Photo: © Discovery+
Jack Osbourne is one of television’s best-known paranormal investigators. Having held a life-long fascination with the supernatural, he’s embarking on a very personal journey through the places, memories and ghosts of his childhood – visiting his old family home and the ghost stories associated with it.
Jack’s upbringing was far from ordinary. Not just the son of the legendary Ozzy Osbourne, but his childhood home was in what some say is the most haunted county in England. In recent years Jack has been across the pond working with the likes of Katrina Weidman in US paranormal shows, but now Jack is heading home.
Jack hopes to unearth the secrets behind those early memories of spooks, discovering the long, rich history and folklore of the locations along the way. Jack will be joined on this journey by paranormal investigator, Kate Cherrell.
Jack was introduced to Kate by the production company who handpicked the her for her expertise in 19th century Victorian Gothic spiritualism and her specialism is spiritualism in literature. Jack said, “Kate has a wealth of knowledge when it comes to the origin of ghost hunting practices, because the roots of mediumship, psychics, and tarot card readers are in the Victorian era of spiritualism.”
He added, “she’s way more knowledgeable about British history than I am. She gave me a crash course in the English Civil War, which I’d completely forgotten about. I really enjoyed getting to know Kate and working with her.”
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Jack hasn’t been back to Welders House for a couple of years due to the pandemic, but was last there in August 2019. Jack confesses that to this day, he doesn’t often stay in the house alone. Given the choice between Welders and a hotel in London, he opts for the safety of the capital. He admits, “outwardly I’d tell people I’d stay in a hotel in London for convenience, but it’s partly because being here alone is not so fun. Welders is a warm and fun house but at night, when you’re walking from the kitchen up to your room, it’s creepy. You definitely hasten your pace as you head to your room.”
Of course this uneasy feeling stems from Jack’s childhood in the house. He recalls a time with his sister, Kelly, “there were a handful of times I was home alone and, on one of those occasions, Kelly and I had an experience.”
Recalling the incident when he and Kelly were off school due to illness and at home alone, Jack said “the floorboards on that landing make a very distinct sound and we heard someone walking along it. The footsteps were very heavy-footed – it sounded like a man – and the footsteps were walking towards the room Kelly and I were in, and whatever was making those footsteps was rattling the cupboard doors along the corridor.”
Jack said the moment was intense, “I thought it was a burglar and was so scared I shut the door and locked it, then we called our mum to tell her someone was in the house. She didn’t think that was possible because the alarms would have sounded if someone had broken in. We were so convinced these footsteps were coming for us we opened the window and thought about jumping.”
Jack said, “I’ve lived in other houses longer than I permanently lived here. I was only here for about six or seven years, so I guess the best way to describe my feeling for Welders is probably the same feeling someone would have for their vacation home.” The television ghost hunter said he viewed Welders as his parents’ home, “once you move out, it’s not your own.”
We’re more used to seeing Jack investigating sprawling asylums and derelict locations across the United States, but Jack enjoyed some of the home comforts while filming ‘Haunted Homecoming’ in the UK. He said, “I brought my fiancée over for a week and my daughter’s been with me, so it’s been great.” He continued, “normally I’m filming in an abandoned prison where there’s asbestos in the ceiling, puddles of water, and rats. This time round when we’re on a break I can lay on the couch and watch TV.” It’s been a welcome break for Jack, who said, “to spend a lot of time around where I grew up and to revisit places where I spent time as a kid has been cool.” Jack added, “if I hadn’t been making a series where we investigate hauntings, I might have forgotten the fact this is a creepy place.”
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Photo: © Discovery+
Jack admitted that shooting in the county he grew up in really changed his perspective of the area, “my childhood memories and this nostalgia rush are then hit with a realisation I was unaware of the nature of these places,” he said.
Jack added, “I had fond memories of Missenden Abbey because we’d go there on school field trips and learn about the monks in the fourteenth century. I’ve come to find out they were paedophiles, drunks, and criminals. Those were not the scenes you had to colour in on your colouring-in worksheet.”
“There are things I only found out because of the show,” Jack said, “especially when it came to filming at Welders. I had no idea about the full history of this house. We found out that Welders used to be, as it was called then, a ‘lunatic asylum’. My first response was, ‘see! I did grow up in a madhouse’.”
