Totnes Museum

Investigated on April 12th, 2008.

Vigil Started: 9.50pm. Vigil Ended: 2.05am
Moon Phase: 1st Quarter. Weather Start: Clear and dry. Weather End: Clear and dry (although it did rain during the vigil). Barometer Pressure Start: 1013mb. Barometer Pressure End: 1012mb. Temperature Outside Start: 8.7C. Temperature Outside End: 6.2C

With a history over nearly half a millenium, Totnes Museum is one of the finest Elizabethan buildings still standing today. With a varied history and a lot of stories to tell, Hidden Realms were honoured to have been given the chance to spend some time in this charming place to see if any residents from the past wanted to make their presence known.

The history of the building starts on or around 1575 when the building is said to have been constructed for Sir Walter Kelland who was a wealthy merchant. The building, built as a merchants house, was built at a time when Totnes was rated the sixteenth richest town in the whole of England. This was due to the exporting of local woollen products, leather and tin from Dartmoor. The building had servants with the top floor being the servants quarters.

As the wealth of Totnes diminished in value, the building started to see a wider variety of life. During its time it has also been used as an inn and then a tea room (the tea shop being run by a Mr. Kinsmann) before it became an antiques shop. In 1958 it was then bought by the council and made into the museum we see today. An individual called Bill Bennett was the curator to the museum from 1984 to 1992.


Ground Floor
First Floor
Second Floor


Mr. Kinsmann once said that the building had two ghosts – a man and a woman – but did not elaborate.
In 1992 a teenaged boy was in ‘a very shocked condition’ after seeing a ghostly figure in the reconstructed Victorian grocers shop. Other people have reported sensing a ‘presence’ there.
People have felt a ‘strange atmosphere’ around the side entranceway that has made some people a little uncomfortable with one female resident feeling a hate of walking past it. Another person says that they feel the gateway itself being ‘strangely off-putting’.
The gallery that leads from the Victorian Toy section towards the door to the Study and stairs to the Kitchen were rebuilt in the recent past. A motion sensor burglar alarm positioned looking from the stairwell along the gallery once had a short period where it was being set off nightly in the early hours of the morning. A repairman and replacement of the sensor did not fix the problem.

In the past some names have been 'picked up' on by a variety of sensitives and mediums who have visited the museum. These include:

Alice. People have described her has being a young lady - around 23. She's been sensed wearing a hat and dark clothes with dark trousers that come to the shin. People have felt her to be from around the 18th century and is possibly connected to...

Jonathan / John Swayne. He's been sensed as being 'despicable' and felt like he was saying "I know what I had done. Didn't mean to do it."

John Sparrow is a name that has, in the past, been sensed in the Loom Room and is connected with head pain.

Martha has also come up, being described as 'an elderly lady'.

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

The Base Room was set up in the Members Room where Mike sat to watch the live camera feeds from the lock-off cameras.
The coins experiment was set up in the Bennett room due to that particular room housing the museums coin collection.
A lock-off camera was left recording in the 'Fore Hall' on the first floor.
Another lock-off camera was left recording focused down the Gallery on the first floor towards the Members Room.
A camcorder was left recording the courtyard.
Three billiard balls were placed on talc and left up in the 'Mitchell Room' on the second floor as, during a day visit, Chris said that she felt the room used to be a nursery, so the idea was to leave some kind of toy or game that then had an open invitation for any spirit to play with it.
The cross experiment was set up in the courtyard as during a day visit Kim said that she felt that someone had fallen from where the Gallery now is and was killed on the ground.
A weather station was kept running to monitor all atmospheric conditions.

Mediumship Results



Whilst carrying in the equipment up to the base room I kept being given the name 'Billy'.

Whilst in the Fore Hall setting up the cameras with Mike, I sensed that spirit were there. I was kneeling down, leaning forward to reach a plug socket behind a table when it felt like I was kicked (not hard) on my bottom. I stood up and saw a spirit man who was laughing and saying 'what are you doing missy?'. The man was short, quite robust with white/light hair, bushy sides and he was wearing a dark waistcoat, white shirt with narrow armbands just below the elbow. He also had what looked like a type of garter on his trousers.

