Admiralty House gets into the 'spirit' of things

The operators of Admiralty House, Mount Pearl’s official museum, proved last week that not everything about history and exhibits has to be deadly serious. In a spirit of fun and a bit of adventure, the 100 year old former British navy wireless station was used to host local ghost hunter Jonathon Mallard of the Life After Death Society. About 30 or 35 people showed up, and if you believe the sounds heard by the guests, a couple of ghosts may have been present too.
The event appears to have transpired as the result of a bit of serendipity. Museum Manager Carla Watson said Mallard happened to drop by the museum one day to kill time before taking his daughter to a nearby park.
“It just so happened that we came upon the topic of him being a paranormal investigator,” Watson said. “And he asked if we would be interested in having an investigation done. We all thought it would be a laugh, we didn’t really expect anything to be found, but then when the reveal came we were all kind of blown away by how much he was able to hear.”
Mallard used the presentation to present evidence from a paranormal investigation he conducted at the museum on June 12. Using “electronic voice phenomenon” equipment, essentially a hacked radio that runs through frequencies at an accelerated rate to pick up fragments of speech by paranormal beings, Mallard recorded two voices.
One of the voices seemed to have a connection to an exhibit at the museum, Watson said. “We have a gift box here from 1914 that has some original 1914 tobacco,” she explained. “I was talking to him about it while he had the Spirit Box running and he heard, ‘Where’s the snuff?’ And we heard a female voice saying, ‘This is Anne,’ followed by ‘Our house burnt down.’ So we’re wondering if that might be Lady Anne Pearl, whose homestead actually burned down.”
The snuff box, which is on load from The Rooms, belonged to a Royal Navy reservist and was a gift of Princess Mary of England, who during World War I established a gift fund for British servicemen and their families.
“She gave all of the Allied troops a gift box,” said Watson. “On it was a picture of her and inside there would either be a pen and some candy, if you weren’t a smoker, and if you were a smoker there would be tobacco.”
As for the fire, it occurred in August 1840, less than a year after Sir James Pearl died. Following the fire, Pearl’s widow, Anne, lived with her sister in St. John’s for a while before returning to England. The Pearls had been granted some 1,000 acres of land in what they came to name Mount Pearl in 1829. It was a gift from Governor Thomas Cochrane in recognition of Pearl’s naval service. He had been a member of the Royal Navy since being a boy. At 15, he participated in the historic Battle of Trafalgar as a midshipman aboard the HMS Neptune, one of the key vessels in the fleet of Admiral Horatio Nelson.
Watson said Mallard also came up with “a visual he got of some sort of black shadow orb.”
The whole event was meant in a spirit of fun, she noted. “People sometimes say they get the heebee jeebies (at the museum), a feeling like you’re being watched,” she said. “We have a volunteer who sometimes opens up on the weekends for bookings and she says she’s smelled smoke and seen things move and heard things, stuff that we can’t really explain.”
Watson said Mallard is convinced Admiralty House has some “residual” paranormal activity going on “where these entities kind of exist and do their day to day things and may not be aware that we exist and if they do know that we exist they’re only commenting on what they see, they’re not actually trying to directly interact with you. It’s not like the scary movies where things are flying all around the room. It’s more subtle and more subdued.”
Mallard’s findings will probably be used for a special event at the museum at Halloween, Watson said.
This is a big year, in fact, for the museum. The building which the museum is situated in turns 100 years old on September 16. It was built as a Royal Navy wireless station.
Museum chairman John Riche said special events are being planned for the centenary. In the meantime, the board members who oversee the facility are not averse to having a little fun, especially if it draws attention to the museum.
“Admiralty House is doing fantastic,” Riche said. “Over the last two years we’ve really stepped it up a notch, re-evaluated all of our exhibits, re-evaluated all of our programming and we’ve got a great new manager in Carla. She’s just a superstar. She’s young, fresh out of university, she did some work at The Rooms, moved to Saskatchewan, but we knew about her, heard about her and brought her back and she’s done a fantastic job.”
Riche said the City of Mount Pearl is also really supportive.
 “They saw that we were making a real serious effort, not only at increasing the profile of the museum, but the exhibits,” he said. “It’s a legitimate museum, it’s got some pretty darned cool stuff in there. We’ve got a great Florizel exhibit, we’ve got a replica Marconi kite, we’ve got some charts in there that Captain Cook used.”
Riche too had heard the rumours and rumblings of spirit activity around Admiralty House. There is one tale, he said, that has Lady Anna Pearl riding around the property on her horse at night. Haunted Hikes founder Dale Jarvis has done some work on that legend. Riche noted that you can hear his presentation on the museum’s radio station, CICQ, which is located at 92.3 on the FM dial.
As for Mallard’s presentation, Riche said it was enjoyable.
“He’s a ghost hunter. He tells you to bring your scepticism with you and I brought a good deal of it,” Riche said. “And so did a lot of the people there. But he’s a great showman and a great guy and very entertaining. He made some legitimate arguments during his presentation and found some voices. It’s not going to be an exhibit for us or part of the museum profile, but we’re going to have some fun with it around Halloween.”

Posted on July 24, 2015 .