The Spanish Barn
Torre, Torquay

Investigated on August 28th, 2007

With a history dating back nearly a thousand years, Torre Abbey and the Spanish Barn have seen almost a millennia of history - the barn in particular witnessing death and imprisonment. Built way back in 1196, what secrets would it offer when Hidden Realms spent the night there?

The Spanish Barn is one of the finest surviving examples of an early medieval English barn in the country and is a grade I listed building. The tithe barn was built in 1196 and was built by the Canons of Torre Abbey at the same time of the abbey itself. A church was also built but today it is little more than a ruin comprising of just the West and South sides of the Cloister still standing. The barn was built to store produce from the Abbey lands and wagons would have been drawn in to unload, with the threshing taking place between the two large doors allowing a fresh sea breeze to circulate. In 1450 the roof as we see it today was constructed.

The barns most famous story explains how the building gots its name. In July 1588 the galleon 'Nuestra Señora del Rosario' from the Spanish Armada crashed and 397 members of the crew were captured. Because many locals knew that their family and friends had fallen foul of the Spaniards and the Spanish Inquisition, they imprisoned them in the barn for a fortnight. After this the prisoners were moved to Exeter and Dartmouth prisons.

In 1662 the Cary family purchased the barn (which, even then, was still being used for its original purpose). A photo of the barn from around 1865 is shown on the left. During the 1870's the surrounding farmland was developed and the barn eventually became a stable for the Cary's family horses. Colonel Lucius Cary, who owned the Abbey and barn from 1906 to 1916 stored his Daimler car in the barn.

In 1930 the Abbey and barn were bought by Torquay Borough Council. they laid the floor and removed all post-medieval additions. During WW2 the Royal Air Force commissioned the barn and used it as a gymnasium. Today the Barn stands as a museum to Torre Abbey and is used during the summer months for exhibitions, plays and concerts.


To our knowledge there are no paranormal stories attributed to the Spanish Barn. If you know of any then please feel free to get in touch via either email or the message forum.

Equipment We Used
The group used the following equipment during our investigation:


Both the coin and cross trigger object experiments were set up over in a corner of the barn just alongside to the stone sarcophagus lid. A camcorder was left recording these and a Passive IR motion detector was set facing towards the set-up.

The Beam-Break motion detector was placed waist-high to cover a smaller side-entrance to the barn that was not in use.
Three billiard balls were delicately aligned along a surface just off from the centre of the barn. This was so that if a trigger object moved but these didn't then a natural reason, such as an Earth tremor, could be effectively ruled out as a possible cause.

Mediumship Evidence

The sensitives in the group were given the image of a man on horse-back who entered through the large doors on the Abbey side of the barn. He was warning people inside to keep back as he entered. He seemed to be someone who had an air of authority and command about them. He had a long pole in his hand with which he 'prodded' people out of the way. There was a stench of decay and disease which was quite intense. Unfortunately a gentlemen of this description has not been down during research.
'There was a woman who was laid out on the floor on what looked like old rags and a young child who sat on the floor beside her who was crying. There were other people in the barn but they kept away. It was felt that the woman had a disease of some kind and the others were too scared to go near her. It was felt that the woman and child were left without any help or comfort. Sadly this is too vague to be able to research fully although nothing can be found historically that suggests that the barn ever housed the sick. This, of course, doesn't mean that what was picked up on was in this context.

Whilst the group were sat round a table in 'circle' near the main doorway a male presence made himself known to the sensitives. He did not give his name at first and seemed quite agitated at the group being there and wanted to get past and go into the barn. It was as though there was something inside the barn that he wanted kept secret and he didnt want anyone to find out about it. Mike asked out to this gentleman what the year was and Chris was given a year from the 1580's that she then relayed to him. When Mike then asked who the current reigning monarch was he was answered, in the same way, 'King Henry'. This, obviously, is wrong - King Henry VIII reigned from 1509 to 1547. It was his daughter Elizabeth that was in reign during the 1580's. When Mike pointed this out he started to get angry and called him various names such as Buffoon*, Jabberwocker** and Chitterling***. One of the female members was called a wench****. We asked out for the mans name again and one person was given the name Tranter, whilst another was told Sir Robert Tranter'. A dog was walking backwards and forwards near the man.