In the Victorian Room I could see a bed where there is now a desk. I was given a name but couldn't make it out in full. It was Stans......

On the Gallery I sensed and saw a male spirit who had been hit on the back of the head with a club of some sort. He ended up in the court yard where he died. The man was tall with dark, longish hair. he was wearing a black/dark coloured coat. It wasn't his house, he was staying there. Was given the word poker game. I asked where he lived and got the reply 'Newtown'. I think the date was 1817. I also got the words Lodging House and the name or word Field/Fielding.

Whilst on the gallery, I also sensed another male spirit who gave his name as Marcus Stanwick/Standwick he showed me his daughter and got the name Ella Louise with her, although I'm not sure if he had just the one daughter or two. He also said 'I am an upstanding man'. I got the impression he was a man of importance, someone like a banker or such.

I kept getting the name 'Billy', Billy was 35 and was wearing dandy/fop type clothing.
The man who was killed was also giving the names Charles (butchers son), the surname was ?????ridge.

The messages were being given to me like I was leaning towards them meaning that the man who had died was Billy and Charles had caused his death. Billy also said that his killer, Charles, 'went away' to Dartmouth / Moor.

Back in the Fore Hall , the short man (who kicked me) kept saying 'doctor'. Whether he was a doctor or not I couldn't make out. A lady made her presence known and she gave me her name of Harriet. She wore a moss-green dress, had brown hair done up under a wideish brimmed hat and was also wearing gloves and lace up boots whilst holding a parasol. I was given the year as 1891, again I couldnt make out the name given it sounded like Chisle???? and I also saw calling cards.

The only other area I went was the Elizabethan Kitchen. I felt that it was not originally a kitchen but animals were kept out the back and also horses were too at one point. whilst in the Loom Room with other group members I saw a girl of around 12 years old. But whilst Chris was sensing her too, I had a picture of lots of cups and saucers, I didnt know why as it seemed nothing to do with the girl I saw. I mentioned it to other group members but unfortunately couldn't sense anymore.

I felt the whole rear part of building of the museum was somehow separate although part of the household, its difficult to explain it just feels detatched somehow from the rest of the building.



The Fore Hall - First Floor.
Name associated with this room: JOHN.

I felt my hair being touched at the back of my head and I also felt a 'gentle tap' on my rear-end! There was a male presence in the room who gave his name as John. He seemed to have a connection with horses and to hold a prominent position within the town. He liked to sit between the fire and the window. Not sure if the bed was in the room when he was there, it seemed more like a room for 'meeting or socialising' in.

Later in the evening whilst in circle in this room I was given the following information from spirit.
'At some point the building appeared to have a more open aspect to it. By this I mean that it seemed to stand 'apart' from its neighbouring properties and to be more self sufficient in that hens and a small amount of livestock was kept at the back of the building somewhere. At some time birds were kept on the premises that were of a type not for eating or hunting but more as 'pets' or to just look at.
I was given the image of a man walking down the street outside leading horse's along with a rope. The man had a hat on which looked like a bowler hat. He was leading a horse either side of him and was heading down the street towards the area near the river.
I was also given the image of a small 'stage-coach' going along the street and turning to pass under an arch-way between two buildings as if going into a coaching house or something similar.

The male spirit called 'John' made contact again and I could see that he was quite a portly man with a very round face, ruddy cheeks and bushy whiskers that came down from his hair at the side and extended down his jaw line. He had something red tied round his neck which looked like a scarf or cravat. He looked like a character out of a Dickens novel. He seemed to be laughing at us but not in a horrible way. He appeared to be looking at Alan and laughing as if he knew this was not the time of day that he normally would be in the building.

