Anne of Cleves House Lewes
Anne of Cleves house in Lewes is both fascinating and mysterious, previous to our first visit in September 2017 the house had only been investigated a couple of times by private groups of enthusiasts and once by the Spiral paranormal team who make documentaries. The house boasts a vast and varied history and there are many ghost stories to hear from its present day staff if you ever visit the location in person. Our mission was simply to collect as much data as possible and try and identify the ghosts of Anne of Cleves House in Lewes.
We have visited the Anne of Cleves House three times now, September, December 2017 and March 2018. Our mission is to collect as much data as possible to try and string together consistent experiences and results. Our first visit results were mainly experienced based (people having sensations). Our second visit was fairly similar although we did have some results using our equipment. Our third visit was probably the most interesting with two teams experiencing the same thing but from different parts of the location. One team were talking about seeing shadows passing by a certain doorway while another team were hearing footsteps coming from the same area. We are back again a further two times in 2018 and we look forward to seeing if we can capture more from this amazing location
Here are some hi lights taken from the team cams, each team has an infrared video camera to use though the nights to capture their experiences.
Our First Night
Our first visit to the Anne of Cleves house was a strange experience, armed wirth our usual array of gadgets and experiments for our guests to conduct it became apparent that this house was demanding of a different kind of approach. Those who were with us were having the same conclusion with separate guests mentioning similar things, the spirits of the house were very sceptical and untrusting of our attempts to make contact with them. Perhaps afraid of our perceived gadgety wizardry or untrusting that our work was that of the devil, as the folk of old may or put it. The simple fact is that none of our electronic gadgets managed to collect anything, not even false positives … nothing. However the traditional experiments were more successful. One of our guests reported seeing man of horseback looking in at us, while another guest took the time to write for us a very detailed account of the traditional dowsing experiments they had conducted with all the safeguards to help protect against false information. (read below).
Here is the account of last night’s paranormal investigation at Anne of Cleves house in Lewes, with the lovely people at PIGS. I took notes at the time, straight after each vigil. However, I have had to fill in some gaps this morning, from memory. Much of the information here comes from the use of dowsing rods. For those who aren’t familiar with them, these are intended to be a communication aid, like a Ouija board or “knock once for no, twice for yes” type things. They are two, metal rods, each bent into a right angle, sometimes with the short end inserted into a rotatable handle (as these were). Someone holds the handles, one in each hand, with the long ends of the rods parallel to the ground. The group then asks closed questions. The otherworldly speaker is expected to respond by making the rods swing round in particular ways to indicate “yes” or “no”.
Now, there is obviously a raft of problems with using dowsing rods. As the stories we got were pretty spectacular, it is worth noting some of the safeguards we put in place in our sessions, so you can judge it all for yourselves.
Firstly, there is a risk that the rods are rotating randomly, from extraneous factors such as slight body movements or a breeze. To address that, we used “checks” to test the coherence and consistency of the responses. So, if the rods swung to “Yes” for “Are you male?”, we would expect them to swing to “No” for “Are you female?”. If they didn’t, the first response could not be considered meaningful. A similar approach was used when asking for demonstrations of other apparent attempts at communication, such as asking for an unexpected knock to be repeated. If it could be repeated to order, it increased the chances that it was not a random event. Also, we used triangulation of facts as far as we could. So, we might ask “Did you live here in the 1700s? 1800s?” to establish a time period. We would then go through which monarch might have been on the throne. If the two were coherent, it increased the chances that the responses were meaningful.
Secondly, there is unfortunately a risk that the dowser is moving their hands, consciously or unconsciously, to produce the responses they expect or want. During these sessions, the dowser (who was another member of the group who had volunteered to use the rods) had her hands pressed firmly against her chest. It would not have been impossible to move the rods by rocking her hands, but it would have been awkward. I did watch her and I could see no obvious movement in her hands as the rods swung round. We also used external references to check information gathered. It appeared that, as a group, we had a pretty tenuous grasp of history. So, we would ask a historical question, to which all members of the group claimed not to know the answer, and then checked it on Google. We also tried to avoid suggesting answers to the dowser. So, when asking for the name of someone we suspected we were talking to but who the dowser didn’t know, a random list of names was given, including the one we were interested in, and the yes/no responses noted.
