Thursday, 31 March 2011

An Unnerving Spectre in Cirencester

Quite what it is that keeps a ghost tied to a particular place is unknown. Many ghosts are linked to events of high emotion; others frequent a much-loved location. Nearly all ghosts potter about their own mysterious business without taking any notice of the mere mortals who cross their path. Despite what the makers of horror movies might have us believe, phantoms do not exist to lure humans to their deaths, nor to gory fates best left unshown.

But there are a few ghosts that do have a purpose for appearing to us humans, and Gloucestershire does seem to have rather more than its fair share of them.

Not that it is always entirely obvious what they want. Take, for instance, the phantom of a young man who haunts the park in Cirencester. He is dressed in a blazer and flannels, according to one witness, and gives the appearance of being distinctly agitated about something. Certainly he seems anxious and glances around as if expecting somebody to arrive or something to happen.

Then he will stride purposefully towards a passing human and walk right up to them. “Now then,” he says as if about to impart a piece of vital knowledge. But instead he vanishes into thin air. He is an unnerving spectre to come across. One moment you think you are about to learn something, the next you are faced with only thin air. If you don't fancy meeting this ghost, it is best to avoid the area around the statue of Queen Anne, put up in 1706 by the 1st Earl Bathurst. This is where the ghost is seen most often.

Why he should favour the good queen's statue is as obscure as the message he never seems to impart.

Haunted Gloucestershire

Wednesday, 23 March 2011

The Medium 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.”

Sunday, 20 March 2011

Percy Fawcett meets the Maxubi

In recent years the word “Maricoxi” has become a generic term for any of the cryptid primates that are rumoured to live in South America, and especially in the rain forests and jungles of the tropical regions. In fact there are several primate cryptids said to live in the continent, going by such names as Aluxes, Goazis, Aigypans, Vasitris, Matuyus, Curupiras, Curinqueans, Didi, Mono Grande and Mapinguary. It is not always clear whether a different name indicates a different cryptid, or simply a variant local name for the same creature.

The Maricoxi themselves are, or were, supposed to be an extremely primitive tribe of hominids living in the Mato Grosso. This is a vast upland region of southern Brazil and northern Paraguay that is characterised by forest and dense stands of a viciously intertwined scrub – the “mato” of the area’s name. The area covers around 500,000 square miles and although the fringes have been cleared in recent years for soya bean farming and cattle ranching, much of the interior is largely untouched.

It was even more remote when in 1914 Colonel Percy Fawcett pushed into the area with two English companions and a small team of local porters. Fawcett had been born in Torquay in 1867 and after a distinguished career in the British army was hired by the Bolivian government to explore and survey its more remote regions. Other commissions from South American governments followed that saw Fawcett mapping large areas and establishing where vaguely defined international borders went.

On these journeys into largely unexplored regions, Fawcett was told many stories about a highly advanced civilisation that had formerly ruled and controlled a huge area of the rain forest. The local tribes told him that this rich and sophisticated people had formerly ruled the less advanced peoples with an iron hand and much brutality, but that they had disappeared some generations earlier. Fawcett became convinced that there had, in the recent past, been a civilisation akin to the Aztec or the Maya somewhere in the interior. By studying the stories he was told, and accounts in old books, Fawcett thought the centre of this civilisation had been in the Mato Grosso. It was in search of the ruins of stone cities and mighty temples that he pushed into the utterly unexplored area in 1914. He headed for the Cordillera dos Parecis.

After some weeks, Fawcett and his companions discovered a tribe called the Maxubi. Fawcett eagerly noted that these people were sun worshippers and had some advanced astronomical knowledge. Believing he was close to success, Fawcett pushed on even though the Maxubi had warned him that he was entering the territory of the Maracoxi. The Maxubi had told him that these people were little better than animals and were highly dangerous. Fawcett dismissed the stories as being merely a sign that the two tribes were hostile to each other.

Several days after leaving the Maxubi, Fawcett heard the sounds of humans moving about in the undergrowth around his camp at night. The intruders had gone by morning, so Fawcett pushed on. He later recorded in his diary what happened next.

