Bletchley Park Thomas Harrison

The sale of Bletchley Park

Thomas Harrison of Wolverton purchased the Bletchley Park estate in 1793. Located at the centre was a large early 18th century mansion k now as Water Hall; it was very close to the present site of the Bletchley Park Mansion. In 1895, or thereabouts, Harrison demolished the mansion.Nobody wanted to live in it and the materials probably had value. From that time on the estate was leased as a farm cover 300 acres.

Thomas Harrison died in 1809 and his last surviving son died in 1858 and there was probably a settlement to be made among members of the family, so Spencer Harrison, the eldest son of Richard put the estate up for auction in June 1865. There were seven lots:

  1. The main Bletchley Park estate of 304 acres.
  2. A 27 acre parcel adjoining Bletchley station.
  3. Pasture adjoining this amounting to 34 acres.
  4. A 22 acre field by Fenny Stratford known as “Mad Stews”.
  5. Bushey Close, by the cemetery – 6 acres.
  6. A small farm with house and outbuildings at Bradwell – 15 acres.
  7. One acre at Market Harborough.
Spencer Harrison held on to the main estate himself and presumably the proceeds of the remaining sales satisfied his relatives.
In 1871 Spencer Harrison decided to sell Bletchley Park at auction but it failed to sell. Six years later in 1877 the estate was sold to a Mr Coleman and almost immediately passed to Samuel Seckham. The details are obscure but it is possible that this Mr Coleman was an agent for Samuel Seckham. 
There has been some speculation that Seckham enlarged an existing house, although there are no facts to support that. What we can say is that when Seckham put the house up for auction in 1881 it was a project in progress.

AUCTION OF BLETCHLEY PARK, Adjoining the Bletchley Junction Station of the London and North-Western Railway, and from which station there a private wicket gate, COMPRISING a desirable FREEHOLD LANDED PROPERTY, of about Acres of RICH PASTURE and ARABLE LAND, finely Timbered, and with a Gothic MANSION, in course of construction, suitable for the establishment of a nobleman or gentleman. A wing of the house is complete and is now occupied, and the whole might be finished to the taste of the Purchaser in a few months. There is a Park of about 110 Acres in ring fence. 

It is possible that Seckham concluded that he did not like Bletchley very much, because in that same year he bought a property in Lichfield, where he settled for the rest of his life.The new purchaser was a London financier, Herbert Leon, who was destined to have a permanent impact on the Bletchley district. He set about enlarging and completing the house in 1883 and having it ready for occupation in 1884.

Sir Herbert Leon was born in 1850 and died in 1926 and for just over 40 years was a very influential figure in Bletchley and district. He was effectively (although he did not have the title) Lord of the Manor. After his widow died in 1937 the house and estate was put up for auction.  the successful bidder was a local builder who divided the land into housing lots. He apparently intended to demolish the mansion; however, there were those in the late 1930s who anticipated a war, and in 1838 Admiral Sinclair, Chief of the Intelligence Service, decided that the mansion would be a perfect location for intelligence services. The house had good communications to London and there was a repeater station at Fenny Stratford. In addition, there were branch railway lines to both Oxford and Cambridge.

War did break out of course and the role of Bletchley Park during that time has become the stuff of legend,


Back to Work

While trolling through some old newspapers, I came across this.

WOLVERTON. Mr. H. S. Dunleavey. who was formerly sergeant in the R.A.M.C., and ha served in Egypt for over four years, was well received his fellow workers the Wolverton Carriage Works on his return there. He is a very fine hockey player, and is also an all-round sportsman.


What a way to go!

This was a short newspaper report from 5th July 1933.

Mr Thomas Bradbury ( 78 ), of Anson Road , Wolverton, a retired railway official, died suddenly at Eastbourne yesterday. He was on holiday with his wife and daughter. He arose yesterday at 7. 30, pulled the blinds, and remarked to his wife that it was a fine morning. He got back into bed and died almost immediately.

councils New bradwell Stony Stratford Wolverton

Birth of the Urban District Council

The administrative unit for local government ad been, fo many, many years, the Parish Council. All matters of local interest, the welfare of the poor, neighbourly disputes, sanitation, moving vagrants out of the parish, keeping some semblance of law and order fee under the purview of the parish council, usually made up of well to do citizens.

