Southern Paranormal - Investigations
Dorset County Museum Investigation
Saturday 26th February 2011
Attending Investigators - Julie Harwood, Maria Street, Mark Boulton, Gill O'Farrell, Brian Witt, Steve Boston, Marie Holder, Amanda Horley, Maureen Taylor, Abbie Holding, Sarah Pettet, Mark Pettet, David Baxter, Zoe Anderson, Wendy Callaway, Paul Flexman, Emma Flice & Mary Smith.
Guest Investigator - Fiona (guest of Zoe)
Host - Anne Claridge
Dorset County Museum is an independent museum owned and managed by the Dorset Natural History and Archaeological Society with financial support from Dorset County Council and West Dorset District Council.
Dorset County Museum was established in 1846 to save the natural history and archaeology of a county felt at risk from the effects of the Industrial Revolution. The coming of the railways in the 1840s saw Dorchester's Roman sites at Poundbury and Maumbury Rings threatened with destruction. The poet, William Barnes, and the vicar of Fordington, Reverend Henry Moule, decided to form an organisation that would protect these sites and the natural history of the area and on 1st July 1846 the Dorset County Museum and Library was founded.
To alleviate these problems in 1884 the move to our present site was made. A purpose-built, gothic inspired museum was built and Henry Moule (son of the Reverend Henry Moule) was appointed as the first full-time curator.
REVEREND HENRY MOULE 1801-1880
The Reverend Henry Moule was rector of St George's Church, Fordington in Dorchester from 1829-1880. He was a radical reformer and fearlessly campaigned for the poor. As chaplain to Dorchester Barracks he crusaded against vice and put a stop to Dorchester Races in 1830. He visited prisoners in Dorchester Gaol and comforted those sentenced to death. He opened schoolhouses in the town and often funded projects himself. In the Times Moule promoted his idea of for self-supporting boarding schools for the poor, intended to equip them for life by providing an intellectual, religious and industrial education.
During the cholera epidemics in Dorchester of 1849 and 1854, he and his wife fearlessly visited afflicted households in Fordington. He organized a campaign of burning infected clothing and opened sluices to flush the disease from the poor housing after this he wrote a series of letters to the landlord, the Prince of Wales, decrying the terrible housing conditions of the poor and accusing the Duchy administrators of neglect. Sadly he received no reply. Later this area became the model for Thomas Hardy's Mixen Lane in the Mayor of Casterbridge.
His courage made him a local hero. Moule was also an inventor, and by 1860 had designed the dry-earth closet as a way of improving sanitation. When the handle was pulled, a little dry earth or peat was spread on top of human waste; this neutralized the ammonia, and helped it to decay. When the bucket was full the contents were dug into the garden to continue decaying or sold as manure. This was patented as Moule's Earth Closet, No. 1316, dated 28 May 1860, in partnership with James Bannehr. Together they set up the Moule Patent Earth-Closet Company (Limited), with more expensive models made of mahogany and oak. Further patents were in 1869 and 1873. Moule's earth closets sold in their thousands, for use in private houses, schools in Dorchester and elsewhere, hospitals, military camps, and extensively in India.
