Chesterfield House, Talbot & J Ward Lunatic Asylum, Ararat

Chesterfield House, B&B Talbot

Talbot is an easy drive from Pakenham, as long as you ignore Google's instructions and go up the C287 highway just before Ballarat. I didn't, but I still found the place, and the accommodation, without too much difficulty. The house is very beautiful, inside and out. It used to be an old pub, altered quite a lot, but still retaining so many traditional features .. with very few squeaking floors.

I didn't do any research on the history of Chesterfield Hotel before I left, because I wanted to go in with an open mind and see what I could pick up. I did know that it had been owned by a Mrs Chesterfield, who had two husbands before she died. I knew Chesterfield was the second husband's name, but very little about their relationship, nor with her first, a man called George Spencer. The pub had been called 'Spence's Hotel' before he died. I found out from Jacqui, the tour operator, that Mrs C couldn't hold an hotel licence as an unmarried woman. The rest I found out from Mrs C in a brief visit, which I will tell you about later.

I arrived in the late afternoon, before dark, and walked up to the front door, on the front corner of the house and knocked. No one came to the door, so I started back to my car, to be interrupted by frantic knocking on the window. I could see a hand waving fast, and so I turned back to the door and was invited in by Betty, a good friend of the tour host. After moving my car around the back into the parking area I unloaded all my things and took them up to the bedroom in the photo. It looks wider and longer than it is in the photo, but the same otherwise. I dropped my stuff and went down to the kitchen to join a small variety of people talking around the table. We ended up talking ghosts, of course.

During that afternoon I had numerous times when I returned to my room, and each time I did a man was standing in front of the fire place. He was dressed in an old fashioned brown suit and had on a rolled edged hat. He stared pensively into the flames, with his foot on the protector around the low fireplace, and his hand on the mantelpiece. He never acknowledged my existence, and I left him in his. Yes, he was a ghost.

In the meantime the house was filling up with people. In the end there were 19 of us, from all walks of life, the youngest being 25 and the oldest was in his sixties, I think. Most of us believed in ghosts, a few didn't, some not sure .. I didn't take a direct count. We did have at least one sceptic, a man. The last to arrive, I think, was a force to be reckoned with. She loomed into the kitchen, talking very loudly, and lugging in boxes, bags and briefcases full of 'ghost hunting' equipment. The full rig. It was amazing. The next day, after I was over the shock, I had a brief glimpse at some of the stuff. She was very organised and knew exactly what she wanted to achieve, which is great.

Only it was all a bit too noisy and energetically full-on for me, so I retreated into the lounge room and joined an older group talking, followed by half the kitchen. Some people stayed; fascinated by all the things she talked about. I just wanted peace and quiet. It had already been a long day. Somewhere in the next half an hour or so the ghost hunter lady, Kathy, moved into the loungeroom, and I driven by discordant energy, went back into the kitchen .. followed by the youngest lady in the group, and most of her family (though I didn't know that at the time). She told me about the room upstairs that had spooked her, so we decided to go and have a look. When she and I got there the room was clear, but I felt that there was something, or someone, out on the verandah, so we slipped through the door on the verandah in the next room and went out on the balcony (on the right side of the photo, around the corner.) We checked both ends of that area. On the right it was all peaceful and calm, but on the left .. well Ann (not her real name) walked straight down there and clutched her stomach. She had suddenly started feeling sick. I was already feeling that way, having connected to the ghost standing in front of us. I scooted her out of the space and cut her off from some of the sensation (by giving her a white light shield), and had a talk to the man we had met. He said his name was Donald Spence .. or Spencer. I thought he was George, the first husband, until I checked with Jacqui about the names, but no. We want to find out if George had a brother. I think this man had died of stomach cancer. He was very out of balance. I didn't leave him there long. He was too discordant, and the house was very discordant (energy out of balance) by then, so I scooted him into healing .. made a mental note to keep an eye on Ann .. and went back downstairs, where Ann told everyone what we had just done. People were very interested, of course.

Somewhere before we all had dinner, spread about all over the kitchen, dining room and loungeroom, I collected a little girl ghost. She was about three years old, with long blond hair, and she attached herself to my leg stayed there until I went to bed, but more on that later. After dinner Jacqui arranged us into three groups to explore the house. The first group was mine - talking ghosts and rescue work, the second was hers .. the history of the house, and the third group was Kathy's .. ghosthunting and her equipment.

My group began upstairs where Donald had been. We all stepped onto the balcony and checked around. The group included Ann and three members of her family, and Betty, Jacqui's friend. They could all feel 'someone' on the balcony, in the same location that Donald had been .. so I asked the only man in the group to go over and tell me 'where' the ghost was standing and what he could pick up on it. I knew it wasn't Donald, because he was in healing, so what would this living man tell about the dead.

