Monday, 9 November 2015

Jennet Device

I recently watched a documentary called The Pendle Witch Child about A 9 year old girl who testified against her whole family in a witchcraft trial in 1612.
Read her story here

I was so inspired by this story and the fact this young child condemned and most probably watched her own mother and family members hang.
Jennet eventually ended up on trial for witchcraft herself years later.
Here is my interpretation of her.

Sunday, 24 May 2015

Etsy and Vintage Halloween

I have recently developed an addiction to Etsy, I've been buying some interesting new additions to my collection and generally browsing for hours.

during one late night Etsy binge I stumbled into the world of vintage Halloween items, and I just love them! I have been drooling over vintage boxed costumes from Collegeville and Ben Cooper.
I bought this lovely 1950s Devil costume, it has abit of a Casper the Friendly Ghost style to it.

It's inspired me to start drawing again, I have an idea for a series of images that i'll produce as small prints based on this vintage Halloween vibe I'm loving at the moment.
Today I found an old piece of backing card from a picture frame and I loved the old. browned paper, so I did a quick sketch on this.

Wednesday, 18 February 2015


I spent the day today wondering round Tewkesbury, a town about ten miles from me, so close by, yet I had no idea how much amazing history there is to see there. I unfortunately didn't have my camera with me, but I got some nice pictures on my phone although I will go back with my SLR soon!

I found an old Baptist Chapel down a tiny ally, with a small, secluded graveyard with gravestones dating from 1607 - the earliest I could decipher.

This fabulous little devil door knocker was on a tiny old door on the way down to the graveyard.

A particularly nice stone, partially broken, but the date is in the 1790s I just love the skull carving on this.

We then went into Tewkesbury Abbey, such a lovely building, full of ancient tombs and carvings, luckily I had my Dad with me to translate the Latin inscriptions :)

The main reason I visited Tewkesbury was to see a cadaver tomb I'd read about and it was stunning.
The monument is to John Wakeman who was Abbot of Tewkesbury  from 1531 to 1539, he prepared the tomb for himself with Vermin crawling over the skeletal cadaver, but he never used the tomb and was buried elsewhere.

Sunday, 21 September 2014

The Ancient Ram Inn

Last weekend I was staying with some friends in Bristol and we spent Saturday evening watching 'The Conjuring' and thought it'd be great to go and visit a real haunted location the following day.
We decided to visit the Ancient Ram Inn at Wotton-under-edge, Gloucestershire, due to my interest in the darker side of History I had heard some stories of this infamous place and was excited to see it for myself.

We pulled into the drive of this incredibly dilapidated ex inn/farmhouse built in 1145, it was a very interesting site, the yard and garden strewn with interesting old objects, a jungle of plants and tiny windows almost concealed by plant growth. built on an ancient site, which has some evidence of once being used for pagan worship.

One of our party had visited before so he knocked on the door and the owner John Humphries eventually answered after much shuffling about inside. John is a lovely old man of 90 who bought the Inn 50 years ago to save it from demolition. It was very dark and dingy inside with an overpowering musty smell. The first room we went through was the small room where it appears John spends most of his time, it took a while for my eyes to adjust to the darkness but I could make out the sofa/bed where John sleeps surrounded by his books, religious images, bibles and crosses. The walls in this room were covered with clothing, mainly old leather biker jackets.

                                           John, Photo by Rich S Photography

John took us through into the first downstairs room, a large room, which I think would have been the main bar room. This room was just as dark and so cold, It was full of all kinds of objects, from antiques to cuddly toys and 90's VHS's. John pointed out a part of the floor to our left which had been taken up to reveal a hole in the ground below, on the wall next to this hole were propped a shovel, an old gate and a large homemade cross, it was marked 'The Ancient Grave' John told us that the bones of children had been discovered buried here, along with the broken remains of ceremonial daggers, he said there were many more buried under this room. Unfortunately I only had my phone on me and it was too dark to get a good picture without the horrible flash effect, but here it is!

