Is this a ghost in Cheltenham’s Playhouse Theatre?

OK, not strictly speaking a poltergeist, so this one can go on my personal blog not POLTERWOTSIT. The following three images are actually the same shot, taken by Janet Turner on the night of Saturday 5th February at the Playhouse Theatre, Cheltenham, during a ghost hunt organised as part of the First Cheltenham Paranormal Festival.  The photo is (c) Janet Turner, and if anyone is interested in reproducing it, please ask me by email at and I’ll pass on your request to Janet.

Just before we look at it —

Have you seen a ghost???

Becky and I are always happy to look  at ghost photos, but more importantly have you ever had a weird possibly “paranormal” or otherwise deeply strange experience, while healthy not under the influence of drugs or alcohol? Becky still needs more responses for her PhD study. Please help, both by publicizing her research by telling friends you know have had this kind of experience (it’s grounded theory so does not need a random sample) or by sharing her questionnaire address on your Facebook or similar. So if you can help, the address is

The Playhouse Ghost?

Now the  Festival  is over, Janet has no connection with the Playhouse, and I have known her for a couple of years and can vouch for her honesty and integrity. She does not even live in Cheltenham, and has no reason to hoax anyone, and I asked for permission to show these pictures – Janet simply asked me if I could work out what they are…

The photo is taken from the auditorium, looking stage left, to a sort of gallery area. Here is the relevant part of the photo —


man on gallery?

(c) Janet Turner - photo of ghostly chap on balcony at Playhouse Theatre, Cheltenham?

It does look to me like there is a chap there looking down. Can you see him? Janet tried playing with the image – here is a second version of the shot, after she has altered the settings in a programme – I’m afraid I don’t know how


Perhaps clearer here?

(c) Janet Turner -- Perhaps clearer here?



I’ll show the other image Janet sent me, a sort of high contrast shot with just the “figure” shown…


(c) Janet Turner


This appears to me one of the most convincing looking ghost photos I have ever seen – but Becky pointed out to me something I had not noticed, which is the scale. She estimates the figure would be at most two to three foot high! Here is the full original photo, which shows the gallery.


The original photo, showing the diminutive scale of the figure

(c) Janet Turner 2010 - The original photo, showing the diminutive scale of the figure


It looks like a bloke with a beard to me, in evening dress – not like anyone i recall seeing on Saturday. I’m pretty certain it’s part of the original image, not something photoshopped in, because of the lighting etc – and because I know Janet and her husband to be honest reliable folks.  So the mystery is what is it? I’m pretty certain it’s not someone standing on the gallery, for the reason Becky puts forward, but we could be wrong. If there is an arch or doorway that the figure could be through, or if the figure could actually be at stage height and viewed through the gallery floor, the size would be right.

If is is a person, real or ghostly, what is the “shark fin” like curve in front of the figure? Becky and I will go back and have a look if the Playhouse let us in one day this week, and try to work it out — but it is certainly very intriguing. Feel free to share this blog post, but do not reproduce the pics without Janet’s permission.  We are all baffled by this! Could it just be a case of pareidolia? We honestly don’t know, but do comment!


cj x





About Chris Jensen Romer

I am a profoundly dull, tedious and irritable individual. I have no friends apart from two equally ill mannered cats, and a lunatic kitten. I am a ghosthunter by profession, and professional cat herder. I write stuff and do TV things and play games. It's better than being real I find.
This entry was posted in Paranormal, Reviews and Past Events and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

19 Responses to Is this a ghost in Cheltenham’s Playhouse Theatre?

  1. Kathy Atty says:

    My first reaction is an older man in a flat cap, wearing a white shirt and vest looking at something. The shark fin type thing you mention appears to me to be his arm. Very interesting photo, is it real or not is anyone’s guess. Makes for good discussion though :o) As for Becky’s comment on the size I am not sure if it would be that small given the angle the photo is being taken at. Hard to say but all very thought provoking.

  2. baldrick69 says:

    Did she or hear see anything before taking the photo?

  3. baldrick69 says:

    I think it’s an impressive example of pareidolia. Can we get permission to run it past some more people.

