Dark Dorset Online Scrapbook is an archive of current and past events relating to local history, folklore and mysteries that can be discovered in the English county of Dorset.

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Sunday, 20 October 2002

Dark Dorset reviewed in Animals and Men: The Journal of the Centre for Fortean Zoology, Issue 28

This book is of interest to readers of this magazine for several reasons. Firstly, it is unusual amongst the plethora of regional mysteries books which can be found all over the UK and, indeed the United States. Unlike so many of these books which merely rehash the same old stories in an unconvincing and uninterested tone, this book is truly a work of scholarship.

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

Dorset ghost stories wanted

Recent, first hand stories of ghostly encounters in the Dorset area are being sought for a new book being written for charity.

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 deaddorset@yahoo.com

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

Ghosts and Things that go Bump in the Night.

The word Ghost is described in the Oxford dictionary as, "a person's spirit appearing after his or her death." But then what about the reports of horses galloping down the lanes on a dark night and other such apparitions? Why do certain countries, houses and places appear to have more than there fair share of Ghosts?

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.

David Kingston copyright 1998

Many thanks to David Kingston for providing this information for mor information about his work and his annual UFO conference visit: University of Life

Weird Weather in Britain

Weather can behave in some very strange ways, baffling not only the public but the experts.

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 ..

Stormy Weather

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

Spooked staff in plea for exorcist

Spooked staff today launched a plea for an exorcist to rid their historic Dorchester shop of a mischievous ghost.

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
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