This is something that comes as a surprise to some of my friends - I believe in ghosts. I'm not a religious person; I don't believe in a god, heaven, hell, or anything like that, I'm a man of science, yet I believe that hauntings happen.

I have done from a young age and, as I've got older, that belief hasn't gone away.

Ghosts. You may know them as ghouls, or phantoms, or demons, or spirits, or spirrins, or spictrins.

How did this belief start? Who knows. But it was first fuelled by...

The Boiler Room Ghost

I can remember being with friends in the primary school playground, peering through a metal hatch in the front of the building through to the boiler room. Peering in to the dark room, we could clearly see the reflection of a school crossing lollipop but little else. Then we heard something. Most probably it was the boiler itself but, to us, it was a ghost.

The front of my primary school. The red hatch can be seen in the front wall.
My primary school in a photo taken by me at my year 6 leavers' party, 1993. The red metal hatch, now gone as the school's been extended, can be seen in the wall.

Our imaginations ran wild. We came up with a backstory for 'him', although I can't remember what that was now.

Our class teacher entertained us by turning it into an extra-curricular English project for us, and letting us interview staff to find out their experiences of the paranormal. It culminated in us writing a newspaper front page on the school's BBC Micro.

Side note, this is where I ended up going down a Google rabbithole trying to remember what software we used to create that newspaper. Turns out it was simply called Front Page. I can't directly link to it, but if you go to Flax Cottage and search for the 'MAPE Tape 2' package, it's on there.

A screenshot from the Front Page program with an article headlined "Is the school haunted?"
What our newspaper front page looked like. Maybe. It's a reconstruction of something I did over 30 years ago, don't be too harsh!

The interviews are true as best as I can remember. I remember us being allowed to investigate the staff room, which was on the first floor above the library. And Mrs P did tell us about her ghost story, when something sat on a bed, leaving an imprint in the blankets. As she went to wave her hand in front of her, it stopped dead where the imprint was, as if it had hit a person.

My favourite library books

I've written before about how I enjoyed visiting the library when I was a child, but I remember the time when I broke away from the children's area and ventured into the adult non-fiction stacks. There was instantly one section that got my attention: the early Dewey Decimals - mysteries and paranormal phenomena. It might've even been the librarian, knowing I enjoyed reading the classic Usborne ghost book, who steered me in that direction.

I can't remember the book titles, but there were the classic photos of ghosts, crop circles, and spontaneous human combustion. I'd borrow them time after time, the images - not caring if they were genuine or not - keeping me fascinated.

The Raynham Brown Lady. A black and white photograph of a stately home staircase, with a white 'mist' in the centre giving the appearance of a women.
The Raynham Brown Lady, photographed by Captain Provand and Indre Shira in 1936 whilst working for Country Life magazine.

A lot of those ghost photos appear on this website, and Country Life have written an article about how this photo came about.


Halloween 1992, and 10-year-old me was staying at nan's house whilst my parents worked on the monthly business accounts. After reading George's Marvellous Medicine to her, nan fell asleep in her armchair and I stayed up to watch the infamous Ghostwatch.

I was fascinated by it. The ghost story, the 'live' setup, the TV personalities I knew. I don't remember being scared by it, I just loved it.

The iconic shot of Mr Pipes, the ghost in Ghostwatch, standing in front of bedroom curtains. In the show, the camera pans across the bedroom, at first missing the ghost, then snaps back to where he was spotted but it no longer there.
Of course, Mr Pipes standing in the bedroom in that iconic shot stayed with me ever since.

It was all the talk at Beavers the following Monday night: "my dad says it was all made up" ... "well I think it was real" ... "did you see the ghost in the bedroom?...

Ghostwatch really was the precursor to...

Most Haunted

I first discovered Most Haunted at my parents' house. Mum and I were flicking through the channels one night when we came across this weird, black-and-green programme.

We instantly stopped channel hopping and started watching - and were instantly hooked.

Again, the whole set up of the show, going out and hunting ghosts, fascinated us. I can't remember exactly which episode it was, but when the captions came up to to corroborate what was being said, we were both amazed.

Since then I've watched every broadcast and YouTube episode, and have all bar a couple of the DVDs.

I know there have been claims of fakery, criticism of the "theatrics" of it all, and even the exposure of Derek Acorah. But, you know what, I don't care.

I enjoy the programme. I enjoy some of those that were inspired by Most Haunted, and regularly watch the YouTube series by The Ouija Brothers, Dark Territory, and Ghosts on Trent. They all have that Most Haunted vibe that I enjoy.

I also have my reasons for believing, in the earlier days at least, Derek was being genuine. I think he thought he could become bigger than the show so had to act up to keep up with the expectations. "Mary loves Dick", and all that. But more on those reasons shortly.

So, what of my experiences? Have I seen a ghost?

Well, no. But I have had what I believe to be paranormal experiences.


The first time I encountered something I just couldn't explain I would've been about 10 or 11. I woke up in the early hours of the morning, laying in my bed, and I could hear knocking coming from a cupboard.

My bedroom, circa 1992. The cupboard in question is on the left.
The cupboard itself, seen on the left in this photo of my bedroom c. 1992, was pretty unremarkable. It was something like an MFI flat-pack single wardrobe, about 6 feet tall, 2 feet wide, that had been converted with the addition of shelves.

