Reader experiences – Clapham Common haunting

(Pic: Penforhire)

This story was told to Laura Jacques by her Auntie Pat while walking her Jack Russell terrier on Clapham Common in the late 1960s. It was told to her Aunt Pat by a young motorcyclist and it’s his story we pick up from…

I felt good after a great evening with friends in their lovely house on the edge of Clapham Common. It was just after midnight when  I left and I was looking forward to the ride home in the foggy November chill. As I got ready to mount my motorbike, I heard a rustling in the trees on the common next to where I’d parked and saw a small frail looking figure emerge from the shadows. It was a young girl, no older than 17 or 18, shivering in the cold night air. She looked frightened and pale, without a coat on and just a scarf to keep her warm.

“Are you ok?” I asked, slightly surprised to see anyone on the common at that time of night.

“I’m lost,” she whispered. ”I need to get home to my mum, it’s late.”

Discovering that she lived on my route home to Balham, I offered her a lift on the back of my motorbike. She didn’t hesitate and hopped on, holding on tight as we went.

She was deathly quiet on the way home and didn’t answer any of my questions, but seemed very relieved when we reached her house. I watched her climb the old stone steps towards her front door, then lost sight of her in the mist.

I made my way home in the cold night air and it was only when I reached my own flat that I noticed the girl had left her scarf behind on the back of my bike so the next day, I set off on my bike to the girl’s house. I dismounted my motobike and climbed the same stone steps she had climbed a few hours before. I then knocked on the door and and an older woman answered.

“Hello,” I said. “I’ve just come to drop your daughter’s scarf back, I gave her a lift home last night and she left it on my bike.”

I watched as the colour drained from the woman’s face. She took the scarf slowly and held it to her face.

”Yes,” she murmured, ”this is my daughter’s scarf. But she died five years ago, aged 17.”

I looked at her on shock. “I – I don’t understand.”

“She was murdered on Clapham Common at midnight….strangled by her own scarf, the police said…”

Do you want to contribute a story to Spookipedia? Get in touch using the link to the left.

Spooki phenomena – ley lines

(Pic: By VaXzine via Flickr under CC licence)

We explore the strange world of ley lines…

The land on which we stand, run, sunbathe and jive is apparently criss-crossed with mystical lines. And it’s been noticed that particular places of interest seem to sit along these invisible lines, for example churches and ancient monuments. Even more spookily, strange and wonderful things are said to happen on these ley lines, from paranormal activity and UFO sightings to even murders. This is connected to the belief many hold that these special lines hold a peculiar kind of mystical energy – sometimes good, sometimes bad.

The whole idea of ley lines was conceived by the British businessman and amateur archaeologist Alfred Watkins who, in the 1920s, wrote his book The Old Straight Track. In it, he laid out his findings that churches, burial mounds and various other spiritually significant places stood along one straight line. He christened these ‘ley lines’ after the Saxon meaning of ‘ley’ – meaning a cleared glade. His theory wasn’t that mystical actually – he believed that ancient Britain, which was covered with forests back then, had been crisscrossed with travel routes, and landmarks had been built along these routes for navigational purposes.

It wasn’t till a few years later that a more mystical element was added to these ley lines. There are loads of theories flying about but the main belief is that directly beneath ley lines are underground streams or cosmic currents that are part of the earth’s energy. This does seem to add up – it’s a scientific fact that there are straight fault lines in the earth’s tectonic plates. This is also backed up by the activity of ‘dowsing’ (also called divining or water witching) which involves using a Y- or L-shaped twig or rod to detect hidden water, gemstones and more. Over the centuries, roads, paths, monuments and more have been aligned along these ley lines by groups who are either aware of their location, or by a sheer mystical force that draws people to these spots.

