The Ten Spookiest Churches in the World

Are you brave enough to read this? Are you easily ‘spooked’ out? Would you dare to visit one of these spine-chilling churches late at night? Because… when the congregation’s away, the ghosts come out to play…

  1. Newby Church, North Yorkshire, UK

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A hologram of the Emperor from Star Wars? No, it’s the ghost of a medieval monk! Conclusive evidence that some spirits are not camera shy. Taken in 1963 by the Reverend Lord, this spectral snap-shot continues to perplex experts the world over. Psychics have speculated that it may be the ghost of a 16th century friar who treated plague victims.

  1. Westminster Abbey, London, UK

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Westminster Abbey may be an iconic British landmark, but with over 3000 burials registered on the site, it boasts an impressive array of terrifying tenants! Notable inhabitants include: a Benedictine monk who mysteriously materialises in the early evening, and a sombre soldierly spirit (said to be the ghost of the ‘Unknown Warrior’ who is entombed inside the abbey itself).

  1. Christ Church, Alexandria, Virginia, USA

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The perfect setting for Stephen King’s next blood-curdling blockbuster, Christ Church, Virginia, is sensationally spooky! Sinister sightings of spectral civil-war soldiers in the graveyard are commonplace and ensure that this national monument is a popular haunt for avid ghost hunters. Thirty four Confederate troops were interred in a mass grave, and some tourists even claim to have captured their armed apparitions on celluloid.

7. Borley Church, Essex, UK

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Borley became world famous thanks to ghost hunter extraordinaire Harry Price. Mysterious tapping sounds and unexplained footsteps around the building have been reported by witnesses. But perhaps the most disturbing phenomenon of all has taken place in the crypt. Investigators have been unable to explain how coffins have been bizarrely moved from their original positions despite the door being locked!

6. Most Holy Trinity Church, New York, USA

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Anyone who has seen ‘Poltergiest’ will know the occupational hazard that comes with disrespecting the deceased. The spirits of those interred in an old burial ground beneath the school of Most Holy Trinity Church are said to linger after dark. Spine-tingling tones of eerily ethereal voices coupled with disturbingly disembodied footsteps resonate. Lights in the gym hall mysteriously switch on and off, as if the dead protest a denial of dignity.

  1. Frauenkirche, Munich, Germany

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The black sinister footprint at the doorway of the Frauenkirche in Munich is said to have been made by the Devil himself! Legend has it that he offered to pay for the building of the church provided it had no windows. The builder accepted his satanic salary and slyly positioned the columns so that the church windows cannot be seen from the Devil’s position! When the wind howls eerily around the Gothic towers it is believed to be Lucifer expressing his anger.

  1. Church of St Wystan, Repton, UK

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From the ghoulish goblin who lives atop the spire, to the peculiar misty spirits who dwell in the graveyard, St Wystan’s Church is a hive of weirdness. Locals speak of strange supernatural figures appearing during the witching hour around the church. The spirit of a seventeenth century grave-digger is also said to linger among the tombstones.

  1. Basilique du Bois-Chenu, Domremy La-Pucelle, France

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Dedicated to Joan of Arc who was burnt alive at the stake after being accused of witchcraft by the English, the Basilique du Bois-Chenu is a well known spooky hotspot. Joan was said to have experienced divine visions as a young girl living in the village. Her ghost has been sighted on numerous occasions around the church, returning to visit her childhood home.

2. Mont Saint Michel, Normandy, France

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Divine intervention played a role in the building of the Abbey of Mont Saint Michel when the Arch Angel Gabriel appeared before the Bishop Aubert of Avranches and instructed him to build a holy structure. Mysterious monks and the ghost of Captain Louis d’Estouteville (who defeated the English in 1434) now haunt this unique location. The ghost of the soldier is often sighted guarding the ramparts, loyally performing his duty to the King of France.

1. Lucedio Abbey, Trino, Italy

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Terrifying tales of torture, murder and dark rituals prompted the Pope to close Lucedio Abbey in the eighteenth century. Its horrifying history is equally as disturbing as the weird inexplicable fog which appears around the building, and the sinister evil ‘presence’ which can be experienced in the crypt. Several monks were found buried in a perfect circle and were all seated! Even more bizarrely, their bodies were naturally preserved. Italy’s most haunted place… were the abbots practising some sort of sinister sorcery?

The author of this article is David Fox who is a freelance writer and entertainer based in the UK. Visit David’s website for more details: David Fox Magician.

Poltergeist Hauntings – Mischievous Spirits or Misplaced Energy?

