A West Country paranormal enthusiast who dresses in period costume and is learning Cornish to communicate with the beyond is debunking ghoulish myths this Halloween as she explains how to be a genuine paranormal investigator.
Karin Beasant, 57, from Bristol, an office manager with a chartered accountant, became intrigued with the paranormal as a child after watching Hammer horror films, but after experiencing a ghostly housemate at a pub she bought in 1995, the paranormal enthusiast was hooked, describing the experience of investigating as a “high”.
Becoming a respected paranormal investigator, Karin, who lives with her husband, Wayne Beasant, 52, a scaffolder, and son Alex Beasant, 25, a retail worker, has since advised on haunted heritage sites for Visit Somerset, as well as becoming a regular investigator at the Jamaica Inn, Cornwall.
After investigating more than 200 heritage sites, the mystery-hunting mum is now debunking Hollywood myths and paranormal faux pas, explaining the truth behind investigating her favourite haunted heritage sites, including dressing in period costume and speaking in old English.
“Some people do it for clickbait, but I do it because I love it,” said Karin.
“Some people like a nice holiday, I like spending the weekend in a haunted house. It’s like a drug, the high from an investigation lasts for weeks.”
Learning Cornish and dressing in period costume, Karin has found her historical approach the most successful, having started working with the Jamaica Inn paranormal team in 2014.
“I’m trying to learn Cornish,” she explained. “As that’s what they would have spoken at the Jamaica Inn in the 1700s.
“It’s important to think how people would talk. Is a person from the 1700s going to understand us now?
“I’m mindful that lots of our gadgets could seem like witchcraft to someone from that time.
“I use old English and think about accents. It also helps to dress in period costume.
“In May 2022 I got together with some friends, and we dressed in costume to investigate. I wore a cook’s costume, others were dressed in Victorian dresses and we also had two people in genuine World War Two uniforms (bespoke costumes supplied by Rusette of Bath Theatrical Costume Hire).
“It was really successful and my friend even felt someone touch his head.”
Interested in the paranormal from a young age, Karin was fascinated with Hammer horror films as a child, but it wasn’t until she purchased an old pub in the centre of Bristol in 1995 that she met her first ghost.
“I would stay up late and watch Hammer horror films,” she said. “It intrigued me, the dead rising and vampires. But it wasn’t until I was 30 and purchased a haunted pub that I had my first experience of a ghost.
“It was like having a ghost for a roommate – for the first six months I was petrified.
“Strange things happened, like people reported a woman walking in the men’s bathroom.
“If I closed my bedroom door someone would kick it. I’d watched enough horror films to know not to open the door.
“But you do get used to it and I learnt to keep my door open.
“I remember once I was sleeping in feeling a bit worse for wear and my keys were thrown across the room. I yelled ‘I’m not getting up’ and went back to bed.”
In the 2000s, Karin became fascinated with Most Haunted – a TV series that focused on paranormal investigations – and started putting her own team together to investigate.
But after two years, she learned that not everything is a spirit getting in contact.
“I was home, I had a child and thought I could do something like Most Haunted,” said Karin.
“I started going to public events with my friends every night and made a team to investigate.
“But after two or three years of doing that I was lucky to be introduced to people who have been in the field a lot longer, they helped me to think more seriously.
“It’s about thinking ethically and being sceptical.”
With her knowledge and respect for her craft, Karin has since become a successful paranormal investigator, joining the Jamaica Inn paranormal team eight years ago and working directly with Visit Somerset to verify haunted heritage sights.
“I love the Jamaica Inn, the whole team are brilliant,” said Karin. “We run regular paranormal investigations and we have a lot of people who return.
“I feel so lucky. I’ve visited over 200 heritage sights for paranormal investigations. I usually do about two a month.
“I think the more you investigate the higher standard you have; you get more sceptical.”
Debunking dust orbs, tapping sounds and ghoulish photos, Karin reveals the real way to commune with ghosts is to brush up on your history.
“I don’t believe in evil,” she said.
“There’s nothing evil there, nothing can do anything – or I don’t believe they can. Until I experience it myself I cannot believe it.
“It’s important to question ‘will this spirit know what I’m saying? Will they respond to how I’m dressed, how I’m talking?’
“Tapping sounds are always an old property creaking and usually shadows, glimmers and dust orbs can be explained by lighting or pareidolia, finding faces or patterns in pictures or objects.
“You can also get audio pareidolia with EVP (Electronic Voice Phenomenon) recordings, where you hear voices in sounds. Even rain can sound like a voice.
“The best way to record an EVP is leave it in the building for 20 minutes with no-one inside.”
But overall, Karin explains that paranormal investigating is all about being respectful.
“I think respect is important,” she said.
“You need to leave sites as you found them, it’s common courtesy. You need to ask permission from owners and be respectful of people’s beliefs.
“A lot of people are looking for views, and that’s fine, but we have to be conscious of everyone involved.”
Now the paranormal researcher explains that the best way to get started in your own paranormal investigations is to grab a notepad and pen.
“Just a notepad and a pen are a great way to get started,” she explains.
“You can use an audio recorder and camera on your phone, but always ask permission before investigating a site.
“Do research and learn. Don’t be afraid to ask experts if you’re not sure. It’s not my place to tell people what to believe.”