Friday, 18 March 2011

Paranormal Surrey - the video

The county of Surrey may wear a face of suburban and rural normality, but lurking not far below the surface is an unequalled amount of paranormal activity and strangeness. In this volume, well-known local author Rupert Matthews, an expert on the subject of the paranormal, draws together a terrifying and intriguing collection of first-hand accounts and long-forgotten archive reports from the county's history. From big cat sightings and ancient monsters to poltergeists and UFOs, this compendium of the bizarre events that have shocked and frightened the residents of Surrey is richly illustrated with a range of modern photographs and archive images. Finally revealing the story behind many of Surrey's most famous myths and legends, whilst also shedding light on some lesser known paranormal phenomena, this book will fascinate those who are unaware of this side of the county's character.




Were they really UFOs?

Rather more dramatic, but completely natural, was the ball of fire that raced through the skies over the Komovi Forest in Yugoslavia on the evening of 26 November 1967. The object was seen by a group of forestry workers who were sheltering from a sudden downpour of heavy rain. The object streaked through the sky, then plunged into the forest and set the trees alight. The resulting forest fire was put out with some difficulty despite the wet weather. Almost certainly this was an example of ball-lightning - a rare electromagnetic phenomenon which occurs when electrically charged air forms a white hot ball during a thunderstorm.

Other apparently genuine UFOs turn out to be deliberate hoaxes. In 1962 a 14 year old British schoolboy, Alex Birch, photographed five saucer-shaped objects flying over his home in Sheffield. He sent the photo to the local press, who passed the story on to the Air Ministry and to national media. Soon Alex was being interviewed on radio, televison and by the authorities. He stuck to his story and convinced nearly everyone who spoke to him. Photographic experts found no evidence of trickery or manipulation in the photographic negative.

More than ten years later, Alex admitted that the whole affair had been a hoax. He had produced the photo by painting the “discs” on to his bedroom window and then taking a photo through the window of the scenery beyond. What were really small paintings close up seemed to be large objects far away. Alex claimed to have taken the photo as a joke, but to have become frightened when government officials arrived and so too scared to admit that the photo was a fake.

It is sometimes possible to recognise frauds, advanced technology and unusual natural phenomena for what they are, but not always. There are probably hundred of cases of seemingly baffling UFOs which are perfectly normal things, but for one reason or another remain unidentified.


Thursday, 17 March 2011

Ghosthunter in Little Bookham

Yesterday evening I travelled to Little Bookham in Surey to talk to the village WI on the subject of Ghosts in Surrey. I regaled them with tales of the Merrow Poltergeist, the Jolly Monk of Wonersh, the Ugly Man of Cobham and many others.

If you would like to learn more about booking me for your event CLICK HERE.


Wednesday, 16 March 2011

Rumours of a UFO crash

It was about this date that strange rumours began to spread among newspapermen and others investigating the mysterious objects. It was reported that one, two or more of the flying saucers had crashed somewhere in the southwestern USA. The wreckage had, it was said, been impounded by the US Air Force and a tight blanket of secrecy imposed on the whole affair.

On 22 March the story came to the attention of the FBI when Guy Hottel, an officer in Washington DC sent in a report based on a conversation with a senior USAF officer. The report runs “An investigator for the Air Force stated that three so-called flying saucers had been recovered in New Mexico. They were described as being circular in shape with raised centres, approximately 50 feet in diameter. Each one was occupied by three bodies of humans shape, but only 3 feet tall, dressed in metallic cloth of a very fine texture. The saucers were found in New Mexico due to the fact that the government has a very high-powered radar set-up in that area and it is believed the radar interferes with the controlling mechanism of the saucers.” The FBI took no action on the report. Perhaps the senior officials thought it was all nonsense - or perhaps they knew something of what lay behind the report and did not need to follow it up.

