“Pioneers in the field…. Leading the way with Paranormal Research in New Zealand” – Connor Biddle, Paranormal Encounters.
“I have much respect for the level of study Mark and his team have put into the paranormal phenomenon through the years. His work is interesting and very well researched.” – Murray Bott, U.F.O Researcher & NZ’s MUFON representative.
Paranormal New Zealand is the home of Haunted Auckland, a Paranormal Investigation and Research group.
Whether you’ve been following us since 2010, or just recently discovering us; WELCOME and thanks for joining in the fun, learning and adventures.
We are a dedicated group of paranormal enthusiasts, all having one thing in common – a passion and drive to find out as much as humanly possible about the mysterious and unknown field that is the Paranormal, as well as documenting New Zealand’s historical buildings and landmarks in their current state.
Paranormal (păr′ə-nôr′məl) adjective.
Paranormal events are purported phenomena described in popular culture, folk, and other non-scientific bodies of knowledge, whose existence within these contexts is described as beyond normal experience or scientific explanation. The term “paranormal” has existed in the English language since at least 1920. The word consists of two parts: “para” and “normal”. The definition implies that the scientific explanation of the world around us is “normal” and anything that is above, beyond, or contrary to that is “para”.
We’re always learning new things, so hope to pass that knowledge on to you all so that you might learn as we do, in this crazy but fascinating world of the paranormal.
Firstly a few things you should know about Haunted Auckland. We’re a small Auckland based team of friendly, well seasoned and enthusiastic researchers with differing levels of experience, knowledge, skills and expertise. Our investigators are intelligent, honest, compassionate and possess critically thinking (yet wide open) minds. We’re also very good listeners.
What we aren’t: We aren’t Ghost Busters, Ghost Hunters, Exorcists, Mediums, Clairvoyants or Psychics and we don’t do clearings, blessings or the ridding homes of alleged demons. We don’t do prayers, rituals, or bring in any religious elements to our work. We aren’t mental health experts or sleep disorder professionals.
We aren’t “Believers”. We also aren’t blinkered, close-minded and staunch sceptics.
While we are sceptical and doubtful of certain cases and ideas, we have seen and experienced enough in our time to realise that dedication to the research is definitely a worthwhile cause. Instead of blindly believing (or disbelieving), or just accepting what we are told is true and real, we prefer to seek out the answers ourselves through first-hand, “boots on the ground” investigation. Experimentation, observation and documentation. We don’t have all the answers and we don’t consider ourselves experts. We don’t make claims we can’t back up with evidence or reliable data.
We don’t charge anything for what we do. The opportunity to investigate a location and hopefully further our research is its own great reward.
What we are, is “real world” researchers. Learning by doing. Walking the talk. Substance over fluff.
We follow the Scientific Method as closely as we are able to; though it’s not always easy to create a fully controlled environment and the fact that true paranormal activity is sporadic and very rare means we don’t always have a lot to go on. Still, we do our best with what we have to work with at the time and go wherever it takes us.
We go to where the stories are coming from in order to see for ourselves. We talk to the people involved to get their sides to the occurrences.
Our conclusions are never really final and we find multiple return visits yield the best results; so have built up trusting relationships with quite a few locations within the historical communities in this country. Our clean and respected reputation within historical circles is something the team prides itself on, as it has grown over the last decade and is based on well over 200 investigation sessions within that time.
Exploration – Observation – Experimentation – Documentation … Ultimately leading to Interaction, Understanding and Conclusion.
Please check out our website and don’t hesitate to make contact if you have any queries or would like to know more about what we do. We’re always happy to talk about spooks!
Through the years the team have investigated:
- Auckland Civic Theatre
- North Head
- The Auckland Town Hall
- St James theatre
- Victoria Theatre
- The Howick Historical Village
- The Smith & Caugheys building
- Kinder House
- Lopdell House
- The Pumphouse Theatre
- The Bluestone Room
- Fort Takapuna
- Massey Homestead
- The Hard To Find Bookshop
- Hollywood Cinema
- Avondale Town Hall
- Alberton House
- Bell House
- Carrington (Unitec)
- The Queens Ferry Tavern
- Regent Theatre
- Ewelme Cottage in Parnell
- Laishly House and Blockhouse in Onehunga
- Puhoi Centennial Hall
- Kingseat Hospital
- Puhinui Homestead
- AUSA Building
- Helensville Museum
- Waiuku Museum
- Lake House Art Centre
- Molloy’s Antique Centre
- Whatipu Caves
- Capitol Theatre
- Gibbons Homestead
- Inverlochy House
- Waipukurau Hospital
- Tavistock Hotel
- The Masonic Hotel Napier
- Napier Prison
- Mokena Hotel
- Palace Hotel
- Grand Tavern – Te Aroha
- The Waitomo Caves Hotel
Central North Island
- Chateau Tongariro Hotel
- Vulcan Hotel (St Bathans)
- Larnach Castle
… as well as many private home visits around Auckland and surrounding towns and extensive investigation internationally.
Some of the services and experience we have on offer:
Research and Investigation of buildings, historical locations and businesses
Photo & video analysis
General paranormal consultation
Conferences / Public speaking
Educational talks & fundraising for historical locations
- Fremantle Prison – The Limestone Lodge10/01/2014Haunted LocationsFremantle Prison was home to some of Australia’s most notorious criminals, before it closed its doors in 1991. It has since become a popular haunt for those looking at experiencing the paranormal, and is quite well known for the dark, shadowy figures that call the now empty cell blocks home. History of the Limestone Lodge The area where Fremantle is situated was first colonised by the Swan River Colonists in 1829. These were ‘free settlers’, and in 1849 they petitioned the British government to have skilled convicts sent over as laborers. Soon thereafter seventy five prisoners arrived at the colony and were accommodated within the harbormasters warehouse until a permanent prison could be built. Between 1851 and 1859 the prison was constructed utilising the limestone from the nearby quarries. The first prisoners were moved to the still under construction gaol in 1855. Once construction had finished the ‘chain gangs’ were sent as labor for other public works, including the Fremantle Asylum. The prison was originally titled the ‘Convict Establishment’ but was also known colloquially as ‘the Limestone Lodge’ In 1867 Fremantle Prison received its long lived name. By this time, there were less than sixty convicts being held in the building, which was built to accommodate more than one thousand. As less convicts were being sent to Australia, numbers in the cell blocks declined, and in 1888 the final ship load of prisoners arrived. However, with the closing of the Perth Gaol and the gold rush of the 1890’s, Fremantle prison once again saw itself at full capacity. New areas were constructed and out dated buildings were converted for other uses, the bakery turned into accommodation for seventy women prisoners for example. An interesting fact is that when the prison was being constructed, large, deep shafts were sunk into the bedrock, so that water could be sourced from natural limestone aquifiers. This water was so clean and pure that soon the prisoners were sent to work manually pumping water for the surrounding colony. The want and need for this water was so great that over 1000 meters of horizontal tunnels were constructed under the prison, to allow better, more efficient access. Fremantle Prison was officially decommissioned in 1991, after 136 years of continual use. In earlier years, royal commissions suggested the prison for closure due to conditions within the prison, which had caused more than one riot. Notorious Inmates During its operating life, the prison executed 44 people, and has known some very notorious inmates, including, but not limited to: David John Birnie. David and his wife Catherine were a pair of serial killers who murdered four women (aged 15-31) at their Perth home – 3 Moorhouse Street, Willagee. The crime was known in the media as the Moorhouse Murders. David Birnie took his own life in 2005, the day before his court appearance for the rape of an inmate Eric Cooke, the Night Stalker. Cooke was the last man to be hanged in WA. Cooke committed 22 violent crimes, resulting in 8 deaths. His crimes baffled police due to their random nature. Cooke would also steal cars and commit the crimes before returning the stolen vehicles to the owners who were unaware. Cooke is buried in Fremantle Cemetery, his remains placed on top of child killer Martha Rendall (also executed at the prison). The Hauntings Prisoners, visitors and guards have all reported paranormal phenomena within Fremantles walls. A lot of activity is said to take place around the solitary cells and gallows. Apparitions are seen both day and night, objects have been moved and thrown within the cells by unseen forces and some people feel the almost unbearable sensation of dread and depression while walking the lonely corridors. One of the most disturbing encounters is that experienced by one gentleman as he was walking through section 1 (short terms, remand and juveniles). He was taking photos when he saw a shadow like figure walk out of one of the cells. It stood and turned to face him as it let out a yell/groan. This figure then bolted down a flight of stairs, its form disappearing as it did so. Only two out of thirteen shots of that section turned out, but unfortunately none to suggest the paranormal. Ashley Hall... Read more...
