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Tuesday, 10 December 2002
Source: Bournemouth Daily Echo 10th Dec 2002
Sunday, 20 October 2002
Secondly, it contains much information of interest to the fortean zoologist. In its pages are accounts of the spectral black dogs of the county, but whereas other books on this theme are content merely to rehash the same stories over again this book contains both analysis and a novel interpretation of the ancient legends, presenting a whole new hypothesis.
As well as the black dogs, other fortean zoological titbits include mermaids, big cats and other things 'which go bump in the night', all discussed with elan and flair.
Thirdly, this book is co-authored by none other than our very own Mark North, which means that as well as the excellent text there are some stunning illustrations which will surely establish North as one of the leading illustrators of forteana at the beginning of the 21st Century. It is impossible to criticise this excellent book, and I strongly urge all readers of this magazine to go out and buy it today.
Review by Jonathan Downes, Animals and Men: The Journal of the Centre for Fortean Zoology, Issue 28 www.cfz.org.uk
Friday, 11 October 2002
Cathie O'Donnell is mainly concentrating on the Blandford and Wimborne areas, including the out-lying villages - for example Shillingstone, Durweston, Wool, Wooland, Cowgrove, Ibberton, and the likes. So far stories include phantom armies, black dogs, white ladies, a couple of monks, two drowned men, phantom coaches and much more. Cathie tries to research the stories to un-earth any stories or clues to who/what the ghost is, which can be fascinating.
Email Cathie your stories at firstname.lastname@example.org
And if you would like to try something a little unusual then Cathie organises a Ghost Walk in Blandford on Halloween. It starts at the Crown Hotel, Blandford, at 19.30 and lasts until 21.30 approx. Adults £3, children £1.50, with all proceeds going to Dorset Cancer Care. Last year £208 was raised.
Monday, 7 October 2002
Great Britain has more ghost sightings reported than any other country, or is it that we tend to accept paranormal happenings?
We need to look deeper at what truly constitutes a ghost. Every living thing on this planet is pure energy. At the time of death energy does not suddenly die or disappear therefore where does it go?
We need to look purely at the scientific facts. All living things resonate a frequency. If you stop reading this article and leave the chair you have been sitting in, an impression of you remains there for a period of time, both a thermal and an energy field. Does the frequency that we resonate disappear at the time of death? or does it go to another dimension?
There are a great deal of "ghostly" sightings on energy lines (ley-lines) in England. Are ghosts drawn to these invisible but measurable lines? Ghostly appearances quite often occur when a person departs this life suddenly, i.e. a car accident fatality, a brutal murder and quite often are seen at or near the place they died. Other ghosts seem to be drawn to places on the earthly plane where they experienced very happy times and seem loath to join the spirit world.
Public houses seem to have more than their fair share of ghosts or should it be spirits.? Sorry for the pun. The Crown Hotel, in Blandford, Dorset, Three Tuns Inn, Steyning, Sussex, George Hotel, Rye, Sussex and The Kings Head, Rochester, Kent to name just a few of the hundreds in England. Some of the cases I have investigated in public houses have proven to be unjustified and I firmly believe that they were started by innocent imagination or for monetary gain.
Whilst I was stationed at RAF Hedley Court in the early 1960's, (a converted Cromwellian Manor House, near Leatherhead), which was used as a medical rehabilitation unit for mainly RAF pilots several interesting incidents occurred. There was a particular four-inch thick oak door that could not be locked for a period of time. The night duty officer would lock this door whilst on his rounds only to find that within ten minutes all the very old-fashioned wrought iron bolts and the lock would return to the position they were in before he had commenced his nightly vigil of securing the building. This, despite numerous watches for pranks, carried on for some three months. Whilst stationed there a pilot officer
Started to scream out at eleven thirty one evening. By the time several officers and myself had arrived in his room the eight feet tall mahogany ornately carved wardrobe was lent against the bottom of his bed at a forty
degree angle from the wall.