As the story developed it had, by 1950, assumed a definitive form. Two saucers had crashed somewhere in Arizona or New Mexico. Inside the craft had been found the dead bodies of several humanoids about three feet tall. The creatures were undamaged and did not appear to have been killed by the forces of impact, fire or other causes normal to an air crash. The figures had all been dressed identically in what seemed to be a uniform of some kind. The speculation was that the craft had come down by accident, and the crews then died as a result of some natural contamination. It was generally speculated that the “little men from Venus” had died as a result of an infection or due to an inability to breath Earth’s atmosphere. The US Air Force, it was said, had hushed the story up so that they could educate the public gradually to the existence of extraterrestrials visiting Earth.

The story was not, as a rule, taken very seriously. Donald Keyhoe declared “The story has all the earmarks of a well-thought-out hoax” and refused to spend time looking into it.

As we shall see later in this book, the story might have actually had more to it than Keyhoe and others at the time believed.

Monday, 14 March 2011

An Introduction to the Roswell UFO Crash

The Roswell Incident is, without doubt, the most famous UFO incident in the world. It is also the most controversial. Even among those who believe that alien spacecraft are visiting Earth, opinions are divided over what happened at Roswell.

Some hold firmly to the conclusion that an alien spaceship crashed near Roswell, New Mexico, in early July 1947. The wreckage and the remains of the dead crew were recovered under conditions of the tightest security by men of the United States Army Air Force (USAAF) and taken to the nearby Roswell Army Air Force base. From there they were transported to the top security research facility at Wright Air Field in Ohio for study. The experiments carried out at Wright Air Field have been responsible for producing all manner of modern high-tech products, including fibre-optics, the integrated circuit chip, lasers and a host of other objects.

Others believe that nothing very exciting happened at all. A weather balloon came down in the desert, got snagged on some scrub and was found by a ranch hand. An unfortunate series of misunderstandings then followed that created the illusion of a mystery where none existed. Thereafter, the event has been exploited by charlatans, fools and innocents to create an entirely false image of what was, in reality, an utterly dull event.

Within both camps there are divergent opinions and firmly held views. Indeed, one of the key distinguishing features of the Roswell Incident - unlike most other UFO-related events - is the sheer complexity of opinion and the dogmatic way in which those opinions are held. At times those studying the incident have been reduced to fairly unpleasant name calling when talking of each other. One researcher has accused another of lying, witnesses have been accused of being charlatans out to make a quick buck by inventing a far-fetched story, and even respected academics have been denounced as being either gullible or unwilling to accept evidence.

In large part all is a result of the nature of the evidence relating to the Roswell Incident. Unlike most UFO events that are generally discussed, there was no real research carried out at the time of the Roswell Incident by people interested in UFOs and keen to record as much detail as possible. Instead, evidence falls into four categories:

1) Contemporary written evidence published at the time. As we shall see this largely takes the form of newspaper articles, mostly in local or regional newspapers, though there were also a few references to events at Roswell in other publications at the time.

2) Contemporary written evidence that was not published at the time but which has been published since. This mostly takes the form of USAAF documentation relating to Roswell Army Air Force Base, the personnel stationed there and events that took place there. A smaller quantity relates to FBI, police and other government agencies. At the time this mass of data was routinely kept secret, as most military documentation still is, but with the passing of time it has been declassified and made available to the public through the Freedom of Information legislation.

3) Contemporary written evidence that was not published at the time and which has still not been published. It is well known that much of the USAAF documentation relating to Roswell for the year 1947 has never seen the light of day. The reasons for this are varied. A large amount of it was destroyed at a time when it was thought to be no longer of any interest. Data pertaining to such mundane daily matters as the cookhouse food stores, for instance, are routinely incinerated by the military. Other documentation is known still to exist, but has not been released. Some of this is now available in second-hand and edited form as it features in official reports compiled by personnel who have had access to the original documents. Other documents remain completely secret. By their very nature, these documents represent a great unknown quantity. It is uncertain how many documents remain under wraps, still more vague is what they record.

