If you followed yesterday’s Twitter Q&A with Paula Wrightson, you will have read that Paula mentioned that some photographs have been taken in Preston Manor which appear to show odd, possibly ghostly, phenomena. This is probably the most interesting example.
In the summer of 2010, one of our guides, Penny Balchin, was contacted by a couple who had visited the manor with their children. The house was fairly empty at the time, and the family were alone upstairs. As they left the guest bedroom, the wife took this photograph with her mobile phone. About a week later, after downloading the photos onto their computer, one of the children noticed what appeared to be the ghostly image of a young boy on the left of the photograph. (If you can’t spot it at first, take a look at the right sleeve of the black coat.) The couple brought a copy of the photograph into Preston Manor for us to keep.
One of our security team has an interest in Preston Manor’s history and has researched the family trees of its former owners. If the photograph does show a ghost, who could it be? She tried to establish whether any boys had died with a connection to the house. She discovered one possibility. In 1683, a boy name Anthony Shirley was born in the manor, who died in 1694 at the age of eleven.
Does this photograph show the ghost of young Anthony Shirley? Or is it simply an accidental illusion? As is common with mobile phones, the camera can be seen to have struggled with the low light levels in the room and the uneven effect of the flash. Many of the dark areas in the photograph show coloured mottling. Are we simply reading too much into a random pattern of pixels?
Opinion within the Royal Pavilion and Museums is mixed. Some believe it may be a ghost, others are sceptical. Paula has described this and other photographs as ‘inconclusive’. We’ll leave you to draw your own conclusions. You can view the full image on Flickr. You can even visit the manor this weekend and try to spot your own ghost! As ever, your comments will be appreciated….