The wardrobe had not fallen on its own, the indent from the weight of the wardrobe was still in the carpet, there was not even the slightest damage mark on the wardrobe from where it had landed to the base of the oak bed. The officer patient that was in the bed was on no medication and was due to be discharged back to his wing the following day. It took six of us able-bodied men to return the wardrobe back to its upright position. The officer stated he was reading in bed when suddenly there was a drop in temperature in the room, he put down his book and was amazed to see the wardrobe being gently lowered towards his bed as if by unseen hands. There were many more reports of "paranormal activity" reported whilst I was at Headley Court.
Before moving to Dorset in 1981 I investigated numerous cases from my home county in Sussex. I have witnessed "sightings" for which there were no logical or scientific answers. Ghostly figures that had the ability to float through walls, to rattle and distort solid steel doors, to cause a sudden dramatic drop in temperature before returning to normal in a matter of seconds, footsteps echoing in corridors and on floors in broad daylight and no person visible. Unusual scents, perfume, tobacco smoke and putrid smells. These days investigation of "hauntings" has taken on more of a scientific approach. The use of thermal imaging, electronic thermometers and infrared photography and digital sound recording machines to mention only a few of the twentieth century pieces of technology.
In Dorchester before the Antler Hotel, Cornhill, was demolished and the present shops erected a figure was often seen or a presence felt near to the fireplace. I often felt this presence but did not see any figure. After research I discovered that, in the past, Lawrence of Arabia was a regular visitor to this public house after driving into Dorchester on his motorcycle from Clouds Hill, Bovington to meet up with his acquaintances. I have visited the shop that is now on the site and the presence can still be felt at times. There are also "sightings" of Lawrence at Clouds Hill where he was killed in a motorcycle accident.
Dorset has numerous haunted areas, houses and buildings. Bettiscombe House, between Lyme Regis and Broadwindsor is famous for the "Screaming Skull" which has featured in many books and television documentaries.
Sherborne Castle. Sir Walter Raleigh lived for many years at the castle. His ghost is alleged to walk around the castle grounds and then to disappear in the harbour by the tree known locally as Raleigh's Oak.
Raining coal, avalanches, giant hailstones and tornadoes are just some of the weird weather experiences to have hit southern England over the last century.
We look at southern England's oddest meteorological moments ..
The great storm of 1958 in Sussex produced the biggest ever hailstones experienced in Britain. Stones the size of cricket balls fell on local people.
There were also nearly 2,000 flashes of lightning in just one hour.
During the storm of June 1983 in Dorset, coke and coal fell out of the sky onto the hapless yachtsmen out for a pleasant day's sailing in Poole harbour.
And the small unremarkable village of Martinstown in Dorset also has its claim to fame.
One day in July 1955 the tourists got a lot more than they had bargained for when the village experienced the heaviest ever rainfall to fall in one day in Britain.
Source: BBC Inside Out - South: Monday 7th October, 2002
Friday, 4 October 2002
The fearful trio has called in the ghostbusters after becoming convinced the spirit of a dead jewellery maker is to blame for a series of eerie events.
They claim the spectre has slammed doors, thrown toys, knocked over boxes, moved objects, pushed over dummies and scared visitors at the Dressed to Frill/Groom at the Top store in High East Street.
Source: Dorset Echo Friday 4th Oct 2002
Friday, 20 September 2002
If you go down in the woods today... you might catch a glimpse of pumas or panthers quietly stalking the tranquil Dorset countryside!
Disbelievers will scoff at such an unlikely scenario, but there are experts and enthusiasts who believe the idea is a genuine possibility borne out by a string of eyewitness reports.Source: Dorset Echo Friday 20th Sep 2002
Monday, 9 September 2002
Spooky battles, a disappearing coach and horses, baying hell-hounds and horses hooves rampaging through the woods at night.
Three women with plenty of spirit are compiling a book of ghostly goings-on in Dorset.
Cathie O'Donnell met her partners Sue Burleigh and Tracey Moody at a belly-dancing class in Blandford
Two years ago they started their popular Hallowe'en charity walk through bits of the town said to be haunted.Source: Bournemouth Daily Echo Monday 9th Sep 2002
Tuesday, 27 August 2002
A mysterious big cat has been spotted crossing a road in Dorset.