Information taken from - www.dorsetcountymuseum.org
Maria - Team Leader
Amanda - Team Leader
Steve - Team Leader
8.30pm Meet outside museum
8.45pm Meet our host Anne and enter museum
9.00pm Tech team set up
10.00pm Pre vigils break
10.30pm Vigil 1 - Team 1 - Area 1
Team 2 - Area 2
Team 3 - Area 3
12.00am Vigil 2 - Team 1 - Area 2
Team 2 - Area 3
Team 3 - Area 1
1.30am Vigil 3 - Team 1 - Area 3
Team 2 - Area 1
Team 3 - Area 2
2.30am Pack up
Area 1 - The Main Hall & gallery
Area 2 - The first floor (Hardy's exhibition, prehistoric exhibition etc)
Area 3 - Ground floor, basement & flat
I am always excited to be visiting/investigating a location for the first time and the museum held special significance to me as I featured it in my 2nd book "Haunted Dorchester". We were greeted by our friendly and open minded host Anne and we quickly got to work preparing for the vigils. Our first vigil was in the Main Exhibition hall and what a wonderful room this was with its impressive ceiling, Roman mosaic floor and display gallery. We took our initial temperature & emf readings and each member took some photographs. We started to call out and did all hear knocks and taps coming from the gallery area above us. These seemed very random and it was hard to place where they were coming from and if they were in response to questions. We also heard loud noises in the room we were sat in but at first we were happy to put these down to the radiators cooling. Maria and I decided to go and investigate the sounds up in the gallery and went right the way round to the far end. Here we felt very odd. Maria and I felt very uneasy and I believe Maria felt quite dizzy. I felt a little light headed but I have to consider that for me it was because I was up high as I experience this often at heights. Maria I could tell though was not very happy at all. She had been picking up on a name and a connection to religion (I will let Maria explain this). I also got the name Annie pop in to my head. Mark P decided to come up to join us and immediately he reached where we were he could feel a change in atmosphere. The area felt for want of a better word heavy and oppressive. Paul also then came up and stood at the top of the stairs. I believe he also reported feeling a little odd and from where I was stood I could see him swaying, though I am not sure he was aware he was doing this. The most prolific thing that happened to me personally in this vigil was when Maria was calling out. She stated out loud that we came with the greatest of respect and immediately I felt like saying "I don't". I have no idea why I thought this and wanted to vocalise it. I don't think I was picking up on a person/spirit answering Maria, I think it was something in me, I just have no idea what. I also felt a schooling or teaching connection to the building.
Right towards the end of the vigil when we were back down on the ground floor of the hall we heard the knocking sound again and Mark was close enough this time to investigate as he heard exactly where it came from. When he did find the source he forced the noise again and we were all able to confirm this is what we had heard. When he showed us what it was we were very surprised as it was actually the handle of a mangle on display that was banging against a radiator. How this happened we don't know and can not explain as it was a large handle that had to rotate a fair way to bang on the radiator. Still a mystery!
Our next vigil was on the first floor. We started off in the area by the Hardy display. Maria, Paul, Mark & I stayed at the near end while David, Zoe & Fiona decided they wanted to go further along to the archaeology display area. This was very quiet for the four of us so we moved to the prehistoric room. Wow what an amazing room, with dinosaurs hanging from the roof and lots of displays. I loved this room but did not experience anything out of the ordinary here other than getting the feeling that this room was not quite right and was very new feeling. I did not feel like it matched the rest of the building. We then went out on to the staircase for 10 or so minutes but did not experience anything out of the ordinary. Our final vigil was on the ground floor and down in the basement. We spent some time in the library and the emf meter interaction we had at first was debunked by the fact that a taxi rank was directly outside the window and every time a taxi pulled up the meter reacted. I kept feeling like there was something behind me but I put this down to being sat directly in front of a very dark recess which was in stark comparison to the rest of the well lit room. We then went down in to the basement and all of us had a funny five minutes of a mix of being scared and giggles as the place was choc a block with books, archives, exhibits etc and I think (mixed with the very high emf's) this made us think something was going to jump out on us from behind the shelves. Despite experiencing nothing out of the ordinary down here, this area was fascinating as it contained some real Dorset gems and historical memorabilia.
I have a great night at the museum and worked with a great vigil team. Thank you also to Anne for being so welcoming & Nel Duke for enabling our visit. We would love to return to the museum in the future to follow up on our investigation.
I love this part of the country as the West Country holds special memories for me. It was where I spent all my holidays as a child so I enjoyed the drive as much as the location. (Apologies to Amanda and Emma as I screamed 'The Lion and the Stag'! to them as we drove past these iconic landmarks perched on the stone gateways to a Lord's manor).
After setting up and a tour we started on our vigils. I was in team 1 with Julie, David, Mark P, Paul and Zoë, along with guest, Fiona. We started in the Main Hall. Baselines showed no EMF fluctuations and the ambient temperature was 17ºc. We settled down and started to call out. We heard odd knocks, but nothing definite. I had a very random thought in my head of 'plums and oranges' I have no idea what this means. We called out, and as I said 'We come with the greatest of respect' Julie immediately heard "I don't". We heard a door slam and checked with the other teams. Brian said he had just gone through a door but couldn't be sure if he had slammed it or not. He re-enacted it and it did sound similar to what we had heard. We could hear a lot of taps and knocks from the upper floor so Julie and I made our way up there. We stood in the near corner and it felt very uneasy. We called out again and I got the name of William. I felt this person had been canonised. I also got the name of Mary but felt this was linked to Catholicism. All too soon, the vigil came to an end and we headed off for our break.
