Have Lancaster students encountered the paranormal?

There’s more spirits in Lancaster than a vodka double

Lancaster has an old and famous relationship with spirits, ghosts and the unexplained. It’s not particularly surprising for a city with a castle, a cathedral, and a rich and often troubled history.

Last October a Facebook post asked locals whether they’d ever encountered anything paranormal, and hundreds of replies flooded in with stories about figures, apparitions, voices and sensations. The name that came up most of all was The Three Mariners pub on Heart Lane, which dozens of people confidently asserted had patrons from beyond the veil whom they or a friend had experienced in some way.

Given the season, we thought it a good time to ask Lancaster students if they had ever had an experience with a ghost or other unexplainable phenomenon.

The shadow man

One student house has a running joke about a “shadow man” who occupies the property. One girl used an app to record herself sleeping, and it once caught hushed voices and her shouting in her sleep. Nothing visual, but certainly a little unnerving. The extremely creepy basement decorated by a single broken office chair tucked away, facing the corner of the room, doesn’t help.

Pedro the friendly ghost

Ami, a second-year, explained that “our house has a ghost named Pedro, who flickers all the electrics in the living room”. Such activity is commonplace in stories about poltergeists, spirits who seemingly love giving people the creeps by messing around with household items. However, it’s hardly a stretch to think that shoddy workmanship by a landlord could be to blame. Either way, Pedro sounds like fun.

Phantom noises

Jacob said that he could hear people moving around on the other side of the wall in his accommodation, even though he knew that that room was unoccupied. Maybe there’s a simple explanation – sometimes the directionality of sounds can be misleading. A sound from a room above can be very similar to a sound from next door. Perhaps it was a porter doing a routine check. Nonetheless, if we heard unexplained sounds from an unoccupied room, we’d probably be a little spooked.

In a very similar account, Helena said that she could hear knocking on their accommodation wall in the night, as could the person next door to her. Both thought that the knocking must have been the other, until they spoke about it and realised neither was responsible. Pipes in the walls creaking with hot water or air perhaps? It’s quite hard for something that isn’t a knock to sound like a knock.

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The last two accounts feature even more compelling stories, since something physical and relatively unexplainable happened in both. Sasha said that “a ghost pulled my hair in the shower”, with it being so clear and hard that she originally thought it was one of her flatmates. We all know of phantom pains and experiences the body has, most commonly feeling a vibration from your phone in your pocket when it hasn’t actually vibrated at all. But to imagine your hair being pulled is quite a stretch.

Disembodied voices

Finally, we spoke in more depth to Holly, who experienced some paranormal activity in her second-year accommodation. She explained that on a late-night of Netflix watching last week, right in the middle of an episode, “in my right ear a voice hushed like a whisper – so vividly that I knew it could not have come from Netflix because it was distinctly in my right ear, like an actual person was whispering to me”.

Obviously, our brains do get foggy late at night and are well known to play tricks on us, but it’s rare for someone to imagine something so distinct and unnerving as a hushed whisper. “It freaked me out so much that I sat there thinking there was no way this had happened to me”. Holly admitted she slept with her light on afterwards, and that the house she is staying in is definitely a very old building which, like many buildings in Lancaster, predates the University.

Whether or not you consider yourself a believer, it’s evident that a handful of students have experienced things in Lancaster that they cannot explain. Some so harmless that they became a group gag, and some far more disconcerting. I find it highly unlikely that anybody reading this article would sleep easy after hearing a hushed whisper into their ear late at night. Just the thought alone will likely make a lot of you go and turn a light on.

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