*Buffoon: a clown, a noisy, clumsy , incompetant fool.
**Jabberwocker: Cant find a definition for this term.
***Chitterling: a section of the smaller intestines of pigs.
****Wench: a farmyard working girl.

The name 'Robert Tranter / Trantor' cannot currently be linked to either Torre Abbey or the barn itself.

Another image that was 'sensed' was that of a rotting cross, although it is not certain that it was a cross but it was a 'tall, chunky, upright peice of wood which had some type of carvings on it but at the top it looked like it was rotting or melting away. It was also 'sensed' that items from captured ships were stored at the barn and that it came here under guard.

Whilst the group were stood near the main doorway, two of the sensitives were given the image of monks. These monks were entering the building through the side door to the right of the main doors. They walked silently at first into the building and made their way to the North end of the barn where it appeared some type of 'make-shift' alter stood. Various latin words were heard, which appeared to be prayer or chant. They wore their hoods up as they entered and hands were clasped together as if in prayer. This would obviously tie in with the Abbey that the barn is a part of.

Physical Evidence
Neither the billiard balls or cross moved during the night. However, the coin experiment did seem to have something as shown in the photo below:

Unfortunately, because this apparent move was so slight the camera set recording at the time did not pick up on it as it was focused on both the coins and the cross. However, when the experiment was set all coins were, as always, set in alignment to their borders. Since nobody ever ventured down near the coins except for Mike this movement is a bit of a mystery.

One incident that did occur during the night that raised some questions was when Mike was starting to pack up for the night and was walking past the PIR Motion Detector as he was taking some items from the Trigger Object experiments back to the table ready for packing. As he walked past the Motion Detector, turned to face an empty, inaccessible part of the barn a while before as to not set it off, suddenly sounded in alarm. Mike, a little puzzled, then walked back and faithfully retraced his route behind the Motion Detector, moving back and forth over and over in an attempt to set it back off again. This was to no avail - it only ever sounded that one time and Mike could not recreate it. Whatever set it off must have been in front in the inaccessible part that nobody was anywhere near during the time.

A digital audio recorder was left in the Barn for an entire night a few days before the group conducted their investigation. Unfortunately a lot of the noises recorded were of outside such as people walking past and shouting or cars / bikes racing up along a nearby road. There were, however, some interesting sounds that are presented below...

Recording 1: Footsteps
This was captured within an hour of the Barn being locked up for the night. Yes, could well have been people walking around outside, but these are hard footsteps on stone with an echo that really does suggest that they were being made inside the barn.

Recording 2: Voice saying 'Hello'
This does have a high probability that it was somebody outside talking, but you can't hear any talking either directly before or afterwards. There's no denying that the voice is saying 'hello' and it is a little unusual how it seems to just appear out of nowhere. No footsteps outside or any pro or preceeding chat. Plus, it also appears to have an echo to it.

Recording 3: Two knocks
These are two loud, distinctive knocks with echos to suggest that they were being made inside the barn. What exactly is causing them however we cannot say.

Recording 4: Harsh, grating sound.
Can anybody hazard a guess as to what could be making this sound? It's too loud to be either a car or motorbike (and sounds absolutely nothing like the many dozens of such vehicles that drove past during the night) and we're currently at a loss. Any guesses?

Recording 5: Footsteps and Voices
This was recorded at around 5am and sounds like someone is talking through a walkie-talkie. However, that wouldn't explain the quiet footsteps that're heard on the stone floor just beforehand.

The Spanish Barn certainly was an interesting night with positive results on both parts of the group as you can see above.

We had a lovely time at the Spanish Barn, and would like to give a huge thanks to everybody who helped make it happen!