Wednesday, 8 December 2010
Surrey the Strange
There are the high downs stretching across the county from east to west. The bare chalk grasslands that crown these hills have offered grazing to sheep for centuries, and more recently have attracted the owners of racehorses. The races held on the downs at Epsom are among the most popular in the world -= especially the Derby held every June. North of the downs are extensive sandy heaths interspersed with shallow river valleys that run down to the Thames that forms the county’s northern border. South of the downs are the wide, low-lying forests of the Weald.
Of course, much of this natural landscape has been built over in the past century or so. Some already established towns such as Dorking, Reigate or Guildford have expanded across neighbouring open country. Other towns are entirely modern - there was nothing at either Redhill or Woking until a railway was built linking them to London in the Victorian period.
But no amount of building or modernisation can hide the paranormal face of this county. There are ghosts, monsters and poltergeists to be found here, perhaps rather more than in most counties. If the hairy monster of Reigate’s Shag Brook has not been seen for a good few years, the Surrey Puma continues to be seen with regularity. The ghosts of Surrey are an active lot, they crop up along roadsides, in pubs, around churches and in houses. Generally they seem content to potter about their business without taking too much notice of the humans that share their county. And Surrey also plays host to UFOs, poltergeists, apparitions and the little people.
Surrey may wear a face of suburban and rural normality, but lurking not far below the surface is a paranormal county of unequalled strangeness and activity.