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The Whittington Hospital Ghost

This article was originally published on the on January 18th 2012  on the London24 website by Kate Ferguson (reporter).  You should be warned however, that It starts off quite clichéd. Here is a small excerpt:

 “A bolt of light flashes across a corridor, and the illuminated face of a young boy appears out of the dark. This is the mysterious image which ghost hunter Leonard Low says proves that something paranormal lies beneath the Whittington Hospital in Highgate”.

See what I mean? Of course, none of these things would have actually happened, it is called dramatic licence. It is quite obvious, that these “details” were chosen to flesh-out the back story of the image after Leonard, or perhaps Kate viewed it (whoever had creative control of the article). This is quite normal in dramatic storytelling, and we have experienced a similar situation with The Feeley Case. Here is the original article for those interested.

Leonard Low.

Here is the image that Leonard Low took

So what happened, and what is the story behind this image? Well it seems Leonard was visiting a friend (ex partner) who was having surgery at the hospital when he was “told by nurses of a strange presence in the 19th Century arches deep underground”. Quite how that particular conversation arose, I don’t know.  So “Armed with his camera and accompanied by a curious Whittington administrator, he descended down to the basement to investigate the paranormal tales”.

Leonard was quoted as saying:

“Nobody had been in this area for years,” said the 44-year-old. “The ground was crystallised like snow.  We began walking down this long corridor with files all around us. We walked for around five or six paces when we saw something down the corridor moving. There was something hovering in front of us and getting closer and closer. We saw this trail of light – it was flashing all over the place. Then I saw the ghostly image of the young boy.”

I think we can add a modicum of rationality to this story, the “snow” that Leonard saw, was undoubtedly formations caused by the capillary/wicking action of the concrete, and subsequent salt precipitation. The rest of the tale, I have a really hard time believing. Hovering and moving objects? Trails of light? Flashing? The timely appearance of a ghostly child?

You can clearly see what has happened here in this photograph. After it was taken, something looked odd in it. So an entire tale was constructed to bolster the story into something far more dramatic. You see there are several flaws in this story. In the image, we can clearly see a dark corridor, with a light source at the end. It first appears to be an open doorway (but the image is cropped). The “trail of light” appears to be a motion blur of the light at the end of that corridor. This would be caused by taking the image while moving and having an incorrect ISO setting for those lighting conditions. Alternatively, it could even be a long exposure with motion. Here is a great example of that:

We can also see that the details of the “head of the child” is actually a light fitting on the ceiling, and the area that would be the “eyes” is the lower edge of the lampshade. There is also a large volume of light from the flash being returned to the lens, from the nearby filing system on the right. This adds even more light pollution to the camera aperture. However, this is all but obscured by the amazingly bright yellow light, which is the flash reflecting off a metallic surface, which appears to be a box of some description that has been placed on top on a step ladder (see larger image).

The full unedited image would be invaluable in establishing exactly how this was achieved, but unfortunately, the only image readily available is quite small, edited and overly compressed.

That should be enough information to help you to “make up your own mind” about this image, but what I am most disappointed by, is the decent into sketchy historical references to provide a basis for this “apparition”. We are used to seeing this type of pseudo-history from Most Haunted, and what makes it completely unnecessary, is that hundreds of people die in hospitals every day.

“The Whittington hospital is steeped in history, dating back to the 15th Century when a leper colony was founded there. Mr Low believes the ghostly apparition of a young boy who appeared before him was the spirit of a child called William who lost his life there in these early years”.

One might ask how Leonard knows this to be true?.

This story was also published on the thisislondon.co.uk website, where they add additional details as to where Leonard got this information.

Extract:

“With the help of analysis from mediums, he believes that the pictures depict a 10-year-old boy called William suffering from leprosy. He said: “I would love to go back. I’m fairly convinced it’s a ghost, the place is haunted. The stories I’ve heard were from nurses who have been there for 40 years.”

Mediums? Well that is totally reliable information then, given their previously high success rates. It is almost like the medium might have read this: http://www.whittington.nhs.uk/

“It was not the first time the father-of-two has felt the presence of those beyond the grave. When Mr Low was 21 an apparition of his sister in her nightgown appeared to him – a fortnight after she died”.*

**This does sound remarkably like a Crisis Apparition (Apparitional experience).  They are allegedly quite common among surviving family members who are recently bereaved.

