Thursday, 28 January 2010

The Ominous Ghosts of Arlingham

There were many who must have wished that the message imparted by the ghosts of Arlingham in Gloucestershire, England, was less obvious than it was. This village is a beautiful, but a strangely lonely place. It lies at the end of a dead-end road off a dead-end road that leads to nowhere except Arlingham. On three sides it is surrounded by water, for it stands at the head of a five mile long peninsula of land around which the broad River Severn meanders a few miles south of Gloucester.

The apparition took the form of a ghostly funeral cortege, not the most cheerful of omens at the best of times. In the more developed forms of the legend, the cortege formed up at the charming little church, then moved through the village to reach the grounds of Arlingham Manor. It processed up the drive way and halted in front of the front door. At this point the driver of the hearse drew his horses to a halt and turned to gaze with baneful eye upon the house. At which point the entire procession faded gently from view.

Hardly surprisingly this manifestation was taken as an omen of great misfortune. In particular, it was said that it presaged a death in the house. Stories of the ghost coach and its fatal message were many, but the best attested appearance came on 24 May 1757 when several locals saw it make its way through the village. At first all dreaded what would follow, but nothing - apparently - did. And then on 24 May 1758 the heir to the family fell dead of a disease that in short order carried off his father and mother as well. The property passed to some remote cousins who must have been the only ones ever to be grateful to the message brought by the ghost coach of Arlingham. They did not, however, live there. They merely enjoyed the rents and allowed the old house to fall to ruin. Only the dovecote remains.

This is an extract from Haunted Gloucestershire by Rupert Matthews. To learn more and buy a copy at a discount CLICK HERE

Tuesday, 26 January 2010

Reincarnation and the case of Shanti Deva

For many, the coherent and cohesive descriptions of different environments recounted by very small children are altogether more persuasive. One benchmark case is that of Shanti Deva. In 1930, aged 4, Shanti told her parents that she had once lived in a place called Muttra, that she had been a mother of three who died in childbirth and that her previous name had been Ludgi.

Only when they were continually pressed by the youngster did the bewildered family from Delhi investigate. They discovered there was indeed a village called Muttra and that a woman named Ludgi had recently died there. When Shanti was taken to the village, she lapsed into local dialect and recognized her previous-life husband and children. She even gave twenty-four accurate statements that matched confirmed facts, an impressive feat for such a young child, and one that it would be impossible to hoax.

Since 1967, psychiatrist Dr Ian Stevenson has pioneered the scientific study of spontaneous past life recollections among infants. Usually a youngster is aged between two and five years old when they describe what went on in a previous existence. In most cases, although not all, recall has faded by the age of seven.

Having interviewed thousands of children from all over the world, Dr Stevenson has discovered some interesting facets to the phenomenon. In some cases, the mother had experienced a prophetic dream, announcing or implying the past life identity of the child in her womb. Meanwhile, a number of children claiming a previous existence bore birthmarks that corresponded to wounds inflicted on them when they lived before. For example, a boy in India who was born without fingers on one hand remembered that in a prior existence he had put his hand into the blades of a fodder-chopping machine, amputating the digits. Dr Stevenson aimed to corroborate the verbal evidence of a child with relevant death certificates and interviews with witnesses to both existences.

Critics think the prophetic dreams are no more than wishful thinking. They credit Dr Stevenson with collecting anecdotal rather than scientific evidence.

Yet some of his cases are compelling and strangely thought-provoking. On one occasion, Dr Stevenson made an unannounced visit to a Druze village in Lebanon to see if any children there were subject to past life statements. He was immediately dispatched to the home of 5-year-old Imad Elawar, who had for several years been talking about another life in a different village some 40km distant. Young Imad had even stopped a former neighbour in the street to share recollections about the life he once lived. His first words as a child were Jamileh and Mahmoud, the names of his mistress and uncle in his previous life. Stevenson noted more than fifty-seven separate claims by the child about his past life, the majority of which could be supported with evidence from elsewhere.

While the study of reincarnation has leapt ahead recently, it is a subject that is by no means the preserve of the modern age. In 1824, a Japanese boy called Kastugoro recounted details of a village where he had once lived and the family that was once his own. Despite his tender age, the minutiae he recalled were sufficient to persuade investigators of the day that past lives were a reality.

