Southern Paranormal - Investigations
Old Chapel Heritage Centre, Netley Investigation
8th July 2011
Attending Investigators - Julie Harwood, Maria Street, Brian Witt, Marie Holder, Steve Boston, David Baxter, Amanda Horley, Abbie Holding, Emma Filce, Laura Munday, Emma Curtis
Guest - Danae
The Royal Victoria Military Hospital, or Netley Hospital was a large military hospital in Netley, near Southampton, Hampshire. Construction started in 1856 at the suggestion of Queen Victoria but its design caused some controversy, chiefly from Florence Nightingale. Often visited by Queen Victoria, the hospital was extensively used during the First World War. It became the 28th US General Hospital from 1944 to 1945 during the Invasion of Europe. The main building - the world's longest building when it was completed - was entirely demolished in 1966, except for the chapel and former YMCA building which are both still standing. The extensive outbuildings, which once occupied a vast acreage of land to the rear of the main building, finally succumbed in 1978. The site of the hospital can be seen and explored in Royal Victoria Country Park. The hospital was situated within the larger area of land bounded by the River Itchen and River Hamble, particularly around Sholing that had become known locally as Spike Island. That term was subsequently used by wounded soldiers and prisoners of war to describe the location of the hospital.
Although not far from where I live, I had never visited the Heritage Centre, and although it had very obviously been a church at some point, I didn't know too much about the history of it.
We split into three teams and I was in a team with Brian, Emma Curtis and her guest Danae. Our first vigil was in the main Hall and although I had several “corner of the eye” moments, when I felt that there was movement in the room, generally this was a quiet vigil for me. The only real thing of note was when we heard a noise that sounded like a plane going over (I later found out that this was a boat on Southampton water) and I got the impression that the hanging light fitments were going to start shaking, and that a bomb may fall nearby.
We immediately moved on to our second vigil which was in the basement. This was an unusual area for me, as basements can often be oppressive and scary. This one certainly wasn't. Emma was quite nervous down here, and at one point felt that someone was stood near her when she was sat down. Danae also picked up a cold spot, and although we could not rule out the possibility that a draught was coming in from outside, this cold area disappeared, and didn't come back despite it being a windy night outside. I felt the presence of a woman called Mary who was either slightly younger than me, or was considerably younger, but had “an old head on young shoulders”. She didn't belong down here and was watching us, curious to what we were doing. I thought I saw a shadow behind Brian, and at the same time he turned and looked over his shoulder. He confirmed that he was also picking up on a woman. I did feel that someone in this area had suffered a stroke, and the right side of my face felt numb, as if I had been to the dentist and had a large anesthetic. Shortly before the end of the vigil, we compared notes as we had all come up with names. I had Mary, Brian had Josephine and Emma had Mary Jo. Danae had Harriet.
Our third vigil was in the two rooms to either side of the altar area. We started on the right, and it felt to me as if at some point some of the wall, or the ceiling had come down. Again a wartime event. I was concerned that it was going to fall on Emma. I also found it difficult to breathe in here, although it could have been caused by dust. We moved across to the second room, and I leant against the wall next to the door. This room felt very comfortable, although I did feel the need to whisper in here. Part way through the vigil, Laura came across and opened the door to ask if we had been moving the door. I can confirm that we hadn't. Shortly after that we heard footsteps on the carpet outside the door, similar to when Laura approached. The team in the main hall confirmed that no-one had approached the door at that time. I noticed that Brian seemed quite irritated when he was calling out in here.
We then held a group vigil in the main hall, and this was quiet for me. Following this several of us walked down to the pier head. From a paranormal point of view, this was quiet for me, although the area around the pier head felt very feminine. I think any feelings I had down here were my own, as I love looking out over the sea.
This was an interesting investigation, especially the basement, as we had the opportunity to compare notes whilst we were packing away, and it seems that everyone had a similar experience down there. Definitely one of those places I would like to go back to.
We started off in the main hall. No responses to calling out and no signs of activity. At one point I thought that I had seen someone walk past the main door. I checked the area and I could not find anything.
Our second vigil was in the basement. We had been calling out for a while with no response. I was stood with my back to the door and I was sure I heard someone say “turn around”. What happened next I am still finding hard to put into words. I could see / sense / feel a woman. I was shaking, but not scared. It was not a figure or solid shape. It was more like a watery mist. It felt like she wanted to know what we were doing there. She was a larger lady, maybe a nurse or matron. She seemed to be nice and not angry that we were there, just interested. I got the name Josephine. The 3rd vigil was in the Small rooms. In the right room I got the name Lester but nothing else.
