I would like to say a big sorry for the long gap between my last post and today. My family received some disturbing news that took us a few days to get our heads around. With the aim of trying to regain some normalicy I am writing my blog and posting my report for the teams investigation at the Silken Strand at the start of November. I hope that you enjoy it…
Write-Up For The Silken Strand Hotel Investigation
3rd November 2012
Firstly, what an amazing place? From the exterior; although lovely, you would not have an inkling of what is inside. The Silken Strand Hotel is the hub for most Leek visitors. Its warm, inviting and sumptuous interior boasts decades of haunted history. In the lap of luxury you maybe forgiven for seeing a young girl playing within the stair-well and kitchen areas – a girl who is not s paying guest. There are also reports of a man standing on the upper landing leading to the dining area looking out of the far window. This man has been observed by patrons of the hotel from the upper gardens areas and describe him as wearing a top hat. With a flood of “happenings”; anything from poltergeist activity smashing glassed to apparitions, we were sure to be in for an “active” night…right?
A few hours before the team gathered at The Silken Strand Hotel in Leek, I was advised that we would have celebrity Craig Phillips (original Big Brother winner, charity fundraiser and presenter of numerous DIY programs) staying in one of the rooms. I offered (as you do) an open invitation to both the management and to Craig; as they were friends, to join us for our investigation. Terry (the manager) said that he would advise Craig of our invite but thought that he would say no as he had a busy schedule the following day. As soon as the phone was placed back in its’ cradle, I informed the team and was immediately asked to draft some questions should we meet Craig.
With a new found excitement bubbling away we all gathered at the location at 10pm. Terry told me that Craig was willing to speak to the team. Oh my days! Nerves? Yes! Those nerves were for nothing though as Craig Phillips was endearing, approachable and friendly. There was nothing diva-ish or stuck up about him. We; as a team, are extremely grateful to Craig for being a good sport and recording an impromptu interview conducted by myself. Thank you Craig. I think I can honestly say that you not only made the teams’ night, but their whole year too!.
Anyway, back to business! Matt began to make his usual scribes – a system of thoughts or feelings jotted down on paper regarding information he believed himself to be receiving. Matts’ sister; Laura (also a medium) along with Liz (our sensitive) also wanted to give the scribing a go too. Here are their notes:
Matts’ notes are as follows:
- A male presence makes himself known in dining room upstairs. He is not happy about it being a dining room.
- He’s followed us around the venue so far.
- Presents the names “Peter” and “William” but I feel that they are not either of his names.
- He says he passed over naturally.
- Had a corporate career – presents himself in the world of finance/insurance/legal.
- The name “Sheldon” is important to him.
- Getting the name “Bowman”. Has a connection with the gardens here.
- Being told about silver/brass heirlooms in particular a cup – engraved with details about the owner.
- Lady of the house (of her time) used to keep dogs – in particular these dogs have a relation to hunting (not necessarily fox hunting) – being more about rabbits and game.
- She goes by the name of “Mary”. Feeling “Sheldon” is the surname or maiden name.
- Man in dining room is talking about pigeon pie as a favourite, used to be an endless supply in relation to hunting circles.
- Being told about parlor games/cards/gambling as a social event held here. More often than not, waging was met by goods, (skins/furs/meat/guns) than currency.
- Timing for all of the above is 1870′-1890’s
- Being told about a set of armour that is an family heirloom.
- Being told about an energy vortex in the cellar.
- There is a male presence down there that is aggressive – probably likely to throw things. Not far from the second set of stairs (from the hallway).
- He has a working class appearance and tends to “sneer”.
- Back to dining room female presence stands in the dining room doorway. (access to dispensary areas).
Lauras’ notes are as follows:
- Tall gentleman-Victorian/Edwardian. Dark brown/black suit/waistcoat and top hat. Pocket watch and pipe.
- Master of the house, patrols the areas, likes to stand by the window looking out over the garden.
- Watching what we are doing, fascinated by the cameras
- Jacob Atkinson?
- Stroke/brain aneurism due to high temperature.
- Spanish flu?
- Dining room = reception room/smoking room/breakfast room.
- 20 years old max
- Relation to the gentleman – ward. Orphaned.
- Seeking his permission to talk to us.
- Flowers smelt in room downstairs
- She died same time as the gentleman – Spanish flu?
Lizs’ notes are as follows:
- Clock ticking. Deep sound like a grandfather clock. Chiming, pacing.
- Trouble in the family.
- Old gentleman in the corner – not happy that we are here.
- Scowling – does not want to talk to me!!
- Feels woman should know their place!