Stony Stratford historically had two parishes, and Wolverton, after the arrival of the railway acquired two, and then three. Each village had its own parish.

In the 19th century life became a little more complex and after 1832, Poor law Unions were created to administer welfare over a cluster of parishes. Wolverton and Stony Stratford were included in the Potterspury Poor Law Union. county councils emerged in the 19th century to administer, for example, a County police force and later take over the highways from the Turnpike Trusts. After 1888, County Councils had more powers and began to oversee education and health care.

But until the end of WWI the parish council was still very much part of most people’s lives in North Bucks, but the war had brought about revolutionary change. Even though the two Stony Stratford Parish councils had coordinated activity for meany years, they were still separate legal entities.

In 1914 Wolverton and Stony Stratford formed the Wolverton and Stony Stratford Rural District Council. The equivalent Newport Pagnell Rural District Council included New Bradwell.

In 1918, at the end of the war, the Wolverton and Stony Stratford Rural District Council resolved to seek the status of an Urban District Council. This gave them more powers, including, for example, the ability to borrow money to build housing stock. On April 24th 1919 the Wolverton and Stony Stratford Urban District Council formally came into being – 100 years ago!

The following year New Bradwell elected to join the council and the name was changed to the Wolverton Urban District Council. Its jurisdiction included Wolverton, Old Wolverton, Calverton, Stony Stratford and New Bradwell.

Hugh Stowell Brown

Hugh Stowell Brown: A new biography

One of the more remarkable people to come to Wolverton in the early years of the new railway town was Hugh Stowell Brown.He was a mere stripling of 16 years old when he first reported for work at the new workshop in 1840 and after a few years he followed his vocation to become a Baptist minister. He established himself in Liverpool and became famous in that city for his work and his oratory. A statue was erected in his honour.
Towards the end of his life he wrote his memoirs, which included a chapter on his Wolverton years, and therefore an invaluable record of those first years. I have reprinted 5 chapters of his book in my book First Impressions, published in 2013.

During his stay in Wolverton he made friends with Edward Hayes, who founded the famous engineering works at Stony Stratford and William Harvey, a more modest man, but one who stayed in Wolverton to become a pillar of the community. His name is on one of the foundation stones of the Wesleyan Church and his gravestone is immediately outside the west door of St George’s Church.

Wayne Clarke, himself a baptist minister who served at Hugh Stowell Brown’s former church, has spent a number of years researching and writing the life of Hugh Stowell Brown. His book will be published on September 19 and advance orders can be placed on Amazon

I recommend it on its own merit as a life of a fascinating Victorian, but also to those who wish to deepen their knowledge of the history of Wolverton.

Electricty supply

Electricity rationing

Following on from the previous post, the electricity suppliers did give warnings where necessary. Electricity was still fairly new in 1942 and there were still Wolverton houses with no electrical outlets, and some of the village in particular were not on the grid. Gas lighting was still in use and most homes had a gas cooker.

Electricity was supplied by the Northampton Electric Light and Power Company, a private utility. The Council purchased electricity for street lighting from the comany and had no hand in electricity supply. There was relatively little drain on supply for domestic electricity – most houses had a light bulb in each room and a limited number of plug sockets. Lighting and a radio might be the sum of the demand with some electric heating in the winter months.

Nevertheless, as this notice shows, there was concern that the supply might not meet demand and war work had to have priority.

Water Supply

No water supply

As odd as it may appear to us today, water and gas supplies were still managed and controlled by the railway company in 1942. All of the town’s infrastructire had been built by bthe L&NWR and inherited by the LMS in 1924. Prior to nati0onaloisation i9n 1948, the town’s water and gas was in the hand of a private business. The gas works were on tyhe Old Wolverton Road oppposite the Park entrance and the water works were near to Bradwell Brook.

