The History of Plymouth Gin, and the Black Friars Distillery where it is produced, have a long and very interesting past. Black Friars Distillery, the home of Plymouth Gin, is the oldest working gin distillery in England and is situated in the heart of the historic port city of Plymouth in the south west of England. It lies on a small street leading down from the heart of the city to the harbour side. Black Friars Distillery The building dates back to the early 1400's with the most intact part of the distillery, the Refectory Room – a medieval hall with fine hull-shaped timber roof built in 1431, being one of the oldest buildings in Plymouth. It is thus protected as a national monument and is one of the city’s most precious heritages. The Distillery buildings were formally a monastery inhabited by the Black Friars. In 1536 at the time of the Reformation and dissolution of the monasteries, the former home of the Black Friars was put to a variety of other uses including being the town’s Marshalsea or debtor’s prison, the first Non-Conformist meeting place and a billet for Huguenot refugees who fled France for Plymouth.
The Pilgrim Fathers also spent their last night in England here in 1620 before making the short walk down to the harbour to set sail on the Mayflower on their epic voyage to start a new life in America, where they founded a new Plymouth. The Mayflower ship forms Plymouth Gin's trademark label today. Black Friars is indisputably the oldest working gin distillery with records of a 'malt-house' on the premises going back to 1697. However, it was in 1793 that Mr Coates joined the established distilling business of Fox & Williamson and the distilling of Plymouth Gin began. Soon the business was to become known as Coates & Co. which it remained until March 2004.
You can read more about Plymouth Gin here - Plymouth Gin
PLACE: Plymouth Gin - The Barbican Plymouth Devon
DATE: 1st July 2006
TIME: 2300 Hrs - 0400 Hrs
Jul 1, 2006 2:00 AM
MOON STATE: Waxing Crescent
Percent of Full: 26%
Rise: 11:11 AM
Set: 12:14 AM
Radio Channel: 2.4 GHz Channel 1.
TEMPERATURE ON ARRIVALl:
WEATHER: Dry and sunny Wind: Nil
LOCATION: City Centre
Tracy I (TL)
Female staff member*
(Control tasks will be rotated throughout the evening)
On arrival BJ and a small team of volunteers began to unload equipment into the rear storeroom. Baseline of EMF readings, environmental readings were taken from key areas within the building namely:
• Still Room
• Toilet Areas
A thermal logging device that had been placed in the Still Room on the 14th June 2006 was recovered and data extracted. No significant temperature fluctuations were noted. The following temperatures were taken as baseline range for the investigation.
• 17.5 ° C - 15th June 2006 2240 hrs
• 23 ° C - 18th June 2006 0400 hrs
• 22.5 ° C - 24th June 2006 2105 hrs
• 26.5 ° C -29th June 2006 0905 hrs
Humidity ranged from 65% 28 June 2006 - 48% 23rd June 2006. Wireless CCTV cameras were placed in the shop, Street and Still Room attached to a DVD recorder. EVP recording equipment was sited in the street area.
MEDIUMSHIP WALK AROUND
Two mediums were used on the baseline they were:
Phil Simpson - Haunted Devon
Rev Janet Driscoll ADL BSY (COL) MASC WFSH - Independent
mediums were taken to key areas within the building. The walk around commenced in the Still Room behind one of the older stills. The following is a break down of the key points from all areas:
Phil picks up on running water and that the rear exit was used at one time to bring in grain. Janet states that she believed that an accident had taken place and that a man had fallen from the Still.
- Phil picks up on the spirit of a lady in her 20's who was believed to be a prostitute who was believed to enter the building from the rear of the building (Blackfriars Lane). The lady also brings a boy with her aged 7 or 8 years old. Phil believed that the boy was related to the lady but was not her son. The lady was grounded in the area of the rear door to the Still Room.
- Phil picks up on an explosion that took place causing a man to be burnt.
- The name John Westerfield was picked up in the area.
- The name George Brooks was picked up in the area.
- The name "Tanner" as a nickname was picked up.
- Two American Army soldiers walked though the Still Room carrying boxes.