In the left room I was very impatient. I seemed to lose interest in what we were doing. We could hear footsteps outside the door but none of the other groups were outside.
Given my experience in the basement, this has to go down as one of my favourite investigations to date. I would love to return and spend more time investigating this great building.
The location of this investigation was incredible the Chapel itself is breathtaking but trying to imagine the sheer size of the original hospital buildings is impossible.
We started our first vigil in the small rooms at the sides of the pulpit, as soon as I entered the room to the right I felt sick and disorientated. We settled in the room and began calling out it wasn't long before I heard footsteps coming from above us, this was very interesting considering the rooms above where completely off bounds due to health and safety so there couldn't have been anyone up there. I heard footsteps and shuffles inside the room and above several times during the period we were in this room.
We moved onto the room on the left hand side, I felt more uneasy in this room and constantly felt like I was swaying. We could hear footsteps coming from above and shuffling, we also heard what could only be described as the wheels from a trolley.
After about ten minutes in this room my neck began to feel really hot and I felt quite claustrophobic and my neck began to swell, I felt so uncomfortable and had to move towards the door, after another 5 minutes the sensation had completely disappeared.
Our next vigil we conducted in the main hall, we sat down and tried to stay as still as possible so that any footsteps could not be confused with anyone else in the group. I began to feel a dull pain at the top of my arm which would then work its way down my arm, it was very uncomfortable. Being such a large room I was constantly getting shadows moving out the corners of my eyes, even though everyone was sat completely still.
Our last vigil we went outside onto the grounds and walked down towards the waterfront, when I got to the water I had an urge to wade out into the water and in my head I had an image of someone standing out in the water up to their chest. It was a disconcerting feeling and I felt very uncomfortable on my walk back up to the chapel.
The overall feeling on this vigil was awe, there is so much history in this place that even though it was very old the atmosphere was very electric for me. I would love to come back one day and do some more investigating.
This had been a location that I had wanted to investigate for some time. Being local to the Southampton area I was aware of some of the history of the location and how the Heritage Centre was once the Chapel for a very large Military Hospital that served both World Wars.
On arrival Brian and I carried out a walk around with the host and decided where best to put the tech set up.
We deployed Night Vision CCTV Cameras on the upper level looking down to the main hall of the building, one camera on the spiral stairs looking up the staircase that leads to the spire and the third camera we placed in the basement. We also placed a Geo-Phone and Static Voice Recorder on the staircase.
We then joined our teams and the investigation began.
Vigil 1 - The Left & Right Rooms at the End of the Main Hall
To start with I joined the team with Julie, Abbie and Laura and we went to the right hand small storage room at the end of the main hall.
Laura was using a Sonic Ear Super Amplifier to bring out back ground sound and also to try and capture any real time EVP or Disembodied Voices. We all took turns using this bit of kit and it soon became clear that this was one piece of tech kit that we, as a team, definitely do not have enough of! EMF was tested using a K2 Meter but we had no readings, nor did we have any unexplained activations on the device in this room.
We all picked up on the sound of footsteps using the amplifier, these came from the upper level where there were no members of the team.
After a short period in this room we made our way across the hall to the left hand storage room. Once again we set up the amplifier. We heard more footsteps and movements coming from the upper level that was still empty. I also heard what sounded like the turn of a squeaky wheel, like you would find on a trolley. At times whilst using the amplifier I also thought I could hear very distant back ground noise, like you would get in a busy building. It was very faint, like a distant radio station that you can't quite tune into!
During the investigation of this room Abbie began to feel like someone had their hands on her neck, she stood up to move and Laura held the K2 Meter to her neck area, the device instantly lit round to the red then back to green and all the way to red once again. Having a K2 Meter activate into the red (its highest setting) is caused by a large disruption to the electromagnetic field.
We had one more spike about two minutes later near the door, on this occasion the device activated to the orange - still a fairly high reading and definitely not attributable to back ground readings (of which there were none).
We then moved into the main hall where we set up our vigil on the right hand side of the building. We picked up more footsteps and strange sounds on the amplifier and on more than one occasion I swore I saw a shadow or two moving on the other side of the room. However, I think this may have been down to my eyes in the dark room. I will add though that other team members had reported seeing shadows move in this room. We had no K2 activations and with time running short we split into two teams for the final hour with the main body of the team heading out to the grounds whilst Laura, David and I ventured to the basement!
VIGIL 2 - BASEMENT
I was keen to investigate this area of the building, as I was aware that Brian had experienced something in this area earlier in the investigation.