- Balgonie Castle – Fife, Scotland31/10/2018Haunted Locations / United KingdomThe castle was built by the Sibbalds, who held the property from before 1246, but passed by marriage to Sir Robert Lundie, later Lord High Treasurer, who extended the castle about 1496. James IV visited the castle in 1496, as did Mary, Queen of Scots, in 1565. It was sold in 1635 to Alexander Leslie, who fought for Gustavus Adolphus of Sweden during the 30 Years War and was made a Field Marshall. Leslie was captured at Alyth in Angus after the Battle of Dunbar in 1650, while on the losing side against Cromwell, and was imprisoned in the Tower of London, only the intervention of the Queen of Sweden saving his life. He died at Balgonie in 1661. Balgonie was captured and plundered by Rob Roy MacGregor and 200 clansmen in 1716. It was sold in 1824 to the Balfours of Whittinghame. The castle has undergone a long-running programme of restoration and is occupied. Balgonie is believed to be haunted, and ghostly voices and apparitions have been witnessed in the Great Hall. A skeleton was found in the floor of the great hall, during works in 1912 Even when the hall is empty, sounds of conversation could be heard all day and night. The actual words spoken, however, were not recognizable. At times peals of female laughter would ring from the empty hall. In the dining room a headless soldier and an old lady had been sighted often. Apparently home to many ghosts; its most famous spirit by far is the ‘Green Lady’, or Green Jeanie. The mysterious spectre, thought to be the spirit of one of the Lundies, has been seen in recent times, and was recorded in 1842 as being a ‘well-known ghost’. The hooded woman is apparently still very much a resident in the castle to this day. She’s described as being a ‘’pea green colour and walks behind the windows,” and “Always from left to right, never from right to left’’. The story goes that Green Jeanie is Mary, a young daughter of an early Laird of Balgonie, who was courting a local lad despite disapproval from her family. Their preferred – and more aristocratic – candidate fatally stabbed the young upstart but, before he died, the local lad had enough energy to stab his attacker in return. Mary later stumbled across their bodies and, much like in Shakespeare’s Tempest, died immediately from shock. Now she haunts Balgonie Castle alongside other spirits, including the ghost of a 17th century soldier and the spirit of a dog. The castle was used as a location for the TV series Outlander, and the movie Fairy Flag. Mark from Haunted Auckland visited Balgonie Castle in October 2018, with paranormal team, Scottish Paranormal.... Read more...
- New Zealand South Island Panther08/01/2014Kiwi CryptidsDoes a group of Large Mysterious Cats roam the wilds of Canterbury? A relatively unknown New Zealand cryptid is the South Island Panther. Sightings of these cats are confined mainly to the Canterbury area and have led to the suspicion that the animal or animals are escapees from a private collection. Sightings began in 1996 when a large black cat, about the size of a Labrador was seen by a woman who was mountain biking in the Twizel area. The cat was seen at a distance of about 30 metres. MAF was notified of the sighting and it was explained away as a misidentification of a large feral cat. However, the cat problem was to come back and haunt them when in August 1998 another large cat resembling a Mountain Lion was observed in the Dunstan Ranges near Cromwell, once again the animal was described as the size of a Labrador and having a dark orange – mustard coloured pelt. MAF dismissed it once again as another feral cat sighting. At the same time these sightings were coming in people in the Mataura area were seeing and animal similar in appearance to a Bobcat. July 1999 and another sighting of a large black panther was reported, this time however in the Mackenzie Country. A report also came in from a Pest Destruction Officer from Banks Peninsular. Also in July, a Mountain Lion was photographed crossing a paddock near Omarama, once again government officials investigated the sightings and once again, the conclusion reached was another case of mistaken identity involving the giant feral cats of the area, which they assured people could reach a weight of up to 14 kg in the wild. December of 1999 saw sightings of what has come to be known as the “Moeraki Mountain Lion”. This cat was seen by Canadian tourists as it sunned itself on rocks near Moeraki, South of Omaru. It was described as being distinctly Mountain Lion-like, which these tourists had themselves seen in their native habitat, about 3 metres long and golden coloured. The cat on being spotted sauntered from the rocks and disappeared from view. The tourists were met with some ridicule; the sighting was however given some serious consideration by a local restaurateur, who offered a reward for conclusive proof of the creature’s existence, none was ever forthcoming. Another cat to gain fame and a name was a large Mountain Lion-like animal seen in the Lindis Pass area in 1999. It was hiding in the undergrowth and photographed by a pair of British tourists and came to be known as the “Lindis Lion”. Early 2001 and the Ashford Black cat was once again seen in the Bushside area of Ashford Forest. The winter of 2001 brought renewed sightings on a farm in the Winterslow area of the Ashford Forest, it was another sighting of the big black cat, this time it was seen in a deer enclosure at twilight. A similar animal was also seen in the Anama area, and made this area its home for the next two years, creating sporadic sightings until 2003. A Black cat was also sighted in the Mayfield area near Ashburton in October. 2001 also saw the Fairlington area become the home of a large Black Cat. 2003 and yet again another sighting of the mystery cat in the Ashford forest area, this time however the owners of the property where the cat was sighted had noted strange behaviour among the stock on their property at the time the cat was sighted . November once again saw a team of investigators and an Orana Wildlife Park cat expert descend on the area and look for signs of the big cat’s presence, but nothing conclusive was found. October 2003 also brought renewed sightings of the Fairlington Cat, which was seen lurking behind a fence near the stockyards of the PPCS Meat works. 2005 and a new sighting of another large Black Panther and it was seen and photographed at Lake Clearwater, in the hills which overlook the Clearwater settlement. May of 2005 produced yet another Mountain Lion sighting, this time in Queenstown, by an Australian Tourist, the cat was seen in some scrub near the Heritage Hotel, described as being the size of a Golden Retriever Dog, but it moved and walked like a cat. With the descriptions there are three likely candidates for the species of cat found in the South Island. Each has a melanistic (Black) version, the first and most likely for the Black Cat sightings is the Black Panther, Phantera, Melanistic Leopards, Panthera pardus are also not unheard of and originate from South East Asia, and the last candidate is of course the American Mountain Lion, Felis concolor which also has a moderately common melanistic form. The diverse area of the sightings is not beyond the reach of any of these cats as they can easily cover 30 km per day and Canterbury’s climate would be well suited to any of these species, these animals would easily be able to sustain themselves on Canterbury’s ample rabbit and opossum population. Judging from the sightings more than one cat being involved is not and impossibility, the possibility of breeding occurring should not be overlooked. Why haven’t they been found? Cats such as these have remained elusive in the British Isles and continue to do so, unlike the British Cats we actually have a starting date for the phenomena, however the cats came to be in Canterbury, it all started in 1996. As many people are scared of the ridicule they will face in reporting sightings of these creatures and the many other cryptozoological animals that inhabit our country, I have no doubt that more people have seen these creatures, but are unwilling to come forward. To me this is a very narrow view as every New Zealander has the right to know and be proud of our Un-natural history. Yes I can understand reservations in some cases, as there are those people who would be more than willing to try to shoot these animals to bring back proof, if only for the fame and the monetary gain it would bring. I too can see the governmental departments that receive such reports, cringe at the amount of money that may have to be spent on expeditions that may end up as a waste of time and resources, or even their concern over panic as in the case of the Big Cat sightings. However, the New Zealand public also has a right to know these things exist and make up their own minds. Populations of Moehau, Waitoreke, and even perhaps Moa may exist in areas known only to a few people too scared of the response they may get to say anything, or are there those that do know these animals exist, but would much prefer they remain a mystery to the mainstream public. Preferring knowledge of their existence remained shared among a select few. ... Read more...
