Village is scene of ghost wars beyond the grave between good and evil spirits, claim mediums. Jessica Shaughnessy investigates.
PARANORMAL investigators claim the ghosts of paedophiles and child-killers are haunting part of the city.
A chilling tale of a corrupt priest and his sinister crony came to light at a seance held by the Supernatural Encounters Association (SEA) in Saughall.
Mediums and investigators claim the evil spirits flit between the Vernon Institute and the Greyhound pub, terrorising Saughall's ghost community.
'We were faced with dozens of spirits, many of them children,' said SEA chairman Mike McManus. 'They were all frightened of the dominant spirit Robert.
'We helped many of these spirits to cross over through the light, but Robert would not go. He was a nasty piece of work.'
The SEA claims that:
Two evil spirits are haunting the institute and the pub; one is possibly a priest, who would not talk to the group, but the other is a man who calls himself Robert and killed and abused children.
They met the spirit of a woman called Edie who was raped by Robert and gave birth to his illegitimate child before he hanged her.
They spoke to the ghost of a dance teacher called Oliver Pritchard who, along with his wife and four children, died in a fire at the Vernon Institute.
One spirit called James says he is pictured in one of the photographs hung on the wall in the Greyhound.
Dozens of child spirits were trapped as Robert would not let them 'move on' and 'go to the light'.
Mediums helped more than 70 spirits 'go to the light' and 'cross over' but the two evil spirits would not go and continue to haunt Saughall.
Mike said: 'It's possible that Robert was not telling the truth about certain things. He would not answer some of the questions and the other spirits were too afraid to tell us.
'There was one room in the institute which used to be a chapel of rest where Robert would not go. We were able to talk to the others in there.'
Mike said the group split into two. One half held a seance in the Vernon Institute and the other in the Greyhound, talking to the spirits via a ouija board.
He said: 'Many of the spirits came to the pub to escape from Robert. We had to send them back to the institute where the mediums were so they could go to the light.
'The mediums were tearful and upset after learning what the children had been through.'
Trainee medium Dawn Phenix and her husband John, of Ellesmere Port, attended the event on Saturday. It was John's first seance.
Dawn said: 'There were so many spirits there and that puts you through such a range of emotions and sensations.
'At one point we had dozens of spirits flying around trying to get to the light. They were all terrified of Robert, at one point I felt the spirit of a three-year-old girl grab my ankle in fear.'
Dawn said the spirits who spoke on Saturday night had lived from the early 1900s to the 1940s.
She said: 'Robert said he was not sorry for what he had done. He hinted that he drank blood when he was alive.
'He did not want to go to the light. He said he was afraid of God.
'We know that a spirit of a priest was there who had also done bad things to children. But we were getting mixed messages and we do not know if Robert was trying to blame him for things that he had done.'
John added: 'I was a cynic, I had seen photographs of orbs and they are easy to ignore and forget. But, after seeing it first-hand, you have to believe.
'I've not been able to sleep since Saturday and have been leaving the television on when I go to bed.'
Mike McManus founded the SEA in 1998, four years after he qualified as a paranormal investigator with the Association for Scientific Study of Anomalous Phenomena. For further information on the SEA, visit http://homepage.ntlworld.com/sea or type the group's name into your search engine.
Tales are dismissed by historian >>>
Tales are dismissed by historian
HISTORIAN and self-confessed cynic Anne Stuart has hit back at claims made by ghost detectives.
Anne, whose family have lived in Saughall since the turn of the last century and is well-known for her knowledge of the area, says the stories are 'rubbish'.
She recalls no scandal concerning a corrupt priest or a man called Robert who abused and murdered children.
Though she remembers the Vernon Institute being used temporarily as a school, she does not remember a fire resulting in the death of a dance teacher and his family.
She says that if there was a woman called Edie, who was raped and hanged, then she lived before the 1900s.
'There are plenty of stories and legends in Saughall, but as far as I know none of these are correct,' she said.
The Vernon Institute was built in 1909 by the Vernon family, who owned Spillers Millers and moved to the area from Merseyside.
William Vernon offered the building for use as a war hospital in 1914 and was subsequently knighted. But the death of Sir William meant that responsibility for the funding of the community building was left to the people of Saughall.
During the Second World War evacuees flooded in and the village school was overflowing, so during the day part of the institute was used for classes.
Mrs Stuart said: 'For the most part the Vernon Institute was widely used and it was very up-market.'
The Greyhound pub is thought to have been built in the 1540s.
Unsure publican is still a spectre cynic >>>
Unsure publican is still a spectre cynic
SPOOKY goings-on at the Greyhound pub are the stuff of legend in Saughall - but landlord Carl Jones is still waiting to be convinced.
He admits that some things are difficult to explain but says he needs hard evidence before he accepts he shares his property with evil spirits.
'I think I am still a cynic, but I am open-minded,' he said.
'It does cause a lot of interest among the locals and it hasn't put any customers off, but one or two of my barmaids are terrified of working alone.'
Carl and his wife Helen took over the pub two years ago and almost immediately realised it could be haunted.
He said: 'Once, one of the cleaners was working in the passageway near to the men's toilets when she was grabbed. She felt a hand on her shoulder, but when she turned round nothing was there.
'On another occasion, a second cleaner was behind the bar polishing glasses when a tall figure in black stepped behind the bar and moved as though to get a drink.
'She shouted for him to go away as she ran from the bar and the man disappeared.' Carl also spoke of a time when he and two staff members were sitting by the bar after closing time and he heard stools being moved.
He said: 'I am very security conscious so I thought somebody had got back in or was still there. I went to the other side of the pub and the stools were stacked in a very strange way.
'It sounds silly, but there was no reasonable explanation for it. There was nobody else in the building.'
Carl and Helen were baffled when she visited a psychic for fun with a friend and the medium said a man in a black cloak had come along.
'She told Helen that he was not from the pub he was from 'the clock', which we assume is the clock tower at the institute. Apparently, the man was not happy with our broken window.
'One of our windows was broken, it had been smashed the day before.'
It was after Helen went to Argos in Chester and told an assistant, a member of the Supernatural Encounters Association, she was from the Greyhound that the investigation was organised.
Carl said: 'The girl asked if she had any ghosts and Helen said 'yes actually'. They contacted us shortly afterwards and we told them to come along.
'I just went to bed and let them get on with it. 'I have not received a report from them yet, but they did say there was an evil spirit and they would have to come back to get rid of it.
'I will need to see the evidence first to decide if there is anything to be got rid of.'