Friday, November 16, 2007

New species of dinosaur.

http://www.hastingsobserver.co.uk/newshastings/New-dinosaur-is-from-Hastings.3489940.jp

Calm a Llama down!

From the West Sussex County Times : 31 Oct. 2007
Llama mystery - Police have sparked a search for a mystery stray llama spotted near Faygate last week. The exotic beast was seen by the side of the A264 just after midnight on Thursday October 25. Police attended the scene and checked with local farms, but could find no trace of the animal. Anybody with information should contact Sussex Police on 0845 60 70 999. Have you seen a stray llama in the local area? Do you know of anybody who has lost a llama?

Thursday, November 1, 2007

'Beasts' of Blue Bell Hill

On Halloween (31/10/07) Neil Arnold, alongside local road ghost expert Sean Tudor http://www.roadghosts.com/ did a talk on local 'big cat' sightings as well as other strange creatures rumoured to roam the local fields and woodlands around Blue Bell Hill, one of Kent's, and in fact, the world's eeriest places.
Most of the creatures mentioned, including the red-eyed man-beasts, Blue Bell Hill's phantom dog, and others are mentioned in Neil's 'Monster! The A-Z Of Zooform Phenomena' book http://www.zooform.blogspot.com/, and delighted a campfire crowd who were chilled by the whispers relating these local horrors.

Many thanks go to the Blue Bell Hill Preservation Group.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Snake in the bath!

Snake surprises mom in bath
September 21 2007

A young mother was in the bath with her baby when a 5ft python slid out from under it. Leanne Smith, 18, screamed as it hissed at her and four-month-old Millie, reports the Daily Mirror. She scooped Millie into her arms and leaped over the snake which experts believe was ready to pounce. Leanne, who lives with boyfriend Ben Payne, also 18, in a council flat in Dartford, Kent, said: "It was huge and it just sat there hissing and looking at me. "I just screamed and screamed, which was probably the wrong thing to do as it started to hiss at me even more. "I jumped over it and called the RSPCA. They said it had probably got in through a pipe and was ready to attack me. "So I locked the bathroom door and waited for them to take it away." An RSPCA officer caught the royal python - a nonvenomous constrictor that crushes its prey - and a neighbour experienced in looking after large snakes is caring for it while the owner is sought. Ian Stephen, London Zoo senior reptile keeper, said: "It would have been more aggressive than usual because it would have been very stressed and afraid, cold, confused, hungry - and more scared of Leanne than she was of it."
Source: Ananova.com

Sunday, August 12, 2007

More wallabies


"We had a wallaby around our works site near Lenham in Kent for weeks. You could get to within a few feet of it. Many saw it - we called it Wesley!
Alas it was knocked down and killed on the A20. We thought that was that, but a few weeks ago whilst driving to work at five in the morning with another guy we came round a bend and there sitting in the road was another wallaby.
It sat there for a few secs then lopped off down the road and into the woods, so they have not died out here in Kent - YET!"

Photo of 'Wesley' by Nick Perry

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Wallaby sighting

Thursday 24th May 2007:

Motorist driving from Lenham to Doddington, held up on narrow section of road as two lorries passed each other. Then spotted a wallaby hop across the road and disappear into the undergrowth.

Sunday, May 6, 2007

Mystery beast of Chatham.

KENT TODAY reported in 2002 on a marauding creature on the loose at Constitution Road, Chatham from 1972. Vague details state that something was slaughtering pets in their hutches, and although the killer was believed to be a dog, the predator eluded capture.

Seals up our Creek!

EAST KENT GAZETTE - 3/3/99

The Wildlife of Swale is certainly getting more exciting - and I'm not just referring to those who frequent its nightclubs!
Telephone calls from readers have already alerted us to sightings of some sort of wild cat in the Sittingbourne area. Now we hear about seals cavorting in the Creek at Milton.
According to information reported to the newsroom, two of the sleek swimmers have been seen on several occasions bobbing up and down in the waters of the Creek. As with the big cat story, we'd love photographic evidence of these unusual visitors.

Giant jellyfish in the sky!

KENT TODAY - 7/4/99 - A motorist has told police she was followed along the M2 for nearly 15 miles by a mysterious flying object that hovered above her car. The woman was with her husband and a friend who also saw the UFO which they reported when they arrived home at Gravesend.
The police said the woman driver, who has not been named, said the strange flying object followed them along the London-bound carriageway of the motorway from Faversham to Blue Bell Hill at Chatham where it disappeared.
Police have so far been unable to find any explanation. Police spokesman PC Dave Wisdom said the driver described the object as transparent with lights underneath which followed the car about 20ft from the ground. Checks were made with other areas and Maidstone police had also received reports about lights in the sky that evening. But it appears these were probably laser beam searchlights being used to advertise a town centre pub.

GAZETTE & TIMES - 14/4/99 - Motorists watched in wonder as they followed an unidentified flying object swirling around the night sky above the M2 motorway, from Faversham to the Medway Towns.
Two couples returning from the coast on Good Friday saw the object which they described as, "...like the bottom of a jelly-fish", circling close to their car, just past the Faversham turn-off.
Mrs Pauline Davis (51) had her attention drawn to the strange phenomena when her sister Mrs Val Springhall noticed the sky looked strange.
Mrs Davis described it as being transparent, with white lights swirling around. The object disappeared, then reappeared about 20ft from the car. It eventually disappeared when the family reached Blue Bell Hill, near Chatham.
Mrs Davis, from Gravesend, said, "I was dozing off when my sister said she saw it in the sky. When I looked I knew I had never seen anything like it before. A lorry in f ront of us was swerving all over the road, so I think he may have seen it too. It just kept swirling like the bottom of a jelly-fish. You couldn't see an object, just lights. We called the police when we got home and they say there was a light show at Detling, but when we went back along the motorway there was nothing. If there is a simple explanation for what we saw, I wish someone would tell me."

KENT TODAY - 14/4/99 - You can sleep safely in your beds - Medway may not have become a hotbed for paranormal activity after all.
the source of an alleged UFO sighting over the M2 could have been a giant laser image from a nightclub in Maidstone, we can reveal.
Last week we told you how a motorist claimed to have travelled 15 miles between Faversham and Blue Bell Hill with a mysterious flying object hovering above her car on Good Friday.
Valerie Springhall and her sister Pauline Davis were terrified when what they described as a 50ft long jellyfish-shaped object appeared to deliberately keep them under observation.
"I was absolutely terrified" said Mrs Springhall. "I have never seen anything like it before in my life and I don't want to repeat the experience. It was around 50ft long, fluorescent white, and changing shape from round to oval as it revolved. At one stage it tipped over slightly as we could see small fluorescent circles in its main body."
But the answer may be the laser lights emanating from Atomics nightclub in Maidstone town centre.
Sean Tudor, who writes articles on spooky happenings in the Blue Bell Hill area, believes lights from the nightclub laser show are capable of shining across large distances and is the most likely explanation for the sighting.
He said, "My girlfriend and I happened to be out in Maidstone on Friday and saw the jellyfish display again swirling on the underside of the cloud cover over the town - which confirms to me that the UFO witnesses probably saw something like this the previous Friday. The display clearly has a powerful beam and would be seen for some distance which might extend as far as the M2 at Faversham but would, under the right conditions, almost certainly overplay the M2 closer to Blue Bell Hill. The reason it disappeared at Blue Bell Hill may have more to do with a confined arc the display travels than any sinister association. This doesn't definitely explain the story but the very close descriptive and behavioural similarities suggest strongly that this might be so."

