Hidden treasure in Epping Forest

Discovered in the Haining archive, this letter from someone called Lame Jack treasure letter 001D.L.Rolton of Ambleside, Cumbria, a fan of Haining’s The Fortune Hunter’s Guide. In ‘ gratefulness ‘ to the author for his ‘ useful and interesting ‘ book Rolton offers the following nugget of information regarding ‘ Lame Jack’s Fortune’.

I suggest you obtain ( borrow, beg or hire for one day ) a metal detector. On that fine day, try alongside the left side of the road, as one goes from Woodford to Epping —but only in the region of the fork that leads to Loughton ( diagram inserted ).

No! I am not being funny at all—I am most serious, and I don’t think you need to stray far from the side of the road. Try it !

Yours Sincerely,

D.L Rolton

It is not known where Rolton found the reference to Lame Jack’s treasure. It may be part of local folklore, although Lame Jack is not to be found using Google. It does not follow that because Rolton addressed his letter from Ambleside that he wasn’t acquainted with the site, which on the map is occupied by woodland named ‘ Reed’s Forest ‘. If any metal detectorist wishes to investigate the site, some research in the local history section of Loughton Library may yield clues. A study of W.R.Fisher’s The Forest of Essex (1887) could be also be useful. But be warned –it is over 40 years since Rolton sent the letter, and a huge amount of metal detecting has been done in this time. [R.M.Healey ]

A Ghost Story of Princes Risborough

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Catalogue of 1997 Contents Sale

From some papers relating to the Grubbe family of Priory House, Blythburgh, Suffolk and Horsenden Manor, Princes Risborought, Buckinghamshire this true ghost story with diagrams etc., The haunted Horsenden Manor is now inhabited by a rock musician, one Jay Kay of the band Jamiroquai. A Ghost Story and some Considerations thereon. L.C. Grubbe, Southwold, Suffolk. The following pages may be of service to seekers after the truth about ghosts and indeed interest many people not yet attained to the omniscience necessary in order to exclude such things altogether from the pale of possibility. I say ‘omniscience’ because in a universe so vast as ours, one must manifestly know everything that is there, before he can assent positively what is not. The discoveries constantly being made by science of secrets that for ages have lain concealed in our midst prove the immensity of the fields open to exploration as well as the dense ignorance about them in which the human mind is still wrapped. Every new fact brought to light concerning nature and her resources is as a window added to the chamber of human consciousness opening on visas of possibility never before entertained, and stretching away again into the dim haze of the absolutely unknown. What I have to relate is a very plain matter of fact story. In a secluded part of one of the midland counties stands an old country house, the home of many generations of my family, out of whose hands it passed some 60 years ago. Possibly the site has been occupied ever since Roman times, for Roman masonry was found in the foundations during alterations, but he present main building though added to and in some part of the 7th century altered is probably the same as stood during the civil wars. I am however only concerned with a certain small portion of it, which during my grandfathers time bore the reputation of being haunted, though neither he nor his children have ever been accused of undue prejudice in form of what is to my mind miscalled ‘The Supernatural’. Continue reading

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Sir James ‘Golden Bough’ Frazer & his wife Lilly—a devoted couple to the very end

Few wives in literary history can have been as devoted to their famous husbands as Lilly Frazer was to the great anthropologist James Frazer, author of The Golden Bough.

Born around 1854 in Alsace, Elisabeth Adelsdorfer came to England after she had married an English mariner named Groves, with whom she had two children.  When he died she found herself the mother of two teenagers and turned to writing in order to support them. Although having little or no knowledge of the subject she somehow persuaded editors at the Badminton Library to give her a commission to write a book on the history of dancing. In 1894, while researching the subject of dance among the primitives she sought the help of James Frazer (1854 – 1941), then an obscure Cambridge don, and the author of the first part of The Golden Bough (1890). The couple were married in 1896, not long after Lilly’s Dancing appeared.

Realising that her husband was unlikely to promote himself as a writer, she decided that she would do everything in her power to organise his life and raise his profile. She vetted those who sought his advice and organised a panel of translators to make his work better known in France. She even translated some of his writings herself. Moreover, in Cambridge she began her mission to improve the teaching of foreign languages in schools, was the first to use the phonograph in education, and wrote stories and short plays in French for use in the classroom.

