Most Haunted heads to Delapré Abbey in Northampton with members of the English Rugby Team for an investigation. Guest writer CLAIRE DAVY takes a look at the episode…
Episode Title: Delapré Abbey (with English Rugby Team)
Series: 15 Episode Number: 5
Originally broadcast: 18 September 2014
Delapré Abbey Most Haunted review
I have chosen to review this particular episode as it combines a few of my very favourite things – Delapré Abbey and its stunning grounds, ghosts and rugby. Ok, and rugby players too. Hope you enjoy it!
We are welcomed to the episode as always by the charming and lovely Yvette telling us the past history of tonight’s Most Haunted investigation. Delapré Abbey is a former monastery and was built on wetlands to the south of Northampton in 1145 and was actually one of only two Cluniac monasteries of women in UK (together with Arthington Priory in Yorkshire). There were somewhere between 12 and 20 nuns in Delapré at any one time during its incarnation as a priory but the Abbey was closed in 1538 during the dissolution of monasteries.
The advent of the 1460 Battle of Northampton at Delapré between Yorkists and Lancastrians seemed to provide earliest apparitions of which there are still accounts, including clashing swords in the dead of night, marching boots and the frenzied shouts of battle.
Following that tumultuous period, Delapré then passed family to family till 1940 when the war office took over the Abbey.
(NB: the building at the time of this programme airing had mostly been empty with a bit of a bleak future but in 2013, it obtained Heritage Lottery funds and has undergone extensive renovation and is now open to the public on a daily basis).
The investigation at Delapré Abbey
Yvette heads first to the reputedly haunted to the underground tunnels and cellars and talks about some of the Abbeys resident wraiths, including the famous (in Northamptonshire anyway) Blue Lady, who wanders the corridors between the (now) library and the chapel ,the blue of her appearance apparently in keeping with the blue of the nun’s habits.
Henry VI also makes a plaintive appearance, seemingly from when he was held prisoner in the cells of the building (of which we’ll discuss more later) and there is the obligatory ‘black dog’ who emanates from the tearoom and patrols in and around Delapré’s beautiful grounds, waiting to bring news of an impending death or tragedy to an unfortunate visitor. To finish up this cache of creepies is the auditory phenomena dating back to when families loved privately in the house, including rustling skirts, shouts and footsteps, accompanied (according to Yvette) by an oppressively creepy atmosphere.
(NB: The wife of Edward I, Queen Eleanor passed away unexpectedly in 1290 while the couple visited Nottingham and her body was borne south to her burial site in Westminster via 12 stops along the way. One of these stops was the Black Dog at Delapré and now the Eleanor Cross, one of only three surviving examples of the 12 stands proudly on the roadside near the abbey walls, in testament to this sombre final royal journey.)
Regular Most Haunted contributor and ‘demonologist’ Fred Blatt then takes over and tells us the history of the abbey (which is largely a rehashing of Yvette’s introduction) but adds that some soldiers killed in the battle were laid to rest in the nuns graveyard on the site.
Fred and Yvette stroll through the Abbey and despite calling it ‘one of her favourite locations’, Yvette then goes on to say that the building itself could be the location for a horror movie – as a horror fan I fully understand that anathema though!
Yvette and Fred go on to explore the dungeons in more detail, providing enlightenment as to the possible reason for the appearance of Henry VI – he was apparently held here during the Battle of Northampton.
Much of Fred’s answers to what Yvette and the gang can expect to hear should they do a vigil in the cells and cellars seems rather…obvious shall we say?
Yvette: “What can we expect to hear in these cells where people were held captive and died Fred?”
Fred: “Crying, praying, moaning”
Yvette: “And what might we hear in the chapel area?”
Fred: “Praying, penance, walking”
Yvette: “And what might we hear in a dentists”
Fred: “Screaming, drilling, gurgling” – (I digress but you see my point!)
We then move on to the rugby boys – Ben Foden, a previous stalwart of both the Northampton and England teams, has brought with him Dylan Hartley, Chris Ashton and two other strapping fellows who try to mask their nervousness about forthcoming events by resolutely jamming their hands in their pockets and shuffling from one foot to another. Ben is perhaps the least sceptic of the avowed ‘sceptics’ as he has lived in ‘old houses’ (and his then wife Una was a guest of Yvette on an episode featuring her band, The Saturdays).