We also checked all other apparently anomalous events, usually by trying to replicate them by mundane means. If we could debunk it, we ignored it. I won’t include any of those events in this account.
This was our second room, nothing of note having happened in the bedroom. There is a stone table at one end of the kitchen with a pewter(?) bowl on the top. There was a K2 meter in the bowl and it was flashing, indicating a change in electrical field. One of the members checked whether this had been due to a microphone being near it. I believe the result was inconclusive.
We were given some background information on the table (which really we should have refused, given the risk of suggestion). It is recorded in the memoires of Canterbury Cathedral that the four knights who killed Thomas Becket stopped at the archbishop’s house near Lewes, where this table used to be. They laid their bloodied swords on the table, which then shook. How much of this is true, I have no idea, but I have found it recorded on the website of the Thomas a Becket church, where this table used to be displayed.
We used dowsing rods to communicate. The dowser was seated with hands braced against her chest. Movement of the rods was clear, emphatic and consistent. There were times when the rods swung round rapidly to face the back. This seemed to be when potentially awkward questions were being asked, so we interpreted that as a refusal to comment. They also swung round to face whichever person was speaking, when they had struck on a suggestion that proved to be correct, like eyes turning to look at them! We had a hesitant start, with the rods wavering and moving round to the back. We had the idea that the person we were talking to might be suspicious of what we were doing. The rods told us yes and that this person thought this was witchcraft. We reassured them that we were doing nothing evil and just wanted to talk. We appeared to be talking to a man, a Protestant who was an ironworker with a royal warrant, having met the king. He said he not been to Buckingham Palace, but had been to Hampton Court. He showed agitation when we asked about Nonsuch Palace, so we didn’t pursue that one. He said he had made a number of the items in the kitchen, including an iron fireback. The date on the fireback was 1600s. We cross-referenced this by asking which monarch was on the throne when he was around. We had no idea who that might have been, so went through all monarch names we could think of. We got a “yes” for William of Orange. Googling showed this to be coherent with the date, which was close to the crossover point between William III and Charles II, in 1660. The fireback had C and another letter on it. We asked him what the other letter on the fireback was and he said “yes” to “A”.
We then asked about the table. He said there was a man connected with it, who he didn’t like. He said he was not a knight, although he pretended to be one. He was a ruffian. He was frightened of him, as were the others in the house.
Fact checks: Other iron firebacks from the same time period, which were on display in another room in the building, had CA on the back. This was for Carolus Rex and were for Charles II. So, the response of “A” for the other letter on the fireback in the kitchen was incorrect. It was an “R”. Royal warrants have been inexistence since medieval times, so this is coherent with the timescale. The use of Hampton Court as a royal residence is also consistent with the timescale. Nonsuch Palace was only in royal hands briefly in the timescale we were looking at, having been handed back to the Crown after the Restoration in 1660 after having been in private hands before that. It remained royal property until 1670, when Charles II gave it to his mistress. She had it pulled down and sold off to pay off gambling debts. Maybe that’s why it was a sore point!
We were sat around a long, old table, crudely made of oak planks. At one end we had a Franks Box (an instrument that sweeps up and down AM radio frequencies, in the expectation that “spirits” will use the voice fragments to communicate) and something like an EchoVox (records and plays back fragments of sounds in the room, again for a “spirit” to use as raw material for communication). As we began the vigil, a couple of us felt vertiginous. However, it should be noted that the floor was uneven in this room, with the table on a slight slant, which was disorientating. The Franks Box went on first and there was nothing convincing from that. The EchoVox type equipment was then used and, again, nothing very notable. A possible exception was the apparent appearance of a non-English sounding voice, which sounded somewhat plaintive. Through the noise, we could hear and feel bumps and knocks on the table. However, it was difficult to isolate them or guarantee that they weren’t the product of someone shifting in their seat of leaning on the table, making the wood creak. The exception was a “knock-knockknock-knock” patterned rap that occurred two or three times, at least twice when all hands were visible on the table. When we switched off the Franks Box, there was no more noise from the table. Most noise seemed to come from the end of the table nearest the Franks Box. No noises happened on command.