There was another younger male who in comparison was very tall and thin. This man had a connection with dogs. I 'sensed' that he was something to do with lots of dogs..? breeding?..the dogs had long legs and thin muscular bodies with a tail that hung down and curled up. I sensed that they had a purpose which may have been something to do with hunting. This man visited the house and was either a friend or business-man of some type and he lived 'down in the valley beyond Totnes town'. He had a close-fitting jacket at the waist with some type of box shaped design at the front and 'tails' which hung down the back.

There was also a female presence in the room but she did not come forward to make contact.

The time zone for this seemed around 1830-1850.

The Babbage Room - Second Floor
Names associated with this room: JACK.

In this room there was a male presence who had a very strong connection with the sea. He had gone to sea early in his life but had not gone willingly. I was given information that he had lived in Plymouth but had been almost press-ganged into a life at sea. He became someone who kept records/logs for the captain which was something unusual for that time in the fact that he seemed to be educated. The ship that he was on was had the name of H.M. ? that was all I could get but it was not H.M.S. And it was one that went down and a lot of men lost their lives but he survived but then left the sea and eventually came to Totnes. He was a colourful character and told me that he liked to drink in the ale house 'up the way'. I was given the image of Totnes High Street and an Inn that was on the right hand side as you go up the street. The Inn appeared to be quite narrow with a sign outside. Here he met up with other men and various business transactions were discussed, not all above board. There was another building close by that he and other men used to gather in and deals were made. Smuggling was also involved and dealings with horses.

The Loom Room - Ground Floor
Names associated with this room: ALICE, JAMES, MARGARET (Christian names) GRAY, JENKINS (surnames)

In this room I have had contact with a young girl called Alice. Originally I had thought her to be about 17-18yrs old but on this occasion she seemed much younger possibly about 11-12.

When I saw her as 17-18 yrs old she was wearing a mauve coloured coat with black buttons across the front and she was stood at the front door of the building looking out at the street. It was snowing and very cold and men were walking down the street leading horses. She did not go out into the street but walked along the front of the building and down an alleyway at the side and round to the back of the building. (This was seen on a previous visit to the museum).

On the night of the vigil I saw her as an 11-12 year old and she was at the back of the building in the kitchen area and 'loom-room'. The group were stood in circle and she came and stood at the back of us. She seemed very happy and was looking at Alan (the custodian of the museum) whom she seemed to be very fond of. I felt her parents were not at the building and that she was looked after by a lady who was something to do with the running of the house and that this ladies name was Margaret. I asked the child 'Alice' how she came to live at the house and she kept saying 'from the workhouse'. I could then 'see' her out the back of the building collecting eggs in her apron and picking a hand full of what looked like green leaves, possibly herbs.

She gave me the name of James as someone she was very fond of. Not too sure of the age of him but he seemed to play a big part in her life in someway. Apparently Alice was quite mischievous and liked to hide things and play games.



In the Fore Hall Pete sensed a male called James. He felt that he was from overseas and was looking for a girl he believed was downstairs called Eloise. Eloise was a happy, bubbly girl.


1: Given name 'Abernethy'
2: Young female Beatrice or Beatty
3: Given name ' Peregrine'
4: Given name 'Montfort'
5: Saw Pickwickian character, very robust, beer drinking stomach, well dressed. Got 'Dandy'
6: Given name ending in 'stoke' Saw grapes and vine.
7: Given name 'Tadworth'
8: When we initially went in, experienced presence by fireplace en route. Later felt warmth when passing fireplace, went back, heat not repeated.

Betty had the right side of her being tugged gently, and heard a sound like a balloon being stroked!

Saw girl age 16 - 18, blonde hair (ringlets) playing either croquet / game happily on lawn.
Saw 1 : Coach with 2 horses loading outside, man and woman got in.
Saw 2 : About half hour later - 2nd large coach, with 6 horses, load 4 people and 2 children, and start up hill.

Interesting Things Picked Up by the Sensitives

Alan was able to confirm quite a lot of what the group sensitives were saying.

In the Babbage Room the inn that Chris speaks about did actually exist in the part of the street she spoke about. It was a small building between two others and isn't there now and was called 'The Lottery'.

