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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

 

Mystery surrounds the nameless shapes that are seen around town…

sculpture

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I have been reading your website this evening, although I’m a little ashamed to admit it, as my wife has taken my little boy off to the in-laws for the weekend, and by rights I should be living it up in town. Sad to say, I just haven’t got it in me at the moment. So I have been sitting here, having a beer or two, and getting really interested in all the strange stuff I never realised was (or wasn’t!) going on around me. I was thinking how much I would love to contribute, when the thought struck me, actually for the first time, that something weird had happened to me only this week.

This could bit dismissed as parental indulgence, but it is true when you have kids, you do notice things you would not otherwise. It’s the strange way kids have at looking at world. I’m talking about boys especially here, because that’s what I know. What gets me is the way they get things half right. You end up thinking, ‘wow, that’s new’ even as you are laughing at how dumb they can be. It’s like the buses: boys really love them. Not just mine, ether. I’ve noticed it even on the way to work with other dads and their sons. The kids will be asking questions ‘where does that one go?’ and the like, and they know all the numbers, and some of the drivers. They see glamour in it, and it is all planned, and so you can see why. The trouble is, they think all that regularity and effort is magical, when it’s actually dull as anything.

I was walking my boy home from nursery last week, when he provided me with what seemed to be another example of this kind of boyish over-valuation of mundane public phenomena. There is this pretty ugly copper statue on the high street. It’s the one just on from the A-store, the one that looks like an accident in a semi-circle factory. My boy asked, ‘Who made that?’ I didn’t know, and sensing an opportunity for a bit of a public display of advanced fathering, I walked over to the thing and looked at it. ‘Sometimes they have the name of the person who made it on the base’, I explained. We looked but couldn’t find one. My son seemed happy enough, so we walked round, taking in the shapes, and talking about art. ‘I’ll find out who made it for you’, I said. That night, when I was tucking him in, this was in my mind, for some reason, although I think it had probably long gone from his, and I said I would have the name of who made the sculpture by the time I picked him up the next day. I suppose I saw some chance to make some educational point, because I talked about reference books, and record offices and the Internet. I did a search that night, but I couldn’t come up with something. This didn’t surprise me: Lethmachen is not really known for its art, is it?

On my lunch break the next day, I walked the five minutes to Shire Hall, and asked if anyone could tell me anything about the work. They seemed in a rush, but I was told to sit and wait. A few minutes later, a young guy came out, and asked me to follow him. We went down to a record office, all paper based, and he pointed me to a shelf he said dealt with commissions. Well, I didn’t really know what to do, so I started back in the 50’s, and just began pulling out one file after another. I couldn’t find anything relating to any sculptures. There was stuff about the bandstand, and a new mayoral mace, and a ton of other similarly boring stuff. I assumed I was looking in the wrong place. The guy was still in the room, engrossed with another shelf, so I called him over. With a confident, disinterested air, he began snatching files from the shelves, but after a minute, his hand movements, already fast, became quicker still. I don’t know why, but I started to get scared. Then he stopped what he was doing, and looked at me with incomprehension, and something like anger. ‘I’m sorry’, he snapped, ‘I’m going to have to get back to you on this. Please…’ I followed his outstretched arm, and walked to the door, but before I ascended the stairs, I looked back at him. He had his arms outstretched, and was gripping onto the shelves with white-knuckled hands, staring at the lines of dull, brown files.

I found I couldn’t just drop it. When I met my kid from school, I told him daddy hadn’t found out who made the sculpture yet. ‘What should we do next?’ I said. I talked about the British library, and more about the Internet, and the lecturers at Universities who knew all about these things. He gave me a little bit of his attention. I think, already, he can see when something is not going to go anywhere. I don’t know. The incident upset me, to be honest, in a way that I still can’t quite understand. I mean, we all know that public sculpture is usually pretty much anonymous, especially the shite round our way, right? So why does the anonymity of this work seem so threatening? What does it matter, after all, if no one, and I mean no one, knows where it comes from. Any thoughts? Even better, any idea who made the sculpture’s on the High Street?