GAZETTE & TIMES - 28/4/99 - The UFO sighting over the M2 motorway on Good Friday was also seen in the hamlet of Bedmonton, near Wormshill. Mr Don Brown and his wife told the paper of their strange experience after reading the report two weeks ago, which they say described exactly what they saw. The couple were settling down for the evening on Good Friday when Mrs Brown noticed something in the sky. She called her husband who went out to look at the swirling object above.
He said, "It was a clear night and there was nothing in the sky to suggest where the lights were coming from. It rotated from left to right in a three-quarter circular movement. It was there from 9:30 pm and it was still there when we went to bed at 10:30 pm."
The following day Mrs Brown asked her friends whether they had seen the swirling object but drew a blank. It was only when a friend told her about the report in the newspaper that the couple realised they had not been alone in what they saw.
One explanation for what these and similar UFO sightings in the sky above Swale might be has been put forward by a local taxi driver.
Carol perry, who first witnessed the mysterious swirling lights in the sky two weeks ago whilst parked outside a fare's house in Roseleigh Road, Sittingbourne, believes they might be reflections on the sky of laser lights from a nightclub in Maidstone. A few days after the first sighting, Mrs Perry dropped off a fare at Maidstone and saw the lights emanating from Gabrielle's nightclub.

Friday, May 4, 2007

Ladybird panic!

Deal, Kent, 18th July 1976 - Daily Mirror :

'Millions of ladybirds invaded the beach, and then the town centre, shutting shops for half an hour. they were thought to have made a 20-mile channel crossing'.

Snakes alive!!


8th September 1976 - "Swarms of poisonous adders invade The Humps, a beauty spot near Canterbury".

A brief jellyfish invasion!

As noted in Fortean Times magazine, issue 18: "31st July 1976 - huge jellyfish invade beaches on south coast of England."

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

A Strange Figure.

In Peter Haining's book, "The Legend & Bizarre Crimes Of Spring Heeled Jack", pertaining to the legend that was Spring Heeled Jack, the mysterious and sinister bounding being from 1830s London, in the chapter titled, 'The Agile Murderer', he very briefly mentions sightings of a similar darkly clad figure in Kent, although no exact location is mentioned unfortunately. All that is spoken of is a series of events where women once described, "...a devil on springs" who haunted rural pathways.
If anyone can shed any light on this obscure mystery please get in touch.

Friday, April 6, 2007

Kent Kangaroo

Kangaroo sighting in Kent (UK) Source: FWi 21 April 2005 By Farmers Weekly staff.
A motorist from Kent was shocked to see a large Kangaroo hopping along side a road before disappearing up a farm track and into woodland. The marsupial was spotted along a road between the villages of Ide Hill and Sundridge early on Wed morning (Apr 21). The driver reported the sighting to Kent police who said they would pass the information on to the RSPCA, but said they could not look for the animal as, "...it had left the highway".
"To the best of my knowledge there are no kangaroo-related crimes, so the public would not thank us for sending an officer to look for it," a police spokeswoman told the paper. "There are better uses for our resources," she added.
This is the first sighting of a kangaroo in Kent, however, there have been a number of sighting of wallabies.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Friday, February 16, 2007

Wolf Sighting ?

Only a handful of vague and obscure reports have emerged from Kent over the years pertaining to wolf legends. In January 2007, at 12:00 pm, near Ashford, a motorist claimed to have experienced a clear sighting of a wolf that emerged from woods, crossed the road in front of his vehicle and then out of sight.
The fact that sightings are pretty much one every thirty or so years probably suggests that such animals are NOT roaming the Kent woodlands, however, one local zoo does have a few large wolves, so if any of these have escaped, maybe we could then explain the sightings. Other theories are dogs and large foxes, however, in this particular incident, the witness is adamant as to what he saw.

See also WOLVES IN THE WEALD

Sunday, January 14, 2007

THE SCEPTICS vs BIG CATS


Okay, so scepticism is healthy, especially regarding 'big cat' sightings in the UK, maybe it's a good thing that such animals aren't believed because maybe then they can live their lives in peace...but the most irritating aspect of some sceptics is their sheer lack of knowledge of a situation and yet they persist in questioning it.

The most common sceptic in the field of exotic cat research is the one who calls to say, "Well, I haven't seen anything so these animals surely can't exist!"...., these people are almost as bad as the so-called researchers who are only looking into 'big cat' sightings in order to get in the newspaper. They are just as damaging to the situation as any hunter, yet they sit behind their PC all day, collecting reports for a mythical group who give out yearly statistics which the press gobble up, and who occasionally dress up like camouflaged lunatics and patrol the fields at night, praying for their precious sighting. The charge of the fright brigade.

The sceptics have many questions, some valid, some common and worryingly repetitive, some ridiculous. Yet I think they need to be answered.


1) How did these cats get here ? Well, despite the common theory that 'all' the animals out there in the U.K. today are escapees or felids released, this doesn't seem the case, as there are many reports of cats roaming the countryside which date back many, many centuries. So, why oh why does this theory constantly pop up as the answer for the populations of animals out there ? Yes, the influx of animals released into the wilds in the 1970s most certainly upped the numbers of exotics such as leopard and puma, but this is not the answer. This 'big cat' mystery as people like to call only seems reasonably modern because the press have only really shown a persistent interest since the Surrey puma sightings of the '60s, and then onto Exmoor and Bodmin, and those of today. Again though, I strongly believe that since the Romans settled here with their amphitheatres there has been a steady trickle of animals into the countryside, add to that travelling menageries, circus animals, private collections, cat mascots, cats imported on boats for purposes such as ratting, some animals escaping from zoo's..blah blah blah.


2) If these are cats are out there why aren't they seen more often, or by sceptics ? Well, they are. Just because some irritating sceptic hasn't seen one whilst on his pheasant shoot doesn't mean these animals aren't there. Sightings are very common but can only reach the press via witnesses or researchers. However, sighting statistics which feature in the press are not a true reflection of the amount of cats which are sighted yearly. For every large cat sighted there must be handfuls that aren't. Sightings are often pure chance, o quiet lanes witnessed by motorists, or in fields as a dog-walker strolls by. Not many cats are tracked and sighted. Just ask the impatient researchers out there who move from spot to spot in their camouflage, armed with binoculars and deer urine! It's not how it works...


3) If these cats exist (remember, sceptics are too obstinate to actually check the data) what are they eating, isn't Britain too cold for them, and why aren't these animals found dead ? Britain is perfect territory for a puma or leopard. The puma is native to varying climates, from the swamplands of Florida, the woodlands of Vermont, and the cold rocky terrain of Canada, so the U.K. isn't a problem. However, what many people seem to forget is that the cats in the U.K. are not being brought over from a country such as Africa and being released, they are very much British 'big cats', born here. The habitat is ideal, from forests in Scotland, to dense woodlands in Kent, but these animals can survive in a variety of surroundings, motorways, shopping centres, built-up neighbourhoods, rivers, streams, valleys, towns etc are not obstacles. These cats are mainly hunting at night so back gardens, parks, school playgrounds etc are common ground for them, and many sightings during the day also prove that these cats have vast territories that take in a variety of terrain.

Prey is also in abundance. Rabbits, deer, pheasants, swans, goats, pigeons, squirrels, lambs, sheep, domestic cats, small dogs, geese, chickens, mice, rats, foxes, the list is endless.

When people ask as to why large cats haven't been found dead on the roads or in woodlands I always ask back, "Have you ever found a dead fox in the woods ?", and often the reply is "No". So, if there are thousands of foxes out there, and far less cats, what are the chances of finding a dead cat ? Remote. A large cat may die in some remote area and be scavenged, but on the roads there have, in the past been a few incidents regarding animals such as lynx and jungle cat, hit by vehicles and killed. The only pathetic thing regarding such an unfortunate event is that usually someone from the RSPCA or whoever comes and clears the body away all hush, hush which seems a little ridiculous when you consider it's just a cat and not a monster, but because the officials and authorities refuse to accept these cats exist, they remain mere legend and myth, but I'm not sure why such animals are ignored. Maybe authorities fear mass hysteria but a majority of the general public either know these animals exist or couldn't care less.

Also, there have been cases where cats such as lynx have been shot and killed, but once again, these kind of incidents are few and far between.