In May of 1942 there was something of a crisis when residents of the houses that were higher up, on Gloucester Road and the Bradville estate suddenly found themselves without water due to loow pressure. The complaint was brought to the Council. Naturally, councillors were displeased.

A letter was read out from the railway company to explain that the pronblem was caused by a service changeover; however, some of the councillors noted angrily that absolutely no notice was given. People could, for example, have ensured that they stored a few pails of water in anticipation; however, they were left in ignorance.

These days we would expect to be given advance notice, but clearly this had not occured to the people managing the waterworks in 1942.

Bushfields Middle School Wolverton County School Wolverton Grammar School

A History of the Moon Street School

After 112 years, the school building that was once on the very southern edge of Wolverton, still stands and is still in daily use. Over its lifetime it has changed its name and function several times and this has caused some confusion. What follows here is a review of its history.

The Victorian Age brought a new attitude to education and Wolverton was in many respects in the forefront of educational change. The new town very quickly acquired new school for boys and girls and infants, and the buildings were opened in 1840, barely two years after the designation of Wolverton as a railway town. Gradual improvements were made in the 19th century and an Act of Parliament in 1870 made education compulsory up to the age of 13. After 1900, school provision was further enhanced. A new school for boys was opened on Church Street in 1896 and was followed a decade later by a school for girls and infants on Aylesbury Street. Both buildings are still in use today.
Even so, there was a growing recognition that this basic education was insufficient to cope with the needs of an increasingly complex society. Boys and girls left school at 13 to take jobs as servants or other entry level jobs. Boys in Wolverton had the additional advantage of being able to enter an apprenticeship in the works. 
The answer was a County School. This was an entirely new institution, intended to offer better educational opportunities for brighter pupils from across North Bucks and it was not uncommon for these young people to travel from 10 miles away and to stay in accommodation in Wolverton. It was a very modern concept at the time. Most schooling since 1870 was content to provide a foundation level of literacy and numeracy amongst the general public and for the most part it was sufficient.
Of some significance was the passing of the 1902 Education Act which created Local education Authorities, which in the case of Bucks meant the County Council. School Boards were abolished and the new LEA’s had some control over the school curriculum. The larger authorities also had the money to make grants. Thus the two new schools built in Wolverton in the 20th century, the Aylesbury Street School and the Moon Street School were constructed under the auspices of the County. On the announcement it was remarked by Rev G P Soames, Chairman of the County Council Technical Education Committee, “surely in a great centre like Wolverton, with its intelligent artisans, a school of this nature must eventually prove successful.”
State aid to schools was now a possibility. Established Grammar Schools, the endowed schools, could now apply for state aid, and at the same time Counties were building their own secondary schools, which were Grammar schools in all but name. Scholarships were available but otherwise they were fee paying. An advertisement from 1907 sets the fee per pupil at 35s per term, “inclusive of books and stationery .” By the time my mother arrived at Moon Street in 1930 the fee had risen to £3 6s 8d. Per term, or £10 a year. The figure seems modest today but it did mean that it was not always affordable for many. My grandfather, for example had three children at the Moon Street school and was earning approximately £250 a year in the 1920s. Thus he had to find up to 10% of his annual income for education. Fortunately my aunt won a scholarship, so that was some relief.
The new school brought science into the curriculum, partly as a government response to the recognition that schools on the continent and in the United States were moving ahead of England in this regard. To that end the new school building, built a few years later on Moon Street, incorporate a laboratory. Some years later two more laboratories were added.
The other revolutionary aspect of the school was that it was coeducational, that is that it subscribed to the then modern belief that girls could be educated alongside boys, and, more significantly, be given equal treatment. It was the beginning of a long march to gender equality.
The new school opened on 14 January 1902 with 32 pupils, 16 boys and 16 girls. The number quickly rose to 46, but of that number only 14 were girls. Mr Leadley explained in a report to the board that “the preponderance of boys is largely accounted for by the fact that many people still regard education, solely as a process which enables a person to earn a larger income, and consequently it is not considered necessary that girls should receive so thorough education as boys.” It took many years for that attitude to change, although the end of the 1914-1918 war proved to be a turning point.
