in True Ghost Stories

Victorian Ghost Hunting

During Victorian times, priorities had changed in regard to hunting ghosts and spirits, and this was when ghost hunting started involving more documentation and written accounts. Prior to this era, a religious person was normally summoned to expel a ghost from a house, but in the Victorian age, the emphasis was placed on calling on the services of a spiritualist who was fully cognizant in communicating with the dead, and as efficiently as possible. In this era, it wasn’t really about clearing an entity from your house, or even just perceiving them; it was about communicating with them, and making a detailed record of all the measures you took.

Ghost photography became a regular thing in the Victorian age. The only trouble with this was that photography was an extremely long and complicated process. This lead to unexplained light spots, orbs and shadows. Since photography was still in its infancy, every new effect could be misinterpreted as a sign of paranormal activity. For instance, if a ghost photographer took a picture with another person’s head in it, that head could quite easily be misinterpreted as a spiritual apparition. And even the slightest dot or speck could be mistaken for an orb or similar supernatural mark.

The other popular thing in the era of Victorian ghost hunting was ‘ectoplasm.’ This was regarded as a substance that made up the ghostly apparition. However, much doubt was cast on the true nature of ectoplasm, as many sceptics believed it could have been anything from manufactured liquid to partially-digested cloth. The famous medium Helen Duncan was noted for regurgitating ectoplasm during her seances. Subsequent eye-witness testimony and photographs clearly show that it was nothing more than just partially-digested cheesecloth. Paranormal experts who were present at such seances always had special equipment on hand ready to mop up and test ectoplasm, should it manifest.