“Describing the extraordinary pain he experiences when in the presence of a ghost, Mr Low said: “I get pins and needles in the back of my head and I find it hard to see. It is as if my skin knows there is something there.” NB: (You would be forgiven, after viewing the above publicity still of Mr Low, to assume he may also get those same pins on the forehead).

It seems Leonard Low is not only a “ghost hunter”, but also claiming to be a “medium” or “sensitive”.

I realised that there were several aspects of this story that should be checked, so I called Whittington Hospitals press department, and spoke to their press spokesperson. In the interests of making this article sound as cool as Kate Fergusons, we shall call him Mr X.

I asked Mr X a few questions, and with a blistering efficiency uncommon in the NHS, he researched all of my answers. I asked Mr X “was it really a hospital administrator who accompanied Leonard to the basement area”? The term bothered me, because I assumed that a senior hospital administrator would be a very busy person indeed.  Mr X assured me that a hospital administrator had indeed accompanied Mr Low to the basement, but the administrator was actually a secretary.

I asked Mr X, if “a spokeswoman for the hospital said they are aware of reports of a ghost lurking there”? Mr X also assured me this was true, that some members of staff believe the place to be haunted, because they sometimes hear noises they cannot explain. No surprises there. I think this is true of most large public sector work locations. I myself have been told ghost stories by nursing staff.

My final question was perhaps the most important one. You see this is not the first time Leonard Low has been in the press. Way back on April 19th 2008, The Mirror ran an article titled “Hospital in ghost cover-up”. In the article Leonard Low claims that he was banned from the hospital after he photographed a spook in the building’s basement. Mr Low claimed that the Spiritual and Pastoral Care department of the Whittington Hospital had banned him from returning “on religious grounds“.

Mr X spoke to the spiritual and pastoral care department and they remembered Mr Low, but the person who liaised to Mr Low originally has since moved on. After contacting this person, they did not recall Mr low being banned, or banning him themselves. This was quite an accomplishment on the part of Mr X, because this information was from five years ago. The Mirror article goes on to say “Leonard Low took the snap in an area which used to house smallpox wards while researching for a new book. Draw from that what you will, but lo and behold, the tale of the Whittington ghost is explored in Mr Low’s new book, the True Story of the Pittenweem Poltergeist.

New Bownessie photos – BARsoc exclusive!

Knowing that a BARsoc researcher was camping out in the Windermere area overnight, I really should have waited to publish the article I wrote yesterday until today – to see if he had anything of significance to add to the case. I thought I’d chance it though, and it seemed I was wrong to do so.

I received a phone call from our researcher in the early hours of the morning explaining that I wouldn’t believe what he had just seen and he had some photos he wanted to send by email so was heading back to his car to get home as soon as possible. That’s all he would tell me. So I’ve been awake most of the night and morning waiting for an email to arrive.

What I received has left me in a bit of a tricky situation as I had information to hand about a less credible investigator involved in the Bownessie case (whom I shall not mention, though if you’re psychic… you’ll know) being involved in the recording of a pilot episode  for a tv show about hunting for British Lake Monsters after their involvement with Bownessie.

I had been made aware of this when the producers behind the show asked me if I was willing to talk on camera about my research into the Tom Pickles photo. They clearly hadn’t done their research though as when I mentioned I was a skeptical researcher they asked if I would “glam up” the research I had done to lend ‘weight to the idea that the photos and sightings could be paranormal, for effect’. I declined.

I hadn’t wanted to reveal this information until I knew the filming of the pilot episode was over, but after the discovery by a BARsoc researcher today I feel I have to bring people up to speed about what is really going on with the Bownessie monster case before it gets out of hand.

There have only been a few photographs involved in the Bownessie case. The first was apparently taken by Steve Burnip in 2006 when he and his wife spotted what they described as a twenty-foot eel like creature swimming in a straight line across the lake in front of them, possibly two hundred or so yards away (the distance they said they could not be certain of).