”…in the nineteenth century, investigators of poltergeist phenomena observed that children are usually present, and one of them often seems to be the ‘focus’ of the disturbance…”

Colin Wilson

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Poltergeists are infamous in all cultures

In early August 2016 police were summoned to a property on Stonelaw Road, Rutherglen, Scotland. A series of bizarre disturbances had been reported, and the highly experienced officers were soon to be confronted with a profoundly perplexing situation. Doors opened and closed by their own accord, clothing was hurled through the air by unseen hands, and the pet dog mysteriously levitated on top of a seven foot hedge. Naturally the events caused extreme distress for both tenants and police officers alike. A more detailed account of this case can be found on The Metro website, 13th August 2016: Police Witness Paranormal Events.

Such phenomena are commonly grouped under the term of ‘Poltergeist’ activity (which comes from the German for ‘noisy ghost’). These mischievous spirits are said to be responsible for a myriad of weird occurrences such as: moving furniture, creating disturbing sounds, switching on and off electrical appliances, and even physically attacking people and animals. Acclaimed Occult author Colin Wilson identified these actions to be the ‘basic characteristics of the poltergeist’ and noted that they always form the same ‘pattern’. Indeed, perhaps what makes them so disturbing is that, unlike traditional ghosts, they do not assume any particular shape or form. Poltergeists can merely be described as ‘forces’ or mysterious ‘energies’ which happen to linger around particular people – normally young children or adolescents.

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Tobe Hooper’s cult classic raised awareness of poltergeist phenomenon

Tobe Hooper’s cult movie ‘Poltergeist’ (1982) propelled this troublesome type of spirit into the popular contemporary mainstream. The young daughter in the movie was very much the focus of the paranormal activity which occurred in and around the family home. However, just six years prior to the movie’s release, the story of the Enfield Poltergeist in the UK had caused an international sensation. Peggy Hodgson and her children were plagued by such activity at their home in the north eastern borough of London. Strange forces shifted heavy furniture, slammed doors and a police officer even observed an arm chair move unaided across the floor. Perhaps one of the most disturbing images of poltergeist phenomena is that of Janet Hodgson (Peggy’s daughter) being thrown violently through the air in her bedroom. The case was examined thoroughly be a variety of agencies and, although Peggy’s daughters admitted playing tricks at times, much of the phenomena cannot be conclusively explained.

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One of the most disturbing images of poltergeist activity – The Enfield Poltergeist

Since antiquity, the poltergeist has made an appearance in the folklore of virtually every culture throughout the world. Stone throwing was usually the first indication that such a spirit was present, and it could even occur during daylight hours. The curious tale of The Drummer of Tedworth in 1661 is one of the oldest documented accounts of this phenomenon in the British Isles. The musician had his instrument confiscated and held at a local house which caused a variety of chaotic incidents to take place. It was only when the drum was returned to its owner and he was promptly instructed to leave town that the disturbances ceased.

Indeed, there are countless eye-witness accounts and tales of poltergeist activity in the media every year. This raises the question of what actually causes such phenomena to occur – surely there must be a logical explanation behind all of this? We live in an age of unbridled technological advancement, and queer notions of malevolent spirits seem somewhat medieval and outdated to say the least. Perhaps poltergeist activity can be explained as an aspect of what Colin Wilson termed ‘Faculty X’? This is the term he gave to the largely latent range of exceptional faculties human beings may possess – but of which we are presently unaware. Could it be that poltergeist activity is actually ‘created’ in some way by excessive energy which has built up in and around the sphere of certain individuals?

Like many free-thinkers, Wilson believed that the overwhelming majority of human beings are unaware of the massive potential which exists within their psyches. The state of the contemporary adult could be easily compared to a toddler sitting at the controls of a jumbo jet. We have yet to fully appreciate just how powerful the human species can become and how limited our current state of consciousness actually is. If poltergeist activity really is created by individual persons, it could be grouped in with other phenomena such as telekinesis (the capability to move physical objects using the mind), premonitions (predicting future events in dreams and visions) and thaumaturgy (the ability to heal others at will).

David Fox is a professional free-lance writer and entertainer who lives in the UK. Visit his website to find out more about him: David Fox Magic.

Spirits on Film?

Is it really possible to photograph those who have passed on?

Magician David Fox explores…

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Sir Victor Goddard’s RAF squadron circa 1919

This year we commemorate the one hundredth anniversary of the outbreak of World War One and the above photograph of an RAF squadron was taken in 1919 after the cessation of hostilities. The men and women in this image all served in the same unit during the conflict alongside Sir Victor Goddard (who took the shot). Uncannily a mysterious spectral face can be seen to the rear of the fourth gentleman from the left on the back row.

