Chasing the Ghosts of Prince Henry Hospital

Last weekend I was given an opportunity to assist in a ghostly event at the Nurse's Museum at Prince Henry Hospital in South Eastern Sydney, NSW together with Oz Para Tech.

First of all I have to express my amazement and delight at the total dedication of the volunteers to their custodianship of the site and to their spiritual residents.

I was made very aware of my need for total respect - I wasnt sure who would make their wrath known more...the ghosties or the volunteers!

The Little Bay area was first used as a makeshift camp during Sydney's smallpox outbreak in 1881-82, to isolate sufferers of the disease.
At first, a "tent city" was established, but further smallpox outbreaks and a typhoid epidemic convinced the government to build a permanent hospital here to treat infectious diseases.

Little Bay was an ideal location because it was isolated from settlements but still close enough to Sydney. The Coast Hospital was particularly valuable during the bubonic plague in Sydney of 1900 and then again when soldiers returning from Europe brought the influenza virus back in 1919. The Coast Hospital became Prince Henry Hospital in 1934. In 2001 services were transferred to Prince of Wales Hospital, Sydney and the hospital site became available for residential use.

Two landmarks still remain from the hospital days. One is the Coast Cemetery, situated south of Little Bay. Two thousand people are thought to be buried there, with the oldest graves being located further south, towards Cape Banks.
The cemetery was taken over by the National Parks and Wildlife Service of New South Wales when the Botany Bay National Park was created.

Before long the volunteers shanghaied me and I heard many stories from them all - some having worked in the hospital over the years themselves, so it was all first hand information.

One thing was central in all of their stories - they loved the camaraderie and the feeling of 'family' there. 

You would expect there to be a ghost story or two about the site and of course there is!
The most common one spoken of is that of the ghost of Gracie.

Here is some information  taken from the Castle of Spirits web page.

The ghost of a matron called Gracie haunts the hospital, in life she was a neurotic woman who would immediately wash herself after being touched or bumping into someone. She is said to have died in B Block under mysterious circumstances, believed to have fallen down a disused liftwell. 
Her ghost is regularly seen in B Block, now called the Delaney Ward.

Patients report being tendered to by a mysterious nurse with an old fashioned white veil, she tops up glasses of water - adjusts blankets on cold nights and has placed bed pans under patients and removed them after use. 
Although the patients don't know she is a ghost, nurses do and are terrified of her, even though Gracie isn't considered an evil presence she projects an aura of authority which nurses instinctively respond to with subordinate fear.

On occasion nurses have felt her presence scrutinizing their work, seemingly disapproving of their coffee breaks. On one occasion two nurses working the night shift left milk boiling on a stove, stepping into the corridor a moment to check everything was alright. Returning to the tea room to find the stove turned off, the pot which seconds before had been boiling milk, emptied in the sink, rinsed and put away dripping wet. Along with cups, sugar and other food stuffs. No other members of staff were on that floor, no one could have entered the room without being seen, let alone been able to clean up in such a brief period of time.

Often when Gracie's ghost is seen the clocks in the area stop functioning, their hands pointing to 2 o'clock. The ghost of an aboriginal boy mischievously haunts the stairs of B Block, tripping nurses and others who use them. Sometimes seen sitting at the foot of the stairs giggling, his cheeky presence causes unease to many using them.

Other ghosts are reported in the hospital beside Gracie, they include an unidentified man who walks the corridors at night. Described a sinister presence, his apparition has never been seen but its shadow has, accompanied by heavy footsteps it drifts across the walls.

In years past intravenous drips and medical equipment have been mysteriously turned off in the hospital, attending nurses believe this spectre is responsible. 
Patient buzzers used to summon nurses are often pressed late at night in locked, unoccupied wards. Some nurses refuse to work at night, those who do always do rounds in pairs. 

The hospital has its own cemetery, abandoned and overgrown it contains well over 1000 people, many patients who died in the hospital in the early days are buried there.

Last century in separate swimming and boating accidents nurses drowned in a nearby lagoon, some nurses died during epidemics, while tending devotedly to the sick and dying.

After the volunteers introduced the history of the site, the purpose of the Museum and some of their treasured stories it was time for Anne and Roman (pictured above) from Oz Para Tech to talk about some of the new gadgets that they sell and also use during investigations.

The large group of almost 70 people were then broken up into two smaller groups with one group heading in to explore the spirits with technology and the other with me doing some old fashioned spiritualist- style table turning and glass dowsing.

After a very quick run down we had some willing people to try their skills at the tables to try and communicate with the spirits and off we went.

It was amazing in our room with lots of connections being felt and made.

At one stage we even had one of the tables move out of the room that we were in and down the hallway into the other room, with four of us hanging on to it, as there was certainly one very important message that just had to be delivered to someone in there!

It was so great that others saw this and it was also wonderful to see the communications being made with only the participants on the tables (and not me  - where the inference could be made that I was moving or shifting the table just so that something would look like it was happening)

Things were definitely REALLY happening..

In the other room Anne had certainly just as much going on with her groups and Roman was using the Ovilus and spirit box in another area with some degree of success too.

It was a privilege to be asked to join in on this night.

The stories did not stop but came coming during the evening as some of the participants approached Anne, Roman and myself with life at the old hospital.

Now if you missed the last ghost night at Prince Henry I am assured that there will be at least one or two in 2017 and in the mean time please go in and take an hour or two to support the Nurse's Museum and take a walk through history.

You and your children will be amazed at the items they have in the building to look at.
Even an iron lung - reminiscent of times that thankfully no longer exist.


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