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13 November 2014

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You are in: Wiltshire > Moonraking > Spooky > Peter Underwood Ghosthunter at Large

Peter Underwood Ghosthunter at Large

Leading Ghosthunter, Peter Underwood, talks about his hunt for ghosts in Wiltshire.

The World's leading Ghosthunter, Peter Underwood, Life President of The Ghost Club Society, has seen his fair share of spooks, phantoms and haunted places. Here he talks about his favourite Wiltshire haunts, spookiest cases, phantom dogs and ectoplasm...

The Famous 'Greenwich Ghost'

The Famous 'Greenwich Ghost'

How did you become a ghosthunter?

When I was a boy my grandparents lived in a well known haunted house in Hertfordshire. People called at the house and asked whether they could see the haunted room. My grandmother would ask me to show them and tell them the ghost story - which I did very much tongue in cheek. Often the visitors would say, when I had finished, 'Well, we're not surprised because we have a ghost in our house'.

This began to interest me and I kept notes of the ghost stories I was told and I then began to seek out people who claimed to have experienced ghosts. Then I was fortunate enough to investigate a haunted house in Buckinghamshire which turned out to be the first official investigation into a haunting. The result was broadcast by the BBC - one of the very few occasions when a haunting has seriously been reported in a news bulletin.

After that I was hooked and began seriously looking into reports of haunted houses and frequently spending a night in the most haunted room.

Do you believe in ghosts?

Belief does not really come into it. I am quite sure that I have spoken to people who are convinced that they have seen ghosts and experienced psychic activity and I have certainly experienced some things that I am totally unable to explain. But my object has always been to scientifically prove that what may be happening is objective and can be recorded and is not merely in the minds and imaginations of the people concerned.

Have you ever taken a picture of a ghost?

I have never taken a picture that I have been satisfied is a ghost or ghostly activity. But I have certainly seen photos that I have been unable to explain. Notably the Greenwich ghost photograph. It was taken by a visiting clergyman and his wife, with no interest in ghosts, at The Queen's House, Greenwich. It shows a form climbing up the circular stairs which is always roped off and not available to anyone.

The authorities are unable to account for the image and repeated attempts to duplicate it come nowhere near. It is generally regarded as the most puzzling of all ghost photographs.

I spent a night at the Queens House with a few fellow investigators -but that is another story!

Have you ever been terrified on a case?

Not terrified, I think, I am usually too busy ensuring that everything we have with us is working and that everyone is fulfilling their tasks. But I have certainly been considerably surprised on occasions by loud sounds from locked and sealed rooms and such like.

Which Wiltshire haunting are you most interested in and what's the story behind it?

Probably Littlecote where 'Wild' Will Darrell is said to have murdered a new-born child by throwing it into the fire and holding it down with the heel of his boot.

Littlecote Manor

Littlecote Manor

The charge was made in a statement by a midwife who on her deathbed revealed to a magistrate that she had been summoned one dark night to attend in secret a lady about to have a child and she was promised a large sum of money if she would do so.

She allowed herself to be blindfolded and taken to a house, she did not recognize, where she delivered the child which was then snatched from her by a man and thrown into the fire.

Too terrified to say much at the time she had the presence of mind to take a small piece of material from the bed-curtains and to count the number of stairs as she was led out, again blindfolded.

After her confession suspicion centered on 'Wild' Will Darrell as the villain and Littlecote as the house. Darrell was arrested and the connection established by the number of steps on the stairs and a corresponded hole in the bed-curtains.

Darrell seems to have succeeded in being acquitted but the ghost of the murdered baby seemingly appeared before him when he was riding on horseback and so startled the horse that he was thrown and died.

There were also the appearance of mysterious bloodstains in the appropriate chamber where the terrible crime was apparently sometimes reenacted.

The place where the stile stood where the horse reared is still known as 'Darrell's Stile'.

Where are the spookiest places in Wiltshire?

Apart from Littlecote I would probably pick Westwood Manor, near Bradford-on-avon, which was a fascinating place and had at least two ghosts. Then perhaps Lydiard Tregoze with its long history of haunting and many witnesses and then there is always Longleat with its Green Lady and other phantoms of the past.