4) If so many big cats are roaming the countryside, why aren't there more signs of them ? This was a question actually asked by a so-called 'expert' big cat keeper at a zoo. The answer is easy. There are signs, it's just a shame Mr Sceptic doesn't get out more often. Basically, there are several to signify whether a large cat is in the area. Paw-prints area prime example but not something I look for that often. Pathways in woods etc, are often disturbed or prints are often not clear enough to determine which animal made them, or they may not be easy to cast. However, a cat-print, if clear, is very different from a dog-print, as a dog doesn't retract its claws, but again, unless a print is clear, identification can be difficult and a waste of time.

Finding something like an eaten sheep, or goat is perfect evidence for big cat activity. There is no animal native to the U.K. that kills like a leopard or puma, and I still can't understand why sheep kills and the like are still dismissed or put down to dogs. Dogs are not stealthy animals that puncture the throat of prey and then cleanly strip the flesh, rasping with the tongue to leave a perfectly devoured victim. Also, a dog will not take a ewe into a tree, in fact all a dog often does is spitefully nip and tear at its victim, often maiming and leaving the scene. Foxes will kill to eat but generally make a mess of pigeons or chickens, whereas a large cat may leave a pile of feathers but no blood, or no remains at all of prey such as rabbit.

Excrement is also worth looking out for around a kill, and also hair that may have been caught on a fence, but one of the most impressive signs are scratch marks up trees. It is often the last place people look for a big cat and the leopard is an agile hunter that will lay up in a tree to store food or to rest. A leopard will also mark a tree, scoring it with its claws, scent glands in its feet enable it to mark its territory, and such markings will range from four-feet and upwards, whereas badgers, which also scratch trees will generally reach about three-feet and have five toes, the cat of course has four.

Other signs are strong smell of urine, although a fox will also leave this scent. Cat calls are also very distinctive, especially that of the puma which is a terrifyingly eerie scream. The leopard omits more of a deep sawing cough, the lynx bird-like chirps.


5) Are pumas black ? What is a black panther ? Why aren't normal 'spotted' leopards sighted in the U.K. ?

Despite the constant inaccurate press reports there is no such thing as a black puma. The puma is fawn-dark tan-coloured with a lighter underside and a dark tip to the tail. A black 'panther' is NOT species of cat but a mere term to describe a black leopard. However, because people often don't realise leopards can be black, they assume the animal they've seen is either a black puma or 'panther'. In the U.S. this is more confusing as the 'panther' is another term for the puma (also mountain lion, catamount and cougar) and there are sightings of black cats out there which locals tend to accept as black pumas, but a black puma is not something known to exist. Although dark specimens have been seen, there are not pumas on record as having a coat dark enough to be deemed black. The black cats sighted in the U.K., and possibly across the world are black leopards. This is a caused by melanin, a dark pigment to the coat. Melanistic leopards only give birth to black offspring hence the fact that only black (which in fat are very, very dark brown) leopards are sighted in the U.K. Across the world there may be exceptions where other melanistic cats may be sighted, or other dark coated cats such as the jaguarundi, but in most cases people are seeing black leopards. Sightings of the normal spotted leopards in the U.K. are extremely scarce, which points to the origins of the current populations as being that of exotic pets, mascots, etc.


6) Are there lions and tigers at large in the U.K. ? The only chance a lion or tiger could be on the loose in the U.K. is if one escapes from a zoo, even then, attempts to capture it should not be a great problem. The lion is not an elusive animal in its country of origin, they live in a pride, and like the tiger, will seek larger prey, possibly man. In the past there have been one or two reports of striped cats or animals resembling a lioness, but the fact that the reports died out suggested that people were possibly seeing smaller species of cat and wrongly identifying them, or nothing at all. Reports of cheetah and jaguar are also very few and far between, and one report in the '70s of a Clouded Leopard in Kent was true, it had escaped from a zoo, and was shot after being at large for eighteen months.


7) Why aren't there more attacks on humans if there are so many cats out there ? Again, prey in the countryside is abundant, the only chance there is if someone being attacked is if a cat is cornered, provoked or injured to the extent that it cannot hunt its usually prey such as rabbit. Puma have been known to attack in the U.S., joggers and cyclists are easy targets because as they flit through the trees they look like natural prey, but bees, deer and dogs cause more deaths each year. Leopards are known as man-eaters in their countries of origin but many of these tales are myth, and in the U.K. the so-called attacks that have allegedly taken place seem very dubious. Also, anyone that sets out to hunt a cat deserves to get a retaliation. Should anyone else come in close contact with a large cat such a puma, I advise they stand their ground then back off slowly always remaining in eye-contact with the animal. Do not run.


8) Are these cats breeding ? Whilst the Jungle Cat is able to breed with the domestic cat, a leopard would not breed with a puma, or lynx etc. Whilst attempts in zoo parks have produced strange hybrids, in the wilds this will not occur. There are no monster mutant cats out there, and in most cases where smaller black cats are being sighted, we are simply dealing with young black leopards, and the fact that these individuals have been born into a smaller environment, with smaller prey.


9) How many differing species of cat are out there exactly ? The most commonly sighted cats in the U.K. are the black leopard and the puma with lynx close behind. Reports of smaller cats such as jungle cat, ocelot, leopard cat, caracal and serval are far less, but I'm pretty sure that there is a variety of smaller felid roaming the U.K., but these are harder to track as these cats hunt smaller prey, and not every witness will be able to identify an individual in order for a researcher to track it.


10) If these cats are out there, why aren't the government interested ? I think they are, and there are officials monitoring some situations and several sightings across the U.K. are taken very seriously. Marksmen have been called out, unnecessarily to places such as Wales and in the west country to either suggest that they are on the ball or that they just want to be seen as doing something although they haven't got a clue. If a marksmen only injures a cat such as a leopard then they will no doubt create a very unhappy beast. Attacks on sheep are also monitored by bodies such as DEFRA, but again, if anything serious ever occurs such events seem to be dealt with in a covert manner which is rather pathetic.


11) How many exotic cats roam Britain ? It is too difficult to determine, as smaller cats are far harder to track, but each county in England most certainly has more than two black leopards and puma, and hundreds of years worth of sightings must surely suggest we are dealing with a very high number of animals, far higher than 'experts' estimate. It's a steady increase that may explode in twenty or so years. Two parents can produce up to four young, a rather worrying fact maybe ?
12) Do these cats have any legend in the supernatural or connections to 'black dog' reports in the past ? Anyone who believes that these cats are paranormal or 'demons from another world' need their head testing. The theory is laughable. Over the centuries reports of 'hellhounds' and the like seem common the world over and some may have been very old reports of black leopards when you consider that people at the time were not used to seeing melanistic leopards in the wilds and so when they saw, on a stormy night, a black animal bound up a tree, they may have believed they had seen a dog with supernatural agility but the reality is, the 'black dog' phenomenon is a very separate issue to the very flesh and blood 'big cat' situation. Large cats roaming the U.K. are not ghosts of prehistoric cats.





Sunday, January 7, 2007

PHANTOM DOG OF LEEDS CASTLE


A popular legend, although sightings of such a spectre seem few and far between.

Such a beast was said to haunt particular areas of the castle which has stood for more than one-thousand years on two islands, at its home near Maidstone.

The ghost was said to be a bad omen and every time it was spotted in one of the passageways or rooms, then a death or tragedy would surely occur. However, the most famous incident surrounding the ghost was not ominous at all, for it saved the life of a female resident. According to legend the apparition appeared to the woman, who followed the creature out the door. Seconds later, the bay window which she was peering out from collapsed and would surely have killed her if she'd stayed at the spot.

It seems that the black hound may well be connected to the museum at the castle which displays a fine collection of dog collars!


WEIRD ACCOLADE...


'WEIRD ACCOLADE FOR LOCAL HAUNT' read the Medway Today of 4th May 2001, stating that, "...a village in Medway has been named the weirdest in Kent", and continued that, "...Blue Bell Hill is the only place in the county listed in Bizarre Magazine's 'Weird Britannia League'. The village was chosen because of the ghostly hitchhiker who appears and disappears as drivers approach. It is also home to the mysterious 'panther'-like animal known as the 'beast' of Blue Bell Hill.