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The image of Freddy Jackson, who had died two days before, appears behind the back row.

Members of the squadron quickly identified the man to be Freddy Jackson; a mechanic, who had been tragically killed in an accident two days before the photograph was taken. Indeed, Jackson’s funeral took place on the day of this group shot and his subsequent appearance in the image raises some profound questions. Is it possible to capture evidence of an afterlife using photographic equipment? Or is this merely an example of an elaborate hoax conducted by individuals of superior technological wisdom?

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Newby Church altar 1963. The photograph was taken by Reverend Lord and experts cannot explain the mysterious shrouded figure.

Ghost hunters, psychic investigators and spiritualists have long argued that it is indeed possible to record evidence of the departed by using even the most basic of recording equipment. In recent years it is not only photographs of supposed spirit forms which have entered the public domain, but a whole variety of film clips boasting both visual and audio ‘evidence’ of a seemingly otherworldly nature. Exponents of this viewpoint argue that experts can visit notorious venues of preternatural phenomena and use their sensitivity and awareness to successfully ‘record’ the activities of the deceased. So-called ‘ghost-hunts’ at apparently haunted venues have become commonplace throughout the UK and have provided a much welcome source of revenue to hoteliers.

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The gardens to the rear of Thrumpton Hall in Nottinghamshire. Note the curious misty ‘figure’ to the centre left.

My vocation takes me to many spectacular locations throughout the British Isles and it is incredible how many venues I perform at which are said to be ‘haunted’. It always strikes me as nothing short of extraordinary how even the most level-headed and austere of hotel managers can suddenly divulge his or her own spine-chilling account of nocturnal queerness on the premises. Such people seem to be fully convinced in the existence of an afterlife and the occurrence of supernatural activity around their venues. Indeed, prior to most performances I always take a few photographs around the hotels, halls and stately homes I am fortunate enough to perform magic at. On a closer inspection, it is rather peculiar that I do often find unusual shapes, orbs and irregularities among the images. For example, the most recent being the misty ‘figure’ in the trees to the rear of Thrumpton Hall in Nottinghamshire (see photograph above). I since discovered that this venue is also said to be haunted by the ghost of a servant girl who took her own life.

For more information about the author, why not visit David’s website: David Fox Illusionist Extraordinaire

Telly Savalas’s Ghostly Encounter…

The Man Who Immortalised ‘Kojak’

Magician David Fox explores…

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The late, great Telly Savalas is most certainly not the type of personality one would associate with anything of a supernatural nature. Charismatic, straight-talking and with talent in abundance, Savalas became a household name from the 1970s onwards for his masterful portrayal of the indefatigable New York detective Kojak. Revered throughout Hollywood and beyond, the world-famous actor, singer and celebrity passed on in January 1994. However, it is a curious tale from the late 1950s which caught my attention several years ago…

A Stranded Motorist

 

The story involves Savalas’s bizarre experience when driving home from a social event in Long Island during the small hours. Accounts vary as to where he had been, but Savalas became stranded on a lonely stretch of highway after his car ran out of petrol. Pondering his rueful situation, he decided to leave his vehicle and seek out a service station.

A fortuitous encounter?

Eventually, after travelling on foot for some time, a passing motorist spotted the lonesome pedestrian, stopped his vehicle, and kindly offered Savalas a ride. The actor recounted how the driver of the car appeared to be rather unusual and spoke in a curiously high pitched and unnerving tone. Nonetheless he persevered with this rather eccentric nocturnal Samaritan, collected petrol at the station, and accepted a ride back to his abandoned vehicle. The mysterious driver even lent Savalas a few dollars to pay for the fuel and, feeling very embarrassed, the actor requested his name and telephone number so that he could return the funds to him in due course. Savalas also remembered the driver speaking suddenly about a relatively obscure baseball player. The sudden change in conversational topic had been rather unsettling to say the least. On arriving back at his car, Savalas duly thanked the man for all his help and bid him goodnight.

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Strange news…

Savalas returned to work the next day and quickly forgot about the events of the previous evening until he happened to notice a headline on the front page of a local newspaper. The story was about the sudden death of an up-and-coming baseball star. Bizarrely it was the very sportsman who the driver had spoken of during their journey together. Savalas decided to call the telephone number he had been given in order to return the borrowed money and put closure on the event. However, on telephoning, matters took an even more mysterious and disturbing twist….

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Who was the strange driver who gave Telly a ride?