We set ourselves up and carried out a sweep with the K2 meter, the basement was home to some pretty heavy duty electrical breakers, I was surprised at the low levels of EMF that they kicked out and it caused us no issues in using the K2 meter. However we had no activations.
Once again we used Laura's amplifier and David (using it for the 1st time) picked up on the sound of footsteps. Laura said the name Abigail Rose popped into her head. At this time I was using the amplifier and David said 'Abigail Rose, there is a sick soldier in the hospital, can you go and help him?' On finishing his question I heard the word 'YES' in a whisper come through on the headphones. I also felt like my arm was pushed slightly. Then within a few seconds I got the sound of someone choking or trying to breathe, on the headphones. Neither of the others heard it, however, it was so clear it was almost as if whoever was making the sound was stood right in front of me. It was such a nasty sound that I actually ripped the head phones off! I could not explain this sound and unfortunately I was the only one to hear it and I'm not easily shocked. 'All too soon it was the end of the night and time to get the kit packed up.
Tech Evidence Review
I have spent the week after the investigation going through the CCTV footage, my digital photos and my portable IR camera footage. Unfortunately none of this picked up anything out of the ordinary.
I have reviewed the audio from the voice recorder placed with the Geo-Phone on the stairs. The Geo-Phone did not activate however at just past 12 minutes into the recording I have the sound of someone crying out for around 20 seconds. I have more work to do on cleaning this audio up.
I am yet to finish reviewing the voice recorder I had with me during the vigils.
This was a great location and we picked up on some very strange audio recordings. I would have liked to get something on camera but as always this is the hardest evidence to capture.
I would love to return to the Heritage Centre for a follow up investigation and look to build on the things we caught in this one.
I was so excited to be visiting my local landmark on this investigation having run, walked and cycled past it on so many occasions. This was going to be a real treat!
Vigil 1 - Basement
I sat myself down on the floor next to the boiler equipment with Emma, and after a while I got the feeling there was someone behind me and got the name Mildred. I felt increasingly uneasy and felt as if the person behind me did not want us down there. Maria mentioned that she was picking up on a matron-like figure who was displeased about us being there and was not going to respond to any of our requests when calling out.
I got to the point where I did not want to sit there so I moved into the corridor. There were lots of 'corner of the eye' type phenomena; in fact I have never experienced so much of this phenomenon in any previous investigations.
Vigil 2 - Hall
We all settled down and started calling out. My head started to ache which didn't feel like a normal 'headache' it was mostly on the one side of my head, and I got the impression that it was a head injury and at one point it felt like my hair was all matted and stuck to my head as if it was covered in blood and I also had a pain behind my eyes. I got the names William, Thomas and Robert although I felt that it was William that was affecting me.
During the vigil I saw two strips of light go across the ceiling, the kind of light you see when a car passes. However, we decided it could not be a car as the lights were far too high. Again there were lots of 'corner of the eye' type phenomena and we heard what I thought sounded like a short sharp laugh, like a 'HAH' noise.
My head, neck and shoulder continued to ache throughout this vigil even though I tried to keep my head and shoulders moving so I didn't seize up which sometimes happens after sitting in one place for so long.
Vigil 3 - Rooms off the hall
Left hand room
I continued to have the head pain during this vigil as if 'William' was following me round. Nothing else unusual was experienced in this room.
Right hand room
The atmosphere in this room was so much different than the other room. The only way I can describe it is the feeling of being drugged up and completely out of it. I could not stop laughing almost as if I'd had a whiff of nitrous oxide.
Vigil 4 - Hall
We joined together as a group on this vigil in the hall. I sat at the opposite end to where I was previously and again experienced more 'corner of the eye' phenomena.
During the vigil I felt a constant draught which was right in front of me that came on quite suddenly, and coincided with another team member walking past me so I thought this was what caused the draught but it stayed constant for ages after and did not cease until I got up at the end of the vigil.
We spent a small amount of time outside and walked down to the pier. Walking down to the pier was very creepy and atmospheric but I did not experience anything unusual.
This familiar location certainly did not disappoint. I've never been to a location where there have been so much 'corner of the eye' phenomena. It was a fantastic night and I cannot wait to return.
It always excites me when a location you have hankered after for a very long time finally says yes to a request to investigate it, and none more so than this location. A bit of a 'mecca' for us local ghost hunters, the chapel rises majestically above the mature trees dotted around it and the beautiful surroundings are completed with the river's edge just a stone throw away. This was a building that held so much promise for us and we were very eager to explore its secrets.