    • Chris Jensen Romer says:

      Sure, you can link here, or copylink the image and I can ask Janet if you can post it on a forum or similar? I just want to make sure that if any profit is to be made she gets it!

      cj x

  4. Chris Jensen Romer says:

    What makes me think pareidolia is possible is that when I first saw it I saw a man with a long grey beard in evening dress. Then when I saw the “shark fin” as an arm I saw it as a much larger woman in a black hat.

    What makes me doubt pareidolia is the amusing story of the Wem Ghost – a photo of a figure of a girl in the doorway of the burning town hall taken in the 1990’s, that was very well debunked as pareidolia by ASSAP who showed how it was a spontaneous image that arose from a falling beam, and demonstrated clearly how it was just pareidolia. Except it WASN’T – it was in fact a deliberate fake, as was exposed when the original image from a postcard was located earlier this year. So now I am wary of claims of pareidolia. Given there were I think 30 plus people in the building, I think this could be a real person – the only problem being the gallery was locked off at the time, I don’t think any of us had access to it.

  5. Jan Turner says:

    Hi Jan here, I took the photo, I didnt hear anything just took random shots in case I could catch anything.
    Must admit really surprised with the result myself.

    • Chris Jensen Romer says:

      Thanks Jan! You have email. Do you know what time the photo was taken? It should be possible to find out on the camera I think from the original shot?

  6. baldrick69 says:

    The EXIF data shows a date in 2009!

    • Chris Jensen Romer says:

      Yes, so clearly the camera time/date is set incorrectly. None of us could get in the building in 2009, as you may recall! 😦 Jan was only present on the Saturday night – so it was sometime between about 10.30pm and 2.30am, but when we don’t know! BTW Jan, got any photos of me? 🙂

      • Jan Turner says:

        Hi CJ, my stupid camera, I set it and for some reason it will not stay set, and each time I use it it reverts back to 2009, I do have a photo which I think is the back of you, I will email it to your email address, I got to the theatre about 5pm so I would expect this to be just before you went on stage, after the FPI group. Jan

  7. Chris Jensen Romer says:

    Hey Jan, no it’s fine I just wondered if you took any when I was on stage cos the lights were up then. I want to see the auditorium in the light not old fat bald me! 🙂 Thanks ever so much for letting me share your photo, have you seen all the discussion! lots more on facebook too!

    cj x

  8. Chris Jensen Romer says:

    So this was early on? I think you arrived at about 6.45pm? I went on stage at 7.30. At that time there was ahrdly anyone in the building – trust me i know, i was on stage looking out at the handful of you, lol, and I can name most people present! I’m pretty sure no one would have gone up there then, and only Ross could have!

  9. Eloise Gouls says:


    What i found really strange is that when i was in the auditorium. When i was there on the Wednesday night i was sat in the audience seats in the back section and i saw a figure up in the gallery also. Unfortunately i did not have a camera with me to try and catch anything but it was eerie all the same. Definately felt like it was a male figure.
    Chloe (my friend) also felt really spooked when she was up on the other balcony and we could hear continuous tapping noises and there was nothing in the area that could have created these.

  10. Sir Gannayev says:

    This is interesting. Sounds like a good place for further investigations!

  11. CookieJon says:

    _what is the “shark fin” like curve in front of the figure? _

    A ghost shark, obviously.

  12. Jan Turner says:

    Hi, can someone tell me what they see as a shark like fin, as for some reason I dont see what your seeing. I see a man with a beard wearing a dark waistcoat with white sleeves, he is standing to the left of some ladders in the gallery.

  13. baldrick69 says:

    The left side of “his waistcoast” is darker than the right, and triangular – I’m guessing this is the “shark’s fin” ??

    Maybe the shark was borrowed from the props department and it is in fact … a loan shark.

  14. Carolyn says:

    I’ve just stumbled across this on the net, obviously a bit late in my comments, but I used to work at the Playhouse on that balcony doing the sound and although I can’t see what you are seeing in that picture – there is definitely at least one spectre in the building! Try de-rigging in the early hours of the morning alone….I wou;dn’t do it again!!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.