- Kinder House, Parnell – Auckland11/10/2015Haunted Locations / Historic Buildings / InvestigationsKinder House is located in Parnell, Auckland. Built in 1857, Kinder House is one of Auckland’s most notable stone buildings. It was commissioned by Bishop G.A. Selwyn and designed by Frederick Thatcher, the architect for many Anglican buildings in Auckland. The house was the residence of London-born John Kinder, a former teacher, painter, photographer and reverend of the local Church of England Grammar School. He occupied the house with his wife and the six children of his brother Henry Kinder, who was murdered by John’s sister-in-law and her lover. The house was opened to the public as a gallery in 1982. The house is also used for wedding receptions and other functions. Kinder House, sometimes known as “The Headmaster’s House” was built in 1857, commissioned by Bishop G. A. Selwyn and designed by Frederick Thatcher, architect of many Anglican buildings in Auckland. The house is a Gothic-style, double-storey mansion built of grey volcanic stone quarried from nearby Mount Eden. The schoolmaster’s house is of rubble construction, basically using scoria from Mt Eden, with dressed stone at corners and openings thought to have been quarried at Mt Wellington. Michael Dunn wrote an article in 1982 for the publication Art New Zealand which is available on the net at art-newzealand.com and incorporates a number of historic photographs. He notes that Kinder House was the grandest of three stone buildings constructed in Parnell by the master mason, Benjamin Strange, in 1857/8. It cost £1404, a considerable sum in those days. This was not surprising, as it was unusual to build in stone or brick at the time, particularly stone, there being a shortage of masons of sufficient skill. This is evidenced by structural difficulties which were experienced following the construction of a number of stone churches in the region at the time, namely the earlier St Thomas’s on the corner of Kohimarama Road and the original St Stephen’s chapel in Judges Bay. The schoolmaster’s house, on the corner of Ayr Street and Parnell Road, was sold by the church and remained in private ownership through to the 1970s. On the death of the then owner it became available on the open market. Councillor Sheila Horton and Deputy-Mayor Dr Lindo Ferguson convinced the Council to purchase the property because of is heritage value. The Civic Trust Auckland was also active in helping convince the Auckland City Council to purchase the property. The Kinder House Society was formed to manage the property and operate it as a gallery. Its first Chairperson and driving force was Sheila Horton, who is commemorated by a sundial and plaque in the garden. The Ground Floor rooms are devoted to the display of watercolours, photographs and sketches by John Kinder (1819-1903). It is claimed that the house is haunted by the apparition of a man. The house’s spooky resident is reportedly a black, shadowy figure said to be Kinder, or perhaps his brother.... Read more...
- Kumi Lizard – NZ’s Giant Enigmatic Lizards05/01/2014Kiwi CryptidsThere are 90 species of lizards currently known in New Zealand. Most are not of any impressionable size and yet from Captain Cook’s first arrival in New Zealand, strange tales of large lizards have been passed down to fairly recent times. One of these lizards, the Kumi lizard, was apparently of impressive size. When Cook arrived in Queen Charlotte Sound, in 1773, Tawaihura a local chief told Cook of an enormous lizard and gave him a drawing of the beast. These giant lizards apparently lived in the trees and were greatly feared by the Maori. There were also reports however, given to the early European settlers of a 5-6 ft lizard which the Maori also hunt and ate. In 1875 a strange lizard like animal had been found in a flooded river in Hokianga. The local Maori, out of fear of the animal, hacked it to pieces. From the same area emerged the reported sighting of an 18 inch lizard, yellowish in colour which slid down into the water when discovered and was lost among the boulders of the Hokianga River. 1875 also saw Mr F.W Hutton present a paper “On a Supposed Rib of the Kumi”. The paper spoke of the discovery of a ramus of the lower jaw of a pleurodont lizard from the Ernscleugh Cave in Central Otago. The ramus seemed to give foundation to the at least sub-fossil existence of the Kumi lizard. In the same cave a vertebral rib that also appeared to be from the same animal was found. At the New Zealand Institute meeting of September 20th 1898 mention was made of a large, strange reptile allegedly seen near Gisborne. Furthermore, in September of that same year, in Arowhana, a bushman working on a station was confronted by a 5 ft long gigantic lizard which advanced toward him. The animal then subsequently fled into a Rata tree. Lysnar, the owner of the station where the animal was sighted, and a party of men went in search of the animal. They managed to photograph some footprints but did not come across the actual animal. Another large lizard mentioned is referred to as the Ngarar. It is described as being bigger than a Tuatara, about 2-3 feet in length, was said to burrow, had a serrated dorsal crest and had prominent teeth which caused the upper lip to slightly project forward. There was also a smaller species of this lizard measuring around 18 inches in length, reminiscent of the animal seen at the Hokianga River. The larger species of Ngarar preferred the Manuka scrub, while the smaller species was to be found around streams and easily took to the water. From what we can gather both the larger species seem to have been semi-arboreal, while the smaller appears to have preferred a semi amphibious lifestyle. From the size and habits of these lizards they would appear to be closely allied to the Varanus species of Lizards from Australia. With the diversity of lizards in New Zealand it would not be surprising to find the evolution of some form of Monitor Lizard in this country. Perhaps the fossil record still waits to be discovered, or even the animal itself in some remote bush area. If crocodiles could once live here, as supported by the find of a fragment of jawbone found in Otago, why not Monitor lizards of the sizes described. ... Read more...
- The Poltergeist of McMinns Drive15/01/2014Haunted LocationsOver a five month period, knives, broken glass, lids, bottles and many other objects were thrown about in a house at Humpty Doo, NT, Australia. The picture above shows an assortment of the objects, collected after being hurled by an apparent poltergeist. The story became big news, and many investigators attempted to solve the case. One theory was that the spirit of a man who was still living was responsible. Another was that it was the spirit of a recently deceased friend. The ‘Humpty Doo Poltergeist’ We have taken a good look at buildings that have been haunted by the spirits of people long past, but can a house be haunted by the spirit of someone who is still alive? For five months in 1998, a small collection of family and friends were terrified by events that took place in their rented bungalow, in the town of Humpty Doo, 40kms south-east of Darwin, Northern Territory, Australia. The ‘Humpty Doo Poltergeist’, as it became known, was at the time one of the most well reported cases of a haunting in Australia. News crews, journalists, investigators and priests all entered the house with a skeptical mindset, but the events that took place around them swayed their beliefs. Unfortunately, as was the case with UK’s ‘Enfield Poltergeist’ some twenty years earlier, this ‘spirit’ did not like to be caught on film. Only a few pieces of evidence were gathered on tape as they took place, the spirit preferring to act when the cameras were facing away, or had been turned off completely. Sometimes, as would seem is the case with such events, electrical gear would malfunction, making the attempt to capture evidence even more frustrating. The activity was generally limited to acts of physical force, regardless of how it was manifested. Objects would be thrown around the house at all times of the day. Knives, broken glass, lids, bottles and other objects would be aimed at the occupants, visitors and generally cast all about the place. (later, investigations found that thrown objects when viewed through a thermal camera had an evenly distributed heat signature that proved to be hotter than their surroundings. No finger mark traces or palm print heat signatures could be found) At one stage gravel and shells were said to rain in through the ceiling. One of the more intriguing forms of activity were words found around the house, spelt out with ‘scrabble tiles’. Fire, Car, Skin, TV, No Cameras etc could be found spelt out in seemingly random places. The Activity Gets Violent, Theories… After the symbol of a trident and a cross had been found, made of pebbles in the drive, the occupants called for priests to come and cleanse the home. The priests (of two different denominations) did not go unscathed. Bibles were ripped from their hands, to be found afterwards missing pages, one of the priests arms was forcefully pulled behind his back, pinning him in a kneeling position, and a .44 Magnum bullet slammed into a table as one priest was praying. The owner of the house tried to get the occupants evicted, on the grounds they were destroying the house. The judge saw in favour of the occupants, they were not damaging the house, but rather an unseen force was. However, less than a month after the ruling, the occupants had had enough and moved out. The building was renovated and the ghost was no more. So what was happening here? Who or what could be causing the disturbances? Two months before the activity started a friend of the family had died in a car accident, burnt to death as the paint thinner he was transporting exploded. His name was Troy, Troy also being a name spelt by the scrabble letters. Five years earlier, the person who had been living in the house had been evicted by the bank. For twenty years he had lived in the McMinns Drive Bungalow, and he was not happy to be forced out. He stated that it was his own spirit, his own energy, manifesting in anger while he slept. Fake, Fraud… a Hoax? It should be noted that in one piece of televised evidence from the house, that the reflected image of someone throwing an object was spotted. When questioned, one of the residents owned up saying they were desperate for people to believe them. Is it possible that all the events that occurred could have been hoaxed? Many claim it would be impossible, and would have to refute the testimonies of reporters, investigators, priests and anyone else who had witnessed the events that took place over those five months in 1998. Ashley Hall... Read more...
