Situated in the heart of Warwick, St. John’s House is an imposing Jacobean structure with a history as rich and intriguing as the stories of its spectral inhabitants. The current building, standing since the 1667-70 period, is built upon grounds that have been occupied since 1154. Over the centuries, the mansion has worn many hats — a medieval hospital, a private family house, a succession of private schools, and a military record office, before eventually becoming the museum that existed until last year. Now the building is used for local educational visits and as a wedding venue.
Now, it’s also a paranormal hotspot, and one of the tragic tales associated with the mansion involves two sisters. Their apparitions, believed to be eternally trapped in the house, are often held responsible for many spectral sightings. The mansion’s rooms and corridors resonate with their spectral presence, turning even sceptics into believers.
The ghost hunt, organised by Most Haunted Experience, a spin-off from the iconic British reality show ‘Most Haunted’, promised us a chance to investigate alongside Karl Beattie and Stuart Torevell, stars of ‘Most Haunted’. The television ghost hunters welcomed me and around 40 other guests to the event as part of a welcome briefing in an outbuilding in the grounds, which served as our base room for the night.
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Once the very quick introduction was out of the way, we got stuck straight into the ghost hunting. The guests were split into two groups and we headed out into the mansion’s dark corridors by torchlight. We started out on the building’s ground floor in a room created to reflect one of the building’s past uses as a Victorian schoolroom.
We were then joined by Karl who used the classroom’s blackboard as an impromptu “tapping board.” This involved Karl pointing at each letter of the alphabet written in chalk and encouraging any spirits present to tap to indicate a letter. The board seemed to spell out “go away.” So we did.
While part of the group broke off to do some table tipping with Stuart, the rest of us moved into an old kitchen area. This room also proved to be interesting. A sequence of events began after a guest reported seeing a figure standing at the back of the room. Next, one of the ghost hunting gadgets in the middle of the room triggered, and then we all watched as light flooded into the kitchen when a door swung open on the far side of the room. No sooner had it opened, the door slammed shut. I wasted no time and ran through the door to see if anyone was there, but I found the space empty.
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After a quick halftime break, which gave me a chance to have a cup of tea and a Kit Kat, we resumed our paranormal mission. For the second part of the night, we were on the two upper floors of the house.
As the night faded into the early hours, we concluded our investigation. Though we did not experience any clear signs of paranormal activity, we’d had some very interesting moments, especially at the start of the night which was particularly active.
The knocking in the classroom was fascinating, as was the slamming door in the kitchen and the guest’s sighting of a mysterious male figure in the kitchen. We also experienced the cellar door slamming several times, but we were quickly able to debunk this as nothing more than the result of the wind.
While we may not have been able to coax the mourning sisters or other unearthly residents into manifesting, the night gave us a unique perspective and allowed us to explore this old mansion’s intimate nooks and corners. I’m sure many of the guests went home scratching their heads over some of the activity we experienced.