When the call came for people to spend a night ghost hunting in Hereford’s Shirehall, two reporters jumped at the chance.
Jess Phillips and Lydia Johnson joined 15 others brave enough to search through the historic building during the early hours of Saturday morning.
Lydia relives her experience that night on the site of the former county jail – guided by paranormal investigators and psychic mediums John Blackburn and Ian Lawman.
AS we gathered in the library of the Shirehall, which now acts as the county’s Crown Court and council chamber, there were mixed emotions. Some were nervous, others excited, and one or two were sceptical that anything would happen at all.
But most people were pleasantly surprised by how the night turned out.
To begin we spent time with Mr Blackburn – the founder of Mysteria Paranormal Events who arranged the tour – working on developing our own sixth sense.
Mr Lawman, who has appeared on TV shows such as Most Haunted and I’m Famous and Frightened, took us around the cells of the hall and its court rooms, and reported picking up on the spirit of a woman who was held in the original jail cells, where she was tried for witchcraft and sentenced to death.
The Shirehall has a somewhat grim and interesting history. Public hangings took place outside when it was a prison, and in one of the court rooms there is still the original hook where the judge would hang his black cap before pronouncing the death sentence.
Although I do believe in ghosts and various things paranormal, while walking through the hall I didn’t feel really scared or uneasy – until we got to the cellar.
Cellars are naturally scary places, but there was a particularly strange feeling the entire time we were there and I felt very vulnerable standing in complete darkness.
The sound of loud bangs and the clang of metal – when we could clearly see there was nothing in the area to make those noises - sent a few of us running scared, and footsteps on the stairs only served to make things worse.
A few people reported seeing dark figures standing among us, as well as picking up on strong unpleasant smells. One woman suddenly felt so sick that we had to quickly call an end to the séance.
Ryan Davies-Blanchard was one of the others to brave the ghost hunt.
He said: “I went as a sceptic just to see how things went. I felt nothing for the first few hours and made my mind up that nothing was going to happen.
“However, after hearing and feeling various things that I can’t explain I have definitely had my views changed on paranormal events.”
While many will read this and dismiss us as a bunch of lunatics, it was great fun and a brilliant experience, for believers and sceptics alike, and I’d recommend it to everyone.
Unless you’re too scared that is.
- Visit herefordtimes.com to watch an interview with John Blackburn and Ian Lawman.