Monday, September 28, 2009

British Beasts at Mania

Over at my Lair of the Beasts column at you can find an article on me that summarizes some of the more well-known British Bigfoot-style creatures.

Friday, September 25, 2009

A Cheshire Creature

The latest issue of Paranormal Magazine includes an interesting story concerning the sighting of what sounds very much like a classic British Bigfoot-style beast.

Originally having appeared in the August 2009 issue of Phenomena Magazine, the account reads as follows:

"Poachers in woods at Walkerwood Reservoir, Cheshire, heard noises brush in front of them, then their torches suddenly stopped working. Panic set in and the ran. They stopped several hundred yards away and could still hear the noises which seemed to be pursuing them. They opened fire, they heard no sound, and then the noises began again, as though something was moving towards them, then from the darkness came a huge dark figure. It was about seven feet tall and was completely black in color. They could see no features, and the thing seemed to be absorbing the darkness, as if camouflaged in some way. The poachers fled."

This is not the first time I have come across cases involving a British Bigfoot that has seemingly had an effect on powered equipment (in this case, torches). Jon Downes experienced something similar at Bolam Woods in 2002, when recording equipment began to suspiciously fail.

Plus, the reference to the sighting having occurred at a reservoir is intriguing, since this is not the first time that an association between Bigfoot and reservoirs has been noted. There's this one, too.

I'll update you if more data becomes available.

Monday, September 21, 2009

The Phantom Baboon of Basingstoke

Last week, over at my Reviews of the Fortean Kind blog, I reviewed a new edition of Elliott O'Donnell's 1913 book, Animal Ghosts. The new edition - re-titled Ghostly Pets, Phantom Felines and Haunted Hounds - has been re-published by Tim Beckley, and is well worth reading.

So, what does that have to do with my Man-Beast U.K. blog, you may reasonably ask? Well: I'll tell you!

One of the chapters in the book deals with spectral monkeys in the British Isles, and includes the following account from O'Donnell that focuses upon a ghostly baboon seen near the English town of Basingstoke, Hampshire.

In O-Donnell's own words...
"A sister of a well-known author tells me there used to be a house called 'The Swallows,' standing in two acres of land, close to a village near Basingstoke.

"In 1840 a Mr. Bishop of Tring bought the house, which had long stood empty, and we went to live there in 1841. After being there a fortnight two servants gave notice to leave, stating that the place was haunted by a large cat and a big baboon, which they constantly saw stealing down the staircases and passages.

"They also testified to hearing sounds as of somebody being strangled, proceeding from an empty attic near where they slept, and of the screams and groans of a number of of people being horribly tortured in the cellars just underneath the dairy. On going to see what was the cause of the disturbances, nothing was ever visible. By and by other members of the household began to be harassed by similar manifestations. The news spread through the village, and crowds of people came to the house with lights and sticks, to see if they could witness anything.

"One night, at about twelve o'clock, when several of the watchers were stationed on guard in the empty courtyard, they all saw the forms of a huge cat and a baboon rise from the closed grating of the large cellar under the old dairy, rush past them, and disappear in a dark angle of the walls.

"The same figures were repeatedly seen afterwards by many other persons. Early in December 1841, Mr. Bishop, hearing fearful screams, accompanied by deep and hoarse jabberings, apparently coming from the top of the house, rushed upstairs, whereupon all was instantly silent, and he could discover nothing.

"After that, Mr. Bishop set to work to get rid of the house, and was fortunate enough to find as a purchaser a retired colonel, who was soon, however, scared out of it. This was in 1842; it was soon after pulled down. The ground was used for the erection of cottages; but the hauntings being transferred to them, they were speedily vacated, and no one ever daring to inhabit them, they were eventually demolished, the site on which they stood being converted into allotments.

"There were many theories as to the history of 'The Swallows'; one being that a highwayman, known as Steeplechase Jock, the son of a Scottish chieftain, had once plied his trade there and murdered many people, whose bodies were supposed to be buried somewhere on or near the premises. He was said to have had a terrible though decidedly unorthodox ending - falling into a vat of boiling tar, a raving madman.
"But what were the phantasms of the ape and cat? Were they the earth-bound spirits of the highwayman and his horse, or simply the spirits of two animals? Though either theory is possible, I am inclined to favour the former."

