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Unravelling the Mysteries: A Return to Haunted Groundlings Theatre

Dare to step inside
Return to Haunted Groundlings Theatre Portsmouth

Groundlings Theatre, nestled in Old Portsmouth, once called the Devil's Apron, is a historic landmark constructed in 1784. Originally serving as the Portsea Beneficial Society's meeting house and the Beneficial School, it is one of the earliest purpose-built free schools in the UK. With a remarkable past that includes hosting prominent figures such as Prince Albert and Lord Palmerston, and even linked to the birth of Charles Dickens, this Grade II listed building evolved from educational institution into a vibrant theatre and drama school.


Today, the theatre, not only preserves its rich architectural heritage but also offers affordable drama education and community engagement, making it a cherished cultural hub with a legacy steeped in both history and mystery.


The Tools of the Trade


I have ensured that I am equipped with the regular arsenal of paranormal tools, I ventured into the depths of Groundlings Theatre:


  • IR Camera: My go-to device for capturing visual anomalies, especially the elusive orbs that frequently appear in haunted spaces.

  • UV Light: A recent favourite in my toolkit, the UV light has shown remarkable success in highlighting and attracting orbs, acting as a beacon for the ethereal.

  • EMF Meter: Essential for detecting fluctuations in the electromagnetic field, providing evidence of unseen activities.

  • SLS Camera (Built, owned and used by another of the DS Haunts team): The Structured Light Sensor (SLS) camera is a cutting-edge device that uses depth mapping to reveal figures not visible to the naked eye. It’s like having an extra pair of eyes that see beyond the physical realm.


With these tools in hand, I delved once more into the enigmatic corridors of Groundlings Theatre.


The Main Stage: A Portal to the Unknown


Our night began on the main stage, a place where history and spectral presence seem to converge. Almost immediately, the camera captured significant orb activity, small but vibrant points of light dancing in the darkness. These orbs, often believed to be manifestations of spiritual energy, floated and flickered as if responding to an unseen conductor. Perhaps it was the trigger object that we placed, a musical box which seemed to work as expected, bringing spirits towards it with its chimes.


The SLS camera added another layer of intrigue. As I wondered around the main stage, almost inviting the interaction with the headmaster, I scanned the stage with IR... John, the SLS operator, mapped out a figure—an entity that my eyes couldn’t see but my senses told me was there. It was a moment of validation, a convergence of technology and intuition affirming that we were not alone on that stage. The figure wondered around the stage, sometimes even converging which provided a strange sensation within me, almost like a static charge.


Into the Headmaster’s Office: A Hive of Activity


Next, I moved to the headmaster’s office, a room with a palpable energy. Here, the EMF meter came alive, registering considerable fluctuations in the electromagnetic field. However, despite the high levels of activity indicated by the EMF readings, the camera only captured orbs. It was as if the spirits in this room were playing a game of hide and seek, revealing just enough to keep us on our toes but not enough to fully reveal themselves.

Seeking the truth
Dr Iain Lightfoot - 'Most Haunted' Paranormal Investigator

The Dressing Room: Voices from the Past


Following a break, we descended into the dressing room. I felt that this room was an old dormitory, although this wasn't confirmed at the time. In this room, the investigation took a poignant turn. I made contact with Will, a child spirit, and the stern, rude, vile presence of the headmaster. This room, filled with echoes of past performances and personal stories, became a conduit for communication. I felt a sense of urgency and fear as I was intuitively ‘told’ about a hidden place under the floor—an elusive basement where the pupils, the children hid from the headmaster.


Intrigued, I asked if such a basement existed, and the response was an affirmative. The theatre staff mentioned suspicions of a hidden cellar, a secret space never found but long rumoured. This revelation added a new dimension to our investigation, hinting at physical remnants of past lives yet to be uncovered.


Vigil in the Headmaster’s Office


Returning to the headmaster’s office for a vigil, the room remained enigmatic. The EMF meter continued to show significant fluctuations, though no additional visual evidence was captured. It was a reminder that paranormal investigations often involve more than what meets the eye, requiring patience and a willingness to embrace the unknown.


The Ghost of the Old Beneficiary
The Vile Headmaster of the Old Beneficiary School Portsmouth

A Break; But not from Intuition


In the realm of mediumship, understanding and harnessing energy plays a crucial role in bridging the gap between our world and the other side. Intuition acts as a finely tuned antenna, allowing mediums to perceive subtle vibrations and signals from spirits. This heightened awareness enables them to detect and interpret paranormal phenomena, often invisible to others. By cultivating a deep connection with their own intuitive faculties, mediums and sensitives can facilitate clearer communication with spirits, making the ethereal more accessible. This symbiotic relationship between energy sensitivity and intuition transforms fleeting whispers and shadowy apparitions into profound messages from the beyond, enriching the experience of paranormal investigation. Sometimes, this manifests, like it did here, at being able to pass specific messages to some of the group.


Back to the Stage: A Spectral Manifestation


As the night progressed, I returned to the stage. Here, the atmosphere seemed to shift. The EMF meter spiked, and the camera captured a significant manifestation—an ethereal form that seemed to emerge from the shadows. This final encounter underscored the stage’s role as a focal point for paranormal activity, a place where the past and the present intertwined in eerie harmony. I absolutely feel that the stage, can provide a focus for investigations in the future.


Key Learnings and Reflections


Reflecting on the investigation, several key learnings emerged, offering deeper insights into the paranormal phenomena at Groundlings Theatre.


  • UV Light’s Attraction: The UV light continues to prove its effectiveness in attracting orbs, suggesting that spirits may be drawn to or aware of tools that bridge the gap between their world and ours.

  • Potential Hidden Cellar: The mention of a hidden cellar beneath the theatre, speculated but never confirmed, opens a tantalizing avenue for future exploration. Uncovering this space could reveal physical evidence of the theatre’s haunted past by corroborating both the objective and subjective.

  • Ongoing EMF Activity: The consistent EMF fluctuations, especially in the headmaster’s office, indicate persistent paranormal activity. These readings, even in the absence of visual phenomena, suggest a strong spectral presence.


Concluding Thoughts and Future Directions - Is Groundlings Theatre Haunted


My / Our return to Groundlings Theatre was a journey through layers of history and mystery, where each tool in our toolkit played a role in uncovering the venue’s spectral secrets. The understanding that there may be a potential cellar adds a compelling mystery to our ongoing investigation, and is a new piece of understanding to be investigated in the paranormal investigating world, while the effective use of UV light and SLS camera provides new ways to interact with the unseen.


Within Groundlings Theatre there remains a rich tapestry of haunted history, promising more revelations for those who dare to explore its hidden corners. As I prepare for future investigations, the theatre continues to beckon with its enigmatic allure, each visit a step closer to unravelling the mysteries it holds.


Until the next chapter in this ghostly adventure, the quest for understanding and the thrill of discovery keep the spirit of investigation alive. I do feel that Groundlings Theatre in Portsmouth is haunted...


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