Post Office worker Bernard Seale, 57, who lives in Fortuneswell, Portland, was driving back home from work when he claims he saw the beast walk across the road in front of him.Source: Dorset Echo Tuesday 27th Aug 2002
Saturday, 10 August 2002
Wednesday, 7 August 2002
Catherine O'Donnell and Susan Burleigh were the originators of the Hallowe'en walk which for the past two years has tempted the brave and not-so-brave to discover the phantom secrets of the Blandford area.
Now they and their friends are compiling a book for which they need more first-hand accounts of ghostly encounters from Blandford and its outlying villages.
"We know the area is rich in history and has plenty of mysterious tales and legends, so any new accounts would be very much appreciated, " said Catherine.
"We are interested in a wide range of topics - phantom coaches, black dogs, ghostly battles, encounters with ouija boards, etc.
"But we need first-hand accounts." Anyone with any tales of the unexpected can contact them via e-mail on deaddorset@yahoo. com, or write to Catherine c/o the Western Gazette at Sherborne Road, Yeovil BA21 4YA.
Proceeds of the ghost walks in 2000 and 2001 amounted to more than £400, every penny of which is going to Dorset Cancer Care.
Catherine thanked all those who had attended, and who had already given them stories to tell, adding that anyone with new tales could remain anonymous if they so wished.
Royalties from the book will be going to the Marie Curie Cancer Appeal.
Source: Western Gazette 7th August 2002
Tuesday, 23 July 2002
At the time it seemed like a great way for members of Weymouth Youth Under-13 FC to raise money so they could equip themselves with kit for the new season, but nerves began to set in as darkness fell.
Source: Dorset Echo 23rd Jul 2002
Saturday, 20 July 2002
We all love a tale that sends a shiver down the spine, a tale that gets you thinking that just maybe there might be more to reality than science has answers to. Well, it seems that Dorset has its fair share of tales involving goblins and ghosties and things that go bump in the night, and our two intrepid authors have brought them all together in this book.
They’re all here, those visitors from the other side, and those other regions where nightmares dwell. Ghosts, poltergeists, fairies, goblins, giants, vampires, conjurors and witches, not to mention the odd UFO, big cat, demon dog and crop circle. Not only that, but you can look up a town, village or location and go straight to the tale or tales that apply to that particular place. Surprise, surprise, but right up there with a lot of nasties is Portland with over a dozen entries including big cats, black dogs, mermaids and monsters, though it’s Dorchester that’s top of ghoulish goings-on with nearly 20 entries!
It’s all good fun, of course, but the next time I’m wandering home at the dead of night out Loders way, and I do it all the time, I hope to God I don’t meet the headless coachman who haunts Yellow Lane going towards Waddon Hill. He’s looking for his head after it was decapitated by a tree branch and apparently he’s just one of a number of headless folk who are seen about the county. And it’s not always coachmen who lose their heads - on the Dorchester to Bridport road near Kingston Russell House, a headless coachman has been seen driving a team of headless horses with four headless passengers and a headless footman -you couldn’t make it up, could you?
I hope somebody did.
Monday, 10 June 2002
BLACK and green faces replaced those painted red and white for the World Cup in Wimborne's streets as the 22nd three-day folk festival swung into action.
Old favourites like Spank the Planks and Quayside Cloggies provided some of the street dancing. And bands with names like Hoover the Dog, Dangerous Curves, Pronghorn and Mahogany Gaspipes got down to serious music in the pubs.
Saturday, 1 June 2002
Source: Dorset Life, June 2002
Wednesday, 22 May 2002
Athelhampton House, the 15th Century stately pile just outside Puddletown, is said to be haunted by several spooks, including a 16th Century monkey in a secret staircase, a ghostly cooper and the Grey Lady.Source: Dorset Echo Wednesday 22nd May 2002
Source: Most Haunted - Athelhampton Hall
Monday, 20 May 2002
The interview was later broadcast on Radio Solent at 11.15GMT on 23rd May 2002
Click link here: Radio Interview with the Authors of "Dark Dorset"
Sunday, 19 May 2002
The Dark Dorset: Cabinet of Curiosities is a detailed display of props, models, pictures and information on Dorset's finest legends and folklore featured in the book.