The first headmaster was LH Leadley, BA, Bsc., selected from no fewer than 140 applicants. Evidently he was a strong candidate to have prevailed over such a large number of applicants. However, he was soon in poor health and in November 1905, resigned. He was only 41 and he left the country in January 1906 for Sydney Australia, where he hoped for a more healthy climate. Presumably this helped, as he was back teaching in his native Yorkshire in 1911. He died in 1943 after what turned out to be very long life. His assistant mistress Gwendoline E Kelly, engaged as an English and French teacher had a less fortunate outcome. She taught at the new school until 1907, when she left for the new Aylesbury Grammar School but sadly died a year later at the early age of 30. She apparently caught influenza, and once pneumonia set in, medical knowledge at the time could not save her.
On the resignation of Mr Leadley, Edwin James Boyce was appointed, and for the next 30 years shaped the character of the new school. Boyce was born in Finsbury, London in 1869. His father was a meat salesman. He trained as a teacher and began his career in hackney in 1896. In 1901 he completed his B Sc at London University . The official opening of the new building at Moon Street was held on 30 January 1907, opened by Mr Tonmon Mosley, Chairman of the Bucks County Council, The new building was described as “a handsome and attractive-looking structure”, and the reporter took care to mention the provision of a hall, cloakrooms, separate entrances for girls and boys, a laboratory. Hot water heating through pipes was the most up to date system. The architects were the firm of Harrington, Ley and Kirkham of London and the builder was from Northampton, Mr E Green., The first building could accommodate 180 pupils, but in the next year two more classrooms were required. The cost was a little over £6,000.
When he arrived in Wolverton in his early 30s Mr Boyce was an experienced teacher ready to make his mark on this new school. For the time being classes were held in the Science and Art Institute on Church Street but when the new premises on Moon Street were ready in 1907 the new school found full expression. Only 34 pupils had enrolled in the first year, but that number soon rose to over 100 and continued to expand during Boyce’s tenure. By the time of his retirement in 1936 the ranks had swelled to over 250. On January 4th 1936, almost exactly 30 years after Mr Boyce joined the school, various presentations were made to honour his service and commitment.
His successor was Donald Morgan, who was equally long serving. Boyce and Morgan between them steered the school for 60 years.
The 1944 Education Act created Grammar Schools and the old County School assumed that status. Admission was through the 11+ examination and there were no fees to pay. Otherwise, little had changed. Many of the staff had been there for a generation and when I arrived in 1953 I encountered some had taught my parents. Eligible pupils came from across the whole of North Bucks, by train from Bletchley and Newport and by buses from Olney, Stony Stratford, New Bradwell and the outlying villages.
In 1958 the County decided to merge the Tech and the Grammar School and the name they chose was the Radcliffe School. Donald Morgan continued as headmaster and I assume that the head of the Tech retired. It was known as a ‘bi-lateral’ school.  Integration was minimal in those first years. Two years prior to this, by the way, a new Grammar School had opened at Bletchley and most of the Bletchley area pupils opted to go there rather than travel. This created some space at Moon st. and there was a 13+ intake to fill the school. The school was therefore a “Grammar School” for a mere 14 years. I don’t know if this is some sort of record!
Two years later the new Radcliffe School was completed at the end of Aylesbury Street. The Moon Street School was vacated and subsequently occupied by the Wolverton County Secondary Modern school, hitherto on Aylesbury Street. The old 1896 and 1906 schools in that complex became a primary school.
In 1968 the County decided to make the Radcliffe School a fully comprehensive secondary school, with entry at the age of 11. There was a transition period. 11 and 12 year olds stayed at Moon streert for the first two years and transefered to the Radcliffe at 13. In 1972 the Moon Street school became a ‘middle school’, taking children from 8 to 12 years old. . At the time this was a new concept based on the theory that 11 was too young an age to expose children to the rough and tumble of life with older children. The concept was clearly the right one as the school, named Bushfield, has lasted for 50 years. After 1972, pupils moved to the Radcliffe at the age of 13.
In summary, the school on Moon Street has had these identities:
1907 – 1944 Wolverton County School             
1944 – 1958 Wolverton Grammar School
1958 – 1961 The Radcliffe School
1961 – 1968 Wolverton Secondary Modern School
1968 – date Bushfield Middle School.                 
Ghosts Wolverton House