4) The final and most prolific form of evidence is eyewitness testimony recorded some years after the Roswell Incident itself. Most of this testimony was recorded by UFO researchers during the 1980s and 1990s, though some evidence continues to turn up even today. Much of this evidence is first hand, but a fair amount of it is second hand. The quantity of this evidence  is not in dispute, but the quality is. The human memory can play strange tricks as the years pass. Even a competent witness who is honestly doing his or her best to recall events accurately can make mistakes after an interval of 30 or 40 years - as most of those giving evidence about Roswell were doing. Of course, not all witnesses to events are as good as researchers would hope. Some may be tempted to exaggerate their claims to gain fame or to be able to charge a fee for giving interviews. It should come as no surprise that some witnesses to the events at Roswell contradict each other. This does not mean, however, that everything they say is misremembered or invented. Some of the statements may be false, some confused but some will be true and accurate.

This book sets out to find the truth behind the confusion that exists over the Roswell Incident. It does not take as its starting point any particular belief. There is no attempt to convince the reader that an alien spacecraft crashed at Roswell, nor that all the witness statements are untrustworthy. Instead it sets out to present the evidence for events in an impartial way and then allow the reader to draw his or her own conclusions.

Friday, 11 March 2011

A Florida Poltergei

In January 1967 paranormal researcher Suzy Smith was being interviewed on WKAT, a local radio in Miami Florida, when the radio station received a phone call from Bea Rambisz who claimed that the place where she worked was haunted by a ghost that smashed things. Smith decided to investigate and went to Tropication Arts Inc, a company which wholesaled various souvenirs, fancy dress novelties and other light hearted objects. She discovered that strange events had begun in the middle of December when some glass mugs were found smashed on the floor when the staff arrived for work. As the days had gone by the damages increased steadily until by the time Smith became involved about a dozen objects were being broken every day. Typically, an ornament would fall off a shelf and smash on the floor when nobody was near it. Just occasionally an object would shatter into fragments as it sat on the shelf.

The manager, Alvin Laubheim, had called the police in soon after Christmas. A sergeant had been searching the warehouse when a beer glass had slid off a shelf and crashed to the floor in front of his eyes. The policeman assumed that it had been pushed from behind by somebody he could not see. He then whipped out his pistol and shouted “I’ll shoot at the next thing to move”. Within the next few seconds no fewer than 15 objects flung themselves off shelves. He holstered his gun and left hurriedly.

Smith called in other investigators to help her. Together they carefully ruled out any normal methods by which the objects could be moved. Smith, meanwhile, had noticed that the damages occurred only when one particular employee, 19 year old Julio Vasquez, was in the warehouse. When he had a day off or was out on a delivery nothing happened. She interviewed Vazquez who denied causing the mayhem, but did admit that he was unhappy in the job. When he got a new job elsewhere the trouble ceased abruptly.

Wednesday, 9 March 2011

The Devil Jumps into Churt, Surrey

A very different sort of monster once lurked on the hills just east of Churt. These hills are highly distinctive being a line of three sharp, steep hills that rise out of the otherwise fairly level common land to a height of 375 feet. It was none other than the Devil himself who frequented these hills. For some reason best known to himself, the evil one enjoyed jumping from one hilltop to the next and back again. Whenever he came to Surrey, the Devil would leap about on the hills, thus giving them their name of The Devil’s Jumps.

Just two miles to the east lived a blacksmith named Thunor in Thursley. This Thunor was prodigiously strong, but he did like his sleep. And when the Devil came at night the sounds of the jumping kept the blacksmith awake. One night it all got too much for him. Thunor came tearing out of his house in a terrible rage. seeing a  huge boulder by the roadside, he lifted it up and hurled it at the Devil. The rock struck the Devil in the chest and sent him sprawling in ungainly fashion. So surprised was the Devil by this blow that he raced off back to Hell and never again came to the hills between Churt and Thursley.

