Thursday, 14 January 2010

The Black Dog of Beckingham, Nottinghamshire

The little village of Beckingham is now bypassed by the busy A631 dual carriageway, allowing the ancient heart of the village to retain its quiet, rural charm. Time was, however, when the main road west from Gainsborough to Sheffield ran through the centre of the village. For one phantom resident at least, the old road retains its attractions.

Running down the Old Trent Road from the village church to the damp water meadows is sometimes seen a colossal black dog. This beast stands as tall as a man’s shoulder and has eyes that seem to burn with a strange, inner fire of a dull red colour – as if they were lit by glowing coals. This disturbing phantom has been seen emerging from the churchyard, trotting purposefully along the road and turning off near the Old Boatyard to pad across the water meadows beside the River Trent, heading south.

Some say that this black dog is the ghost of a monstrously powerful guard dog that belonged to the lord of the manor way back in the days when Christianity was first coming to Nottinghamshire in the early 7th century. Despite its owner’s pagan religion, the dog deserted him to follow the missionary priest who came here to convert the locals. When the dog died, the priest buried him in the churchyard as his first convert. Ever since, the dog has returned in spectral form to guard the churchyard against the Devil, evil spirits and pagan deities.

Whatever the origins of the ghostly hound of Beckingham, it is quite clearly an animal to avoid. It does not respond kindly to mortals who seek to block its path or impede its determined journey from church to river. Many years ago a man from Gainsborough is said to have tried to stop the ghostly dog by standing in its path and demanding to know its business. The dog glared angrily at the man, who fell down in a faint and was found some hours later lying senseless in the road. He was paralysed down one side of his body and never fully recovered.

Clearly this is an apparition it is best to avoid. So it is as well that the dog follows the old road where there is scarcely any traffic to bother it, rather than the new road.

This is an excerpt from the book Haunted Places of Nottinghamshire by Rupert Matthews. To buy the book CLICK HERE.

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