Field Investigations

  • Abbey House

    Wiltshire, England

    The importance of Medieval Malmesbury as a religious centre of England is little appreciated and in former times would have been considered in parallel with Canterbury, York and Winchester. An Irish hermit Maidulbh (? - 673) was the founder and first monk of the abbey, there followed a colourful history of religious embezzlers and an abbot who died in the town during an orgy (Beorhtwold II d. 1053). Athelstan who is considered first king of England was buried in the tower of the of the abbey, under the altar of St Mary but was later moved to the abbot's garden to avoid Norman desecration; the area of the garden marking his final resting place now falls in the garden of Abbey House and may be seen in our video.

    Richard Selwyn was the last abbot of Malmesbury Abbey and surrendered it to Henry VIII in 1539, towards the end of the Dissolution of the Monasteries. William Stumpe, a wealthy clothier, bought Abbey House from the crown and began building on the foundation of the 13th century former Abbot's House in 1542, using some of the fallen stone of the abbey made available by a lightening strike around the year 500. During the English Civil war the property had six owners, the final use was as a Governor's residence.

    In 1994 Ian Douglas Pollard, a charismatic architect and developer bought Abbey House and set about designing five acres of picturesque gardens, which now matured look live they've always been there. Sadly Ian has passed on but his son Rufus and wife Kristen have taken on the important task of preserving the house and its history for future generations. We give our sincere thanks to the family for welcoming us so warmly and for allowing us to record in their home.

    It was an absolute dream to be able to record and stay at Abbey House. The house has such an inviting atmosphere, that we were sure it was going to be a good recording. After Kristen kindly gave us a historical tour of the house, we chose to focus on three areas, the Abbey Hall on the ground floor, the Great Hall and the Library. With incredibly thick walls the Abbey Hall is a perfect area to record in, the depth of the stone effectively blocks out sound and environmental noise, making the EVP more credible. The overall the recording time was quite short, taking just over 90 minutes to cover all rooms but as usual reviewing time is considerably more lengthy. Whilst the clarity and number of clips was slightly lower in comparison to other site investigations, the percentage of direct responses and contextual replies was markedly higher; whilst this may not be as exciting for the general listener, evidentially this type of EVP is far more interesting to us.

    EVP 1: Henry VIII's fifth wife, Catherine Howard, was beheaded on 13th February 1542 and Henry (Harry) visited Abbey House in November 1542 so receiving the name Catherine when we asked who accompanied him on his progress is rather puzzling. As much as we'd love to be certain that it is Harry speaking, we have no way of being sure but the reply is in context with the person we assume to be answering us.

    EVP 1: Catherine

    EVP 2: The name Wolsey was first captured after our initial visit to Hampton Court Palace in 2014. It would of course be logical in this context for us to assume that it was in reference to Cardinal Thomas Wolsey (1473 - 1530), Henry VIII's Lord Chancellor. We have been incredibly fortunate to have many captures of his name and of blessings by him through EVP over the years.

    EVP 2: Call Wolsey

    EVP 3: Although not very clear, it is still reasonably easy to hear our interpretation of the phrase. This clip was captured in the library whilst taking pictures of a row of Tudor themed drawings displayed above the rear window. The reason we visit historic properties is to draw us closer to those who lived and worked in them, the atmosphere in some buildings such as Abbey House almost brings them to life. When we capture an EVP possibly of someone that we can make a personal association with, hearing their voice becomes a personal experience. The direct reply to acknowledging those we connect with in this way is very emotive.

    EVP 3: You're allowed to remember

    EVP 4: This EVP was recorded on Sunday morning in the library and overlaps my voice at one point. The lady is unrecognised but sounds friendly, the comment is curious, at this point I was alone but the observation of "they're alive" would surely refer to both Gina and I. Alec is a familiar name to our group and might be a regular helper who visits our séances, we haven't heard from him for some time so it would be especially nice if it was him that was looking over us.

    EVP 4: They're alive - take your bets Alec

    EVP 5: Preceding a clip in the Abbey Hall featuring on the video, I had sensed a man but turned around to see a woman in a long period skirt and bodice. Before I tell Gina who I'm seeing, a male voice cuts in, although I sensed him I was only able to see the lady by the windows. It's interesting that at the point a voice is captured, Gina hears an audible click, this phenomena is common in seance sittings but is rarely reported at historical sites.

    EVP 5: over there

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