Frazer’s growing international reputation, thanks in no small part to the efforts of  Lilly, was crowned by the award of a knighthood in 1914, which was also the year in which the couple moved from Cambridge to London. Frazer’s new fame and increasingly prosperity enabled the couple to travel widely in Europe following the end of hostilities. However, the two letters from Lilly featured here date from a period of crisis in Frazer’s health, when he was in danger of losing his sight. They were written to a Cambridge colleague, Canon McCulloch, from the Allan Water and Spa Hotel in Stirlingshire and date from July and August 1931. In the first letter, Lilly explains her husband’s plight to the Canon:

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The Hell Hound

Another tale from a rare folklore book M. H. James's Bogie Tales of East Anglia (Pawsey & Hayes, Ipswich 1891). The setting is almost certainly Aldeburgh, a coastal town in Suffolk, now somewhat gentrified but still with its fisherman on the beach (and in the bars) some of whom still have dogs…

The Hell Hound 

At the north end of the town of A--- lie the salt marshes, which are sometimes full, like a lake, after rains or the prevalence of of certain winds, and of which there was a sunset view exhibited in London not long ago.Here a favourite walk of the inhabitants leads across a sort of common, planted with a fir grove; by one or other of two paths, one of which goes through the pine wood and emerges near the station; the other leaves the pine wood on the left, and skirts the mere, crossing the line, and leading into a sandy lane between more pine trees. At the sea end of this waste is a 'kissing gate'...and here it is quite likely that the presiding bogie will meet you, if you walk there after dark.

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A Were-Dog Story

Among Peter Haining's books we found this folklore rarity Bogie tales of East Anglia by M. H. James (Ipswich, 1891) - from it comes this slightly  disturbing tale. What the Italian was doing in Lowestoft is anybody's guess.

This tale, which runs as follows, is still common talk among the beach men at Lowestoft. An Italian gentleman, with curly hair and a very dark complexion, asked a fisher-boy of Lowestoft, to become his page, but this the boy refused, as he did not wish to go forge in parts; whereupon the Italian, far from being angry, asked the boy to look after a dog for him, as he was going ways.

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Vampires in Literature 2

The second and last part of this extract from The Vampire in Literature: a Critical Bibliography (edited by Margaret L. Carter, Ann Arbor, Michigan, U.S.A.: Umi Research Press 1989.) The types of vampire literature are broken down into categories. An amazing and comprehensive work that will probably be much longer if they bring it up to date.

In - Inanimate object, e.g., a house or a car, acts as a a vampire.
Examples: Benson, Edward Frederic. 'The Room in the Tower'. 1912.
Bloch, Robert. 'The Hungry House'. 1951.

J - Juvenile fiction.
Examples: Schoder, J. 'The Bloody Suckers'. 1981.
Scott, R. C. 'Blood Sport'. 1984.

L - Character functions a s vampire while still living, without passing through any form of death.
Examples: Giles, Raymond. 'Night of the Vampire'. 1969.

MN - Movie novelization. I note this fact wherever I am aware of it.
Examples: Johnson, Ken. 'Hounds of Dracula'. 1977.
Burke, John. 'Dr. Terror's House of Horrors'. 1965.

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Vampires in Literature 1

Found in the extensive Peter Haining book and ephemera collection - a xerox of The Vampire in Literature: a Critical Bibliography (edited by Margaret L. Carter, Ann Arbor, Michigan, U.S.A.: Umi Research Press 1989.) Principally a bibliography of vampire fiction in English, but also covering drama, anthologies, nonfiction studies of vampires in literature, and including a checklist of non-English vampire stories readily available in translation. It follows Bleiler in using an alphabetical key to the different types of literature. The most disappointing is category H - '...Vampirism...explained away as a hoax, delusion, or misunderstanding.' Books with  'rationalised' plots are generally avoided by collectors of the supernatural. M.L. Carter does not seemed to have missed a trick, except possibly a genre that occurred more recently - the retelling of a classic story with vampires added…

Al - Vampire as member of a separate species, whether originating on Earth or not. Frequently the text leaves the point of origin unrevealed.
Examples: Baker, Scott. 'Nightchild'. 1983.
Dicks, Terrance. 'Doctor Who and the State of Decay'. 1981.

AlH - Alien, humanoid.
Examples: Asprin, Robert Lynn. 'Myth-ing Persons'. 1984.
Baker, Clive. 'Human Remains'. 1984.