Jack’s journey home came about after he was approach by a production company who suggested making a show which focused on Welders. Jack said, “the creative team at North One had a specific vision for the show and it does look very different from ‘Portals To Hell’. Haunted Homecoming doesn’t have the same format and that’s what excites me because this has a totally different feel – it’s fresh and more personal.”
Jack says that he always enters into an investigation with a healthy dose of scepticism and can tell when a ghost story is being exaggerated. He said, “when we’re making ‘Portals’, ‘Night Of Terror’, or any of my paranormal investigation shows, my production team are really good at vetting bullsh*t. We’ve made so many of these shows we can tell when a story has been inflated.”
He added, “if you’re going to make up a ghost story it’s not going to be ‘the doorknob rattled’ or ‘I heard a weird noise in the hall.’ The story will be something like, ‘I saw my grandmother hovering in the kitchen, making a cup of tea, smoking a cigarette, and she asked me to get Grandad.’ The stories will be crazy.”
With close to 100 paranormal investigations under his belt, Jack says the thing that excites him are the “subtle and unexplained stories.” One such unexplained incident occurred while filming at the abbey, “we filmed at Missenden Abbey for three days and we conducted one night-time investigation. I don’t want to give away too much, but I did see something that I’m still trying to figure out. I don’t know what it was that I saw.”
The incident happened in the early hours of the morning. Jack recalls, “I was alone in a room sitting at a table, with a camera on the table pointing at me, and I saw it through the window. This was the first time in all my ghost hunting I’ve had this experience happen to me and I’m still racking my brain trying to figure out what it was.”
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This wasn’t Jack’s only strange experience while making the series. He said, “there have been a couple of weird and cool moments during filming.” The problem is, these occurrences don’t always stop when the camera is turned off and resulted in an unsettled night alone in Welders House, “I was laying in bed and heard bumps and bangs, and it lasted all night. I could hear floorboards popping and things moving around. There have been weird happenings.”
Of course, Jack isn’t the only person to experience something odd at Welders. As part of his investigation of the house Jack interviewed his best friend, someone Jack describes as “the biggest non-believer.” Despite this, he and his wife had their own creepy experience while staying at Welders one night. Jack said, “they heard a piano playing and a woman singing, but nobody was there. The following morning they shared what they heard with each other – that’s two independent witnesses both hearing the exact same thing at the exact same time.”
In the series Jack also investigates The Swan Theatre and local pub, the Royal Standard, where Jack and Kate meet eyewitnesses to strange events. Jack said, “we’ve met some people who are believers and we’ve met some people who are sceptics and have had an experience. I always listen more to someone who says,’I don’t believe in ghosts, but I can’t explain this.’ They have my full attention.”
Jack says, “whenever you meet a sceptic, a total non-believer, or someone with a scientific background who tells you it’s impossible, the question I always ask is: ‘you’ve told me what it isn’t, so can you tell me what it is? It’s not a ghost, because you’ve told me ghosts aren’t real, so tell me why that experience occurred and what that experience was.’ And they can’t!”
The Royal Standard is a pub Jack knows very well. “I love it there,” he said, “I took my dad there when we were filming ‘Ozzy & Jack’s World Detour’ and we learned about the pub’s history, which dates back to the Domesday Book and includes a claim it’s the oldest free house in England.”
Jack recalls one interesting moment in the investigation during a psychic sweep of the pub, “all the details she started describing pertained to our camera operator. The medium mentioned two names which are the names of his brother and sister-in-law and she related medical details which concern him. She’d never met this camera operator before. It was wild.”
It was at the pub that Jack and Kate conducted a sensory deprivation experiment that is becoming popular amongst paranormal investigators, the Estes Method. Jack described how it works, “you put on a blindfold and noise cancelling headphones and sit in the dark in silence. As you’re sitting there you basically blurt out what you’re feeling and what you’re kind of seeing in your mind’s eye. Kate and I both did it and it was pretty full on. There were some incidents.”
The results of this experiment can be seen in the second episode of the three-part series of ‘Jack Osbourne’s Haunted Homecoming’, which is available to stream on-demand exclusively on Discovery+ from Sunday, October 2.