One of the first cases I investigated transpired at a medieval building in Sheffield called “The Bishop’s House”. As well as being one of the oldest buildings in Sheffield it claimed to be the most haunted.
Myself and another investigator, Valerie Salim investigated multiple sightings of a grey lady who would touch visitors to the tourist attraction. Often the lady would be seen standing beside the 16th Century windows, in one sighting she walked past an old rocking chair, moving it to and fro. Numerous witness reports were gathered but after two months the sightings died down.
Soon after, the then curator of Bishop’s House, Mr Smythe*, released to the press a tale about an old box in the house’s museum. Every night the curator would lock the box and place it in the room where the grey lady is seen. The next morning, without fail the box would be unlocked and in some cases open!
I was too busy at the time to investigate the case, so Valerie interviewed Mr Smythe and published the account in her book “The Sheffield Ghost Hunters Guide.” For over sixteen years the box had been the centrepiece of the house’s museum, many visitors believing the box to be haunted. Many Sheffielders know of the box and its now firmly embedded within Sheffield folklore.
Recently I was contacted by three media students wishing to interview me for a paranormal film they were making, with a view for me to provide them with stories too. To make sure that the Bishop’s House story was still intact, I contacted the new curator and interviewed him regards to the house’s haunted past.
The new curator certainly set the record straight, confirming my suspicions that the old box story was indeed a publicity stunt. Allegedly, Mr Smythe, who died five years ago, had created the hoax when visitor levels began to fall after the excitement of the spate of grey lady sightings died down.
Smythe contacted Valerie, who was researching her latest book and she obviously believed his story without little or no investigation of the case. I’m glad that the old box story has now come to an end, but also sad that a part one of my first investigations that set me on this long road of discovery, was little more than a figment of a man’s imagination.
* The name of the curator has been changed to “Smythe” so to protect his identity