Our next vigil was on the first floor and we split the team to cover all the areas. Julie, Mark P, Paul and I made our way to the small room there, whilst the others made their way to the exhibition area. Paul could hear breathing and a knock could be heard. We spent some time here trying to evoke further responses, but to no avail, so we made our way to the Jurassic area. We tried calling out here but all was very quiet. Julie got the name of Annie and I got the name of Alice just as we were leaving to go to our next break.
Vigil 3 started in the library, a room that held so much promise, but was surprisingly very quiet. One of the EMFs was flashing sporadically but it was too random and we couldn't work out what was setting it off until Paul pointed out there was a taxi rank just outside the window and the cabbies' radios were setting it off. We decided to turn it off there and then, as we could get nothing conclusive from it. Julie had the feeling of somebody walking over her grave and at 11.47 we heard footsteps but couldn't be sure if this was another team.
Our next area was in the basement. We heard a loud thud but have no idea where it had come from. I also had the names of Andrew and Michael down here. Fiona also felt this area may have been linked to a school at some point. Apart from this, the area felt very comfortable to me and I experienced nothing else. This was a lovely location to visit and I would love to return at a later date.
Many thanks to Anne, our lovely host, and I hope she enjoyed the experience as much as we did.
I was a little apprehensive on this location because of what had been captured on camera in the past from another group.
As Senior Tech, it was my job to inspect where our infrared cameras would be placed that night. With the help of Brian and Steve as the other tech guys and with the added assistance of Mark B the cameras were placed in such a way, that they covered 90% of the main hall.
Vigil team: Maria, Julie, Paul, David, Zoe, Fiona and myself.
Vigil 1 - Main Hall
We all sat down and temperature readings, photos and EMFs were taken. Once settled, we called out and some noises were heard but not in response to the questions we asked, but we did hear some knocks up on the gallery. Julia and Maria moved upstairs as they said they were experiencing something, so I decided to go up and join them. Consequently I had a headache and felt I was glued to the spot. After a short while it eased off so we headed back downstairs and continued calling out. We heard some bangs in the room we were in, however Julie and I found the cause to be a handle of a mangle banging on a radiator, but how this could occur I have no explanation.
Vigil 2 - Second-floor
The teams were split into two and Julie, Maria, Paul and I were in the front half of the building in the Hardy exhibition room which was very inactive so we didn't stay there long. We then moved to the prehistoric room. Not much to say about this room except once in there, I felt like I was a child again with all the dinosaur bones and pictures spread around the place. For the last 10 minutes or so we decided to remain on the stairs but I did not experience anything in this area.
Vigil 3 - Front lower half and basement
This perhaps was the quietest part of the night but an interesting one. The basement was a fascinating vault of Dorset's history and I would've loved to have delved deeper into the secrets.
My team consisted of Wendy, Gill, Abbie, Brian and Marie, along with our host Anne.
Our first vigil was up on the first floor, and we started our vigils in the Jurassic Coast room. This was a big airy room, looking out over the front of the building. It felt very quiet in here for me, with one exception. I had a picture in my mind of a large ornate wooden desk sitting in front of the windows, and the man that used it was a man of authority. The only other detail I could get about him was that he wore a powdered wig. Not being particularly good with time periods, I can't say where this would have placed him, and unfortunately I couldn't get any further details.
We moved on to a smaller room that had wood paneling and a large fireplace. I sat on a stool over to the right of the room and Wendy was stood next to me to my left. I felt very strongly that there was someone stood behind me and after a time decided to move and asked Wendy if she would like to take the stool instead. After a few minutes I asked her how she felt and she said she felt that someone was stood behind her, and had also felt like this before I moved.
