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Woodchurch Windmill - Woodchurch, Kent

Woodchurch Windmill is a fine example of a Kentish smock mill and was originally one of a pair of windmills standing on this site, known locally as "The Twins". The first records of a windmill in Woodchurch are from 1660, with the earliest accounts of a windmill on this site dating from 1729. Grinding continued commercially by the surviving mill until 1926 after which time both mills fell into disrepair.

The "twin" known as "The Black Mill" was used as an observation post by the military throughout the first world war and survived until 1940 when it was demolished. Unfortunately the only signs of its existence today are a few pieces of its brick base. The remaining "White Mill" has undergone several periods of extensive renovation since 1946.

 

The Twins

In 1978 the Mill had become dangerous and was compulsorily purchased by Ashford Borough Council with the intention of partially dismantling the structure. The borough council was convinced to let Woodchurch rebuild the mill. The Friends of Woodchurch Windmill was formed to do this.

The Mill was dismantled, with major structural timbers and mechanical parts retained. A brand-new smock was erected and a new cap was built. Steel stocks replaced the original timber ones and the sails rebuilt yet again to be installed in 1986. A photo display in the Mill shows all the stages of the work. The interior of the Mill was fitted out over the following years, with the aim of carrying out regular flour milling. In the mid 1990s this idea had to be abandoned.

By 2001 the Mill urgently needed further attention as there was rot in the sails and the cap had ceased to turn. In 2002 the borough council agreed a contract for the immediate removal and subsequent rebuild of the sails. The committee raised money from the Heritage Lottery Fund and others. In the autumn of 2004 the cap was removed and during the winter this was rebuilt as well as the turning gear this work being completed by the spring of 2005.

Background:
We contacted the custodians, The Friends of Woodchurch Windmill, who were open to our suggestion to carry out an investigation despite there being no reported activity. A blank canvas can often provide the most surprising results. The mill had been substantially rebuilt leaving very little of the original structure, however, the original brick ground level and some of the major timbers remain.

Despite the comprehensive rebuilding that this mill has been subjected too it still provided us with a remarkable opportunity, as we had not investigated any sort of mill since Crabble Corn Mill near Dover in February 2006.

   
   
The Investigation
Apparatus:

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

Digital Camera-
Fuji Fine Pix S5000
Fuji Fine Pix S5500
Pentax K-100D Digital SLR

Voice recorder -
Olympus VN-2100PC
Olympus DM20

Other-
Video tapes (mini DV)
Pendulum experiment
CCTV cameras and monitors

Team:
Kim, Ian, Paddy and Dave

Method:
By mounting silent vigils along with periods of asking aloud for activity, we hoped to provoke some potential paranormal phenomena that could be recorded on our equipment.

Investigation:
For the purposes of this report we shall refer to the four floor levels of this windmill as ground, first, second and third floors.

We arrived on a wet and windy night, the temperature outside was 12.4 degrees centigrade. We prepared our equipment and set up our CCTV, Kim's on the ground floor and Ian's on the third floor. We were not recording the CCTV images, instead we decided to set up the monitors on the second floor where we had decided we would spend most of our time, we could then also monitor the other two levels at the same time.

After an hour we were ready to begin on the first floor, we began by sitting quietly watching the images on the monitors and our mobile pendulum experiment. The experiment consists of a pendulum suspended within an airtight container. Placed on a horizontal surface and left untouched this is recorded by a video camera, it should not be possible to move the pendulum unless it is moved by an unknown source. Kim and Dave had their voice recorders with them and Ian was filming events on camcorder. It was windy and there were repeated creaks and knocks from the entire building, we needed to block these from our minds for the night to concentrate on anything else that might be heard.

 

Pendulum Experiment

After a while we had a break, and whilst on the ground floor we heard some unusual noises from the upper levels which we decided to explore so they could be eliminated as naturally occurring. We interrupted our trip to the top floor as while passing through the second floor Ian, Kim and Paddy noticed a heavy atmosphere. Paddy mentioned that he had felt it earlier whilst we we looking around before the investigation started. We decided to stay on the second floor for a while which proved interesting. Paddy and Kim became very light headed. There were repeated knocks and bangs mixed in with the noises from the top level that we were still to investigate. The wind was getting up and the creaking and groaning of the timber building was beginning to cause us difficulty in identifying if anything else.

Kim had begun to complain of a bad neck and headache as well as an uncomfortable feeling under her arms as though she had been lifted up by her arm pits. Paddy was feeling very uncomfortable, not physically but more of a nervous apprehension of something about to happen. Dave began to call out asking for some activity as an indication that someone else was present. There were various noises heard in response to this and one moment caught on video where Ian jerks the camcorder to point to the area behind the hoppers in response to seeing something, seconds later the rest of the team confirm that they too had seen movement in that area independantly and unaware that Ian had moved in the darkness. There were some other noises that were explained as there were drips of water hitting the floor by the next flight of stairs.

Dave continued to call out resulting in another noise from that area, more than just a drip. Ian heard what sounded like an exhale that was not caused by one of the team. The wind was still building but we were able to distinguish some of these more unusual noises. Kim thought she heard a whisper between her and Paddy and by the stairs leading down to the next level. This was odd as Paddy said that is where he thought he had seen the shadow of a man, Dave was also drawn to look in that same area for some reason. Paddy then heard an exhale as Ian did earlier. Then a metallic “twang” was heard by the team, this was the only time this night that such a noise was heard.

