Written by Sarah-May Smith-Reed
Three miles south of the Scottish Border, amongst the heavy, dark Kielder Forest, sits the 242 year old Kielder Castle, originally built in 1775 as a hunting lodge for the Duke of Northumberland and situated on land known for smuggling, border wars and ancient burial grounds. It’s spirit inhabitants are well documented; a Victorian Lady, a Man on a horse, a hunting accident victim, a young stable-hand and of course that of Emma, a young woman who died of a broken heart.
Now, being a woman of certain tastes, I wasn’t willing to do the obvious hen-party evening (for my American readers, that’s what we in England call a bachelorette party), and I chose Kielder Castle as the setting for my Haunted Hen Party.
Armed with a very mixed group of friends, we covered all bases. We had our open-minded sceptic, a few firm believers, myself and one other spiritualist and a few who’d never been involved in an investigation before, eight of us in total and we booked through a group called Spirit Seekers who are known to attack investigations from both angles; the scientific and the spiritualist. I was very confident that our night wouldn’t go by quietly, and I was not disappointed.
During the opening ‘history of the building’ conversation, the man in charge of the group, Carl, asked if there were any mediums or spiritualists in the group who would like to continue without knowing the history and the stories of the spirits, myself and good friend Jack left the room, determined we were going to test ourselves during the night too. Catey ran late, so also missed the history. We returned in time for the protection circle and began the investigation.
We started our investigation in the derelict East Wing of the castle. Animal bones scattered the surfaces, and rocks and gravel covered the uneven flooring, that of course moved and creaked with every step you made. The area was dark, and cold, with no electricity, and single glazed Windows (if there was glass on them at all). As soon as we set foot in the area I felt a sickness wash over me and settle in my solar plexus. We sat in a circle and introduced ourselves to the building.
For a little while, everything seemed quiet, but as Carl began using the spirit box I became distracted by knocks and shuffling noises coming from the room behind me. I left my seat with my brother-in-law John to investigate the small room, half-expecting to find a rodent, but upon inspection, we found nothing. Another member of the group, Catey, began taking pictures of the area we’d just looked at, and to our surprise caught a small light anomaly which you can see below.
From this moment activity increased steadily throughout the night. Seeing the strange light anomaly in the picture, we all piled into the small room and began using the spirit box. When we started receiving answers, the spirit that identified itself to us was well known to our group as the attachment that one member, Carl S, has had experiences with for a few years. The further intelligent conversations with it, discussing personal matters, verified this.
For myself, and a few others, the back room of the derelict East Wing was a source of unease, so with trepidation, we formed a circle in the room and asked for physical answers to the obvious questions; “if there’s someone here, can you make a noise?”, “can you touch one of us?” Etc. With everyone stood stock-still and silent we were all quite taken back when a floorboard moved quite violently, as if someone had stood heavily onto it. Moments later, Catey and another member of the group Terri, recoiled in fear, claiming they’d heard a quiet laugh directly between them. Interestingly, not a single other person in the room had heard the laugh. We thanked the spirit for making itself known and continued to ask if it would be willing to do something else for us.
A noise in the doorway caught my attention and I shone a torch in the direction of the noise. As soon as I’d switched the torch on, I saw something hurtling towards me through the air. A smallish rock hit my shoulder and bounced on to the floor. There wasn’t anyone in the direction the rock had traveled from. A second rock bounced on a chair in the middle of the room a minute later, but we were unaware of the direction it came from.
Moving back into the main area of the derelict East Wing, we were astounded to see a rope swinging from side to side. Our first reaction was to check for a draft as the rope was by a window, but discovering that there was no draft and the rope was swinging in an excessive way (and opposite to how it would be swinging in a draft), we pulled out a thermal imaging camera.
To our utter shock, an ice-cold handprint was centred on the rope, and when we asked the spirit to let go of the rope, the swinging stopped and the handprint faded. It was at this point that Catey felt a tug on her long hair and I began to feel the spirit in the room was that of a young boy, who worked at the castle. I discussed with Jack the sensations I was receiving and the images of a horse. The group substantiated my claim with the story of the young stable-hand they’d discussed at the beginning of the investigation.
This concluded the first half of the investigation and we regrouped for hot beverages and discussed our experiences with the other Spirit Seekers Investigators before moving inside for our second investigation which began in ‘The Dukes Room’.
The room itself contained a few unnerving mannequins around a beautiful mahogany desk behind some ropes. We sat on the minor thread count rug on the cold floor and were very aware of our imaginations playing tricks on us. My logical mind told me I’d conjured up the image of the macabre mannequins moving and smiling, but I was still convinced one was staring at me. We placed an EMF reader on the desk by the life-sized Marionettes and turned on the Spirit Box.
We received a few of the names in the group and then quite prominently a ‘get out’ and ‘you need to leave’. Unfazed by this, we pressed on, asking questions but receiving no further intelligent responses through the spirit box, until a member of the group began receiving personal responses regarding a recent death in the family. When we refused to discuss this further with the spirit, the EMF sounded and we are able to receive intelligent responses with a ‘touch the device for yes’ frame of conversation. A few of us, myself included, began to feel dizzy and faint during this altercation.
At the same time, the hallway to the left of ‘The Dukes Room’ with movement sensor light switches became active. The lights began switching on and off with no one in the vicinity. We investigated the entire corridor and the astronomy room at the end of it and found no one. We shone a laser grid into the hallway, hoping to catch the movement that was triggering the lights, but all activity ceased.
The final part of our investigation involved us splitting into smaller groups or investigating solo. We all headed upstairs and settled in different rooms. Myself and Catey found ourselves in a bedroom, with a fireplace. The sadness I felt in the room was truly sobering, and I watched Catey become affected by a spirit. We were both unaware that this room was known to be Emma’s room, but I found myself throwing names such as Emily, Ellen, and Eleanor before I settled on Emma. Catey found herself drawn to the window the entire time she was in the room, explaining that she felt she was missing something. We were joined by John who corroborated the history of the room, the name Emma and why we felt the way we did.
The investigation concluded with a chat with the Spirit Seekers themselves, and our personal experiences. I couldn’t have been happier with my choice of hen party, my choice of friends joining me or my choice of investigation company, and so long as they’ll have me back, I’d love to join them on another investigation in the future! Next time, I’ll spend the full night!