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There are many occasions reported where an individual has been convinced that they have encountered a ghost. This might be a feeling, an unexpected noise, an odour or fragrance they weren’t expecting to detect. It could also be a strange mist, a shadow or a full bodied apparition. Encounters with ‘Ghosts’ are it seems many and varied.

I too have experienced this strange phenomena on several occasions. I’ll state right now that I’ve never ‘seen’ a ghost, but I have heard an unexpected noise in what was described by others as a very haunted 500 year old theatre in Margate, Kent.

My experience was more exciting as it was a genuine event during a live ghost investigation. The team of 8 people had split into pairs with each pair picking a location within the building to monitor. This was achieved by settling down in the shadows and remaining silent for one hour. The ‘Silent Watch’ began at 10pm and was due to finish 2am. After each completed hour the pairs would move to a new location and the next silent hour would begin.

At around midnight myself and colleague the author Ruth Stratton sat at the edge of the theatre stage, around the area where the stage manager would sit during the performance. Facing towards the audience seats, to our right was a door. Through the door was a short carpeted corridor leading to a staircase which lead down to the ground floor seats and also up to the balcony seats on two levels above. Additionally was a short corridor to the right that led to a stone staircase which looped back on itself and ended in a fire escape exit.

As we sat by the door facing the stage talking in whispers about how the stake out was progressing, I was suddenly aware of the sound of footsteps coming from behind the stage door. Ruth heard it too. We jumped up and opened the stage door, the footsteps were immediately louder. One look at the carpeted staircases told me the sound had to be coming from the fire escape stairs which was bare stone. Ascending the stairs I was aware the temperature had dropped significantly. It was mid summer, and the ambient temperature was around 25 degrees. The stairs were cold, very cold, so much that your breath could be seen hanging in the air. I pursued the  running footsteps, Ruth right behind me. As I turned the last corner heading for the top of the stairs the noise stopped and I was faced with the securely chained double doors of the fire escape. There was no other way out.

The steam from our breath started to fill the air, then just as suddenly the temperature rose and our steam breath disappeared. The whole incident was over in a just a few minutes.

Was it a ghost? The temperature change was unusual and very different to the ‘normal’ temperature I experienced when I checked the top of the stairs a couple of hours before. Both myself and Ruth heard the footsteps and saw the cold breath proof of the drop in temperature.

Experimenting with different types of shoes I got each member of the stakeout to run up the stairs to try and match the sound. The only one that was closest was just one person wearing leather soled shoes, the only person out of fifteen people present, all the others were wearing trainers. As this one person was staking out the fly tower at the time of the incident (50 feet above and across the stage) there’s no way they could have made the sound.

Next morning I went to look at the area outside the fire escape. The access was barred. The short corridor between the buildings was blocked immediately after the fire escape. No one could run down that area. Obviously I couldn’t rule out the possibility of someone running down the street but the chances of hearing this as ‘running up a stone stair case inside the building’ stretches my belief and my recollection of what I heard. Ruth agreed with me. We tried various scenarios over the next hour but nothing recreated the sound we heard.

The incident remains a mystery to me as the temperature drop is unexplainable, and the footsteps on the stone steps were loud enough for me to accept what I was chasing was just ahead of me. No rational explanation can be found.

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