Thursday, November 11, 2010

A rain of fish...

From the Philosophical Transactions of 1698 comes this weird tale of the day it rained fish:

'A letter from Dr. Rob Conny, to the late Dr. Rob Plot, F.R.S. : On Wednesday before Easter, Anno 1666, a pasture field at Cranstead near Wrotham in Kent, about two acres, which is far from any part of the sea or branch of it, and a place where are no fish ponds, but a scarcity of water, was all overspread with little fishes, conceived to be rained down, there having been at that time a great tempest of thunder and rain; the fishes were about the length of a man's little finger, and judged by all that saw them to be young whitings, many of them were taken up and shewed to several persons; the field belonged to one Ware a Yeoman, who was at that Easter sessions one of the Grand Inquest, and carried some of them to the sessions at Maidstone in Kent, and he showed them, among others, to Mr Lake, a bencher of the Middle Temple, who had one of them and brought it to London, the truth of it was averr'd by many that law the fishes lye scattered all over that field, and none in other the fields thereto adjoining; The quantity of them was estimated to be about a Bushel, being all together.'

Thursday, November 4, 2010


Kent - The Garden Of England. Rich in history, steeped in folklore. Beautiful, tranquil...and running alive with ghosts, witches, monsters and ghouls! PARANORMAL KENT is a brand new book from monster-hunter Neil Arnold, who, after writing PARANORMAL LONDON, has now delved into obscure and sinister mysteries from the south-east of England.

PARANORMAL KENT is no ordinary book on the supernatural - although it contains some bone-chilling tales of ghosts, new light has been shed on some classic spook tales, including a solution put forward to explain the urban legend of the ghost of Blue Bell Hill, plus fresh stories from England's most haunted village - Pluckley, plus adventure's into Kent's oldest buildings such as Dover Castle and the castle, cathedral, shops and various pubs in historic Rochester.

The book also takes a look at the mystery of crop circles, the superstition of witches - burned on many a Kent heath - and even zombies, said to prowl the ancient woodlands and fog-bound marshes. And then there are the strange creatures cast from the Ark - a menagerie of monsters no zoo could accommodate, from serpents around the Kent coast, to hellhounds on the Pilgrims Way, mystery cats, hairy humanoids and weird, flying critters.

This ancient county finally gives up its paranormal secrets with bizarre tales of alien abduction, fairies and dragons. And not forgetting the occasional space-ape, stick man, flying jellyfish, spectral vehicle, ghostly horse, phantom ship and rampant gargoyle thrown in for good measure!

PARANORMAL KENT is available from Amazon and all good book stockists and published by The History Press.

The Mermaid of Kent and a few strange things in Kentish waters...

G. Howell’s A Kentish Notebook of 1891 records the following stories:

The Gravesend Mermaid

‘Real Wonders!’ At Gravesend – Exhibition August 1825 – ‘A Gravesender visited these wonders (in relation to beautiful dolphins, a learned pig etc) in company with his children and saw the Mermaid, which, he says, “was about 2-ft high”, and had one arm, the other having been cut off and sold. The woman who exhibited it, declared to me it was no imposition that it had been inspected, very minutely, in London, by professional gentlemen and that it was pronounced to be a Mermaid.

A Kentish Swordfish

November 10th 1888 – Capture of a swordfish at Sittingbourne – Long Reach, Milton Creek, caught by a bargeman , 5-ft, 2” from tip of tail to tip of sword. Possibly in pursuit of a whale seen at Gillingham – trying to find its way to the Mediterranean or the Atlantic.

A Sea Eel

1761 – A sea eel, 6-ft long, 20 inches round and weighing 30lb was lately taken in a shallow water, where it had been left by the tide at Whitstable…

A Conger Eel

October 1760 – A conger eel was lately taken in the River Medway near Romney Marsh, which measured 7-ft, 6 ½ inches, and in circumference 2-ft 9” and ¾ with a weight of 56 lbs.

Sperm Whale

February 1762 – Sperm whale 61-ft in length at Broadstairs.

December 1764 – A Spermaceti whale was thrown ashore on the flats at Seasalter, nr Whistable – 54 ft in length, 38-ft in girth at its broadest point.

Autumn 1854 – forty to fifty young whales at the Thames at Gravesend – proceeded until (?). One struck by steamer paddle. All travelled down river.

Of Kentish Marten-Cats

Whilst trawling through local archives I found the following text, from The Kentish Notebook, August 3rd 1889 in reference to the Marten Cat in Kent.

Marten-Cat (June 15th, 19th) – An interesting description of the marten-cat, by the Right Hon. Lord Clifton, appears in the Rochester Naturalist of January 1884, from which I extract the following remarks on the occurrence of this rare animal in Kent:

“With regard to Kent, it never occurred to me to ask about marten-cats, till the other day, when one of my father’s old keepers, G. Mannering, informed me they were not uncommon in the woods round Luddesdown, particularly Red Wood, in the early part of the century, but in the Cobham and Shorne Woods they were unknown. Edward Wells, who was keeper first to Captain Markett, and then to my great-grandfather and grandfather told Mannering that he had killed them, both on the Meopham Court Estate and in Red Wood. A stuffed marten-cat was preserved for some time at the Darnley Arms, Cobham. Mannering states that they were particularly fond of lying on the top of pollard beech-stubs, where was brushwood. I can well believe this, and should also think that they found harbour in ivy-covered trees, and in squirrels nests in the yew trees, which abound in Red Wood and neighbouring woods. Curiously enough, about ten or twelve years ago, a beast very like a marten-cat was twice seen in that district, once in Cobhambury Wood, and another time crossing a field towards that wood. All the men who saw it described it as something between a fox-cub, a ferret, and a small dog. No such description would apply to a badger or otter, letting alone the dryness of the locality for an otter. On the other hand, an escaped (foreign) genet, a large sort of weasel-like animal, was once caught in Chattenden, and another was reported to me from near Chatham. The pole-cat would be nearer the description, but I do not think that men accustomed to foxes would liken a pole-cat to a fox-cub. The pole-cat is also quite as extinct here as the marten-cat, unless it be true than an animal, seen last year at the lay-by (heaps of material excavated for the Higham and Strood tunnel) near the little Hermitage, was a pole-cat. Mannering, who was born in 1815, can just remember a pole-cat being caught alive at Brewer’s Wood Brickyard, close to the Cobham and Rochester Road. The pole-cat is a very marsh-loving animal, and it may be that it is still found in the reed beds of the Hundred of Hoo. Anyhow, Cobhambury Wood is a place far more likely to harbour a stray marten-cat than a stray pole-cat. The pole-cat delighted in old walls, stacks of faggots, ditches and banks, etc, etc. It is not so much a woodland animal.”

At the ‘Free Museum and Reading Room’, Gillingham, the Secretary meeting-place of the Gillingham Naturalists’ Club (Secretary Mr. S.J. West), there are two splendid stuffed specimens of the marten-cat.'

Article submitted by ‘Observer’

Tuesday, November 2, 2010


From Sunday November 28th and every last Sunday of the month; 7:30pm - 8:30pm Neil Arnold will be conducting ghost walks through historic Rochester, in Kent.
For more information visit: HAUNTED ROCHESTER