Kent came eleventh in Bizarre's league.
...and no, the newspaper clipping merely showed a 'wild cat' and not a 'big cat'!

Mysterious attacks...


Over the centuries there have been several incidents in which many sheep at certain locations across Kent, have been killed or heavily wounded, and yet no sign of a predator. Large cats have been ruled out because no sheep have been killed, or shown injuries that would suggest something like puma or leopard.
Many owners who have found their flocks battered and savaged have also ruled out dogs because in some cases the dogs have either never showed up again, or, in some cases, the victims, which in some instances have been cattle, have had wounds inflicted that suggest the work of a precision laser, very eerie discoveries which have been echoed across the U.S.A. for many, many decades, known as 'animal mutilations'.

In 1998 24 lambs were killed over the course of two nights despite farmers keeping watch over the area and hearing no sounds such as barking. A dog once among a flock would rip and tear its victims and leave them with bloodied legs, heads, ears, which in some cases, is the damage done, but no sign of the marauder. A large cat such as a leopard would kill to eat, biting the throat of say, a ewe, bringing it down and stripping the flesh, often the shoulder. Scratch marks would be evident and also puncture marks to the throat and the kill would be very tidy as the large cat rasps the flesh with its tongue.
Foxes would make mess of lambs, but again, farmers are quite familiar with attacks by certain animals.

Over the years there have been numerous savage attacks on sheep, cows and lambs in Medway, Gravesend, Ashford and Canterbury, and also strange, precise attacks in the same areas where it appears animals were definitely not the cause.

During 2004, 2005, and 2006 many domestic cats were found decapitated and lacerated around the outskirts of London, particularly Sidcup, Bexley, Plumstead and the likes. The press and the police believed at first they were looking for a demented person who was removing heads and tails of these animals and dumping them, but then the police claimed that such attacks were nothing more than animals being hit by cars, although most of the victims were not found in the road. Several attacks could well have been blamed on a large cat such as a leopard as there were sightings on the outskirts of London and deer have often been found in the woods eaten by an unseen predator, likely to have been a 'big cat'.

In 1999 a goat was found mysteriously mutilated at a local fort. Whilst the press were eager to jump on the bandwagon after Halloween and claim it was the work of occultists, it appeared that a 'big cat' was possibly to blame, however, other carcasses found in the area suggested something very sinister was also going on, despite sceptical attitudes towards diabolical practices. However mutilated cattle found in 2003 in Medway were completely different. The wounds evident showed that the rectal areas of two calves had been surgically removed as had tissue around the face. The victims were also completely stiff when found the next morning, and not from the cold.

Friday, January 5, 2007

FOR CAVORTING WITH DEMONS...

The often misinterpreted word 'witchcraft' often sends shivers down the spine of those who have, for centuries, misunderstood it. It conjures images of grim tales of voodoo, possession, sorcery, diabolical summonings, curses and witches entertaining monstrous apparitions. Many of the 'satanic panics' have been nothing more than media conjuration whereas the fascination of white magic has been somewhat clouded by the imaginary dark blanket of so-called devilish cults. Yet, during the famous witch trials of many centuries ago, there were indeed cases in witch so-called 'witches' and sorcerers were accused of cavorting with demons and raising familiars.

Condemnation of Edmund, Earl of Kent on political grounds; had obtained important information from a demon through the mediation of a friar. Edmund is brother of Edward II (murdered). Condemned in Wincester Parliament of 1330. Kent had heard that Edward was still alive and his consequent action in Edward's interest was the pretext for his conviction and execution on March 19. Whole affair engineered by Roger Mortimer (lover of Queen Isabella), young Edward III not yet in charge. On March 24 Mortimer sent a letter to the pope explaining and justifying the crime; declared that Edmund had got the info from a demon conjured by a friar. When Mortimer was condemned the following November, the parliament surely had the matter of the demon in mind, saying that he managed to convey the report that Edward was still living to Kent, whereupon the Earl investigated the matter, '...by all the good means he knew of'.

During 1534 the Holy Maid of Kent vented her unhappiness in regards to a tree upon some land. Such an outburst was taken by the then King Henry as an insult. Allegedly, the maid had also told the king that should he ever leave Queen Catherine, the he would die within a few months. Of course, such remarks led to the maid's persecution.

In 1586 a Joan Cason was accused, via 'witchcraft', of killing a child named Joan Crook. She was tried at Faversham and accused of having 'familiars. She was sentenced to death.

1671 saw a Woolwich widow tried in Kent for feeding, entertaining and employing a familiar that looked like a rat.

In 1692 three women were accused of consulting and covenanting with strange creatures in the shape of mice.

Whilst the witch-craze sparked many unnecessary executions, several centuries later the public and the press still interpret 'witchcraft' as something sinister, despite the fact that it's difficult to often siphon out the yobs from the vandals, the drunken rock fans from the sicko's, with a majority of these not having a clue about either white or black magic.

During the late '60s at Fordwich a tortured kitten was discovered and reported to a local newspaper. The poor creature bore marks to suggest it had been burned, and near the body black candles were found, and according to the media, a 'witches circle'. A few years after several animal skulls were found in the chimney of a Chatham house. One of these skulls was coloured black, and a museum owner identified it as possibly belonging to a boar or a bear which have been used for ritual purposes.

The village of Cobham has a dark history, particularly in the area of the mausoleum buried in the woods. A dating couple allegedly uncovered a red circle daubed on the ground the the sacred hexagon of Solomon in the centre. A gored rabbit and an eerie doll were also found in the area. The press had a field day.

Around the same time coffins were desecrated in the Canterbury area after which the police acknowledged was indeed the work of drag-crazed vandals, although how they knew this is any one's guess, but I guess that anyone can be blamed as a satanist!!

During the '80s a local 'witch' was driven from her home in Medway , and the haunted area of Blue Bell Hill has often been associated with dark magic, although white witches often operate in the area and yet those who stumble upon such practices are obviously dramatic enough to run to the press and the police with tales of sorcery and ritual. White witch Kevin Carlyon has visited the area on numerous occasions, legend even has it that the Kits Coty house was formed by four witches on a dark and stormy night, although this is simply untrue, yet very eerie folklore. Just like much of what Wicca is about. And whilst the Devil may truly exist, those that practice witchcraft have a true connection with nature, and NOT the underworld.

FLYING AND BUZZING AND OUT OF PLACE THINGS...

Fortean Times magazine reported on the flying squirrel of Tatsfield. Although undated, but rumoured to be in the '70s or '80s, a witness reported, "...I was coming round a bend of a country lane and saw this grey creature fly across in front of the car, from one tree to another. The front and rear limbs of the creature appeared to be joined by a flap of skin and it floated and clung to the bark. I'm sure sightings would have been few and far between but I actually saw a similar, if not the same creature again shortly after, but on the other side of Tatsfield."

In 1998 strange, green parakeets were sighted near Blue Bell Hill and one of the local newspapers asked, 'HAVE YOU SEEN THE GREEN ALIEN ?" after various sightings of the birds which were said to have come from West Africa and India. They were the size of collared doves and scream like children in a playground. Such birds, among other migratory oddities, have also appeared in the skies over the Isle of Sheppey, home also to rare voles and red rabbits!

During the late '90s there were reports over Kent of a large, dark-coloured bird which was eventually identified as a vulture. News spread fast of the bird and a man came forward to claim that the bird has in fact escaped from a park. However, there seemed to be too many sightings, and too far and wide to concern the one missing vulture.

In 1948 south Kent was besieged by an unusually large number of rooks. The black hordes allegedly invaded from France and damaged crops in the Romney Marsh area. In the past also there have been several insect swarms, most notably that of ladybirds.

The Maid of Kent beetle was rediscovered in 1997 at a sanctuary lavatory on the Isle of Sheppey. The one-inch long insect was last seen officially in Kent in 1950 and reported officially extinct during the '60s! It resembles a golden-haired bee.