The man from nowhere…

On phoning the hand-written number, Savalas was greeted by a woman’s voice. He promptly requested to speak to the gentleman who had assisted him the previous night. In no uncertain terms, the actor was informed that the man he asked for had been dead for some time. It eventually transpired that the woman at the end of the line was the ‘late’ driver’s widow and, after some deliberation, Savalas eventually managed to arrange a meeting with the lady.

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Tough guy. The only type of spirit we would usually associate with Telly would be found in a bar.

Fact or fiction?

Savalas showed the woman the scrap of paper which bore the telephone number and name of the spectral driver. The handwriting appeared to match with that of the deceased. He also discovered that the gentleman had shot himself through the throat which may have explained why his ‘ghost’ spoke with such a high-pitched accent.

Watch Telly Savalas’s accont on Youtube:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Axdkv0_kJZQ

Want to know more about the author? Visit David Fox Magic for more details.

David Fox Magician

David Fox is a professional magician who is based in the Midlands, UK, and travels throughout the world performing his unique brand of prestidigitation. He specialises in close-up magic, parlour magic and stage magic. Magician David Fox creates many of his own incredible effects and sensational illusions.

Intersted in the performing arts? For music, art and inspiration, check out my friend’s new blog: BarbaraCalvertBenner

Clifton Hall: A Site of Supernatural Phenomena?

An Idyllic Country Manor…

Nestled away in the picturesque environs of Clifton Conservation Village to the south west of Nottingham city centre, the imposing Georgian architecture of Clifton Hall boasts a certain majestic charm. A striking reminder of a bygone age when the Lords of the Manor of Clifton celebrated their wealth and influence throughout Nottinghamshire and beyond. The hall has a colourful history, and in 1631 King Charles I resided there at the behest of Sir Gervase Clifton. Indeed, since the estate was sold off by the Clifton family in 1958, it has been utilised by several owners for much different purposes. Firstly as a girls’ grammar school until the 1970s, then by Nottingham Trent University, and later as private luxury accommodation. However, it was under its most recent ownership that Clifton Hall sprang to the attention of both local and national media outlets.

Haunted Hall?

Reports of Clifton Hall being a site of unusual and inexplicable phenomena would appear to date from the time when it was used as a grammar school from 1958 to 1976. There are accounts of strange eerie noises and an unsettling atmosphere in specific locations around the main building. An eye-witness account of the ghost of a young woman in the vicinity is also most revealing, and there appears to have been speculation about supernatural activity within rooms which had been sealed off. Sceptics would argue that such locations are ripe for curious tales of intrigue which are often intended to scare younger boarders and are the mere products of vivid adolescent imaginations. Nonetheless, it is the sensational experiences of the Rashid family, who moved into the hall in 2007, which have attracted much attention and speculation.

A Tormented Family…

In 2007 businessman Anwar Rashid acquired Clifton Hall for the sum of £3.6 million and moved into the property with his wife and four children. Within eight months the family would have left their new home, driven away by seemingly disturbing and unsettling forces from another dimension. An intriguing cavalcade of psychic phenomena contributed to the family’s hasty decision to quit their stately accommodation. Eerie events included: sinister spectral voices, ghostly sightings, and, perhaps most upsetting of all, the manifestation of blood stains upon one of the children’s bed sheets. Mr Rashid even went so far as to invite psychic investigators to Clifton Hall to reckon with its demonic denizens. The coordinator of this metaphysical inquiry curiously concluded that the venue was one of the most unsettling places he had ever visited, even throughout the hours of daylight. The family ceased mortgage payments in 2008 and since then it has been on the market awaiting a new buyer to negotiate with its supposedly supernatural tenants…

Illusion or Reality?

Did ghosts and supernatural phenomena really drive a family away from their new home? Is Clifton Hall truly an unholy lair of queer and unnatural events? Or perhaps there is a more logical explanation for the strange occurrences which would appear to have been experienced by a variety of individuals since its days as a grammar school? Last week I happened to be in Clifton meeting a client in order to prepare for a performance of magic at a function he is currently organising. On the way home, I decided to visit the hall and took some photographs around the area. The photograph below was taken at the main gate. Strangely a friend of mine (who is a psychic) examined my handiwork and felt a curious ‘presence’ at the central upper window in the shot. On a closer analysis of the picture, it is possible to see some unusual whispy ‘faces’ on both the central panes of the window. What do you think? Could this be evidence of some sort of weird supernatural manifestation, or is it simply the reflections of the trees in the sunlight?

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Below is a close-up shot of the window. It does look rather strange and no other window in any of the other photographs looks like this. I prefer to keep an open mind and reserve judgement.  The red and blue circles mark the possible outlines of spectral ‘faces’.