What about animal ghosts?

There are certainly reports of animal ghosts in Wiltshire including the countrywide Black Dog seen at Brook House, Stourton and there are also phantom dogs reported at Cholderton House, Cholderton (that sometimes accompanies people crossing the driveway after dark).

Peter Underwood

Peter Underwood

And the ghostly lady in white seen on a path near the Common at Broughton Gifford is always followed by a ghostly little dog, according to reports; and then there are repeated reports of a ghost horse (some say headless!) in Bull Lane at Kilmington.

What is ectoplasm?

Ectoplasm is the name given to 'something' that reportedly exudes from a medium's body and seemingly builds up into a recognized human form at physical seances.

I have seen what is claimed to be ectoplasm but have not been allowed to touch it or obtain a piece for examination. Mediums say that if interfered with the ectoplasm will suddenly retreat into the medium's body with damaging results.

Is there such a thing as ectoplasm? I will accept there is when I have obtained a sample myself, under test conditions, and had it examined scientifically.

Are there any basic things you can do to investigate if a place is haunted?

There are no basic things that anyone can do to establish whether a place is haunted. It is a case of careful, truthful, serious and objective observation over as long as it takes.

Peter Underwood is the author of over 40 books on the supernatural including 'Ghosts of Wiltshire', 'Peter Underwood's Favourite Tales of the Fantastical', 'Exorcism!' and 'Ghosts And How To See Them'.

last updated: 28/01/2009 at 14:27
created: 26/10/2005

Have Your Say

The BBC reserves the right to edit comments submitted.

jonha
One early morning when was 13 years old i was wide awake. Then i saw a dark cloud right by my feet in my bed room. it apeared to be an old lady in a long dark veil cover over her. & i just could not move !!! so then i went to visit an spiritualist and deeply feeled that the spirit that came to me, was an evil spirit caused by black magic!!! she told me to wear a tellisman. which i bought one in italy which carries the st daved star & the three king guardians holy angeles. sence i been wearing it & still from today, the spirit never came back to me again ! spooky but very ture.

jona
i agree with annonymous! theres no such thing as silly ghosts

leanne
i used to live in marlborough wiltshire now canada and my mum used to be manager of 'age of elagence' she told me a few stories about that place being haunted, she was closing the shop one night on her own and from the top floor pictures were being thrown at her and other times there would have been no-one upstairs and the windows would be wide open and the room with a bedding would always be messed up... she was always getting complaints fom customers about the state of the room but she always made it nice its just so wierd leanne

freddie aged 16
have u ever been to boughton gifford?

jason pontypool
nights in haunted houses i have read this book 3 times my fav story has to be borley cottage. thank you peter underwood

Tony Gilbert
I once visited a museum in Bude, Cornwall. I stood next to an old figurehead to a wrecked ship and had an incredible ice cold shiver and strange feeling. When I stepped backward the feeling immediately ceased and when I then stepped forward again I was effected yet again. I felt so uncomforatable that I was almost sick and could barely stand up. I told the owner of my exsperience and was informed that the building was in fact haunted. The figurehead belonged to an old trading vessel where all crew were lost in Bude Bay. The story read that mysteriously the local sea rescue would not go out and save the drowning men. I no longer doubt that ghosts exist.

christine brannigan
i think peter is the best there is at ghost finding, i have some books of his and would like to meet him some day.

veronica.wakeling
I have seen a ghost and commented on it but the person was in the throes of a fatality.

Gerda
I live in South Africa. I have been on a Ghost Tour to so-called haunting sigthings but there was definately nothing mysterious or even slightly supernatural. Even during my visits to the the West Countries in England, including Devon and Cornwall, did I not experience anything remotely supernatural or ghostly. The closest I came to a strange experience was in the cemetry of Langtree Church were it semed as if the crows tried to keep me and my children from going in to the cemetry or ancient church. I do not believe in ghosts and even less in vampires! Not even your book West Country Hauntings which I however found rather interesting, can convince me that there are ghosts. I have noted that you are now even into vampire busting! Do you believe in God and in Jesus Christ our Saviour?

