Chislehurst Caves investigation
Once, on an ASSAP training course, someone who’d been on the Chislehurst vigil was talking to a trainee he’d never met before. He was intrigued, and surprised, to be told that the ASSAP investigation had witnessed some amazing paranormal activity! It seems that accounts of that night had gone around through ‘friends of friends’ (FOAF) and got a little exaggerated in the process. Such ‘chinese whispers’ are common in paranormal research circles.
The investigation was divided into three parts: physical, psychological and psychical. Organiser Clive Seymour conducted extensive historical and folklore research before the main event.
Finally, on 14 March 1987, 14 ASSAP members spent the night in the caves. Though they arrived at 4pm, it took longer than expected to set up all the equipment. This included an infra-red video, a type of EEG called a ‘Mind Mirror’, geiger counters and EVP monitoring equipment. It was a very long vigil with the team not emerging until around 7am the following morning.
There were psychometric and ESP tests, hypnosis and a path working session in addition to waiting for ghostly activity. As well as being cold, the caves proved very humid overnight. Many people ended up with wet clothes despite never going near any water bodies (see photo).
Nothing obviously paranormal happened though various odd sounds were reported. These included a dog barking at the World War 2 hospital, a child crying and some footsteps. Natural explanations were found for most of the sounds.
Many hours of video and audio tape were reviewed but nothing unusual appeared.
History of haunting
Chislehurst caves are in south-east London. Despite their name, the chalk tunnels are artificial, the result of ancient flint mining. They were used during WW1 as an ammunition store and in WW2 as an air raid shelter.
The caves have long had a reputation for being haunted. There is even a ‘haunted pool’. There used to be a ‘challenge’ with a reward for anyone who could spend the night there alone. Two years before ASSAP’s investigation, two tour guides took up the challenge. One of them was interviewed by Haunted Kent and reported a frightening experience.
It is possible to visit the caves though only on guided tours. The ‘challenge’ has long since been stopped on safety grounds.
Author :Maurice Townsend
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