 Lethmachen Dad

Poltergeist plagues a shoe shop? These boots are inclined for walkin’….

shoes

Although never aspiring to the high fashion end of the market, generations of local readers will hold fond memories of Ambles Shoe Shop. Many of us will have visited its modest premises as children to try on our first school shoes, and perhaps returned as adults when requiring some sensible footwear for a formal occasion. A stalwart presence on the Lower High Street for five decades, there was a genuine sense of loss within the community when the shop finally closed its doors almost a decade ago now. Yet with hindsight its passing seems inevitable: as town centres across the country become increasingly homogenised, there is little hope of survival for a small family business. A Costa Coffee now occupies the location where Ambles once stood. Fortunately for us this sad state of affairs means that an ex-employee and family member can approach us without fear of adversely affecting business prospects or reputation. And so we offer you a historic tale:

‘Obviously this is going back a few years. So I don’t necessarily see things in the same light now, but this is how it seemed at the time. Narrowing it down, it must have been January 1983? Definitely I remember it was right after Christmas, because I couldn’t relax and it had ruined my holidays. Instead of just going back to school for the new term, first we all had to do one week’s work experience. That might not sound like such a big deal, but to someone barely 15 who has never had a proper job before, only a paper-round or two, the idea of the ‘work place’ was terrifying. At that age I didn’t know where I was headed, I hadn’t even considered any kind of ‘career path’. Looking back, maybe I lacked a bit of self confidence; nowadays I reckon I could accept any job without giving it a second thought. Luckily, my Grandad stepped in at the last minute and suggested I spend the week working alongside him in the shoe shop. Although I still wasn’t exactly keen on the idea, at least I was better off than the majority of my classmates. Some of them were actually sent off to work in proper offices, a fate I managed to stall for a few years yet, thank God.

As customers you may think of Ambles as a little shoebox of a place. Upstairs, I’d be the first to admit, the shop floor was a bit cramped. There was hardly any room for a fitting area and bear in a mind we also had a staff kitchen and bathroom squeezed in round the back. Yet this space is the only space the public saw. Below stairs we had a basement that seemed to stretch on for miles; row after row of rickety shelves, filled to the rafters with boxes of shoes – most identically blank, but for a sticky label. Grandad did not entrust me with too many duties at the counter; I think he could tell I was nervous when it came to dealing with people and money. My sole responsibility was to collect the boxes from the basement, then return them if the sale fell through or the shoe didn’t fit. Although we weren’t exactly run off our feet, business was fairly brisk in those days. So I would spend most of the day struggling up and down that narrow flight of steps that led to the basement. It was dark down there, just one bare bulb hanging from the middle of the ceiling, and I remember always freezing cold. Cold like only concrete can be. Sometimes Grandad got impatient with me because I kept the customer waiting too long. It wasn’t really my fault; it could be difficult to find the right aisle, the right shelf, the right box. There I was, stumbling around in the gloom, squinting at the details on the order slip, or clutching a solitary shoe like it was some kind of genie’s lamp. But I suppose I did get distracted now and again. I would find myself standing still and staring up at those towers of boxes, as if I were admiring the pyramids. It’s difficult to explain what I found so fascinating. Perhaps something to do with the privacy of it all? This was the first time I was surrounded by objects that were not my own, objects that other people wanted. They were not meant to stay with me, yet I didn’t have to let them go unless I chose to. They could end up anywhere.

At first I wondered what I had been so anxious about. Work experience was not that bad; in fact I was surprised how much I was enjoying the role. My mind raced ahead: I could even picture myself doing something like this in the future. It was on my third day that things started to go wrong, and I knew I had been right to be on my guard all along. Descending to the basement that Wednesday morning, I suddenly felt like an impostor, like I was not wanted and had no call to be there. Switching on the light at the foot of the steps I was greeted by a black pair of men’s shoes, neatly positioned directly in front of me, stood distinctly apart from any shelving. For some reason they made me think of of a soldier reporting for duty or a pet expecting an owner. What made me uneasy was that the shoes looked like they had been deliberately placed, yet I was certain I had been the last person in the basement yesterday. When I locked up I had left the place tidy. Anyway, I gingerly picked up these shoes, like they were some sort of dead animal, and placed them back on the right shelf. Must be the elves helping the shoemaker, I smiled to myself, and didn’t think much more of it. Trade was fairly slow that day, and I had no call to return to the basement until closing time. This time when I switched on the light I saw something different. A pair of women’s shoes, white stilettos, placed where the men’s shoes had been before. Assuming I must have left the shoes lying around, I impatiently snatched them up and replaced them in their box. Only when I turned to leave did I notice the same pair of men’s shoes was also out again. Yet this time they were lurking in the corner, in the shadows, half hidden instead of standing in plain sight. It was almost as if they were waiting, watching for something.

