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Every Society Breeds The Ghosts It Deserves….

Lethmachen is the most haunted town in England.

 We should know. We have lived here all our lives.

 Yet you have probably never heard of Lethmachen. The town is never mentioned in any book or on any website dedicated to the paranormal.

 This does not mean that Lethmachen is not haunted, it means that people here are afraid to talk.

  A conspiracy of silence? We say ‘Always watch the quiet ones!’

 The purpose of this site is to document the supernatural phenomena of Lethmachen, both contemporary and historical.

Lethmachen Cover FINAL FINAL

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lethmachen: The Most Haunted Town in England

  • Available NOW via  www.lulu.com
  • Available NOW  via Amazon
  • Available now via Waterstones.com

The first book of tales based on the true accounts documented on this website

13 terrifying tales of Shire Horror, published by Lethmachen Press….

ISBN: 978-1-291-40880-5

 

Lethmachen school children lure parents into a guessing game….

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The beginning of a new school year can be a source of anxiety for children, parents and teachers alike. Whilst their mothers and fathers fret over the prices of new uniforms and sports kits, and staff wrestle with their concerns over the curriculum, primary school pupils have to adjust to a new classroom, a new teacher, and new playground rituals. Six weeks of summer holiday have been an impossibly long time, during which many of the old games and fleeting trends have been forgotten, and are now dismissed with nervous laughter. Woe betide any child still clinging to last term’s ideals, for they no longer hold currency. Yet the new rules are soon learnt, even if some find this a more painful process than others, and everything will continue as usual, only slightly different to what it was before. Soon the current intake will grow up and move on, leaving nothing behind except broken chants and faint laughter echoing wistfully across the tarmac. And this is as it should be.

However, the first PTA Evening of the 2014/15 academic year raised some disquieting issues. Dominating the agenda, at the behest of some well respected families, was the school assessment system. It had become evident that, since September, a number of previously ‘high achieving’ children had received poor marks for their homework. Initially staff were called upon to defend their grading methods, until the assembled parents instead directed their anger upon alternative, more convenient scapegoats. New faces are rare in Lethmachen, especially families with children of school age. Yet this term Lethmachen Primary had welcomed two siblings, a brother and sister, who had only recently moved into the catchment area. Yes, the parents accepted that their own children had appeared distracted of late, unable or unwilling to focus on their school work. But had not these problems only become apparent following the arrival of The Greene Children, Robin and Faye? Were these even their real names? None present could agree on where they had come from, they had heard different stories: hints of Eastern Europe or the travelling community.

Slowly people began to remember things, details garnered from the chatter of children and the gossip of dinner ladies. When The Greene Children had come to town, they had brought a new game with them, or rather a new twist on an old familiar favourite. Immediately, effortlessly popular in the playground, during every break or lunch time a dense circle of children would gather around them. Although it was difficult for any outsiders to peek through the crowd and observe precisely what was going on, there was obviously some form of exchange taking place. Even at a distance witnesses overheard the excited squeals of ‘Got…Got…Need!’ rising from those in the inner circle, their voices almost breaking with hysteria as they shrieked that last word. But what was the nature of the precious objects The Greene Children had to offer, clearly so alluring and alien to the children of our small, secluded town? And what gifts were they expecting, and receiving, in return? So far any children lucky enough to be included in the game have sullenly maintained silence over exactly what it was they had already ‘got’ and what it was they so desperately ‘needed’. Thus the only accounts currently available to worried parents are the confused, second hand accounts of envious children excluded from participating themselves. Glimpses of Robin or Faye’s outstretched palm, perhaps a delicious scattering of sweets resting upon it, or else a much sought after toy, or possibly a glistening painted marble? Or was it some unknown breed of insect, or even, as in one particularly fantastical account, a troop of tiny dancing fairies? When later questioned by school authorities, who suspected they had bullied their peers into keeping quiet, The Greene Children insisted they were ‘only being friendly’, implying they were running some benevolent, multi coloured swap shop!