There ends the story. Interestingly, however - and somewhat similarly - there was a deep belief in Staffordshire and Shropshire in the 19th century that sightings of the notorious Man-Monkey of the Shropshire Union Canal (that was first seen in 1879) were connected with a man who had drowned in the waters of the canal. Human spirits returned in the form of marauding monkeys? Who knows...?

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Werewolves on the Loose....

Although this blog is predominantly dedicated to British man-beasts of a distinctly Bigfoot variety, as you'll know sometimes I delve into tales of other hairy man-beasts, such as those relative to the British werewolf. And here's my latest post on the matter, over at

Man-Monkey Musings

As some of you probably know, the one so-called "British Bigfoot" that interests me more than any other is the "Man-Monkey of Ranton," which haunts Bridge 39 on England's Shropshire Union Canal. A very atmospheric, tree-shrouded locale, Bridge 39 is arguably as weird as the hairy man-beast itself.

Aside from the fact that the original story of the beast's activities (which kicked off in the late 1870s) is both chilling and packed with supernatural overtones, the case is made more significant by the fact that sightings of the beast have continued up until pretty much the present day; and additional data on the affair always seems to be surfacing.

And, with that last point in mind consider the following:

A couple of weeks ago I flew back to England to speak at Jon Downes' annual Weird Weekend gig (where I spoke on the strange story of Stalin's Ape-Men, which can be found in my brand new book, Science Fiction Secrets).

Well, the transatlantic flight from here in Dallas, Texas to Birmingham, England is always a long and mind-numbingly tedious one; so to pass the time (and particularly so when the only things on the aircraft's TV are [A] a soppy chick-flick, and [B] some kids' film about robots), I always take with me a book or several.

This time, I took a book that I hadn't read in years: The Eye of Fire by Graham Phillips and Martin Keatman - the sequel to their earlier title, The Green Stone.

Psychic-questing books like this have always fascinated me, and I eagerly devoured both titles when they were published back in the 1980s - as I also did with Andy Collins' books on the subject, such as The Black Alchemist and The Second Coming.

But, I often like to re-read books I haven't touched in years - hence why I decided on The Eye of Fire for the flight to the Weird Weekend.

Well, imagine my surprise when, at one point in the book, I came across something that I had long-forgotten about: a strange and intriguing reference to Ranton Abbey, which is situated only the very briefest of trips away from the infamous haunted bridge.

Ranton Abbey - known more correctly as the Augustinian Priory - was built around 1150, and flourished in the 13th century as a subordinate house to Haughmond Abbey, near Shrewsbury. In the early 19th century the property became part of the estate of the Ansons of Shugborough, latterly the Earls of Lichfield. Today, it is in ruins; having been destroyed by fire in the Second World War, while occupied by Dutch soldiers.

And, with that said, onto the story.

While much of The Eye of Fire is beyond the scope of this blog, the relevant data relates to a July 1982 trip to the abbey that the team of investigators in the book embarked upon, as part of their quest for the Eye of Fire of the book's title.

Basically, the relevant parts of the book reveal how one of the characters in the book, named Mary Heath, created a diabolical and monstrous "Guardian" at the abbey - whose role was to protect an ancient artifact that plays a vital role in the story.

Interestingly, the "Guardian" is described in the book's pages in highly ominous tones, and, variously, as: "...a complete blackness, seething within itself, shapeless but at the same time having substance...;" as " abomination...;" and as a heavy-breathing "great beast."

In other words, the "Guardian" is a monstrous, protector-style thought-form, brought into being and roaming an ancient abode in Ranton. But there's more: the vile thought-form was reportedly created by a woman named Mary Heath in 1875.

How intriguing that a diabolical and violent thought-form was created in Ranton in 1875; and then - only 4 years later - the Man-Monkey (for which the best explanation is that it is indeed a Tulpa-style thought-form) was seen roaming around the nearby Bridge 39.

Could it be that Mary Heath's monstrous creation and the Man-Monkey were (and still are) one and the same?

Admittedly, this is a speculative question. However, the location, the time-frame, and the nature of the "Guardian" entity strongly suggest (to me, at least) that we should consider a possible link between the two.

Thoughts or comments, anyone???

The Bexley Monkey

Not all of the out-of-place or unidentified primates seen in Britain are of Bigfoot-sized proportions - as Neil Arnold reveals!