A spooky photo that was taken in a British park.....

Sheffield Park, Sussex spook or spoof?

Christopher Petty and his brother decided to spend a day outdoors, enjoying the warm Sussex sunshine. Little did they know when they started out that they would be joined by someone... or something... else.

Sunday May 16th 2004 started like any other day in early Summer.

The sun was shining and like many of us, Southern Counties web surfer Christopher Petty decided to make the most of the weather and get out and about.

He and his brother decided to visit the National Trust's historic Sheffield Park Gardens in Sussex. They took their cameras; it is a particularly beautiful spot afterall, and a few photographs of the day would serve as a nice reminder. So, when they started snapping away, neither of them expected the following results, once the pictures were developed...

Chris' original image with a ghost?

Chris explains:

"On the photo there appears to be a shadowy figure of a woman to my right which I can't explain as:

a) There was no-one beside me at the time and

b ) There was no statue in that part of the garden.

On the picture there is a mark on the subject's shirt which looks similar to the sunlit leaves on the shrub behind, as visible to the right of the picture.

After much consideration I can only guess that there is either a photographic explanation for this, or that the shadow is in fact a ghost".

At first glance we agreed with Chris.

There does appear to be a statue behind him, but he says there was nothing there when the photo was taken.

A National Trust representative has confirmed with us that there are no statues in the park. So we subjected the image to a series of rigorous scientific tests, conducted by our leading paranormal experts....(well, Heather and Ed) Our advanced testing methods have proved it to be.... er....um, not quite as spooky as it first appears....

We have decided, after much learned discussion, that the "paranormal phenomenon" which haunts Chris' photo is in fact somebody's granny.

How we came to this conclusion:

1) We lightened the photo.

2) We sharpened the photo.

3) We took the background out.

4) We increased the
colour saturation, which showed the ghostly apparition to have a pink face, a blue rinse and fuchsia lippy. So not your average ghoul.

5) The "spook" also appears to be wearing a rather fetching V-necked, smart but casual pullover, which is as far removed as you can get from the usual long white robes and chains etc...
However, the plot thickens...

Chris says there was no-one beside him at the time of the photo being taken, and who are we to disbelieve him? So how did this nice old lady get into the photograph unnoticed? Did she leap out from behind a bush only to hop back into the shubbery again once the flash had gone off? Possibly.

Was she wearing a Cloak of Invisibility, which she whipped off, to reveal herself at the very second the camera took the photo? Highly unlikely. Or is she, as Chris suggests, a ghost?

Sheffield Park

Sheffield Park tragedy turns to mystery

When Chris Petty and his brother visited Sheffield Park and took the photo, in which they claim to have captured a ghostly image, they had no idea what they had started.

We have recently been given information about an event that occurred in Sheffield Park a few years before Chris' photo was taken.

Whether what you are about to read, is connected to the image that Chris took, is entirely for you to decide. But one local family is now appealing to Chris to reveal the truth about the image. Was this picture a hoax, sent to us as an elaborate joke, in the hope we would fall for it? If not, the family in question suggest they will have to come to terms with something far more unsettling....

The latest developments occurred when we received details of a tragedy that happened in Sheffield Park on Saturday 4th August 2001. 87 year old Mrs Florence Bristow had gone to the gardens, with her son John and his wife, for an afternoon out.

Once there, they hired a motorised buggy, intending to travel around the edge of the lake. Unfortunately, Florence suffered a heart attack and fell across her son who lost control of the buggy, which then plunged into the water. John's wife dived into the lake in an attempt to save her and although first reports suggested Florence had drowned, later tests showed that she had died before entering the water. Resuscitation attempts were tried at the lake side but to no effect.

Florence Bristow in 1979

Until recently, Mrs Bristows family had not seen Chris' "ghost" picture, but when they did spot it on our website, they were shocked. John contacted us to say he believed the picture "Shows a resemblance to my mother".

Further contact with the family revealed they believe "the lady in the photograph bears a striking resemblance to her [Florence] even down to the type of top she is wearing". John has kindly given us a photograph of Mrs Bristow, with permission to post it here on the website
So we are asking, is Chris' photo a hoax? His brother Paul, the person who took the original photograph, says it's not! Maybe you know the person in his photo? Could it be you? Were you in Sheffield Park on Sunday May 16th 2004 and can you remember seeing anyone who could possibly be the person in the background? Or is there another explanation for the image?

www.bbc.co.uk/southerncounties (external - login to view)