One would have expected ‘The Got Got Need Game’ to have fared no better than other childhood crazes. Most experts assumed it would reach a peak before inevitably fading away, soon to be forgotten for years until resurrected as adult nostalgia. Yet this particular game does not play by the rules and refuses to come to an end. Child psychologists are already concerned over the possible repercussions, fearing that some of those affected may carry this ritual of exchange into adulthood. Try as staff might to break up the circle around The Greene’s, ‘The Got Got Need Game’ remains popular at Lethmachen Primary, lingering over the playground like a miasma. Homework standards continue to suffer, and parents continue to seek help for their children whose behaviour, once active and imaginative, has now turned listless and incommunicative. Over the last few days, we have received reports that some children have slipped into an almost catatonic state, incapable of saying anything but ‘Got…Got…Need’. This is recited in a flat, lifeless monotone, a mantra murmured even when asleep. Allegedly, these advanced symptoms were initially identified about two weeks ago, rife in the less affluent areas of town such as the Drub Street estate. However, this affliction is rumoured to have now infiltrated the most desirable residences, with the first signs that adults are also succumbing. Entire households have been discovered slumped comatose in front of their televisions and latest mobile devices, staring blankly at the flickering screens as they compulsively repeat  to themselves ‘Got …Got…Need…’

Amidst the hyperbole and misinformation, there clearly lies, half concealed, an important story. That is why there is a need for this article, a need to investigate and reveal the truth. And that is why, for the first time, this site is offering to pay for outside contributions that will lead to a resolution of this mystery. There again, perhaps only The Greene Children know.

 

 

Lost in France? Our hometown fails to recognise its twin….

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Embattled Lethmachen council have taken another hit with the very public collapse of their much vaunted plan to ‘twin’ Lethmachen with a town in France. Delegates from L’Arasquet-sur-Cèle were due to arrive last Saturday. A banner depicting both town crests had been constructed, local musicians were to play songs connected to the area, and a variety of locally produced food was ready for consumption. Happy harmony was not forthcoming, however, as a gratifyingly large crowd waited in vain for the mayor of L’Arasquet-sur-Cèle and his entourage. After two hours, the food was distributed and the people of Lethmachen dispersed.

No official announcement has been made, but our contact at Shire Hall has revealed the increasingly desperate attempts to contact officials from the French town that morning, and the strange discovery that resulted. When contact by phone produced only an automated message stating that the number was not recognised, and emails went unanswered, one council worker looked to a map to identify possible obstructions to travel. L’Arasquet-sur-Cèle was not to be found.

We have checked this out ourselves, and can confirm that, from a cartographical point of view, the town does not exist. There is one major site dedicated to L’Arasquet-sur-Cèle online, but, even taking into account the limits of our GCSE French, and the vagaries of electronic translation, it is a somewhat strange and amateurish thing. Are we to believe that no one checked a map prior to the intended meeting? Perhaps. But, it seems to us, there are other, equally disturbing, possibilities…

What lies at the root of popular barber’s unexplained death?

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Having only arrived in Lethmachen two years ago, it is perhaps surprising how quickly Mani Abood was embraced by the local community. However his premises, too sparse and unpretentious to be called a salon, soon became a welcome refuge for the average gentleman who views a hair cut as a necessary inconvenience rather than a fashion statement. Discreetly tucked away down a tapering alley on the fringes of the high street, Mani’s customers appreciated his no frills, no nonsense approach to both his work and the accompanying conversation.  Thus there were many men struck by a genuine sense of loss on his sudden passing last month. Whilst local authorities suspect Mani’s death was the result of a serious medical condition, one of his regulars has contacted us to offer a conflicting story:

‘I’d only got to know Mani gradually, but I’d grown to like him. There were no deep conversations, just the usual small talk about the football or your holiday, but that is probably all you want from the bloke cutting your hair. There was always a bit of a wait and I had the impression his business was doing well. People trusted him; you could tell he was good at what he did and had a real feeling for it, but without wanting to get all fancy.  Mani understood his clientele; he knew the kind of bloke he attracted. They wanted a decent, sensible cut that didn’t look too old fashioned but there again didn’t get them stared at in the street, if you know what I mean. And that was how Mani always came across – sensible – at least until my last visit, but I’ll get to that later.

