Name: Lamanna Celtic/Christian Chapel
Location: Off the coastal path, at Hannafore Point, West Looe.
Weather: Strong occasional gusts. Overcast. Dry. Temp: 04°C
Investigators: Jonathan, Matt, Joanne
Map Ref: OS Map of Hannafore. Chapel not listed. It is above "Wallace Beach".
Celtic foundations, baby Jesus and Glastonbury:
Anyone who has spent time in East or West Looe, in Cornwall, will have admired the sturdy island visible from much of that stretch of coast. The wooded isle has had many names, including St.George's Island, Looe Island and the Island of Lamagne, and remains delightfully unspoilt. Many adults, and children alike, are reminded of the puzzle adventure book "The Haunted Tower" (Susannah Leigh) when sighting the island for the first time. It is a terrifically romantic spot, which promotes fantasies of smugglers, pirates and dark mysteries. The known stories, regarding the island, are indeed fascinating (the site of a Celtic chapel), romantic (home to a bloody group of smugglers in the 18th Century) and intriguing (murder and lost treasure).
Another story, or should I say 'legend' in this case, sees Joseph of Arimathea, travelling through the Rhone Valley, across Brittany and landing on the Cornish Island. He has come to Cornwall to trade for the valuable Cornish tin. While doing so, he leaves the baby Jesus to play on the beach, to the south side of the Island. It may seem rather silly now, but tales such as this were essential to the Abbey of Glastonbury, when spreading the Christian faith into this part of the country.
A further reinforcement was undertaken between 1086 and 1144, with the construction of a chapel, atop of the island. It is strange to think, that the currently deserted Island, was once an important, and thriving religious community. Much of Cornwall was seen as unchristian to the powerful Abbey, so the isolation of the island provided a much needed stronghold for the benedictine monks, and also shelter for pilgrims travelling to St.Michael's Mount further west. During bad weather, both stormy and foggy, the monks would have lit beacons, and tolled the bells, to warn trade ships of the lethal rocks to the North of the island.
A lethal pilgrimage, and the loss of a chapel:
A causeway (partial road covered by tides) allowed access at certain times of the day, but many lives were lost making the perilous crossing. It was thought a second chapel, built on the mainland immediately opposite, would be less treacherous. Known as "Lammana", only ruins remain today. We should be thankful for the few walls that are visible, for the chapel lay hidden under earth, gorse and scrub for many decades. After ceasing it's religious function, possible usage included a dwelling, small hideout and cattle store! Excavated by C.K. Croft Andrew between 1935 and 1936, the thick stone walls reappeared and remain today, for both tourists and locals to admire. The site is wonderful, in all weathers, and it's connections to the chapel (on the island) provide much food for thought, and the location of This Haunted Land's most romantic investigation.
(A compiled history, of both chapels, can be found in the independent publication "A Tale of Two Mediaeval Chapels" by P.O.Leggat and D.V.Leggat . This book is available in many of Looe's tourist attractions, and churches. I found my copy in the church of St.Nicolas, in West Looe. For those overseas, or unable to visit Looe, I would be happy to track down a copy, and post it to you. Costing £2, proceeds are donated to the church, to aid the restoration fund. Please use this email when requesting a copy. )
23:30 to 01:00: 26th April 26th 2005
A quick note: I knew something important about this investigation, which I kept from the team for as long as possible. I shall keep it from you too, as it is definitely worth the surprise. More often than not, I try to conduct our vigils (and rambles!), on dates significant to the location, or at times fitting to the possible haunting. This trip was no different, except for the knowledge that something rather special, and romantic, would occur around midnight. Read on, fellow enthusiast, for you may be in for a treat.
Leaving the post pub bustle of Looe behind, we made our way across the river, up the hill and into the quieter surroundings of Hannafore. Walking along the harbour wall, towards the area known as "Hannafore Point", I was reminded why certain members of the team were present beside me:
To my right, is Matt, who has a natural interest in the Lamnana Chapel. He is also our 'trigger object' specialist. This involves choosing an object, of his choice, and placing it upon a sheet of clean paper, at the site thought to be haunted. A crisp line is drawn around the object, and both paper and object are left (undisturbed by team members) for the duration of our vigil. Before leaving, the paper and object are photographed, to see if any unexplainable movement has taken place.
To my left, is Joanne. She has a love of all things natural, and is a member of rural groups and countryside orientated organisations. The Lammana Chapel is not set in the wilds of Cornwall, but it is tricky to visit during nocturnal hours. Her knowledge of the surroundings, and affinity with nature, would be invaluable. I also felt a female presence might help uncover any latent Celtic reverberations at the site. Please don't think me sexist for that last comment. It isn't a theory I reinforce, but did think (given that many of the Celtic deities are female) it was worth a try. The chapel's Christian usage was far more male orientated. Could a female presence 'stir things up a bit'? Who knows, Joanne seemed eager to give it a go. So, who's to complain? (Complaints not on a postcard, please).