It is an interesting tale, made more fascinating by the fact that the village of Thursley derives its name from the Old English “Thunor’s Leagh”. A leagh was a grove of trees, however Thunor was no blacksmith but instead the pagan god Thunor - the English equivalent of the Viking Thor. The pagan English liked to worship their gods in sacred clearings or groves, and there can be no doubt that Thursley was one such pagan holy place. Quite how the pagan  god Thunor got into conflict with the arch demon of the Christian religion we can only guess at.

Monday, 7 March 2011

Mysterious Northumberland - The Video


"Mysterious Northumberland" is the next volume in the Breedon books "Mysterious Counties" series joining best-selling titles "Mysterious Cornwall" and "Mysterious Lincolnshire".The book concentrates on all aspects of the supernatural, paranormal and mysterious in the county of Northumberland. Ghosts, myths, legends, big cats, witchcraft and the little people all feature in the book. The book is arranged by subject, though each and every area of Northumberland is covered to give a wide geographical spread around the county.The book is aimed at the general reader interested in the county or in mysterious and bizarre events. The text is written in a lively chatty style, while maintaining good standards of English and accuracy. The inclusion of maps, numerous photos and other illustrative material breaks up the text to make the volume more appealing to the reader.Among the mysterious place to feature are: Bamburgh Castle - a number of different ghosts are said to lurk here, including the very active lady in the central keep. This is also the supposed location of the Lost Hand of St Oswald, a miraculous relic that evades all efforts to find it; and Elsdon - home to the notorious Brown Man of the Moors, an elemental spirit. It is also the site of a Fairy Market, with a fairly long legend attached."Mysterious Northumberland" provides a chilling read! It is a comprehensive look at strange phenomena, supernatural encounters and folklore in Northumberland. It is fully illustrated throughout with photographs and drawings.


The Helpful Fairies of Northumberland

Some deals could be done with the fairies that were beneficial to the humans involved. Just outside Wooler there is an ancient earthwork known as Kettle Camp. Inside Kettle Camp is a spring of pure, fresh water. This spring is held to be beloved by the local fairies who will not drink water from any other spring or well in the area. If a young maiden wants something, she should take a new pin, bend it in half and bring it to the fairy spring. As the pin is dropped into the water the girl should say her wish out loud for the fairies to hear. Then, if the pin has been taken away by the next day, the fairies will work their magic to make the wish come true.

A ploughman was out in the fields near Humshaugh on the banks of the North Tyne one day, apparently during the reign of Queen Victoria, when he had his own beneficial meeting with the little people. It was a fine day as the ploughman went to work, plodding his way from one end of the field and then back again. The horses were docile and the ploughman was proud to see that his furrows were neat and straight.

As he finished one row under a willow tree, the ploughman heard some strange knocking and sloshing noises as if a farmwife were churning milk in her dairy. There was nothing and nobody to be seen, however, so the ploughman guessed that he was hearing the fairy folk at work. He set off again to pass up the field and back down it again. When he reached the willow tree again he heard a little voice cry out.

“Tis a bad day today. What shall I do? I have broken my churning staff.”

“I can mend that if you wish,” called out the ploughman. He did not wait for an answer for he knew that the little people are usually shy and prefer not to be noticed. Off he went again to plough his furrow the length of the field and back again.

On his return to the willow tree the ploughman saw a small churn staff snapped clean in two and lying on the grass at the edge of the field. Pulling his team to a halt, the ploughman fished out some twine and pins that he had in his pockets and swiftly bound up the two parts of the broken staff.

“There,” he said. “That will hold for the day, but I’d get a new staff entirely if it were mine.” Again he did not wait for any answer, but set off behind his plough team once more to plod up the field and down again.

When he returned to the willow, the mended churn staff was gone. In its place was a thick slice of bread spread with a generous helping of butter. The ploughman ate it for his lunch and found it to be the best bread and the tastiest butter that he had ever come across.

Mysterious Northumberland by rupert matthews

Friday, 4 March 2011

Cornwall's Giant Bolster

“There were giants in the Earth in those days”, says the Book of Genesis when talking about those distant days before Noah’s flood.

