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Drop Redoubt, Western Heights - Dover

An attempt to describe Drop Redoubt as part of the Western Heights fortifications in any detail would lead to the use of many terms that are alien to anyone not familiar with Napoleonic defences, including Ghost Connections. In the compilation of this report some of these terms need to be adhered to as there is no other term available. This is unfortunate but for the sake of accuracy these will be used although kept to a minimum.

The Drop Redoubt is an impressive structure. It forms part of the Western Heights defences and is placed on the eastern end of 5 miles of ditches to the west of Dover. The history of the site begins with the 2nd Century Roman Pharos, or lighthouse. This was the twin of the one visible next to St. Mary's Church in the grounds of Dover Castle. It is rumoured that the Pharos or 'Bredenstone' remains were later used a place of execution of local criminals. During the threat from France in 1804/5 the already accumulating defenses overlooking the town were expanded to include the Redoubt. Cut from solid chalk and added to on top it is difficult to see from the ground. A deep ditch runs the entire circumference of the pentagonal structure to which 4 camponiers (emplacements for covering fire) were constructed in the second stage of building.

Never attacked and never put to the test the Redoubt was locked and forgotten in the 1920's. In the Second World War it was used by the Commando's who in the case of invasion were to use this base to defend the harbour by infiltration and hit and run raids. Tunnels to assist their progress can still be seen.

It is our understanding that Ghost Connections are the first paranormal investigators to be allowed access to the interior of any of the Western Heights structures for a nights investigation and we are privileged to have been given access by English Heritage and the Western Heights Preservation Society .

The W.H.P.S. website can be viewed above and is an interesting record of the whole site. It was used extensively in the preparation of this report as was A Guide to the Western Heights Defences, Dover by David Burridge 1992.

An account of a black mass causing a previous visitor, known to the source of the information, to flee one of the buildings would influence one of the sites of our investigations on the night. No other sources of accounts are forthcoming currently so we used our judgment to make use of the parts of the structure available to us.

A plan of the site is included in Appendix A.

All images are taken by Ghost Connections unless stated and some have been artificially lightened due to the dark nature of the building and the distance from camera to object.

   
   

The Investigation

Apparatus:

Video camera-
Sony DCR HC-24E with night vision and Sony HVL-IRM IR light
Sony DCR-HC30E with night vision and Sony HVL- IRM IR light
Sony DCR-HC19 with night vision and Sony HVL- IRM IR light
Samsung VP-D351 with night vision and Sony HVL-IRM IR light

Digital Camera-
Fuji Fine Pix S5000
Fuji Fine Pix S5500
Fuji Fine Pix S5500
Nikon Coolpix 3100

Voice recorder -
Olympus VN-2100PC
Olympus DM20

Other-
Video tapes (mini DV)
Wooden cross (trigger object)
Paper (placement of trigger object)

Team:

Kim
Paddy
Ian
Dave

Guest:

Paul


Method:

Using visual and scientific methods combined with spiritual information investigate the background to alleged paranormal phenomena at this venue.

Paul from W.H.P.S. kindly agreed to accompany us on our overnight stay. He also generously gave up his time to give us a guided tour of the available locations within Drop Redoubt prior to the investigation date. This enabled us to complete our risk assessment and plan for our investigation in advance. It also enabled us to appreciate the defended nature of the redoubt in that in excess of 70 steps are negotiated if you need to ascend or descend from the terraplain (open area on the surface) to the ditch level and camponiers. This did give us the advantage of seeing how much of the site was on offer and showed we were never going to manage to investigate all of it in the time available. In order to cut down the amount of kit we had to move from one place (i.e. up and down stairs) we opted to base ourselves in barrack room number 4. This would enable us direct access through stairs to camponier number 3.

On our pre investigation safety visit we all felt that this area would be worthy of investigation. Everyone felt a sense of something present although Kim did not enter it on this visit. We should first describe the layout of camponier 3 so as to enable the reader to allude to the various areas with ease.

The entrance to camponier 3 is directly from the rear of barrack room 4. 70 odd steps lead down to the gallery level and then beyond to the ditch level. The sides of the steps are smooth to enable the Napoleonic gun carriages to be hauled up and down the two floors between the levels. Paddy mentions a small man being present in there before descending.

The gallery level circumvents the whole camponier and comprises of a suspended platform of cast iron balustrade retaining a 2” thick slate floor. This floor would have given troops use of musket loops to fire upon any attackers in the dry ditch outside. The ground floor level below would have had a wooden floor which is now gone and this leaves a bare chalk and earth floor with brick foundations and rubble. A solid oaken Victorian door was lent against one wall but was immovable. All other features were secure and immovable.

A check for any possible sources of noise by Dave and Paddy was necessitated by the sound of what may have been a heavy footfall from the area of the west balcony immediately on arrival. A search of this area would find nothing that could have made the noise. Dave had to tread quite hard on the slate to recreate something similar. Just prior to this recreation Kim and Ian heard another loud thud further round the balcony. At the point indicated where this happened Dave and Paddy found a wooden panel had replaced broken slate. Again no evidence of any cause for the noise was forthcoming. Via the musket loops the outside world is accessible and there are ventilation shafts built for the dissipation of smoke from gun fire high in the walls. Two pigeons were located within the camponier, which retreated to the vent holes. Their characteristic wing beat would indicate any movement in the dark.