- Tongariro Shipwreck – Hobsonville28/07/2018Abandoned Buildings / Locations of InterestHidden away deep in mangroves in a small bay in Hobsonville, is the rusted and forgotten body of a ship. It is all that remains of the 115 ft paddle steamer Tongariro, that worked Auckland’s Waitemata Harbour from 1878 to 1905. She was originally used for trading with Thames on the Coromandel Peninsula. Later she worked the Kaipara, as a passenger ferry for the Devonport Steam Ferry Company, as well as charter fishing trips. Not much remains today except a few pieces of rusted steel, slowly corroding away in the elements. ... Read more...
- Garth Homestead – Misery and Death10/01/2014Haunted LocationsGarth Homestead, in the Fingal Valley, Tasmania, is known not for the fear it puts into those who visit after dark, but rather the terror. It is a rare occasion indeed, for a paranormal investigator to last a full night. From a rejected mans suicide, to a drowned girl and her nanny, Garth has it all. It is unlived in, as those who have tried have never lasted long, always leaving due to the otherworldly inhabitants that do not like to be disturbed. Who could the spirits be that reside in the ruins? A Most Haunted Site Garth Homestead, now part of the Rostrevor Estate, is located along the Esk Highway, in the Fingal Valley just North East of the town of Avoca. What was once a solidly built two storey sandstone building, is now reduced to a set of crumbling ruins, located on a hill looking out over the South Esk River. During the day you may find historic groups looking amongst the ruins, trying to recapture some of the splendour of this very early part of Tasmanias history. By night, the ruins take on a completely different feel, for it is said that Garth is one of the most haunted sites in Tasmania. The ghosts of Garth come in the form of shrieks, moaning and howling of the sad and lost souls that still reside there. Many an investigator and thrill seeker has left the location, in more than a hurry, and it is not just humans that feel the presences. Horses are said to shy away from the location, refusing to take the rider closer than a few hundred meters from the buildings remains, and grazing livestock will not venture near the area. The First Tragedy The history of the location has been told through many newspapers, and more than a few books that detail haunted locations around the country. It seems that in the 1950’s, newspapers from around Australia took an interest in promoting the stories of tragedy that marred the otherwise scenic site. Many websites and online journals also detailed the location. The following, is a montage of different versions, from many sources. Most agree on certain aspects, and it is with these that I keep it together omitting one off pieces of information. The story of Garth begins in the early 1830’s when an Englishman (name unknown) travelled to Tasmania and was granted a plot of land. With convict labor, he soon set about building a grand two storey sandstone building, not just out of necessity, but also out of love. The Englishman had left behind the woman he loved, promising her he would be back to collect her once the new home was almost complete. When all but the ceilings and plaster work was complete, he travelled back to England to collect his bride to be. Upon arrival, he learnt that while he was away she had fallen and love and had married another man. Dejected, the Englishman returned to Tasmania and killed himself in the courtyard of his still not completed home. Further Tragedy Tragedy was about to strike again, as new owners moved into the home along with their young girl, and her convict ‘nanny’. The nanny was very strict and would threaten the child with being thrown down the well, if she did not behave. The little girl took this very seriously after the nanny had held her over the well by the ankle. One day the girl did cause some sort of trouble, and thinking she knew what was to come threw herself down the well. The nanny, guilt ridden tried to help her charge but also fell in, both dying in the freezing waters. Soon after, a Scotsman named Charles Peters, was granted some land nearby, and in the late 1830’s he also took over the lands containing the Garth house. The home was still very well, kept so Charles Peters moved into the house with his family. In September 1840, Charles Peters two year old daughter Ann ran into the parlour screaming, her hair and clothes were on fire. Ann had been watching the house staff making jams over the fire, when she got too close, and the flame caught her. Ann Peters did not recover from her burns, and her small grave can be seen a little way from the ruins. Charles Peters and his wife left Garth in 1845, after they built the now Historic Fingal Hotel. Garth went to his eldest son who leased it out. The house soon suffered badly during a fire, after which another of Charles Peters’ sons moved in. Thomas Peters restored the house, but near completion another devastating fire went through the building. The building stayed in the Peters family till 1922 though no one has lived in it since the start of the 19th century. Some people may say that the ruins of Garth Homestead are the most famously haunted ruins in Tasmania. Others say that the story and the history surrounding some key deaths is completely unfounded. Many say that either way it makes for a good ghost story. I will leave it up to you to decide. Ashley Hall... Read more...