Glastonbury

One example of a ley line in the UK is the St Michael line. This line runs from St Michaels Mount in Cornwall all the way up to Hopton in East Anglia, passing right through some of the country’s most mystical places such as Glastonbury and Avebury (you can see more examples at http://www.whale.to/b/ley_h.html). Washington D.C is thought to be constructed along ley lines by members of the Freemasons, a kind of society with members that apparently include some pretty powerful people. It’s said that they based the city’s structure along ley lines to enhance its power and boy, did it work! The ‘new’ town of  Milton Keynes is also said to have been built with the power of ‘ley’ in mind with major roads named after places such as Avebury and a grid system that exactly matches Washington D.C. If you visit Milton Keynes, you’ll even find lots of discreet references to ley lines, such as various pieces of art (the Gnomon sculpture by Peter Bowker was designed to act as a shadow caster which directly points to a ley-line that is thought to run right through the centre of the town).

As a result, some truly strange things are thought to happen along ley lines… in particular, hauntings and ghostly sightings, with some of the world’s most haunted places sit directly on ley lines. The Isle of Wight, for example, is chock-a-block full of ghost stories (and is often described as the most haunted island in the world) and its ley line patterns are said to almost exactly match those around Stone Henge.

Murders

Some people believe there are also more incidences of murders and violent activity on ley lines. The village of Coggeshall in Essex, for example, has experienced a number of high profile murders and suicides, and keeps hitting the headlines for the high ratio of violent deaths there in relation to its size. Not surprisingly, it’s supposed to sit on the crossing of two ley lines, which apparently creates a particularly negative vibe. Writer Ellis C. Taylor has carried out some interesting research into the connection between leylines and murders, noticing that by drawing straight lines from certain royal residences (which are said to have purposely been built on ley lines as well), or places connected to royals, you will also find the residences or murder scenes of some high profile murder victims.

Ley lines are said to have a profound effect on us … and animals (different animal species use the earth’s magnetic field to navigate which makes sense considering that animals seem to be particularly in-tune with ley lines). In fact, some theories suggest that ley lines are the earthly equivalent of the energy lines that run through the human body (known as ‘chi’). This in turn could explain why more paranormal activities are reported in these areas because the energy from ley lines make us more in-tune with the world around us. Many para-psychologists believe that the energy given off by ley lines can influence the human mind, bringing on hallucinations which could explain why people think they’re seeing ghosts or UFOs. The more negative ley lines can make you feel sick, exhausted and stressed. Or they can make some people become violent, explaining the connection with various murders. Equally, the more positive lines are said to make people feel particularly creative or energised (like those in Sedona).

Maybe you yourself have found that certain places make you feel strange, whether that be in a positive or negative way? If you feel this way in a certain area, maybe this is related to a ley line. If you want to track the ley lines in your area, the best way of doing this is by locating ancient churches in your vicinity and you’ll probably find that many of them sit on one straight line. Or one of the major ley lines (pinpointed in the link above) might run through the area where you live. In fact, you might even find that, by joining up significant places in your life (your home, birthplace and so on), one straight line is formed.

Try it out!

Reader experiences – The Old Mission House

Below is an account of some spooki goings-on at the Old Mission House in Kennington Lane, London, as written by Spookipedia reader Keith Jacques.

The Old Mission House is a tall dark Victorian building with a menacing appearance. No surprise considering it was formerly used to house priests, nuns and monks and had a reputation for being haunted.

I was nine at the time and was there with my mum, who was employed as a cleaner at the house. We were walking down the steps, which led up to a wide doorway that in turn led into a musty dark hallway. Straight ahead was a wide imposing stairway which led to four floors above (now housing tenants).

As I walked down those stairs that fateful day, the smell of damp rotting wood filled my nostrils and seemed to be stronger to the left where a door led to the basement. I opened the door to the dark narrow steps leading to the basement below, and flicked on the light switch, creating eerie shadows on the steps.

Descending into the basement, the stairs creaked and bowed and large fungal growths could be seen protruding from the damp rotting wood. As I entered the basement I could see it was made up of a number of small rooms without doors, only separated by damp rotting walls.

On this particular day I entered the basement with my mum, who used to clean the hallway and stairs every Friday evening. As we descended the stairs there was a chill in the air and the smell of damp was strange. We reached the bottom of the stairs and proceeded to walk towards a room at the end of a corridor.