Throughout the ages, belief in reincarnation has been powerful and widespread. Perhaps we are closer to history than we imagine…

This is an extract from the book The Encylopedia of the Paranormal Rupert Matthews.

Thursday, 21 January 2010

Early Skunk Ape Reports

There are a series of reports from the southeastern area of the USA that have attracted much less publicity and interest than those from the northwestern states. They are, however, just as internally consistent and appear to be no less credible. Some researchers treat these reports as if they were part of the same Sasquatch enigma. Others tend to ignore them as they do not fit the pattern for the Sasquatch of the forested mountains of the west. Some, however, see them as evidence of something different from the Sasquatch. Locally the sightings and evidence are put down to a creature called the Skunk Ape, a name given to it because of the terrible smell that is so often reported. The state of Florida is the site for the majority of reports, so the creature is sometimes called the Florida Ape.

The earliest report that contains what were to become the traditional features of the Skunk Ape was made in 1900. The local newspaper of Hannibal, Missouri, reported that a strange ape creature had been seen on an island in the Mississippi. It had been captured by a passing circus, which claimed it was their escaped orang utan. They had not, however, reported a missing animal, and orang utans cannot swim which makes it something of a puzzle as to how the creature got to the island. A second report come from 1949. Two fishermen out on Sugar Creek, Indiana, were chased off by a rather aggressive creature that they identified as a “gorilla”. However, it was not until the 1960s that reports began to be made in any real numbers.

This is an extract from the award-winning book "Bigfoot and other Mysterious Creatures" by Rupert Matthews. To learn more and order a copy at a discount CLICK HERE

Monday, 18 January 2010

Close Encounter with a UFO at Trenton, New Jersey

In 1957 a Close Encounter of the First Kind took place over New Jersey that shows other features of UFOs. A lady in Trenton who preferred to remain anonymous was clearing up her back room at about 2pm on 6 March when she heard her dog barking in the backyard. Going out to see what was causing the fuss she saw that the dog was barking excitedly while looking upwards. Looking up herself the woman saw a round flying object some 150 yards away about 50 feet across. The woman likened its shape to that of a derby or bowler hat. The central domed area was about 30 feet high with steep sides while the flat bottom extended beyond the dome to form a rim about 15 feet wide. The colour and texture of the object was that of pipe clay, a smooth but dull off-white substance.

As the woman watched, the object began to rock or sway slightly from side to side. A low rumbling noise began that grew louder, then faded only to become louder again. There then came a soft whooshing noise and the object rose vertically straight up to disappear into the clouds.

The woman immediately phoned her husband, who was at work in New York. He advised her to write down an account while it was still fresh in her mind. This she did, later sending the account to the USAF where it was quietly filed away in Project Blue Book.

The object seen over Trenton continued the same description of a round shape with a rim reported elsewhere. Because it was seen at close quarters in daylight details of its movement could be made out. The wobbling or rocking motion is one that has been seen in many UFOs.

This is an extract from the book Alien Encounters by Rupert Matthews. To find out more and order a copy at a discount CLICK HERE

Saturday, 16 January 2010

The Druid's Cup of Rillaton, Cornwall

The past is a living thing in Cornwall. Each village hands on its stories about the past and about local characters. Some of these tales can be traced through the written record to real people and real events. But a few rely entirely on local hearsay handed down from generation to generation - what ethnologists call “folk memory”. Inevitably the facts can sometimes get jumbled up, different stories get merged together and bits forgotten. But for a good deal of this mysterious history there does seem to have been some element of fact that started the stories off in the first place.

Take, for instance, the legend of the Druid’s Cup of Rillaton. According to this tale a druid used to live by the Cheesewring, a megalithic standing stone high on Bodmin Moor. He was in the habit of sitting in a stone formation dubbed the Druid’s Chair in order to pass judgement on those who came to him to consult his learning and wisdom. He also had a fabulous golden cup, which had the magical property that it could never be drunk dry. Into this the druid would put a magical potion that restored and revived anyone who drank it. Travellers and hunters alike made a point of stopping at the Druid’s Chair to take refreshment.

One fateful day a party of hunters from Trewortha were having a terrible day up on Bodmin Moor, not having caught a thing by the time dusk began to close in. Tired and dispirited they decided to head for the Cheesewring to sup from the Druid’s cup. One of the hunters declared that he was so thirsty that he would drain the cup dry. His companions, who knew better, jeered at him.