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A.L.Rowse and Lady Cynthia Asquith —a ghostly company

This two page letter from professional Cornishman, popular historian and alleged poet, Alfred Leslie Rowse, to ghost story compiler Lady Cynthia Asquith, came to light when I was sorting out a bunch of old letters recently. Dated March 29th and written with a ball point pen on All Souls College notepaper, its date would be 1951 or not long after. This is because in the letter Rowse thanks Lady Cynthia for remembering that he enjoyed ghost stories, by sending him a copy of her 1951 anthology, What Dreams May Come (though the book is not mentioned by name).This collection contained a number of her own stories, some of which Rowse singles out for special praise, as being not particularly ‘ghoulish‘, but instead ‘far too delicate and subtle and so beautifully written‘.

…I greatly appreciated the ‘ Olivia’ -like theme and atmosphere of ‘ The Lovely Voice’, the ‘Jane Eyre’-like ending of ‘The Playfellow’ , the conjured-up  Dickensian atmosphere of ‘ The Corner Shop ‘. But the masterpiece, I thought, was the last. ‘God grante that she lye stille’ —a perfect story bewitchingly evoked. ( I think my choice betrays too my especial response to the historical & nostalgic ).

Rowse also mentions that on one occasion he took another prolific writer of ghost stories, Elizabeth Bowen, to Ireland with him and that he felt that her novel, The Last September (made into a film starring Michael Gambon 1999), was ‘ the best of her books in some ways’. With the letter Rowse sent Lady Cynthia a second hand copy of one of his own collections of ghostly tales —probably West Country Stories (1945).

Incidentally, Rowse once replied to a letter I sent him about fellow Cornishman Geoffrey Grigson by arguing that the latter, though a native of the county, was not a true Cornishman because his father came from Norfolk. I considered responding with an invitation for him to apply his theory to people born in Yorkshire, but I decided against it. [RMH]

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Poet sees the Loch Ness Monster

Found -- this newspaper cutting on the Loch Ness Monster. It is a letter from the poet Herbert Palmer (cited in an earlier Jot when he was writing about C.S. Lewis and women.) The cutting is undated but is probably from the late 1940s. The press source is not noted,but it was found in in a 1937 edition  of Frazers' magisterial work The Golden Bough, part of a large collection of books from the writer on political philosophy Professor J-P Mayer, whose collection looks set to provide more jottable items...

THE LOCH NESS MONSTER

Herbert Palmer, St. Albans.

Sir,- The Loch Ness Monster, it seems, has been described as a huge creature with a long neck and a small head. I would suggest that it is the same creature which I saw in the upper waters of the Tay when I was fishing there in 1930, and described by me on pages 183-184 of my book, The Roving Angler, published in the spring of 1933. I saw something very clearly and definitely; but perhaps only the head and the neck, though I was under the impression that I had seen great part of the body. I have thus described what I saw: "Two hours afterwards a creature which looked exactly like a calf reared itself three-quarters out of the middle of the Tay, and then sank back with a light splash… It had the head, neck and shoulders of a calf".

It looked to me like that - a creature with a small long head and a rather long neck broadening to what appeared to be the shoulders. It bore no resemblance to an otter or seal, for the head was another shape. The colour was brown. What I saw may very well have been the head and neck of a gigantic lizard-like creature rather than the head and neck and part body of a calf. There may be a family of water monsters in the Highlands of Scotland. On the other hand, my perfectly true story may have given rise to an invention. One has only to see a strange thing once, talk or write about it, and a lot of other people imagine afterwards that they also have seen the same sort of thing, brooding on it until they grow quite confident about it'.

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The Ghost Man – a blurb from the 1930s

Found in the massive and unending Donald Rudd collection of detective fiction -a Gerald Verner thriller The Ghost Man (Wright and Brown, London 1936) in its sensational jacket. Gerald Verner was the pseudonym of John Robert Stuart Pringle. He had over 130 books published under four names during his lifetime and was hugely popular with his audience and a favourite of the Duke of Windsor, who was presented with an especially bound set of 15 of Verner's thrillers. He attempted to take over the mantle of the prolific (and wealthy) Edgar Wallace after his death in 1932. The jacket has elements of Wallace, even down to the style of the logo. The blurb on the inside flap reads:

Who was the man called Conner, bank robber and murderer, who was hanged at Wandsworth Prison? What connections did he have with the murderer of the Shabby Peddler in the garden of Janet Lacey's country cottage? Why did he search the place so thoroughly before he was killed? And what was the significance of the stanza from the Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam? Mr Gerald Verner's new mystery is  so full of excitement, his plots so ingenious, mysterious, and so subtly unfolded that it will be impossible to put the book down until the last word has been read.