As we went past the opening of a room to our left, a movement caught my eye. Glancing towards it as we moved forward, I saw what appeared to be the figure of a man, dressed in grey workclothes, hammering something into the wall.

We continued onto the end of the corridor and entered a room which housed a water heater. While Mum filled a bucket with warm water to clean the stairs with, I asked her if workmen were in the building that day, to which she replied that she didn’t think so. Perturbed, I told her what I had seen and we made our way back along the corridor to the room where I had seen the figure of the man.

But when we peered inside, there was no-one to be seen.

We checked each room in turn, but found no evidence that anyone had been working in the basement that day or recently.

Who was that strange man?

Mum gave up her cleaning job and I never returned to the Old Mission House again but I will always remember that chilling day.

Do you want to contribute a story to Spookipedia? Get in touch using the link to the left.

Pic: By Craig Cloutier via Flickr under Creative Commons licence.

Location: Tutbury Castle, a right royal ghost hunt

Tutbury CastleFAST FACTS

  • The castle is best known as a prison of Mary, Queen of Scots who hatched the plot that led to her beheading at Fotheringay Castle in 1587. And there have been many sightings of her roaming the ruins ever since…
  • There have also been sightings by many visitors of a little boy and his companion, a spooky little girl called Ellie

This week, Spookipedia contributer Emma Cash tells us about what many have described as the most haunted location in the UK. But before we delve into Emma’s story, check out this video below from historians, Richard Felix and Lesley Smith.

And now we hear from Emma…

Emboldened by watching too many episodes of Living TV’s Most Haunted, a group of friends and I wanted to do something different for Halloween so decided on an all-night ghost hunt at Tutbury Castle. These atmospheric ruins set against an unforgiving landscape and overlooking the River Dove was to become the eerie base for a night of vigils and séances.

After a guided tour and a talk from Lesley Smith (she of Most Haunted fame and also the castle’s curator) about her ghostly experiences in Tutbury Castle, we were led into the torture chamber (or oubliette, as we were schooled). Permission to enter was asked from its resident ghost Jack, thus setting the tone for our hunt. Spending almost an hour in the oubliette in only torch and star light, we were regaled with stories about torture methods over the ages. For me this was the scariest part of the evening. Cynic that I am, even I must admit to refusing to look over my shoulder into the darkness whilst hearing bloody tales of men being hung, drawn and quartered.

Next, we were introduced to Tutbury Castle’s infamous guests in the Kings Chamber. Here, we were asked to hold hands in a circle, extinguished our torches and the medium invited both Ellie, a seven year old girl and a gentleman who did not like men, to make their selves known to us. The séance in what was the Great Hall brought a shiver down my friend’s spine as the glass on the table kept zooming towards her. I should also say that the second time in the oubliette (this time not asking permission from Jack), there was a noticeable smell of vomit which is said to come from one of the prisoners, and in the King’s Chamber, a man in our group felt such hatred from our gentleman ghost that he had to leave the room, almost feeling physically pushed out. I’m glad he liked women!

A ghost hunt isn’t for everyone and the organised side of it (fantastically organised, I must add, by Haunted Happenings) can take away from that spine-tingling feel that comes with random, ad-hoc visits to less well-known but just as chilling places like Clophill. But there’s no doubt, Tutbury Castle is truly spooki.  So overall, we give it…

… 10 OUT OF 13 FOR THE SPOOKI FACTOR

How to find Tutbury Castle

Have you been? If so, leave your experiences in the comments section below.

SPOOKI LINKS

Tutbury Castle – the official website of the spooki castle

Haunted Happenings – the company through which you can book your experience

Most Haunted at Tutbury Castle – More information on when Most Haunted visited Tutbury Castle

Pic: by steve p2008 via Flickr.

Book: Haunted Air

Check out these chilling antique Halloween pics from Ossian Brown’s Haunted Air (published by Jonathan Cape. Available at Amazon now). Total creepfest!