We then moved on to the Hardy gallery, next to a small room that was set out as Thomas Hardy's study would have been. The area felt very feminine to me, and it felt like there would have been a lot of movement through here. I found myself drawn to a painting of a young woman and felt that this woman was present in the room. When I went and checked the painting, it was of Emma, Hardy's first wife. Brian and Wendy sat on chairs just outside of this room, but I became aware that the rest of the team, all of whom were in the Hardy exhibition were constantly moving around, and seemed unable to settle. I was moving around a lot myself, and just couldn't stay put in one place for any length of time. There seemed to be an area in the middle of the room that was much colder than the rest of the room, and we were unable to provide a logical explanation for this "circle" of coldness.
Our second vigil covered the second floor flat, the library and the basement, and we decided to start in the flat. I was last in the line going up the stairs, and as we rounded one corner I saw something out of the corner of my eye behind us. When I turned round there was no one there. We settled down in the corridor in the flat, and closed the main door behind us. I sat in front of the door, and Brian was to my left and slightly ahead of me. Our second vigil was in the Hall, and although chilly, it was considerably warmer than the chapel had been. For me, the Hall was very quiet, and although there were a lot of taps and knocks they probably could be put down to everything settling down after the lights were turned off. Interestingly, although I sensed nothing within the Hall, when standing outside the front door it felt like the Hall and nearby houses would once have been part of a school. Shortly after settling down, both Brian and I heard what sounded like footsteps coming up the stairs towards the flat. There was no one there. I then found that I felt incredibly warm, when the rest of the team were feeling quite cold. It was confirmed that my temperature was 4° higher than the average temperature of everyone else, but as I had been suffering from flu-like symptoms during the week, I am not sure that this necessarily meant anything.
After a time we moved on to the basement. Brian and I clearly heard something knock against the pipes down one end, and when we checked on the rest of the team, no-one was down there. As this part of the basement seemed quiet, we moved to the corridor at the bottom of the stairs, and most of the team smelt a sweet, almost fruity, perfumed smell. We checked that it was not any of us, and all agreed that it smelt of apples. The smell quickly disappeared, and at the same time, my sinuses (which had been completely blocked for several days) also cleared. They remained clear for the rest of the investigation, and well into the next day, despite the fact that I was not taking any medication.
We then finished the vigil in the library. This room was a bit of a contradiction. It was at the front of the building, and was very bright and airy, which is unusual for libraries. It also didn't feel right to me. We were surrounded by books, some of which were really old, and yet it felt very new. Anne confirmed that a lot of the shelving had been added in the 1970s and had been done in such a way that it matched the older shelving that was against one of the walls.
Our final vigil was on the ground floor, and we started in the main hall. There were a lot of knocks and taps in here, and we were able to rule many of them out as relating to the pipes, but some, particularly up on the gallery were less easy to explain. I had a picture of a young child crawling across the floor (which seemed to have bits of straw on it) and although I couldn't sense anyone else around, I was concerned about the child being trampled when "everyone" was rushing around in there. During this vigil we also spent some time in a side room, and again, there were some noises that we couldn't explain, but as two walls had windows looking out over the back of the building, we can't rule out the possibility that something outside was causing them. Indeed, at one point, something caused the security lights at the rear of the building to come on.
All in all, this was a quieter night for me, with little glimpses of details, but frustratingly little information to go with it. The noise and smell in the basement and the footsteps on the stairs to the flat were however, very intriguing, and I feel that there is a lot more to this building than it was giving away during our time there.
Jurassic gallery/Writer's gallery/Thomas Hardy gallery.
We started off in the Jurassic gallery where we began calling out with no response. The atmosphere in this gallery was very comfortable and warm. We moved on to the writer's gallery where I felt the room was quite oppressive but I believe this had something to do with the dark panelled walls. In this room both Marie and Amanda felt uncomfortable sat in the right hand corner as if there was someone standing behind them, we heard several bangs and creaks coming from outside the room, yet nothing considerable happened inside so we moved onto the Thomas Hardy gallery.
This room felt very different nobody could settle and everyone kept pacing, we also felt considerably colder in this room, even though the temperature readings displayed that both rooms were the same temperature.
We climbed the stairs up to the loft then entered the flat and sat down in the corridor. We began calling out and shortly after we heard footsteps coming upstairs behind the door. It sounded as though somebody was about to walk through but nobody was there. After this we didn't hear much else, I saw several shadows out of the corner of my eye and felt more uncomfortable in there than anywhere else I had been so far, but there was no other activity so we decided to head down to the basement.