He was very good. He went and stood right where the ghost was standing and picked up enough for us to identify him as George Spencer, curious about the activity in the house and happy to join in. Thank you, Mr Spencer. I then spent time explaining a whole lot about dealing with lost souls and why ghosts haunt etc, and then we asked George to remain for the next group that would follow, and we went back into the house and downstairs into the dining room.

Why the dining room .. because there was a ghost there. I don't have any problems finding them. In the meantime the house was very noisy with people everywhere, and I was wishing we could find a quiet place to hide. : And so we had the briefest chat to Malcolm Talbot (or was it Talber), and we asked him to sit at the table and have a glass of port and wait for the next group to come through (I presumed it would by Kathy with the ghost hunting equipment, and she did end up there, and stayed for a very long time). We left them a note on the table with a few details and then moved on. The note said - there is a ghost in this room, but not where or who.

I was going towards the kitchen when a movement caught my left eye. In the middle of the corridor was a lady who looked very much like Betty, very much .. almost spitting image, although her clothes were different. So I turned back, told Betty what I was seeing, and asked if she would like to talk to this lady ghost. She was very happy to. She walked down the corridor to where she said the lady was (and she was), and told us she felt compelled to 'follow her' into the garden. Jacqui says on her site that it was an orchard, but the only tree I saw had a good bench for sitting on underneath it. In real life that part of the 'garden' she stopped in is now a home theatre area that had been built onto the house. Betty told us that the lady's name was Margaret. We think she was a servant in the pub or house, and that her headstone was one of the ones in the cemetery we visited later in the weekend. I could see Margaret as she sat herself on a wooden seat in the garden and talked to us from there. She seemed very happy, and obviously loved the house. After a while we said goodbye, we had only been meant to spend 20 minutes on each of these mini ghost hunts (in total) and we had gone way over that, and so we took ourselves back into the lounge to wait for the others. They arrived eventually and it all began again.

To keep it brief, I took the second group upstairs and found George waiting for us, which was good of him. The group were not as sensitive as the first and so I spent more time explaining ghosts and energy from a scientific perspective than talking with him again. That was fine. I love the subject from all levels, and we were all interested in ghosts. After that I took them to the dining room and continued the conversation that way. We dropped in on Margaret .. but the ghost hunter lady had not gone down that way, so she'd had no visitors. We kept this part of the 'tours' on a scientific level the whole time, and ended back in the loungeroom. I don't remember this part of the night very well, because I had become so tired. Thankfully, I didn't get to do a third tour because the second one seemed to have been most of the other groups .. so I quietly left them all talking and went to bed. It was just before midnight.

When I climbed into bed I suddenly realised that I had forgotten Margaret and the little girl. I asked Margaret if she would like to go into healing, with the understanding that she can come back to the house whenever she likes, and she was gone in a moment .. some rescues are like that. The little girl however, was very reluctant. She wanted her grandmother. She had no idea who her mother was. I think she must have died when the child was born. The strange feeling was a huge rush of fear I got when I asked her who she wanted to connect to. She was very relieved when I agreed to find her grandmother. I slowed my heart down, it was racing by then, and .. she went Home very happily holding her grandma's hand. I believe her name was Annabelle Casey.

The kid's bedroom
Being the twit I am I laid there a while worrying about being woken by spooks during the night, and listening to all the noise downstairs, before putting up light shields around my room, not the house, and rolling over and sleeping very lightly the rest of the night. Somewhere around 3.00am I was swooped at by some energy form, not sure what, but I just ignored it and went back to sleep. I woke up very tired the next day from all the activity and the late night, but still ready for more.

I had a shower and got dressed. When I finished dressing I turned around and 'saw', both with my eyes and my mind, a figure in a long flowing red dress, with a cinched in waistband, outside my bedroom door. The 'eye' experience was only a glimpse, but long enough to put me on alert. The door of the bedroom has two frosted glass panels in it. You can see a figure through it, but not necessarily who they are.

I asked the 'lady' why she had not come in and she answered that she couldn't. I like light shields. LOL I dropped the shield and invited her in. She glided through the door and came up to me and presented me with the flowers she had in her arms and said "Please tell Chelsea to take care of the gladioli". That's when I realised what the flowers were. Before that I had no idea. I asked her who Chelsea was and she showed me Jacqui's blond hair. Ok ???? And she was gone. She left me with a few bits of information though. She had married George Spencer for love and had been very happy, and 'Chesterfield' for the licence, he had treated her very badly. And he sold her beloved hotel after she died, something she had begged him not to do. She wanted kept in the family for her children.