Location: Clophill, the ring of graves

Clophill Church

 

FAST FACTS

  • Clophill Church’s alter is the only one in the UK to face west, which apparently means it faces the Devil… hence why, according to some, it was abandoned
  • It’s believed the church is built on top of a leper hospital that was run by monks
  • In 1963 and 1966, the grave of an apothecary’s wife was desecrated, her bones arranged in a strange ritualistic pattern in the nave of the church.
  • Many people believe it to be the scene of the infamous A6 murders but in fact, these took place at Deadman’s Hill a few miles away
  • Reported spook-tastic experiences: a monk, a light that travels up the hill towards the ruins before vanishing, a strange cold within the walls even during summer

Spookipedia is kicking off with Clophill Church – an abandoned church atop a hill in the mists of an old Bedfordshire village.

Eamer Film does an interesting (though rather cynical) film about the history of the place and his experience. Check it out below. And then read about my own personal experience… and the very strange things I discovered there.

The first time I visited Clophill Church was one Halloween with four friends. The car journey alone was… unnerving.  Long windy country lanes and fog so thick, our designated driver Knives could barely see through the windscreen.

When we arrived in Clophill, we parked up the road to the relief of Knives. Why relief? Many a car has been smashed up at Clophill – by whom? Who knows? Maybe that adds to the creepiness of the place. In fact, one of my cousins reported returning to their car to find a long grey hair braid in their exhaust pipe. So onto our first tip…

TIP 1: PARK YOUR CAR DISCREETLY AND A FEW METRES AWAY FROM THE CHURCH

Once we stepped from the car, it was obvious where we needed to head to get to the church. Why? Well, thank the Lord for the constabulary as every Halloween, you’ll find a huge police van parked across the entrance to Clophill Church like a beacon, calling all the freaks and chavs of Beds and Bucks towards the famous landmark. What followed once we got past the van was a 10 minute walk up the long and terrifying road that leads to the church. Problem is, we forgot one vital item…

TIP 2: TAKE A TORCH WITH YOU IF GOING AT NIGHT

The path is surrounded by woods and fields, so as soon as we got away from the lights of the village, we stepped into a blanket of pure and utter darkness. But we trotted on regardless, terrified, not knowing where it led but determined to discover more about Clophill Church. However, darkness soon became light when halfway up, a firework was nearly thrown in our faces by someone hiding in the darkness. Then we started to encounter truly terrifying sights, from fake Burberry coats to England caps to – horror of horrors – long peroxide blonde hair and gold hoops.

TIP 3: DON’T GO ON HALLOWEEN UNLESS YOU HAVE A PENCHANT FOR CHAVS

Once we arrived at the church, its ruins standing stark and scary against the bright night sky, there’s no denying we all felt something strange and eerie about the place. Especially when we stood in the belly of the church,  staring up through the ruined ceiling towards twinkling stars as weeds curled around our shoes from the ground below.

After a few minutes contemplating this (and the graffiti on the walls), we started heading back and this is when we saw the most spine-tingling thing of all – something  we’d missed when we arrived…

TIP 4: DON’T PRESUME THE SCARE-FEST STOPS WITH THE MAIN ATTRACTION

A strange semi-circle of gravestones near the entrance, crumbling and ominous in the dark. *shiver* Then a kid ran past, screaming at his friend to ‘watch out for your girlfriend, the HOltergeist’. Yeah, that kinda ruined the moment and makes me wanna repeat one of my tips.

Tip 5: DO NOT GO ON HALLOWEEN!

But there’s no denying it, there’s  something incredibly eerie about that place. So that’s why I’ll give it…

… 11 OUT OF 13 FOR THE SPOOKI FACTOR

How to find Clophill Church (where the green arrow is)

Have you been? If so, give me your thoughts in the comments section.

SPOOKI LINKS:

In Pure Spirit – Some interesting facts. And make sure you read the comments section of this site for some creepy experiences

Wiccan Tradition – An interesting first-hand experience of something out of the ordinary in Clophill

Pic: xJasonRogersx