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Crowther - From the Case Files of John Hampton, Paranormal Investigator and Urban Explorer

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Chapter 2


The sun was now full in the sky and I decided that I would stop at the next site written in my notebook. As I walked further on I kept on thinking about the old house and what it must have looked like when in use. My mind conjured up all kinds of images and I smiled to myself as I walked along the country roads. Looking at my guidebook to make sure I was on the right road, I scanned my notebook, next on the list was a couple of large standing stones, which supposedly emitted a powerful energy between them and had some kind of carvings on them, this I had to see for myself.

The two ancient standing stones were an impressive sight, standing at around eight feet high they were smooth in places where they had been weathered. Lichen covered the tops of the stones and near the bottom they were both covered in a mass of hoop like shapes. Once I had taken some photographs I stood in the middle of the two stones and closed my eyes. In my mind’s eye, I could see people walking about dressed in what appeared to be Victorian summer clothes. Ladies in their fine dresses twirled their parasols on their shoulders as children ran around laughing. Opening my eyes I could see people strolling around but dressed in modern day clothing, shorts and t-shirts eating ice cream cones or drinking bottled water. Was it the energy from the stones that made me see the Victorian people so clearly? I thought to myself as I began to walk towards a large pond where ducks were being fed crumbs of bread by children, who laughed and squealed with happiness. I then decided to look for the next ancient site, which was a burial mound. Leaving the site of the standing stones I made my way through the entrance gate and onto the country road again, making sure I was on the right side of the road.

Rounding a bend I nearly bumped into a man walking his dog, he apologised as he said he should have been walking on the other side of the road. I told him no apology was necessary. We spoke briefly and he asked me if I was looking for any sites in particular. Showing him my notebook, he scanned it quickly and said, “Now then, I see you haven’t got the old church and graveyard on your list have you?”

I was taken aback slightly as there was no reference to an old church in this area in the guide book. Asking where about it was situated he asked for a pen and wrote down where it was in my notebook. I thanked the man and waving goodbye continued my walk, this time taking the route on my map to where the burial mound was. Presently I came to the old burial site, a number of people were milling around taking photos and exploring the ancient site, and after waiting for a few minutes I finally got to enter the old mound. Once I had taken a number of photos, I left the mound and decided it was the perfect opportunity to stop and have my lunch. Sitting on an old rustic looking bench I pulled out a pack of sandwiches and water and enjoyed relaxing with the sun beating down on the land. A lady sat next to me and said hello to me and began to unwrap her sandwiches as well. We spoke briefly while eating and I asked her if she had heard of the old church that was located further down the road. She told me that she hadn’t a clue and had certainly not heard about it before. This puzzled me as she said that she was a member of the Ancient Monument and Buildings Trust. How come she had never heard of it I thought as I got up to place my waste in the recycling bins near the entrance. I bid her goodbye and left the area.

I was still puzzled by the fact that the old church that the gentleman had told me about was not in the guide book and scanned the pages again for any reference of it. Upon finding nothing again regarding the old building, I decided that this would be my next location. As I ambled along I kept referring to the notes the gentleman had written down for me, I also noticed other people following the same route that I was, and thought that maybe he had informed some of them of the same site as well. To my right I could see something that was nearly overgrown with hedges. There in between the two overgrown hedges stood an old rusted gate that was closed. Looking at the notes I had been given, it appeared to be the entrance to the old church. The people that I had noticed following me continued walking past me. One or two gave me an odd look as if to say, ‘why has he stopped there.’

Through the hedges I could make out what appeared to be the old church. Pushing the gate inwards it groaned with age, vines were twisted around it causing me to pull at them in order to open the gate fully. Nevertheless, I pushed forward, but before I ventured in, I looked down the road to see that the people I had met earlier were well down the road now and seemed totally oblivious to the old church that I was now facing. Moving forward I found myself in a very unkempt graveyard, its graves now covered in grass. The once well-kept grass stood high and yellowing, trees looked lifeless and heavy, and dead vines gave the trees an otherworldly aspect. Taking out my camera I began taking various shots of the old aged trees and various gravestones, some of the graves had beautiful carved angels adorning them. Other graves had stone crosses, I spotted one grave that had an ornate, but now, very weathered crest. As I walked around the graveyard, I spotted a wooden structure with the image of Christ on the cross covered in brambles and below it a black marble gravestone. It all appeared sad and neglected and I wondered how such a place could be abandoned the way it had been.

As I was panning around with the camera I took notice of the old church fully for the first time, it appeared like an old monolith pushing out of the ground among the surrounding trees. Its windows were dirt ridden and I rubbed a patch or two to get a better view inside and to take a few photos, the frames were covered in lichen. The door of the church was slightly ajar; this had also been attacked by the elements. The large ornate hinges were rusted and it needed a good push so I could gain entrance. I was astounded to see that the inside appeared untouched by the elements or by vandals or thieves indicating to me that the roof was still in a good state of repair. Sure the pews and alter were covered in dust, but other than that all seemed intact. Even the one stained glass window depicting Christ on the cross was unbroken and as the sun shone through, it spilled various colours across the pews and floor. I took a number of photos of this glorious view and again I was pleased with the results. After walking around the church and snapping away with my camera, I decided to walk around the whole of the graveyard. I have always been interested in old graveyards and take time reading the names and dates on some of the grave stones. Some of the graves housed ornate statues and many of the stones were so weathered that I could not read them. A number of them were family graves with ages ranging from six months old to seventy five years old.