For a basement it felt very warm and comfortable, we heard a couple of taps after calling out, so we moved further into the basement. As we walked down the corridor there was a very strong scent that seemed to follow us, it smelt very sweet and of apple, the smell disappeared soon after and we didn't smell this scent again which was rather peculiar.
In this room the team split up so we had some members on the balcony and some downstairs, this room felt colder but I believe this is because it was so open. There was a lot of creaking, which could have just been from the wood settling and from the heaters, and we saw several shadows move from the corners of our eyes. Apart from this there wasn't a lot of activity in this room.
It was a fantastic building and although I personally didn't experience a lot I would love to go back again.
Maureen, Paul, David and I arrived at the location at around 8.30ish and we were met by the rest of the team, we then made our way into the location which looked very impressive from the outside.
We got into our teams (I was in team 2 with Amanda, Abbie, Brian, Wendy, Gill and Anne (our host).
We started off in the Prehistoric Display area which was quite light as there were street lamps right outside. After taking photos we settled down and a couple of us, including myself, called out but no noises were heard. I walked over to one of the windows and immediately got the name Simon who was aged between 25 and 35. Apart from this I did not experience anything else in this area.
We then moved to the room next door with a beautiful old fireplace. We heard some noises when we called out but these were de-bunked. I picked up on quite a dominant man in this room as I wanted to stand in front of the fireplace and put my fists on my waist in a dominant pose! I also got the name Edward with a surname beginning with R who I got the impression was quite a stout man and pompous in nature.
We then moved to the Thomas Hardy exhibit. There was a definite draught coming from one of the corners although the temperature reading read the same as anywhere else and we could not find the source of the draught. There was also quite a strong feminine presence in this area which felt that it could have been Hardy's first wife.
We had a long hike upstairs for the next vigil which was on the top floor corridor. We all sat on the floor and after a few photos were taken tried calling out. I distinctly felt a constant draught coming from my left although Wendy was standing to my left and she said she felt quite warm. Nothing else unusual happened in this area.
We then moved down to the basement. My chest felt very tight down here but it was very dusty. While walking down one of the corridors I stopped half way down and had my back to some boxes. I heard a scratching noise on the boxes behind me as if someone was running their fingernails against one of the boxes, I turned round and had a look to see if I could find what it was but I couldn't see anything. I tried duplicating what I had done to see if the noise occurred again, as I thought my top might have rubbed against it, but I couldn't duplicate the noise.
Our next vigil took us into the library. After taking some photos we tried calling out, unfortunately I did not experience anything unusual in this area. We then moved into the Main Hall. We all sat in the chairs that were left by the previous teams and see if any of us could pick up on anything. We did hear some taps and creaks but this could have been the lighting or heating settling. Wendy, Anne and I decided to go up to the Gallery and leave the others on the ground floor. While standing in the Gallery I found myself constantly wanting to look to my right as I was expecting someone to walk down the Gallery towards me and I did this for most of the time I was up there!
After a while we decided to go into the room off the Main Hall which was disused by the museum at present. Unfortunately nothing unusual was experienced by me in this area.
In comparison to other investigations I have done this was quite a quiet one on this occasion, however it was very enjoyable to be given the opportunity to visit this delightful location. My favourite area was the basement as although I did not feel uncomfortable down there, I was a little unnerved about the scratching noise I heard which was right by my ear as the corridors were very narrow and I felt a little claustrophobic.
We started off in the prehistoric area. We settled down and started calling out. There was a fair bit of noise from the street outside which could explain all the sounds we could hear. After no activity we moved into the exhibition area and to the room with a large fireplace. We all sat down and started calling out again. We heard some knocks but this was put down to normal building sounds.
We moved to the rest of the exhibition area and had a look around. No paranormal activity noted by myself.
This vigil started in the upstairs flat area. The hallway we were in was quite cramped but we spread out and called out. We had one flash on the K2 which was not in response to any questions and it did not happen again. At one point we did hear what sounded like someone walking up the stairs. We could find no one and it could not be explained.
We went downstairs to the basement area. It was very dark as there were no outside windows. We had a look around and then I sat down at a table. After a few minutes I heard a bang behind me which sounded like someone kicking the shelving unit. We looked around the area and could find no cause for the noise. This only happened once.