A haunted landscape:
Hannafore is a pretty location, and popular with 'well to do' retirees. Large 1930's villas stand guard against the sea, and look out across the clear waters to the island. Even on a moonless night, such as this (and keep that in mind), the bulk of the granite mass is visible against the sky. To the right, in the deeper waters, fishing boats can be seen trawling for pilchards, pollock and John Dory. The mast lights twinkle in the gloom, and we are all reminded of how little this local industry has changed.
Reaching the end of the road, we pass through the wooden gate, and onto the coast path. To the right, a path winds up the steep hill, towards the Lammana Chapel. Before embarking on the steep climb, I was able to point out a ruined building to our right. Forming part of the field boundary, it is known as the "Monks House". It was once part of a larger religious complex, which included the chapel, and perhaps a priory, now hidden beneath farmland to the north. Joanne points out how well the 'Monks House' is kept, and we spend a few moments admiration. The empty holes in the wall, which would have housed wooden supports for the roof, reveal how much the land has risen since the chapel's heyday. Even so, it is still very easy to imagine the sights, sounds and smells of those times. Our reverie was interrupted by the twitch of a net curtain, from one of the villas back down the road. We are reminded how close we are to the Hannafore residential area, so some hush would not go amiss. Joanne, jokingly, mentions people calling the police. Matt found the idea amusing, and quickly added "it's okay, we can tell them we are ghosthunters!" Without further ado, we vanish from the scene, and proceed towards our final destination.
We all stop walking, and stare at the scrub-land to the right of us. Something can be heard running towards us. Panting heavily. Without time to speak, we all stop, and wait to see an animal appear in front of us. The words "rabies", "death" and "drooling" flash through my mind, and I raise a protective arm, without thinking. And then, suddenly, a black blur whizzes past us, and scrambles through the brambles and fencing to our left. Whatever it was, it vanished down the crumbling hill, which leads down to the shore. I was first to speak:
"Wow! That was creepy!"
Joanne, and Matt, were virtually speechless. We all stare after the beast, and wonder what it could have been….
"A dog?": Why would it flee the scene, and scramble down the bank to the sea?
An otter?: Too heavy. And do otters pant like overweight canines?
"A hare?": The beast was too noisy. Too dog like.
Well, the juries out on this one, I'm sorry to say. We came to spend some time in the chapel, so the "Beast of Hannafore" will have to wait for another time.
"Like figures, watching us…."
Climbing the steep path, in virtual darkness, we are all spooked by the gorse bushes around us, and towering above. Even Joanne, 'Miss.Rural Rides' herself, finds them disquieting. "They look like figures, watching us. The big bunches of flowers look like children's faces". A shiver runs down my spine. She was right, they did look like faces. Oh dear. Our objectivity is evaporating by the second. Thank goodness for Matt, who added "Or cauliflower". Oh, joy. We all laugh, and continue upwards.
Better in, than out….
Reaching the top, we are pleased to see the wooden fence, which surrounds the chapel ruins. It was installed to keep the rabbits out. Their deep burrows can be the death of an ancient site, such as this. I was a little dismayed, when on closer inspection, I noticed the fence has been breached, and the rabbits have begun constructing a warren. Blasted creatures.
A hefty wooden stile allows access to the chapel, next to a rather informative noticeboard. It has an artists impression of the chapel, and a map of its layout. We paused for breath, to take in the information. Well, that was the plan. Without a word, we all began scrambling for the stile, in a fight to enter the complex. I have no idea what spooked us, on this occasion, but it was a feeling shared by all. Following further discussion, none of us can place the trigger of this action. Strange. Of further note, the feeling of relief upon entering the enclosure was obvious. It felt safer, more secure…. and away from something, which was impossible to place, or name.
The Trigger Object: Matt places his clipboard, paper and trigger objects (a coin, and a solid silver ring) near the entrance to the site. They will remain, undisturbed, for the duration of the investigation.
EMF Meters: Both Joanne, and I, are armed with EMF Meters. These inexpensive gadgets measure fluctuations in the electromagnetic energies, which surround us. Artificial sources (like in the home) are easy to place, as the signal is regular and consistent. We are looking for sudden bursts of energy, or patches of energy, which change position. (Some investigations, we have undertaken, have seen magnetic fluctuations reach 3 milligauss, and move to and from the investigator!)
Digital Night-Shot/Vision Video Camera: Matt is filming this investigation, with occasional scenes by myself. Nightvision cameras, emit an Infrared light, which is reflected back to the camera. This means we are able to 'see in the dark', and also film phenomena which is invisible to the naked eye. Many modern paranormal groups use these cameras, and intriguing footage is captured on a regular basis.
Digital Stills Camera: An absolute essential. We always have at least two digital cameras with us, on all of our investigations. Ideally, each team member should have one. Joanne 'forgot' hers. Nonetheless, we still have 3 cameras in total, so were hopeful of capturing something interesting to share with you….
Compass: As per usual, I have my trusty compass with me. As often as possible, I use it to 'sweep' the area, looking for any unusual magnetic fluctuations. It has often confirmed the findings of the more advanced EMF Meter readings, and provided clues to 'hot spots' of activity.