Generally, most of us liked something straight forward: hair shaved in a fairly close crop. But now and again you would get a few trendier types in who wanted something different; mainly students from the college who I suppose couldn’t afford one of those unisex places on the high street. Once I was sat waiting my turn and Mani had his clippers ready to shave this kid’s head and the kid said ‘no’, he didn’t want that, he wanted some much more complicated style. As I said, Mani was a professional and followed the description to a tee, but I could tell what this kid was asking for really pained him. You see Mani liked to give a clean cut, a clean shave, taking off as much hair as possible. When this kid left the shop with a long fringe still hanging down in strands, which I swear was what he asked for, you should have seen the look on Mani’s face. It was almost disgust, like when you try and kill an insect, a spider or a wasp perhaps, but you realise you didn’t do a decent enough job the first time and the thing is still half alive. Occasionally there’d be a bloke with long hair who didn’t even want a proper cut, just a trim and tidy. Yet when the time came for Mani to spin them round and rinse them over the sink…I hate to put it like this, but when he clasped their flowing locks he got such a look of hatred on his face you’d think he was holding a struggling child under the water. These sorts of customers would always ask for advice on hair products before they left. Mani kept a small selection of bottles on a shelf at the very back of the shop, only they were hidden away like a cabinet of poisons.

Mani always kept himself and the premises very clean and tidy, although it was only towards the end I realised he lived above the shop. As soon as one customer was finished he would be frantically sweeping up all the cuttings, like his life depended on it. He would insist you take tissues from the counter and scrub any loose hairs from your face, as if he thought each stray strand was some kind of living thing that would cling to you and do you harm! Personally, Mani was always well turned out. Never flashy, but you could tell he cared about his appearance, unlike some of us! I remember being aware he was quite a, what’s the word, hirsute kind of guy yet his hair and beard were always trimmed very close. For some reason I had the impression he must cut his hair every day to keep it like that. Only, as he worked such long hours to catch the pre and post work crowd, I suppose he must have cut it at night. Certainly Mani seemed to prefer customers who wanted their hair cropped close to those who wanted to keep a growth. When he was circling a bloke’s head with his clippers his expression would just light up with this sort of warm satisfaction. A couple of times I almost expected him to drop the clippers and run his hands over some bloke’s scalp, but he was never funny that way with any of us. He was a stocky, down to earth guy; a man’s man if you know what I mean, not obviously effeminate in any way. There again, there was one thing he said to me I thought was strange, although it did not come back to me until recently, after I knew he was dead. It was during that last visit and I took it as a joke, yet I remember it seemed out of character, different to the way he usually spoke. He said something about how when he cut away hair he felt like a mythical hero cutting away the heads of snakes. That it was either you or them, a battle to the death, and you knew you were victorious when you felt the bristles graze your palms, ‘like trees after a forest fire or rows of crosses in a war cemetery’.

So on that last visit I was much later than usual. A meeting had overrun at the office and I had missed my appointment. However when I walked past I noticed there was still a dim light on and when I glanced through the window Mani ushered me inside, although switching the sign to ‘Closed’ as he drew the door shut. At first it seemed like business as usual, but when I was settled in the chair he began talking, and that was when I knew something was wrong. I mean, he wouldn’t stop talking, went way beyond the topics we were comfortable with. Mani starting getting all emotional, gushing about how he didn’t want to be a common ‘barber’, but a ‘stylist’, only someone or something was trying to stop him. I kept quiet; I had no idea he had these types of thoughts and to be honest, was a bit embarrassed by the whole conversation. Mani claimed he heard sounds in the shop at night. He would lay awake upstairs listening to the swish and brush of movement. Yet whenever he ran down the open staircase and switched on the lights he would find the floor empty, although once or twice he thought he caught a glimpse of a tail, or perhaps some long strands of hair, snaking away into the shadows. When I shrugged my shoulders and asked if he’d seen the game last night Mani gripped my shoulders from behind and fixed his eyes on mine in the mirror. ‘Don’t you understand?’ he hissed at me ‘It’s growing all the time, advancing…but so slowly, so carefully I can barely even notice it…’ He started staring down at the floor, stepping back from the clumps of hair at his feet, like he was avoiding stepping in blood. Right after that I made my excuses and, in spite of Mani’s protests, had less off than usual.