We asked John if he still had strange experiences in the house, he told us there is regular poltergeist activity and he hears footsteps and voices in the house on an almost daily basis, the thing that disturbs him most is an entity getting into bed with him. He believes these entities to be Incubus and Succubus. John is a religious man, this is very evident from the objects around the house, framed bible verses and prayers, even a blessing from the Bishop is on the wall at the bottom of the stairs, blessing all who dwell in and visit the house.

We were shown a hole in the fireplace that goes down into what appears to be a passageway underground, it is thought this links up with St Mary's church nearby, as the building was first used to house masons, slaves and workers who were working on building the church.

John showed us the barn, apparently the oldest part of the building. This was a large dark room stacked partially full with piles of chairs and a chandelier hung from the ceiling. 
At this point John left us to look around the rest of the house, we didn't get the impression he wanted to go any further, he said he is very frightened living here alone.

                                             Photo by Rich S Photography

We ventured up the tiny, very rickety wooden staircase, lined with newspaper articles about the building spanning the past 20 years, and religious items, at the top was a mounted Rams head looking straight at us with pretty menacing eyes.

The first room we went into was called 'The Witches Room', a nice big room with a bed on one side and dining table on the other. The story is that a Woman took refuge in this room before being captured and burned at the stake for Witchcraft in the 1500's, There are some signs on the windowsill telling visitors about the ghostly sightings related to this room.

                                             Photographs by Rich S Photography

We ventured up into the attic space where some parts of the floor have become unsafe to walk on, there is a story that a young woman was murdered up in this room by highway men, Johns daughter and her partner used to sleep up in this room and often heard the sound of heavy furniture being dragged across the floor.

The final room we explored was the infamous Bishops room, we had been weary of this room and left it till last, I'd felt reasonably comfortable in the house, until now.
The Bishops room is considered to be the most haunted room in the house, various apparitions have been seen here, including a Cavalier, a young woman seen hanging from the ceiling, monks and nuns, Johns has reported hearing the door to this room violently shaking in its frame in the night

My friend went to open the door but it wouldn't budge, It seemed to be stuck, we thought we weren't going to get to see this room after all! So I stepped up to try the handle and the door seemed to shake slightly in it's frame before I even touched it, brushing this off as nothing more than the old building being abit shaky I tried the door, still not budging, I kept trying until eventually it just opened with ease!
We cautiously went inside the room which had an ominous red glow to it from the light pouring through red curtains. there were two beds and a dresser covered in flowers and religious statues, there were paintings on the walls and a wardrobe in the corner, John had said that there was once a priest hole in this room which was removed during renovations.

                                            Photo by Rich S Photography

As we stood huddled together by the door a small object flew across the room and hit the wall next to us, with a metallic sound. Once we'd gotten over the shock of this we explored the room and took some photographs, we also had a little play with the Ouija board on the bed. My friend opened the wardrobe which had nothing inside, locking it closed after him.
There was a painted portrait of a priest on the wall above the bed which made me feel really uneasy for some reason, as my friend lifted his camera to take a photograph, I turned around just in time to see the previously locked wardrobe doors slowly opening behind us, with that we got out of there pretty fast!

Taking refuge back in the witches room we found balled up socks and headphones laid out across the floor, these had not been there 10 minuted before or we would have trodden on them!

                                              Photo by Rich S Photography

We decided it was best to retreat back downstairs at this point, feeling quite shaken up we headed down to the bar area and took a few more photos, mainly of the stuffed crow in mid flight which was now spinning round in the air above the hole in the floor, we spent some time reading the old newspaper articles about the house stuck all over the walls

                                            Photo by Rich S Photography

We had a final chat to John, I didn't feel very nice about leaving him alone there, although he's been there 50 years,
It was certainly an eventful day, and while I have no idea what caused our experiences, be it spirits of the dead or some kind of scientific phenomena, it was certainly an amazing experience.