A photograph of the Dark Dorset: Cabinet of Curiosities at the Weymouth Library - Monday 25th March 2002 to Saturday 6th April 2002.
Look out for the next Dark Dorset: Cabinet of Curiosities at the Dorchester Library - Monday 15th July 2002 to Saturday 27th July 2002.
The Dark Dorset: Cabinet of Curiosities is a detailed display of props, models, pictures and information on Dorset's finest legends and folklore featured in the book Dark Dorset: Tales of Mystery, Wonder and Terror, by Robert J. Newland and Mark J. North.
The Dark Dorset: Cabinet of Curiosities, will be taking place at Dorchester Library from Monday 4th August 2003 to Saturday 9th August 2003.
Thursday, 9 May 2002
Thunder rumbles overhead and I almost drop my notebook. The sky has turned an eerie shade of grey and it’s starting to rain hard.
Now I’m not a big storm fan under any circumstances and sitting in a graveyard talking about ghosts and witchcraft is the last place I want to be when lightning strikes.
The two people sitting with me don’t seem bothered though; they joke about how atmospheric this is.
Only a few moments ago we had been talking about a severed hand that was buried in this very churchyard in Pimperne near Blandford.
In December 1780, they tell me, there was violent confrontation between a gang of poachers and some gamekeepers at Chettle Down in North Dorset, during which one of the poachers had a hand shot off.
He fled to London and the hand was buried in St Peter’s cemetery.
But since his death it is said lanes around the village have been haunted by the bloody hand, crawling along the ground trying to find the arm it once belonged too. This is one of seemingly endless tales and supernatural snippets in Robert Newland and Mark North’s newly-published book Dark Dorset. The authors, who both live in the county, have known each other since they were children and live next door to each other.
They started working on the collection of mysterious stories in 1998 and have done all the illustrations themselves.
Just a glance at the index shows even Dorset’s most pretty and tranquil villages are associated with dark tales.
Some have been told before, some have been resurrected from books now out of print and others are new, including some Mark’s grandparents used to tell him when he was a child.
They wanted to log as many legends as possible passed down through families and communities before story-telling becomes a thing of the past.
“We have recorded stories that might get lost in future generations. People don’t tell tales now,” said Mark. “Some of the stories are not very pleasant. People seem to enjoy those more.”
One chapter tells the tale of Murderers Lane in West Dorset. It was so named after two men murdered a farmer there in a bungled robbery in 1694.
They were sentenced to be gibbeted alive in the place they committed the terrible crime. They were clamped in iron cages, hung from a tree and left for the crows.
They were there for many months until the birds had picked off every last piece of rotting flesh. The ghost of the farmer has been seen haunting the lane.
As recently as 1949 a woman told how, as a terrified child, her father - told her to stand aside as the farmer’s ghostly horse and cart went past.
The book also tells of how in 1970 archaeology students camped at Badbury Rings – claimed to be the site of a great battle where the legendary King Arthur killed at least 160 men single-handed — heard marching, the sound of metal clashing and shouting in a language they did not understand.
And how children said they were visited by a horse-like devil in Poole and young men fled a barn near Shaftesbury after realising that a mysterious gentleman who asked to join in their secret card game was in fact the Devil.
The book, published by Oakmagic Publications, includes reports of strange weather phenomena in the Bournemouth and Poole area and tales of fairies, mermaids and big cat sightings.
Research included compiling information from articles in local newspapers, including the Daily Echo
Mark said Dorset’s dark side was very under-rated.
Thumbing through the paperback book, Robert added: “Some people, perhaps for some reason, don’t seem to push it.
“But Dorset does have plenty of folklore that’s not well known”
They say some legends were embroidered to keep people away from where they were not wanted - a convenient tool for those involved in the illegal smuggling trade in years gone by.
But when a storm is brewing, the skies get dark and wind screams, through the quiet country lanes of Dorset, who can be sure?