What was the official verdict? Hypertrichosis? If I heard right they think he suffered an outbreak of some hereditary disease that causes excess hair growth, brought on by stress or other medical problems? So we’re supposed to believe he choked to death in his sleep, like a cat with a furball in its throat? That sounds ridiculous to me. My last visit happened only a few weeks before his death and he looked normal then. He was certainly stressed, but I reckon there is more to his death than meets the eye. Perhaps there really were people after him, breaking into his shop at night? I think some of his family were putting pressure on him over the business. Or else he was having delusions and imagined the whole thing. If that is true, then who knows where his mind was at, he may even have done himself in’.

Urban foxes? Suburban swingers? It’s hard to tell…

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‘Here is a strange one for you’, writes Lethmachen resident Bill McKeeth , ‘it could turn out to be nothing, or the vanguard of something genuinely sinister. My wife and I were at home last Sunday. Our little cul-de-sac, Renart’s Close, is usually quiet, even on a Friday night. Most of our neighbours are retired, although there are now two young couples, both with small children. At two minutes past ten, our attention was directed to a disturbance outside; a whooping and crashing, as if a gang of youths and girls were making high revel in our drive. I went to the window to remonstrate, only to see that, rather than drunken teenagers, a most extraordinary pair were lying in our road.

They were, I think, a man and a woman, beautifully turned out. Very peculiar clothes, all silks, and fur as well, I think. Very exotic, but clearly well tailored. Chinese, or Indian. I remember especially their hair, very long, and glossy as that of a well groomed animal. One of the pair was sat upon the other, their hands gripped together, and their heads stabbing up and down. I could see teeth. ”He is going to kill her”, I thought, and my fist went to the glass, but my wife took hold of my arm, and I looked again: they were not fighting. It lasted for the best part of a minute. Then Clive, one of our young fathers, came out swinging a baseball bat, crying ”Shoo! Be off with you!” As one, the two figures stopped, looked up, and then shot away, like a couple of cats.

I’m sure it was the result of some dinner party that had got out of hand, but it was the queerest thing I’ve ever seen. Has anyone else been disturbed in this way? Does anyone know the identities of these shameless people?’

Local Elections: the silent majority discover a terrible voice…

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Fringe parties have made inroads across the nation during the recent local elections, and yet it will come as no surprise to learn the fringe parties of Lethmachen are a little more a ‘frayed than most. By mid-morning, stewards at the polling stations were already aware that a significant number of ballot papers were being returned spoiled. With little attempt at the expected discretion, numerous voters were witnessed scrawling across the forms and then scattering them across the floor beneath the ballot box. If one of these agitators was confronted, they simply brushed the official aside as if not registering them, and lumbered blankly towards the exit. Initially suspicion was cast upon the controversial independent candidate Lord Carrier, who has caused quite a stir on the campaign trail; held in adoration in some quarters whilst being reviled and distrusted by the more established politicians. However, during the early counts it became clear that this theory did not tally and that these spoiled votes were actually undermining his position, stealing seats considered safe. In districts of Lethmachen where Lord Carrier’s renegade Party of the Fields and Trees had anticipated a majority, an unexpected contender appeared to be gaining ground. ‘Our next thought was it must have something to do with anarchists’ speculated Councillor Daphne Peel, ‘You must remember them from the nineteen eighties’.