Sunday, 9 March 2014

A new addition to my collection

I found another gem for my collection recently, it's a postmortem picture of a child from Belgium.

Danvers State hospital, the King of Asylums

Danvers State insane Asylum was the king of the abandoned insane Asylums in the 80s and 90s, a huge hulk of a building oozing atmosphere and mystery.
People I've spoken to who were lucky enough to go inside the place have decribed it as the most beautiful building they'd ever seen. It's imposing tower, and 'bat' layout, with two huge wings stretching off either side comprising of wards and treatment rooms. Legends of the 'snake pit' where dangerous patients were kept, it must have been incredibly imposing.

Danvers is believed to have been the inspiration for the infamous Arkham Sanatorium from H.P. Lovecraft's "The Thing on the Doorstep" which was in turn inspiration for Arkham Asylum from Batman

Built in 1878 due to a high demand for beds, with other Asylums in New England over capacity and Mental patients housed in any beds that could be spared in other hospitals. Its location was extremely rural and 'out of the way' as with most Asylums. Its main purpose was to provide residential treatment for the mentally ill, Danvers expanded to include a training program for nurses and a Pathological research Lab, by the 1920s there were even school clinics to help determine mental deficiency in children. In the 1930s and 40s the Hospital was extremely overcrowded and there were stories of inhumane lobotomies, drugs and restraints being used to control the overrun population.

The population of the hospital was decreasing by the 1960s and as other methods of treatment and 'care in the community' were being used, this lead to the closure of Danvers in 1992 along with budget cuts to the mental health system.

The hospital holds a place in folklore for the locals, many believe it to be haunted and refer to it as the 'castle on the hill'. The History of the ground lends itself well to the paranormal, Jonathan Hathorne the most fanatical judge during the witchcraft delusions of Salem, who was responsible for the deaths of many innocent people, lived in a house which stood on the site of the hospital.
There are countless stories from people who claim to have experienced the paranormal happenings in the hospital site. The police and security kept the place in lockdown and it was always stricktly 'off limits' which made it an even more desireable a place for thrill seekers to try and visit.

"I don't know whether the feelings get trapped in the walls or the building - but they just stick there. There have certainly been enough bad things that happened there that it will stick around for awhile."
- Salem resident

" I just felt a very intense foreboding; you could feel there was a lot of pain there" - Salem Resident

Horror film 'Session 9' was filmed there in the 90s and actor Peter Mullan claimed to have heard someone wisper his name. and another crew member saw a figure walk past a window.

Here are some extracts from an interview with former Maintenance man Preston

J- What was the worst incident you witnessed involving a patient?
P-Back when they started dual diagnosis they transferred this 15 year old boy from Hogan to DSH. This boy had a habit of crawling into heat ducts. The heat ducts don't go anywhere at Hogan, it's a newer building and you can't get hurt. Anyway they sent him up and he was up there for about 3 weeks and he disappeared. We searched everywhere for him. We looked all over and we couldn't find him. The staff over at J ward started to notice a horrible smell getting worse and worse everyday. Anyway to make a long story short, he got inside the duct work in J Annex. The duct work in DSH goes right down to heating coils. He slid down , couldn't get up , got trapped and died. His feet landed right on the coils and literally burnt off up to his shins. I was there and had to go over there and help cut him out of the wall. There must of been 25 people in that room that day. The Medical Examiner, clinicians you name it. I cut the wall and Butch (The Tinsmith) was there to cut the tin duct work. When we cut through it all, and opened it up the kid was right there and looked almost frozen. The pathologist reached in to take him out and his hands sunk into his chest like jello.The smell was disgusting it was a nasty stench and we all got sick. His death brought on a major,major state investigation. His parents were mad as hell and rightfully so. We had big wigs from Boston and the State Police lab up there for weeks. It was just an horrible experience. I've seen a lot in my 24 years and that was by far the worst.

