Examples of verified findings – the ordinary and the aristocratic
1. Mary Boleyn and the Hair Bodkin
During filming of a TV pilot at Hever Castle, Archy ‘meets’ Mary Boleyn. He describes what she’s wearing in detail. Most importantly, he describes a kind of decorative pin she has used to fasten up her hair at the nape of her neck, and a replica of the pin is made, based on the details he gives:
Replica Hair Bodkin worn by Mary Boleyn, as described by Archy
The wardrobe mistress disputes the likely existence of such an item, but a conservator establishes that such pins did exist and that they were called hair bodkins. Pictures of such were located at the British Museum:
Images from the BM
2. Ordinary Lives, Extraordinary Findings: Bedford, UK
Location: a set of financial services offices in a built-up area of Bedford. The building has been selected on account of
reported paranormal activity, none of which has been reported to Archy.
Verification: The reason for choosing this location for Archy to visit was because the owner of the offices had reported hearing a baby crying in the upstairs office when she’d been alone there whilst working out of hours. Archy had no prior knowledge of this. Secondly, research at the Local History Library revealed that an aircraft had crashed on this site during the 1940s. Archy comes from Somerset, and has zero knowledge of the Bedford area, so couldn’t have known about this event.
(Pictures painted by Ann-Marie Weaver on basis of description given by Archy).
The atmosphere then suddenly changes, as Archy says, “I’ve got a young lad here now – looks like he’s from the 1940s. He’s wearing short trousers – grey flannel – grey socks, falling down – and a green V-necked pullover. I can see rubble all around us, as though the place has been bombed. This lad’s searching through the rubble, really upset. He’s telling me he’s looking for his cat – and his sister.” Archy pauses at this point and says, “I’m not sure this was caused by a bomb, you know. Some kind of explosion … but not a bomb. And I don’t think this young lad finds his sister – or his cat.”
As he walks round the offices, Archy almost immediately picks up on a baby crying. Looking round, he ‘sees’ a young girl, dressed in rags, probably from the 1700/1800s, sitting in a corner, cradling a baby. The baby is weak and sickly – ‘not long for this world’, as Archy puts it. He registers distaste and distress, because he knows the baby has been fathered by the girl’s own father – he can see him, a malevolent presence, sitting in the corner. Archy wishes he could do something to help, but knows he can’t.
3. BBC Radio - Haunted Bedford
Location: Tour of old areas of Bedford with BBC Three Counties Radio.
Whilst standing at a busy modern-day roundabout in the town in the middle of the afternoon, Archy reports being able to see a religious man, carrying a small wooden cross, standing on one of the roads leading off the roundabout. As he talks to him, Archy is struck by the man’s simplicity and sincerity. “He really means it – he’s really sincere about his beliefs – he’s plain and straightforward. Nothing fancy, just down to earth. He’s a good man,” says Archy. He goes on to say that he knows this man visited people in prison not far from here. Further prompting and later research reveals that Archy is describing John Bunyan, who used to visit the inmates of the prison that once stood near where Archy is now. Archy doesn’t know who John Bunyan is – and there’s absolutely no indication that a prison stood on that spot to give the game away.
At this same spot, Archy also reports seeing a group of lepers walking in line, hands on the shoulders of the one in front. Research reveals that there was a leper hospital near this area back in the Middle Ages.
4. Elizabeth Woodville and the Princes in The Tower
Whilst looking into the mysterious disappearance of the two princes, Archy reports the appearance of their mother, Elizabeth Woodville, the wife of Edward IV. He doesn’t know her by name – he just says their mother has turned up, and is anxious to speak. Asked to describe who he’s seeing, Archy says this woman is slightly built, short, with dark hair caught up in some kind of headdress that looks like a big bow on the back of her head.
At this point, researcher Mary Hykel Hunt isn’t at all certain that Archy is seeing Elizabeth Woodville, as everything that Mary has read about Elizabeth Woodville describes her as having silvergilt hair, not dark.
However, whilst looking for a portrait of Elizabeth, Mary turns up the following from the National Portrait Gallery, showing an apparently dark-haired Elizabeth with a large headdress on the back of her head. Archy would have had no access to this image.
Archy also mentions that she’s wearing soft leather shoes and that she’s telling him she doesn’t like “those high shoes fashionable women wear”. Research shows that women did indeed wear high shoes, called chopines – see below - again, specialist knowledge that Archy would be unlikely to have.