One member felt something under the table, as though the legs of her neighbour had got in her way. Her neighbour confirmed that her legs were tucked away and the people opposite were too far away to have influenced this. A pen that had been on the table on my left landed on the floor. I had been still at the time and my neighbour claimed he had also (I had not been watching him so can’t confirm). I heard it fall and saw it out of the corner of my eye. I tried to replicate the fall, but the pen had a cap with a clip that prevented it from rolling. However, it could be knocked or swept off the table.
We again tried communicating with dowsing rods. Movement of the rods was again clear, emphatic and consistent, except that they maintained a slow, regular swaying between responses. The dowser said she had not experienced this before. She was again seated with her hands held firmly against her chest. We also had the rods swing violently back on certain questions that could potentially have been “awkward”. We again interpreted that as refusal to answer. The rods also often failed to move or swept round when a woman asked a question. The rods also sometimes just pointed to the head of the table when a question was asked. Some of us got the feeling that this was where the speaker was standing. We asked if they were saying we should face that way and address them directly. “Yes”. We appeared to be communicating with a man. The idea of the sea occurred to some of us and he confirmed that we were sitting at a captain’s table and that he was the captain of a cargo ship. We got negatives for every type of wares we could think of that his ship might carry. A couple of us had the idea of human cargo. The rods swung rapidly to the back. Not talking. He was then asked if he knew of the East India Trading Company. The rods swung around rapidly again and a few of us started to feel uncomfortable. I had an unpleasant pressure on my chest. We ended the vigil there.
At the end-of-evening wash-up, another group (I believe in the same room, as they must have been using the Franks Box, but I can check this) encountered an obstreperous man who disliked the women in the group and called one of them a “wench”.
We returned to the kitchen at the end of the night and again used the rods. The K2 on the table was again flashing and the rods were responsive. We asked if the ironmaker were back with us. No. We asked if we were talking to someone connected with the table. Yes. Responses were more reluctant than with the other speakers. There was more swinging to the back refusal movements and we gave a lot of assurance that we were not there to judge, condemn nor punish. This worked to a certain extent.
This was again a man. He was called Richard de Breton. He wasn’t a knight but was in some way associated with the king (this was unclear. He wasn’t soldier and wavered when asked if he worked for the king). We got a cautious yes when we asked if the king paid him to do some work. We got a “no” for soldier, but a cautious yes for mercenary (although it should be noted that later research shows that this would not necessarily have had the same connotations in the past). Henry II was on throne and he refused to talk about Thomas Becket. He said that he was unable to leave the room, because of what he had done, and was effectively attached to the table. We asked if he could get anyone to help him move on, and he said no. He was adamant that he could not talk to a priest for atonement.
He knew about the iron maker in the room and didn’t get on with him. We couldn’t find out why.
Fact checks: We worked out that, if the person attached to the table was really one of Becket’s assassins, he would have been a Catholic. No wonder he didn’t get on with the Protestant iron maker! Also, of course he would not talk to a priest about atonement as he had murdered one.
Nothing much of note happened here. We again used the rods and appeared to talk to a woman who helped out in the kitchen. It was about 1am at this point and we asked what time of day it was for her. She said that it was first thing in the morning and that she was getting ready to start work. It made us wonder if time just doesn’t pass in the same way, or whether it is always the same season and time of day.
The oldest part of the house dates to the late 15th century, and makes an excellent example of a late medieval timber-framed building. The structure was altered numerous times through the 17th century, but it remains very much a 16th century house, with period furnishings and architecture. There is no indication that Anne of Cleves ever actually stayed in the house, though she certainly did spend time in the area, so it is certainly possible that she visited her house. (Info from Britain Express).