STOCK ROOM / TOILET AREA
- The name "Mo" was picked up on and someone singing "Row, Row, Row your boat".
- Janet picks up on the fact that several murders had taken place in the area on the stock room.
- Phil stated that the area would have been used by Paupers and that many people died in the area.
- Both mediums feel sick as they approach the female toilets.
- The stockroom was used as an air raid shelter in WW2.
- Phil picks up on the smell of bluebells.
- Janet feels that hymn books were being giving out.
- Phil picks up on the fact that the Room may have been divided at some time.
- Phil picks up a piano that sits to the left of the door to the Still Room.
- Phil believes that the Refectory could have been an Officers Mess in WW2.
- Phil believed that someone may have been hung near the beam near the bar area.
This was an excellent investigation in one of the oldest buildings in the City of Plymouth - as far as we are aware we were the first paranormal investigation group to have been granted access to the building. One of the prominent spirits that remain active is the female prostitute "Elizabeth" Lizzie and a young boy. As will be seen from the investigation log many names appear remain in residual and the building does hold some dark secrets. The ladies toilets were apparently the scene of a stabbing and the storeroom area was the scene of other deaths both natural and unnatural.
Our thanks to Richard Smith Brand Home Director Plymouth Gin and all staff for making us feel welcome. Our thanks also to our medium Phil Simpson and guest medium Janet Driscoll for their patience and understanding. We hope to revisit Plymouth Gin in the future.
INVESTIGATION LOGSVENUE: Plymouth Gin
DATE: 1st July 2006
TIME: From 11.30pm to 3.50am
INVESTIGATORS NAME: Jackie Edwards
MEDIUM USE: YES - NAME Phil / Janet WEATHER OUTSIDE: Clear but sultry. Thunder storm recorded from approx Midnight.
ROOM TEMPERATURE: Variable but hot – varying from 23 to 28 degrees inside.
TEAM MEMBERS PRESENT: Byron Jackson, Jackie Young, Phil (Medium), Paul I, Paul, Richard\Smith (P Gin).
EQUIPMENT IN USE (CIRCLE THAT USED)
NIGHT VISON CAMERA – NIGHT VISION SCOPE - DIGITAL CAMERA – 35mm CAMERA – TAPE RECORDER – EMF METER – NEGATIVE ION DETECTOR
THERMOMETER: (CIRCLE TYPE USED) STANDARD AMBIENT – LASER – DIGITAL – THERMAL LOGGER
Speed: __________ Brand: ____________ Exposures:___________ Rolls:_________
B&W Color Infrared APS
Speed: __________ Brand: ____________ Exposures:___________ Rolls:_________
B&W Color Infrared APS
Micro Cassette Standard Cassette Digital
Length: 60min 90min 120min
VHS VHS-C 8mm Digital
Length: 60min 90min 120min
R / RW
N/A Edwards photo’s available to download.
