The ancient woodland of Epping Forest is said to be the home of several ghosts.
Queen Boudica and her daughters haunt Ambresbury Banks - an Iron Age fort near Loughton. Tradition states that it was the site of her last battle against the Romans in AD 61. On certain nights, drumming and mournful groans have also been heard.
The Wake Arms roundabout is a notorious accident black spot and has a selection of ghosts ranging from phantom horsemen to headless bikers. One phantom is said to run out in front of cars and then vanish!
Dick Turpin, the notorious highwayman, used Epping Forest as a hideout and his ghost has been seen riding through the trees. Traps Hill is said be a good place to spot him - if you are so inclined!
A certain pool in the forest was the scene of a murder over 300 years ago. Two young lovers used to meet there in secret. The father of the girl was against the relationship and murdered his daughter by the pool in a fit of anger. Her grief stricken lover couldn't face life without her and killed himself at the very spot where she was murdered. Following this, the waters turned black and wildlife shunned the area. It was said that the pool had the power to make people commit suicide following the tragedy.
Rumours of witch covens gathering in the woods for pagan rites still persist.
The church in Walberswick has been haunted for many years by the figure of a small, stooping man.
George Orwell claimed to have seen him on the 22nd July 1931. He was sketching when he noticed a small man dressed in brown enter the churchyard and head towards the church. Orwell followed him but found that he had vanished through a locked door! No one knows who the ghost could be.
The common is haunted by a phantom dog and the sound of galloping horses. The old railway line has a sinister reputation. Strange moaning sounds have been heard along the overgrown track. Locals claim that dogs and horses are reluctant to walk there.
My interest in the paranormal dates back to my childhood. My mother had a large collection of books on ghosts and the world of the supernatural. I used to borrow them and became fascinated by what I was reading. That fascination has never left me.
Everyone loves a good ghost story and I'm no exception. However, I never accept anything at face value and always look for a rational explanation whenever I witness something that may be classed as paranormal . For instance, during filming at Landguard Fort i Suffolk, I witnessed a door handle rattle by itself. A quick check of the area confirmed that a draft was causing the door to move. So never assume that every odd occurrence at a haunted location is always due to a ghost!
I have been fascinated by ghosts since I was a child. Over the years, I have visited many haunted sites ranging from a church in Lincolnshire to a so-called 'Tree of Death' in Green Park, London.
But what exactly is a ghost?
A Recording? There is a theory that recordings of past events can be imprinted into the fabric of a building or even the ground. Under certain circumstances, these recordings are then played back like a videotape. This idea - known as a residual haunting - was first put forward by Thomas Lethbridge in books such as Ghost and Ghoul, published in 1961. It was later popularised in The Stone Tape, a TV play by Nigel Kneale, in the 1970's.
Spirits of the Dead? The spirit of a person is to thought to return from beyond the grave. They are aware of the living world and interact with or respond to it. This can involve communicating with the living, moving objects or even possession.
Hallucination? Some paranormal investigators believe that some ghost sightings are simply hallucinations caused by electromagnetic fields. Prolonged exposure to such fields is thought to cause headaches, fatigue, increased anxiety, decreased mental function and impaired vision. At extremely high levels, electromagnetic fields can cause flickering of vision and disorientation.