Modern scientists may scoff, but the people of Cornwall are in no doubt. If they are to be believed then the county was once home to more giants than any other place in England. As for the Devil, he is held to have been very active in Cornwall in days gone by. Outsiders might suggest that Cornwall was a favourite destination of his due to the wickedness of the local people. Cornish residents would no doubt counter that the Devil had to come to the county so often for precisely the opposite reason - he had to work doubly hard in order to tempt the good Cornish folk away from the paths of righteousness.

Either way both giants and devils have been frequent visitors to Cornwall.

Take for instance the strange earthworks of Bolster Bank just outside St Agnes on the north coast. The bank is a long ditch with the spoil thrown up to one side. On the hill behind it are three large stone cairns. According to local legend, this area was once owned by a giant named Bolster. When St Agnes brought Christianity to the area and asked Bolster for land on which to build a church, she was met by a grumpy reply. The giant told her that she could have as much land as she could clear of stones and boulders in three journeys.

St Agnes went to work, using her apron to hold the stones as she picked them up. Miraculously her apron expanded to hold a huge amount of debris. Three times she emptied her apron on top of the hill, on each occasion dumping enough rocks to create one of the cairns. She thus cleared enough land for a church and for a holy community of Christians.

Wednesday, 2 March 2011

Ghosthunter is now a University Tutor

I am now a tutor for an on-line university based in Virginia, USA. I am running course "PAR501 Understanding our Paranormal Universe" for the International Metaphysical University. They have loads of other fascinating courses.


Ghosthunter in Godstone

Last night I went to Godstone to give a talk in the village hall on the subject of "Ghosts of Surrey". The talk featured the ghostly smuggler of the Fox and Hounds on Tilburstow Hill, just outside the village. The audience seemed to like it - I got a cup of tea at any rate!

If you are interested in having me as a speaker to an event CLICK HERE for details of what I have to offer.

Tuesday, 1 March 2011

Stone Throwing Poltergeists

Helpidius was the personal physician of the Gothic monarch Theodoric the Great in the 510s. For several months one summer his home in Rome became famous for the “flying stones” which cascaded down on to its roof from unseen origins.

In 858 a farmer near Bingen, Germany, found himself hit by stones thrown by unseen hands whenever he went outside. He believed that a demon was attacking him and a priest was sent from Mainz to get rid of the assailant. As the priest began the ceremony an avalanche of stones struck him from behind. He fled.

On 29 November 1591 the Oxfordshire home of the Lee family was subjected to a barrage of stones. The rocks varied in size from a small pebble up to 22 pounds in weight. Each stone arrived in identical fashion, falling to the floor with a thud as if dropped from ceiling height. There were, however, no holes in the ceilings and nobody in sight who could have thrown the stones. After this initial barrage, stones continued to appear from nowhere inside the house off and on for some weeks. Days might pass without a stone being seen, then a dozen would appear all at once. The eldest son, 22 year old George, died in May 1592 after which the stones stopped appearing.

On 11 June 1685 a poltergeist, called a demon at the time, began an assault on the home of George Walton in Portsmouth, New England. A shower of several hundred pebbles began falling on to the roof of the house with a loud rattling sound. The family went outside to find themselves deluged by stones. Several people were hit by the falling stones, but they suffered no injury as the stones bounced off harmlessly. The pebbles seemed to be appearing out of thin air several feet above the house. The stone shower stopped, but repeated itself a few days later, and continued to manifest itself several times until about November, when the attacks ceased. 

In 1935 a poltergeist attacking a house in Eland Road, in the Battersea area of London, began by throwing small pieces of coal on to the roof of a conservatory. It then threw some pennies, followed by more coal and some stones. Over the coming weeks it is estimated that more than 500 stones and bits of coal appeared apparently from nowhere.

A variation on throwing stones was shown by the famous Bell Witch. This poltergeist took to throwing sticks and cut logs. The pieces of wood usually came flying out of a thicket beside the road that led to the Bell Farm and were thrown at anyone walking or riding along the road.