Twelve of us were due to investigate this particular evening and as it turned out, it was a perfect figure. There were three vigil areas so it seemed logical to split into three teams. I was in team 2 with Marie, David and Emma F. We started in the basement and spread out a bit. David and I stood along the narrow corridor whilst Emma and Marie sat closer to the entrance. The temperature was an ambient 17°c and we felt very comfortable. We called out and things were a little quiet for a while but I then found myself folding my arms quite slowly and deliberately. I do fold my arms quite frequently but not usually in this manner. I immediately sensed a matron type lady who was very kindly but was advising us that what we were doing was a little disrespectful and did we realise this? I could see her with long dark hair parted down the middle and tied back in a bun. I felt she was still guarding her patients, even now, and we would not be able to communicate with anybody else as she was protecting them and their welfare.
Our time was soon up in the basement and we moved on to the main hall. The hall is the old chapel and is quite sizeable and we could spread ourselves out quite comfortably. However, we chose to stay down the far end (nearest to the altar) for the time being. We began to call out and at the start it was more sensing things than hearing things. However we were treated to strange light anomalies in the gallery and movement around the hall. At one point we all heard a very loud whisper which sounded like Raaah! It appeared to come from the other end of the hall but I checked with Abbie's team first. They were in one of the rooms just off the hall and astonishingly nobody but Julie had heard it and the only reason Julie had heard it was because she was wearing the 'sonic ear' we have no idea what made the noise but it was quite incredible.
A quick break followed and we carried on with our next vigil which was in the two rooms off the main hall. We settled into the first one and called out. I had the word 'Padre' in my head and I know we were in religious surroundings but I don't know where that came from as it is more a Mediterranean word. I also had the song, 'This little light of mine, I'm gonna let it shine' in my head which I would associate more with gospel choir. We were only in here for a short while and we then swapped with Amanda's team and went into the other little room. Straightaway the atmosphere completely lightened and we found ourselves a little giggly and indulging in banter. It was as we settled a little more that I felt a touch on my side, just like somebody had stroked it. Nothing more happened for me and it was soon time for another break before we carried on to our 'free' vigil. I chose to go down to the pier deck with some of the others. It was a very eerie walk but a beautiful view met us at the end. We hung around for a while and a couple of people remarked they felt a little depressed here. This was a strange way to feel considering how 'holiday' like it felt. Our time had all too soon come to an end but what a fantastic night! A big thanks to Donna for being the perfect hostess . I would love a return visit at some point as I feel there is more to be uncovered.
The Heritage Centre is in the main fields of the Royal Victoria Country Park, Netley. Based on Netley shore, it's a beautiful park that hides the gory results of war casualties treated there by dedicated nurses and doctors for just over a century. It was once the home of a Military hospital and all that remains is the Chapel housing the park area information centre, shop and museum. I had my wedding reception in the old YMCA building (now a hall and café for hire) so it holds many precious memories and I know the park very well. I often visit the park to walk my dogs and meet with friends. The park has always held a fascination for me and I've experienced paranormal events there previously so I was really looking forward to exploring the Heritage Centre.
During set up, David and I placed a wooden cross on the floor of the pulpit as a trigger object and then walked around the centre taking base line tests for temperature and EMF readings but found nothing unusual. However, while testing in the basement during set up, I experienced a cobwebby feeling on my arm near some machinery. I checked for any cobwebs that I might have walked into or a spider I'd disturbed but found nothing. I sensed or felt that movement of objects and an apparition of sorts walking through a blocked up area in the wall had been witnessed by staff. A feeling of nausea and dizziness overtook me and I had to leave the basement. Once in the fresh air, I felt better. I'm not normally affected by basements or cellars so knew this was out of character for me.
Once assigned to our groups we began our vigil in the basement. I was in a team with Maria, Marie and David who all commented on how oppressive and uneasy we felt in there. Although apprehensive, I did not experience any nausea this time. Initial baselines showed no fluctuation on the KII meter and the ambient temperature in the room was between 14 - 15 degrees centigrade. After a short while Marie moved from one area beside me as she felt uneasy - as if someone was about to come from behind her. I also felt uncomfortable sitting by the door, as if we were being watched and I felt 'in the way'. I began calling out and felt a female presence but couldn't hear a response. Neither of the KII meters were showing any abnormalities. I began to think about my Godmother who was a matron just as Maria said she felt the presence of a woman who felt like a matron. She was aware that she had folded her arms in an odd way and felt like 'we'd been caught somewhere we shouldn't be.' I heard the name Catharine and when I repeated it was told, 'Sister Catharine.' I felt a tight sensation on my neck as if I had a high collar on which Maria said would've been the part of the nurses uniform at the time. Whilst this was happening I allowed my pen to touch paper as a chance for any spirit to use me for automatic writing. This produced a childlike drawing of a face with a smirk. Towards the end of our allotted time, I was touched very gently on the centre of my back with what felt like the palm of a hand. I couldn't identify what emotion it was meant with as Maria asked whether it was a 'that's enough dear' or a 'time to go now' feeling. We left the basement knowing that some contact had been made and moved to our next vigil.