The Burnip photo has not been released to the general public, but, according to Jon Downes of the CFZ, shows what could be described as humps in the water.

The best known ‘Bownessie’ photo was that taken by Linden Adams in 2007 that shows ‘a creature’ breaking the water and leaving a wake behind it as it travels through the water. He claims it was about 50 foot in length and that is had a labrador-like head, but it looks vague and you can’t really tell if it’s just a bird landing on the water, or something similar.

one in a series of photos by Adams

Tom Pickles and Sarah Harrington were brought to the worlds attention in February when, on February 11th, they were kayaking across the lake and claim that a large creature the size of three cars swam across the lake in front of them. Tom Pickles had managed to grab his mobile phone to take a photo that shows four humps above the water leaving behind a wake. This was the photo that first brought my attention to the Bownessie case.

Trimmed version of Pickles photo

I wrote an article for BARsoc yesterday explaining how (and why) I felt that the sightings of the Bownessie monster were simply misidentifications caused by peoples expectations, media hype and people jumping on a bandwagon.

I also touched upon how the CFZ felt that giant eels were the cause of the sightings and how Dean Maynard seemed to think something paranormal was the cause.

In my article about the Pickles photograph from February I concluded that it was probably a tyre that had been sliced into four humps. I said it could have been dumped in the lake and happened to drift past Tom and Sarah at the wrong (or right…) time, making them think they had seen something paranormal. Others said it was a hoax, an explanation that I felt couldn’t be ruled out. A tyre was found but it didn’t necessarily mean it was an intential hoax…

Discovered by tourist

It would seem though that something fishy is occuring in the lake, but it doesn’t have anything to do with the Artic charr.

I’m guessing it’s to do with adding ‘weight to the idea that the photos and sightings could be paranormal. For effect’, for the pilot show I mentioned before. I did wonder if such a project in the pipe line could have encouraged sightings, but I couldn’t be sure… until now.

I have just received an email from the BARsoc researcher who had been camped out at Windermere, and attached were some photos taken on their Canon EOS Rebel XS with the Canon EF-S 18-55mm f/3.5 – 5.6 IS zoom lens that showed how the cause for the Bownessie sightings was something altogether more mundane that any of us at BARsoc had imagined. Click on each photo to be taken to the full size version. I’ll let you make your own minds up…

shot one

shot two

shot three

It was old Mr Maynard all along, and he would have gotten away with it if it hadn’t been for us pesky kids!

Written by Hayley Stevens for BARsoc.org

Disclaimer: None of this is true, apart from the bits about the actual photos, but not the last few… or the TV show. We hope. April fools!

Did Tom Pickles photograph Bownessie?

Fellow BARsoc researcher, Paul Pearson, wrote an excellent article last week detailing the Bownessie monster case from the first sightings, all the way up to the recent photo that was reported to have been taken by Tom Pickles in February that shows a humped thing in the water that people claim is the Bownessie monster living in lake Windermere.

The story was reported in the local news [1] and has since spread across most news websites and the usual paranormal interest sites and has inspired much discussion, with most people coming to the conclusion that it’s a hoax. I tend to agree with that conclusion, especially as Dr Ian Winfield, a lake ecologist at the University of Lancaster has been quoted in several news articles as saying:

“It’s possible that it’s [the “monster”] a catfish from Eastern Europe and people are misjudging the size but there is no known fish as large as the descriptions we’re hearing [the size of three cars] that could be living in Windermere. We run echo sounding surveys every month and have never found anything.”

You’d think that would be enough to close the case, but still people are speculating about the chance of this photo showing the monster that many have seen. It has even created debate and (rather childish) rivalry between different areas with supposed lake monsters,[2] so, I decided that it might be worth digging into the latest photograph to see if I could discover anything telling.

Facts:

a) The photo was taken by Tom Pickles on a mobile phone. He was accompanied by work colleague Sarah Harrington.

b) The photo was apparently taken while they were in a Kayak during a team building exercise on lake Windermere.

c) The company seminar they were attending was by CapGemini and took place at Fallbarrow Hall, Bowness, Cumbria.

d) Tom Pickles told Westmorland Gazette reporter, Kate Proctor, that the photo was taken on Friday February 11th at 10:35am[3]

e) It is believed that the two islands in the background of the Bowness photo are either:

  1. Hen holme and Lady holme
  2. Or, as Pickles is quoted as saying they had “kayaked 300m out into the lake near Belle Isle when they spotted the beast to the south”[4] the islands could be the Lilies of the valley.