- Cock Lane ghost18/01/2014HauntingsThe Cock Lane ghost was a purported haunting that attracted mass public attention in 1762. The location was an apartment in Cock Lane, a short road adjacent to London’s Smithfield market and a few minutes’ walk from St Paul’s Cathedral. The event centred on three people: William Kent, a usurer from Norfolk, Richard Parsons, a parish clerk, and Parsons’ daughter Elizabeth. Following the death during childbirth of Kent’s wife, Elizabeth Lynes, he became romantically involved with her sister, Fanny. Canon law prevented the couple from marrying, but they nevertheless moved to London and lodged at the property in Cock Lane, then owned by Parsons. Several accounts of strange knocking sounds and ghostly apparitions were reported, although for the most part they stopped after the couple moved out, but following Fanny’s death from smallpox and Kent’s successful legal action against Parsons over an outstanding debt, they resumed. Parsons claimed that Fanny’s ghost haunted his property and later his daughter. Regular séances were held to determine “Scratching Fanny’s” motives; Cock Lane was often made impassable by the throngs of interested bystanders. The ghost appeared to claim that Fanny had been poisoned with arsenic and Kent was publicly suspected of being her murderer. But a commission whose members included Samuel Johnson concluded that the supposed haunting was a fraud. Further investigations proved the scam was perpetrated by Elizabeth Parsons, under duress from her father. Those responsible were prosecuted and found guilty; Richard Parsons was pilloried and sentenced to two years in prison. The Cock Lane ghost became a focus of controversy between the Methodist and Anglican churches and is referenced frequently in contemporary literature. Charles Dickens is one of several Victorian authors whose work alluded to the story and the pictorial satirist William Hogarth referenced the ghost in two of his prints. Background In about 1756–57 William Kent, a usurer from Norfolk, married Elizabeth Lynes, the daughter of a grocer from Lyneham. They moved to Stoke Ferry where Kent kept an inn and later, the local post office. They were apparently very much in love, but their marriage was short-lived as within a month of the move Elizabeth died during childbirth. Her sister Frances—commonly known as Fanny—had during Elizabeth’s pregnancy moved in with the couple and she stayed to care for the infant and its father. The boy did not survive long and rather than leave, Fanny stayed on to take care of William and the house. The two soon began a relationship, but canon law appeared to rule out marriage; when Kent travelled to London to seek advice he was told that as Elizabeth had borne him a living son, a union with Fanny was impossible. In January 1759 therefore, he gave up the post office, left Fanny and moved to London, intending to “purchase a place in some public office” in the hope that “business would erase that passion he had unfortunately indulged”. Fanny meanwhile stayed with one of her brothers at Lyneham. Despite her family’s disapproval of their relationship, Fanny began to write passionate letters to Kent, “filled with repeated entreaties to spend the rest of their lives together”. He eventually allowed her to join him at lodgings in East Greenwich near London. The two decided to live together as man and wife, making wills in each other’s favour and hoping to remain discreet. In this, however, they did not reckon on Fanny’s relations. The couple moved to lodgings near the Mansion House, but their landlord there may have learnt of their relationship from Fanny’s family, expressing his contempt by refusing to repay a sum of money Kent loaned him (about £20). In response, Kent had him arrested. While attending early morning prayers at the church of St Sepulchre-without-Newgate, William Kent and Fanny met Richard Parsons, the officiating clerk. Although he was generally considered respectable, Parsons was known locally as a drunk and was struggling to provide for his family. He listened to the couple’s plight and was sympathetic, offering them the use of lodgings in his home on Cock Lane, to the north of St Sepulchre’s. Located along a narrow, winding thoroughfare similar to most of central London’s streets, the three-storey house was in a respectable but declining area, and comprised a single room on each floor, connected by a winding staircase. Shortly after Mr and Mrs Kent (as they called themselves) moved in, Kent loaned Parsons 12 guineas, to be repaid at a rate of a guinea per month. It was while Kent was away at a wedding in the country that the first reports of strange noises began. Parsons had a wife and two daughters; the elder, Elizabeth, was described as a “little artful girl about eleven years of age”. Kent asked Elizabeth to stay with Fanny, who was then several months into a pregnancy, and to share her bed while he was away. The two reported hearing scratching and rapping noises. These were attributed by Mrs Parsons to a neighbouring cobbler, although when the noises re-occurred on a Sunday, Fanny asked if the cobbler was working that day; Mrs Parsons told her he was not. James Franzen, landlord of the nearby Wheat Sheaf public house, was another witness. After visiting the house he reported seeing a ghostly white figure ascend the stairs. Terrified, he returned home, where Parsons later visited him and claimed also to have seen a ghost. As Fanny was only weeks away from giving birth Kent made arrangements to move to a property at Bartlet’s Court in Clerkenwell, but by January 1760 it was not ready and so they moved instead to an “inconvenient” apartment nearby, intending only a temporary stay. However, on 25 January Fanny fell ill. The attending doctor diagnosed the early stages of an eruptive fever and agreed with Kent that their lodgings were inadequate for someone at so critical a stage of pregnancy. Fanny was therefore moved, by coach, to Bartlet’s Court. The next day her doctor returned and met with her apothecary. Both agreed that Fanny’s symptoms were indicative of smallpox. On hearing this, Fanny sent for an attorney, to ensure the will she had had made was in good order, and that Kent would inherit her estate. An acquaintance of Kent’s, the Reverend Stephen Aldrich of St John Clerkenwell, reassured her that she would be forgiven for her sins. She died on 2 February. As sole executor of Fanny’s will, Kent ordered a coffin, but fearful of being prosecuted should the nature of their relationship become known, asked that it remain nameless. On registering the burial he was, however, forced to give a name, and he gave her his own. Fanny’s family was notified and her sister Ann Lynes, who lived nearby at Pall Mall, attended the funeral at St John’s. When Ann learned of the terms of Fanny’s will, which left her brothers and sisters half a crown each and Kent the rest, she tried but failed to block it in Doctors’ Commons. The bulk of Kent’s inheritance was Fanny’s £150 share of her dead brother Thomas’s estate. This also included some land owned by Thomas, sold by the executor of his estate, John Lynes, and Kent received Fanny’s share of that too (almost £95). Her family resented this. Legal problems with Lynes’s sale meant that each of Thomas’s beneficiaries had to pay £45 in compensation to the purchaser, but Kent refused, claiming that he had already spent the money in settling Fanny’s debts. In response to this, in October 1761 John Lynes began proceedings against Kent in the Court of Chancery. Meanwhile Kent became a stockbroker and remarried in 1761. Haunting A monochrome illustration of a ramshackle room. Windows allow light to stream in, from the right of the image. Plaster is missing from the ceiling. A large fireplace dominates the far wall, and is surrounded by various cupboards and containers. The floor appears to be formed from planks of wood. Ewas never acted on, but through repeated questioning of Fanny’s ghost it was divined that she had died not from the effects of smallpox, but rather from arsenic poisoning. The deadly toxin had apparently been administered by Kent about two hours before Fanny died and now, it was supposed, her spirit wanted justice. Moore had heard from Parsons how Kent had pursued the debt he was owed, and he had also heard from Ann Lynes, who had complained that as Fanny’s coffin lid was screwed down she had not been able to see her sister’s corpse. Moore thought that Fanny’s body might not show any visible signs of smallpox and that if she had been poisoned, the lack of scarring would have been something Kent would rather keep hidden. As a clergyman with inclinations toward Methodism he was inclined to trust the ghost, but for added support he enlisted the aid of Reverend Thomas Broughton, an early Methodist. Broughton visited Cock Lane on 5 January and left convinced the ghost was real. The story spread through London, The Public Ledger began to publish detailed accounts of the phenomenon, and Kent fell under public suspicion as a murderer. Séances After reading the veiled accusations made against him in the Public Ledger, Kent determined to clear his name, and accompanied by a witness went to see John Moore. The Methodist showed Kent the list of questions he and Parsons had drawn up for the ghost to answer. One concerned William and Fanny’s marital status, prompting Kent to admit that they never married. Moore told him he did not think he was a murderer, rather, he believed the spirit’s presence indicated that “there was something behind darker than all the rest, and that if he would go to Parson’s house, he might be a witness to the same and convinced of its reality”. On 12 January therefore, Kent enlisted the aid of the two physicians who attended Fanny in her last days, and with Reverend Broughton, went to Cock Lane. On the house’s upper floor Elizabeth Parsons was publicly undressed, and with her younger sister was put to bed. The audience sat around