Saturday, November 19, 2011


"I believe you're interested in wallaby sightings in Kent. I'm certain I saw one today (4/11/2011) about 2 pm to the North of the M25 to the east of Clackets Services. It was in a field at the base of the North Downs"

Monday, October 24, 2011


MYSTERY ANIMALS OF THE BRITISH ISLES: LONDON By Neil Arnold, published by the CFZ, is now available. The long wait is finally over. This much anticipated book is the first of its kind to venture forth into the concrete jungle of England's capital city and unravel fantastic, yet true tales of monsters and mysterious beasts. From yarns spun pertaining to strange creatures in the River Thames, to odd things-a-flutter in the skies of the city. Supernatural animals, beasts escaping from menageries, sightings of exotic cats such as leopards and lynx and the Surrey puma, and not forgetting a whole host of weird and wonderful arcane animals cast from the Ark. MYSTERY ANIMALS OF...LONDON weighs in at more than 300 pages, is richly illustrated and indexed, and proves once and for all that the greenest corners, dankest sewers, and darkest streets can still harbour all manner of elusive and out of place creatures. So, if you're thrilled, or repulsed by tales of flesh-eating giant rats, prowling alligators, blood-sucking fish, rampant wolves, swooping eagles and vultures, ghostly lions, spectral bears, phantom chickens and real life vampires, then MYSTERY ANIMALS OF...LONDON is perfect for campfires constructed on a crisp autumnal night. The book is available from Amazon and all good bookshops.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Rare stalked jellyfish found in Kent

Kent - where the wild things are! Or maybe not!

In July the Kentish Express ran an article (written by James Scott) concerning the variety of unusual animals which Kent Police have received reports of. The article tends to make a mockery out of those genuine witnesses who DO see strange animals in the Kentish wilds. Sadly, the article, which features a table of sightings filed by the police - lists alleged reports of an emu, a cheetah, and several vague 'wild cats' and 'big cats' and even a wolf. The list also mentions sightings of dholes (wild dogs) which isn't as bizarre as it sounds considering a few years ago one of the local zoo parks had a few escape. However, whilst witnesses do see and report regular sightings of 'big cats' such as lynx, puma and black leopard, many of these aren't taken seriously, and we can see why!

Saturday, October 1, 2011

The spectral hound that ate the brains of soldiers!

A few years back, Peter Cook, in writing his The Way We Were column for the Medway Messenger, dredged up a sinister tale from the files of bygone ghost-hunter Frederick Sanders. Under the heading 'Midnight trip to 'island of ghosts' at river mouth', Cook wrote, 'Dead Man's Island lies at the point where the Swale meets the Medway. It is well named. About 200 years ago dozens of French soldiers taken prisoner by the British were buried there. These men of Napoleon's army had been cooped up in the fetid atmosphere of prison hulks anchored on the Medway. They had died of the bubonic plague. In June 1950, two intrepid journalists - Duncan Rand and Frederick Sanders, made a midnight trip to examine this "island of ghosts".

'At that time, many of the coffins were exposed with the lids gone. Mr Sanders was particularly intrigued by the fact that none of the skeletons revealed was in possession of its skull. Neither had any skull ever been found on the island. Mr Sanders recalled a legend of a huge spectral hound which ranged across the Medway marshes, digging up the coffins and flipping open the lids to consume the dead men's brains. The two explorers were ferried out to a part of the island known as Coffin Bay, where they were marooned for the night. "We found may broken coffins and hundreds of bones but no skulls," they later reported.

'The natural phosphorescence given off by the river's micro-organisms added to the atmosphere, and what appeared as warriors "black and gaunt in the moonlight" turned out to be piles driven into the mud to define the Smugglers Gut channel. As the tide returned, the men ran the risk of being cut off and joining the "spectral army". But three flashes from a torch brought a dinghy sploshing towards them.'

Saturday, September 24, 2011

From the files:

Raccoons - 21/10/86
'Raccoons found in a derelict van' - Two raccoons and their 12 week old baby are being cared for at the RSPCA's animal sanctuary at Hatch Beauchamp, near Somerset after being found in a derelict van at Lancing, Sussex. Colin Sneddon, of the RSPCA said: "The owner did not have a license for them and was persuaded to let us bring them here until we can find them a better home.'

Mink - 31/10/81
'A pack of 30 mink bred for the fur trade are still on the loose after escaping from a mink farm at Newingreen, near Folkestone, during the hurricane two weeks ago. The animals are worth £30 each.'

