Despite being part of a civic centre of a modern town, researchers traced the history of the land on which the theatre was built.
In the late 1960s, numbers 27-32 Regent Place and 7-10 Princes Street were 'cleared' to make way for the theatre. The terraced houses and back alleyways had stood since the 1880s, records of habitation on the site spanned back further centuries.
The site of the modern-day Wyvern stood adjacent to the ancient hamlet of Eastcott, before the rapidly expanding 19th century Swindon consumed the settlement.
|Red light anomaly caused by investigator|
The Wyvern has its fair share of ghostly connections for a modern building. One of the theatre's original staff members resigned to pursue a career in spiritual mediumship.
In its early days, a psychical research centre stood a stone’s throw from the theatre – situated in the congregational church where the British Computing Society offices now stand. More important, however, are the occasional sightings of 'ghostly black figures' running across the stage and stairs.
Eleven investigators conducted an over-night research session at the Wyvern on Saturday 9th September. Perceived activity included light anomalies, moving shadows, the feeling of being touched, anomalous voices heard, heat fluctuations and shadowy figures running across the stage.
|Auditorium orb, caused by moisture|
In all, 54 experiences were reported throughout the night. The auditorium saw most reports, closely followed by the lighting studio. The prop room and dance studios saw a few reports of possible ghost-like activity, whilst the green room and network of corridors saw little or none.
Over two thirds of sightings were only reported by one investigator at a time, and were therefore discounted as possible hallucination. Nearly one-fifth of experiences were subjective but verified, that is unusual occurrences coincided with significant equipment readings. Finally, 15% of experiences were perceived by more than one investigator.
Verified experiences were analysed against potential extraneous factors. That is, they were compared to natural occurrences that could explain the usual experience. Three investigators saw unusual lights moving across the stairs in the auditorium across a few minutes, and there were numerous accounts of more than one person seeing shadowy figures crossing the theatre stage.
Two investigators saw a light switch apparently switching itself on, which was verified by video evidence. Whilst these experiences were unusual and not easily explainable, primed expectation, group hallucination and electrical fault could not be ruled out.
The investigation team was armed with photographic and environmental monitoring equipment, including: ultrasonic sound detectors, anemometers, negative ion detectors, electromagnetic field meters, spot temperature gauges, and gauges for ambient temperature, humidity and air pressure.
Five cases of 'significant' fluctuation from the baseline were recorded. Whilst three were ruled out, two units were further analysed. A 20 minute period saw a room’s humidity increase from 51% to 61% whilst reported unusual experiences increased significantly. Whilst this cannot be easily explained, no causal link was obvious.
|Orbs in the prop room, cause - dust? |
Secondly, when an investigator reported a cold presence over their hand, no drafts were reported and equipment showed that hand to be significantly colder than the other did for a period of 30 seconds.
The investigation racked up hours of video evidence and audio evidence (in electrovoice or EVP experiments) whilst hundreds of photographs were taken.
Whilst video and audio evidence revealed little activity, 34 photographs contained anomalous images. Audited light factors potentially accounted for more than half these images, whilst equipment proximity, moisture, dust and reflection seemed to account for the rest.
Finally, PSI’s mediums established numerous pieces of information. Whilst historical records were not sufficiently complete to marry up most of the information, two significantly accurate pieces remained. One assertion cannot be revealed for ethical reasons. The other saw a medium report the death of a young builder during the construction of the theatre, which was corroborated afterwards by interviewees who recalled the death. It should be noted that information picked up by mediums cannot be scientifically grounded.
The Wyvern theatre investigation saw an above average amount of potentially 'ghostly' activity, especially for such a new building. Whilst all the evidence had to be discounted, PSI cannot say for certain that the Wyvern is not haunted. What is clear is that science needs to become more advanced before we can really understand what is going on.