Flashback to September 2005

2005

Is there anybody out there? Tim Crowson in the auditorium, where the White Lady had a favourite seat.
Is there anybody out there? Tim Crowson in the auditorium, where the White Lady had a favourite seat.

The White Lady was reputedly a regular at one of Shropshire's theatres – and maybe still is.

She even had a favourite seat, in row C of the stalls.

She truly was the spirit of amateur dramatics, haunting the Belfrey Theatre in Wellington, home of Wellington Theatre Club, which as it happens celebrated its golden anniversary on September 10 and 11 with a "Belfrey at Fifty" production featuring an audacious attempt to showcase 268 plays in 10 minutes.

Back in 2005 odd noises, strange lights and spooky figures had all been reported in the building, an old Victorian school taken over by the club in October 1971.

Rumour had it that the Belfrey's ghost was a teacher who had worked at the school, or the wife of an old headmaster.

Whoever the White Lady was, or is, if she exists or existed at all, there were some folk who were too afraid to enter the building alone.

A Shropshire Star team went to investigate the story on September 13, 2005, but our photographer had problems. For some reason his camera failed time and time again.

Tim Crowson goes ghosthunting with Shropshire Star reporter Alys Cummings in September 2005

When photographs taken during pantomime rehearsals were posted on the theatre’s website, strange orbs of light appeared on them. For the theatre company, enough was enough, and it decided to call in paranormal investigators.

Tim Crowson, of the Belfrey, told our reporter that the orbs were typical of the ghost’s reaction to electrical equipment, and lights often randomly went on and off.

Is there anybody out there? Tim Crowson in the auditorium, where the White Lady had a favourite seat.

And a past chairman, Margaret Perry, said: “One story says that there was a guy working here with a drill and he had his son with him. The kid picked up the power tools, but none of them would work, although they were fine when the dad tried them again.

“It was almost as if there was someone not letting the child use them.”

A few weeks later six paranormal investigators from the North East UK Paranormal Society spent a Saturday night at the Belfrey Theatre on Prince's Street, along with three "critical thinkers," and two theatre company members, Claire Edmonds and Lynn Shepherd.

Tim tries to shine light on the spooky goings-on.

Despite seeing flashes, hearing a woman’s voice humming, feeling icy fingers, and sensing the presence of a 1940s woman, the team concluded the theatre was not haunted.

Using digital cameras, a video camera, a thermometer and walkie talkies, the investigators carried out their experiments.

The first section of their report, at 9.30pm, described how the evening began with all the team gathered in the auditorium and stage while the lights were dimmed.

It stated: “During the course of the vigil, attendees changed places to experiment with the atmosphere in different parts of the area... G felt at one point that there may have been a female presence behind the curtain in the main corridor, though she did not see her, but examination showed no evidence of anyone present.

“G later described that she believed the presence to be a female who appeared to be from the 1940s, wearing an apron without a bib, with brown hair curled back at the sides of her face.”

A fixed camera was set to record a volume of Shakespeare open on the first scene of Macbeth as a “trigger object” and a glass divination experiment was also carried out, using pieces of paper with “Yes”, “No” and “Goodbye” written on them.

In conclusion, the report stated: “Apart from auditory phenomena in dressing room two, which probably have a physical source, the only sensations experienced were by individuals with prior knowledge of the location.

“It is difficult to specifically state that the location is not the subject of paranormal phenomena as a result of one investigation, but the majority of investigators felt that the theatre is not haunted.”

We asked Brian Hughes, current chairman, whether the White Lady has made a reappearance, and he has asked around.

He tells us: "The only folk we have left were youngsters at the time and not really involved in the White Lady business, although someone recalls that the ghosthunters found nothing to report.

"But 'the Belfrey Ghost' is still alive and well in that it frequently gets blamed for stuff going missing and recent technological mishaps – a video shoot where the playback suddenly went slowmo and zoom rehearsals and streamed shows bedevilled by gremlins."

50 years old – The Belfrey Theatre, Wellington.

Incidentally if you think we've misspelt Belfrey throughout, that is the correct spelling as used by the theatre, with an additional "e", adopted after Belfry was misspelt on the theatre's early literature.

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