On Sunday 25th April 2010, Twilight Shadows Paranormal/ Phoenix of Wessex conducted a paranormal investigation at The Plough at Manston in Dorset.
The name Manston may have derived from a family named Maneston who dwelled in this area although there are also references to Manns Tun or Maun’s farm.
Manston was a small self-sufficient agricultural community contained in one big field next to a river where villagers farmed, fished and milled corn to make flour. The original village now lies buried under the field next to the church. It is thought that the people of this village perished when the plague struck.
During my research I discovered that a gentleman called Arthur Courage was landlord at The Plough during the early 1900’s. Arthur and his wife had triplets who were born at the pub. Mr. and Mrs. Courage applied for the King’s Bounty’ which awarded the mother of three children at birth (who survived) the sum of £3. The request was refused because it was deemed that they did not need the money. William (one of the triplets) became quite a character in the village and worked at Manston Farm from the age of thirteen. He was also a bell ringer in the village all his life. (I became interested in the triplets because there is a photograph of them hanging on the wall of the pub. One of the triplets drowned in a pond in the grounds of the pub. During our investigation we did not pick up on this child but nevertheless it is an interesting if somewhat chilling story).
Today Manston may have lost many of its village amenities but The Plough is still thriving and is a very popular place to eat and drink.
We met Ann and Phil from the pub (they have been landlord/landlady for six and a half years) and Ann showed us around. We were taken around some out-buildings and the general pub/dining room area.
When Jacky and Sharon arrived I showed them the outbuildings. On our way back we walked through the garden and Jacky said that she felt something in the garden. (Later, Ann told me that the ghost of a little girl has been seen three times in the garden area). A conservatory was constructed approximately five years ago and it is thought that the little ghostly girl is sometimes present in the conservatory as it used to be part of the garden.
As there were still some customers eating and drinking in the pub, we started our investigation upstairs in Ann and Phil’s private living area.
When we were initially exploring, Jacky said that she did not want to enter the study. She felt that it was private for some reason even though Ann and Phil were happy for us to go anywhere. We later learned from Ann that the study was her late father’s bedroom and he was a very private person so perhaps Jacky was picking up on the feelings of this gentleman.
We split into two groups. My group started in the main bedroom and Jacky’s group in the second bedroom.
We all assembled in the bedroom and in no time at all, Gilly said that she could smell tobacco smoke. It smelt rich like a person smoking a pipe rather than just the smell of an ordinary cigarette. I started to ‘call out.’ John said that he had a very itchy hand, unusually itchy. I often experience a tingling in my left hand when spirits draw near so I was wondering if perhaps John was experiencing a similar thing. Gilly said that although the smell of tobacco smoke had dissipated, she had definitely smelt it earlier and was quite shocked at this. Nobody else had smelt it.
John said that he felt cold and then others in the group agreed that they were cold too although the room was warm. People noticed breezes especially upon their faces and hands. We wondered if the window was open. Faye went to check and the window was open slightly. She closed the window but we were all aware that the night was still. Faye sat back down and we waited for things to settle. The strange little breezes continued.
I continued to ‘ask out’ and I asked that if there was a spirit person present whether they could switch the television on. There was a television with a Sky-box on a bracket fixed to the wall.
I suddenly started to smell tobacco smoke, really strongly. John said that he felt strange and was experiencing a cold sweat. I asked him if he would like to step out of the room but he said that he was OK to stay. The smell of tobacco intensified and then Faye exclaimed that she could smell tobacco too. I kept hearing clairaudiently “he’s cantankerous!” (Later on in the investigation, I mentioned this and Ann told me that she thought that this statement was referring to someone she knew as he was openly known as cantankerous). When I heard this statement, it did not feel negative and I had interpreted it as fond words from someone. When I initially mentioned that I’d heard “he’s cantankerous,” Sam said that she had felt a sense of impatience in the room as I was ‘calling out’ as if someone was saying “For goodness sake, let me do it!” Sam said that the word cantankerous was about right. (When we mentioned this to Ann, she smiled and said that this gentleman was very impatient, so perhaps it was his influence that we were feeling).
In the bedroom, the smell of tobacco got stronger and more pungent. Emma said that she could really smell it.
Suddenly we noticed that the Sky-box sounded as if it had turned itself on. The light on it remained red but the fan came on and was quite noisy. (We decided that this probably happened all the time but when we mentioned this later to Ann and Phil they said that this never happened)!