J-Do you know who was in charge of buring the patients in the past?
P-Horace Clark and his crew was in charge of burying the deceased. I remember a couple months after I started they needed me to build a wooden box for a patients leg that was in the freezer over in the morgue. They operated on this man and he died. They had a funeral for him and he was buried but they kept his leg probably for further research. He was buried for about a month before they buried his leg next to him. I remember feeling weird about the whole thing, it was sort of bizarre because I just started the job. The old carpenter Eddie Osborne calmed me down and said "it's just a box, you're building a box that's all" and I built it , Horace's crew picked it up and placed the leg in it and they went and buried it. To the best of my knowledge that was the last patient buried there.

J-What are your feelings when you hear the hospital being referred to as this snake pit and this haunted castle?
P-In all honesty, I believe that the patient care was better at DSH than some of these half-way houses that are around today. They had recreation for the patients, entertainment for the patients, movie theatre, dancing, arts and crafts. They also had what was called industrial chores and patients could work in the woodshops, work with leather, make furniture and the patients loved it. I'm not saying it was perfect because there was bad staff and bad things did happen but that goes on at every hospital and at every business you work in. It certainly wasn't a snake pit. The public wants to believe it was because it has that mystique and the architecture gives you that impression. I mean there were dirty wards. That's no secret. We'd refer to C Ward as Shit Ward because patients wouldn't keep their clothes on and they soil themselves. They'd hose them down but it's not like what you read in books with staff blasting them with a fire hose with ice cold water and whipping them while being hand-cuffed together. That's just absurd. They'd hose them down to get the feces and urine off of them but it wasn't abusive. For the most part, the staff loved their patients. They'd bring them special treats, take them out for rides and take home for dinner. I had this patient by the name of Byron over in this very house many times for dinner. Byron worked with me for years and you get to know these people and care for their well being. We had patients sobbing in tears when they were closing the hospital. It was their home and didn't want to leave. Overall, the hospital was a good place and the staff did an excellent job with what they had.

-Read the full interview here

Danvers was eventually demolished and turned into flats, named Avalon Danvers, the site, it seems has continued to have a bad atmosphere. Part way through the construction there was a mysterious fire that destroyed a lot of the building.
There have also been numerous complaints from residents of the flats of awful management, noisy flats and badly maintained apartments.
It seems that site in Danvers will never be free from bad press.

Visit the Danvers Hospital website for loads of pictures and information

Monday, 4 November 2013


I'm feeling abit sad that Halloween is over, it's my favourite time of year, and this year was the best Halloween i've ever had, I spent the day having a tour round Highgate cemetery, such a beautiful place.
I managed to get some pictures, unfortunately just phone snaps but they capture some of the atmosphere of the place.
I adore the stone angels and there are so many of these adorning Highgate cemetery, rising from the undergrowth, reaching for heaven.

A rather beautiful Gothic style vault in the Egyptian circle here, belonging to Carl Rosa and his family, Carl Rosa was a German musical impresario who founded the Carl Rosa Opera Company in 1873. His is one of a number of Gothic style vaults lining this pathway.

Another Beautiful monument in the west cemetery is this Sleeping Lion, his name was Nero and he belonged to famous menagerie exhibitor George Wombwell, Nero was a docile Lion, it is said children used to climb all over him.

This is one of my favourite tombstones in Highgate, a sleeping angel, lying amongst the leaves and vines

All the vault doors in the cemetery are decorated with Inverted torches symbolizing life extinguished, another interesting detail is the keyholes on each vault are also inverted.

  1. Silently, silently
    They are laid to rest,
    Free from care, over there,
    Dwelling with the blest.
    They shall bear no more life’s burdens,
    Sickness, sorrow, death, or pain;
    In that spirit-land they’re waiting,
    Where with Christ their souls shall reign.