I went downstairs and read for a while, and told the tale to Betty when she arrived and to others as they came in to breakfast. When Jacqui came I stood up, walked up to her and said "Mrs Chesterfield asked me to tell you to take care of the gladioli, Chelsea", and presented her with an invisible bunch of flowers. It was good to get the damp flower moisture out of my arms, since I couldn't seem to put them down. LOL That made everyone laugh, and Jacqui got called Chelsea quite a few times that day. That was really odd experience for me.

The rest of the morning was spent fiddling around and chatting to people, mostly around the kitchen table. Even Kathy had calmed down, after I cleared two ghosts from her energy. They were the ones that had brought the discordance through the back door .. and had us all scurrying away to the kitchen. She thanked me yesterday. I wonder if collecting ghosts is a ghost hunter's hazard? I know I have to clear my energy regularly.

At noon Jacqui had arranged for us to do an hour's tour of Talbot. It is a very small town, smaller than Walhalla, but like that mining town it used to stretch for long distances in many directions. The lady who took us around would stop outside the remaining lovely old buildings and tell us their history, and then point out down the street and add stories of the houses, hotels, and other buildings .. many of which burned down in 1985. That must have been devastating.

The tour pretty much ended at the grey stone building you see in the photos. It was the old police lockup. The house had been the police station, and the lockup and the stables were still standing behind it. The owners allowed tours like ours to come through. We did touch on other places, but only briefly as we were running overtime.

Here's another ghost story for the unbelievers. At the lockup the lady owner went and got us the key to the building. She came back and said, in a slightly worried voice, 'who would like to open up?' She had gone to do it herself and had drawn herself back in a hurry, which was odd, and I was not the only one to notice this. Well, you know who .. me .. was standing right beside her and offered to do so. She gratefully handed over the keys and quickly disappeared down to the stables following some of our group. I went to the door, put the key in the ancient padlock, unlocked it and .. a policeman, a constable actually, appeared beside me. I said hi and he told me, in a sad and lonely voice, it had been his job to open the place up each day, just as I was doing. I went through the gate and opened the three cells and looked into each of them and then walked back outside .. followed by the policeman.

No, I didn't ask his name. I suppose I should have, to look up the records to see if he worked there during the gold rush, as he said he had, but the truth is, with the amount of travelling ghosts around these days I don't usually bother. He and I wandered around the yard and he told me of the prisoners who had died 'mysteriously' .. or not so mysteriously, which is why he was still haunting ... and were buried in the grassy area of the other photo, which was beside the lockup. When I caught up with the owner I asked her how many people had been buried there; and she looked very frightened and said 'none that I know of'. So I left it at that. But looking through the constables eyes I had seen 4 tall headstones, and at least seven other graves.

Finally we went back to the lockup and I waited while everyone left, and then I carefully closed it up the way it was when I opened it, because that was important to our ghost; and then he and I went and sat on the old church pew on the front of the verandah of the house, and I talked him into heaven. I don't remember what I said, we just talked.

After that the tour walked back towards the town, along a back alley and then around the front of the old buildings. The others were going to a wine tasting, and I went and had a very good lunch at the cafe before wandering briefly through the bookshop and then going back to the house. Then I went and laid down for a while. I think I slept. We were not due to go out again until after 6.00pm .. but that's another story.

Ah, the joys of the GPS. I hitched a lift with Betty, Jacqui and Andrew for our trip to Ararat. Jacqui loaded in the destination .. and we went off to the moon, via Canberra I think. LOL We were at least 30 minutes late and 40kms out of our way, or more, and had everyone worrying that they had gone to the wrong Asylum.

We arrived and settled in the cafeteria for a 'bbq' dinner, some meat and salad, before our tour. The host for the evening was Doug, a man who knew a lot about the place and was very happy to pass the knowledge on. The annoying part for me was that he also passed on lots of other people's experiences in the spooky building .. which I suppose is great for a ghost tour, but not so hot for the folks who didn't want their imaginations to run away with them. And they were a noisy bunch that night.