On the Thursday work got even worse. When I went down to the basement I found the white stilettos out of their box again. They were scattered at the bottom of the stairs like they had been knocked down whilst trying to escape. For a moment I thought of Cinderella, but then I noticed the bloody footprints. I followed the footprints away from the fallen stilettos, across the concrete floor, until they led me to the far, dark corner. There I found hidden that same pair of men’s black shoes, also out of their box once more. Of course I was in the middle of collecting an order so I had no time to either investigate or tidy up before I was expected back upstairs. Then. when I came back twenty minutes later, there was no sign of either pair of shoes or the footprints. Everything was back where it should be. Could this be Grandad’s idea of a joke? It didn’t really seem in his nature, he was never one for jokes. Perhaps a dissatisfied customer, playing a cruel trick?  But how would they get back here without us noticing? Actually, what I was reminded of most of all was that film ‘Poltergeist’. It was new around that time and I had seen it on pirate video over at Uncle Ken’s. I didn’t sleep well that night. My mum reckoned it was because I was overtired from all the hard work I had been doing, but I didn’t tell her the real reason. On my last day I was dreading having to go back down to that basement, but at the same time I didn’t want to disappoint Grandad. Creeping down the steps, I thought I heard a weird kind of struggling noise in the dark. And when I switched on the light I must have cried out loud. There were two black shoes suspended in mid-air, kicking about like they were being strung up from the rafters, although I couldn’t see a rope. Suddenly one shoe dropped and smacked against the stone floor like a dead fish.

I don’t think Grandad, God rest his soul, ever understood what had upset me so much. He probably assumed I was simply finding full time employment too challenging and too stressful. Perhaps he was right. Noticing I was missing, he had come down to the basement to check on me. Although I tried to explain, to his mind there was nothing to see but a pair of shoes, lying discarded on the floor. Still, it was nice of him to keep me upstairs on the counter for the rest of the day. I remember a strange coincidence that happened late that Friday. During my last few hours in the shop, we sold both those pairs of shoes, the black slip-on’s and the white stilettos. I remember because I served the woman and then the man, although Grandad went to fetch the boxes. You’ll never guess who the female customer was – Suzy Dawes – that girl who was murdered. As far as I know, they never caught the bloke who did it. People say there was a suspect, but he topped himself before they could bring charges. Apparently the police were convinced it was a local man, which I find hard to believe’.

Scheming Sat-Nav lures driver to the outer limits…?

quarry

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I was driving to my new place in Worcestershire a few nights back, and as I had no great idea of the best route, I tried out my new GPS. I had got it from the A-Store online, a Malinche 2, supposedly the next big thing in that kind of tech. Anyhow, as I was following the soothing voice, I found that I had got myself far away from the route I had established over the preceding week. In fact, I had strayed so far from any predictable roads, that I found myself on the outskirts of your town, Lethmachen, which, as far as I can see, having subsequently consulted an OS, takes me in quite the wrong direction. Hoping that all would come out ok, that, perhaps, this was all part of some lateral thinking on the part of the Malinche, I kept going, only to be directed towards what seemed to be some kind of quarry, just about visible behind a small, sparse wooded area.

It was getting late, and even from inside the car I could hear the trees, all bare, of course, clicking in the dusk. I felt a little shiver even before the Malinche piped up. It said “You are home”. It repeated this a few times, and I can tell you, I was getting quite unnerved. I reached out to turn the thing off, and just as my finger made contact, it said again “You are home”. Something about the way it said it caught me, and I looked out. In the few moments that had passed, the darkness had really come on, and there was nothing but the indistinct mass of the trees, swaying a little more than they had done, and through them the white glow of rocks beyond which there was nothing but a deep blackness. I found myself looking intently, almost as if there might be something amongst it all that was familiar.

When the Malinche spoke for the last time, there was something different about it, some insistent inflection that I did not like. “You ARE home”, it said. I put the car into reverse without looking back, my three point turn threw up a little shower of gravel, and then I was off. I turned off the GPS, of course, and found my way back to my regular route. I told my wife about it, and she mentioned your site. Is this the kind of thing that you are interested in? I can give you more details if you wish…

Gavin Elms, Malvern

 

Local historian identifies a secret path through Lethmachen 

bridle

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

An interesting correspondence has reached us from local protestor, and noted military historian, Ashley Clarence. Evidence of a previously unknown Long Straight Track, perhaps?  A simple delusion? Or something more sinister?