I managed to capture some atmospheric shots of the angel statues but it wasn’t until I walked to the left side of the church that I noticed an old building that had a large wooden double door and windows to the side and back. Peering into the window at the side I spotted an old black carriage, which was obviously a hearse. Thinking of how many bodies this hearse must have carried, I took a couple of photos of it for my collection. I also came across an old mausoleum type structure. It was a splendid structure and one that a wealthy family would have had built. It must have stood around twelve feet high, its roof supported by marble pillars in each corner with two more either side of the entrance. A four foot high iron fence ran around the outside of the whole structure, the staves of which were topped with arrow headed spikes. Looking upwards I could just make out the name Crowther carved into the marble lintel above the doorway.

I had found a connection to the old manor house that I had visited earlier. I walked the circumference of the building and after taking a number of photos walked towards the entrance, it was ajar as well. This was better than I could have imagined as most mausoleums are always locked shut. Pushing on the doorway and peering inside all was in darkness. Grabbing my torch and clicking it on, its yellow beam picked out tombs on the floor as well as in the wall cavities around the room. The doorway would not move any further inwards and I felt a sense of both relief and sadness. I was suddenly aware of someone behind me, and turning quickly I caught a glimpse of a figure that appeared to be male. Thinking it must be another visitor to the graveyard I shouted ‘hello’ but never received a response. Once again I tried to push the solid stone door inwards but to no avail, and once again I felt like I was being watched. This time I saw two figures, one male and one female. A shiver ran down my spine as I noticed their clothing was that of and older period and not modern dress. The two figures stared at me and never moved. Rubbing my eyes I looked again, the figures had vanished and I cursed myself for not having my camera to hand. Suddenly I caught sight of them again, this time they appeared in front of the church. As they walked into the church I then began to think that it was somebody in fancy dress costumes, or actors making a film. Walking quickly to the front of the church I was shocked to find that not only was the door shut, but it was also locked.

But how could this be, not ten minutes earlier I was inside the church walking around and taking photos. Now it was securely locked and it looked as if it had been for many decades. Perturbed I began to walk around the perimeter of the building and as I did, I looked into one of the windows and to my surprise I saw a full congregation inside the locked and abandoned church. Standing at the front opposite the altar were the two figures I saw outside looking at me. Surely, I thought, it must be actors making a period drama film. But where are the cameras? They looked at me again and started pointing at me, as did the whole congregation. My eyes widened in terror as I saw that the people were looking and pointing their fingers, which were bones, their mouths opened as in a scream!

I turned on my heel and walked as fast as I could, as I feared something evil was about to occur. Making my way out through the old gate I stopped and tried to calm myself down. Surely I must have imagined what I had just seen. I knew that I had entered the church and took photos, yet it was now locked. Across the road was an old bench of which I made my way to. Taking a couple of mouthfuls from my bottled water I then decided to look at the photos I had taken on my camera. Sure enough, there was the church, its door slightly ajar. The photos of the inside of the church were there as well, and not a soul about. So how on earth could the church door have been locked afterwards? Nobody was around the area; there was no priest in sight. I decided that instead of letting my imagination get the better of me, I would go back to the church and see if the door was locked, but most of all to see if there were any people inside the building.

Making my way back across the road and through the gate, I could still feel an ominous presence around the graveyard. But I was determined to take another look at the church. The door was once again ajar, but this time I didn’t feel the need to go inside. I ventured around the side of the church and saw that once again it was just an empty disused church. No creepy ghost like figures pointing at me, nothing, just dust covered pews and alter. So, I thought to myself, either I was imagining what I saw, or, I really did see ghosts of people from another time. Was it some kind of time slip, I’ll never know. Sadly, I was so taken aback by what I had seen that I failed to take any photos at the time of the sighting. I did take one or two photos after the event in the hope that I might have captured some ghostly images, but alas, I never caught anything of interest except a name and date etched into one of the window panes. So I made my way out of the churchyard, still puzzled by what I had seen, or thought that I had seen.

I made my way back to the bench at the side of the road, and whilst I was taking another drink of water I could hear voices in the distance, which got gradually louder. It was the group of people I had seen earlier, they were on their way back from wherever they had been. The lady I had spoken to earlier at the site of the burial mound spotted me and came over to me, “Hello again,” she said, “Are you alright? You look a bit pale, is there anything wrong?”

“Just feeling a bit dizzy, possibly too much sun, I needed to sit down for a while.” I said, not wanting her to know what I had seen in case she thought me mad!

“Well we are all heading back to the Crown Inn where we all met, why don’t you come along with us,” she said smiling, “Looks like you could do with a pint and a bite to eat. My name’s Ellie by the way, what’s your name?” She held out her hand and I shook it and told her my name, then shouldering my back pack walked with her and her group towards the pub.

While I was in the pub having a drink and a chat, my mind kept going back to the mansion and the church. At the old mansion I felt as if I was being watched by someone or something. I wondered whether the two people in the churchyard were the people that were watching me from the old mansion. Could they have been the spirits of Mr and Mrs Crowther? I knew I had to get back home and do some research on the Crowther estate and also read the book that I had picked up from the mansion. I told Ellie that I was heading off home and thanked her for taking the time to chat to me. Ellie shook my hand and said that it had been a pleasure chatting to me. She said that she and the others were waiting for their coach to arrive to take them all home. As I was walking away from the pub I once again felt like I was being watched, turning, I saw Ellie watching me through the window. She’s just looking out for the coach I said to myself and continued on my way.

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