Recently I visited one of the locations in my current work-in-progress, Illustrated Tales of Warwickshire to be published by Amberley Publishing in 2022.
The subject matter of the book varies widely but is largely about curious events in the physical world, based in known fact; however, the first chapter is devoted to strange and spooky tales.
The venue was local to my home in Warwick, and I had already received a full account of strange experiences from a very reliable informant, lasting over a period of decades. Now I was seeking a story which might corroborate his description, but describe much more recent experiences. Sadly, the people I questioned on two separate visits had not experienced anything at all. I was inclined to put it down to the Covid-19 lockdown: presumably, I thought, the ghosts had gone into lockdown too. I respected the fact that they had no story to tell, and acknowledged this in my book, believing that a lack of stories is also important to record. For the mystery of paranormal experiences is that whilst many may visit a particular location, some feel and see nothing: others sense a rich atmosphere: and still others do indeed see, hear, and feel things that have no scientific explanation.
This reminded me of a series of questions that collectors of paranormal stories are to ask.
- Can you tell me how you first became aware this was more than a mundane incident?
- Did any other explanations come to mind?
- What conclusion did you reach as you thought through these possibilities?
- Did you take any action based on this?
- How did it affect you from then on?
- Do you have any background, cultural or historical, that sheds light on this?
These are the questions I kept in mind as I researched various stories for my book Paranormal Warwickshire.
Paranormal Warwickshire emerged from my experience in several places, which I describe as spiritual resonance. These great buildings, maybe in a ruinous state, are not simply piles of stone, but animated by that “indefinable spark.”
In my book, the curious anecdotes told of these buildings acknowledge the life that fills the spaces between the stones. I include stories of everyday places as well: shops, railway stations, houses, pubs and churchyards, not just castles, abbeys and manor houses.
When I hear stories, I listen respectfully, even if I feel some may be conjured up by the imagination. I also ask why several different people, independently of each other and unknown to each other, should have the same experience in the same place over a long period of time. There have been many recorded cases of which this is true. Then, if you think it was “all their imagination”, you have to ask “what is it about this particular place that makes so many different people imagine the same thing there?”
The most compelling ghost stories are not about famous historical characters. A lot of them turn out, after research, to have emerged from the lives and deaths of people who never made their mark on history: people about whom we would have known nothing if the paranormal event had not alerted our attention and prompted research.