the bed, positioned in the centre of the room. They were warned that the ghost was sensitive to disbelief and told that they should accord it due respect. When the séance began, a relative of Parsons, Mary Frazer, ran around the room shouting “Fanny, Fanny, why don’t you come? Do come, pray Fanny, come; dear Fanny, come!” When nothing happened, Moore told the group the ghost would not come as they were making too much noise. He asked them to leave the room, telling them he would try to contact the ghost by stamping his foot. About ten minutes later they were told the ghost had returned and that they should re-enter the room. Moore then started to run through his and Parsons’ list of questions: “Are you the wife of Mr. Kent?” —Two knocks”Did you die naturally?” —Two knocks”By poison?” —One knock”Did any person other than Mr. Kent administer it?” —Two knocks A small audience of people surround a bed, in which two children lie. A ghostly figure hovers above the children, a hammer in one hand. One man looks under the bed, with a candle. Speech bubbles are visible from each member of the audience. To the right of the image, several women are engaged in prayer. After more questions, a member of the audience exclaimed “Kent, ask this Ghost if you shall be hanged”. He did so, and the question was answered by a single knock. Kent exclaimed “Thou art a lying spirit, thou are not the ghost of my Fanny. She would never have said any such thing.” Public interest in the story grew when it was discovered that the ghost appeared to follow Elizabeth Parsons. She was removed to the house of a Mr Bray, where on 14 January, in the presence of two unidentified nobles, more knocking sounds were heard. A few days later she was returned to Cock Lane, where on 18 January another séance was held. In attendance were Kent, the apothecary, and local parish priest and incumbent of St John Clerkenwell, Reverend Stephen Aldrich. On that occasion, when a clergyman used a candle to look under the bed, the ghost “refused” to answer, Frazer claiming “she loving not light”. After a few minutes of silence the questioning continued, but when Moore asked if the ghost would appear in court against Kent, Frazer refused to ask the question. When they lived at Cock Lane William and Fanny had employed a maid, Esther “Carrots” Carlisle (Carrots on account of her red hair). She had since moved to a new job and knew nothing of the haunting, but seeking evidence of Fanny’s poisoning, Moore went to question her. Carrots told him that Fanny had been unable to speak in the days before she died, so Moore invited her to a séance, held on 19 January. Once there, she was asked to confirm that Fanny had been poisoned, but Carrots remained adamant that Fanny had said nothing to her, telling the party that William and Fanny had been “very loving, and lived very happy together.” Kent arrived later that night, this time with James Franzen and the Reverends William Dodd and Thomas Broughton. Frazer began with her usual introduction before Moore sent her out, apparently irritated by her behaviour. He then asked the party of about 20 to leave the room, calling them back a few minutes later. This time, the séance centred on Carrots, who addressed the ghost directly: “Are you my mistress?” —One knock, followed by scratches”Are you angry with me, Madam?” —One knock”Then I am sure, Madam, you may be ashamed of yourself for I never hurt you in my life.” At this, the séance was ended. Frazer and Franzen remained alone in the room, the latter reportedly too terrified to move. Frazer asked if he would like to pray and was angered when he apparently could not. The séance resumed and Franzen later returned to his home, where he and his wife were reportedly tormented by the ghost’s knocking in their bedchamber. Investigation On 20 January another séance was held, this time at the home of a Mr Bruin, on the corner of nearby Hosier Lane. Among those attending was a man “extremely desirous of detecting the fraud, and discovering the truth of this mysterious affair”, who later sent his account of the night to the London Chronicle. He arrived with a small party which included Reverend James Penn of St Ann’s in Aldersgate. Inside the house, a member of the group positioned himself against the bed, but was asked by one of the ghost’s sympathisers to move. He refused, and following a brief argument the ghost’s supporters left. The gentleman then asked if Parsons would allow his daughter to be moved to a room at his house, but was refused. For the remainder of the night the ghost made no sound, while Elizabeth Parsons, now extremely agitated, displayed signs of convulsions. When questioned she confirmed that she had seen the ghost, but that she was not frightened by it. At that point several of the party left, but at about 7 am the next morning the knocking once more recommenced. Following the usual questions about the cause of Fanny’s death and who was responsible, the interrogation turned to her body, which lay in the vaults of St John’s. A three-quarter portrait of a young man. His hair is light grey/blonde. He wears pale leggings, a pale waistcoat decorated with gold lace, a large blue sash, and a blue and gold lace blazer. His right arm rests on a chair, his left hand points to a painting behind him. Parsons agreed to move his daughter to Reverend Aldrich’s house for further testing on 22 January, but when that morning Penn and a man of “veracity and fortune” called on Parsons and asked for Elizabeth, the clerk told them she was not there and refused to reveal her whereabouts. Parsons had spoken with friends and was apparently worried that Kent had been busy with his own investigations. Instead, he allowed Elizabeth to be moved that night to St Bartholomew’s Hospital, where another séance was held. Nothing was reported until about 6 am, when three scratches were heard, apparently while the girl was asleep. The approximately 20-strong audience complained that the affair was a deception. Once Elizabeth woke she began to cry, and once reassured that she was safe admitted that she was afraid for her father, “who must needs be ruined and undone, if their matter should be supposed to be an imposture.” She also admitted that although she had appeared to be asleep, she was in fact fully aware of the conversation going on around her. Whereas several advertisements have appeared in the papers reflecting upon my character, who am father of the child which now engrosses the talk of the town; I do hereby declare publicly, that I have always been willing and am now ready to deliver up my child for trial into the hands of any number of candid and reasonable men, requiring only such security for a fair and gentle treatment of my child, as no father of children or man of candour would refuse.” Richard Parsons, the Public Ledger, 26 January 1762 Initially only the Public Ledger reported on the case, but once it became known that noblemen had taken an interest and visited the ghost at Mr Bray’s house on 14 January, the story began to appear in other newspapers. The St. James’s Chronicle and the London Chronicle printed reports from 16–19 January (the latter the more sceptical of the two), and Lloyd’s Evening Post from 18–20 January. The story spread across London and by the middle of January the crowds gathered outside the property were such that Cock Lane was rendered impassable. Parsons charged visitors an entrance fee to “talk” with the ghost, which, it was reported, did not disappoint. After receiving several requests to intercede, Samuel Fludyer, Lord Mayor of London, was on 23 January approached by Alderman Gosling, John Moore and Parsons. They told him of their experiences but Fludyer was reminded of the then recent case of fraudster Elizabeth Canning and refused to have Kent or Parsons arrested (on charges of murder and conspiracy respectively). Instead, against a backdrop of hysteria caused in part by the newspapers’ relentless reporting of the case, he ordered that Elizabeth be tested at Reverend Aldrich’s house. Meanwhile, Elizabeth was again the subject of study, in two séances held 23–24 January. Parsons accepted the Lord Mayor’s decision, but asked that “some persons connected with the girl might be permitted to be there, to divert her in the day-time”. This was refused, as were two similar requests, Aldrich and Penn insisting that they would accept only “any person or persons, of strict character and reputation, who are housekeepers”. Aldrich and Penn’s account of their negotiations with Parsons clearly perturbed the clerk, as he defended his actions in the Public Ledger. This prompted Aldrich and Penn to issue a pointed retort in Lloyd’s Evening Post: “We are greatly puzzled to find Mr. Parsons asserting that he hath been always willing to deliver up the child, when he refused a gentleman on Wednesday evening the 20th inst. What is to be understood, by requiring security”? Elizabeth was taken on 26 January to the house of Jane Armstrong, sleeping there in a hammock. The continued noises strengthened the resolve of the ghost’s supporters, while the press’s ceaseless reporting of the case continued. Horace Walpole, 4th Earl of Orford, announced that with the Duke of York, Lady Northumberland, Lady Mary Coke and Lord Hertford, he was to visit Cock Lane on 30 January. After struggling through the throngs of interested visitors though, he was ultimately disappointed; the Public Advertiser observed that “the noise is now generally deferred till seven in the morning, it being necessary to vary the time, that the imposition may be the better carried on”. Exposure With Lord Dartmouth Aldrich began to draw together the people who would be involved in his investigation. They chose the matron of a local lying-in hospital as principal lady-in-waiting, the critic and controversialist Bishop John Douglas, and Dr George Macaulay. A Captain Wilkinson was also included on the committee; he had attended one séance armed with a pistol and