Yvette then reveals that ‘things have already started knocking and banging’ before the lights have even been switched off. (Evidently, the lads, weighing roughly 70 stone combined were startled by a pebble while doing their walk around.) And when Yvette announces ‘it’s time to begin’ they follow her out of the room like reluctant schoolboys following the caretaker to the headmasters office.
As they entered the first room of the location, Yvette calls out to the spirits of past visitors to the Abbey (many of whom likely succumbed after seeing the price of a scone in the tearooms).
For the cynical among us there is a certain amount of ‘leading’ going on, Yvette asks the spirits how many if them are present, then listens intently for a response – after a while she looks to one of the players who seems to be more ‘invested’ than the others and asks “did you hear two, did you hear five’ etc. and he nods meekly in response.
After a while however the ‘knocking’ does become more audible and the players are visibly quite nervy. As they depart that room, apparently a little disappointed at the lack of phenomena, a stone appears to come out of nowhere and hits the ground behind the departing team.
One of the crew alleges they felt a tap on the back as the stone was thrown – a cupboard previously shut was found to be open and Yvette decides they will depart and the last person to leave that room will throw the stone back into the room for the spirit to see if it wants to play.
The team move on and seemingly interact with the spirit who can identify 15 of them in the room which turns out to be correct, that aside the interaction does seem to be sporadic and they move on to do a seance. In my personal opinion I feel that the five players plus Yvette taking part in the ouija board may have been a little over the top as there was barely room for all the fingers.
The team seem to agree that Chris Ashton is the focus for the spirit’s interest so he decides to interact with it by asking it questions about his first car – interestingly the spirit of what could have been a 12th century nun or 15th century monarch correctly identified that it was indeed a BMW and not a Mercedes or Audi, which is telling in itself I think.
That being said, it was apparent that, as is the case with most ghost hunts/walks/investigations, the rugby players and the Most Haunted crew are split along the lines of those who clearly believe in the paranormal and are fully engaging, listening out for anything that could be interpreted (or misinterpreted) as a spooky occurrence and those who are visibly struggling to get enthused, either through lack of interest or a genuine fear of the unknown. This is definitely the case here and it makes for an interesting dynamic.
When the players and other members of the crew depart, only four brave team members are left standing for the duration of the night.
Karl and the ever pragmatic Stewart then head up the creepy stairs to spend a few hours vigil in the attic area and swiftly discover some creepy dead roses and have the door slammed shut on them by an unknown entity. Using a creepy blue tinted flashlight may not have been the wisest option, however, as its sporadic flashes are likely to induce a unconscious autosuggestion regarding the blue nun.
After using some less than complimentary language to ‘call out’ for the spirits (Karl “Stop f*****g around and do something else” and Stewart “Come on you shower of s***s”) they have a stone thrown down the stairs at them which I would say is the least they deserve to be honest. As they make their way down the stairs they are startled by a massive bang which makes the already skittish Karl beat a hasty retreat.
The four decide that the centre of the activity seems to be focused on the stairs and all of them head to it to investigate further – they experience whistles, bangs, and the crescendo of a massive crash all set to the rhythm of Yvette’s particularly girly squeals, at which point they decide to call it a night at Delapré Abbey.
Meanwhile, Yvette and Rick head for the cellars where they try calling out and have some hefty thumps around them as reward for their bravery and a stone appears to manifest in the only entrance/exit to the cellars which they feel has been thrown towards them.
The show then takes in the opinions of Dr John Callow who posits that the nervous laughter, especially by the players when they were taking part in the ouija board session, belies the truth of a very unsettling evening but in reality, all the show proves is that no matter the size of our biceps or the power of our scrum, we are all afraid of the dark…
CLAIRE DAVY lives in Northampton but comes from the remote west of Ireland. She’s been passionate about all things paranormal since she was a child and has a particular fascination for the Chase Vault case in Barbados and visited the haunted tomb for her 40th birthday. She’s a member of Ghost Club, the SPR and ASSAP and has hosted webinars and taken part in paranormal podcasts about all things spooky! You can follow her on Twitter and Facebook.