When the hunting party approached the druid, he offered them his cup and each man drank his fill before passing it on. When the man who had boasted he would drain it got hold of the cup, he tipped it back and gulped down the potion in vast quantities. No matter how much he drank, the cup was always about half full when he took it from his lips. Finally bloated beyond comfort, the man lost his temper. He hurled the contents of the golden cup into the face of the druid, then rode of brandishing the cup over his head and shouting back insults.

The rider did not get far. His horse bolted, then threw him as it stumbled over rocks. The man fell awkwardly, breaking his neck and being killed instantly. The hunting party found him dead and cold next morning. They retrieved the cup and carried it back to the Cheesewring, but the druid had gone and was never seen again. Nobody wanted to keep the cup, so it was buried with the thief beneath a pile of stones where the horse had thrown him. That mound of rocks was covered with turf and so became Rillaton Barrow.

In 1818 a group of antiquarians, as the amateur archaeologists of the time were called, decided to open Rillaton Barrow to see what it contained. They found that it was a typical chambered burial mound of the Bronze Age. Inside was the body of a man who had been buried with spear, shield and with a gold cup. This beautiful little beaker was presented to the Prince Regent and remained in the possession of the Royal Family until the 1920s when King George V presented it to the British Museum, where it remains to this day.

The story of the huntsman buried with a golden cup would seem to have been borne out by the discovery of the gold cup inside the barrow. Presumably the dead man was a local lord or warrior who had been buried with his possessions some 3,000 years ago. Although his existence would seem to have been remembered across all these generations, the rest of the story with its magical potions and druids cannot be part of the original account.

Not only is the fully developed story more akin to a tale about fairies than real life, but the elements don’t fit together. The druids did not appear in Britain until some 750 years after the dead man and his cup were buried in the Rillaton Barrow. There is no evidence, apart from this tale, that any druid ever sat on the Druid’s Chair nor that one had anything to do with the Cheesewring. In fact the story has some marked similarities to tales about the theft of magical items from their owners that are told elsewhere, except that those stories usually feature fairies, not druids. It seems likely that the original story featured a fairy, but that this was transformed into a druid when the story was linked to the Cheesewring.

It is unfortunate that the earliest written record of this legend dates back to a few years after the barrow was excavated. There must therefore be the suspicion that the legend was invented to explain the cup. This, however, cannot be proved. Certainly the man who collected the story, the Rev Sabine Baring-Gould, was convinced that the story had been current before the excavation. He was there and we are not, so there seems no real reason to disbelieve him.

This is an extract from Mysterious Cornwall by Rupert Matthews. To learn more and order your copy of the book at a discounted price CLICK HERE.

Friday, 15 January 2010

UFO over Levelland, Texas - Close Encounter of the Second Kind

An early case to achieve widespread publicity happened on the night of 2 November 1957 at Levelland, Texas. The fact that this took place just an hour after the Russians had launched humanity’s second artificial satellite probably had something to do with the publicity.

At 11pm Patrolman A.J. Fowler took a phone call at the Levelland police station. The phone call was from a man named Pedro Saucedo. Immediately Fowler could tell from Saucedo’s voice that he was in some distress. Saucedo reported that his truck had broken down after he saw a bright light in the sky, but that it was now working again. Unable to get many details from Saucedo and thinking the man might have been drinking, Fowler logged the call but took no action.

Some days later Saucedo and his friend, Joe Salaz, gave a rather more coherent account of what had happened. As they were driving west from Levelland on Route 116 they had seen a large flying object shaped rather like a torpedo coming toward them. As the object got closer their truck engine had coughed and then died, the headlights blinking out almost immediately after.

Saucedo got out the truck to get a better look at the rapidly approaching object, which he thought was about 200 feet long. It was pulsing with yellow and white light and giving off a tremendous amount of heat. The object passed by without pausing and headed off east. A few seconds later the truck’s headlights came back on and Saucedo was able to start the engine. He continued his journey to Whiteface where he found a payphone from which he made his phone call.