Sam said that she felt that she was on a boat and could feel waves. John said that he was feeling uncomfortable and Sam told him to ground himself and ask any spirit that was affecting him to ‘move away.’ John described his experience as having the feeling of someone heavily resting upon his head and shoulders. When he requested the feeling to stop, he said that he felt light again.
Gilly started smelling the tobacco smoke again. It was strange how the smell came and went. When it was present it was so strong. Gilly also said that she felt an overwhelming sadness and John said that he was feeling a bit sad too. Emma said that her left hand and the left side of her face felt droopy and she had the feeling it was connected to a stroke. Emma said that she felt compelled to say the name Derek. (Later, when talking to Ann she told us a name and although it was not the name Derek, it is very similar). Gilly said that she felt as if the song ‘Kum by yah’ was connected but she had no idea why. We all thought that this was rather funny. Gilly said that the tobacco smoke had disappeared but had now returned stronger than ever. Most of us could smell it. (Later we talked to Ann and Phil about the tobacco smell and Phil also smells it).
Sam said that the palms of her hands were really hot. She explained that this was very odd as she always has cold hands and usually wears heat pads. Sam also said that she could see glass shattering clairvoyantly, like a windscreen shattering with a stone. (Ann and Phil later told us that they have poltergeist activity in the bar, where glasses are thrown). We are not sure if the two things are connected or not.
Eventually, we left the bedroom and assembled into the sitting room. Gilly sat in a chair by the window and immediately started coughing, choking and experiencing severe difficulty with breathing. Suddenly Matt and Emma were also affected but not as severely as Gilly. I am a very allergy affected person and I have asthma but I had no symptoms whatsoever. We left this room and Gilly, Matt and Emma’s symptoms eventually subsided. (There is a connection to their symptoms and the pub but we will keep this confidential).
Jacky and Sharon had to leave the investigation at this point but before Jacky left she told me that she felt the spare bedroom in which they conducted their séance left her with the feeling of being unloved. (We later discovered that a previous landlord had died in that room approximately one hundred years ago).
We all assembled into the bar area and sat round a table. Ann and Phil sat in the bar area also but a little way away from us. We started to ‘call out’ for a considerable time. We heard a noise behind us but we could not identify what caused the noise.
Sam said that she felt that she had a memory imprint of two large horses. We discussed the possibility of them being Shire horses (in Anglo Saxon times these were named Dray horses as they were utilised to haul heavy loads) and were used to transport the beer around to public houses. Later Ann told us that the ghost of a girl has been known to sit near the front door of the pub (it used to be a corridor) probably waiting for a coach as the pub was a stage post stop. Perhaps the horses were connected to this but we do not know.
During our séance in the bar we made a connection with a young female spirit. We interpreted the name as Marianne but Ann told us that it may be Mary Ann although a lady who previously reported seeing this ghost thought that her name was Emily. We will call her Mary Ann. The ghost of Mary Ann has been seen on three separate occasions. We thought that she had dark hair but the girl that has been seen had blonde hair. She is approximately ten years of age and died in the 1800’s.This spirit told us that she died of an illness. Some of the team thought that she may have had TB but most of the team thought that she may have died from the plague. Ann thought that she may have died from the plague but we could not get a definite answer from the spirit about this. We asked her if she haunts the pub and we received a big ‘Yes!’ She was able to read and write.
Emma felt as if a child was trying to sit on her knee. Emma has a child of this age so she knows how this would feel. We attempted to communicate with this child. We discovered that she shows herself to people in the pub and she had shown herself to a boy (who has now grown up but clearly remembers this incident and still works in the pub).
Some people said that they were seeing strange light anomalies and Emma said that she saw a strange flash of light. We asked Mary Ann if she was the cause of the poltergeist activity of throwing bottles in the bar but she said that she was not. However, she does sometimes rattle glasses and bottles. We also asked Mary Ann if she could go into the outhouse and move our trigger object and she seemed to disappear. The team members who had witnessed the light anomalies said that they suddenly ceased. (We were hopeful that Mary Ann had gone out to the outhouse to move the trigger object but when we checked later, it had not moved at all).
Another spirit came through, this time an older female spirit. We could not really understand the connection to the pub other than she frequented the pub at some time. The Plough at Manston now has an amazing reputation for cooked food but the spirit told us that when she visited the pub, it was a drinking pub only. She told us that she was not a local lady but her husband was. They lived in nearby Shillingstone together. This lady was not a resident ghost but came in visitation. She was eighty two when she died. She then told us that she had been upstairs into the private quarters. We asked if she had died in the pub but she denied this and said that her mother-in law was once a land-lady there had died in the building. We heard another noise from behind. John felt that someone had put their hand into his pocket.