All manner of foreign spiders, scorpions and the likes seem to have made their way to the Kent coast and are now establishing themselves in the woods and on the sea walls.

An alligator was rumoured to have been hooked by an angler at Capstone Park in Chatham during the '90s, and another was said to reside in a pond-cum-lake at Warden Bay, Sheppey. One was most certainly sighted in the '70s on the banks of the River Stour.

During the late '90s the local wildlife trust were becoming alarmed at the amount of dead otters turning up in the county, particularly Sevenoaks, with one corpse being discovered near the railway line. Otters have been pretty much of a rare species in Kent, making the sudden turn up of carcasses a mystery.
To quote Biodiversitysussex.org:
"In the middle of the 1950s otters were considered to be common and widespread across much of England (Stephens, 1957). However, by the early 1960s otter hunts in this country were reporting diminishing hunting success and it appears that otter populations crashed across England in the late 1950s and early 1960s. This was due mainly to the introduction of organochlorine pesticides (Lloyd, 1962; Anon., 1969; Anon., 1974). Organochlorine pesticides, used in sheep dips and as cereal dressing, tend to become concentrated in eel tissues. Those eels not killed directly become poison reservoirs for otters and other predators, which subsequently suffer from elevated levels of mortality and low breeding success (Chanin & Jefferies, 1978). Otters are at the top of the food chain, and because of their natural fat reservoirs, they are highly susceptible to the accumulation of fat soluble pesticides and other toxins. In high doses, toxins can reduce breeding success and immune system function.
By the late 1970s only 6% of sites inspected in the UK showed signs of otters and they were largely absent from the midlands and southern England (Lenton et al., 1980). Voluntary and later compulsory bans on the use of organochlorine pesticides coupled with a ban on the direct persecution of otters in the 1970s has enabled otter populations in some areas of the UK to begin to recover. However, in many areas of England farming has intensified since the late 1950s and much of the riparian vegetation that otters once used for cover has been removed. This together with increased disturbance from human activity and continued building and infrastructure developments along riversides and in floodplains has restricted the otters' recovery in the Midlands and in the south and east of the country.
The otter is currently recovering nationally with most counties in the UK seeing some regular otter activity, although breeding activity is still low in many areas. Otter populations in the South are moving South eastwards from the South West counties, and Southwards from the Thames and Kent regions."

Thursday, January 4, 2007

A NARWHAL IN KENT

From KENT MESSENGER 27th January 2006. 'WHALE'S ARRIVAL CAUSED EXCITEMENT':
After the whale drama of the Thames, 56 years ago, the River Medway had a whale drama of its own. The whale involved was of a much rarer species than the northern bottlenose whale in the Thames. In October 1949, records author Bob Ogley in 'Kent - A Chronicle of the Century Vol 11', "...there was great excitement at Rectory Wharf, Wouldham, when the body of a narwhal arrived on the shore via the Medway." "It is only the second example of the species to be washed ashore in this country in 500 years." The whale's body was taken to the Natural History Museum, in London. So, what is a narwhal ? Narwhals are usually found in Arctic seas and rivers where they feed on cuttlefish, crustaceans and fish. The most unusual feature of the narwhal is that it has only two teeth in its upper jaw.

THE BLUEWATER 'BIG CAT'


The 'big cats' roaming the surrounding areas of Europe's largest shopping centre, Bluewater, are not mere eerie urban legends.

Sightings of black leopard, lynx and puma were being reported long before the mall was constructed and when the land was merely fields and quarries. Large animals such as this will not deviate from their routes just because a concrete obstacle sits there and attracts millions of people each year, hence the facts that the sightings persist.

Bluewater will still attract large cats as there is a supply of water and food source is in abundance with birds, rabbits and foxes living in the proximity.

The concerns for the Bluewater management team is that they fear such exotic animals will drive away or maybe terrify the shoppers that bombard the area daily. However, sightings generally take place on the outskirts although there have been one or two occasions where a black leopard has strolled very close. On one occasion a family who'd been to the cinema were returning to one of the underground car-parks after a late film when they all spotted a big, black cat prowling the car-park.

In 2004 a woman and her child stood and watched in amazement as a puma walked through one of the car-parks in broad daylight.

There have also been many sightings on the roads flanking and circling Bluewater. Several motorists have spoken to me regarding seeing large cats casually slinking across the roads.

I personally think that people who flock to the shops at Bluewater are too interested in their wallets than noticing if any large cats are about. This is a good thing as it means the animals in questions can get on with their lives.


Wednesday, January 3, 2007

WATER MONSTERS


At Rye, Sussex, as chronicled in a 1926 work, a courting couple walking their dog one evening across a misty field, were approached by a peculiar horse-like creature with great staring eyes that galloped away from them. The man pursued the beast in time to see it leap a fence and splash into a large, deep pool. Such a creature is what is known in folklore as a Water Horse, considered trickster spirits the world over which often appear very much as a horse but should anyone dare to mount such a monster, it will gallop off and drown them.

Strange leviathans have been sighted in the salt-waters off Kent's foaming coast.


In 1912 a Mr Stone and others aboard a boat at St Margaret's Bay saw what they described as a 'long-necked seal', something similar was seen some fifty years later in the Thames Estuary! And in 1923 at Black Deep in the Thames a Captain Haselfoot and Commander Southern saw a similar creature The area itself had been closed to shipping for some eight years when the leviathan was sighted and occurred at 9:00 am in the summer. The two witnesses watched as a long neck rose out of the water some two-hundred yards away and reached a height of some seven-feet. And in 1950 a John Handley also saw a 'long-necked seal' off Cliftonville, near Margate.


Monsters also exist in the lakes and rivers of Kent too.


In the July of 2001 an unknown predator was taking swans at the River Darent, Dartford. The smooth skinned beast had attracted many anglers and reporters to its watery lair, but no-one had fully identified the creature until a fifteen-year old Oliver Parker-Grater came forward to say he'd caught the monster, a Wels catfish, estimated to be five-feet in length, but had put it back not realising the amount of obliteration it was causing in the estuary. The Kent Fisheries Team searched the waters, believing that the fish would be a threat to the native brown trout plus other wildlife in the area. An Adrian Saunders of the Fisheries Team at the time commented, "My suspicion is that he has swum down river towards the Dartford Creek area and could even be in the River Thames. Small rivers like the Darent are not the natural habitat of catfish. It is likely this has been put into the river illegally for someones idea of angling fun but it can be a threat to the environment making a big impact on local fish stocks."
During the summer of 2005 a crocodile was being blamed for the disappearance of much wildlife in the vicinity of the River Lea in east London. Canada geese and cygnets were being dragged into the black waters by an unknown predator that refused to rear its ugly head. An eight-foot long catfish, a snapping turtle and also a massive pike were also put on the list of suspects as numbers of geese dwindled rapidly from one-hundred and thirty to single figures.
As autumn drew in, police and other wildlife authorities were even blaming people for the mysterious disappearances, believing that 'swan-snatchers' were on the loose.




DRAGONS.


Sussex is known for its tales of dragons living in the forests but Kent remains extremely obscure with relation to such legends.


On Friday 26th September, 1449, two enormous reptilian creatures were watched by a number of witnesses as they fought on the banks of the winding River Stour. One of the leviathans was described as reddish with spots and the other monster, the victor, was all black. Strangely enough, the area ever since has been known as Sharpfight Meadow.

In Sussex in 1794 a huge 'snake' was shot dead finally after terrorising locals and livestock for such a while at Hayward's Heath. However, descriptions from the time clearly state that this particular beast measured only five-feet in length, in fact many tales speaking of such 'dragons' often only speak of creatures reaching up to nine-feet in length, suggesting nothing more than snakes or large lizards. It must also be noted that with regards to the above beast, many witnesses to the monster often described it as disappearing under the earth once it had attacked, not exactly the behaviour of a terrible dragon.