Fowler was, meanwhile, in for a busy night. About an hour after logging Saucedo’s call, Fowler took a second call from a Mr Watkins. This caller reported seeing a an object shaped like an elongated egg about 200 feet long resting on the road a few miles east of Levelland. As he approached the strange object, Watkins’s car engine had cut out and his lights gone out. A few seconds later the object took off and headed north. The car headlights had then come on and the engine was able to restart.

Fowler had barely hung up when he got a third call from another man reporting an almost identical incident north of Levelland. A fourth call followed from a terrified truck driver northeast of Levelland. Three more calls were made the following morning, making a total of seven motor vehicles that spluttered to a stop after encountering a UFO that night.

By 1am, Fowler had alerted all patrolling police vehicles to the bizarre reports he was receiving. Patrolmen Lee Hargrove and Floyd Gavin spotted the UFO at a distance, but it was moving too fast for them to catch it. Fire Marshal Ray Jones had picked up the police radio traffic and drove out to join the UFO hunt. He too saw the UFO and although his engine promptly spluttered, it did not stop.

Once the local newspaper printed the story, over 50 local residents came forward to say that they had seen a strange light or object in the skies around Levelland that night.

This is an extract from the book Alien Encounters by Rupert Matthews. To learn more and order your copy CLICK HERE

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.

Tuesday, 12 January 2010

The Phantom Highwayman of Bickley, Kent

The Chequers Inn in Southborough Lane, Bickley, is one of those places which seems to be a positive magnet for our ghostly companions. There are no fewer than three of them in residence.

The most notorious of the Bickley phantoms is the young gentleman in green velvet who sits quietly in a corner of the bar. Those who have seen the phantom describe him as having dark hair, covered by a large hat decorated with an extravagant plumed feather. The clothes of this man place him firmly in the 18th century and local legend names him as none other than Dick Turpin. This most famous of highwaymen was known to visit the Chequers when lying low after any particularly profitable crime. The layout of the pub with convenient back stairs and more than one exit enabled Turpin to make a quick getaway if he needed to.

The image of Dick Turpin that has come down to us is a glamourous one. Riding his magnificent charger Black Bess, Turpin is dressed in fine clothes and is unfailingly courteous to those he robs. In many stories, Turpin takes on corrupt local officials to the benefit of honest farmers and pretty girls. Such a generous image of the highwayman was assiduously cultivated by some of the men who took to the road.

Jack Rann made a point of spending his ill gotten gains on clothes. When he was eventually arrested in September 1774, Rann ordered a new suit for his trial. He appeared in pea-green wool lined with blue satin and edged with silver lace. Rann was, all agreed, the best dressed man in London that month. He even went to the trouble of ordering a new and ostentatiously flamboyant hat to wear at his public execution. James Maclean was tall and handsome. He chose to spend his money buying jewels and treats for an apparently endless succession of young ladies whom he attempted to seduce with varying degrees of success. At his trial in 1750 several ladies of quality came forward as character witnesses, but he was hanged anyway.

Turpin, however, was no such dashing gentleman. Born in Essex in 1705, Turpin took to poaching as a teenager. He soon graduated to burglary, rape and torture. In 1735 Turpin took to the road. He held up coaches, shot drivers and mercilessly beat up those who resisted him. He even shot his own partner. By all accounts, Turpin was a violent, vicious crook with none of the panache associated with men such as Rann or Maclean. He was, however, hugely successful and netted a fortune from his crimes. Typically, Turpin committed his misdeeds north of the Thames, and went into hiding south of the river. In 1738 Turpin left the countryside around London as the authorities cracked down on street crime. He went to Yorkshire, but the forces of law and order were even more diligent there. Turpin was arrested for horse stealing, recognised for who he was and hanged.

Why Turpin became transformed into a hero, while other highwaymen were forgotten is unclear. But if he is the ghost in the Chequers, then he is acting true to form. He keeps himself to himself, which is just what Turpin did when he came here to avoid the law.

But Turpin is not the only ghost at the Chequers. The upstairs rooms are haunted by a very busy lady. She seems to date back to about the same time as Turpin, but whether the two are linked in anyway is unknown. She walks around the upper floor with determined and hurried steps. Quite clearly she is a busy lady as she never stops or walks slowly, but always hurries. Most often only the sound of her footsteps alert listeners to realise that she is about. Trotting up the stairs, bustling along the corridor, padding into bedrooms - the footsteps might be heard anywhere. This ghost also slams doors. Any left open are liable to be closed loudly as the footsteps pass by. Only occasionally is the lady actually seen. Even then she is busy. She is only glimpsed fleetingly, usually as she hurries past a doorway or nips in and out of a room at speed.

