The True Crime Museum in Hastings. Curator Joel Griggs with the skull of Louis Lefèvre SUS-211025-154822001

Dozens of ghost-hunting groups search ‘haunted’ Hastings caves for paranormal activity

More than 90 paranormal investigation groups have spent the past few months probing ghostly goings-on in a set of old smugglers’ caves in Hastings.

They have spent every Saturday night over the summer and autumn compiling evidence of paranormal phenomena at The True Crime Museum, which is situated in a network of caves dating back to the 16th century, and contains many grisly exhibits, including the skull of French serial killer Louis Lefevere.

The investigations came after staff and visitors claimed to have seen ghosts and other unexplained events in the caves, near the seafront at White Rock.

One group called P.I.G.S. (Paranormal Intelligence Gathering Service) said it had recorded a number of incidents that help back up the ghostly claims.

They include members hearing strange footsteps while doing a ouija board in the caves, and an unknown figure captured in a group photograph. We will report on what they claim to have found in a separate article.

Museum curator Joel Griggs says there have been many spooky incidents since he opened the museum in August 2014.

He witnessed one himself when they first opened: “I was on my own very early in the morning, sorting out some maintenance issue, and had just opened the front doors when I glimpsed at the CCTV. I saw this figure going through the back door, and I was absolutely certain of it. It looked like someone had come down the steps at the back and was skulking through.

“So I belted through the caves and was going at some pace and I said, ‘hello, can I help you?’. And there was nobody there - it totally freaked me out to the point where I had to lock up and go and stand on the pavement until another member of staff came along. I’m not usually one for this kind of thing, but it really sent a shiver down my spine. I was so certain of it.”

Joel, 53, from St Leonards, said it was a “human-like, hunched, shadowy figure” and was moving in a “confident manner”. He and other staff checked the CCTV afterwards, going through hours of footage, but there was no sign of the figure.

He said some staff and customers have also reported strange experiences.

One of the oddest was when two student nurses from the Conquest Hospital in St Leonards were looking at the skull of Louis Lefevere, a murderer and rapist who was executed by guillotine in 1916, and came “belting out” of the museum.

“They said they were stood next to the skull and he asked to be invited back to their home,” said Joel. “They got this sort of spiritual message from a malevolent spirit. They were white as sheets and they ran outside to get their breath.”

He said nearly 100 groups of paranormal investigators have investigated the caves since lockdown restrictions ended in May. The last group was there last Saturday night. “They bring along a lot of equipment, and some of it’s sensitive to sound, some of it’s sensitive to heat and movement and cold areas,” he said.

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