The book is not listed by Bleiler (Supernatural Fiction) or George Locke (Spectrum of Fantasy)which would indicate the ghost is rationally explained. It is, however, an Omar Khayyam item..

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Angels at Mons

Found - a small thin 4 page pamphlet Angels at Mons printed in Felixstowe, England about 1920. Its price was ninepence for a 100 and it was almost certainly for distribution in churches. Ours was found in a missal.

There is much elsewhere about the angels that are said to have appeared on the WW1 battlefield at Mons. Arthur Machen's 1915 book The Bowmen and Other Legends of War really started the legend.

Historian A.J.P. Taylor was so impressed by the evidence then available that he felt confident referring to Mons, in his 1963 History of the First World War, as the only battle where “supernatural intervention was observed, more or less reliably, on the British side.”

The Penguin Encyclopedia of Horror and the Supernatural says of Machen's book: "During Machen's lifetime 'The Bowmen' was easily his most influential work of fiction, in ways he never predicted. First published in a 1914 Evening News after the Battle of Mons, it told how British troops, their retreat cut off by the Germans, were miraculously rescued by a ghostly St. George and his bowmen of Agincourt. Widely accepted as true or as a genuine legend, the incident is regularly referred to even today, in books of occult lore and oral histories of the Great War." Fortean Times has this great story of hoaxes and mayhem around the legend with a report on a Hollywood movie that was going to be made on the angels with Marlon Brando.

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A.N.L. Munby book collector, academic and ghost story writer

Found - a scarce pamphlet outlining the life of Alan Noel Latimer ('Tim') Munby (1913 - 1974). He was born on Christmas Day, hence the unused name 'Noel.' The Victorian diarist and poet Arthur Munby ('Man of Two Worlds' of Derek Hudson's book) who 'adored the roughest working-girls' and was for years secretly married to his kitchen-maid was his great-uncle. As a schoolboy and as an undergraduate (at King's College, 1932-35) he collected books; for a brief period after graduation he worked at Quaritch's bookshop. During the war he joined the Territorials (Queen Victoria Rifles); he was captured at Calais in 1940 and held as a prisoner of war in Germany for 5 years. On his return to England he worked at Sotheby's, then in 1947 was appointed College Librarian at King's. He is best known for an excellent collection of ghost stories The Alabaster Hand. Ghost fiction watchers Boucher and McComas praised the stories in The Alabaster Hand as 'quietly terrifying modernizations of the M.R. James tradition.' M.R. James was also a Cambridge academic and Cambridge produced several other writers of fantastic fiction.. The pamphlet is typical of the slim memorial papers  turned out at the great universities when a distinguished or well known colleague had died.

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The Devil’s Hoof- Marks

Another chapter from this fascinating forgotten work Oddities: A Book of Unexplained Facts (Allan, London 1928) by R.T. Gould. The illustration is from an Edwardian novel (possibly Quiller Couch or Baring Gould.) Info on the polymath Rupert Thomas Gould (1890 – 1948) can be found at the foot of this post..

THE DEVIL'S HOOF-MARKS

  A Scottish minister once preached a sermon upon the text "The voice of the turtle is heard in our land".* He was literally-minded, and unaware of the fact that the "turtle" referred to is the turtle-dove, and not that member of the Chelonia which inhabits the ocean and furnishes the raw material of such "tortoise-shell" articles as are not made of celluloid. In consequence, the deductions which he drew from his text were long remembered by such of his hearers as were better-informed.

* Canticles ii. 12. 

  "We have here", he is reported to have said–"we have here, my brethren, two very remarkable signs and portents distinctly vouchsafed to us. The first shall be, that a creature which (like Leviathan himself) was created to dwell and abide in the sea shall make its way to the land, and be seen in the markets and dwelling-places of men; and the second shall be, that a creature hitherto denied the gift of speech shall lift up its voice in the praise of its Maker."