As you can see these sets of notes interlink. There was no comparing them until now as they are not allowed to discuss their notes before I have them in my possession. This is not because I don’t trust them, this is so that their scribes cannot be considered as fraudulently done by our viewers. We have to remain as transparent as possible regarding our techniques and findings. Of course there are some generic threads within these notes, however, there are common trends that also match some of the history I have researched. I will add these findings as I go through the write-up.
The team began their investigation within the attic space. The attic is also used as a storage area for Christmas decorations, old crockery and general odds and ends. Due to the lack of space we were unable to perform any physical experiments.
Paddy (our third medium) along with Liz, Matt and Laura all came to me independently to tell me that the team were being followed around by an unknown energy. Paddy also stated that he was visualising the attic space as a cramped sleeping area. He reported that he could “see” six beds side by side and was probably a maids sleeping area. Paddys’ description continued. We were advised that he thought that the cook had taken ill within this space and that a doctor had visited her. It is thought that it was the cooks’ appendix that was the problem. As well as this, Paddy thought that there had been a “mass” illness of the staff and the attic was where they were all placed to recover.
One of the team believe that there is a “visiting” male energy that oversees the servants/maids. Also a foul smell kept drifting in and around the team, a smell likened to fermenting.
While we were in this small space there are varying reports of people feeling as if they were being pushed or touched on the head or neck areas along with odd mumbling noises. I found it hard to distinguish between the noises coming from outside to those inside so I cannot verify or deny these accounts. My only sensation was when I had my back to the door-hole; leading to an area we could not access, it felt like it was burning. However, when I turned around I was fine and it didn’t occur to my front. As soon as I returned to my original position my back began to burn again. Andy swapped places with me and did not report this happening to him though. I can confirm that members of staff from The Silken Strand have confided in the manager that they have experienced being touched or pushed in this area – this information was not available to the team.
Most of our investigation focused within the Tapas Bar area in what would have once been the cellar or cold-store where Liz reports that she can smell horses and senses that they were restless. The whole team felt uneasy, angry and anxious within this space although it was warm and welcoming. It is believed that there would be glasses thrown in this area. Also pains in the back of the head and neck were felt almost simultaneously by Claire, Liz, Hazel and Laura.
There were independent reports that some of the team took on an appearance other than their own. Jay and Sara were two of those apparently affected.
It is clear from all the notes that were taken in this area that those writing them experienced lengthy periods of confusion and distraction. This is evident by witnessing their behaviour and feeling it firsthand myself. If anybody who took notes felt anything like I did, they would have felt like their concentration was drained – that when they tried to write something, their mind would wander or go blank which caused them frustration. I personally wrote things that were totally irrelevant to what was going on. I would begin to write a sentence and end up writing my name two or three times without realising until I proof read what I had written. In this space I found it really difficult to concentrate on writing, yet, when I went back upstairs the words flooded out like they usually do.
Part way through investigating the Tapas area, Laura and Liz had to leave us to return upstairs for some equipment. On their way back they made a pit-stop at the toilets on the ground floor. While Laura went into the toilets Liz remained in the corridor where the stairs to all levels of the hotel are. Thinking that someone was coming down the stairs; due to heavy footfall sounds, Liz turned around expecting to see somebody…no one was there. This scared our usually unflappable sensitive who went into the ladies toilets to report the occurrence to Laura. When they returned to the investigation Liz was visibly shaken.
Before doing a glass-spin experiment Claire and Liz; on camera, went to lay out some trigger objects on the bar at the other end of the room. These consisted of a wooden dice, three cards and a stick of chalk. After this was recorded on camera the items were left unattended. No-one would be able to gain access to them without passing by the team first.
During the glass-spin we were provided with these details: we were supposedly conversing with a male spirit who had a message for Laura. Laura was told that she had conversed with this energy at The Old Royal Oak. (a previous venue within the Leek area). This energy claimed to be “Sydney”. It became apparent that this energy did not want our help to be crossed over because although he is grounded, he is happy to be where he is. When asked who “Sydney” was willing to speak to the K2 (or EMF) flashed and the glass moved to the “yes” position regarding Matt.
For some reason, although I was not on the glass and was merely observing, I wanted..no, needed to ask if the churches linked the buildings he visited. Laura asked the question for me and the answer was yes. From this we were able to ask questions relating to his occupation and beliefs. We were “told” that he was a catholic vicar at Saint Edwards church. “Sydney” stated that he had doubts about his beliefs. The specific question given by Laura was : “Did you have doubts about your beliefs?” Suddenly, the ghost radar sprang to life as the glass began to move to “yes”. The ghost radar said “myself”. Coincidence? It could be, yet it rounded nicely into the questions that were being asked. This would also happen later into the evening when Matt swore profusely-the otherwise quiet ghost radar would suddenly say “language” – the timing was uncanny.