JWard Lunatic Asylum, Ararat

Now here I get a little confused. I think we began in the cell area, but we might actually have started in the governor's bathroom .. so give me a little leeway, the events are right, just, perhaps, not the order of them. Doug escorted us all in to the cell area, and filled us in on all the gory details of the asylum and prison .. well most of the others, because I have taken myself off into a quiet corner, followed closely by Ann and her family, and a few others. We all discussed ghosts and watched Kathy using her equipment, as well as other people who had spread the temperature gauges and EMF machines around the room. Sounds like a lot, but there were only a few, and people shared them and passed them around. It was a wonderfully enthusiastic and co-operative group, and noisy .. oh so noisy. In the end Kathy asked everyone to quieten down. They were so busy discussing what might happen that nothing was happening. The moment the sound dropped (Kathy had had to yell) Doug said in a sombre voice "are there any spirits present with us tonight? Please come in and make your presence known. Make a sound. Touch somebody." Nothing happened. People were still wandering about in the pitch dark and scaring themselves silly looking at manikins, but I'd given up worrying about them after seeing the first one, before the lights went out.

A dust orb
In the meantime we were in the back corner being quiet and 'feeling' our way about. Bill had a thermometer gun, his wife is empathic (feels others emotions), Ann is just very sensitive, me .. I'm me ... Betty was very tuned in .. and so we did some searching .. and all finally decided that the ghosts were above our heads, watching us and wondering at the sheer silliness of it all (a circus). So we smiled a lot. The volume (of the people) rose and fell, mostly rose .. and Kathy had to ask them to be quiet at least once more, if not twice. Since nothing much seemed to be happening we all then went upstairs and along the two balconies either side of a wire/mesh covering .. to keep people from jumping to their deaths, I would think.

We found ghosts. We had cold spots, and a little movement of energy. One or two people felt they had been touched, and said so loudly. There seemed to be at least four ghosts up there, one of them was a disable man who was out on the wire and spent the whole time looking down at us, another gave Ann a scare and so she and I went downstairs again and just watched from underneath. She was very worried the nasty ghost would come downstairs attached to someone, so we set up the energy so that it couldn't. Which meant, at the end of that part of the tour, one living man was still standing at the top of the stairs; and had been there for a while after we had all come down. I know Doug wanted to move on, so I went to the bottom of the stairs and called up. "You ok up there?". He said he was and was waiting for everyone to clear so he could take a photo of the stairs .. so I told everyone (in a loud voice) to move away so that he could get his shot. He did, hesitated for a moment, and then came down ..
.. and we all headed outside, to look at the yards where three men had been buried standing up, and everyone else had either exercised (prison) or wandering about (when it was an asylum). We got orb photos. Nothing much happened out there for me, and I stayed away from the larger group, for they were really very noisy, and I'd had enough noise by then.

After many photos, and people playing with the equipment to their satisfaction, we returned to the cafeteria. There was still more places to visit, the next, I think, was the governor's bathroom. Again Doug delayed far too long to fill our heads with stories of spooks of the past, and the 'white witch from last week who had 'seen' someone nasty down there'.

A bright orbabove the wall, not dust
I admit to not listening to what he was saying, and when we entered the space I basically wandered over and around people to get to the room, followed closely by Ann.

Now Ann is a very nice young lady, and was visiting with us with her family, and they were all enjoying the experiences. She's 25 and delightful, a very gentle energy. We got to know each other quite well, and I did realise she was energy sensitive, I just didn't expect her to have problems with our next ghost. Four living people were in the room when we tried to enter it .. but the instant we reached the doorway we both knew we didn't want to go in there. Instead we stopped, turned to each other and said 'I don't think so' in the same wary tone of voice .. and hurried back the way we had come, pushing through people as we did so.

Here's the spooky part. Ann left at high speed and practically ran people down to get away. She climbed the first staircase back to the landing, followed by me in her wake, and then tore right up the next set of stairs at even higher speed without stopping or looking at where she was going. When I reached the landing I looked up and asked her what she thought she was doing. She had a white startled face. She had no idea why she had run up the stairs .. but I did. I asked her if she wanted to come down, and she came down meek as a lamb, leaving the ghost from the 'bathroom' on the landing glaring down at me.

She came straight down to me, where I was standing next to her uncle (father?) (tell me if I have that wrong) and stood in front of me like a small child. I told her to wait and went down into the bathroom again to check the energy. I could feel the entity above my head, so came back to her, leaving other people happily discussing scary ghosts in the semi-dark. Ann leaned towards me and said 'did you get his name?' I said, 'no, what is it,' in the same whispered tone. 'Vincent, his name is Vincent'. She was shaking with fright. I asked if she wanted him sent into healing. She said yes. I put my hands on the tops of her arms to support her, and then did what I do to nasty ghosts .. I SENT him into healing. She had no idea what I was doing because I didn't tell her and I don't often show on my face what I am doing. At the exact moment he left she fell into my arms and I gave her a big hug. She shivered and said 'that was awful'. And I told her that's why she's too young for this work. (I was not being cruel, you need age and maturity to cope with some of the crappy energy we encounter).