|Vigil commenced 01.00 hrs||Group Members as listed||NA|
|Shop Area||Phil’s comments : In general type. JY’s comments in bold.||Ceiling area was once higher (although the Refectory is above). This was a loading bay and the windows were access gates. (There are cellar doors on the outside of the Southside Street wall but evidence of these cannot be seen from the Shop). A drayman called Morgan had an accident here and hurt his hands. It was witnessed by a 12 year old boy who helped out here but it was never followed up. Charles, the accountant, knew what had happened. He worked upstairs with the Revenue Men. The name Longman is specific here. The area was frequented by many people with infected bites and sores from the rats that infested the area where the barrels were kept. The time slot here is the early 1800s.|
|Revenue Room||Phil’s comments : In general type. JY’s comments in bold.||Charles worked here on the books. He was very protective of his area and did not allow women in at all. Did not like JE’s presence in the room. A balcony used to overlook the despatch area. A small fire caused by a pipe led to smoking being banned from this area. The name Michael is also significant. Children also worked here putting them at risk from accidents. One child was crushed by a cart, dying in agony a few days later. He was left to die in this area as no-one was responsible for him. Logs to fuel the stills were also brought in here. There was some pressure to unload them quickly but often no place to store them. There is smoke damage on the walls beyond the new ceiling. At the Southside Street end this was caused by action during WW2. In another area it was caused by a torch that was too close to the ceiling.|
|Street Area||As above||Sony cybershot digi camera dies at this point. BJ’s Dictaphone had also dies despite new batteries in both. Someone was hung in this area and the corpse was left for a while to rot. There were market stalls in this area – children run between these stealing things. Between 1709 and 1712 there were legal problems with the ownership of the building. This resulted in a legal dispute but not face to face arguments or violence. There is a lower area underground – or lower than it is today. This was used to hold people but much of this was not legally binding. People were put here if they owed money or rent. The conditions were terrible and the area was divided up, possibly in to cells. (this was the site of the Debtors Prison).|
|The man who oversaw this area was in his late 40s but looked older. He was a Beadle type person with official robes but didn’t like going down to the prison area because of the smell. Dogs were also let loose in the area. Someone used to collect small kegs from here. Davis (Davies ?) who worked in the shop used to visit here. (The shop is a recent addition).|
|Cellar Area||As above||This area was one long tunnel going from the street through to the Lane behind. A small man (5ft1 or 5ft 2) ‘shot’ through the area as we entered. In the 1700s this was a place where paupers could sleep at night. It wasn’t official. There is a smell of sackcloth and very poor sanitary conditions. Many dies and were simply put out on the road only to disappear before dawn. The area was also used in WW2 and an Air Raid shelter (unsure if this is official or not). Beds were put in for the children. Parents slept on the floor. There were two rows of sandbags to protect from blast. The food etc was stored in between. An elderly gentleman in WW1 army uniform is here. He was a warden of some sort. Some of the front area was damaged and had to be boarded or shored up to make it safe. As the area is used a lot the energy is only residual. The walls have seeped water and sewage in the past but Phil could not sense anything specific on the other side of it ( North Wall).|
|Gents Loos||Nothing noted.|
|Ladies Loos (vestibule)||This area has always appeared cold and given the impression that someone was coming through the door from the ladies loos. It is an uncomfortable place to be. A temp gauge was placed in this area. It recorded 20-21 degrees – a good 5 degrees colder than the rest of the area even though the ambient temperature was high. (1) A lady with two children hides from someone here. They were destitute but afraid of something or someone following them – but could not say what. (2) A WW2 lady was stabbed here. The gasp sensation reflects where the knife penetrated her. Her death was the result of an argument over personal belongings in the shelter ( a small rectangular box). Her assailant was another woman who was in uniform and wearing long green socks). The victim was younger (18 or 19 yrs). The murderer was older. The whole issue was covered up and forgotten given the circumstances of the time (1941) during the Blitz. The victim had few/no relatives so she was relatively easy to dispose of. There were threats to keep quiet about it or access would be denied to the shelter. As she was stabbed against the wall the knife did more damage as it had nowhere to go. The name Alice or Alicia could refer to the victim. Later JY felt the name Annie could apply to the uniformed woman.|
|Ladies Loos||This area goes back further and once had more light. Cracks in mortar allowed light through. The sound of children crying is prominent. Many bombs dropped close. The building shakes sometimes. One woman tried to light a fire for warmth but it smoked everyone out. She was later denied access to the shelter. She lived nearby – maybe one or two streets away. The area has been flooded in the past with water up to 2ft deep. This was something to do with a pipe burst.|