Eventually, the spiritual contact seemed to diminish. It was getting late and most of us had to work the next day so we ended the investigation. On behalf of Twilight Shadows Paranormal, I would like to thank Ann and Phil for their hospitality and for letting us investigate their lovely pub. Also thank you Melody, for arranging this investigation.
Since our visit I have been fascinated by the little girl called Mary Ann who made contact with us and who we believe may be the same child that has shown herself at the pub. After much researching, I have discovered that there was a child called Mary Ann Foot who lived in Manston and was aged nine in the 1841 Census. It is thought that she died from the plague.
Written by: Maria Williams
I have been to the Plough on a few occasions and I was very surprised that we were invited to do an investigation.
On entering the premises the atmosphere was welcoming and calm, with members of the public enjoying their meal in the conservatory and a couple of locals in the bar having a quiet drink.
The Landlady came over to introduce herself to the group in a very welcoming manner. We explained that we did not wish to have any information on past events or any experienced paranormal occurrences. With this in mind Ann (the Landlady) said that we were welcome to enter any part of the building including the outer store room which is situated adjacent to the kitchen at the rear of the Inn. After having a tour of the premises we gathered in the living quarters upstairs.
On entering the master bedroom I felt slightly light headed. After getting the feel for the room I headed towards the second bedroom where Jacky and Sam had already entered. Jacky was saying that she felt very uneasy in the room and felt the presence of a lady. Sam had felt the opposite and to her the room was welcoming and no sinister feelings were felt.
I left the room with Jacky and Sharon and headed towards the office which was situated between the main and second bedroom. With Jacky leading, she placed one foot into the office and immediately said that we could not enter as she felt it was a very private room and we were not welcome. We respected this and we moved towards the living room.
The living room was a large family room. Within the room I could hear the extractor fans from the kitchen which made the floor slightly vibrate. I kept this in mind whilst we conducted our investigation.
We decided to split up into two groups. My group entered the main bedroom; we turned off the lights and gathered on the floor to start the vigil. Maria started to ‘call out’ and with that the Sky + box fan seemed to start. Having Sky + myself I knew that if the box was set on standby the fan had no reason to start. We found this very strange. I then started to find that my head began to feel very heavy and the left hand side on my face became numb, almost like I was having a stroke. Gilly announced that she was experiencing a tight-chest and continued to cough until she left the room.
On his first investigation John, who was sat opposite me said that his head was pounding and that he felt slightly faint. I said that he should ask for the feeling to be lifted if he didn’t like it. As he did this he was amazed that the feeling had gone after only a few seconds of giving the request. When talking between ourselves Maria suddenly said that she felt the presence of a gentleman who was impatient. The name Derek came to my mind. With only a few cold flutters we decided to move to the living room where we regrouped.
With us all now gathered in the living room, Gilly sat in the chair near to the window, as before she again to complain of a tight chest and started to cough. She said that this was unusual and that she hadn’t been suffering with any other the symptoms which had been occurring. Still willing to take part in the séance, Gilly joined Maria, Melody and Faye at the table. As they started I moved over to the chair near to the window. After a few minutes I started to experience similar symptoms to Gilly. It almost felt like I would imagine an asthma attack to be and Gilly said that was the same feeling she had felt. With the atmosphere not changing and other than our experiences with the chest we decided to move down to the bar area as all the customers had left the property.
Setting up around a large table we attempted to communicate with spirit using the method of glass divination. When the glass started to move we felt that a number of spirits were trying to communicate with us, such as a young girl who was named Mary-Ann, a gentleman who said he was the landlord of the Inn over 100yrs ago, and also the Landlady’s father who had recently passed away.
With the night drawing to a close we shared our findings with Ann and her husband. When we mentioned that Gilly and I had a strange feeling in the chair in the living room, her eyes opened wide and she began to smile and she told us the significance of this (which we shall keep private).We also told her that Maria sensed that a man was getting impatient with her, and that Jacky didn’t want to enter the office and that I came up with the name Derek. Anne turned to her husband in almost disbelief as all these things were significant.
After sharing our findings, Anne said that we would be very welcome to come back at any time and to even stay over night to continue into the early hours of the morning.