Dark Dorset is priced at £12.95 and can be ordered via the internet at www.oakmagicpublications.com. The ISBN Number is 1 904330 002
Dark Dorset: Cabinet of Curiosities, featuring props, models, pictures and information on the legends and folkore featured in the book, will be on display at the Dorchester Library from Monday, July 15, to Saturday, July 27.
More details are available on their website at www.darkdorset.co.uk
Tuesday, 9 April 2002
Ufologist and paranormal enthusiasts from all over the country converged on Dorchester to swap theories on phenomena such as crop circles.
The seventh annual UFO conference took place at the Corn Exchange with an enthralled audience of 150.
Organiser David Kingston from Martinstown said: "It was very, very successful - I think it was probably the best conference we have ever held."Source: Dorset Echo Tuesday 9th Apr 2002
Thursday, 4 April 2002
In recent years big cats have been seen, particularly around Yetminster and the Blackmore Vale area. Farmers have reported finding half-eaten calves and partially eaten dead lambs and ewes which are believed to be the work of the so-called Beast of Yetminster.
In a new book Dark Dorset, Tales of Mystery, Wonder and Terror, authors Robert J. Newland and Mark J. North say big cat sightings have now become more commonplace than those of phantom black dogs.
The earliest known record of a big cat came in 1907 in a manuscript by Robin Young entitled Reminiscences of Sturminster Newton. The authors write: “He recalls a wild and savage monstrous cat, with eyes as big as tea saucers, which is said to haunt the top of Newton Hill beside the ruined castle at Sturminster Newton.
“Local people were so afraid of encountering this creature that they would take the low road just to avoid it.”
In their new book the authors also deal with tales of sea monsters, crop circles, spontaneous combustion, witches, strange storms, items falling from the sky and mysterious flying objects.
The book covers a wide range of mysteries and is littered with anecdotes from both modern times and years gone by.
It does not try to explain the tales and anyone with an interest in the darker, more mysterious side of the county is sure to find it a good read.
The authors conclude: “When the summer sun shines down on the Dorset countryside making it warm and beautiful then of course it is safe to laugh at such fanciful stories.
“But when the grey mist veils the downs and the winds roar, when Dorset is alive with hidden torment, then perhaps it is the time to think a little more seriously about such things.
“Is anyone wise or brave enough to say these tales have not, at least, a grain of truth in them?”
Wednesday, 3 April 2002
A special exhibition is now showing at Weymouth library and will last until Saturday.
It is to mark the publication of an interesting paperback, written by Robert Newland and Mark North, which has just been published. Dark Dorset is a pot-pourri of what is described as ‘tales of mystery, wonder and terror’.
As I have said many times, folklore and superstition are never very far away from most of us, some more than others, and few people can totally divorce themselves from the subject to the extent of totally rejecting it. The authors point out in their introduction that ‘here are some of the amusing tales that make Dorset bewitching and indeed Dark!’
The first tale is the familiar one of Saint Juthware whose tragic story gave the village pub at Halstock (now gone) its name of The Quiet Woman - the inn sign depicted a headless woman. There are alleged sightings of a spectre of a woman carrying her head on All Saints’ Day each year. Who has seen it?
Phantom coaches abound all over Dorset, but the most famous is the one which is connected with Hardy’s Tess of the D’Urbervilles, which uses the real life Turberville family from Woolbridge House, the Jacobean manor house at Wool.
The spectral coach is said to appear on the medieval bridge over the Frome at Wool and its appearance forecasts some sort of disaster, but can’t be seen by all. ‘None can see the ghostly coach of the Turbervilles but those who have Turberville blood in their veins’.
Another story in this book is one I have never come across before. The macabre drawing (shown above, far right) is by Mark North and it illustrates the story of Murderer’s Lane and the Gibbet Pit, set in the Melbury/Evershot area in the late 1600’s.
The tale is as gruesome as the illustration, which shows what punishment befell two murderers who were convicted of their grisly crime and were sentenced to be gibbeted alive - hung suspended in the air in irons or chains for the sake of example — and to be left until carrion crows had picked their bones clean!
It was made known that no one was to help the criminals in their distress — indeed, that was a criminal offence itself. How pendulums do swing. Now they are sent on holiday.