I decided that the best thing to do would be to try to establish contact with Tom Pickles himself but this has proved fruitless as my emails are unanswered. Also, a search online reveals no public profiles for a Tom Pickles living or working in the Shrewsbury area. The same with the colleague who was with him, Sarah.

This proves nothing, but it has made it difficult to try to establish contact with either of them which I wanted to do so that I could elaborate on the information already presented to the press. Also worth noting is the fact that Kate Proctor, the journalist who wrote the initial article on the Westmorland Gazette website has told me that Tom has since sold the photo to the Daily Mail. The West Moreland Gazette were unable to provide me with the photo because of the Copyright in place. I would like to thank Kate for her help.

The photo shows two bodies of land in the background, but it’s hard to distinguish which islands they may be. It is reported they had kayaked 300m into the lake near Belle Island and spotted the monster to the South, which suggests they were near the islands known as the Lilies of the valley, however, they may also have been near Hen holme and Lady holme islands.

circles indicate possible locations (5)

Due to the lack of quality in the photo (it was taken on a mobile phone, may have been cropped or zoomed in on and we don’t have the original) and no distinctive shoreline visible beyond the islands, it’s quite difficult to tell. Below are photos of each set of the islands mentioned, from similar angles to that in the Pickles photograph for comparison.

A trimmed version

The Lilies of the valley

Hen holme & Lady holme

I thought it would also be interesting to take the Pickles photo and position it onto these photos to see if they matched up but this proved inconclusive as they both seemed to match quite well. Without being told where the photo was actually taken it’s impossible to really be sure. Though, the two water buoys present in the Pickles photo (to the left of the photo) suggest to me that the photo was taken near Hen holme & Lady holme, but I cannot be 100% sure.

Lilies of the Valley

Hen holme & Lady holme

However, one thing that did become apparent to me as I made these comparisons with the photos of the islands is the fact that the ‘monster’ was much closer to the photographer (Pickles) than it had first seemed. My first impression was that it was nearer to the islands you see in the background than it was to the photographer, but the islands in the Pickles photo are quite small and because of

Bownessie photo taken by Tom Pickles

uncropped photo (click for big version)

the lack of any other detail in the photo (boats, objects in the water, a shore line in the distance) the distance between the islands, the object and the photographer is really quite misleading.

The ‘monster’ couldn’t have been the size of three cars and show up in the photo as it did. With the proximity of the ‘monster’ to the kayak, it’s more likely to be the approximate size of a large swan. The cropped version that many newspapers are using almost creates the illusion that it is further away from the photographer, however, the full version that the Westmorland Gazette printed (right) shows otherwise.

If you look back up at the photo of the Pickles photo stuck on top of the photo of the Lilies of the valley islands you will notice there is a boat moored close to the right island that looks quite small because of how far away it is from the camera. For the ‘monster’ to be the size of three cars as claimed by Pickles, the monster would have needed to be much nearer the islands that it was for it to appear the size that it is in the photo.

This leads to the question of what the object could be. A small lake monster that Pickles mistook the size of? Or something altogether more mundane?

Well, as I was researching the photo a story broke on the Westmorland Gazette website that suggested it could all have been a hoax brought about through the use of a tyre.  It was reported that John Phillips, from Solihull, photographed a car tyre cut into four humps which was left in a bush near the lake shore. [6]

tyre discovered close to the shore

This is an interesting development that suggests a possible way in which the photo was created. It’s certainly a more plausible theory many people have been suggesting. Of course, the John Philips discovery could itself be a hoax, but a tyre sliced open to create four segments does certainly resemble the oddity in the Pickles photograph when the tyre is straightened out.

Split tyre placed in the water

Does this mean it was all a hoax? Possibly and some would even say probably.

