1 Aug 2015
The hotel in-spectre! Did ‘ghost’ photo-bomb snap from organ concert?
16:29 31 July 2015
Paranormal activity or trick of the light? The supposed ‘ghost’ can be seen in the reflection of the mirror as organist Nigel Ogden speaks.
This haunting image has left concert-goers wondering whether they weren’t the only ones enjoying the music – as a spooky shape resembling a ghost seemingly photo-bombs the shot.
Theories behind the apparent apparition include her being the ghost of a music-loving countess from the 18th century - or just someone standing behind a glass door who was given a paranormal projection through a trick of the light.
Herald photographer Alex Walton got a fright when uploading pictures of a celebratory performance by Nigel Ogden at the Sidholme Hotel this week.
The translucent figure of a woman appears to be watching BBC Radio 2 The Organist Entertains presenter Mr Ogden, sending a chill down the spine of those who were sat nearby. Nigel Hyman, who can be seen seated next to the supposed spirit, insists there was no-one next to him.
Theories behind the apparent apparition include her being the ghost of a music-loving countess from the 18th century - or just someone standing behind a glass door who was given a paranormal projection through a trick of the light. A medium has described the shape as a ‘spiritual lady’.
Mr Ogden was performing in the 189-year-old building’s Music Room as part of a celebratory event toasting the £15,000 renovation of its historic organ last Friday (see page eight).
Mr Hyman, chairman of Sidmouth Museum, was snapped next to the ‘spirit’.
The historian, who is writing a book about the hotel, was sitting at the top of the stairs to the left-hand side. He was watching the performance from one of the two benches available - and said that only two people could fit on each.
After seeing the image, Mr Hyman said: “It could be somebody standing to the side of one of the glass doors at the top of the steps. The other explanation is that the well-known ghost of Sidholme was curious to see what the racket was all about and stood behind us. I run town walks, so I have heard of ghosts in some of the older buildings in town - and this building dates back to 1826 so it deserves a ghost.”
The hotel, which opened in the 1930s, was previously called Richmond Lodge and was owned by the sixth Earl of Buckinghamshire.
The Earl moved to Sidmouth with his second wife, Countess Maria Isabella, who did not get along with the town’s vicar and asked for a private chapel to be built – which is now the hotel’s Music Room.
The Sidholme Organ Friends Association’s appeal organiser, John McGregor, said: “It was probably the Countess Maria Isabella, no doubt not wanting to miss out on all the fun and, of course, particularly the music. She just adored a good soirée.”
The countess died in Richmond Lodge in 1873. The hotel’s operations manager, Sameer Velaydhun, said: “You will have the realists on one side and the fantasists on the other. The building was first a home in 1826. It has been around a long time, so it’s a possibility.”
Exmouth-based medium Lesley Anderson said the shape looked like a ‘spiritual lady’ with ‘white curly hair’ and added: “She will either be attached to a person nearby or the building - it’s unlikely that she will be randomly there with no connection.”