Additionally it was noted that there are no light sources or electric or motorised power anywhere in the building. There are no light sources visible on the outside either. The area is quite devoid of power although in our photographs it may be observed that there are lead lights on a cable. These are run by a generator which was off during our investigation.

Due to these noises described above the team chose to locate a camera filming along the west side of this gallery. The team would locate in the centre of the camponier on the ground floor level. This left them with a view all around and also exposed to any wind movement down the steps from the surface.

Paul did not join us on this occasion. He remained on the surface on the opposite side of the fort. Ghost Connections always make a point of inviting venue owners to either remain with the team or to take part in any experiments undertaken if they so wish. On this occasion Paul left us to it. Did he secretly know something about camponier 3 that we did not? We were about to find out.

It was noted that there was a slight breeze blowing down the stairs from the time we entered. This was only light and was causing no disturbance although on a few occasions it was noted to have increased. This again cased no disturbance of other objects. Dave feels really hot.

Paddy and Dave rejoin Kim and Ian and we all sat down as indicated. There would soon be another disturbance. From the area of the northwest corner of the camponier on ground level was a large bang and a sound of rustling. Paddy and Dave again get up to investigate. They find an area of rubble and broken slate in the corner which effectively is built up to the previous floor level. Dave jumps from a brick foundation onto the rubble. Kim and Ian state that this is similar to the sound heard as a bang. There are no light or loose objects around that could account for the rustling noises.

We all resume sitting in the centre. Dave comments on a dark shape below one of the musket loops on the balcony level.

Kim and Paddy will comment on a recurring musty smell.

Paddy and Kim comment on a musty smell which disappears as soon as it appeared.

Paddy calls out for any other persons to make themselves known. Kim starts to feel apprehensive and Ian confirms similar feelings. Dave and Paddy hear faint footstep sounds.

Kim hears further shuffling sounds behind her.

Dave sees a light anomaly on the balcony level moving slowly and occasionally stopping near the north west corner. There are feelings of sudden temperature drop.

Paddy and Dave feel they are not alone and Kim notes that she senses that someone is behind her.

Paddy senses an energy to his left behind Dave and comments he is somewhat relieved to not be able to see it!

A loud tap is heard to Paddy's right. Another is heard behind Paddy on the balcony. A raspy groan is heard.

The team have been here an hour and break in order to change tapes and get some coffee.

At this point Ian and Paddy change tapes in the video camera used to film the cells. The cells are next to the guard room just inside the entrance and would have been used to place soldiers who had come back from town the worst for wear or who had transgressed the regulations. A trigger object of a large wooden cross on a stand was placed on a piece of paper in here and filmed continuously. It had been drawn around prior to leaving on the first occasion. Upon revisiting it an hour and half later to change tapes it was believed to have moved slightly.

On return we are joined by Paul who sits at the foot of the main stairs observing the team. Dave also moves his cam from the gallery to view up the stairs.

Previous events are commented on and anyone responsible for them is invited to resume their communication with the team.

Kim then draws an image of a male.

Dave draws an image of a hat.

Ian and Dave comment about a presence on the stairs which Paul will later state that he was drawn to.

The circulation of draughts is noted at this time.

Both Paddy and Dave comment on suddenly feeling very tired and a break is required. A break is taken before the team move on elsewhere.

The next destination is the office next to the entrance. This was built in the 1850's in the second stage of building as were the officers quarters adjoining it. It is open fronted facing the cells on the opposite side of the entrance and has a doorway at the rear in a side-wall leading to another office room. It is this second room which contains the remains of the foundations of the Pharos. There is no floor in the office we were in, yet the adjoining room has a concrete floor and still has a cast iron fire surround bearing the Royal monogram of V.R.

Paul opted out of remaining with us for this vigil and went back 'up top'. Immediately after sitting down Kim and Ian heard a distinct bang from the next room. Dave got up to investigate and found nothing that was movable or could have fallen. There were no other people about. Flashes of light were seen around the balcony level on the terreplain. Nothing further happened in this office and the team decided to make best use of their time and go for one other location.

The team relocate to the guardroom next to the cells with Paul this time.

Nothing happens at all in this area.

The team then pack up their kit and leave. The night was certainly quieter the later it went on.

   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   

Results

It should first be noted that the Drop redoubt is securely locked against unlawful entry and once inside we were locked in. Without the use of ropes and grappling irons there is no chance of entry as the picture below shows the height of the fort.

Without doubt the area most interesting was Camponier no 3.

The sounds commented on in the text of the vigil in Camponier 3 are of interest. We know no one was with us and the noise was far too heavy for pigeons to make. The flooring is secure on the balcony and makes no sound during walking normally over it. The fact that Dave and Paddy had to walk heavily almost stomping to make the sounds is perhaps of relevance. The team were wearing light shoes and trainers. Were these the sounds of soldiers in heavy boots? There were certainly no objects fallen onto the surface of the gallery to have been able to have created these sounds. What is unfortunate is that all of this took place as the team was setting up and no equipment was running at the time.

