What is the Hoober Stand in Wentworth?
If you were to visit the picturesque winding lanes of rural Rotherham, you might find a strange monumental building, situated upon one of the highest ridges in the area. Constructed in the mid-eighteenth century, it is one of several decorative buildings marking the end of the 1745 Jacobite rebellion.
The Hoober Stand itself is a beautiful, yet strange-looking building, offering fantastic views of nearby Wentworth from its peak, which is open to the public each Sunday. Over the years, however, the site on which it stands has often been tied to bizarre occult practices and alleged paranormal phenomena.
The downward hills and slopes offer a stunning woodland scene but if you explore the small area fully, you are sure to find remnants of the after-dark activities that are a regular occurrence here. Altars, shrines, pagan paraphernalia and occult symbols carved deep into the trees are just a few of the mysterious things you will stumble across.
The area is a hotspot for both dark witchcraft and devil worshippers and there are countless stories of people visiting the area after dusk, only to be chased away by persons unknown wearing long dark robes.
One such story claims that two young men were exploring the area late one evening, but after stumbling across a small group of hooded figures they were chased out of the grounds and back along the road for a few hundred feet before the mysterious group retreated back to the Hoober Stand to continue with their bizarre activities. The young men were so intrigued that they decided to return the following day to investigate, only to find the carcasses of numerous crows that had been nailed to the trees around the woodland area. They claimed the birds had been gutted and marked in what they could only describe as sacrificial ways.
In addition to the mysterious groups of people using the Hoober Stand for their private activities, other reports of ghosts, witches, orbs and electronic disturbances are also regularly documented here, but what is it about this place that makes it so unusual after dusk? Is there some kind of unseen energy or presence that perhaps draws in these groups of individuals who devote their lives to the dark side of the occult world? Or is it just the eerie nature of the grounds that make it the perfect location for their practices? As none of the groups are willing to discuss their activities, we can only speculate.
I have personally visited this location numerous times with many different paranormal groups and, despite the mysteriously tense atmosphere that is hard to ignore, I’ve never encountered any phenomena that I believe could not be explained.
Intrigued as to whether this place houses any real spirits, I set about searching for individuals who had experienced strange things here, and was inundated with responses. Hundreds of people claimed to have experienced some kind of paranormal phenomena within the grounds and, amid the tales of ghostly whispers echoing around the woodland, strange knocks on the front door as if coming from the inside, and a ghostly apparition of a tall hooded figure guarding the building on a full moon between 11pm and 3am, I encountered John Anderton, a local paranormal investigator who agreed to meet with me to share his account.This is it in unedited form:
It was the middle of October and I decided to visit the Hoober Stand with two fellow investigators. We’d done so numerous times before, but never really experienced anything I’d call paranormal. Of course, we’d captured various orbs and other light anomalies on photographs, but with so many trees around it would be impossible to discount insects, flies or dust as the source.
On this particular evening, we parked in the lay-by just next to the entrance and sneaked past the house at the gates. Although it’s a public footway, we did not like having unnecessary disturbances whilst we worked, plus we also imagined the person living in that old house would have been sick to death of people causing a nuisance here after dark and didn’t want to add to their stress.
The night was much the same as any other before: we wandered the building, looked for any new stone shrines that might have appeared, and photographed the markings on the trees before heading back to the actual building itself. The ground was dark but the building was lit up by the moonlight. I remember it being a clear night but very cold as we could see our breath, which can cause an issue, particularly when trying to photograph paranormal things.
We called out the usual questions: ‘Is there anyone here wishing to communicate? Are there any spirits within the Hoober Stand?’ But as before, our calls went unanswered.
At about 10:30pm, we decided to call it a night as we had to be up early for our day jobs. As we headed back along the woodland path towards the road, we heard twigs snapping from the area we had just left. Assuming it to be animals, my friends wanted to check it out all the same – after all, we’d been there for over an hour without incident, so another five minutes couldn’t hurt.
As we walked back to the main door of the Hoober Stand, we heard whispering all around us in the woods and we all stood still, listening intently. The words were all but unintelligible but, as we focused on the sound, my friend called out, ‘King James!’
At that precise moment, the whispers stopped and he would tell me later that evening that King James was the only thing he was able to make out. As we slowly edged back towards the woods to investigate, a little spooked but excited also, a strange figure started to appear at the foot of the stand, like a shadow gaining momentum every second.
At first, it looked like wisps of smoke, but there was nothing on the ground that could have caused it. As it grew to be about four feet in height, it started transforming to the clear figure of a man and at this point, all three of us fled the area in fear.
We have returned numerous times since that night but never experienced any other genuine phenomena. I firmly believe that I saw a full-bodied apparition manifesting at the Hoober Stand and to be honest, I’m just gutted that the whole experience spooked us so much that we couldn’t carry on investigating.
John’s story is certainly a strange one and it does tie in with some of the other similar accounts. The reference to King James is also interesting, as the buildings were constructed to commemorate the end of the 1745 Jacobite Rebellion, involving supporters of King James II.
The time frame also matches up with other tales of a large ghostly apparition patrolling the foot of the Hoober Stand on a full moon. John also stated that although he remembers the sky being very clear, he was unable to remember if it was indeed a full moon that night.
As a paranormal investigator with hundreds of cases under his belt, it would appear to be a genuine account. On the other hand, you might argue it’s little more than a fabricated story, designed to bring publicity to his services.
The fact that the group were spooked by what was indeed most likely to have been an animal rummaging in the woodland, combined with the eerie nature of the location itself, could have simply caused a state of hysteria amongst the three men. Perhaps the smoke was in fact little more than dew reflecting under the moonlight.
As John stated he’d visited the location on numerous occasions before, one would have to assume that he’d researched it well enough to know its purpose for being built, and therefore the King James revelation would not be considered at all credible to the story.
Regardless of your own opinion, the witchcraft, the devil worship and the pagan paraphernalia at the Hoober Stand are all points of fact and you may encounter these yourself at any given time. As for whether or not there is something darker than people residing around that old building will always be an enigma.
Article taken from ‘Haunted Yorkshire’ by Nick Tyler, published by The History Press, £12 paperback
Top image: “Hoober Stand, Wentworth, South Yorkshire.” by Darren Flinders is licensed under CC BY-ND 2.0