During 1867, at Fittleworth in Sussex, another snake-like animal was spoken of. The creature was known to hiss and spit at travellers who accidentally stumbled upon its lair. However, one record does exist from Fittleworth of an, "...oudaciously large" creature which was said to have inhabited a lair near an overgrown pathway. The beast would never let anyone pass, but attacks on humans seem to have never taken place.

St. Leonard's Forest in Sussex is another alleged dragon's abode. A John Trundle published a broadsheet speaking of the horrible creature said to have haunted the area in 1614, claiming, "...there is always in his track or path left a glutinous and slimie matter which is very courupt and offensive to the scent...the Serpent or Dragon as some call it, is reputed to be nine feete or rather more in length, and shaped almost in the form of the axle-tree of a cart, a quantitie of thickness in the middest, and somewhat smaller at both ends. The former part which he shoots forth as a necke is supposed to be an ell long, with a white ring as it were of scales about it. The scales along his back seem to be blackish and so much as is descovered under his bellie apereth to be red...it is likewise descovered to have large feete, but the eye may be there deceived, for some supoose that serpents have no feet but glide along upon certain ribbes and scales, which both defend them...there are likewise on either side of him discovered two great bunches, so big as a large foote ball, and as some think will grow into wings, but God I hope will so defend the poor people of the neighbourhood, that he shall be destroyed before he grow so fledge. He will cast venom 4 roddes from him, so by woefull experience, it was proved on the bodies of a man and woman coming that way..."


In his book Dragons: More Than A Myth ?, author and friend Richard Freeman wrote, "....The description of the serpent sounds very like a cobra...", and by what we've read, differing dialect aside, it sounds as though no dragons were actually inhabiting the woods of Sussex. But something was.

MINSTER 'BIG BIRD'

1999 (November) - Mill Hill, Minster, Sheppey

A haven for wildlife, this area is perfect habitat for wildlife with its wetlands.

A 56-year old Mrs Jackson was riding her horse on this particular evening when a large, winged 'something' attacked her. She told the local newspaper, "It's the most bizarre and frightening experience. I was thrown and the horse bolted...the bird had an enormous wingspan."

THE HAWKHURST BEAR -

August 1983
Two brothers, Mark (11) and Peter (9), were playing in their garden at Slip Mill Lane at around 7:30 pm when they saw an unusual creature fall from a nearby tree. The boys were unnerved by the animal because they thought it was a bear.

Police were called to the scene but their search found nothing except a few scratch marks on the bark. However, when the youngsters were questioned they told the police, "...the animal was bigger than our dog (weighing 60lb) and covered in shaggy brown fur, and had long black claws."

They claimed to have chased the animal away.

In the past there were reports of a bear on Hackney Marshes in Essex. The story made a few brief headlines but the creature was never seen again. In 1961 golfers at Croham Hurst in Surrey saw an animal they described as a bear. It was black in colour, around three-feet tall and disappeared into the woods when it was approached. Police officers suggested it may have been a dog, but there was more chance of it being a leopard!

THE ANGLER AND THE 'PANTHER'


5th January 1975

Angler Fred Lloyd was enjoying a days fishing on the banks of the River Medway when he was disturbed by a rustling in the bushes. Whilst attempting to concentrate on his still float he was startled by the appearance of a two-foot long black leopard cub, which emerged from the undergrowth, almost rolling towards him.

The cat allegedly began to hiss at the shocked fisherman who rather bravely, acting spontaneously, grasped the furred critter by the back of the neck and put it in his fishing box, and took the beast home. Whether this is merely the detail of legend or not, but according to some reports Fred put the cat in a playpen at home but the felid shredded it. Mr Lloyd then began to phone around the local zoo parks to ask if they'd lost a 'panther' but to no avail.

Twenty-four hours later the RSPCA arrived on the scene the cat and found a home for it at Godstone, in Surrey.

Strangely enough, a couple of weeks after Fred's encounter, he learned that a zoo at Colchester had in fact lost a black leopard cub, it's name being Zar, which, at the time, was said to have been worth £500. The eight-week old animal had apparently been stolen on the 4th January, but whether this was the same animal that turned up on the muddy banks of Kent seems unlikely.

Nothing ever seemed to come of this tale, and the two stories never seemed make sense with one another, as an eight-week old cub missing from a zoo some fifty miles away doesn't seem to match a two-foot long cat found the next day.

It seems that Mr Lloyd will go down in Kent folklore as being one of the only people to ever grapple with one of the counties mystery cats!

SUSSEX HELLHOUNDS

Black dogs legends are rife in the neighbouring counties, again, these manifestations have been tied into the ‘alien big cat’ mystery. South-west of Arundel, in the village of Yapton, locals are said to feat the ghostly dog, so much so that they leave their doors open so that such a phantom may roam freely on its path. South of the Surrey border near Haslemere there is an area known as Black Dog Copse whilst a Black Dog Lane runs from old Crawley High Street to West Green and Horsted Heyens, where a black leopard has been sighted, also has a place, marked on old maps, called Black Dog.
The village of Henfield, another haunt for large exotic cats, harbours a black dog legend, a phantom said to be calf-sized and eyes ablaze although many legends from Sussex often revolve around old smugglers who were said to have created such ‘monsters’ to prevent local folk from loitering around wooded areas where these mischievous crooks hid their goods. The ‘beast’ of Bouley Bay in Jersey is another of these so-called legends created by smugglers. Such a demonic, saucer-eyed dog, is said to roam the shoreline as a scare tactic offered by the crooks to frighten off intruders into their clandestine activities.
The ‘wish hounds’ of Sussex are the most commonly known spectral canids, alongside the likes of Black Shuck, Padfoot etc. Rarely though are such dogs sighted in packs across the county, despite the legend that a wild hunt, including the sound of yapping hounds and the thunder of horses hooves, can be heard near the Ditchling Beacon hillfort. A solitary hound haunts Windover Hill above the Long Man Of Wilmington etching, and it is the South Downs area where most reports seem concentrated, which could suggest some ancient pathway or old location once guarded by these hellhounds.
At Jevington a black dog is often sighted fleetingly before vanishing, whilst at Alfriston two black dogs, one black and one white, are sighted around the Full Moon on the dark roads heading towards Town Fields. The black phantom is said to over look the flint wall of the road and then run back from whence it came. The whitish hound is said to be the omen of death, an animal murdered, along with its master, by a group of farm labourers. The dog is rarely sighted now, maybe because the remains which were buried at the side of the road were excavated and buried at a more appropriate spot, allowing the spirits to rest.
Another road, that which runs east-west to the south of Lewes and Mount Caburn, is haunted by a Labrador-sized black dog which disappears as soon as it is sighted.
Most legends pertaining to these phantom hounds concern a general fear of the dark from the locals, who often speak of these hounds emerging from the shadows once the sun has gone down. Reports from the daytime are rare it would seem. Not even poachers and the like tread the valleys east of Philpots Promontory Camp after dark. The ‘gurt black ghost hound’ prowls the area which locals call an “…ellynge place”, meaning ‘eerie’. The hound is called ‘Gytrack’, similar in name to the ‘Guytrash’ hound said to haunt the north of England.
Black dog Hill south-east of Ditchling is haunted by a headless black canid, the road haunted could possibly be an old Corpse Way or ‘coffin road’ which points directly toward Westmeston Church. These roads were once said to be the common routes used when the dead were transported for burial. Could such ‘hellhounds’ be guardians of the dead ?
Why are reports of phantom black dogs less common now then say thirty or forty years ago, and previous ? Has the British ‘big cat’ situation literally swamped such a phenomenon out of existence ? It seems likely. Reports of hellhounds, spectral dogs and ‘wish hounds’ are now few and far between. Black animals creeping through the fog now become black leopards, fleeting, fiery-eyed creatures slinking into hedgerows are mystery cats, and whilst the age-old Black Dog legends remain fossilised in their chosen towns, like so many other mysteries before them, they have transformed, or died out even, despite once being the common fear of men. They exist as bad omens across the world, from Iraq’s chained phantoms, to Holland’s Doberman-like hounds, to the American Fence Rail Dog, an overly large red, stilted creature said to haunt a stretch of Pennsylvania highway where numerous car accidents occur.They exist in some form or other, and certainly to the extent of being taken very seriously, but whether they hang on in there as they have done, as a phenomenon only time will tell, but if we put them alongside the potent canine forces that exist throughout Egyptian lore, or Greek mythology, then these hellhounds, and harbingers of doom should remain active for as long as the Earth remains round.