Also in this room Chris picked up that this spirit she connected to 'used to make deals' in a building where the Inn stood, something that she feels was called 'The Collective'. According to Alan a building was in that area where men used to gather and strike deals up, for example space on board shops in which to place their merchandise etc. Chris picked up on a date of 1850 for this which fitted in with this particular building which Alan said was pulled down in the late 1800's.

In the Fore Hall Chris referred to birds being kept at the building that were no hens or livestock but rather more like birds to look at. Alan confirmed that there was once a Dove Cot out the back of the building.

Chris spoke of the building standing away from its neighbouring buildings, something that Alan once again confirmed. Alan also confirmed what Chris said about the stagecoach that passed under an archway out in the street.

Chris spoke about a man leading horses along the street whilst wearing a Bowler Hat. Alan said that this is what the auctioneer would have worn who sold the horses off. Chris also spoke of hoses being lead down the street towards the river area, something that was again confirmed. Alan said that down by the river was where the horse market was held.

The dogs that Chris was describing in the Fore Hall sounded to Alan like they were Irish Wolfhounds which he said would have been used for hunting at that time.

Chris spoke about hens and livestock at the back of the building. Alan agreed with this.

The names of ALICE and JOHN have also been sensed by other people who have visitied the building according to Alan.

In the Fore Hall both Chris and Kim sensed a portly, rounded male with bushy facial hair and dressed in a Victorian style. Interestingly enough Mike, who generally doesn't try such things, was at the museum a few months prior to the investigation and suddenly, in his head, this character just as Chris and Kim describe just entered his imagination.

In the Kitchen Kim suddenly picked up on cups and saucers which she felt was unrelated to what she was currently picking up. Could this be a connection from when the building served as a tea room.

Chris spoke of the girl in the Loom Room called Alice who came 'from a workhouse'. Alan did confirm on the night that there had been a workhouse near to the building and that it was feasible that a girl could be brought from there to work in the household but unfortunately this is impossible to research.

On the gallery Kim said that the murderer came from 'Newtown'. Could this be nearby Newton Abbot?

On the Gallery Kim picked up on the name Ella Louise and in the Fore Hall Pete picked up on the name Eloise, the focus of James' search. Both names sound pretty similar.

The name James came up twice from Chris and Pete although it was picked up at different parts of the building.The name John came up, a name that has come up in the past, but the description of John by the group members and the description of John given in the past don't match. Then again, John is a common name.

Physical Evidence

The EMF baseline tests didn't pick up on anything too much out of the ordinary. The results of the average readings were as follows:

Victorian Room: 0mg
Fore Hall: 0.8mg
First Floor Landing: 0.4mg
Mitchell Room: 0.5mg - 0.8mg
Babbage Room: 0.1mg
Second Floor Landing: 0.6mg
Kitchen and Loom Room: 0mg
Gallery: 1mg

The only interesting EMF spike was in the gallery. The electronics box just to the right side of the Members Room doorway was giving off a reading of over 10mg one foot out from the casing. A prolonged exposure to such a high EMF could bring on feelings of unwell, paranoia, skin irritation etc.

The Infrasound readings came up blank. Nothing out of the ordinary was recorded with an overall reading of zero.

The cameras that were left recording the Fore Hall and the Gallery didn't pick up anything except dust. The only time any 'orbs' were recorded was when people were walking past which is just enough to kick up a little dust into the air. The cameras used were 30LED IR Security Cameras - 30 times more powerful than the Sony Handycams that we had been using in the past, so naturally they're going to be lighting up dust particles 30 times brighter than before. Apart from these nothing else was captured on the cameras.

None of the trigger objects that were set up moved and no photos taken on the 35mm film camera captured anything out of the ordinary.

Totnes Museum was definitely an interesting place to conduct an investigation and although nothing was really encountered in a physical aspect, the information that the sensitives same out with is something that we will all be interested in researching into more as time progresses. Our big thanks go out to Alan for watching over us during the night and also thanks go out to the Committee who allowed the investigation to take place!