A well-respected paranormal investigator from Bristol has said that spending the weekend in a haunted house is “like a drug”. Office manager Karin Beasant, 57, became fascinated with all things paranormal as a child after watching Hammer horror films and, after experiencing a ghostly presence in a pub she bought in 1995, she said she was hooked.
Karin – who lives with her scaffolder husband Wayne, 52, and son Alex, 25, a retail worker – described how she met her first ghost in the central Bristol pub she had purchased. She said: “It wasn’t until I was 30 and purchased a haunted pub that I had my first experience of a ghost. It was like having a ghost for a roommate – for the first six months I was petrified.
“Strange things happened, like people reported a woman walking in the men’s bathroom. If I closed my bedroom door someone would kick it.”
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She went on to say: “I’d watched enough horror films to know not to open the door. But you do get used to it and I learnt to keep my door open.
“I remember once I was sleeping in feeling a bit worse for wear and my keys were thrown across the room. I yelled ‘I’m not getting up’ and went back to bed.”
Karin was inspired to put her own paranormal team together after watching the Most Haunted series in the 2000s. However, after a couple of years, she learned that not everything is necessarily a spirit trying to make contact.
She said: “I was home, I had a child and thought I could do something like Most Haunted. I started going to public events with my friends every night and made a team to investigate.
“But after two or three years of doing that I was lucky to be introduced to people who have been in the field a lot longer, they helped me to think more seriously. It’s about thinking ethically and being sceptical.”
Now Karin has advised on haunted heritage sites for Visit Somerset and has become a regular investigator at the Jamaica Inn in Cornwall. And, after investigating more than 200 heritage sites, she’s out to debunk Hollywood myths and paranormal faux pas and has even explained the truth behind investigating her favourite haunted heritage sites, which sees her dress up in period costume and speaking in old English.
“Some people do it for clickbait, but I do it because I love it,” said Karin. “Some people like a nice holiday, I like spending the weekend in a haunted house. It’s like a drug, the high from an investigation lasts for weeks.”
And now she’s even trying to learn Cornish as she says, “that’s what they would have spoken at the Jamaica Inn in the 1700s. It’s important to think how people would talk – is a person from the 1700s going to understand us now?”
She added: “I’m mindful that lots of our gadgets could seem like witchcraft to someone from that time. I use old English and think about accents. It also helps to dress in period costume.
“In May 2022 I got together with some friends, and we dressed in costume to investigate. I wore a cook’s costume, others were dressed in Victorian dresses and we also had two people in genuine World War Two uniforms (bespoke costumes supplied by Rusette of Bath Theatrical Costume Hire).
“It was really successful and my friend even felt someone touch his head.”
After gaining such knowledge and respect for her craft, Karin joined the Jamaica Inn paranormal team eight years ago and worked directly with Visit Somerset to verify haunted heritage sights.
“I feel so lucky. I’ve visited over 200 heritage sights for paranormal investigations,” Karin said. “I usually do about two a month. I think the more you investigate the higher standard you have; you get more sceptical.”
She has debunked dust orbs, tapping sounds and ghoulish photos in her work revealing the real way to commune with ghosts is to brush up on your history – with a reminder to always be respectful.
She added: “Tapping sounds are always an old property creaking and usually shadows, glimmers and dust orbs can be explained by lighting or pareidolia, finding faces or patterns in pictures or objects. You can also get audio pareidolia with EVP (Electronic Voice Phenomenon) recordings, where you hear voices in sounds.
“Even rain can sound like a voice. The best way to record an EVP is leave it in the building for 20 minutes with no-one inside. You need to leave sites as you found them, it’s common courtesy.
“You need to ask permission from owners and be respectful of people’s beliefs. A lot of people are looking for views, and that’s fine, but we have to be conscious of everyone involved.”
Karin’s advice to any budding paranormal investigators is start with a notepad, pen and audio recorder. She also advises to research well before an investigation and always ask permission to investigate a site.