Saturday, 27 February 2010

Clibbon's Post - Walter Clibbon

The Strange Tale of Walter Clibbon and Clibbon's Post

I'm beginning to wonder if this winter is ever going to end! When I headed out to Hertfordshire in early January it was a bit of an adventure driving through the blizzards and hiking to haunted houses over snowy fields. Now it's just starting to be something of a bore.

Still, unperturbed by this being the winter of our discontent, myself and my trusty Emily (my sat nav) have been ploughing on through the snows collecting ghost stories and taking photos of haunted houses(well I have as Emily hasn't yet learnt the art of photography - mind you, judging by some of the results, neither have I!

So the other day I headed off to drive through Hertfordshire and Bedfordhsire and, despite the ice covered roads, it was a great and rewarding day.

My first destination was the village of Datchworth which, as it transpires, is a lovely place. Having found it a drove along the road from there to Bramfield as I wanted to find Clibbon's Post. The road was clear, but in sections, was covered in solid sheets of black ice, so I brought my speed down to a crawl and was amazed by how many people overtook me and then speeded up once they had done so. Having passed the village, well to be honest it is more of a hamlet, of Bulls Green I pulled into a clearing in the surrounded woodland and parked up.

A man was clipping the hedges of a house opposite so I decided that a little local knowledge might come in useful. That is one thing I love about these quaint English villages that you find within an hour or so of the centre of London. They are so timeless, so quintessentially English. These villagers are the people that take tea at 4pm, play cricket at the weekends and attend church on Sundays. They also know an awful lot about the surrounding area and can help a lost ghost hunter get back on track. So I went over to this friendly local and asked if he could direct me to Clibbon's post. He replied in a dialect that was somewhere between Polish and Lithuanian and its soon transpired that English wasn't one of his languages. Hoping desperately that Can "Clibbon's Post" wasn't a way of insulting his mother in his native tongue I beat a hasty retreat and began walking along the road, trying to stop myself slipping over on the ice.

After about five minutes I found the post, a nondescript wooden affair, set back from the road and enclosed by creeping woodland and vegetation. Carved into the post, along with the date 28.12.1782 is the name Clibbon's Post and it is at this spot that Walter Clibbon is reputedly buried. Who he? I hear you ask. Well, dear reader (I've always wanted to write that) Walter Clibbon was a pie man who, along with his dysfunctional family of pie men and women, hawked his wares around the fairs and markets of Hertfordshire and Bedfordshire.

But they also had a nice little sideline in that they were using their position to eavesdrop on their customers conversations to work out which of them would be carrying substantial amounts of money on their homeward journey after a good days trading at the market or fair.

They would then change into the guise of Highwaymen and rob these unfortunate farmers as they travelled home along the lonely byways of Herts and beds.

Unfortunately for them, on 28th December 1782, close to the spot where the post now stands, they picked on a lad whose uncle lived close nearby. Having robbed him they let him go. The affronted youth went straight to his uncle's house and, armed with a pistol, they came hurrying back to the scene of the crime only to find the dastardly robbers lying in wait for another unsuspecting victim. A battle ensued in the course of which Walter Clibbon was shot. Tradition holds that he was then taken to the inn at Bull's Cross where the local people tied him to the back of a horse and dragged him along the rough road back to the scene of his crime where they beat him to death and then buried him with the stake of the post through his heart.

Ever since then, people walking here in the fading light of day have sometimes heard a horse, dragging something, moving along the road towards the post beneath which the remnants of Walter Clibbon are still said to lie.

I have to say, it is a very chilling spot. The post itself is somewhat timeworn and a lot of graffiti has been carved into it. But the, who's going to show respect to such a dastardly villain who is very much now a part of local folklore?