stick; the former to shoot the source of the knocking, and the latter to make his escape (the ghost had remained silent on that occasion). James Penn and John Moore were also on the committee, but its most prominent member was Dr Samuel Johnson, who documented the séance, held on 1 February 1762: On the night of the 1st of February many gentlemen eminent for their rank and character were, by the invitation of the Reverend Mr. Aldrich, of Clerkenwell, assembled at his house, for the examination of the noises supposed to be made by a departed spirit, for the detection of some enormous crime. About ten at night the gentlemen met in the chamber in which the girl, supposed to be disturbed by a spirit, had, with proper caution, been put to bed by several ladies. They sat rather more than an hour, and hearing nothing, went down stairs, when they interrogated the father of the girl, who denied, in the strongest terms, any knowledge or belief of fraud. The supposed spirit had before publickly promised, by an affirmative knock, that it would attend one of the gentlemen into the vault under the Church of St. John, Clerkenwell, where the body is deposited, and give a token of her presence there, by a knock upon her coffin; it was therefore determined to make this trial of the existence or veracity of the supposed spirit. While they were enquiring and deliberating, they were summoned into the girl’s chamber by some ladies who were near her bed, and who had heard knocks and scratches. When the gentlemen entered, the girl declared that she felt the spirit like a mouse upon her back, and was required to hold her hands out of bed. From that time, though the spirit was very solemnly required to manifest its existence by appearance, by impression on the hand or body of any present, by scratches, knocks, or any other agency, no evidence of any preter-natural power was exhibited. The spirit was then very seriously advertised that the person to whom the promise was made of striking the coffin, was then about to visit the vault, and that the performance of the promise was then claimed. The company at one o’clock went into the church, and the gentleman to whom the promise was made, went with another into the vault. The spirit was solemnly required to perform its promise, but nothing more than silence ensued: the person supposed to be accused by the spirit, then went down with several others, but no effect was perceived. Upon their return they examined the girl, but could draw no confession from her. Between two and three she desired and was permitted to go home with her father. It is, therefore, the opinion of the whole assembly, that the child has some art of making or counterfeiting a particular noise, and that there is no agency of any higher cause. — Samuel Johnson (1762 Disappointed that the ghost had failed to reveal itself, Moore now told Kent he believed it was an imposter, and that he would help reveal it. Kent asked him to admit the truth and write an affidavit of what he knew, so as to end the affair and restore Kent’s reputation, but Moore refused, telling him that he still believed that the spirit’s presence was a reminder of his sin. Moore’s view of the couple’s relationship was shared by many, including Mrs Parsons, who believed that the supposed ghost of Elizabeth Kent had disapproved of her sister’s new relationship. An illustration of an oblong and vaguely human-shaped piece of wood, viewed from the top, and a plan view diagram of the haunted room. Another séance on 3 February saw the knocking continue unabated, but by then Parsons was in an extremely difficult—and serious—situation. Keen to prove the ghost was not an imposture he allowed his daughter to be examined at a house on The Strand from 7–10 February, and at another house in Covent Garden from 14 February. There she was tested in a variety of ways which included being swung up in a hammock, her hands and feet extended. As expected, the noises commenced, but stopped once Elizabeth was made to place her hands outside the bed. For two nights the ghost was silent. Elizabeth was told that if no more noises were heard by Sunday 21 February, she and her father would be committed to Newgate Prison. Her maids then saw her conceal on her person a small piece of wood about 6 by 4 inches (150 by 100 mm) and informed the investigators. More scratches were heard but the observers concluded that Elizabeth was responsible for the noises, and that she had been forced by her father to make them. Elizabeth was allowed home shortly after. On or about 25 February, a pamphlet sympathetic to Kent’s case was published, called The Mystery Revealed, and most likely written by Oliver Goldsmith. Meanwhile, Kent was still trying to clear his name, and on 25 February he went to the vault of St John’s, accompanied by Aldrich, the undertaker, the clerk and the parish sexton. The group was there to prove beyond any doubt that a recent newspaper report, which claimed that the supposed removal of Fanny’s body from the vault accounted for the ghost’s failure to knock on her coffin, was false. The undertaker removed the lid to expose Fanny’s corpse, “and a very awful shocking sight it was”. For Moore this was too much and he published his retraction: In justice to the person, whose reputation has been attacked in a most gross manner, by the pretended Ghost in Cock-lane; to check the credulity of the weak; to defeat the attempts of the malicious, and to prevent further imposition, on account of this absurd phenomenon, I do hereby certify, that though, from the several attendances on this occasion, I have not been able to point out, how, and in what manner, those knockings and scratchings, of the supposed Ghost, were contrived, performed, and continued; yet, that I am convinced, that those knockings and scratchings were the effects of some artful, wicked contrivance; and that I was, in a more especial manner, convinced of its being such, on the first of this month, when I attended with several persons of rank and character, who assembled at the Rev. Mr. Aldrich’s, Clerkenwell, in order to examine into this iniquitous imposition upon the Public. Since which time I have not seen the child, nor heard the noises; and think myself in duty bound to add, that the injured person (when present to hear himself accused by the pretended Ghost) has not, by his behaviour, given the least ground of suspicion, but has preserved that becoming steadfastness, which nothing, I am persuaded, but innocence could inspire. —John Moore (1762) It was not enough to keep him from being charged by the authorities with conspiracy, along with Richard Parsons and his wife, Mary Frazer, and Richard James, a tradesman. Trial Presiding over the case was Lord Chief Justice William Murray. Proceedings began at 10 am, “brought by William Kent against the above defendants for a conspiracy to take away his life by charging him with the murder of Frances Lynes by giving her poison whereof she died”. The courtroom was crowded with spectators, who watched as Kent gave evidence against those in the dock. He told the court about his relationship with Fanny and of her resurrection as “Scratching Fanny” (so-called because of the scratching noises made by the “ghost”). James Franzen was next on the stand, his story corroborated by Fanny’s servant, Esther “Carrots” Carlisle, who testified later that day. Dr Cooper, who had served Fanny as she lay dying, told the court that he had always believed the strange noises in Cock Lane to be a trick, and his account of Fanny’s illness was supported by her apothecary, James Jones. Several other prosecution witnesses described how the hoax had been revealed, and Richard James was accused by the prosecution’s last witness of being responsible for some of the more offensive material published in the Public Ledger. The defence’s witnesses included some of those who had cared for Elizabeth Parsons and who presumably still believed that the ghost was real. Other witnesses included the carpenter responsible for removing the wainscotting from Parsons’ apartment and Catherine Friend, who to escape the knocking noises had left the property. One witness’s testimony caused the court to burst into laughter, at which she replied “I assure you gentlemen, it is no laughing matter, whatever you may think of it.” Reverend Thomas Broughton was also called, as was Reverend Ross, one of those who had questioned the ghost. Judge Murray asked him “Whether he thought he had puzzled the Ghost, or the Ghost had puzzled him?” John Moore was offered support by several esteemed gentlemen and presented Murray with a letter from the Archbishop of Canterbury, Thomas Secker, who sought to intercede on his behalf. Murray placed the letter in his pocket, unopened, and told the court “it was impossible it could relate to the cause in question.” Richard James and Richard Parsons also received support from various witnesses, some of whom although acknowledging Parsons’ drink problem, told the court they could not believe he was guilty. The trial ended at about 9:30 pm. The judge spent about 90 minutes summing up the case, but it took the jury only 15 minutes to reach a verdict of guilty for all five defendants. The following Monday, two others responsible for defaming Kent were found guilty and later fined £50 each. The conspirators were brought back on 22 November but sentencing was delayed in the hope that they could agree on the level of damages payable to Kent. Having failed to do so they returned on 27 January 1763 and were committed to the King’s Bench Prison until 11 February, by which time John Moore and Richard James had agreed to pay Kent £588; they were subsequently admonished by Justice Wilmot and released. The following day, the rest were sentenced: The Court chusing that Mr. Kent, who had been so much injured on the occasion, should receive some reparation by punishment of the offenders, deferred giving judgment for seven or eight months, in hopes that the