WOLVES IN THE WEALD ?




During the late ‘90s I received a report from a highly reliable witness named Dave M, regarding an unusual sighting pertaining to a creature that was described as fox-like, but with stilted legs, a black mane on its back and a long snout. The witness said the animal was nosing around in the gutter of a remote country lane, near Chattendean Wood, stared into the headlights and was gone in a flash. The man who saw the animal was startled as he thought it resembled a wolf! Further research pointed at a Maned Wolf (Chrysocyon brachyurus), not a close relation to the wolf, an endangered animal native to Central and Eastern America which can reach over four-feet in length and stand eighteen inches at the shoulder. Could such an animal have been released from a private collection ? It hasn’t been sighted again.
During the late 1980s, a Mrs Joy from the outskirts of Ashford believed she’d seen a wolf one night whilst looking out of her kitchen window. Although it was dusk, the grey animal clearly stood out as it casually crept along the back fence of her large garden. In 1998 a cream-coloured ‘wild dog’ was sighted by newspaper reporter Rachel Nolan as she pulled out of a car park in Gravesend one night. Just finishing work at 10:30 pm, she was stunned by the appearance of this beast she described as looking like a Dingo, native to Australia. It was eating a discarded sandwich, peered at the oncoming car, and strolled off into the undergrowth flanking the parking area.

THE BEAST OF BLUE BELL HILL

In 1998 local press such as Kent Today were caught in a flap over a mysterious predator lurking in the woods around Maidstone. The strangeness fitted perfectly into the framework of a location that, for many, many years has been known for its oddness. The most famous bout of weirdness connected to the hill, was, and still is, the so-called 'hitchhiker' of the area, which many people tie in to the famous crash which occurred there in 1965 ( http://www.roadghosts.com/ ), although in-depth research by Sean Tudor proved beyond doubt that there is more to the hill, and the phantom cases than meets the eye, and that the answers may indeed lie hidden in the lay of the land.

The so-called 'beast' of Blue Bell Hill was never tied to the area, and sightings of such creatures were reported from the surrounding areas such as Boxley and Burham several centuries before, but in Kent during the late '90s, the press were very slow to jump on the 'big cat' bandwagon that had already rolled through Surrey in the '60s, Exmoor in the 1980s, and Bodmin in the early '90s. However, a black leopard was sighted in the area around the late '90s, and still is as of writing, and no doubt will be in many years to come, because what reporters do not understand is that these animals are in abundance, they are not the local sheep-killing werewolves they want them to be, but now very much British 'big cats', animals spawned from generations long ago released into the wilds. The Romans imported thousands of cats such as puma and leopard during their invasions, and these cats were used to fight slaves. During the 1700s and 1800s many travelling menageries could be blamed for cats escaping into the wilds, as some of these moving exhibitions were quite possibly incapable of housing such animals. And then, in the 1960s it was extremely fashionable to see people walking down the street with a black leopard or a puma, and many were kept in large houses, or basements, but during 1976 when the Dangerous Wild Animals Act was introduced, many owners could not afford the license fees and so released their 'pets' into the wilds, hence the populations of today, which are thriving.

Reports of exotic cats are common throughout Britain, as well as in Australia, the U.S.A. and to lesser extent countries such as Italy and France. The main species which roam the U.K. are the black leopard ('panther' - as many people call them, although in the U.S.A. the 'panther' is a term which applies to the Cougar). The black leopard (native to Africa and Asia) is the same as the normal leopard except it has a dark pigment to the coat, although they are very dark brown, and should one see such an animal up close, the rosette pattern under the coat will be visible. Such animals were very popular pets. Contrary to popular opinion, these animals can exist quite easily int he English countryside, cover is sufficient for an animal so elusive and prey will range from deer, to rabbit, to fox, lambs, pheasants, pigeons, rats, domestic cats and squirrels. The puma (Cougar, Mountain Lion), native to the U.S. and Canada, is roughly the same size as the leopard but not officially a 'big cat' as it cannot roar, but instead is the largest of the Lesser Cats and is known for its piercing scream. These cats are extremely shy, have a fawn-dark tan coat and a long tail. During the '60s flap in Surrey, a majority of witnesses seeing such an animal believed they'd seen a lioness, however, reports of lions and tigers in the U.K. are pretty much untrue and unlikely unless one such cat escapes from a zoo.

Smaller cats to roam the U.K. are the Lynx, known for its tufted ears and bobbed tail, which allegedly died out here some 4,000 years ago, and the Jungle Cat (Swamp Cat), which is able to breed with the domestic cat. Other cats are described in handfuls of other sightings but reports of Caracal, Leopard Cat, Clouded Leopard, and Golden Cat are few and far between. As for the 'beast' of Blue Bell Hill, well, as long as the haunted area attracts investigators and tourists who aren't really knowledgeable, this prowling phantom will always exist, but the truth is far stranger than the fiction....

BIG CAT SIGHTINGS...




My own KENT BIG CAT RESEARCH is the counties only official investigation into reports and evidence of exotic felids in the wilds. However, only a a few sightings of note will be spoken of in these pages, as KENT BIG CAT RESEARCH can be found elsewhere on the web, and in the press.

WALLABIES & BOAR!


Since the great storm of 1987, there have been several numbers of boar, and less so wallaby across Kent. Boar are thriving on the marshes of areas such as Romney, as well as Paddock Wood, and wallaby sightings are on the increase, particularly across the North Downs and Ashford. Strange things in them there woods...On Sunday 2nd September, the Daily Mirror reported, 'It's Enough To Make A Policeman Hopping Mad' - claiming, "...a big police hunt is on for two wallabies on the run. The wallabies, smaller versions of the kangaroo, escaped from Heathfield Safari Park, Sussex. Now one of them has been spotted leaping over hedges in Kent. Mr Julian Moore, 18, who works at the safari park owned by his father, Dr. Gerald Moore, explained that they are not really dangerous but have a tendency to kick. He said: " We have a devil of a job keeping them from vaulting the enclosures. We keep on building higher fences - but once a wallaby, even a small one, decides he is going, it's pretty hard to change his mind. The two missing animals are about 3ft 6 in' high and greyish-brown."
The Britons, Saxons and Romans hunted boar so escape was a rare thing. Man even imported the boar because he frothed at the thrill of the hunt. In Kent, wild boar was very much part of the menu up until the modern day, but many have escaped captivity thanks to natural occurrences such as storms. Such animals had escaped from areas such Rolvenden, and in Thurnham there were signs a few years ago on many a woodland tree stating, "Beware : Boar!". However, confrontations between man and beast have been few and far between, even crop damage has been minimal and often exaggerated in the press.
A 50lb peccary was too much of a match for one man and his three dogs during the late '90s, but the animal was lured back to the park it escaped from. By 1999 the boar in the wilds of Kent was perceived as a severe threat. Admittedly, the boar is not the most pleasant of creatures. However, a summit took place at Maidstone's Tudor Park Hotel, organised at the time by accountant Paul Edgson Wright who'd had a keen interest in agricultural matters. Also at the time, a government study was underway and news crews flocked to areas such as Beckley to film the animals. Conservationist Angus Irvine at the time commented, "They don't exist in law and the government has to decide whether they do ecist, maybe then we can make decisions from that point."
Rational thinking seemed to go out of the window during the time and in an article from 2000 I commented that, "...whilst the opposition are condemning the boar, they ought to look at themselves and maybe put their spears away instead of acting like primitive hunters looking to destroy anything that appears as a threat."
Radical opinions were causing much stress in the rural communities. A mock poster plastered around read:
'A mother and daughter were killed whilse walking through an English woodland along a public footpath. Their dog, it is beleived, disturbed the boar which charged out of the undergrowth killing the young girl instantly, and so severely wounding the mother by ripping with its tusks, that she susequently died.
WHAT ARE THE AUTHORITIES DOING ABOUT THIS NEW MENACE ? NOT MUCH, IT APPEARS!'
Of course, such advertising campaigns were completely unjustifiable. Conservative MP for Ashford, Damian Green, at the time commented, "If the wild boar population is growing very fast and is likely to start intruding on human life then we need to find amethod of control."
A farmer at the summit, an Ian Douglas was allegedly seconds away from being attacked by a boar when he shot it in time. He said in an interview with local news, "After looking at the boar on the ground after I'd shot it I thought it was scary, but I do have a sneaking regard for them because there are people out there shooting away just so they can say they have bagged a wild boar, all the while the poor young ones are dying and the big old ones are still there getting on with it. They are the dangerous ones and they are the ones producing more and more."
It must be said that whilst no casual rambler wants to stumble upon a big boar and its young, there must come a time when Kent's folk come to terms with nature. Boar, large cats and other foreign imports are now well establishing themselves in the county and there is no major worry. The only issue seems to have been dug up more by the campaigners opposing such creatures rather than the tusks of the animals themselves.