Sturgeon - 8/12/86
'A 15lb 3ft 6" sturgeon - the fish whose roe makes caviar - has been caught off the Sussex coast by Mr Richard Goodsell, 32, of Rye. It has been offered to the Queen, according to ancient tradition. It is worth about £150 and is te first to be caught in the area for 36 years.'

4/3/88 - Cliffe - 'Farmer Mr Jasper Wright of Buckland farm, Cliffe, has caught a rare wild mink which had been taking his ducks.'

Whale - 11/4/87
''The body of a 20ft whale was washed up on the beach at Rottingdean, Sussex yesterday.'

Monday, August 15, 2011

Talk: Mystery Animals of Kent

On Tuesday 25th October 2011 at 7:30 pm Neil Arnold will conducting a talk on MYSTERY ANIMALS OF KENT at Eastgate House, in Rochester High Street. Tickets are available from the local Archives Centre on 01634 332714

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Spectral animals in Kent ? The read HAUNTED ASHFORD

On August 16th 2011 The History Press will be publishing Neil's third ghost book this year, Haunted Ashford. The town, which harbours Kent's 'most haunted' village of Pluckley, is also rich in other ghost lore. Whilst the book looks at phantom monks, ghostly children, ghostly hitchhikers and the like, there is also a spectral menagerie of ghostly animals, from Great Chart's demonic bull, the man-beast of Bilsington, devilish hellhounds, and even a spectral pig! Available from all good bookshops, priced £9.99, take a strange trip through this rural abode and beware the ghouls of Ashford!

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Swordfish off Kent coast

The Illustrated News Vol 1 1842, reported that a swordfish, measuring sixteen-feet long, and five-feet in girth, was taken off the coast at Deal. The fish weighed in at 200lbs and sold to a Mr Sweeting of 159 Cheapside, London for £5.00. He in turn offered it to the British Museum for 20 guineas.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

The day a narwhal washed up in Kent

From Kent Messenger 10th June 2011

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Sperm whale washes up on Kent beach

Black widow spider found in Kent ?

Read all about it, here:

New books by Neil Arnold

If ghost stories are your thing - whether it's reports of phantom animals, spectral hellhounds, ghostly monks, haunted pubs, and castles, then Neil Arnold's new books are for you. Gather round a crackling fire and read HAUNTED ROCHESTER and HAUNTED MAIDSTONE. Both books promise a veritable feast of new phantoms for the fireside. From creaky, old accounts to brand new, and never before published tales of ghostly encounters. HAUNTED MAIDSTONE and HAUNTED ROCHESTER provide a glimpse into the darker side of Kent. Both books are available from Amazon and all good bookshops online or in your local High Street.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Thursday, February 3, 2011

The Day Great Chart Was Visited By A Spectral, Murderous Bull!

There appear to be a handful of tales pertaining to the materialisation of hellhounds (phantom black dogs) on dark and stormy nights. Some of these cases are attached to churches, in the sense that, as the legend goes in varying yarns, the congregation gathered is terrorised by an abominable creature which appears amidst the thunder claps, lightning bolts and pounding rain. In the case of Black Shuck, the hellhound of Suffolk/Norfolk, such a legend has remained potent for centuries. This year my book Haunted Ashford will be published, and in it I’ve included a weird tale concerning an old church in this large Kentish town, which according to legend, was visited by a horrifying monster centuries ago, but such an apparition was from being a spectral black dog:

‘Monsters, ghosts and ghouls, are often said to appear during terrible thunderstorms, but the apparition which visited the Church of St Mary at Great Chart in 1613, chose a summery day to make its awful mark. As vicar Hadrian Savaria began his sermon a fearsome creature materialised before the congregation. The beast appeared in the form of a great black bull which petrified those in attendance and were keen to flee the church. The entity stamped its feet, snorted, and its fiery eyes were glowing for all to see. The monster built up its aggression and then stormed through the rows, battering those who were unable to escape in time. Some folk were badly injured and three people were killed as the spectre charged into the North Wall and exploded into a ball of furious flame. The wall was demolished and a powerful, nauseating odour permeated the air. The vicar escaped with minor burn marks to his garments.