Ghost Investigation – Wolverton House

A man called Graham Matthews has posted a report about his investigation into ghost sightings at Wolverton House. Whether you believe in ghosts our not, I think you will find this most interesting. The history, by the way, is absolutely correct and verifiable.

Ghost Investigation – Wolverton House

After months of Spiritualist training I decided it was time to experience a practical test of my new ‘abilities’. The best way to do this was to recreate the paranormal experiences of Victorian ghost investigators by joining in with a modern day equivalent. I made contact with Marsden Vale Paranormal group and joined them for a night vigil at Wolverton Hall, Milton Keynes.
My objectives for the evening involved presenting myself as a spiritualist investigator and to be accepted by the group as such. I was in part helped in this aim by one member of the ghost team, Dannie, who was also a member of the same spiritualist training group I’d been attending. As I’d already proven my skills during the classes she was happy to invite me to join her and her colleagues on an investigation, passing on my details to the chair of the group.
Research on ‘TV Ghost Investigator mediums’ revealed they always dressed in smart clothing despite the derelict conditions of the building they were exploring. To ensure my status as an ‘Investigator Medium’ went without question, I dressed accordingly. My ‘costume’ looked similar to Matt Smith’s ‘Doctor Who’, with frock coat, scarf, waistcoat trousers and boots, subliminally suggesting an authority figure. This approach appeared to work as I was cross questioned about my theories on ghosts by the other members of the team and not once treated like a novice.
Wolverton House
This report is an account of the experience using the language and terminology used by the paranormal group and is not a psychological analysis of human behaviour. The thoughts and views presented are as the evening progressed, with the close analysis of the encounters and reviewing of footage carried out the next day.
The group made me feel most welcome and as we assembled in the upper floor of this old mansion house, the nights vigil began. The ground floor of the extended building is a modern day ‘carvery’ restaurant. The upper two floors are part derelict and mainly used for storage. Once the customers and staff had left we had the run of the entire building.
The group set up 4 night vision CCTV cameras in four of the rooms in which they felt paranormal activity might take place. They were cabled to one room on the upper floor and to a split screen monitor so all rooms could be seen at once. This enabled the ‘control room’ operator to view the rooms remotely in night vision which recorded the view clearly, despite absolute darkness.
The aim of the CCTV cameras was to record the movements of the team as they moved around the building and of course anything else that appeared…. As such the investigation team naturally divided themselves into two approach groups – ‘Believer’ and ‘Sceptic/Believer’. The former were mainly spiritualists and were content to wander the empty rooms without any equipment. The latter were looking for hard ‘recordable’ evidence to support their beliefs. I aligned myself with neither group but I did take a video camera and an audio recorder to record myself.
One of the first phenomena to be picked up by the cameras were the ‘infamous’ orbs. Dust particles floating in the air are illuminated by the infra red lamps and slowly drift in and out of view. This primarily shows air movement in the room and is a good indication of a change in environmental conditions.
I set up my night vision video camera on a tripod in one corner of the ‘Severn’ room on a wide view. The weak ‘built in’ IR (infra red) lamp was enhanced with a camera mounted IR video lamp. This meant everything in the dark room could be seen. I sat opposite the camera so I was always in view. My club colleague sat opposite and out of view of the video camera.
Next to me I set my digital voice recorder, to ensure a good audio of my voice was recorded. I also took a sketch book and pencil to make any notes a hand held digital thermometer to note any temperature changes and a stills camera set to 3200 ISO, removing the need for a flash. My last piece of ghost investigating equipment was a crystal on a chain. This is used as a communication tool in a similar way to dowsing. (Some mediums use dowsing rods as a communication device, if the rods stay open when a question is asked by the medium, it means ‘no’. If the rods cross it means ‘yes’).
A walkie talkie completed the kit and enabled me to talk to other members in the building.
The noise of the radio and the other members moving around the house disturbed the atmosphere to start with but in my minds eye I felt we were joined in the room by a male spirit.
