Gloucester Ghosts  

Andy Lloyd in Gloucester at nightOur ghost-hunting investigations thus far have involved meandering around quiet graveyards at night taking digital photos of orbs.  One tends to assume that a quiet, spooky location will be the most likely to turn up paranormal phenomena.  One tends to assume that ghosts hang out in graveyards.  But what if that classical assumption is incorrect?  There is a post-modern line of thought that we are all more or less surrounded by spirits, from our personal spirit guides right through to random ghosts that we might encounter, like strangers in the street.

This mode of thought leads us to the inevitable conclusion that we are simply unable to see what is right in front of us.  The ‘reality’ only becomes apparent when the mental shield that prevents our spiritual consciousness from being aware of the presence of, well, dead people is lowered.  This might happen because of fever, near-death experience, or on-going spiritual training.

The rest of the time our minds steadfastly keep the door to the other world bolted shut, and many people go through life completely unaware of the possibility that they spend their lives in the company of dead people.  Perhaps this is why the ancients tended to revere ancestors, a practice largely lost to Western thinking.  After all, if you commune with your departed relatives, with positive regard, then who’s to say they can’t be of help to you through your life?  Somehow, our modern materialist mentality has kicked this old ‘superstitious’ way of thinking into touch. Perhaps spirits are like starlight during the day. The daylight of the Sun might be too overwhelming to see the stars, but that doesn't mean they're not there. Metaphorically speaking, that is.

A very atmospheric picture of Bishop Hoopers monument looking towards Gloucester CathedralAlthough most of us do not directly perceive the spirits of the departed around us, we sometimes have odd sensations of deja-vu, ESP and PSI.  Our awareness of the other side may be showing itself in a fleeting, sub-conscious way.  These events can be deeply profound for people, despite being transient.  Others dismiss them immediately, preferring to consider such events as mere coincidences or waking dreams.

But if we assume that such a fledgling sixth-sense is an aspect of a real phenomenon, then these events give us clues as to how we might cross the psychic threshold.  The environment may play a part; a haunted place might make us more aware of our own senses, allowing a phenomenon to become apparent that would otherwise be lost to us.  Our emotional state may also be important, or our openness to receiving signals from the other side.

With these thoughts in mind, Martin and I decided to take our search into the centre of Gloucester on a Friday evening, when most people are heading to the pubs and clubs for a few beers and a good time with their friends.  Gloucester is a very old city and is full of ghosts (1,2).  For instance, the Westgate area of the city near to the cathedral was the location of the public burning of Bishop John Hooper for his protestant beliefs in 1555. 

A memorial stands there, across from which is an old Tudor building which is said to host the ghost of Queen Mary, who ordered the execution of this frail but stubborn martyred Bishop of Gloucester. We started our night-time trek through the Westgate area from St Catherine’s Priory, past Bishop Hooper’s monument, around the Cathedral, and up Westgate Street.  Our fifty or so photos taken during this time showed absolutely no orbs.  None at all. 

When we got as far as St John’s Lane, home to The Citizen newspaper, I took a photo of A.G Meeks shoe shop, another local haunted place. 

This was the first image to show very pronounced orbs, but at the time I didn’t realise this.  Across from this shop is a narrow alley that runs up to the city’s Masonic Lodge, and I turned to Martin and said ‘Let’s head up there’.  As we walked down the dark alley Martin became aware of a presence.  Again, our photos attested to orbs.  It seems as though we had picked up a ghostly companion who was joining us for our spooky walk around the city of Gloucester. The brightest orb of this set is in the fourth photo, towards the top right.  The rest are more faint, but that might be a result of the ambient lighting in the city.  The orbs show up better against a dark background, like the plaques under the statue of Gloucester's Roman Centurion.

We headed for Greyfriars, off Southgate Street, which is another local hotspot for ghost sightings.  There were plenty of folk about, and our flash photography captured the attention of a group of revellers making their way through Greyfriars.  The women among them wanted their photo taken, too, amid much laughter. Any spirits they had encountered were likely found in a bottle. Here you are ladies; you’re famous! 