|2.00am||Whole Group||GLASS DIVINATION IN THE REFECTORY|
|Glass touched by Gill, Janet, Bridget, Richard, Brian, Trudy and Lucy. Jy scribingOthers observing|
|2.10 2.15||JY witnessed orb floating from wall to table. JY noted small child watching from main entrance door||QUESTIONS Glass shuddered initially but moved to indicate more than 4 spirits present. The name George was noted. A lady – Rebecca or Elizabeth – was noted. The name Elizabeth got a response. Do you like us being here ? +ve Are you male ? -ve Are you female – a lady of the night ? v. +ve Do you wish us to leave here ? -ve Do you want to move on ? -ve Were you 28 (-ve), less than 28 yrs (-ve), older +ve Did you lose your life here or nearby ? +ve Did you rob the owner +ve Was it for the little boy ? +ve Do you want forgiveness ? +ve Is the little boy with you +ve Was he killed with you ? +ve Was there more than one man ? +ve Do you want forgiveness for the boy ? -ve Do you have remorse for what happened ? +ve Was this more than 100 years ago ? -ve Was the boy family – your sister’s ? -ve Did you have many men here ? +ve Did you used to use the back passageway to come in ? +ve Did you cover your face so no-one would see you ? +ve You didn’t think you were pretty did you ? +ve Janet asked if she had a scar down her face ? Phil confirmed this. You were special weren’t you – your eyes were different colours ? +ve One man here treated\ you well but you didn’t think so ? +ve You felt abused but you had the boy to look after ? +ve He wasn’t yours but you vowed to look after him +ve The little boy was called Thomas v +ve (She appeared very protective of him) He plays here and moves things ? v +ve Your name was Lizzie ? v+ve You are very protective of Thomas ? v+ve He had a problem with his foot but you covered it up ? v+ve Janet felt he had a clubbed foot. He belonged to your best friend ? v+ve Phil asked if ‘Lizzie’ wanted to go to the light. She confirmed this and Phil asked for access for her and the child.|
|2.30am||Vigil Group 1||VIGIL IN THE STILL ROOM|
|Thunder storm noted||A small girl called Lucy walks here. She hits the glasses and giggles. Late Victorian era. One rap heard.|
|Paul, JY and Byron sensed something moving. Paul noted a white dog playing around them. Called out for Elizabeth & Thomas (JY asked how this could be given than we’d just sent them to the light. Phil explained they could return at will if they chose to and had the energy to do so). JY asked Charles if he still wanted her to leave – possible response. Byron asking out – little response. Tapping sound on the still recorded. Area seemed to get much darker. BJ could smell licorice. The smell of berries appeared to have disappeared. Paul/JY senses someone on the walkway above watching everyone. Phil noted him saying ‘you cant catch me !’. The name of McMullin appeared (there is a removal company of that najme based in the Barbican).|
|2.45am||Back storage area||Paul noted the white dog had followed them. JY noted the smell and sound of horses. RS noted this was exactly right. The area now used as a staff room was a stable block with an attic above. Phil asked if anything was found when the attic was renovated. RS could not confirm. Phil noted papers of significance. A dog whining was heard(but there were many seagulls) Phil asked if falconry was practised nearby. No confirmation.|
|3.00am||Vigil Group||REFECTORY AREA|
|A black shadow was reported in the shop area possibly heading our way ? The name Longman was prominent. A\shadow appeared to float across the bar and there appeared to be some activity between the bar and the window but this was difficult to agree as Brett’s movement in the control room could also be heard. The rustling, however, seemed to come from the opposite corner.|
|Phil sensed a pressure headache caused by something behind him. (See photos taken). Both Paul and Jy felt there was something behind them. An orb was observed going across the table as Phil called out to a child presence that moved v quickly. JY noted former sensation of a child in the doorway during the glass divination. Phil noted a voice saying ‘Go’. A shadow was seen sitting at the table and a moan was heard coming from that corner. Flashes of light were seen together with further dark shadows. (this could be from the vase that was only apparent after the lights went on). The clip board on JY’s lap was nudged three times. Paul felt this was the dog that had followed us. Things went quiet at about 3.20am.|
We started our first vigil in the refectory at midnight. Lucy and Janet immediately start to capture orbs on camera and camcorder. Bridget walks to the far end of the room trying to use her abilities to sense any presences that may be present with us. She feels we are not alone and she reports feeling surrounded and enclosed by people.
During this time she feels a cold draught on her hand. Her hand begins to become painful and the pain spreads to her wrist. Every time Bridget talks of this pain Lucy experiences problems with her camcorder and says that it goes out of focus. I, by this time, am starting to capture orbs of all sizes on my camera but only at the south end of the room.
