’ — indicated that the bed was the focal point of the hauntings.

The bed seemed to have a ‘hot spot’ over the center of it. It’s unlikely that the bed itself is haunted. (If anything tragic happens in a bed, such as a death, hotels generally replace the bed immediately. Some even close the room for a week or so, as a precaution. The Driskill Hotel in Austin, Texas went to extremes with one room they sealed up for years.)

However, in Stratford-upon-Avon’s Falcon Hotel, an earlier bed in the room might be where something — or several events over the past 400+ years — left an imprint.

Just as ghosts don’t always realize that time has passed, they may not realize that the current bed is different from the one that they slept in, centuries ago.

We each took photos of the bed. I took several with my film camera and at least a dozen with my digital camera.

That’s when this story turned silly.

Only one of my digital photos of the bed shows the bed. All the rest show random corners of the room… the kinds of photos I’d never take. The following are two of them.

Falcon Hotel, another corner of the haunted room

Falcon hotel - one corner of the room

Although I took five or six photos of a team member using a pendulum, and at least one with my own hand (holding the EMF meter) in the frame, the camera recorded everything but the bed.

I know that this sounds odd, but the other investigators will tell you the same: I took many photos of the bed. When I looked at the images, later, only one photo shows the bed. The rest are photos that I didn’t take.

It’s not a malicious haunting. I wouldn’t hesitate to spend the night in that room, and I’m fairly sure that I’d get a good night’s sleep.

However, I’d be sure to have enough blankets on the bed, in case the room seemed as chilly as described by the previous guest.

That guest’s innocent comments about the air conditioning convinced me that the room is haunted.

The reason is simple: In early June 2007, the Falcon Hotel didn’t have air conditioning. He was describing a large ‘cold spot’ around the bed.

(Of course, if it’s a sultry night, that’s probably the room you’ll want to be in.  Ask the concierge for information about the hotel’s most haunted room.)

To learn more about the Falcon Hotel in downtown Stratford-upon-Avon, England, or to reserve a room, visit their website: The Falcon Hotel. (Site will open in a new window.)

[England] Dickens’ Christmas Carol – Real Ghosts

Door knockerCharles Dickens’ story, A Christmas Carol, is a favorite among many people. But how realistic are the ghosts in the story?

Marley’s ghost rattled his chains as he appeared to Scrooge.

      “The chain he drew was clasped about his middle. It was long, and wound about him like a tail; and it was made (for Scrooge observed it closely) of cash-boxes, keys, padlocks, ledgers, deeds, and heavy purses wrought in steel.”

 -Dickens, “A Christmas Carol”

 Ghosts in chains

Today, we rarely hear of a ghost rattling chains. In fact, apparitions are very rare, and most of them are silent. More often, invisible ghosts are the ones that knock, rattle objects (including chains), and whisper or shout.

However, there are exceptions. In the first century CE, Pliny the Younger documented a ghost who was seen and heard by Athenodorus, at a villa in Athens. The ghost wore chains, and pointed to a spot in the garden before vanishing. The next day, Athenodorus had that spot in the garden dug up, and a skeleton in chains was found buried. They re-buried him in a proper cemetery, and the ghost never appeared again.

But ghosts in chains are not entirely in the past. Even today, a tall, evil-looking man appears on back roads and highways in Yorkshire, England, and jumps out to frighten late-night travelers. He’s known as “Jack in Irons.” Most people who’ve seen him comment that the ghost appears wrapped in chains.

Of course, Marley is not the only ghost in Dickens’ famous tale. There are the ghosts of Christmas Past, Present, and Future.

Old houseShadows without consciousness

As Scrooge is led through scenes of his past, his ghostly companion informs him, “These are but shadows of the things that have been…They have no consciousness of us.”

That’s a superb description of paranormal phenomena we call “residual energy hauntings.” These hauntings are like a hologram or video, played on a continuous loop. Events from the past appear to be played like a movie, over and over again. Most are probably mere images of people who took part in the events, many years ago.

One of the best examples of residual energy hauntings is the visions of war seen in the United States, at Civil War battlegrounds.

Less clear is the nature of the ghost of Anne Boleyn at London’s Tower. Some suggest that her spectre that roams the Tower is residual energy, but when she leads a procession up the center aisle of the chapel, she’s a sentient ghost.

More residual energy hauntings

Residual energy hauntings are a ghost hunter’s best opportunity to see a “ghost” that appears in human-like form. However, these forms rarely react to or interact with people viewing them. In fact, most ghost hunters believe that these hauntings are just energy imprints on the environment, replaying the events on a repeating and regular schedule.

In the United States, one of the clearest examples of a residual energy haunting is near Tiverton, Rhode Island on the Sakonnet River. Two or three canoes appear on the river, each carrying six Native people. Sometimes they fight, sometimes they simply row to shore and vanish, sometimes they continue on their journey down the river. These images have been reliably reported as recently as 1996.