But it’s strange that that light-hearted event signalled the end of a run of orb photos.  We moved onwards towards the Docks, but the orbs had gone from the photos we took on the way, despite walking past Blackfriars.  Martin no longer felt accompanied either.  The Docks are being massively renovated at the moment; there’s a lot of building work going on.  It is said that ghosts often become more apparent when their environments are altered.  Well, the orbs started up again when we took photos of an old Tall Ship moored at the main quay. 

Not long after this Martin started seeing flashes of white light streak around; he could sense something again.  I had also become unsettled, wishing to move on to another location, which I’m beginning to realise is my own sixth sense kicking in: my natural inclination in the presence of a ghost is to clear off! 

Anyway, one photo of an old tug contained blue mists which were quite clearly not apparent to me at the time.  But Martin was seeing all kinds of stuff.

We headed over to Llanthony Priory, a large historic site adjacent to a new bypass.  Again, maybe these construction sites have a tendency to disturb the spirits, although the work here was now complete.  It was here that we finally started to consistently pick up photos of orbs.  Which is interesting, because the dark grounds of Llanthony Priory are similar to the kinds of quiet graveyard environments we have investigated in the past, and in which we have photographed many, many orbs.

An artists impression of how Llanthony Priory once looked

Our investigation seems to have highlighted the importance of a proper state of mind.  If the appearance of orbs reflects the presence of spirits, then these spirits were around us for short periods during our trek around the old City of Gloucester.  Other times they were entirely absent.  But the finding went deeper than this because Martin, whose psychic and medium abilities are steadily developing , was aware of this presence, and his recognition of the spirits with us were ‘coincident’ with the appearance of orbs on the photos.  This may have been happening before, but it is easier to systematically pinpoint the times of these events when the photos vary by location. This seems to be a major advantage of investigating over a wide area at any one time.  


This wonderful photo, taken by Martin, shows the haunted rooms just below the tower of Gloucester Cathedral.  Perhaps something can be seen in the left hand window?

Martin has taken a closer look at some of our images taken around the Cathedral area.  In the window there appears to be some bright, yellowish light that is slightly out of place within its context.  But this is only suggestive of something unusual.  A small orb can also be seen to the right of the post-box in the second image.  It appears that orbs were photographed during this part of our investigation as well, but the strong lighting around the Cathedral grounds may have subdued them somewhat.

Here are some close-ups and enhancements of that Cathedral window:

Overall, our evening had been a great success and will be followed by other ghostly trips into Gloucester.  That well-known haunted abode 'The Dick Whittington' pub is top of our list...

We recently had the opportunity to make the acquaintance of Steve Shipp, of Twilight Books, and his partner Sue.  They both have a keen interest in the paranormal, and travelled up from Devon, visiting us as part of a vacation.  We met up with them at Gloucester's most haunted pub, the 'Dick Whittington' (the fabled 'thrice Lord Mayor of London' was from Gloucester originally).  Our evening got off to a good start: they were serving 'Over the Moon' real ale made by the 'Dark Star Brewing Company'.  Having just had a book entitled 'Dark Star' published, this struck me as a remarkable and meaningful coincidence - boding well for the ghost-hunt later that evening!

We discussed various paranormal phenomenon during our relaxed chat at the pub, and eventually found out about the strange events that had been afflicting Sue's flat in Axminster.  She is clearly sensitive to the realms beyond ours, and had experienced a catalogue of disturbing manifestations, including furniture moving around the flat unaided, various belongings disappearing and then reappearing where they had no business to be, cold spots in the flat, and the presence of an entity that was, well, of a rather negative disposition.  The flat is located in an old building (meaning renovations when the flats were converted) and a prior resident of this flat (which was number 13 originally) hung themselves in the attic.  So, poor Sue has been plagued by this entity, and is cataloguing the various anomalies and manifestations. 