The method used by mediums is quite simple. They do not accept that all the images in your mind are created by you and that some are messages from those that have passed over. If you’re looking at an empty room, your eyes may see just that, but in your ‘third eye’ (your minds eye) you might see the same room plus additional ‘unseen’ visitors. Looking across the room I had an image of a male in my mind. Focussing on the vision and letting my sub conscious take over I used the pencil and sketch pad in a technique called psychic drawing in an attempt to visualise him. My reasoning was simple, if others believed they sensed the same entity my drawing would help to verify it was the same spirit.
Questions to spirits can be voiced or asked in your mind. When you do this the first words that appear in your mind, mediums believe, is the spirit answering your question. Asking the question to my ghostly visitor ‘What is your name?’ gave the answer ‘William’.
Sensing a ‘spiritual’presence can be accompanied by a perceived drop in temperature. Thermometers rarely pick up on this as it can be a fleeting drop which most devices have trouble registering. The cold feeling generally appears on the right side of the body which science states is a purely biological phenomena. When a person is faced with a tense and frightening situation their body releases chemical compounds into the blood to prepare the body for ‘fight or flight’. As blood circulates around the body from right to left the right side will feel the effect first. A side effect of the chemical rush is a cooling of the skin, hence the cold feeling. What intrigues me though is what triggers the chemical rush. Sitting in the room, relaxed and calm I still get the cold feeling when I sense spirits suggesting perhaps there is more going on than just a fight or flight response and that my subconscious, sensing danger, has triggered the chemical release.
Another more aggressive spirit I will call Mary, although I’m not sure that’s her name, appeared to me in the same room. She was possibly a governess from the past when the building was used as a school, such was her air of authority. Her drawing, with her large wide eyes, was accompanied by feelings of stress, frustration and anger. The date 1892 was also given in a message from her.
As the evening progressed I also drew a small 12 year old boy, (Jake or James) a round faced man wearing glasses and another image of ‘William’ this time recorded in the loft rooms on the 2nd floor. The group concluded that the building also had a number of spiritual children who liked to play outside and that the relationship between them and ‘William’ revolves around some form of tragedy, possibly a drowning involving a  frozen lake and an unsuccessful rescue attempt.
A review of the footage and audio recordings revealed the paranormal group themselves were the most prevalent thing recorded. Noisy footsteps, loud voices and radio chatter dominating the evenings crop of recorded material.
Their technique for communicating with ghosts were similar to many other TV ghost teams, a blend of spiritualist methods, crystal dowsing, cameras and audio recordings but they missed out on gathering EVP’s (electronic voice phenomena) and any detailed accounts which are gathered during formal seances, which were precisely the events I wanted to record.
They have another investigation in April which may offer another opportunity.
In the meantime I am compiling a short video of the experience and reviewing a number of art methods that could be used to create some art related pieces drawing on the investigation as a source.
The ‘Severn’ Room, Wolverton House
An analysis of the investigation recordings was made the next day, as was my research into the building. To ensure authenticity to my investigation notes and recordings, no prior research had been carried out as this would ‘prime’ my mind with facts.
Facts on the building were scarce but two articles did provide some corroboration.
Wolverton House Investigation 26/2/16
Below are extracts from websites that are about Wolverton House. The bold highlights are the matches to information gained during our investigation, the bracketed comments are the clarification.
There had probably always been a farm house on this site or hereabouts but in 1784 Thomas Harrison, land agent for the Radcliffe Trust and also a farmer, decided to build a substantial house at a cost of £1,800. Besides farming over 400 acres here Harrison had some significant industrial interests in an iron works in Staffordshire. I do not know much about it at present and will cover this in another post, but suffice to say that Thomas Harrison was a man of means with an income far above the £100 per annum he was paid for managing the Trust’s affairs in Wolverton.