However, in A Christmas Carol, we encounter more than just residual energy hauntings and a stereotypical Victorian ghost rattling his chains.

Photo credits: Lion face door knocker image courtesy of Sasha Davas.

Photo of Tudor-style house courtesy of Steve Knight.

[UK] Bath – Popular Bath Ghosts

Haunted stairway at BathBath is one of the loveliest cities in the United Kingdom. It features winding streets, superb museums, fabulous shopping, and a history including Roman ruins. Fans of ‘Pride and Prejudice’ will enjoy the famous Regency-era Pump Room as well as the Jane Austen Centre.

However, Bath’s memorable history isn’t merely marked with plaques and museums, but perhaps by the very people who lived in those historic times.

Bath is a very haunted city, and a perfect destination for an extended holiday or vacation.

Here are a few of Bath’s most famous ghosts:

The man in the black hat

Easily Bath’s most famous and most-seen ghost, the man in the black hat is dressed in late 18th-century attire and sometimes wears a billowing black cloak. He’s regularly seen around the Assembly Rooms. For the best results, look for him at Saville Row and Bennett Street. [ map ]

Freezing Hill

Several ghosts have appeared in the vicinity of Freezing Hill, just outside Bath. Most of these phantoms are from the 17th century, when this hill was the site of the bloody Battle of Lansdown.

The best opportunity to see these ghosts is from The Park, a 240 acre estate featuring a Jacobean mansion that is now an hotel. You can also enjoy a fine meal at The Oakwood Restaurant, and play golf at their Crown and Cromwell courses. [ map ]

The Royal Crescent [ map ]

Bath Royal CrescentIt’s not a movie that’s being filmed at the Royal Crescent when you see an elegant coach drawn by four horses. Instead, you’re witnessing a residual haunting, repeating the elopement of Elizabeth Linley of No. 11, with Irish playwright and politician Richard Brinsley Sheridan.

Sheridan was not Miss Linley’s only suitor. Captain Thomas Mathews (a married man) and Lord Sheridan fought two duels–with swords–over the lovely Miss Linley.

Sheridan may have won her hand in marriage, but he later proved unfaithful. Elizabeth contracted tuberculosis and died at age 38. A bronze plaque at number 11 Royal Crescent marks the address from which she eloped.

The Theatre Royal the Garrick’s Head pub, at St. John’s Place and Saw Close [ map ]

The Theatre Royal and Garrick’s Head are next door to each other. Their ghost stories seem to be interwoven, and the ghosts congenially wander from one building to the other.

At least two ghosts appear in this area. One is an unfaithful wife and the other is her lover, from the 18th century. The lover was killed by the husband, and the wife committed suicide. Look for a woman (some say there are at least two) in a grey dress. The lover is handsome and well-dressed.

A second anomaly is noted at the Theatre Royal: A tortoiseshell butterfly appears there during the pantomime run each year, which is not butterfly season.

The Garrick’s Head pub offers both smoking and non-smoking sections, and is less than a half mile from Bath Spa rail station. (It’s also near Popjoy’s Restaurant, listed below.)

For more info: Call the Garrick’s Head, tel. 01225 318368, or visit the website of the Theatre Royal.

Popjoy’s Restaurant, Saw Close, tel. 01225 460494

Many visit this former home of Richard “Beau” Nash for the fine food. However, the restaurant hosts at least two ghosts, both of them women. One is Juliana Popjoy, the 18th-century mistress of Beau Nash.

The other ghost is Janice (or perhaps Janet). She is more modern, dressed in attire best suited to the 1960’s. She dines alone and looks perfectly normal until she vanishes.

The Beehive Public House, 3 Belvedere – Lansdowne Road, at the corner of Julian Road

‘Bunty’, a serving girl from the Victorian Era or slightly earlier, appears in the kitchen of The Beehive, a popular Bath public house.

Crystal Palace Tavern, 10-11 Abbey Green, tel. 0870 3305191 [ map ]

A hooded figure — perhaps a monk — appears at this tavern when he is concerned that the structure may change, such as during repairs or redecorating. He usually appears briefly and is fairly transparent.

Julia, of Queens Square

This jilted bride has been seen strolling around the Square in her white gown.

References and recommended sites:

Ghost Walks of Bath, fast-paced information-filled tour sets off from near Garricks Head pub many evenings at 8 p.m. Call for details: +44 (0)1225 350512 Read review.

Join Haunting Breaks for real, paranormal investigations. They’re among the UK’s premiere ghost hunters.

For more ghost information, visit Mystical WWW’s Ghosts Today, and the Paranormal Database.

Bath travel info at Bath.co.uk  and VisitBritain.com.

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Photos of Bath, England are courtesy of Ingrid Rasmussen and VisitBritain.com.