Janet adams
Hello, my husband is a chauffeur, he literally has just dropped off a lady from Laverstock Wiltshire,and on the road home just outside of Laverstock he 'did an emergency stop' there was a figure in the road wearing black, he was shaken and stopped the car to inspect it, by rights he should have knowcked this thing over, but there waas nothing there? there was a driver behind him who also thought there maybe something on the road but they found nothing and there was gladly no damage to the car? being a complete and utter sceptic though, I must say it shoook him up considerably ? regards Janet Dibden Purlieu Hants

Jorden Williams Paranormal Investigation
We have recently completed an Investigation at the Haunch Of Venison in Salisbury on halloween night. The night surprised us all with our medium linking it with the building's past with good results. We did some table tipping and encountered a nasy spirit who ended up tipping the glass over and it left. Just because there might be rumours of years past of ghost's in the building, we found many others that has not been documented. Please check our website 0ut for more details ( www.jorden-williams-paranormal-investigations.co.uk/jorden-williams

Keith
My daughter is very receptive . we had two ghosts in our house up North - one was a smoker! also our dog that had died Hants used to vist my wife when I was away!! Since my daughter as taken Raki she can "feel things" in old objects - we have never stopped our daughter when she say's she has seen things

Jorden Williams
Jorden Williams Paranormal Investigations. Always expect the unexpected as an investigation team we can be assured in saying that YES there are Ghost, Spirits around us, we might not be able to see them but beliebe me the watch and when they want you to know they are there, you will know.... We have seen far too much to say that there is nothing out there, Sceptics Prepare to eat your words, We will be at the Haunch of Venison this halloween, see website for more details

Naomi
Only yesterday(aug 05) evening after heavy rain,i was driving home from my mums home in the little village of wootton rivers nr marlborough to my home in the village of milton lilbourne.I had to travel along a windy,narrow lane that passed through dean waters bottom.I drive a 4x4 and i had my little dog with me in the front of the wagon.I was suddenly aware of a huge black dog(the size of a great dane)moving gracefully alongside my wagon.I wasnt driving that fast due to the heavy down poor i had just driven through, however this magnificent creature just appeared along side my car,at one point it looked around at me whilst still trotting sedately along.Its coat seemed to glisten like streaks of silver in the headlights of the car,i also noticed the dog was wearing a large wide studded type collar,i decided that i must see if i could persuade this magnificent dog to hop into the back of my wagon so i could try and find out who it belonged to...or so i thought because as soon as i stopped my car and got out it just vanished in front of me.Up until that point i was not afraid as it looked so friendly.I am aware of the ghostly black dogs with glowing red eyes,this was just a beautiful huge dog to me....until it disappeared in front of me!!

Real. Ghosts. Ignore the freaks!
I hope the THL (www.thishauntedland.co.uk) team come to Wiltshire. A proper investigation (beyond the goths) would be great. EMF, Thermo, NV, MC, and MD. That's quite an arsenal. And bound to find something, beyond the usual self indulgent trash. Here's hoping, from a Wiltshire goth girl. ;-)

emma
yes i have been spooked it looked like an old man he went trough the wall

dan
as an 18 yr old lad, these spooky places owners don't generally let a bunch of kids wander through their houses, but i have been to littlecote, and scared myself with the car horn, i have only see one ghost and that is at broome manor, in the golf complex in swindon, there was a young girl and mother murdered and the girl can be seen at the top window on the end, don't bee afraid by the manakin in the ground floor window, its face changes every night and there are cameras in the eyes, stanton house is without a doubt the scariest place i've been, i had a bad feeling about it and my mate was throwing stones at the house and he LEVITATED and was dragged to the front door where he was pinned 3 FOOT FROM THE FLOOR. thanks for the locations on more houses people

CHEZ
I haven't seen a ghost but my daughter has, it was an old man pushing a bike by Laycock, he just walked straight through her car! anyone else seen him?