The house was completed in 1784 and occupied by the Harrison family. After his death in 1809 his son Richard continued to occupy the house with his widowed mother and own family and after Richard died, his widow and son Spencer remained as tenants until 1892, when Grace Harrison died and Spencer and his family retired to the south coast. 
(The date 1892 was obtained during my spirit communication with ‘William’ in the Severn room (first floor). A comment was made by me at the time that his posture in the room indicated someone reviewing a room on ‘moving day’)

Wolverton House was now separated from the farm and let to suitable tenants. Amongst them in the 20th century was Dr Habgood, a Stony Stratford medical practitioner. His son John, who later became Archbishop of York, spent some of his boyhood in what he remembers as a very draughty house in Winter.
After the war it was rented to Buckinghamshire County Council, who used it as a residence for Grammar School pupils whose parents were working overseas. They also used some of the buildings as offices and sometimes the house was used for residential courses.
Today it is used as a pub/restaurant.
Richard Harrison’s first wife Agnes died in 1809. There was apparently no issue of the marriage. He remained a bachelor for the next 30 years until he married Grace Hall Nibbs, the daughter of a Tortuga plantation owner in 1840. In the next decade they had five children, three of whom, Spencer, Isabella and Thomas survived infancy(In other words two children died in the house which matches the encounter in the downstairs room)

Ghostbusters search Wolverton House for unwanted ghouls – Posted: April 11, 2007

When staff at Wolverton House began whispering about things going bump in the night, the speculation quickly reached the ears of Milton Keynes’ band of paranormal experts.
MK Spookologists decided to investigate and MK NEWS reporter ROB GIBSON joined them for a word with the folk on ‘the other side’.Four years ago a group of friends got together and formed a club called MK Spookologists.
They shared a common interest in all things paranormal but none of them could have foreseen how serious their gatherings would become.
They now meet fortnightly to investigate and search for paranormal activity in Milton Keynes.
Investigations have lasted up to nine hours and involve the use of sophisticated thermal cameras.
The group have searched for spirits at places such as Bletchley Park and the Black Horse pub in Great Linford but the latest expedition took them to Wolverton House.
As the group ventured inside the old house, founder Karen Parker told me: “Some of the team are ‘sensitive’ so they can hear or feel spirits in the room – that’s how they help us.
“Other people can act as a medium to contact the spirits.” Disappointingly the Spookologists do not wear proton packs or have their own catchy theme tune.
These are working professionals, including the director of a local recruitment company, and they carry torches and cameras.
The investigation began at the top of the historical house and the main objective was to see if the team could collate information to prove that there is something else out there.
The team consists of a couple of mediums, a Reiki Master and sensitives.
As we walked through the rooms they talked of the invisible spirits they were communicating with.
Staff at Wolverton House cautiously confess that sometimes they feel very uncomfortable when closing up at the end of the day.
A number of them have heard noises, seen glasses move and even witnessed ghostly forms.
But Karen warned: “When we go out to some places there’s nothing there.
“Even if you go in you have to have the understanding that it could be fake.
“We find out what it is rather than saying it’s paranormal straight away. It could be a fox and not a Banshee.” It did not take long for the former occupants and workers of Wolverton House to get in touch, as team members immediately reported the presence of spirits in the house.
Karen picked up on one who she described as a greasy looking, large man who was pacing up and down around us. (Picked up during transfiguration exercise)
On a more scary note, someone detected a child who was apparently sitting in another room, hiding their head in their hands so that no one could see them. (Child in the corridor outside the Severn Room)
Karen and fellow member Karen Relfy also picked up on a young man who was malnourished and was asking for our help as he felt lost. 
The team established that his name was Michael, he was about 13-years-old and used to work on the premises as a stable boy. (Picked up by me and another member in the Severn room)
They said he was unaware of any other spirits in the building and had ‘passed over’ due to the plague.
Information such as this was backed up by a researcher who confirmed that the dates, names and occupations were correct.
A woman called Paula doublechecked the evidence using a set of dowsing rods and crystal.
The team decided to communicate with any spirits in the lower half of the house using a glass and although there was little movement, they were given the name ofJames Newton and the year 1664, a time which is associated with the plague in this area. (Name suggested by a member of the team)
As the night drew to a close and the spirits sank away there was a feeling of satisfaction among the team that their work was done.
Karen said they will rally again to explore the rest of the house and grounds but this glimpse has been enough for a beginner.
Video and audio
The video footage contained moving orbs especially the sequences shot in the Severn Room and one sequence (downstairs) contains a flying insect. No other anomalous events were seen.
The Video footage does show the team in action and the independent audio recordings ensures all words spoken are clear. No EVP’s (electronic voice phenomena) were detected.
The investigation established me with the team and some of the best results for the evening appeared to be centred around me and led to me being invited to join them on the next investigation.
For the next investigation I wanted to experiment with a seance with the possibly of using this as my main FMP piece.