Pine Marten

Maidstone Journal Feb 2nd 1802 - to quote, "A marten cat caught at Upper Blue Bell", taken from A FOURTH KENTISH PATCHWORK by Robert H. Goodsall

The Croydon Monster

1803 - Croydon

Although Surrey neighbour's Kent, this tale is worth noting, that of a masked, caped invader known as the 'Croydon Monster' who allegedly haunted the area around the Hare & Hounds in Purley Way. This mysterious entity could, just like the legendary Spring-Heeled Jack of Victorian London, leap great heights. During one such incident, the caped crusader was alleged to have cleared a crowd of over fifty-people with his agile bounds.

During the 1950s a phantom 'hound' was seen in Richmond Park, Surrey by Joe Chester. He was in the army at the time and was based was near the park, an area inhabited by many deer.
One night he was returning late from London and had to climb over the wall/fence surrounding the park. As he strolled back to camp several deer came running past at great speed, followed by what appeared to be a great white hound that seemed to glide across the floor. The beast had large teeth but the rest of the apparition was a blur to Joe.

SOME OBSCURE APPARITIONS...

No date specified CRANBROOK

A big, ghostly black dog is said to roam the area known as Skull’s Gate Farm.

No date specified SHEERNESS, ISLE OF SHEPPEY

Shurland Hall dates back to the 12th century when it was established by Adam de Shurland. The marshes surrounding the ruins are said to be haunted by a black hound. Sightings however seem few and far between.

No date specified COBHAM, nr GRAVESEND

The Blue Donkey is an obscure apparition said to have haunted St Andrew’s Church but details remain vague of this intriguing legend.

No date specified FAVERSHAM

Two separate incidents to record, the first concerning a ghostly fox said to haunt the railway bridge, although sightings are few, and also the rumours that there was once a local woman blamed for witchery for it was once said that she owned a hideous beast, something akin to a cross between a goat and a dog. The whispers of her sorcery eventually got round and she, along with her peculiar pet, were killed, and said to forever haunt the area as lonesome spirits.

Two man-beast sightings...

November 18th 2002 Friston Park, SUSSEX

An extraordinary event which concerned Phil Hayman who’d parked up his lorry in this wooded area at 2:30 am, in order to stretch his legs. The witness looked towards a red light cast by a forestry machine and noticed a tall figure in the woods which may have been covered in hair. Mr Hayman ran back to his vehicle.

February 11th 2006 SOUTH-EAST (no further details)

A Kent man, whilst putting out his rubbish late on this night, was alarmed by a bizarre droning noise at the deep of his garden which backed onto woods. As he , the noise became louder and in the darkness he could make out the glow of two, large eyes which belonged to a dark, humped and hairy creature that stood over six-feet high. The noise grew louder and louder, forcing the man to flee in terror. The next morning his garden was strewn with the rubbish he’d put out, but no sign of the mysterious visitor.

Garm...

January (day unknown) 2001 BLUE BELL HILL, nr MAIDSTONE

A Mr Flynn was driving home at 10:30 pm on this wet and windy night through the dark lanes of the hill, when he braked to avoid a strange dog-like animal that glided across the road. The motorist heading in the opposite direction, for some weird reason, never saw the animal as it headed towards the dual carriageway, narrowly missing both sets of bumpers.
Mr Flynn believed that the creature was spectral.

Blue Bell Hill is one of Kent's most haunted locations and boasts the 'queen' of the road ghosts in the female hitchhiker often seen on the hill. However, the truth is far stranger than the legend often speaks of....check out www.roadghosts.com for more details.

Phantom animals of the '90s...

(Date unknown) 1990s DODE, LUDDLESDOWNE

This village has its own church, built during the Norman era. During the 14th century most of Dode’s residents were wiped out by the plague, and several strange apparitions have been sighted around the area. During the late 1990s, a man staying in a nearby cottage looked out of his window and was amazed and chilled to see a large, white animal, the size of a horse, emerge from the woods and with great speed chase rabbits across the fields. No-one is sure what dark secrets Dode hides, but something very weird lurks in the woods.

November (day unknown) 1991 BLUE BELL HILL, nr MAIDSTONE

A Mr Payne and a three friends, one a taxi driver, the other two, old territorial army mates, had been on a pub crawl in the village of Burham, they had done this many times before,and then, like this particular night would head toward for the far end of the village, heading toward Aylesford, to a bridleway that led up through farmland and deep into the woods of Blue Bell Hill,where they had found a few years before, a small clearing to light a fire and camp.
On this night, as they ambled up the steep bridle way that ran between farm fields, there was no moon above, the only light being from behind the windows of an old farmhouse, four to five hundred yards away. Mr Payne’s three comrades were strolling just in front of him singing some bawdy song, when he heard one of them shout, “…what the Hell is that ?”, the two others followed with expletives and as he pushed his way to the front, in the total darkness directly ahead, which led to the woods, were two very large red eyes staring at them, approximately twelve-feet ahead, slightly higher than their own eyes, accounting for the slight elevation of the path, that would make this apparition six to seven-feet high. In the confusion caused by this sudden appearance, one of the witnesses, who was Mr Payne’s sergeant in the T.A., suggested it might be a large bull or something, whilst the others argued with him in hushed tones, all the while Mr Payne automatically reached down feeling for some kind of ammunition on the rough pathway, and found two large flints.
The lads, due to fear and being obstructed by this thing, started shouting and swearing at it, but the only thing it did was occasionally blink, but very slowly. “Staring intently at these eyes was almost hypnotic…”, Mr Payne described many years later, except that fear made one look down from them every so often. After around ten minutes of this, Mr Payne let fly with one flint which seemed to miss, then he threw the other, which he was certain landed on target, but he heard no thud of connection, just the noise of the flint landing on others on the bridle path, and then all was suddenly silent, no sign of the eyes. Had the spectre dashed away ? As Mr Payne took one step ahead, the eyes appeared again, only this time, around six-feet away and about 3 feet above him, resulting in all the witnesses screaming, “Run!”, fleeing for their lives back down the pitch black path ,tripping on the loose stones, and bumping into one another, at the same time dragging one another by any limb they could grasp so that no-one was left behind. They eventually made it to the bottom and onto the Burham road, sober and exhausted.
For some years after, the friends would often discuss what it could have been that they encountered that night but remained mystified.

October (day unknown) mid-1990s PLUCKLEY, nr ASHFORD
A car load of friends travelling through these dark lanes at around 11:45 pm saw a black animal emerge from the fog. As the car slowed in the heavy conditions, the black creature approached, seemed to slink around the vehicle and peered into the passenger window before disappearing into the darkness