Clifton Ghosts

Haunted Venues

Make Your Next Hotel Stay An Interesting One…

I am extremely fortunate to perform magic regularly at fantastic venues throughout the UK and beyond. My vocation frequently takes me off the beaten track to obscure locations which offer their own peculiar allurements and fascinations. Indeed, every hotel, restaurant, club, bar, or stately home has an exclusive charm and appeal. However, local legends, superstitions, and the ‘lore of land’ always continue to intrigue and amaze travellers the world over. Some places would appear to be steeped with curious rumours concerning ghosts, inexplicable occurrences, and mysterious utterances of possible occult phenomena. Thus, I decided to write about several interesting venues I have enjoyed performing at…

Makeney Hall Hotel

It is always a great pleasure to visit this beautiful hotel which is located in the serene landscape of the Amber Valley in Derbyshire. Derby itself was recently declared the ‘most haunted’ town in Britain, and the Derby Paranormal Hunters offer tours around places of supernatural interest. Makeney Hall is situated eight miles from Derby city centre and the present building dates from Victorian times. It certainly is a charming venue which is ideal for leisure breaks, weddings and corporate functions: http://www.akkeronhotels.com/Hotels/Central-and-Eastern-England/Makeney-Hall-Hotel The staff are extremely friendly and it was during a very interesting discussion with an employee that I first learned of the ghostly heritage of Makeney Hall. Stories of weird ‘presences’, inexplicable ‘figures’ appearing in hallways, and queer ‘rapping’ sounds aroused my curiosity. The gentleman in question had not experienced any of the aforementioned phenomena, however, a colleague of his seemed to genuinely believe that the building was haunted. Such unearthly tales may have developed from the times when Makeney Hall was used as a hospital.

The Ettington Park Hotel

Stratford Upon Avon is a magical town in its own right and is of course well known for its association with the bard. The dramatic neo-Gothic facades of The Ettington Park Hotel, which is to be found seven miles from the town centre, will enchant and captivate even the most seasoned of wayfarers. The hotel boasts several unearthly presences and specters which have been witnessed by a variety of people over the years: http://www.handpickedhotels.co.uk/hotels/ettington-park-hotel/History/ There would appear to be a multitude of psychic phenomena to be found, ranging from apparitions, to changes in temperature, and disembodied ethereal ‘voices’. As well as being a magnificent venue, the staff are always warm and welcoming. One employee I had the pleasure of chatting to openly discussed the existence of metaphysical happenings at the hotel and did firmly believe in the existence of ghosts. I look forward to performing magic at The Ettington Park Hotel on Christmas day and entertaining everyone whilst they enjoy the glowing hospitality. Hopefully the ghosts of Christmas past, present and future will appreciate the performance too and refrain from any spiritual heckling.

Mosborough Hall Hotel

The most recent wedding I performed at was that of Vickie and Stuart last Saturday in the pleasant environs of Mosborough Hall Hotel, Sheffield. It was a pleasure and a privilege to entertain everyone present and sample the first class hospitality of the venue. Prior to my performance, I took time to visit the hotel website and was amazed to discover that Mosborough Hall falls into the ‘haunted venue’ category: http://www.hauntedrooms.co.uk/mosborough-hall-hotel. This sixteenth century manor house clearly has a wealth of weird history for lovers of the uncanny to contemplate. Tales of a ‘large black dog’, ghostly ‘grey lady’, and of past owners calling upon the services of a local vicar to exorcise the building certainly do add to the mysterious charm of the location. Having said that, I was made to feel very welcome by the staff and the quality of the cuisine served in the restaurant is excellent. Any tales of ghosts or the supernatural can quickly be discounted within the modernised interior of the renovated manor house and spacious Chatsworth function suite. Indeed, on asking a member of staff about the possibility of psychic phenomena, I was assured that she had not witnessed anything strange. However, I always keep an open mind about these things…

Are There Are More Things In Heaven and Earth?

I consider myself very lucky to have performed magic for audiences at all of these wonderful venues and would highly recommend each to anyone planning a wedding, party, corporate event, or leisure break. Perhaps the possibility of witnessing something supernatural or uncanny during your stay can only entice you to visit? Most people are indeed intrigued by such mysteries and as Shakespeare himself said: ‘there are more things in heaven and earth’. I will be returning to all of these fine hotels in the future to perform magic and look forward to doing so. However, the ongoing prospect of learning about even more ‘haunted venues’ throughout the UK, and beyond, is always an interesting and intriguing aspect of my job as a professional magician.