Thursday, 18 March 2010

It's London Today.

I have decided to look into some London hauntings today, and so am about to go off and visit one of my favoured spooky locations and take a look at London's cursed cobblestone.

I'm particualry fond of this one as it concerns someone who took my London Ghost Walk on Halloween 2005.

About three weeks after the Halloween tour I received a phone call from a lady who has brought her family on the Halloween tour. She wanted to know where the courtyard was where I told a particualr ghost story. Having given her directions I politiely enquired why she wanted to know.

It transpired that, on the Halloween Ghost Tour, her duahgter had noticed that one of the cobblestones in the courtyard was loose. Deciding it would make a perfect souvenir of the tour she dropped it into her back pack and, by the end of Halloween 2005 that cobblestone was enjoying pride of place on a shelf in her daughters bedroom.

The next night, they came home from school and work respectively and, despite the fact the central heating was going full pelt, the house was freezing cold. Try as they might it just would not warm up.

Well, over the next three weeks, thinks kept happening in their house. They got cold spots, thought they saw people, and heard voices. But the night before she made the phone call she'd gone up to turn the light off in her daughters bedroom but could't open the door.

She called her husband up and together they maged to ease the door open. But when they got into the room it had been trashed. Light fittings smashed, bed covers pulled off the bed and dumped in an untidy pile on the floor. There on top of the pile was the cobblestone!

That was it. They decided that ever since the cobblestone had come into their house they'd had nothing but trouble. Hence her call to the office to find the location of the courtyard from whence the dreaded cobblestone had come!

That night I was doing a ghost walk and was in th courtyard and could clearly see the gap where the cobblestone should be. I came back the next night and the cobblestone had been returned.

Funny thing is, that the Corporation of London, keep fixing said cobbelstone with cement, but it always mnages to work free!!

Spooky or what?

Till next time .. good hauntings.

Tuesday, 16 March 2010

What's In A Name?

I was on my way to another haunted location when I started to notice some of the great street names with which the spectral landscape of Britain is blessed.

My ultimate destination on this leg of my journey was the church of St Peter, in the village of Tewin. So I was poodling along through the leafy byways of Hertfordshire -well given those byways were still very much in the grip of winter they were more stark and skeletal than leafy, which, I suppose, is more in keeping with the theme of Haunted Britain - when, lo and behold, I saw the name Robbery Bottom Lane on a sign.

What a great street to live on! Imagine phoning up a call centre to order something and then when they ask for your address proudly announcing "44 Robbery Bottom Lane." There'd be that brief pause then, "can I just place you on hold Sir whilst I suppress the urge to giggle." Or perhaps I'm just being puerile and Robbery Bottom Lane isn't in the least bit funny? In which case I offer a thousand apologies and promise to grow up. Still here's a photo of it just on the off chance.

Anyway this was a pleasant diversion as I headed through Herts on route to Tewin and, before you could say Robbery Bottom Lane, I was driving up the drive to St Peter's Church where I hoped to reacquaint myself with Lady Ann Grimston.

You approach the church along a fairly long drive, which curves into a circle, that is surrounded by trees, just in front of the church door. This posed something of a problem as I couldn't work out where I was meant to park. So I pulled over to the side of the circle and got out of the car.

The last time that I visited Lady Ann was in 1999 when I was writing my first book on Haunted Britain and Ireland, but since she's been dead since November 1780, I wasn't expecting her to have changed a great deal, and nor did she disappoint. The reason I wanted to visit her again was that the last time I was here I had photographed her grave on film, yes film, that's how long ago it was. So I wanted to update my collection by obtaining a digital image of the grave.

Now Lady Ann Grimston was a Sadducean who lived on Robbery Bottom Lane. I'm just kidding about where she lived, just wanted to try and get it into the blog again. Being a Sadducean meant that she didn't believe in the Resurrection of the dead. As she lay dying, in November 1780, she point blank refused to recant her heresy, even though the vicar implored her to do so. "If, indeed, there is life hereafter," she told the vicar, "trees will render asunder my tomb."

When she died she was buried in St Peter's Churchyard. Now whether what happened next was a divine response to her death bed challenge, or was the vicar's attempt to prove that he had been right and she was wrong, is uncertain. But her tombs has indeed been rendered asunder by several trees that have sprouted and grown up through it, causing the stone to crack and shatter.

So, there I was happily photographing the tomb when a lady with a spade suddenly appeared as if from nowhere. "Is that your car?" She asked. I confessed that, indeed, it was. "You're not meant to park there, it's against health and safety, we need to keep that clear for fire engines," was her reply. I looked nervously at the spade, wondering if she might be the local traffic warden and the spade was the implement by which Tewin enforces a zero tolerance response to parking violations, one strike and you're buried sort of thing. But no, it transpired she was simply working on the churchyard. "And we've got a funeral at 2.30," she said "so we need it to be kept clear for the hearse."

Apparently, when you visit St Peter's you are meant to park between the trees, not on the path - so now you know dear reader.

Anyway, I offered my profound apologies and asked if I could quickly photograph the tomb. So I quickly snapped a few photos as she headed to the corner of the churchyard and commenced tidying around a few of the graves.

As I walked back to the path, I noticed another car reversing into the gap between the trees and arrived at my car just as a very tall, gentleman got out. of the other vehicle. "Is that your car?" He asked. "You're not meant to park there." I explained that I'd already had the conversation with the lady over there and pointed to where she had been standing, except - yes you've guessed it - there wasn't any lady there!

Just as I was contemplating the prospect of making a cameo appearance in my own book, she appeared from the other side of the church. "Hello vicar," she said to the gentleman. Whereupon, I climbed back into the car and head further into the Hertfordshire countryside. Till the next time...