Mr Battams’ Big Field

There was not a great deal of sporting activity in early Victorian times. The working week was long and there was simply not the time. The working week at Wolverton Works was 58 /12 hours in total – five 10 hour days and 8 1/2 hours on Saturday. Sunday at least was free, but this was considered time for family and church.

This changed in the 1870s when the working week was reduced to 54 hours. This freed up Saturday afternoons, winter and summer, and young men began to organise themselves into teams to [lay footblall and cricket. Conditions were rough and ready and the games were organised in a field which was otherwise used for pasture.

In Wolverton they played on the “Locomotive Ground”, the field to the east of the Galleon, now largely covered by the Galleon Housing estate, and the field nw occupied by Victoria Street, Moon Street and Bushfields School. It was known as Mr Battams’ Big Field” after the farmer at Stacey Hill who made it available. The other field I have report of is the meadow at New Bradwell, where at least one cricket match was played. In Stony Stratford, they played in the meadow atbthe north end of town, more-or-less in the location of the present Ancell Fields.

A tug o war in 1913 in part of “Mr Battams’ Big Field”

Battams Field, for those who know the lie of the land, was on a slope, so it cannot have been entirely satisfactory, but perhaps the Victorians did not unduly bother themselves with the idea of a level playing field. The field where the Hambledon Cricket Club played in the 18th century in Hampshire is on a hill with a slope – not at all dissimilar to Battams’ field as it was in the 19th century.

To begin with, the field was used occasionally at Whitsuntide and in the summer, but with the development of winter sports it soon drew weekly use. Mr Battams seemed not to mind. He had farmed at Stacey farm since 1846 and had been amenable to occasional use for many years but in 1888, after his widow gave up the farm, the new tenant had other ideas.

The new tenant, John Richards, wanted £7 annual payment for the use of the field over the season, which the clubs felt was too much. Richards had a point. Whereas Battams had been happy to allow use of the field on occasions, the organised status of club football meant that they would need access at least two times a month, and possibly weekly, during the playing season, which would limit his own use for pasture. The rugby footballers withdrew to the Locomotive Ground, but the association footballers turn to the Park, which had opened only three years earlier.
The Park may have seemed the obvious location for association football but it was not the immediate choice. Apparently the guardians of the new Park wanted to restrict the number of games per season to four and this was impractical for any team, which was by that time organising a season of weekly games.
The Park did relent in favour of the Association Football club, known at the time as Wolverton L & NW Association. On October 19th 1889 they played Luton to a 2-2 draw.
The old football stand at the Park
“Mr Battams’ Big Field” was developed in the 1890s into Moon Street, Green Lane, and Victoria Street, and in the first years of the 20th century into grounds for the County School. Thus its place in the development of sport in Wolverton was forgotten.