Some theories have since been put forward to explain the manifestation. There are those who argue that the monster was not a supernatural beast but in fact a phenomenon known as ball lightning, said to usually occur during raging storms. Ball lightning, although dismissed by some experts, is said to occur when, according to the Wisegeek website, ‘…large clouds of charged water molecules are put into an excited state by electrical activity, briefly causing light amplification by stimulated emission of radiation, or the laser effect.’ This usually results in a small, spherical, fiery object which materialises for a few seconds. This phenomenon occurs infrequently and has never been understood. However, could such a phenomenon explain what took place in Great Chart in 1613 ? Probably not, when you consider that the service was not conducted in the middle of stormy weather. Sceptics argue that similar events have occurred nationwide over the years, usually during thunderstorms, and such monsters are believed to be nothing more than forms created by terrified, and often na├»ve witnesses keen to explain the apparition away as something unholy. Oddly, in 1983 another terrifying beast was seen in the village and observed by four witnesses who described the monster as resembling a shaggy, black dog with burning red eyes. The spectral hound was seen to pad up a country lane and head towards the church. The witnesses were in a vehicle travelling in the opposite direction to the creature. Rather coincidentally, Charles Igglesden, in his third volume of A Saunter Through Kent With Pen And Pencil, from 1902, writes of a sign board of a Black Dog hanging over the front door of a house in Great Chart.’

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Sceptic see's 'big cat' at Darenth

'The week before Christmas (2010) I was in Darenth Valley Hospital, and the day that I was being discharged I was waiting in a small area near some windows and I looked out and I am estimating about 100 yds away I saw a black cat walk along side of a fence and disappeared through a gate. I have always been sceptical of so called big cats but have always tried to have an open mind about anything really, anyway I am certain that this cat was not a pet type cat I reckon it was about 3 to 4 foot long , very long tail thick fur right to the end, no way was it an ordinary cat, kept thinking if only had camera but no time to take photo anyway, a couple of nurses I was told had seen it climbing a tree.

I heard you on BBC Kent today and found your web site and thought I would let you know, on the day I saw it everything was covered in snow so the cat showed up well, and it was about 1 pm - from Ray'

Bizarre 'big cat' story of the month!

Every now and then a completely ridiculous story makes the local, and sometimes national newspapers, concerning 'big cat' sightings. The latest, pertaining to Kent, comes from the Daily Star newspaper of Saturday January 15th 2011, under the headline, 'Panther alert at A-plant'. Now, as we all know, newspapers aren't exactly the most knowledgeable sources when it comes to facts, but the following story simply makes a complete mockery of the so-called 'big cat' mystery. The report read: 'Up to 13 black panthers are living near a UK nuclear power station. The big cats are blamed for a spate of attacks on sheep on Romney Marsh near the Dungeness atomic planet.'
The first sentence alone is enough to send serious researchers cringing back to their homes, but it gets worse, the Daily Star adds, 'Wildlife expert Dave Riches has seen panthers on the Kent marsh several times and believes there are up to 13. Farmers have found dead sheep up trees where panthers eat, Dave added: "There are big claw marks on the trees."
There are so many things wrong with this report, but I guess we could expect such inaccuracy and drama from a tabloid, but for any researcher, serious, or otherwise to state, or even be included in a statement which claims there are "13 panthers" on Romney Marsh, needs their head examined. Many people state that Romney Marsh is a vast area - in Kent it may be considered so, but it's not the wilds of Africa. Whilst there have, in the past, been sightings of black leopard, puma and lynx around the area, there are NOT "13" 'panthers' inhabiting it. A large cat such as a black leopard (or what newspapers are keen to call 'panthers') has a vast territory, an animal, mainly hunting at night could comb an area of some fifty to one-hundred square miles. When a solitary male and female meet they can produce up to four cubs. However, there is NO evidence whatsoever to suggest that "13" leopards are roaming an area which simply could NOT harbour them. The marsh is very open, at times desolate, !13" black leopards would stick out like a sore thumb and certainly be a danger to the public and sheep would be killed at an alarming, and not an infrequent rate. A leopard does not have a fixed den but will roam an area searching for food. The marsh provides ample enough food for one or two of these animals. If a female produces cubs they will stay with the mother for around eighteen-months and then make their own way in life in their own territory. Surrounding areas such as Ashford, Canterbury, Dover, Deal, could also provide enough habitat and prey, but again, for a small pocket of animals, and not "13" 'panthers.
It's no wonder there is scepticism towards the existence of such animals when silly headlines and statements constantly filter through to the press. Usually we are used to the 'beast of...' type tags, but for a wildlife 'expert' to claim there are "13" panthers roaming one specific area of Kent is beyond the realms of madness. It's more than likely the area may become besieged with hunters, and once again the study of such animals is made a mockery of.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Very large fox killed in MAIDSTONE

Following the death of a domestic cat in Maidstone, a fox, measuring almost four-feet in length was unfortunately blamed and killed. For more on the story, read KENT ONLINE