Do multiple witnesses to a seemingly paranormal event necessarily all experience the same thing? ANDREW HOMER found himself ideally placed to answer this question late one night at The Theatre on the Steps, Bridgnorth in Shropshire.
The picturesque and historic market town of Bridgnorth is home to one of the country’s most unusual theatres. Aptly named The Theatre on the Steps, it is situated midway along the ancient Stoneway Steps which connects Low Town with High Town in Bridgnorth. Nowadays passengers can take the Bridgnorth Cliff Railway which dates back to 1892 and is England’s steepest inland funicular railway. The only access to the theatre though is by climbing up or down the steep flight of steps.
The building dates back to 1709 and has not always been a theatre. It was originally built as a Presbyterian Chapel and later became a Congregational Church. Known locally as the Stoneway Chapel, it eventually became the Theatre on the Steps in the early 1960s.
Paranormal activity at The Theatre on the Steps, Bridgnorth
The building has a long history of paranormal activity. The front doors open onto inner doors which in turn open out into the foyer bar and a staircase leading up to the balcony. Much of the ghostly activity is centred on this area. A lady in green is said to sweep down the staircase and through the foyer. She has also been seen on the balcony and in the auditorium but is sometimes described as being a grey figure.
The foyer bar is also home to strange light effects which have been witnessed by different people and on numerous occasions. During an investigation at the theatre the author experienced such an effect which can best be described as a door opening from the area of the auditorium reflecting light onto the opposite wall. Nothing too strange in that you may think except that at the time no doors had been opened or closed and all the lights were turned off in both the foyer and the adjoining auditorium.
On one occasion, the author had agreed to assist with helping a group of nurses who had organised a charity ghost hunt event overnight at the theatre. Not expecting anything paranormal to occur may even have contributed to the following experience:
“I had arrived a little early and walked up the steps from Low Town to meet up with the group. When I reached the theatre, a lady called Wendy and her teenage daughter were waiting outside for the event to begin. We got chatting, and whilst we were talking we could hear the group on the inside of the building. I banged on the door and continued chatting while we waited to be let in.
“After a few minutes we had still not been let in but the noise from inside had got louder. We could hear people moving about and occasionally talking and laughing. I banged the door even louder the second time and remember commenting that it was about time they let us in. After a few more minutes we had still not been let in and, on hearing someone opening the inner door just on the other side of where we were standing, I went to bang on the door once again.
“Just as I was about to do this Wendy said, ‘Wait a minute, some people are coming down the steps’. Sure enough, a group of about twenty ladies led by a man carrying a lantern and a key on a large metal ring were heading down towards us. As the door was unlocked and opened, we were still expecting to see the people we had so clearly heard inside the building. It was only as the code to disable the intruder alarm was being tapped in that we realised something was not right. As the charity event had been widely advertised my initial thought was that some people had secreted themselves inside the theatre in order to scare the nurses later on. However, a thorough search of the building revealed that it had been empty all the time we had been waiting outside and if not, the alarm would surely have been triggered.”
Without realising it at the time it was happening we had clearly witnessed something strange. In order to record all of the details, I interviewed Wendy and her daughter separately and before they were able to discuss the experience between themselves.
The results were interesting. It turned out that both Wendy and I had heard people moving about, doors opening and closing and the sounds of people talking and laughing. Wendy’s teenage daughter on the other had had heard the movement noises and the doors but nothing of the people talking and laughing.
This begs the question as to how much of our experience was objective (actual) and how much was subjective (personal)? If the digital recorder in my bag had been switched on at the time, we might have had the answer!
This is by no means the first time that people have been heard inside the theatre when there is supposed to be no-one there. On occasions, staff preparing for a performance have assumed people have gained entry to the bar area only to discover the doors securely locked and the foyer empty.
The Theatre on the Steps is certainly an appropriate venue for hosting the popular Bridgnorth ghost walks at Halloween each year.
Have you seen something strange at The Theatre on the Steps? Tell us about it in the comments section below!