Fortunately, she has some more positive assistance in the spirit world helping her to cope, as well as Steve of course.  Here's a thought worth bearing in mind: "Madame Blavatsky, who knew more about the spirit world than anybody else, said you are a fool to take any apparition seriously, because they are often malicious and they are frequently the souls of people who were murdered, were suicides, or were terribly cheated in life one way or another, and they are out for revenge."  The writer and artist Kurt Vonnegut, 2005.


Steve Shipp near Mary De Crypt Church

So with Sue and Martin both present, each quite capable of acting as a conduit for paranormal manifestations, I was hoping for a good crop of orbs.  Most of our photos were taken in two locations; at Blackfriars, and outside the Cathedral.  We began by taking a look at a rather odd piece of artwork in the Mary de Crypt churchyard.  The curved stone-bench has some upright stones with graven images of the Green Man and various lower spirits.  Quite an incongruous addition to a Christian graveyard.  Steve can be seen taking a look, with a moving orb in attendance.


Martin, Sue and I explored the ruins of Blackfriars, where we sensed a presence and located cold spots.  We didn't get a lot of orbs that night, but the ones we did get were in the Blackfriars area and were very clear indeed.  This indicates to me that the orbs were not a general environment-related phenomenon, but were specific to the location where we picked up something other-worldly present. 

Sue and Martin

Can you spot the face in the wall?

These images contain some surprises.  I didn't spot them at first, I'll admit, but Steve and Sue rang our paranormal hotline after seeing this webpage and told us that figures could be seen.  Dark outlines are seen on the walls in this photo, to the right of Sue and Martin respectively.  Now, that might just be a trick of the light on the brickwork.  But check out the pinkish highlights within the 3rd picture above.  A face seems to look across above Sue's head.  This looks like an apparition of a woman wearing a cloak, an effect made more convincing by the dark outline around the 'figure'.  Of course, there are orbs present as well. Interesting, eh?  

Here's another odd photo.  Stood just outside Blackfriars, Martin appears to send a shadow through some reflected red light on the pavement.  Yet it is not at all clear where the source of the red light is.  The red light reflection is not apparent on any of the other photographs taken that night (of which there are over 100).  Also, several clear orbs can be seen on the photo (the red one is presumably a distant street light on Brunswick Road).  The right-hand photo shows an orb each for Sue and Mart.  Spirit guides?  

We left the Greyfriars area and headed towards the Cathedral.  A slightly odd thing happened on the way.  I phoned my wife at home on my mobile phone and after hanging up received a phone call back.  The phone established that the call originated from our house, but when I answered it there was no one on the other end of the line.  This seemed strange, so I phoned my wife again.  It turned out she hadn't rung me at all...Strange indeed.

Gloucester's cathedral is a magnificent gothic building and was the setting for many scenes in the early Harry Potter films.  At 11pm it was shut and locked up and there was clearly no chance of a ghost-hunt in the cathedral itself.  As we wandered through the car-park outside the front entrance I saw a dark shadow swiftly move through the gates.  I was mildly stunned.  This movement of darkness was very clear, and I was looking directly at the Cathedral entrance at the time.  I had seen my first Black Abbot-type apparition!  And it had gone straight into the Cathedral.

We walked around the building taking photographs and temperature readings.  Sue and Martin seemed to be instinctively attracted to a large wooden side-door set at the top of a small flight of stone steps.  Steve and I chatted while the two of them inspected the door.  Suddenly: "It's hot!" yelled Martin, who had just taken his hand off the handle of the door.  Well, a hot handle at 11pm on a January night seems an oddity, does it not? 

As Sue confirmed the warmth of the door handle herself we all heard a deep thumping noise from inside the depths of the Cathedral.  It was very clear and we were all startled by it.  The Cathedral was clearly locked and empty; there were no lights showing through the windows. We all wondered what could have made such a loud noise.  Then it happened again!  Martin set up an EVP recorder on the step by the door to record in our absence whilst we walked Sue and Steve back to their car.  Later we discovered further banging noises on the recording.  The photos I took around the door showed no orbs.  It seems as though the source of the thumping noises was safely inside the Cathedral itself...the Black Abbot I had just seen move through the entrance gate perhaps?