I would like to make it clear that I am in no way suggesting that Tom Pickles hoaxed the photo and I would even suggest that the tyre may have been simply discarded in the lake (tyres are often used as weights on boats, for example) and it happened to float past Tom and Sarah in their kayak at the right moment.

It may have become caught in the wake created by a boat had that passed by and may have been pulled up in the current (there are regular cruise tours of the lake that pass by the islands). We know that the currents caused by a boats wake can still hang around long after boat has passed without being seen (under water currents have caused lots of sightings of odd things in lakes that turn out to be drift wood emerging from beneath the water).[8]

Whether an intentional hoax, or simply misidentification – I feel confident enough to say that the Pickles photo is nothing more than a tyre in the water. I’m willing to change my mind though, should somebody decide to send BARsoc a copy of the orignal photo…

References:

1 – Original Westmorland Gazette news story http://bit.ly/hsMTlX

2 – embarrassing monster boasting: http://bit.ly/hWpRsR

3 – Kate Proctor informed me of the Daily Mail purchase via an email exchange

4 – Company name mentioned: http://bit.ly/hnAoi4

5 – Map produced with http://explore.ordnancesurvey.co.uk/

6 – Cut tyres story: http://bit.ly/ePSR3D

7 – ‘Killer croc’ example of driftwood monsters – http://bit.ly/cptVJO

The 5 Worst Ghosts of 2010

It’s fair to say that some of the ghost stories that grace the newspapers and news websites often leave the more rationally minded of us staring at our screens with sheer horror. Horrified, not by the latest ‘spectres’ to have been caught on camera or film, but by the fact that anyone could have thought what was caught was news worthy.

BARsoc researchers have touched upon such news stories in past articles and will continue to do so throughout 2011, but here at BARsoc HQ* we thought it would be fun to look back at the ghost stories covered by the media through 2010 and choose the 5 that made us weep the most. Again, not weep with horror, but with despair, despair that these ghosts made the news and gained so much attention and helped to mock the field of paranormal research (and in turn, people like us!)

So, behold!

The 5 Worst Ghosts of 2010

#5 – The Savannah Cemetery Ghost


This video came to our attention in November and it is claimed that a ‘ghost child’ can be seen running through the Colonial Park Cemetery in Savannah Georgia. The image is seen running in the distance past some tombstones. We then see some object, which many think is also the ghost, shoot up a tree and moments later drop down.

It’s difficult to tell what could be the cause of the supposed ghost, but we all agree at BARsoc HQ* that this probably, in all reality, isn’t a ghost. It’s too vague because of the distance between the supposed ghost and the camera, as well as the fact that the person shooting the film didn’t bother to go towards the object to investigate.

Jumping to the conclusion that something odd, or something that cannot be explained must be a ghost is quite a leap of logic and doesn’t make sense because we can’t actually be sure of what a ghost is – after all, there is no testable definition of what a ghost is.

So, although we cannot explain away what the ghost in this video could be, we’ve included it because of the assumptions being made and the questions not answered by people making wild claims.

#4 – The Gwyrch Castle Ghost

It’s likely that at some point in 2010 you saw this ghost photo, if not, lucky you. The photo was taken by Mr. Kevin Horkin who claimed he did not notice the spooky figure while taking the shot and that it was only when he had downloaded the photos that he noticed it. Building the oddness to this tale, he claimed that the spot in which the girl is standing in the photo is a place in the building where it is impossible to stand.

The figure appears to be on the first floor, in what used to be a banquet hall where the floor crumbled away years ago, meaning there is nothing for a person to stand on. Weird, right?

Until you see this photo that shows a floor…

This is where the doubt started to set in for many who were following this particular story, Why lie about there not being a floor when there is? It may have been a simple mistake that Kevin Horkin made but, if we were going to the newspaper with a ghost photo (which is likely…) we’d make sure we had all the details first to avoid making such a mistake and looking a bit suspect.

After some digging it turned out that Kevin Horkin is the managing director of a ‘Psychic Management’ company in the U.K. called Parallel Management. According to the company’s website:

‘His wealth of experience encompasses expertise in artist management, events management, sponsorships, public relations, media relations, marketing and artist liaison.’