parties might make it up in the meantime. Accordingly, the clergyman, and tradesman agreed to pay Mr. Kent a round sum—some say between £500 and £600 to purchase their pardon, and were, therefore, dismissed with a severe reprimand. The father was ordered to be set in the pillory three times in one month—once at the end of Cock–Lane; Elizabeth his wife to be imprisoned one year; and Mary Frazer six months in Bridewell, with hard labour. The father appearing to be out of his mind at the time he was first to standing in the pillory, the execution of that part of his sentence was deferred to another day, when, as well as the other day of his standing there, the populace took so much compassion on him, that instead of using him ill, they made a handsome subscription for him. —Annual Register, vol cxlii. and Gentleman’s Magazine, 1762, p. 43 and p. 339 Parsons, all the while protesting his innocence, was also sentenced to two years imprisonment. He stood in the pillory on 16 March, 30 March and finally on 8 April. In contrast to other criminals the crowd treated him kindly, making collections of money for him. Legacy A chapel full of people, many of whom hold small ghostly idols. A woman lies on the floor, rabbits leaping from under her skirts. A preacher stands in the pulpit, preaching to his congregation. On the right of the image, a large thermometer is capped by an idol of a ghost. The Cock Lane ghost was a focus for a contemporary religious controversy between the Methodists and orthodox Anglicans. Belief in a spiritual afterlife is a requirement for most religions, and in every instance where a spirit had supposedly manifested itself in the real world, the event was cherished as an affirmation of such beliefs. In his youth, John Wesley had been strongly influenced by a supposed haunting at his family home and these experiences were carried through to the religion he founded, which was regularly criticised for its position on witchcraft and magic. Methodism, although far from a united religion, became almost synonymous with a belief in the supernatural. Some of its followers therefore gave more credence to the reality of the Cock Lane ghost than did the Anglican establishment, which considered such things to be relics of the country’s Catholic past. This was a view that was epitomised in the conflict between the Methodist John Moore and the Anglican Stephen Aldrich. In his 1845 memoirs, Horace Walpole, who had attended one of the séances, accused the Methodists of actively working to establish the existence of ghosts. He described the constant presence of Methodist clergymen near Elizabeth Parsons and implied that the church would recompense her father for his troubles. Samuel Johnson was committed to his Christian faith and shared the views of author Joseph Glanvill, who, in his 1681 work Saducismus Triumphatus, wrote of his concern over the advances made against religion and a belief in witchcraft, by atheism and scepticism. For Johnson the idea that an afterlife might not exist was an appalling thought, but although he thought that spirits could protect and counsel those still living, he kept himself distant from the more credulous Methodists, and recognised that his religion required proof of an afterlife. Ever a sceptic, in his discussions with his biographer James Boswell, he said: Sir, I make a distinction between what a man may experience by the mere strength of his imagination, and what imagination cannot possibly produce. Thus, suppose I should think I saw a form, and heard a voice cry, “Johnson, you are a very wicked fellow, and unless you repent you will certainly be punished;” my own unworthiness is so deeply impressed upon my mind, that I might imagine I thus saw and heard, and therefore I should not believe that an external communication had been made to me. But if a form should appear, and a voice tell me that a particular man had died at a particular place, and a particular hour, a fact which I had no apprehension of, nor any means of knowing, and this fact, with all its circumstances, should afterwards be unquestionably proved, I should, in that case, be persuaded that I had supernatural intelligence imparted to me. Johnson’s role in revealing the nature of the hoax was not enough to keep the satirist Charles Churchill from mocking his apparent credulity in his 1762 work The Ghost. He resented Johnson’s lack of enthusiasm for his writing and with the character of ‘Pomposo’, written as one of the more credulous of the ghost’s investigators, used the satire to highlight a “superstitious streak” in his subject. Johnson paid this scant attention, but was said to have been more upset when Churchill again mocked him for his delay in releasing Shakespeare. Publishers were at first wary of attacking those involved in the supposed haunting, but Churchill’s satire was one of a number of publications which, following the exposure of Parsons’ deception, heaped scorn on the affair. The newspapers searched for evidence of past impostures and referenced older publications such as Reginald Scot’s Discoverie of Witchcraft (1584). The ghost was referenced in an anonymous work entitled Anti-Canidia: or, Superstition Detected and Exposed (1762), which sought to ridicule the credulity of those involved in the Cock Lane case. The author described his work as a “sally of indignation at the contemptible wonder in Cock-lane”. Works such as The Orators (1762) by Samuel Foote, were soon available. Farcical poems such as Cock-lane Humbug were released, theatres staged plays such as The Drummer and The Haunted House. A monochrome illustration of an outdoor scene. In the background, a building is under construction. A tall church, and other ornate structures, are also visible. To the left, a judge, seated high above everybody else, watches over the scene before him. Below him, riflemen shoot at a dove of peace flying through the air. In the middle of the image, two gardeners tend to a display of shrubbery. One pumps water from a large ornate fountain, the other struggles with a wheelbarrow. To the right, two figures, a man and a ghost, are stood in a pillory. Behind them, in the shade, a wigged man tends to his followers. Oliver Goldsmith, who had in February 1762 published The Mystery Revealed, may also have been responsible for the satirical illustration, English Credulity or the Invisible Ghost (1762). It shows a séance as envisioned by the artist, with the ghost hovering above the heads of the two children in the bed. To the right of the bed a woman deep in prayer exclaims “O! that they would lay it in the Red Sea!” Another cries “I shall never have any rest again”. The English magistrate and social reformer John Fielding, who was blind, is pictured entering from the left saying “I should be glad to see this spirit”, while his companion says “Your W——r’s had better get your Warrant back’d by his L—rds—p”, referring to a Middlesex magistrate’s warrant which required an endorsement from the Lord Mayor, Samuel Fludyer. A man in tall boots, whip in hand, says: “Ay Tom I’ll lay 6 to 1 it runs more nights than the Coronation” and his companion remarks “How they swallow the hum”. A clergymen says “I saw the light on the Clock” while another asks “Now thou Infidel does thou not believe?”, prompting his neighbour to reply “Yes if it had happen’d sooner ‘t would have serv’d me for a new Charater in the Lyar the Story would tell better than the Cat & Kittens”. Another clergyman exclaims “If a Gold Watch knock 3 times”, and a Parson asks him “Brother don’t disturb it”. On the wall, an image of The Bottle Conjuror is alongside an image of Elizabeth Canning, whose fraud had so worried Samuel Fludyer that he had refused to arrest either Parsons or Kent. Playwright David Garrick dedicated the enormously successful The Farmer’s Return to the satirical artist William Hogarth. The story concerns a farmer who regales his family with an account of his talk with Miss Fanny, the comedy being derived from the reversal of traditional roles: the sceptical farmer poking fun at the credulous city-folk. Hogarth made his own observations of the Cock Lane ghost, with obvious references in Credulity, Superstition and Fanaticism (1762). This illustration makes a point of attacking Methodist ministers, one of whom is seen to slip a phallic “ghost” into a young woman’s bodice. He again attacked the Methodists in The Times, Plate 2 (1762–1763), placing an image of Thomas Secker (who had tried to intervene on behalf of the Methodists) behind the Cock Lane ghost, and putting the ghost in the same pillory as the radical politician John Wilkes, which implied a connection between the demagoguery surrounding the Methodists and Pittites. The print enraged Bishop William Warburton, who although a vocal critic of Methodism, wrote: I have seen Hogarth’s print of the Ghost. It is a horrid composition of lewd Obscenity & blasphemous prophaneness for which I detest the artist & have lost all esteem for the man. The best is, that the worst parts of it have a good chance of not being understood by the people. The 19th-century author Charles Dickens—whose childhood nursemaid Mary Weller may have affected him with a fascination for ghosts—made reference to the Cock Lane ghost in several of his books. One of Nicholas Nickleby’s main characters and a source of much of the novel’s comic relief, Mrs. Nickleby, claims that her great-grandfather “went to school with the Cock-lane Ghost” and that “I know the master of his school was a Dissenter, and that would in a great measure account for the Cock-lane Ghost’s behaving in such an improper manner to the clergyman when he grew up.” Dickens also very briefly mentions the Cock Lane ghost in A Tale of Two Cities and Dombey and Son. According to a 1965 source, the site of Parson’s lodgings corresponded to the building with the modern address 20 Cock Lane. The house was believed to have been built in the late 17th century, and was demolished in 1979.... Read more...