And I was annoyed that that blasted ghost had attached himself to her instead of me, which is what they usually do.

The later 'proof' was Kathy's EVP recording on the site only about 10 minutes later. A women's voice screamed and said 'Oh no, Vincent' .. or that is what we heard. A group of us all heard the name loud and clear at the end of the night when we were back in the cafeteria, but it was not there later on the tape ... instead we could hear a door swinging? The guide had no idea of the name of the ghost. He had simply told us, at the beginning of that part of the tour, that a 'white witch' from 'last week' had said that a nasty ghost had been down in the bathroom. He had murdered more than one person.

And then we returned to the central area .. our next destination was J Ward itself, and Doug gave it a great build up. In the meantime half of us had already slipped through the door, led by me. I wasn't interested in the sales pitch. We wanted to have real spooky experiences, and we already believed in ghosts.

Ann and I moved to the centre of the hall, about half way down, when the others started to follow us through. There was very little light in the place, just enough to see, and that was soon turned off. She decided she was feeling frightened, and I could understand that after her nasty run in with Vincent, but there was nothing in this corridor to match him, so I grabbed her hand and half dragged her all the way to the end, asked her to see how she felt, and then we started looking in the last rooms. Each room had manikins and the equipment such as autopsy tables, and shock treatment tables, great for a tour-to-scare but .. we were hunting ghosts. My gang soon followed and we all stood there at the end discussing what we felt and thought we saw as Doug added to the info he had given the others before they came in. Kathy was then about half way down with her camera and night vision goggles etc. Again, nothing much happened. There were a few cold spots, but we soon worked out they were open windows. We kept finding ordinary causes for stuff that was happening. People began to be bored, and that meant loud .. and the corridor was small and low ceiling and echoed .. and I lost patience.

Ok, so I only yelled loud enough for everyone to stop and listen. I asked them to BE QUIET AND STOP AND LISTEN AND SEE WHAT THEY COULD FEEL. They all knew me as a medium, and I had spoken to most of them over the past day or so .. so they did. In the deafening silence Doug did his 'are there any spirits here in the room. Make your presence know to us. Make a sound, touch someone' .. and I groaned and my followers laughed. And I said SHHHHH and everyone shushed .. but still nothing was happening.

Do I frighten ghosts away? Do they see me for what I do, and can do, and run like hell?

Bill's wife was looking pretty tired and grey and I reached across to her and took her arm and asked if she was ok. I then asked if she wanted me to thicken up her shields so that she wouldn't feel so much .. believe me, there are a lot of trapped emotions in that place. She said yes. As I did that I powered my energy up and basically dumped a ton into the room .. and then said to the ghosts ..."Dinner! Now do something!" .. and they did!

Immediately behind us at the far end of the hall, (away from the cafeteria), three spooks appeared .. well materialised .. whatever .. and two of them scooted up the hall, around the people, some of whom felt the breeze (my people did). I yelled to Kathy they were on their way, and they had already past her. She said she felt the breeze, as did others up there. It happened a couple of times after that, much to the joy of all of us intrepid ghosties. We had cold spots and orbs and EMF stuff going on all over, and I got the giggles, but very quietly, because I didn't want to spoil the fun.

Do I think I caused it? I have no idea. Maybe. I was bored. We came hunting ghosts, and they weren't co-operating. I asked Ann and Bill if they wanted me to, before I tried to stir things up. I didn't know if I could. Who knows? It was just a nice finish to the tour.

And so the group moved away from the J Ward and back into the central area where we called it a night after many sales of odd spooky touristy stuff. In the end Kathy and I went back to Talbot together. We had a good talk about our different sides of the work, and I learned a lot from her.

To me this is almost the end of the story, because nothing happened during the night .. apart from being locked out of the house for 20 minutes at 1.20am because our hostess and friends had stopped to view the asylum from the guard tower. Luckily one of the earlier arrivals at the house knew how to housebreak and he had us inside just before Jacqui and the other returned. She thought she was in trouble, but we were too busy making tea and snacks.

I went to sleep and woke up the next day very tired. We all chatted until about 11.00am when we went to the local cemetery and looked at Mrs Chesterfield's grave. It is very interesting because she is buried with her then husband, but his name has vanished (although he died later) from the stone, and next to her is George Spencer, the man she married for love. The only other ghost I saw in the cemetery was a lovely old lady in a housecoat sitting on the bench under the trees. She seemed happy enough so I left her alone.

From there I went back to the house and hopped in my car and drove off without my pillow. It only took about 20 minutes to return, retrieve it, and get on the road back home. It had been a fascinating couple of days and I heartily recommend the tour to everyone.

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