Our next area was the main hall and worship area of the chapel. We positioned ourselves on one side and settled down to listen. Baseline tests of the KII showed no fluctuation and temperature had remained stable at 17.4° C. David heard breathing behind him but wasn't sure if it was the fire exit doors echoing any wind from outside. Although Maria checked the area and doors behind him, there was no change in temperature. Marie kept seeing a light flick across the ceiling. Unsure if it was a torch, we didn't check outside for anyone. We then realised it was crossing the ceiling without any breaks. If the light was from a torch outside, the walls in-between the windows would have created breaks in the light. I also saw one of the light flashes and couldn't justify it coming from equipment on the balcony or from anyone up there as the level was empty.
At one point, I felt a pain in my chest and breathing was laboured so asked Spirit to take it off me. It's possible the energy could relate to me with these symptoms but I'm very glad they took them away again. I heard a slight shuffling of feet but couldn't be sure if it was someone on the team moving. A feeling of sitting on the floor, holding my knees, crying and rocking to and fro came to mind. While I was sat on the floor, I felt as though I was at the end of someone's bed and in my head could see there were 16 beds on our side of the room. With this image I heard snoring from the bottom right hand corner, near the cased nurses' uniform. As soon as Maria and I acknowledged the snoring we heard a loud sigh. That was exciting as the whole group heard it, including Julie in the side room with the door shut! After a quick check, we found no one had made the sound so called out asking them to make another sound or sign that they were there with us. Nothing audible to the group occurred but I heard what I can only describe as a 'bloody' cough - as if someone's just had heart surgery or a lung infection or TB. I also repeatedly heard the phrase, “Have you heard?” but couldn't place it as nothing else followed.
After a short break, our group moved into the left side vestry. I got the impression of a portly gentleman and a skinny man who was hunched over slightly. Something touched my head and thinking it may be a spider I looked up but couldn't see anything. I felt where'd I'd been touched and can only describe the feeling as if someone had used the tips of their fingers and fiddled with my hair in the centre of my head. We had a short session in there and then moved into the right hand vestry room where, once settled, we all had difficulty maintaining composure and couldn't stop giggling. Marie had said it was as if she was on laughing gas and just felt relaxed. We heard a creak from a display board beside me that was standing alone and out of contact of other materials. With no one moving from their seats to make floor boards move we weren't sure what could have caused it so called out but no responses were heard. Maria checked the temperature which had dropped 3°C since the initial tests. The energy definitely felt female in there. I felt that the room had been used by a matron or dominant woman. As we left the room, our giggles subsided but we couldn't explain why we had felt so giggly.
The second last vigil was back in the main hall of the chapel with more of the team. We placed ourselves around the room and waited. As I sat on the bench by the wall, I sensed a great compassion and love in the hall: an overwhelming feeling of love as if I'd been to healing at church. Words such as Harvey and Captain came to me followed by the image of a man in uniform - high ranking - with a walking stick. I became aware that my elbow and forearm had been touched ever so lightly. No one was near enough to touch me as the team were scattered all over the room. I kept feeling apprehensive about the left side of me where the nurses' uniform cabinet stood and felt afraid to get up and look round past the display board before the corner. I couldn't explain why - I just knew I didn't want to move from where I was. My attention was then drawn to the right vestry door and felt I was waiting for someone to come out. Although I couldn't see any movement I sensed something there, other members of the team had also said that they felt the same from that area.
For our final vigil, the whole team moved outside to where the old pier would have started on the shore front as our host had said she'd experienced something here in the past. I felt comfortable with people around me but knew I wouldn't be so confident walking on my own as the path and trees felt foreboding and oppressive, despite the open space around me. It was fairly blustery and slightly chilly by now as it was gone midnight. We spread out a little to tune in to the area. Standing by the benches and railings, I got the impressions of two women, one who was older, enjoyed sitting watching the world on water go by, the second, a younger lady who was relieved, albeit temporarily, to be out of the hospital and in the fresh air with thoughts of home but with an underlying anxiety of what and who else was incoming. Looking back at the chapel, my eyes were drawn to the right hand window of the tower but nothing notable was seen or felt. I really enjoyed the opportunity to investigate this building and a prominent section of the grounds. It was an interesting night that I would gladly do again.