Why she should be so busy and hurried is a mystery. Most visitors to the Chequers prefer to linger over a drink or one of the landlords finely cooked meals.

To buy Haunted Kent by Rupert Matthews CLICK HERE

Monday, 11 January 2010

Mary MacDonald and the Yeti


The first outsider to hear tales of the strange beasts was the noted hill walker B. H. Hodgson. When in northern Nepal in 1825 his march was interrupted when his porters saw a tall creature covered with long, dark hair that bounded off in apparent fear. Hodgson did not see the creature himself, but from the descriptions given by his excited porters thought that it must have been some sort of orangutan.

In 1892 Mary MacDonald, daughter of a colonial officer, was walking through the mountains close to the border with Tibet. She was on a pleasure ramble lasting a month and had a team of local porters to carry her tent, cooking equipment and supplies. As the column was about to enter a narrow defile on the way the Garbyang Pass the rocks echoed to a strange call. MacDonald later likened it to the call of a seagull, but very much louder, ending in a throaty roar. Puzzled MacDonald turned around to ask her guide what animal could make such a noise. She found herself alone. The guide and porters had thrown down their loads and were running away at high speed back down the track.

Now rather worried, MacDonald retrieved her hunting rifle from one of the abandoned packs in case the unknown animal turned out to be dangerous and set off after her porters. She found them grouped on a flat area of ground some two miles from the defile. They told her that the cry had been made by a “metoh kangmi”, or “bad man of the snow” warning them to leave. It was only after much persuasion and some threats that MacDonald got her men to return to retrieve the abandoned packs, but nothing would get them to enter the defile.

This is an excerpt from the book Bigfoot by Rupert Matthews. To buy the book CLICK HERE

Friday, 8 January 2010

The enigmatic Karin Page

Karin Page, founder of the Star of the East spiritual healing centre in Kent, England, had been seeing ghosts since the age of six, but it took a message from the ‘other side’ to finally convince her.

“One day my elderly mother-in-law promised me that she would come back after her death so that I would have proof of the survival of the soul. I didn’t take it seriously at the time, but two months after her passing all the clocks in the house starting behaving strangely. They all showed a different time and a travelling alarm clock rolled off the shelf and crashed at my feet just as I was telling my daughter about how oddly they were all behaving. Another day the phone jumped off its holder on the wall and started swinging from side to side. Then the electric blanket and toaster switched themselves on. Each time I felt a chill in the air. It was Mary trying to tell me that she was with me.

“The final proof came when I went to a spiritualist meeting and was told by a medium, who I’d never met before, that my husband’s mother was trying to communicate, that her name was Mary and that she had died of cancer, both of which were true. She just wanted to say thank you for all the time I had looked after her. Then the medium said that Mary sent her love to my husband, my son and his girlfriend and she named them all which left me speechless. The only thing I couldn’t understand was when she said, ‘I’m with Emma now’, because I didn’t know of an Emma in the family. Mary had never mentioned her. Afterwards I learnt that Emma had been Mary’s sister who had died 11 years earlier. Since then I have smelt Mary’s talcum powder on many occasions and I know then that she is watching over me.”

Positive benefits

English medium Jill Nash believes that the job of a psychic is to provide evidence of survival on the other side to give comfort to those left behind, not to impress clients with manifestations of ectoplasm and moving objects.

“Initially I talk to spirit in my mind and ask for their help. I feel their presence and can sense if they are male or female, but I never see them. I’m not communicating with the dead because nobody ever dies. They are the same personalities that they were in life. They are simply discarnate. I ask them to give me names and details that only the client will know which helps the client to relax and open up. Then I close my eyes and visualise drawing that person closer so that I am absorbed into their aura. When I make the connection I get excited. It’s like having a present that you can’t wait to open. At that point I usually feel a warmth and I might see a colour or a letter, or a combination of letters. If, for example I see them surrounded by blue I will know it is a communication issue and I’ll ask them if they know of anyone whose name begins with the letter I’ve seen or a place beginning with that letter that has a significance for them. That’s the starting point. It’s an entirely intuitive, automatic process. It’s like picking at a strand in a ball of wool. It unravels slowly. When the spirit has something to add it impresses itself in my mind. I only receive what the spirit wants me to have at that time. It wouldn’t help me or the client to know all the answers. We would stop working things out for ourselves and would only put an effort into something that would guarantee to reward our efforts.