The last part of this vigil was in the library. Although all the lights were off, it was still quite bright due to the street lights. Nothing paranormal happened.
We started off in the main hall. There were some seats in the middle of the hall so we sat down and called out. Through the duration of the main hall vigil we heard knocks and noises. Nothing that could not be explained apart from one that sounded like someone scratching their finger nails on one of the table cloths.
We moved into the room to the left of the main hall. Nothing was witnessed here either. At one point the lights outside came on but they were motion sensitive and could have been set off by anything.
I visited the museum on one occasion several years ago so was looking forward to investigating this building full of artifacts in an historic town. I was particularly interested in the Hardy exhibition as I am currently studying his work.
I was in Group 2 with Amanda, Marie, Abbie, Ann (our host), Brian and Wendy. We began in the Prehistoric Display room. This room had a great deal of light coming in from the streetlamps as well as an amount of noise from the bars on the High Street. I felt nothing in this room, just that it was a through room that people traversed on their way into the adjoining rooms.
We moved into the adjacent room, which had been decorated in modern paneling. As it was a museum there was a great deal of external environmental cues and written information displayed so it was difficult to disregard this and use one's sense properly. However, I felt this room might have been used as a child's bedroom two to three hundred years previously for an eight-year old girl. At one point I saw a light travelling across the archway moving from right to left. It is possible that this could have been an insect.
We moved into the Writers' room that had displays on various Dorset writers. There was a greater sense of energy in this room and everyone felt the need to keep moving. We all felt very cold draughts around the Masefield exhibit which seemed to follow us around. The group heard various knocks and taps but this was likely to have been settling off the internal structures.
We started in the attic. I had the impression that man was going to step out of the room behind me, but this might have been caused purely by the anxiety of sitting against a door.
We then moved into the basement area which was very interesting. The aisles of books and periodicals made it feel as if someone could be hidden down there. I had a strong sense of a young woman down there called Susannah. As the group was walking towards the back of the basement, in a specific area, we all smelt a definite apple-type smell, rather like cider. When we retraced our steps we were unable to find it again.
For the final part of this vigil we moved into the library. I was unable to get much from this room due to the amount of street noise.
Our final vigil was in the Great Hall. As we carried out the vigil, there seemed to be an overwhelming sense of agitation and expectation. It seemed as if there must be someone upstairs in the gallery looking down upon us. Every time I looked up I expected to see someone, but there was nothing evident. This was a very strange feeling, as if someone was trying to keep out of sight. There were numerous creaks and knocks around the room which were hard to locate but likely to have been explainable noises from the building.
Some members of the group saw shadows and experienced "corner of the eye" phenomena during the investigation but I was left rather disappointed by the night. It was a great venue and full of history but we did not have personal experiences of note. Certainly, the noise and light from the High Street affected the night.
Attic corridor, basement and library
We started in the attic corridor, took photos, settled down and called out. No real response to calling out that we could hear and apart from feeling very chatty and fidgety (could be due to energy drink), it felt quite flat. At one point we could hear voices but we thought this might be one of the other teams in the building or coming from outside. We also heard a door shut in the building, but we thought this was one of the other teams; we were unable to check as the radio was not working. At one point I could smell cigarette smoke, there was only one smoker in our team and we successfully ruled out that it was her; it was not the carpet as it smelt quite new. Mark B also smelt it and so did Maureen. We could not say it was definitely paranormal as we could not rule out if the doors were what held the smell.
We moved on to the basement, now usually I feel extremely uncomfortable in cellars/basements, however, this was not the case in this one – this could have been because the place was full of books. We split the team up and Maureen, Emma and I went into one of the side rooms. We took photos and settled down. We called out but heard nothing apart from the other part of the team.
We moved to the library, took photos and settled down. I sat in one of the chairs, the library felt distinctly Victorian but I felt whatever had been there before still involved books but more like ledgers, I had a sense of clerks running around and writing in the ledgers at high desks (the kind you stand up to use). I tried going back further and had the sense of a gentleman, old, heavy set and breathless (possibly 1700s). My chest felt tight and my limbs felt very heavy. I heard a noise behind me as I was describing this man to the team; we were unable to establish what it was. Emma noted that my face looked redder, but I did not feel hot or like I was embarrassed at the time. I asked if he would do something so the rest of the team could acknowledge his presence, but I got the sense he would not move from me. When we were deciding to leave I sensed he moved to stand in front of me.
