York Ghost Festival 2012

In a moment of madness I came up with a great idea for Hallowe’en night: why don’t I spend it alone somewhere spooky… somewhere like Haunted.

The better idea was doing it sponsored for the Yorkshire Air Ambulance Charity.

I’ve done a lot of ghost hunts over the last ten years, and even spent a night alone in the Roman Bathhouse in York, but ten minutes alone in this particular building even makes me nervous.

The house will be open for tours during the day, with a ghost hunt taking place during the evening run by Mysteria, then I’m locked in from 1.30am until sunrise at 7am.

Regardless of whether you believe in ghosts or not, in this old spooky building in the early hours you’d need nerves of steel not to jump at every noise. Creaking floorboards, warping slightly as they cool down, will become in your own mind footsteps; water in the pipes will become whispered voices; noises in the street will echo through the quiet and convince you that you are not alone.

I’ve been here to lock up after ghost investigations and I tend to get out as quickly as I can because it does become very eerie, I have convinced myself in the past that somebody has lingered behind because I was sure I could hear them, but it was just my mind playing tricks. This is what has me so nervous now: not the prospect of ghosts, but my nerve giving out over things my mind has conjured up.

However, I have also been here when doors have opened and closed on their own, hinges creaking loud enough to be heard throughout the building. There were other people with me then, and the first time it happened we assumed somebody had broken in, having searched the building thoroughly we found nobody, and this happened several times through the night. Somebody asked me if the doors were rigged up to open automatically, if anybody believes that then come and take a look at them: this is a listed building, and Haunted prides itself on NOT having gimmicks, there is nothing like that in here.

There are a lot of accounts from staff, visitors on the tours and people on ghost investigations that make me think twice about dismissing everything as tricks of the mind. Possibly the oldest ghost story in York, told by Laurence Sterne, is from this very building, and there are several more that long pre-date the building becoming Haunted. And the experiences here vary: hair being pulled, people being pushed about, objects moving about especially when there has been building work here, staff members encountering people out of hours only for them to vanish when chased, voices from empty rooms, temperature anomalies, and a whole range of photographs and recordings of strange things. It’s why Haunted is so popular with ghost investigation companies.

During the vigil it will just be me and my pumpkin (plus a lot of coffee, torches and a computer), although I will be appearing on the live house cameras when I’m in the right rooms as well as posting to Facebook and Twitter throughout.

And why am I doing it?

I always like to do something as part of the ghost fest for charity, choosing a local and vitally important charity this year in the shape of the Yorkshire Air Ambulance. I wanted to do something a bit different to commemorate that it’s been ten years since York was declared the most haunted city in the world by GRFI. I’m very grateful to the staff for allowing me to do this, and you never know, I might come out of it NOT a quivering jelly!

If anybody wants to sponsor me, no matter how big or small the donation, I have set up a Just Giving page.

I’ll be tweeting as @Yorkghostfinder, and on Facebook as Ghostfinder General and on the Haunted, 35 Stonegate page.

Remember: keep your equipment dry, and your coffee strong
Rachel Lacy
Ghost Finder General

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