There is much to talk about, following this investigation (hurrah!), so the following is a chronological list of events:
23:30 - After calming our nerves, following our unexplained fright by the stile, we gather our nerves, and unpack the equipment. A 'walk-around' takes place, to sample the mood, and atmophere of the location. This is done in silence.
23:38 - We re-group, and quickly discuss the plan. Matt wishes to hold a single vigil, and ask questions to anything/one that may be listening. Joanne wishes to focus on the stile, as she still feels a deep uneasiness towards that area. This sensation is felt by all. I choose to wander near the southern boundary fence, which overlooks the sea, and island.
23:50 - Matt notes the sound of "fabric rustling" to his right. There is nothing, but a elderberry tree, and scrub in that direction. It is the least accessible corner of the site. He had been asking questions such as "is there anybody who wishes to speak with us", "are you someone who spent time here" and the classic "is there anybody there…".
Lucky for us, Matt was filming at the time, although not using "night-vision". While asking about the 'trigger objects', and requesting that 'someone' move them, he caught a strange blue 'orb' on camera and heard the rustling sounds to his right. The clip can be downloaded using the button below. It is 17megabytes in size, and exists in its original form. The orange lights seen during filming are, in fact, the streetlights of 'Hannafore', so don't be alarmed. Watch out, after Matt mentions "trigger objects" for a blue spot in the middle of the screen. We cannot explain this light anomaly.
23:50 - At the very same time that Matt is hearing sounds, Joanne notices a reading on the EMF Meter. She had the more sensitive of the two meters, which is permentantly set to "on" during investigations. The reading was 1.4 milligauss in strength, and lasted for 2 seconds. She attempted to follow, or place, the direction of the source, but was unable to locate the fluctuation again.
23:58 - Both Matt and Joanne notice a "strange red glow" around the island, out at sea. The atmosphere in the chapel ruin is described as "pregnant", as if something was about to happen. In fact, something is about to happen, and the red glow doesn't surprise me in the slightest. The team are about to witness something very rare, and beautiful.
00:00 - Both Matt and Joanne have now joined me by the southern fence, and we are all aware of a presence behind us. It is not remotely threatening, nor alarming. The occasional strong gusts of wind have died down, and silence falls across the scene. The red glow, around the island, turns an ochre colour…. as Matt and Joanne gasp in amazement. Our moonless evening is about to change, as the Earth's satellite appears from behind the island.
00:02 - Utterly speechless, and wide eyed, we all watch as the moon rises, over the island, and reflects warm rays on the waves below. Forming a perfect line with the old chapel on the island, the moon shines through the ruined doorway of the Lammana Chapel. It is a breathtaking, and technically impressive moment, which changes the atmosphere completely. The new light source enables us to see our surroundings in a completely new light, literally. This event seems to prompt the following, unexplainable events.
00:11 - Staying by the fence, I observe the compass needle does a complete anti-clockwise turn, and continues to move until resting towards magnetic north. The effect of the moon? Maybe! But, it was very sudden, and was not repeated.
00:12 - Joanne experiences a further EMF reading by the north wall of the chapel. It is thought a north doorway once existed on this spot. Joanne reported a feeling of "something entering the room", and we all noticed the windy gusts had strengthened, and become more frequent. The reading lasted for 1 second at 2 milligauss, and 3 seconds at 0.8 milligauss, before disappearing. She was still facing the direction of the north doorway.
00:14 - Matt is filming, using the night-vision video camera, in the centre of the chapel. The moon is still shining through what would have been the chapel entrance, and immediately over the centre of the island. Without any warning, he feels something brush against his lower leg, and foot. At this exact same moment, I hear someone whispering next to me, by the fence. We are 3 metres apart, and Joanne is still by the north doorway. There is no explanation for the whispering, or the touch to Matt's body. The video clip, recorded at the time, can be downloaded for your own viewing.
00:23 - Inspecting the 'trigger objects', Matt was disappointed to find no movement. At all.
00:30 - The site is now bathed in greenish light, from the fully risen moon. It is a beautiful sight. To capture the moment, I say a few brief words to camera, as Joanne and Matt watch their first 'moon rise'. You can watch this clip, for yourself. Observe the moon, and sample the Lammana atmosphere by clicking the video button below. The recording will be downloaded to your computer.
00:43 - The extra light transformed the once creepy location, and the setting was now uplifting, and spiritually positive. The team agreed, there and then, that we felt enlightened by the night's events, and thank anyone present for allowing us to film, and be present during that very special occasion. If the location had felt strange before, the sensation had passed. I do not believe I have strong spiritual links to the landscape (unlike Joanne, and Matt), but even I had to admit that the evening had been quite magical.
Far below us, the people of Hannafore were sleeping, oblivious to the events taking place upon the hill. Even the slightest movement away from the chapel entrance interrupted the direct line from the old island based chapel, to the ruined one in which we stood. The moon confirmed, and illustrated, this alignment. Now, how often do you get a treat like that?!
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