The previous team had left chairs out on the main hall floor, so, after taking photos, we settled into these. We called out and we could hear various taps and creaks although this could have been the building settling. Although at one point Steve asked for two taps to a question and we heard one distinctive tap, digital records appear to have picked up two. We decided to move up the stairs to the gallery. I decided to leave my digital recorder downstairs. Throughout our time upstairs my recorder was picking up sounds on the stairs, almost like someone shifting their weight from one foot to the other. At one point we were all gathered round the chair under the judge Jefferies portrait, and we were calling out to encourage the judge to join us and sit in the chair, during this period my recorder picked up a distinctive 'I'm here', unfortunately, we did not hear it at the time. We moved down to the bottom end of the gallery, above the main doors, and sat in front of the organ. We called out from here and during this we heard a very strange noise coming from the other end of the gallery, we investigated and felt the sound emanated from the small window above the large round window. Steve thought it could be an animal or bird, but it was strange that it started and stopped when asked. We ruled out it being the curtain cord moving against anything or the window opening. But we could not rule out it being animal or bird. Listening to it faintly picked up on my recorder later; it did sound more like fluttering of wings than it did to my naked ear at the time.
Jurassic room, hardy room and archaeological room
We started in the Jurassic room, settled in and called out. Photos in here were a bit impossible as there were so many reflective surfaces. We did not feel there was anything happening in this room so we moved on towards the hardy exhibit. We looked around this area, settled in around the hardy exhibit, we called out, tried reading passages of verse and passages from Hardy's books, but we had no responses. Again there were too many reflective surfaces for any good photos. The room felt peaceful and we were getting restless and bored. Mary felt drawn to the exhibit in front of this but to me it felt out of place with the door in the room in the wrong place, (this was later borne out as we read the plaque in the room which confirmed it had been moved from another building altogether!). We moved on to the archaeological room and tried calling out in here, again it was very quiet and in the end we just started looking at all the exhibits in there instead – which were very interesting.
Summary – The Dorchester Museum is a lovely Victorian Gothic building, one I felt quite at home in, I would imagine it is a pleasure to work in. I could not say for definite that there is any interactive paranormal activity there, although some of the EVP recordings taken by our team could point that way, but if there were, I would imagine it would be in the main building and hall and not so much in the parts like the hardy exhibit. I was definitely able to tap into residual energy in the library, not necessarily for the building that currently stands there now perhaps, but maybe what was on the land prior to that. I would love to spend more time investigating here and some of the other buildings in Dorchester High Street.
I've been past this building a number of times over the years, both on foot and by car, but have never got round to going inside it – what a treat to do so at last.
I can't pick out individual vigils as being particularly special. Unfortunately, for once, I picked up on no activity at all during the night on any of them. There was a moment in the library where I thought I felt someone walk behind me, but I can't be certain of it, it just wasn't definite enough. The same applies to my dowsing rods. I got them out, again in the library, but the movements I got could just as easily in this case have been caused by my not having them perfectly level in the first place, or my hands slipping, or various other factors, the apparent answers I was getting to our questioning just didn't feel right somehow, so again I can't be certain if there was anything going on or not.
An interesting night, not least because it's a museum I've never been in before. I get the feeling that, in spite of what anyone else may have got during the night, that there is little or no spirit activity in and around the building.
I will, however, definitely be going back for a daylight visit soon.
Vigil 1 – Top Floor 22.30pm approx
We began our investigation of Dorchester Museum on the very top floor, the main rooms were locked so we only had access to a very cramped hall way. We took temperature and EMF readings but found nothing unusual in our base line tests. We set up K2 meters at either end of the hall however; despite repeated questioning we had no activations.
At approximately twelve minutes into the vigil Sarah thought she could smell cigarette smoke, Mark also picked up on this, we checked the carpet and timber work on the top floor, there was no residual smell of smoke on anything and we could not find a source for this smell.