“Unfortunately I couldn’t tell my parents about my psychic experiences when I was young because they were very religious and were frightened of anything which challenged their faith. It made them uncomfortable. I used to sense a presence occasionally and my mother would shut me up by shouting, ‘I don’t want to hear about dead people.’ But I was never scared because I know nothing really dies. Energy can’t die. It can only be transformed.”

Jill sees a medium’s role as helping the bereaved attain closure by facilitating a reunion with their loved ones.

“On one particularly memorable occasion I opened the door expecting to see a little elderly lady and instead saw her and her late husband. He walked in behind her. She was, of course, unaware that he was with her but I could see him plain as day, although he was fainter than a living person, almost transparent and there was nothing to see below the knee. He was tall and slim and when she sat down he stood behind her with a satisfied grin on his face as if he was thinking, ‘At last, now I can tell her what I have been trying to say to her for months’.

“As soon as we were settled he communicated to me telepathically, mind to mind, that he wanted me to tell her about a rose. Of course I didn’t know what he meant, I hadn’t met this lady before. But she did. He had apparently been trying to create a new type of rose by grafting and it hadn’t taken while he was alive but he wanted her to keep the plant alive because he knew it was going to work. I described the plant and the type of pot it was in and the fact that it was underneath the front window of their bungalow. Of course I had never seen their house but I could see it in my mind as he transferred his thoughts to mine.

“He wanted her to know that he was alright and that he was with her if she wanted to say anything or share her feelings. He told me to tell her that he often stood behind her when she sat in her armchair in the evenings and that if she felt something like a cobweb brushing against her cheek or a gentle pat on the head that it was only him reassuring her that he was still around. And as soon as I said that, she admitted that she had felt these things and had wondered if it was him, although she couldn’t trust her own feelings or believe that he was really there.”

Jill’s experiences have convinced her that the dead remain the same personalities they were on this side of life and recalls an incident with her father’s ghost which revealed that he had not lost his mischievous sense of humour when he passed over.


Buy the Encylcopedia of the Paranormal on Amazon.



HERE

Wednesday, 6 January 2010

Ghosts at the Marquis of Granby, Esher, Surrey, England


Two ghosts in one building might seem a bit excessive, but the Marquis of Granby manages to cope. The pub lies beside the A307, at the roundabout known locally as the Scilly Isles. The modern extensions to this pub hide the fact that it dates back almost 400 years, and it is in the oldest part of the pub that the ghost – or ghosts – lurk.

Mark Nicholls a former bar manager talked about the haunting in 2002. “The lady upstairs. We all know her. I’ve only heard her once myself, but everyone knows all about her. You hear her footsteps behind you and some rustling - like a silk dress they tell me. Then when you turn around there is nobody there. It’s a really weird feeling to know that somebody is in the room with you, but there isn’t really. Mind you, she’s no bother really. It gives you a bit of a start, that’s all.”

Nobody seems to know who this ghost is, though she is usually described as a servant girl. From the descriptions given by those who have heard the footsteps and skirts of the ghostly lady, she would seem to date back at least 180 years. The dainty steps and heavy silk rustling seem to indicate fashions from the early 19th century at least. And stories of the ghost have been circulating in the area since the later 19th century when a local gentleman mentioned the story as typical of the gullible nature of local farming folk.

But the ghostly goings-on at the Marquis of Granby are not entirely harmless. In one of the upstairs rooms is a small cupboard set into a wall. The door is nailed shut and an old Bible is kept pushed against it. A former employee at the pub said that the Bible must never be moved or “the Thing in the Cupboard” will get out. This “Thing” was a most dreadful phantom much given to slamming doors, smashing crockery and hammering on the walls. The “Thing” made life a misery at the Marquis in the middle of the 19th century. However, all that is of the past since a passing clergyman banished the “Thing” to the cupboard and left his Bible to secure the door with Holy powers.

But the lady continues to walk. Not that she is much trouble, of course. So long as she does not learn how to open a particular cupboard door, that is.