Ghosthunting at St Mary's Guildhall in Coventry

January 20, 2009

Last weekend ghosthunters descended upon St Mary's Guildhall.
It's All About Coventry journalist Ben Glass joined them in their quest for evidence of the paranormal.

"I'm sensing B O," said the man to my right.

"Is anybody else getting that? It's really strong," he added with a peculiar seriousness.

The Guildhall's Mercer's Room fell silent.

I was overcome with an almost overpowering desire to sniff my armpits.

But I couldn't.

Not because it would have been embarrassing … but because two fellow ghosthunters were holding both my hands.

We were all holding hands - seven of us, standing in a circle, in a very dark room, trying to talk to the dead.

Our team leader had said something on the lines of: "If there is anybody there we respectfully ask you to give us a sign.

"Can you bang the table for us?

"Can you make a noise?

"If there is a man in the room, can you make a sound?"

No sign came.

But there was a lot more activity in the Draper's Room.

We were sitting at a table upon which an upturned glass had been placed. Four of us had a finger skinside down on the base of glass and our psychic medium Stewart Keeys was nearby.

A few questions were asked – all beginning with 'move the glass if...' - and the glass started to swirl.

Someone asked if there was anybody at the table the spirit wanted to communicate with.

The glass – still touched by four people – swirled aggressively and stopped directly in front of one guest.

Mr Keeys said the chosen woman did not have speak out loud but could ask questions 'in her head'.

The glass swirled a few times and she began crying.

Mr Keeys stepped in and said: "I'm getting 'no regrets', 'no regrets'".

This appeared to calm the woman who said she had been talking to the spirit of her alcoholic mother.

It was a little puzzling that an alcoholic would not have any regrets – almost all mine are alcohol related.

Next the glass stopped in front of another woman. She too asked questions in her head and began crying, later telling us it was her brother.

It was certainly a highly charged scene.

It could have been because we were communicating with the spirit world.

Or, it could have been because I was sitting in a dark room with two sobbing strangers.

Afterwards, the two women, both from Kenilworth, looked quite happy.

It seemed as though they actually felt better for the experience.

Perhaps they took comfort in dead relatives being around.

But I couldn't help feel I was witnessing hysteria.

Another problem I had with the glass divination is the fact it needs human contact.

More than one person needs to be touching the glass.

Someone could so easily decide to move it … especially in a dark room.

And irritatingly, it was always too dark to film the glass moving.

The next unusual occurrence came at about 2.30am in the Old Council Chamber.

I was there with Mr Keeys when we heard a two-toned split second whistle.

To me it sounded like it came from the window but others during the night said they heard it elsewhere in the 650-year-old building.

At the beginning of the event around 20 guests – each paying £89 - had been divided into four groups.

Each group was supplied with a box of equipment, including an infrared thermometer, an ultrasound device capable of picking up high frequency noises, an EMF meter used to monitor magnetic fields, a digital dictaphone and dowsing rods.

Throughout the tour guests are encouraged to regularly check for unusual changes with the equipment and make notes for later analysis.

Following the investigation the notes are taken back to organisers Paranormal Tours and a report of any unusual activity is written.

The company then sets up an online discussion forum for guests.

Even though I don't personally believe any ghostly events happened during the evening at St Mary's Guildhall, I don't regret going.

I was only there as a reporter so I could have left at any point – but I stayed until the 4am finish.

Not because I had to, but because I enjoyed it.

Even as a complete sceptic, I enjoyed the theatre.

I enjoyed listening to a medium saying with total sincerity that he was connecting with the spirit world.

I enjoyed the absurdity of standing in a dark room asking if anybody was there.

I enjoyed suspending my disbelief and looking for ghosts in shadowy corners.

But most of all I enjoyed wandering around the glorious St Mary's Guildhall in the dead of night.

For more information about Paranormal Tours visit their website here.
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