Hayley is a Ghost

She was climbing out of the wall…

Posted on: May 28, 2011

The original mill wall is still present

The Shires Shopping Centre in Trowbridge (the county town of Wiltshire) is one of those places that doesn’t look spooky when you walk through it of a day, with the noise of the crowds echoing around the glass roof it’s easy to forget that the building dates back as far as it does. My mum used to work in the cotton mills that used to be on the site, and prior to that Trowbridge Castle was situated there – in fact, when building work began for the shopping centre all of those years ago they actually uncovered a mass burial site from what was once the chapel of the castle.

The infamous poltergeist that used to haunt a nearby tavern called “Peewee’s” (which is now Domino’s Pizza) is said to be a spirit whose remains were disturbed by the building work. The Peewee’s poltergeist is actually one of my favourite local stories because it involves people I know who witnessed bizarre activity in the form of a grill pan going missing from the kitchen only to be found months later behind a solid wall.

Anyway, I’m straying from the original story here. When I was in my late teens I did an apprenticeship with a bakery shop in The Shires Shopping centre – this was when I was a big believer in ghosts, an after life and all things spiritual and was also when I had first started to be involved in paranormal research. I worked full-time in the bakery shop and it is where I witnessed strange phenomena that, to this very day, I cannot explain.

Over the years I witnessed a security gate at the side of the bakery counter swinging open on its own (it was one you had to lift and then push open but it just flew open unaided in front of me and three customers), I also witnessed a loaf of bread literally float off of a shelf as well as two cans of coca cola fly across the shop.

Other people witnessed odd things in the shop too – customers all witnessed an apparition together, stock would regularly be found scattered around on the floor, a large tin of tuna that had been secure on a top shelf narrowly missed smashing into a colleagues skull, a whole shelf full of utensils flew off of a shelf and hit the wall that was four feet away, people would hear their names being called…

It was weird, something I’ll admit even to this day. Of course, now I don’t know if it was paranormal and would love the chance to look for natural causes – but at the time I was convinced it was ghostly in nature – especially when neighbouring shops started to report the same sort of phenomena, as well as the sighting of a sinister dark shadowy being that had scared one shop so badly they’d called security, thinking they had an intruder.

Naturally, when I started hearing about these other experiences that were happening outside of the bakery shop I knew I had to conduct an investigation and alongside another Wiltshire based team called ‘Jorden Williams Paranormal’ we gained access and conducted our first on many investigations.

On that first investigation with JWP I witnessed a few things I still cannot explain to this day (of course, this doesn’t mean they were paranormal in nature, but they were odd). We all heard a child singing when no child was present and when we all stopped to listen properly it stopped. People also had something whistling in their ears, a toy piano in a shop started playing on its own (when we visited the shop the next day we discovered it didn’t have an automatic play function as we thought it might) and at one point myself and my WPR co-founder (who is also my mum) Sharon, were walking past Argos and there was a loud bang on the glass window that made us both look to see who had got inside the shop – but nobody was there.

Where three of us saw an "apparition"We were very lucky to be able to join JWP on their investigation at The Shires, but we soon decided we wanted to go back and so our own team gained access another five or six times over the following years. During our time in The Shires we witnessed numerous odd things that, at the time, we thought were ghosts. In fact, I saw what people would class as an ‘apparition’ with two other people at the same time – we saw a little boy running across the shopping centre and disappearing around a corner. To this day I can’t explain what I saw, but it was certainly one of the experiences that led me to believe ghosts existed. Now I know there are numerous reasons I could have seen what I did, but I don’t know for sure what it was and it’s annoying because I wish I could come up with a certain answer.

Lots was experienced at The Shires that at the time seemed very strange and was labelled as paranormal in nature, now though, with the knowledge I have gained over the years I couldn’t say with as much certainty as I did before that it was paranormal in nature. I do wish I had as much knowledge back then as I do now about how things can appear to be paranormal when they’re not as I think it would have been fascinating to study The Shires and the activity experiences from my more skeptical point of view which would provide not only myself with answers, but also those who work there.

However, the reason I wanted to write about The Shires was to share with you the experience that myself and my research team had with the woman who came through the wall. She sent screams echoing up and around the shopping centre as we encountered her and it’s something that neither myself or my mum will ever forget.

In fact, we saw her again yesterday and it was our encounter with her yesterday that brought the whole thing back to the front of our minds…

We had been nearing the end of our investigation at The Shires, the only light in the place came from the dim bulbs in shop windows that were left on for security reasons. Occasionally we would hear a pop or creak as the large building settled around us – the security shutters would often move on their own as a result of internal air conditioning units. It was something that had initially made us jump, but we got used to it in the end.

The Shires has three levels at one end of the shopping centre, the top-level is where the shops are located and then two sets of moving stairs lead to the two levels of car parks. At the time we encountered the lady we were all spread out between the two lower levels. Myself and a handful of others were on the lower level and my mum, Sharon, and some others were on the middle level when it was decided we would move back up to the area with the shops. As we made our way up the stationary moving stairs my mum happened to turn around to say hello when she saw from the corner of her eye a woman climbing through the wall next to the locked doors that led to the first level car parks.

She screamed and pointed and the rest of us panicked at her screams and tried to all flee together up one set of stairs at the same time. The result was a lot of bruised shins and egos and a pile of us laughing on the floor as we realised what the lady actually was.

We had all been petrified by a piece of art work.

Can you see her?

Up close shot


2 Responses to "She was climbing out of the wall…"

I find a lot of modern art frightful myself. I don’t think I have ever ran out of building screaming about it though. ;P

Good Story.

Interesting place! Once back online i will have more to say! X

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Hayley is a ghost

Hayley Stevens is an advocate for science-based research into seemingly paranormal experiences and occurrences. With a background in the pseudo-scientific research into ghosts, Hayley offers a unique insight into the strange world of ghost hunting through her experience.

She describes herself as 'a ghost hunter who doesn't hunt for ghosts' and this is her personal blog where she writes about ghosts, people, and other interesting things. Read more here.

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