A short time later around fourteen minutes into the investigation we heard a door close. I asked 'If that was you who made the door close, could you do it again?' at this point two of our audio recorders picked up an EVP of a male sounding voice saying 'NO'
We had no other experiences on the top floor and drew the vigil to a close, from the top floor we headed to the basement
Vigil 1 – Basement Area
Our baseline readings in the basement picked up a lot of EMF; this was due to the heavy duty electrical cables that were running along the walls and above us. They caused no ambient EMF but did give off a high reading when moving the K2 close to the cable. Baseline temperature readings were normal; it was very stuffy and narrow. As the basement was a maze of narrow aisles we split the team into two so as to cover the area. Despite an EVP session and questioning we had no experiences in this area. Due to the inactivity in this area we moved on to the library.
Vigil 1 – Library
We began our vigil in the library by taking baseline readings; we found no unusual readings in the ambient temperature and no ambient EMF to activate the K2.
Our investigation in the library was again a quiet one. Nothing responded to repeated questioning and we had no activations on the K2. We had an ambient temperature and humidity reader in the room, there were no strange readings picked up on this piece of equipment.
The library saw the close to our first set of vigils.
Vigil 2 – Main Hall – Lower & Upper Floor 00.01am approx
We began our hour long vigil in the main hall on the ground floor, this room was very vast and it was difficult to get an accurate ambient temperature reading. The readings we took were all around 17º C and not out of the ordinary.
We settled down into some chairs and began an EVP session, from the review it appears that I received a 'YES' response to the question 'Did you work in this building?' we also thought we heard footsteps on a few occasions, these came from the upper gantry area. The stairs and some of the floor were wood so this could have been natural cooling of the timber. However during the review one of our audio recorders picked up two very clear footsteps followed by what sounded like a deep but quiet laugh.
From the ground floor we moved up to the gantry area. On this level one of the exhibits was the chair of the famous Judge Jeffreys (The hanging judge)
We placed an audio recorder and a K2 Meter on this chair. During the audio review whilst we were talking among ourselves by this chair we picked up what sounds like a male voice saying 'WELL'
We had no personal experiences on this level, no K2 activations or temperature fluctuations. Our time in the main hall drew to a close.
Vigil 3 – 1st Floor Area 01.30am approx
We began our investigation of the 1st floor area in the Jurassic Exhibits room, we had a very quiet time in this area, and nothing picked up by the K2 Meter and nothing unusual in our temperature readings.
From here we moved out among the other exhibits on the 1st floor. Unfortunately our investigations in these areas were the same as the Jurassic Room, nothing on the K2 Meter and no fluctuations in our baseline temperature readings. Our time investigating this area came to a close and it also brought with it the end of the night.
After thought Dorchester Museum was a fascinating place to investigate, although for me the investigation itself was very quiet. The audio reviewing that was carried out by me and other members of the team certainly produced some evidence that we had not picked up on, on the night.
I would like the opportunity to return here and carry out some further EVP sessions as this was certainly the most active form of evidence we gathered.
We began our fist vigil in the attic area, climbing up the small stairway. This area was quite cool as it has some windows, and a draft coming in under the main door. There was a bit of calling out but no responses were heard. We had two K2 meters positioned at each end of the corridor; neither gave any indications in this area. The only comment of any note was a brief smell of burning or tobacco about three quarters into the vigil. After a while we moved down in the basement area. This area is now used as a storeroom, and consists of many ordered racks leaving narrow passageways between them. This meant that you could not see very far in any one direction. Nothing notable happened in this area. We then moved into the library. As in the previous area all was very peaceful.
This was held in the main hall and then the balcony area. We started in the main hall. This seemed to be a fairly noisy area, the main door in particular rattled every now and then. Here again there is nothing of interest to mention. We then moved up onto the balcony. Here there was a certain interest shown by the group in the "Judge Jeffries" chair. Steve had seen a photo showing an apparition or some such anomaly. Of note, the sign by the chair seemed to state that the earliest date of manufacture of the chair was after the Judge's death (so not too sure what that is all about). There was a noise that came from above the end window. There looked to be a remote open/close mechanism but we could not get it to make any noise.
The last vigil was in the prehistoric room and the smaller side rooms on the first floor. By this time our energy levels we flagging so after the prehistoric room we spent a bit of time looking at the exhibits. Maureen read a bit of Masefield poetry in the Writers' room with no response and Mary felt an attraction to the fireplace in the paneled room, but other than this, nothing.