The knocking was like someone was lighting tapping on the door. It wasn't like something vibrating due to a big lorry idling its engine outside, it was proper tapping. There wasn't really a pattern or rhythm to it, and it wasn't that loud, but loud enough to wake me up. I listened for a moment, then it stopped, but it was definitely coming from the cupboard.

Curious, I put on my bedside lamp (the white desk lamp in the photo) and got out of bed. I put my hand on the door but couldn't feel anything, so I opened the door. Also nothing. I was a little confused, not scared, but I knew something wasn't right - I know what I heard.

I got back into bed, leaving the light on and closed my eyes.

A few moments later, the collar of my pyjama top was flicked. When I was a kid I used to wear those old fashioned pyjamas, the type with a big shirt with a collar and buttons and what I felt was like someone flicked my collar. I felt it. I heard it. If you're wearing a shirt or blouse right now, use your thumb and middle finger to flick your collar - it was exactly like that.

I immediately opened my eyes, as wide as they'd go. I was laying with my back to the cupboard. I looked around the room and, of course, there was nothing there. I didn't know what to do except pull my duvet right up to my neck, screw my eyes tightly shut, and try to sleep. So that's what I did.

Neither the knocking or the flicking ever happened again but, to this day, I still sleep with the duvet pulled right up to my neck.

The Muckleburgh Collection

It's 1999, so I would've been 17, and I'm on a family holiday in Norfolk. One of the attractions we visit is the Muckleburgh Collection, a museum on a former military camp.

The Artillery Hall, Muckleburgh Collection
The Artillery Hall, Muckleburgh Collection.
Image: Ashley Dace / The Artillery Hall / 

To be quite honest, I don't really remember too much about the museum itself, just one 'experience'? Feeling? Weirdness.

I remember I was standing in a corridor looking at a board. I was on my own, as I'd moved on ahead of my family in the previous gallery. I don't even remember what was actually on the board, all I can remember is a feeling - a compulsion, that I had to turn to my left and march my way right down the corridor to the room at the far end.

I don't know why, but that's what I wanted to do.

There was no-one else around me, I couldn't even make out what the room at the end of the corridor was, but I wanted to march - proper march - down there.

Before I could act on that compulsion, my dad came from around the corner. He could see there was something not quite right about my expression and asked if I was ok. I think I muttered something like 'err, yeah, fine' and we carried on. But that exact moment is still there, clear as day, in my mind.

Fast forward a few years and the museum appears on Most Haunted - and here's why I believe Derek was genuine, at least at times, in the early days.

About ten minutes in to the programme and Derek is drawn to a corridor. My eyes instantly widen.

"Right here, at this point, I firmly, firmly believe that around this area we have a vortex; an inlet and an outlet for spirit entry and exit."

They're standing exactly where I was stood when I visited.

A screenshot from the Muckleburgh episode of Most Haunted. It shows a floorplan of the museum with the corridor highlighted. At the end of the corridor, on the left, is a small office.
A screenshot from the Muckleburgh episode of Most Haunted. It shows a floorplan of the museum with the corridor highlighted. At the end of the corridor, on the left, is a small office.

After talking about an apparent murderer who still roams the area, Derek is seemingly interrupted.

"Oh, I've got a very brusk soul now, who's wanting to draw me along down here... a proud man."

Derek leads the group down the corridor to the office at the end where it's indicated that it's the office of Squadron Leader Berry Savory, althought this isn't confirmed.

It was Berry Savory, along with his son Michael, who established the museum.

Of couse, there's still the possibility of this being just a coincidence or another appearance from Kreed Kafer, but I just can't shake off what I felt and the exact point at which Derek stopped in the corridor.

The 'different' room

The last experience I can think of was when I was working for a museum myself. We were in the process of relocating it from an old pre-fab type building to a fully refurbished Victorian mansion-like house that had previously been converted in to student accomodation.

East Thorpe, a Victorian Gothic revival-style building, now home to The Museum of English Rural Life.
East Thorpe, a Victorian Gothic revival-style building, now home to a museum.
Image: Rose and Trev Clough /

The southern wing of the house, added to the original building in 1911, was (probably still is) home to archive storage, with the bedrooms now fitted out with racking, blackout blinds, and UV-filtered lighting. Importantly, these rooms were centrally air conditioned for the perfect temperature and humidity to store precious documents.

We knew what every archive room felt like - exactly the same. The same constant air temperature, the same constant humidity, the same lighting. Whilst there were environmental sensors in every room, the ducting was the same.

One afternoon whilst moving archives in, one of the rooms on the second floor just felt different. It's hard to explain. It didn't feel warm, cool, moist, dry - it just felt... oppressive. There were three of us working that day and we all commented on how that room felt different to the others.

When we got back to the old building, we mentioned it to the archivist who was able to remotely check on the air conditioning system. It was working perfectly except, we were right, there was an anomoly in that room. The temperature was higher than it should've been - which shouldn't have been possible given the adjacent rooms connected to the same air conditioning were nominal.

I left the museum in 2005, but that building has stayed vividly in my memory ever since, but I think I should keep writing about that for another time.

Now, I know these all won't sound like ghost experiences to many but they were my unexplained experiences.