Field Investigations

  • Thornbury Castle

    Gloucestershire, England

    Edward Stafford, 3rd Duke of Buckingham (1478-1521) began construction of Thornbury Castle in 1511. Being more of a glorified country residence than a traditional defensive castle it still has an undenighably intimidating and impressive Tudor fascade.

    Stafford was a courtier of Henry VIII and a notorious poor gambler, likely tolerated only because he jousted and made good sport. Stafford lost his head to the axe in 1521 after falling out of favor with Henry and was found guilty of treason. Swiftly taking possession of Thornbury after the duke's death, Henry stayed for ten days his new wife, Anne Boleyn in August 1535 on their South-West Summer progress.

    Henry's daughter Mary spent time at the castle when a princess and there are ghostly tales of a lady in period dress who still frequents the rose garden. Might it have been the young royal that Rachel saw on our visit?

    Rachel: whilst recovering from ill health, a night at the castle was an ideal pick me up. Luckily Tracey was able to join me for dinner and we took the opportunity after guests had departed, to venture into the garden, returning later to investigate the castle. Being mindful that we obviously were not the only people on site, we were careful not to record in areas that either staff or guests might wonder, even late at night. Apart from at the end of our garden walk and as we entered the castle, we are confident that we were alone when recording.

    EVP 1: We rarely feature noises recorded at a location but make an exception for this whistle because of its clarity, tone and volume. It's remarkable that Tracey didn't hear it too as we were standing quite close together. You can hear a feint piece of music in the background towards the end of the clip, this was fading out at the time of capture.

    EVP 1: Whistle

    EVP 2: Rachel: sitting in the garden, I was having difficulty in interpreting whether I was recalling an image or seeing a lady walking along a path in front of us. To see her waving and then capture a man telling us to wave is wonderfully evident. The first EVP is clearer than the second, which sounds more distant.

    EVP 2: Mary - Wave to Mary

    EVP 3: Rachel: you can stay in the magnificent bedchamber that Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn shared in 1535, however this was recorded in the equally gorgeous De Clare bedchamber, my room. It's interesting to hear Henry referred to as Harry, this is in common with EVP captured in our sittings, at Hampton Court Palace and at other Tudor properties.

    EVP 3: Harry came here once - he's still here

    EVP 4: Rachel: having only just put the recorder on, I took the time to stand back and admire the room. The three men's voices that are captured are very amusing and clear, the video features another collection of their derisive comments captured on a recording the following morning.

    EVP 4: wanted you - an old scrubber - I'm really sick of her

    EVP 5: Standing in a small area at the base of a tower, in the gatehouse, Rachel sees a small boy run past who returns to peep his head around the pillar. The voices captured are clear but neither are the little boy. The first speaker's comment, which begins as Rachel stops talking, hints that the child should not be seen but the second speaker sounds like he'd like to stay and observe us a little longer.

    EVP 5: he needs to get out of here - let us delay

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