The further sounds described by Kim and Ian appear to have been able to be reproduced by Dave jumping off a wall foundation onto some loose rubble in the area of the noise. To get this in perspective this is a 13 stone human landing on rubble. There were no other 13 stone weights in the area with freedom to fall onto the rubble!! We cannot however ignore the knowledge that the original wooden floor was missing. Natural thoughts behind 'walking spirits' is that they would tend to remain at their previous ground level (as recounted in a famous story of Roman soldiers sighted in York). Even if this was the case then what caused the noise? We simply can't say.

The rustling noises heard around the same time came from the ground floor area as would the later ones. We know the pigeons were high above us in the walls so again we feel confident in discounting these. No light loose objects capable of movement in the wind to rustle were present so again the cause remains unexplained.


Smells can easily be carried on the wind from other sources. Musty smells tend to linger in old buildings yet the human sense of smell tends to get used to them and there after are not noticed. The musty smell described here was recurring and not noted initially.

The light source noted by Dave was not caused by the team or any source within the fort. We cannot explain what he saw.

It is vital to explore the possibility of natural causes for shadows and light anomalies. The dark shape Dave comments on seeing below one of the first floor musket loops was quickly identified as the finial on one of the balustrade posts which was in the line of sight.

The layout of the premises is such that any person must enter the camponier via the stairs. Without any form of light this is incredibly dangerous. Any light sources would have been seen and given away the presence of anyone else. Besides this Paul was on the surface and we were below. No one else was on the premises and so the faint footsteps noted cannot be explained. It was uncertain, though, precisely where the came from so a source was not identified although the assumption in regard to the rustling noises above should be noted.

Further noises of shuffling should have the same results deduced.

The tap to near Paddy is later found to be present on sound recordings and as it was not one of the team this cannot be accounted for. The groan which accompanied it is interesting to note but cannot be explained. This was not heard on the audio.

Kim draws an image of a person and Dave draws an image of a hat.

Kim's person appears to wear a feather in a beret which is currently being researched for regimental links to the site.

Dave's hat is characteristically Napoleonic and cannot be assessed for accuracy.

The reasons for drawing these may be explained by mind processes being influenced by surroundings of were they images of people described in other notes not published in the online version of this report.

Ian and Dave, together with Paul describe something on the stairs. This may be perception and in no way suggests there was really someone there but a review of audio recordings immediately after this comment reveal what appears to be a distant conversation between several persons on and off for the next minute and a half. The teams voices are present on the clip and can be heard loud and clear above any other. The impression of these other noises is one of distance.


The wind was liable to change and any change in circumstances seemed to be due to this where drafts are concerned.

In the office rooms the further loud bang was investigated and again no cause could be found. This one was recorded on video footage.

The flashes of light noted by the team were put to Paul when he rejoined us. He denied having caused them deliberately or inadvertently by taking photographs. He did say that there were thunderstorms in the English Channel and during this period some lightning had been seen. This may be the perfectly natural cause of these flashes.

The trigger object in the cells was believed to have moved slightly during the first piece of filming. It continued to be filmed and the belief was still present when we packed up. The video footage is being reviewed in an attempt to substantiate this. It was physically inspected and appeared to have crossed the line drawn around its base.


During our stay a certain amount of other information was forthcoming to the team of a clairvoyant nature. As Ghost Connections conducts scientifically based investigations we do not publish such observations, however, this information is held on a separate database and may prove interesting when compared to other peoples experiences. Should you wish to discuss this information please email us enquiries@ghostconnections.com

Camcorder footage, still photographs and voice recorders were later examined and nothing further of note was found.

   
   
Foundations of Pharos
   
Cast Iron fire surround.
   
    Conclusions
The Western Heights was home and workplace to the regiments of the British Army for over 150 years. A great many of the these soldiers died here and were buried locally. This place was the scene of tragedy and also undoubtedly of moments of elation. It is these circumstances which are believed to be the root cause of hauntings.

We could not have found a more clinically pure venue to investigate with no other access available, no passing persons, no wildlife, no insecure doors or windows and no interference from power or light sources yet we encountered a host of unexplainable noises from the loud and forcible to the quiet and serene. Light sources were not always explainable. Drafts and feelings were explainable.

What are we left with? A number of totally unexplainable noises in a building that had no facility to make them on its own.

This was one of our most enjoyable investigations because of the above. We would love to return to Drop Redoubt to attempt to see if the phenomena we encountered could be repeated or indeed occur elsewhere in the complex.

Offices are last two casemates on the left, cells to right.
Thanks
    Ghost Connections would like to thank Paul from Western Heights Preservation Society for facilitating our pre-visit and the investigation. We would also like to express our sincere thanks to Gary from English Heritage for allowing us access to this fantastic site in conjunction with W.H.P.S.

Western Heights Preservation Society is a voluntary trust and we appreciate the time provided and encouragement given.

Appendix A
Plan of Drop Redoubt
(used with kind permission of W.H.P.S.)

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