Aaron Jones
I have the pleasure of working in the Queen's House Greenwich, and it is a lovely place but I have seen and heard many things which make it seem less lovely...!

cherie underwood
i have seen stuff at night in the grounds of salisbury cathedral

KARLA
I BELIEVE THER IS SUCH THING AS GHOST'S I ALSO BELIEV YOUR SOUL LIVES ON...ALTHOUG I'V EXPERINCE A SIGHTING OF A GHOST BEFORE , IT WAS QUITE SCARY

Nick
We've had some interesting activity in our pub in Chilton Foliat recently. Check out the chiltonfoliat.com web site for pictures.

RICHARD KEEBLE... SUFFOLK PARANORMAL INVESTIGATION
YES THERE ARE GHOSTS,THERE ARE A NUMBER OF GHOST TYPES THERE ARE POLTERGEIST'S,GHOST'S OF PEOPLE WHO DON'T KNOW THEY ARE DEAD, EVIL SPIRITS, BELIEVE ME THEY ARE OUT THERE! THERE IS ALSO THE STONE TAPE THEORY GHOSTS THIS IS A GHOST WHICH IS LIKE A VIDEO TAPE WHICH PLAY'S OVER AND OVER AGAIN EG, A FATAL ROAD ACCIDENT, THERE IS ALSO THE GHOST THAT IS PASSING THROUGH, AND STAYS ONLY FOR A SHORT TIME AND MOVES ON,I KNOW ABOUT GHOSTS BECAUSE I HAVE BEEN A PARANORMAL INVESTIGATOR FOR AROUND THIRTY YEARS, AND SEEN SOME VERY STRANGE THINGS INDEED.

db
just before christmas (04) me and my friend mike were walkin to a lake that we often fish in but we decided to talk a detore down a different track that leaded us onto a road , this was late at night i cannot remember the time exactly but it was dark anyway we walked past and old abondond farm including a farm house in this there was not light but as we walked further mike was looking back and spotted wat seemed to be a white looking lady in a white dress staring back at him wen he brought it to my attention i looked bk to see a younger looking boy in the hedge further to the left and another white figure on the floor we walked further but wen we looked bk a dim light came from the abandend farm house and then went , another sighting that night was of a boy this time much closer looking directly at me he looked fimilier to my friend mike but only with black hair , mikes being blonde i thought this over and there was no reason for this only for it to be wat i thought was a ghost , u had to be there!

U Hodgson
in Swanage, Dorset when on holiday about 20 years ago

lucy smith
I know someone who used to live at littlecote, and i visited their often, it was definitley haunted. There was a lot of paranormal activity

jason lapham
theres no bull lane in Kilmington!

adam jack
hey, ive always had a thing fot the supernatural, but wat i have just winessed these last 5 days has totally shacken me up, mant people doubt this but i went to this abandoned house, in stanton park, its deep in the forest, its hughe, with an old stable and a large barn contain wel over 10 rooms, the house is sectioned off into 2 parts, u caqn only get to the 2nd part of the house throught the roof, strange i know, i have seen some very weird things, large bangin on the floor i have been on, there are 4 floors, we wud move sumthing 2 a place, and we would just cum bakc mins l8ter and it would b moved into the same place all the time, not onlt that they talk about cold patches in houses, there a few of them, i know its abandoned but still, i have seen outlines of things, thats all i can say they are coz they are just outlines

Sue
Yes, I do believe in ghosts, spirits, whatever you would like to call them. I have had a couple of unexplained encounters or sights that have spooked me a bit. I like reading about ghosts as well. I'm from Miami, Fl.

damo
I live in Cholderton and have heard about the black dog ghosts! and where i live is haunted by a white ghost which has been seen on a number of occasions!

Anonymous
Sorry, I don't beleive in ghosts, and you're just trying to scare me.

Arran Spencer
I live about 10 minutes from lydiard tregoze,once when i was about 15 years old,me and my friend interviewed a lady who used to live in the mansion and was a caretaker there for a school project.She told us about the ghosts at lydiard and said one ghost that was commonly seen was Sir john Sinjent,she also told us that her dog used to bark at things that weren't there.Me and my friend recorded this interview and also went around the house with the microphone and didn't hear or see anything,but when we played the tape back there was the clear sound of a dog barking!!! there was no dog around and when we played this back to the former caretaker she said it sounded like her dog and that the dog had died years before!!!

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