Royal Albert Hall tries to bust its ghosts

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The Independent Online
Things that go bump in the front row of the stalls have prompted the management at one of Britain's best-known concert halls to seek the help of a higher power.

Ghostly goings-on and unwelcome apparitions have been putting the frighteners on staff at the Royal Albert Hall for several years. Now, according to the chief executive, Patrick Deuchar, the problem of paranormal patrons has simply become too chilling to handle. He felt he had no unearthly alternative but to call in the ghostbusters.

Last night, Andrew Green, a civil servant who has inhabited the twilight zone (on a part-time basis) since the 1940s, spent last night patrolling the concert hall to compile his very own "X-Files" on the phenomena.

If he was successful, he might have seen the "two girls" - young Victorian women who have a habit of tripping round the corridors, talking animatedly and giggling. If not, he might have felt the presence of Father Willis, a stooped figure in a black skull cap, who often revisits the organ he constructed for the hall, and a pasty-faced Victorian gentleman with a tendency to melt through walls during performances by Jasper Carrott.

Rivers Howgill, a duty manager, was standing in the basement beneath the artists' entrance after the audience had left one night, when he heard the sound of voices.

"I looked up and I saw two ladies disappearing into the kitchens. I said 'you can't go in there, it's a restricted area' but they carried on walking."

One theory is that the area where "the girls" appear is the former site of Gore House, where the Count d'Orsay lived in sin with Lady Blessington, his first wife's stepmother, and kept what amounted to a brothel in the basement.

Mr Deuchar is cautious about saying what action he would take if Mr Green did experience paranormal sightings during his night on a green sofa in the basement.

But although Mr Green's brief is simply to determine whether the apparitions exist, his additional talents as an exorcist may eventually be called upon. When there is evidence of ghosts, he admits: "People usually want to get rid of them."