 

Dear Lethmachen Haunted

I am, as I am sure you know, one of the most vocal members of the grass-roots movement opposed to urban encroachments on the green and pleasant land surrounding our town.  It was I who led the resistance to Keepers Close, and although we lost that particular battle, I had sworn that a victory against the proposed adjoining development would signal our commitment to a protracted war.  Last week, I gained access to the archives of Shire Hall, hoping that I would discover some long forgotten fact of rights or geology that might aid our cause. Unfortunately, this was not what I found.

One cannot, I think, look at an old map of one’s home town without attempting to locate one’s home within it.  I did just this as soon as the map was laid before me, but as my finger traced the empty space that awaited my kitchen and bathroom, I perceived that a path, now long forgotten, led straight to my hearth. It was not so much that I saw this: it was not marked as such.  What I glimpsed instead was something more akin to a trace, the evidence of the path’s absolute necessity.  I knew at once that if it had been seen by me, then it could be struck upon by others. It would not be a difficult road to travel.  This continues to worry me. If seen, it could be walked. It would need a degree of grit, but no machete. And the worst are those who persevere.  It was a road that would only be seen – I see this now – by one who wished to gain entry against my will, and fix a hold upon me.  There is no act I could perpetuate to lessen the treat. To destroy the map? Of course! But I was in a record office.  You would not, and neither could I. And who is to say what the strike of the match, or the sound of the tear, might attract?  It would be fruitless anyway. The sight of the path does not lie in or on the record.  Knowledge of it begins with intent, not research.  If the will is there – map or no map – the path will be seen.

To live with such a furrow! After only a week, I have used up all of my resources. To confess, I feel, is my only recourse.  It is thus I write to you. Not a confession of any act, but of the path: a making public of it. The hope – against hope, increasingly – is that, through this, the step will not be stealthy if it comes, but will resound as a tramp. A Familiar road. I mean that in the vulgar, rather than comforting, sense, I think. It is done. The path is inked. Any traveler upon it walks through this.

Yours sincerely,

Ashley Clarence

 

‘Silent Anguish’ on the bog: the latest exhibit at Lethmachen Museum causes a stir….

bog

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Last year’s discovery of a well preserved ‘bog body’ out on The Lethmachen Levels provoked a flurry of excited speculation among archaeologists worldwide. If the unearthing of ‘The Mourne Woman’ has since failed to capture the anticipated international headlines, this may in part be due to the interference of local officials who, as readers of this site will be aware, are less than keen to have a spotlight trained on Lethmachen. Yet the impact of the event has also been undermined by a glaring lack of reliable scientific conclusions. Most significantly, eminent archaeologists have so far failed to reach an agreement on the dating of the body. A difference of opinion has arisen over The Bronze and Iron Ages, as well as the manner of death, although all appear satisfied it was the result of some form of violence. Further tests have been called for, as have the resignations of staff currently supervising the project.

In the midst of all this distrust and confusion, Lethmachen Museum bravely decided to plough ahead and present ‘The Mourne Woman’ to the general public, as part of their February exhibition: ‘History On Our Doorstep. Infamous, eccentric landowner Henry Savory, on whose property the ‘bog body’ was located, had immediately donated the find to his local museum. Head Curator Ian James proudly announced ‘This artefact represents our shared heritage and should not be kept under lock and key. It deserves to be seen by all’. ‘The Mourne Woman’ has indeed proved an instant success, with daily queues trailing the length of the High Street. However, perhaps neither The Museum nor the scientific world was prepared for the nature of some of the reactions.

Judging by the information we have received, responses to the sight of ‘The Mourne Woman’ seem to follow a similar pattern. The account we now give prominence to is fairly representative, if perhaps expressed in more colourful language than most. The words are those of a thirteen year old schoolboy. The boy wishes to remain anonymous, yet I can tell you he is the son of an old school friend, who in turn related the story to me:

‘I don’t usually go to museums that much, not unless we have to because of school. My parents aren’t really interested, and that is a good thing. I would hate to be one of those kids that get dragged along to museums or art galleries every weekend. I’ve seen some of those trendy parents, standing in front of paintings and clapping their hands excitedly like stupid seals. They always start speaking in this fake voice and want to tell you what anyone can already see for themselves. When an adult does that to me I just deliberately look away and stop listening. But sometimes I like to go to museums on my own, especially when they are showing something weird. Friday morning in class everyone was talking about this ‘bog body’. So I went right after school that day, when nobody else would see. It wasn’t as scary as I expected; it was smaller than I imagined and behind glass. Yet even though it wasn’t that frightening, I couldn’t stop staring at it. I was stood there for ages, but nobody bothered me. It was close to closing time and the building was almost empty.  Maybe I was thinking of how I will look like when I am dead. Probably pale and ugly with stupid eyes staring at the ceiling. Before I knew it, they were announcing they were shutting, but I didn’t really care about the rest of the exhibition anyway.  All I could think about on the way home was ‘The Mourne Woman’. It was something about the face. Even though the eyelids and lips were screwed shut, and the skin was all tanned and withered, the face had this expression on it that reminded me of someone. I knew it.

That night I stayed up late, but it wasn’t until I woke up the next morning that I remembered. Quite a long time ago I used to go to the children’s library in town. Every other Saturday I was allowed to borrow three books. Most of the staff there were really serious and unfriendly. They would snap at you for putting something back on the wrong shelf or putting your feet up on the seats. Then, for a little while, I suppose about nine months, there was this younger woman working there. I never spoke to her properly or knew her name, I was only a kid, but I remember the first time she was there she helped me find a book I wanted. The other staff told me it was on loan. After that I made sure I always waited until she was free at the desk so I would be served by her. It sounds a bit weird now, but I think I pretended we were real friends. I actually started to look forward to my visits to the library, and would spend the night before imagining a conversation I might have with her. This was all stupid – we never had any conversations and then one weekend she had gone.  I really hoped she was sick, that she would be back in a few weeks, but I never saw her again. Until now.  ‘The Mourne Woman’ had the same expression on her face: kind but sad, like she was surrounded by people who would not listen. There couldn’t be anyone else who felt exactly the same as that. ‘The Mourne Woman’ was my librarian from a few years ago, not centuries old like the scientists said. What if someone had killed her and hidden her body on the marsh? What if she had got lost on her way home and drowned, dragged under by the weight of heavy books? Someone had to know…’

It may be tempting to interpret the above narrative as some flight of schoolboy fancy and yet many other visitors to the museum have emerged with an almost identical impression. Those gathering to see the ‘bog body’ have become convinced that, rather than being an antiquity, these remains are in fact those of a distant relative, a half forgotten lover, an ex work colleague, or even  just a nodding acquaintance from a town where they once lived.  Archaeological experts have greeted these proposals with the expected disdain, apparently offended that their claims of ‘historical authenticity’ should be permitted to be questioned by the general public. When we approached paranormal investigator Dr Neil Cross for comment, he observed that people’s reactions were probably due to some form of ‘mass hysteria’ prompted by a ‘desire for ethnic roots’ within this ‘uncertain age’. However, off the record, Dr Cross admitted that he too had been inexplicably affected on viewing ‘The Mourne Woman’. ‘I thought I was seeing my late wife, shortly before she passed on’ he confided ‘there was something in the expression…the look of silent anguish…’

 

An invitation to romance?

Neil Train Flyer

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chaplakk Quarry and Railway Museum is a privately owned working railway situated on the site of the famous  Waterbuch Quarry three miles South East  of Lethmachen.  In 1963, Dewey Chapplakk, a respected local businessman, responded to Dr. Beechings cuts with a plan to enshrine some aspects of the British rail system as it had appeared to him in his youth.  Over the years he and his successors have laid a full mile of standard gauge passenger carrying line.  Stations, signal boxes and additional equipment have also been restored and sensitively introduced into the surrounding environment.  Throughout most of the year, attendance is sporadic. Occasionally one may see parents with very young children, but visitors are mostly male retirees, many of them ex- rail employees. In early December Father Christmas visits, an event that seemingly grants the station the revenue it needs to see it through another year.

Last Tuesday, on clearing up after a meeting of the volunteers who help maintain the engines,  Christopher Chaplakk, the present owner, found  a number of leaflets left on benches, scattered amongst the various exhibits, and even dropped on the footplates of the locomotives themselves.  Although passing them off as an obscure prank, Chaplakk was concerned enough to pass them on to us.  The Chaplakk exhibition has long been regarded as an eccentric folly, yet is something being fired up in the sheds that is stranger than any suspected…?

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