By this point Paddy had attracted a nasty annoying cough that he could not explain. Dave then saw a dark shadow pass across his view of the downward staircase, Paddy confirmed this is what he had seen earlier.

Once Paddy felt better we decided to move on as to the top floor to investigate the noises, as we had originally intended. When we got there we all felt unwell and odd in the stomach, almost ill with anticipation. The noises were confirmed as being the machinery in the cap of the mill, adjusting the cap's position in the strong wind, noises we had not experienced before. There were other noises likened to someone walking on floor boards above us, we almost expected someone's head to poke out any moment. Paddy and Kim were feeling unwell and Paddy was coughing again. Ian and Kim decided to leave the top floor leaving Paddy and Dave there for a few more minutes, whilst they were there they both heard the distinctive noise of a cat squalling in surprise, this sounded as though it came from within the building and was very audible.

We decided to descend all the way for a break. Whilst descending the last set of stairs Ian had to rush as he felt he was being followed, as though someone was ensuring he had gone down. He had jump the last few steps to get down quicker and after he did he thought he heard a “tut” from somewhere. The rest of the team were by this time already outside the mill getting some air.

After the break we decided to return to the second level as that had proved the most interesting. By this time the wind was even stronger, the rain was hitting the sides of the smock and the natural noises were beginning to overwhelm us and made the conditions very difficult to investigate in. The cap was by now moving its position every few minutes making a tremendous amount of noise throughout the whole mill. Very little else could be achieved as it would not have been possible to record anything even vaguely evidential so we decided to close the investigation and hope for a return visit in more peaceful conditions.

   
   
   
   
   
   

The Results

Regrettably we recorded little in the way of results. The weather was very windy and would most definitely have accounted for some if not most of the noises we heard. However, there were occasions when we felt that other noises could be heard and not explained.

The pendulum experiment provided no results as it was not observed moving at any point during the night.

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

Noises such as the exhalation of breath and the cat squalling in surprise which was heard by both Paddy and Dave are unexplainable.

Paddy commented that what he had seen was “the nearest he has come to seeing what must be a ghost”! This is something that we cannot substantiate but is one team members interpretation of what they saw with their own eyes for the first time in 4 years.

There is no explanation for ill feelings felt by some of the team during our night at this venue

During our stay a certain amount of other information of a clairvoyant nature was forthcoming . 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.

   
    Conclusions
  It was not possible to draw any sound conclusions based on any evidence collected. The conditions overnight made it impossible to distinguish any noises from the noise of the mills cap turning in the strong wind and other naturally occurring noises. We always have to allow for the natural noises in the environment we are investigating, which is why we always start our investigations in silence to adjust to our surroundings. There was no recorded evidence, the odd happening and way in which some of the team appeared to have been affected cannot be explained, and it would seem there is more to Woodchurch Windmill than meets the eye. However, on this night the mill was determined to keep its secrets to itself.

A second visit was arranged and the team returned two weeks later where similarities in events and captured evidence of unexplainable events would lend support to some of the comments noted here.

  Thanks
  Ghost Connections extend their thanks to the Friends of Woodchurch Windmill for their support and allowing us to carry out this investigation. The windmill is open to the public on Sunday and Bank Holiday afternoons from 1pm - 5pm from Easter to September, and is well worth a visit. For more information visit the windmill website
  Additional Report - Update
 
Following the completion of this report Ghost Connections forwarded the report to the Friends Of Woodchurch Windmill for their consideration and infromation. In accordance with our normal practice we do not publish any clairvoyant material on our website as we feel that, in itself, it does not provide any evidence of paranormal activity. We have, however, always included this infromation in the report sent to any venue as we consider it may be of interest to them.

We have always considered this in the light of an agreed policy that if any information given is later substantiated, by whatever means we would then include it within the substance of the report.

Ghost Connections are pleased to be able to report that during this investigation a name of a person was noted by the team. This name was of one Charles Weeks. No other details were apparent at this point. Within hours of being forwarded the report our contact replied to us by email with the following facts.

Charles Weeks was born in Woodchurch in 1871 and by the 1881 census was in Ightham, Kent with his mother and father Mary and Edward Weeks. Charles was baptised in the church within sight of the windmill.

It is not known what connection Charles Weeks has with the windmill if any but it is known that he lived not far from the mill.

There are two publications available from the windmill on its history and he does not feature in either of these. No other publications or information have been researched by Ghost Connections prior to or since the investigation. Ghost Connections does not conduct exhaustive research on any venue beyond what is easily available and we do not conduct any research into public documents in regard to the local area prior to any investigation.

We are still considering what reasons there may be for this information being written down by the team on that night. all we can say for sure is that one of the team 'had that name come into their head'. Many spiritual theories may account for this in reard to interaction with the 'spirit' of Charles Weeks however none of the team claim to have 'seen' anyone at this time or obtained any further information. Theories of withheld energies within the structure of the building as akin to the 'Stone Tape Theory' however we currently cannot account for this accuracy.

We will continue to research the possibilities.'
     
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29th March 2008

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