Jay began to experience issues with his camera. In the very area where Claire would later lose her balance for no apparent reason, Jay’s camera suddenly died although the display indicated that his battery was full.
Another “energy” is said to have taken over the glass during this experiment. This was reported to be another “spirit” the team had spoken to before. Nathan from the Moss Rose in Leek. Those taking part in the glass spinning were informed; using a series of yes or no answers, that Nathan was not able to speak at the Moss Rose but he could at the Silken Strand. Nathan was asked about the “triangle” symbol that kept appearing during our evening there. We were told that it was in relation to the free-masons on Derby Street. John Harris from the Old Royal Oak (if we are to believe the glass) is reported to have resided near to this building. Nathan stated that he was not grounded although something around the church grounds kept him coming back.
At this stage we tried to establish “Nathan’s” age when he passed. I wrote the number eight at the top of my page and asked for it to be recorded on camera because I felt sure that was the answer. However, the glass indicated that “Nathan” was in his twenties when he died. Our mediums tried to narrow that age gap even further. As it turns out, “Nathan” was said to have been twenty-eight. Did I get the answer partially right? I had not told anyone other than Jay (who recorded it on camera) what I thought his age was.
The glass’ energy changed and I thought that I saw an scowling set of male eyes in my head. I told Laura this because it worried me a little – I was not used to feeling things that were not my own to feel. I did not understand why I was getting these images in my head either. I have to say that I wasn’t all that comfortable with it if truth be told, more-so because I didn’t understand the process in which it happens. Due to the angry and negative energy now on the glass the session was closed and the team went on a break. At this point I noted that Paddy, Liz and Andy were in the other section of the cellar; in the bar area. It was at this stage that I noticed that the trigger objects had moved. Of course, with three of our team being in that area, I instantly thought that they had caused the movement of the cards and I told them as much. However, I was informed that due to the trigger objects being placed, they did not venture into that portion of the room.
Liz reported what had been happening in my absence. Liz had sensed a young girl of around fifteen years of age. The girl was thought to be a scullery maid, a person who got all the dirty jobs. Liz and Paddy state that the angry man who I had “seen” had a hold over this girl – each remain in their own areas. I had previously told a team member that I imagined someone dragging a hessian sack across a dirty floor in the cellar, I had also mentioned that a walkway by one of the fire exits looked liked somewhere fruit or goods trucks would have been pulled through. When I mentioned this to Liz during the break, she confirmed that this fact had been broadly mentioned by Paddy during their time downstairs. I had not told Paddy about my thoughts yet our information seemed to tally – another unnerving incident for me.
During the break Liz made notes about an energy she was picking up on. Liz believed that she could sense a young child; even claiming to see an apparition of her in the front entrance area to the hotel, who was around seven years old. The girl was said to have very light strawberry-blonde hair and wearing a white dress. This matched a description of a brief apparition Jay thought he saw near the ground floor kitchen area. Having spoken to the staff, this is also a regular account reported by them that only I had been privy too prior to our investigation.
After the break the team returned to the Tapas Bar area and tried to use the ghost box. (the ghost box cycles through all the radio waves and you may get the occasional word) Now as the team all know, I have misgivings about this device as I believe that you only hear what you want to hear and that the sounds being emitted will be interpreted differently by each individual. However, if I am to believe what the team were telling me, even if I don’t agree with some of the answers (because I thought it said something else) then here is what we found out: We were meant to be conversing with a spirit called “Pete” who is not grounded and only returns to The Silken Strand as fun. There were lots of unexplained noises going on around the team at this time and yet again more than one of the team thought that someone was coming down the stairs to join us – no one appeared although the footsteps sounded real enough. The ghost box sounded like three or four voices were trying to come through all at once. Deb or Deborah was one of the names provided when asked if there was a lady with him.
Our evening was brought to an abrupt halt when many of the team began to feel increasingly uncomfortable and agitated. In Jays’ own words’ he wanted to kill everyone and everything in the cellar. We brought the investigation to a close with the intention of returning to continue into the areas we didn’t have time to cover. The time just slipped away. Some of the team experienced severe and unexplainable fatigue, others reported headaches. Was this due to something zapping their energy or was it just because of the long investigation they had performed? There is no way of knowing.
You can view the footage from this event (and others) at: www.stokehaunted.com
Follow us on Twitter: @Stoke_Haunted (stoke haunted official)
Via Facebooks Stoke Haunted page
You can also follow me on Twitter: @claireatherton
My Facebook page
Stoke Haunted would like to express their thanks to Terry Rogers, the staff of The Silken Strand Hotel, St Edwards St Leek and Craig Phillips for their kind and generous help and access allowances. It is much appreciated.
I hope that you enjoyed the report. We hope to return to this location to research further.
Well that is all from me for now..I’ll be back soon enough with more rants and points of view!