Written by Andy Lloyd, 13th January 2006

Sue's haunted Flat in Axminster

Sue's story has been highlighted in an article by Geoff Ward in the Western Daily Press (27/1/06) as a result of the Gloster Ghosts' investigation, as well as her local Axminster paper, 'Pulman's Weekly News' (8/2/06):


Sue explains: "[Gloster Ghosts] have agreed to help with the paranormal activity in my home, and will hopefully take some readings and photos to see if anything is picked up."  One of the occurrences we're interested in is the case of the foreign coin which appeared in the flat one day, origin unknown.  "The coin appeared in my home.  I know nothing about it at all."  Sue has heard voices, seen flashes of light coming from within the walls and going back into the walls, and experienced the phenomenon where items disappear one day then reappear the next.

There have been other reports of weirdness at the Old Bell House, just off Axminster Square.  The toilets on the ground floor locked themselves from the inside during Halloween 2005.  Footsteps have been heard along a ground floor corridor, and some have experienced a distinct cold-spot.  Objects have been known to move around on their own accord.  All in all, a superb place to go ghost-hunting, which we will be attempting to do later this year.

Ghost Captured on Store's CCTV?

CCTV images from Poundstretcher, GloucesterOne of Gloucester's shops, 'Poundstretcher', has experienced first hand something going bump in the night:  Specifically, a stack of pallets was disturbed at around 2.30 a.m.  The event, which left a mess all over the floor for surprised staff to discover in the morning, was documented by the store's CCTV camera. 

The deputy store manager, who has experienced odd things at 'Poundstretcher' before, looked through the night's camera footage, and believes that a dark figure can be seen standing behind the pallet before it took its nocturnal tumble. 

Following the unexplained event, she is sure that she can make out the same dark figure, this time sat upon some cases.  The dark figure seemingly captured on film has subsequently been associated with a regular ghost seen in the store, of a woman in a high neck black dress, with hair tied back and very white hands.

A reporter from 'The Citizen' relates some of the supernatural history of the building:

"It is not the first time it has been seen, or its presence felt in the store. 

"Legend states that the unhappy spirit of a tragic actress haunts the store, formerly the Theatre Royal where the famous Victorian partnership of Sir Henry Irving and Ellen Terry once performed.  Strange manifestations have been seen by many staff over the years, including the ghost of the lady and the mouldy inscription of the letter "E" on a cellar wall. 

It is thought that the lady in question is Eliza Johnson, who joined the company in 1880.  It is said that after a while things in her life went wrong - perhaps a failed love affair - and she committed suicide while still in her mid-20s.  Now her ghost stalks the aisles of the shop where she once performed." (3)

In which case it makes you wonder what the poor ghost makes of her current environment; her theatre turned into a busy shop. One can perhaps understand why she might try and rearrange things every once in a while!  Which, indeed, is what appears to happen according to other members of staff interviewed by the regional television news.

Shelves of goods left tidy at the end of a day's trading are regularly found in a dishevelled state the next morning.

A local paranormal investigator, called Steve Pointer, was asked by Central News what he thought of the CCTV footage.  He wasn't sure what to make of it, but thought it worthy of further investigation.  He said that there were energies at play in the store.  The reporter summed things up by saying that the more you look at the second image, the more you start to see something there. 

1)  Eileen Fry “Strange and Ghostly Tales of historic Gloucester” Architext Publications 1989

2)  Eileen Fry “Ghost Trails of Gloucester’s Past” Windrush Press 1995

3)  P. Keogh "Store's Ghost angry on the Night Shift" The Citizen 26th September 2005

4)  Central News report, ITV, 27th September 2005

5)  "The ghost in the shop" BBC Radio Gloucestershire, includes video footage:


© Andy, Martin and Dave
May 2006
 Cosmic Conspiracies Investigator

 Home Page