It gets even better because at the time the photo was taken and released, he and his team were scouting different locations for a “Psychic retreat”. In the Lancashine Telegraph an article reports how:

A RIBBLE Valley businessman is bidding to buy a huge castle to open Britain’s first ‘psychic school of excellence’. Clitheroe-based Kevin Horkin has put in an offer of £850,000 to buy the derelict Grade I-listed Gwrych Castle in Abergele, North Wales.

Mr Horkin, who owns psychic management company Parallel, wants to spend ’several millions’ renovating the 19th century castle, installing a hotel and facilities for psychics to connect with the spiritual world.

During an 18-month search for a base of psychic school of excellence, Mr Horkin and his staff at Parallel, based in Waddington Road, Clitheroe, visited around 20 houses and castles before deciding on Gwrych.

Mr Horkin added: “It is something different. There’s a risk with opening it but I just feel strongly about it.

“I love the place and I feel that people will love it too. There’s just something about it.”

Earlier this week, Mr Horkin revealed how a ghostly image had shown up on mobile phone photographs he took at Gwrych Castle.

What a big fat coincidence… right? Right guys? …guys?

#3 – The Wolfe Pub Ghost Video

You didn’t see this ghost video? WHERE WERE YOU?!

The Wolfe Pub in Little Dockray, Cumbria used to be a funeral parlour according to the landlord which is why it is haunted. Which makes sense… possibly.

The 35-second sequence recorded by a CCTV camera shows a supposed apparition that descends through the ceiling of the room. Numerous newspaper articles (like this one) claim the apparition then polishes a table before zooming upwards and going back through the ceiling – momentarily assuming the likeness of a face which is pretty spooky stuff!

Well, no, actually, it’s not spooky because it is a fly on the lens of the CCTV camera that is out of focus. See:

If you watch the video it’s really easy to see how it is a fly, you can even see the wings moving. The thing that makes this whole case a little frustrating is the claim that strange happenings have also been caught on the CCTV of the travel agents next door to the pub, such as a computer turning itself on, a computer mouse being thrown from a desk and a sign in the window falling down. Yet we’re just expected to believe that this happened because the footage has never been supplied.

When you add the anecdotes to the fly in the video it doesn’t make a convincing ghost story really, does it? Our theory is that the landlord is either credulous, or trying to raise the number of people who walk through his door – or both.

Video:

#2 – The Pint Glass Poltergeist

The New Inn, Gloucestershire, made the headlines earlier this year when an unattended pint of beer was caught on CCTV sliding off of a table all on its own, which is pretty impressive at first glance.

However, the story gets pretty suspicious, pretty fast. The video was featured on The Sun Newspaper website where it quoted Landlord Mark Cooke:

“I’d heard all these stories before we arrived and was pretty sceptical, like most people.But the moving pint was something else. When I saw it on the CCTV it made the hair on the back of my neck stand up. You just can’t explain it — the table’s dead steady, the floor’s not uneven, and no-one’s near it.”

We disagree with Mark because there are several ways in which a glass can slide from a table on its own. Those who drink alcohol, and more specifically beer will know that sometimes the pint glass in which your drink is served is wet from overspill at the pump. Sometimes different surfaces in pubs are also wet because they’ve had wet glasses on them.

In the video you can clearly see the customer take a full pint to the table where an empty pint glass is standing, chances are that the empty pint glass was wet (and thus, the table was slippery) and the new pint glass was wet which could have resulted in the glass sliding off of the surface – especially as the glass isn’t very far from the edge.

We also don’t know if the pub is on a slight hill or if the table was sloped/wobbly, Mark says that it isn’t, but we’re not quite ready just to accept that as a fact because people do tend to over exaggerate in such stories to make things seem a bit stranger than they actually are.

Another cause could be trickery, and numerous people have commented that the person sitting at the back of the room, to the right  in the video happens to move their hand just as the glass falls. This could be a coincidence and to make a fake ghost video people normally need to have a motive.

Enter ‘Gloucester Ghost Walks’ run by the ‘Gloucester Active Paranormal Society’ who have been conducting paranormal investigations at the premises in question for a while. In fact, a member of the team was actually in the bar when the glass fell off of the table. They also charge £25 for a ticket to one of their paranormal events at the pub in question.