On closer inspection it was revealed that the spoiled ballots had all been defaced in an identical manner. Ignoring the neatly tabled columns promoting the official parties, each protestor had instead scrawled something almost indecipherable beneath, often so feverishly as to tear the paper. When stewards analysed the handwriting, it was discovered that the words ‘Old Two Sticks’ had been childishly scribbled across the ballots, with a wild, oversized tick engraved alongside. Stranger still, certain similarities suggested that the same hand was responsible for all, despite the wide variety of voters who had been witnessed depositing the papers. Rival politicians reacted with a public display of outrage, condemning this senseless act of vandalism, claiming to be in the dark as to who this ‘Old Two Sticks’ could be and why so many in their constituency felt compelled to vote for him. Yet, as is always the case with politicians, we have to take their words with a pinch of salt. Could they really have forgotten, are their memories really so short? After all, few children growing up locally have been spared an encounter with ‘Old Two Sticks’, the weather ravaged scarecrow that stands in an outlying field of Crippet’s Farm. In an initiation common to gangs of both boys and girls, younger siblings and children new to the town are led blindfolded from Two Sticks Lane out into the ragged, open countryside on the borders of Lethmachen. The blindfold removed, my so-called friends retreating into the long grass, my stomach still turns to think of it. I remember how it felt, it was like walking up to the gallows. He seemed to turn towards you as you approached. Yet you had to complete the dare, to run up and prod that spindly silhouette on the horizon, hanging limp, crucified over the most distant field. ‘Old Two Sticks’. Even now I can smell the dirt on my fingers, the touch of damp sacking, the unsteady bundle of rags clinging to two crossed sticks.

And yet, is this old custom still a rite of passage? Crippet’s Farm has long stood derelict and nobody has reason to go there anymore. The surrounding fields and woodland have been left to fester and brood. ‘Old Two Sticks’ is rarely spoken of; neglected, unwatched. In fact I was surprised to hear he was still standing. Some say he has always been there and always will be, like a sentry manning a forgotten outpost, if rocking precariously in stormy weather. So why has he returned to public consciousness after all these years? If any of those who voted for him were questioned they were unable to explain themselves, denied all intent. ‘There was a voice in my dreams telling me what I had to do’ muttered one, as if in a trance ‘A terrible voice. Like old earth or dead wood, but sort of muffled, gagged….’  Another caught spoiling his paper behaved as if wounded, disorientated: ‘The birds…they circle…they flock from afar. But He…He stops them…’

Local Elections: is Lethmachen a rotten borough?

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The recent council elections have been marred by controversy due to the presence on the hustings of a mysterious candidate. A month ago, the handful of Lethmachen residents who had heard the name Lord Carrier, or knew of his Party of the Fields and Trees, would have held out no possibility of his retaining his deposit. Widespread disengagement with Westminster politics has led to a proliferation of fringe parties, most of which should not expect their votes to reach double figures. Lord Carrier has flouted this general rule, gaining 10% of the vote, twice that needed for his deposit to be returned. What is extraordinary is that this success has come on the back of a campaign in which the candidate has for the most part been absent. Moreover, during his single, official public appearance, not a word was spoken. For three weeks, the party’s campaign involved a series of posters emblazoned with their leader’s name, and nothing more.

A week before the election, the local media received an invitation to the parties manifesto launch, to be held at Lethmachen Golf Club. Lord Carrier received his visitors in the main bar, surrounded by members of the club, each wearing the regulation tie, and a stern expression. Lord Carrier was, in comparison, an astonishing sight: a small, round man, entirely bald, with a long thing nose and skin of an extraordinary redness, clothed in a tight fitting green suit, over-sized boots and, on occasion, an alpine hat. More extraordinary still was the nature of his performance. Instead of outlining policies and making promises, Carrier simply held a huge mug of beer in his right hand, and laughed. He laughed loud, and long, exposing pointed yellow teeth as he did so. The lines about his eyes became furrows, and after a while they quite closed, tears streaming from them. The assembled journalists asked him a number of increasingly pointed questions, but whether due to the indifference of the man himself, or the hostility demonstrated by those surrounding him, these soon dried up. The media stood silent, recording the little man as he became quite consumed in his merriment. Then, without warning, the laughter stopped. Carrier’s eyes opened, and shot out a cold look. He jumped to his feet and stormed out, followed by his henchman. These included Reverend Conrad Pyke, Mark Bowie, the CEO of Swan Trading, and Col. Douglas Tripp.

We tried to contact all of Carrier’s associates, all but one refused to offer a statement. The exception was Stewart Tinyman, owner of Lethmachen Metals, who confirmed that Carrier was living at his address; there has been some controversy concerning this, as the requirements for registration as a candidate for council are exacting, and on a number of particulars (including address and valid passport), a case was made for Lord Carrier having fallen short. His application is currently under review. We are looking forward to the General Election…

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