Guest writer MATTI BEAL, a former hospital worker, uncovers the spookiness behind medical facilities
Let’s face it, hospitals aren’t nice places. I mean, what’s to like about them? We generally only go there when we, or someone else, is sick and they install us with a stark reminder of our own mortality. We don’t like being there, so it seems strange, that there are apparently so many incidents of spirits hanging around these old places.
I used to work in a hospital (in the kitchens) and many a conversation on the late shift would turn to the subject of ghosts. It seemed a few of us had had similar experiences, with some stories going back 30 years, but what I didn’t expect was how interchangeable these experiences were with other hospitals across the country.
The feeling of being watched, shadows out of the corner of your eye and feeling someone walking past, are fairly low on the scale of paranormal activity, and many hospitals seem to put this down to an old patient, or loyal nurse come back to help the understaffed. However, there are some more interesting cases.
Take, for example, Mount Gould Hospital, in Plymouth, which is said to be haunted by a Woman in White. She is said to have been seen disappearing into a room by a male staff member. The patient he was with at the time supposedly passed away the next morning, although he did not seem particularly unwell the night before. Interestingly, the wards of the hospital are said to be built on an ancient battle site. Another Plymouth hospital, Freedom Fields, which was closed in 1998, was also said to be haunted by a Napoleonic prisoner of war.
The Royal Hospital, Derby, is also believed by many to been haunted by an apparition – that of a man dressed in black and wearing a cloak who is thought to be a Roman Solider, due to the site being built upon one of Britain’s main Roman Roads. The hospital hit headlines in 2009 after allegedly calling in an exorcist to quell its ghostly goings on however, the hospital denies these claims.
What interests me about these incidences of haunting, is that they don’t seem to be caused by anything directly related to the actual hospital, like a former patient or staff member. They are seemingly connected to the land itself, or the buildings previous history and they are most likely residual. My question here is, why are they hanging around a hospital that has nothing to do with them?
One theory could be that it’s to do with the disturbances made to the land itself while building the hospitals –that the construction stirred up old energies. The same theory may be applied to houses built over old churchyards, or in the US, the old “Native American Graveyard” cliché, as quoted in the Amityville case, amongst others.
Alternatively, if a hospital can be seen as a crossover point between this life and the next – like a booth at a toll road – then maybe a place with such highly charged emotional and spiritual activity can attract “wandering spirits” or, again, stir up residual energies.
Or maybe, it’s our own fear of death that creates these things. Minor incidents of paranormal activity, like being watched or moving objects -where they may easily be debunked as quirks of a forgetful or overactive mind – may be more likely to be blamed on the ol’ ghosties when encountered in places which directly address the balance of life and death, like hospitals. In places like this, our innate fear of death may be heightened, so surely it’s only natural to reassure ourselves of the thought of an afterlife by blaming our lost frying pan on a ghost who wanted a snack.
Hospitals are a circle – We are generally born there, and we often pass away there. Maybe some of us hang around there after we’ve gone, or maybe we just hope we do, whether we know it or not.