Will o’ Wisps or Jack o’ Lanterns mix happily in this book with fairies, monsters and fabulous beasts, premonitions, eye-witness accounts of sightings and the famous Cerne Giant.
The past does not have all the odd happenings - they still go on, even though more people would remain silent today in the absence of a rational explanation. UFOs are a classic example of this and a number of stories feature in Dark Dorset.
Can these sightings be put down only to a vivid imagination, misinterpretation of cloud formations, optical illusions or madness? I think not. Mankind in general has the arrogance to think that the inhabitants of earth are the only possible intelligent beings in the universe - we are probably the least so. Why shouldn’t other worlds exist?
One well-documented story of such a sighting came from a retired BOAC man, Angus’ Brooks of Owermoigne, who was out walking his two dogs near Holworth at 11.25am on October 26, 1967. Taking shelter from a force eight wind, the story goes, he saw a thin vapour trail in the sky over Portland and realised it was made by some sort of craft which descended at a very high rate and, as it approached, decelerated fast when only about 400 yards away. The craft hovered motionless 250 feet above the ground.
Mr Brooks described the structure as having a central disc, around 25 feet in diameter and 12 feet thick. Protruding forward was a girder-like fuselage, with three behind, parallel to each other.
Each was approximately 75 feet long, 7 feet high and 8 feet wide, having nose cones and groove fins.
The craft appeared to have no windows and was constructed from some transluscent material which changed to match the sky.
When it stopped the two outer rear fuselages swung 90 degrees to form a cross, with the disc in the centre. Mr Brooks watched with amazement for more than 20 minutes while his two dogs became very disturbed. The fuselages then moved around to line up with the third at the centre, making the previous leader fuselage different to when it arrived.
Very suddenly this mysterious craft turned 90 degrees in a clockwise direction, climbed at an immense speed and headed in an east-north-easterly direction towards Winfrith.
That night there were many reported sightings of mysterious flying lights over the whole of southern England. It appears that at 4am two days prior to the Holworth sighting, well before Mr Brooks’ encounter, two policemen on routine patrol in Hatherleigh, Devon, pursued an illuminated flying cross for 12 miles. That account was given by a man who had dealt with aeroplanes all his working life, so must be considered a credible witness.
Solving that one is in the future, but most of Dark Dorset deals with the past, though many things there still remain unexplained. This A5-format book is the sort of reading that belongs on the bedside table, to pick up and read at leisure.
Dorset Echo, 3rd April 2002
Three new music festivals are set to take Weymouth by storm during an event-packed summer season.
Tourism chiefs are hoping the three-day festivals, which are part of the town's biggest programme of events, will have people flocking to the resort.
Wednesday, 6 March 2002
Bournemouth's promoters of tourism could be doing their job a little too well in selling the town as a tourist hot spot.
If eyes can be believed, Bournemouth could be this summer's holiday destination not just for out-of-town sunseekers but also those from outer space.
According to one of the country's experts on UFOs - ex-RAF Intelligence officer David Kingston - it's "perfectly feasible" that aliens have taken a shine to Bournemouth.Source: Bournemouth Daily Echo Wednesday 6th Mar 2002
Bedtime will never be the same again for residents in Colehill who experienced some unusual night-time phenomena last week.
Christina Hunt, who recently moved to Cutlers Place, was spooked after she was woken during last Monday's stormy night by her bedside clock radio suddenly blaring followed by intense flashes of light outside her window.Source: Bournemouth Daily Echo Wednesday 6th Mar 2002
Monday, 4 March 2002
Professional dangerous animal trapper and consultant Quentin Rose says this county, like many others, is home to big cats released by collectors, circuses and dealers, with unwanted pets adding to their number.
Source: Dorset Echo Monday 4th Mar 2002
Saturday, 5 January 2002
Explorers are not a dying breed. For the most part, they are very actually dead. Admiral Scott perished in the whirling drift; the dry bones of Henry Stanley, last white man to hear Livingstone's voice, lie not in the Congo but in Pirbright, Surrey, though he's still a long way from home.
Read More - Outside Online, January 2002