We cannot be sure that it is a case of trickery, but this certainly made us rather cynical of the situation and video. Media coverage of this venue, the team and their ghost events would certainly be good for business…

Something like this would be easy to set up with a bit of wire and as it stands it is more likely that this alleged poltergeist is actually just the work of a slippery surface, a wet glass and gravity, or some sneaky tricksters with some wire.

#1 – The Dorset County Museum Ghost

If you have been following BARsoc since we were formed earlier this year then chances are that you knew this would be the case we put in 1st place. It was the first story that we really took to pieces and explored. You can read our entire article on the story here.

It started when this story was featured on the BBC website claiming that:

A group of investigators from Weymouth have released the findings of their investigation into paranormal activity in Dorset County Museum in Dorchester.

They have photos which they believe to be of “hanging” Judge Jeffreys and local fossil collector Mary Anning in the museum’s main hall.

The article also states at one point that the fundraising officer for the museum, Nel Duke, is “unconvinced” that the place is haunted.

The team in question were ‘The P.I.T08’. The first thing that we noticed was that the image featured in the BBC article was heavily cropped. A cropped image provides little context for what it is we are looking at. Realistically it could be anything at all, from an out of focus light, to a drop of water on a sheet of glass. We contacted “The P.I.T.” to ask for the full uncropped version of the image and they kindly obliged.

We showed the photo to most of the members of BARsoc who all reached the same conclusion. The ‘ghost’ was simply an illusion caused by light reflection – the cropped picture used in the newspaper articles simply didn’t show the source of the reflection – it emphasised something that shouldn’t have been emphasised at all.

The images taken that night at the Dorset County Museum, are simply reflections of the camera flash, on a glass fronted display case/mirrored surface. You can clearly see this display case illuminated by the flash, to the north position of the “anomaly”.

We even managed to find other photos that showed the case the camera flash was reflected off, and it wasn’t very hard to do. It would also be safe to presume that people who worked at the museum would know that the display case was there which makes it odd that they would fail to mention this possibility, it may have been an oversight though and we always like to give people the benefit of doubt.

We were told by Steve from the P.I.T that The BBC had contacted the museum after seeing the photos on the P.I.T website and that the museum had then put them in touch with the team. In an email to us he said:

“I can confirm that the P.I.T as a whole do not  state these photos are paranormal and only after trying to prove they where not  did we as a team ‘stamp’ them as ‘possibly paranormal’. As a team we did not go to the press with it and instead quietly released the images on our website for review by its users. The BBC contacted the Museum directly who then gave the story and passed the P.I.Ts details.”

Something didn’t sit quite right with this whole situation, it didn’t make sense to us at BARsoc HQ* that a museum where staff are unconvinced it is haunted would be so keen to get such a story published by the BBC. As far we could tell there was nothing to gain financially other than a slight raise in the number of visitors who might be interested in visiting a haunted location.

However that didn’t seem likely to us after a BARsoc member phoned the museum and they wouldn’t comment about what happened or what activity had been witnessed by staff members, that just didn’t seem right for a place that was happy for news websites to feature the ghost photo taken by a paranormal team and wanted to attract people by using their supposed ghost.

It all clicked into place though about a month after our article on the case was published when Steve, the member of P.I.T that we had been in communication with posted a comment on the article. You could say that ‘the penny dropped’.

The Dorest County Museum are now charging £300 for paranormal teams to enter the building to conduct paranormal investigations to try to find the ghost that was in a photo that the British Anomalistic Research Society showed was actually just an illusion caused by a light reflection.

Yep. You can see why this made the #1 spot on our list.

…and there you have it.

The worst 5 Ghosts in 2010 according to BARsoc. It’s likely that you might have a different ghost related news item in mind that you thought should have made the list, and it was difficult to choose which ones to feature. Why not link to your own bad ghost story as a comment (it has to be a 2010 story).

The one downside to news articles that report ghost stories without any critical thought is that is makes it easy for such avenues of publicity to be abused by those who have something to gain from having a ghost at their premesis.It also makes the paranormal research field look a bit daft, which in all reality, doesn’t need any help in doing so.

Happy new year!

*no really, we have a HQ. Maybe.