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Stephen Crane and a Sussex Ghost

What is it about young ex-pats writing single performance plays performed by amateurs at Christmas? A recent Jot told the story of The Princess and the Pauper, a drama by the 24 year old British humorist Harry Graham, which was performed by amateurs at Christmas 1900 in Government House, Ottawa. Exactly a year earlier, a one-off performance of The Ghost, written mainly by the 27 year old American Stephen Crane, best known for The Red Badge of Courage, was acted out by amateurs, at Brede, near Rye in Sussex.

In 1899 Crane and his wife Cora were renting Brede Place, a crumbling mainly late medieval manor house, a mile from the village, with huge fireplaces but no indoor plumbing.

Though the Cranes were enchanted by its old-world charm and maintained an open house for all and sundry, some visitors were less enamoured. One was Karl Edwin Harriman, who in print complained of the ‘chill, damp and draughts of the old house ‘, and of the wind ‘which whistled through the casements every moment of the day and night ‘. Ford Madox Ford described it in Mightier than the Sword as ‘ an ill-fated mansion…full of evil influences ‘.

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Vincent Price sees a ghost..

Found in an anthology of  supernatural encounters by the famous - I Saw a Ghost edited by Ben Noakes (Weidenfeld, 1986)- this account by Vincent Price.

On 15 November 1958 I had an extraordinary glimpse of the unknown  whilst on a flight between Hollywood to New York   I was immersed in a book**  for most of the journey, but at one point, glanced idly out of the window.  To my horror I saw huge, brilliant letters emblazoned across a cloud bank spelling out the message "TYRONE POWER  DEAD".  it was a terrific shock, I began to doubt my senses when I realised that nobody else on the plane appeared to have seen them, but for a few seconds they were definitely there, like huge teletype, lit up with blinding light from within the clouds.  When I landed in New York I was told that Tyrone Power, had died (suddenly) a couple of hours earlier.

**In one account the book is a classic French novel - which might explain something. Also worth noting is that Power was a close friend of Price. The book bears a presentation to the artist Ronald Searle from Noakes. RS contributes a similar piece about being woken up in the South of France  by Laura West Perelman the late wife of his friend Sid Perelman (and sister of Nathaniel West) who announces to him 'Sid is Dead' - the next morning he receives a call telling him that Perelman had been found dead in his hotel room in New York during that same night.

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Ghosts as a symptom of dyspepsia

Frankfort-Moore in his Italian Home

From A Mixed Grill : a Medley in Retrospect / by the author of "A Garden of Peace". London : Hutchinson, [1930.] The anonymous author was, in fact,  Frank Frankfort Moore (1855–1931) an Irish dramatist, biographer, novelist and poet. Born in Limerick, Ireland, Moore worked as a journalist (1876–92) before gaining fame as an author of fiction. The frontispiece of this book shows him in his 'Italian Home' - this was actually a house in St. Leonards called 'The Campanile' filled with Italian artefacts that was on sale  in 2010. On the subject of ghosts he is somewhat sceptical but most subjects, as the title implies, are seen from a slightly  gastronomic viewpoint:

All the great ghost-seers on record have been also eminent dyspeptics - men and women who were deficient in pep or who had ruined their digestions by irregularity in diet or by a wrong diet. The ghost is really a symptom and it is rightly so regarded by the medical profession. We all know the sort of person who is  associated with a ghost story - the ethereal girl like the sister of Sir Galahad who saw the Holy Grail - "I thought she might have risen and floated" - that girl has really risen and floated in innumerable ghost stories - the type of girl on whom that form of rash, known as the stigmata, has from time to time appeared. This may be the ghost of indulgence. In the days of gluttons there was a glut of ghosts, and there are few men of middle age to-day who have not had some experience of the man whose ghosts take the questionable shape of blue monkeys pr black cats, sometimes even of such minor crawling things as spiders or black beetles in natural colours, or, more frequently, snakes of no recognised classification. These are all the result of an over indulgence in the drug known as alcohol. Other drugs such as opium or cloral are productive of more pleasing spectral shapes; but this class of ghost has nothing in common with the phenomena of Spiritualism. Their capacity of self-expression does not go beyond the ordinary gibber. They are not worthy of serious consideration, except, of course, from the standpoint of a medical prognosis.

A humble variant is, of course, the nightmare, a horror due to such a ridiculous accident as a slipped pillow or a superfluous eiderdown, but more frequently to an incautious or a too hasty supper...