Bridget also feels drawn to the corridor at the south end of the refectory so we all go out there to see if there are signs of activity. Bridget feels tingly all over and reports a buzzing sensation running from her head to her toes. She believes this area to be a bad place and we leave it as the area seems to be affecting her quite badly. Janet senses the presence of a prostitute in the refectory and feels that the room was once an area that would have had very many people frequenting it. She feels the room is ‘bustling’.
This ended our vigil as it is now decided to call the entire group in and attempt some glass divination with the medium, Phil Simpson in control. Before the glass divination, Phil gives Bridget some healing as she is not looking well after feeling pains during the vigil and the healing does bring relief for her. Phil, on his earlier walk round has picked up on the presence of a prostitute who frequents this area with a young child.
He bases his questions during the glass divination on this earlier walk round and after asking if ‘the lady of the night’ is present the glass begins to move. This wasn’t an immediate reaction. We could all sense the glass trying to move for a couple of minutes before it did. There was a sensation for all of us that it was trying hard to move, almost as if the force trying to move it was learning how to do so or was building up strength to move the glass. When it eventually did move, the power moving the glass seemed to grow stronger as the divination went on. The glass was fairly whizzing round in a circle in response to questions that Phil asked.
Most of the people who had their fingers on the glass found it extremely hard to keep up. Gill and myself lost contact with the glass and found that we could not get our fingers back on it due to the speed that it was moving in a circle. It appears, from the questions Phil asked, that the glass is being moved by the spirit of a prostitute who has a young boy with her. The child is not hers. She has looked after the boy since his natural mother died and has a very strong attachment to him.
She appears to be unaware of when she died but she has a strong desire to move on.This for me is a very emotional moment. Phil now says a prayer to help her and the child move to the light and the glass slowly comes to a halt. I felt as if power was draining away from the glass and I hope that if these lost souls were indeed present they are now at peace.
We now have a short coffee break to recover from this experience and then move to the storeroom. Phil has picked up on a bad, nasty atmosphere in that area so we go in there to see if the two sensitives on the team can pick up the same feelings. The team sensitives are unaware of any of Phil’s findings on his initial walk round.
Bridget reports feeling nothing untoward there but Janet picks up on the atmosphere and believes there is something nasty lurking in this area. Bridget, Janet & Lucy are capturing orbs on camera and camcorder and Janet sees an orb with the naked eye.
After 25 minutes we move to the shop. Bridget and Janet start to experience pains - tightness in the chest, and pains in the stomach. Orbs are spotted visually by Bridget, Janet and Lucy and are captured on camera.
The girls at one point go outside into the street area and during this period I get the strangest sensation of being surrounded by a kind of field. I feel a buzzing sensation all around my body which makes me shake uncontrollably. This was not painful in any respect, just startling.
The team members now start to report problems with electrical equipment. Batteries suddenly go flat and cameras start to play up. My torch appears to be completely dead although I had been using it just minutes before with no problems and had switched it off and left it on the shop counter. Later it springs back to life in the Still room and its beam is as strong as ever. I have never had a problem with it in the past and it is working today with no problems.
For our final vigil we move into the Still Room
Bridget and Janet sense movement in this room and I see small lights move occasionally behind the stills and vats. Nothing conclusive is seen though. Once again orbs are captured. We are shown, by Rose, around the cottage area but do not find evidence of any activity here.
For Team C, the most active area was the Refectory. Everybody felt something, saw something visually or captured something on cameras. Although Bridget seemed to be badly affected in the corridor area at the south end of the refectory the place generally was not thought to have any real nasty atmosphere. In most areas none of the team felt anything disturbing even though spirits were sensed and orbs captured on cameras. A couple of small areas did evoke a sense of foreboding in the team sensitives though.
The shop also might be active as most of the team had experiences or captured light anomalies.
Although nothing positive was found there seemed to be a correlation between the feelings of Phil Simpson and the team sensitives on spirits present and areas that had a bad atmosphere.
It was an interesting night and we cannot rule out the possibility that Plymouth Gin is indeed the home of several spirits.