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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

 

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…?

A campaign of poison pen posters linked to local election campaign?

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On the 8th December last year, residents of Deerbo Street in Lethmachen taking the unnamed alley that leads to the town centre, were confronted by a white poster, 2 metres across, upon which were printed, in a large, bland, green font, the name “Jonathan Forester”. As any local will tell you, Forester is a council employee, a street cleaner, notorious for the obscurity of his banter (“Check it, eh? Check it? Check me, ain’t it!”). The poster remained a week, at the end of which it was replaced by another, identical but for the name “Christopher Fennel”. Fennel will be known to any who had the dubious privilege of a Lethmachen Grammar education in the 1980s, when the rumours concerning “Feeler Fennel”‘s predilections circulated widely. Again, the poster remained a week, to be replaced by another, this bearing the legend “Stuart Still”, the name held by the proprietor of “The Silver Trawl”, Lethmachen’s most frequented fish and chip shop. By the end of day, an aerosol spray had scrawled an addition: “Stolen Goods”. Two day later this was followed by “BACK OF LoRRy FISh”. After seven nights, another poster appeared, this featuring the name “Esther Spine”, local librarian and friend to this website. This tempted no mark. The next name, Jeffrey Stadt, attracted considerably more attention: “tax”; “two jobs”; “non-declaration”; “Dodgy”; “tax” (again). A new name has appeared on a fresh poster at the start of each week since. Thus we have learnt that “Joss Whetsone” is associated with “Mary Furlong”, that “Sally Picketts” suggests “Pisses in Street”, and “Grace Harrow” impels someone to write “VANDAL”, “cheat”, “smokes, dad not know”, and “glass”. It will come as no surprise, perhaps, that one name, that we will not repeat, has met with the amendments “kids”, “Paedo”, and “boys”.

This week, “Harry Allbutt” inspired the somewhat gnomish “dead”. A threat, perhaps, as Allbutt is, by all accounts, very much alive. Subsequent comments clarified matters to a certain extent, whilst promoting numerous further questions: “No pulse. I checked”; “Doesn’t know. Nor does wife even”; “dead for years”; “corpse”; and then again, simply “dead”.

Postscript Since going to press we note that the most recent pre-election pamphlets issued by the Party for the Fields and Trees features Lord Carrier standing in front of this very poster. Naturally, he is throwing his head back in a fit of uncontrollable laughter.

School reunion draws some surprise guests to the blackboard…

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In a small town like ours, it is certainly not unlikely that you will run into people you went to school with from time to time. The majority of residents will have attended one of three schools that have historically monopolised the district’s education system: Flinchley Academy (previously Comprehensive), St Joan’s Catholic School and Lethmachen Grammar. The latter traditionally accepted any child who passed their 11+ yet, in part due to its impressive academic reputation, over the last couple of decades The Grammar has evolved into an elite establishment streaming off the most promising pupils from the local primary schools. Competition for places has become so fierce that more affluent families are investing in second properties to ensure that they fall within the catchment area. Aside from impacting on the local housing market, this has also resulted in children from wealthier backgrounds increasingly dominating the school’s annual intake. Yet, even in the years prior to these developments, Lethmachen Grammar had something of a haughty reputation. A number of formal pupils contribute to this site, yet few seem to have fond memories of the place they often refer to as ‘The Grimmer’. With hindsight they believe they were led astray at an impressionable age; by teaching staff who encouraged them to look down upon the other schools in the area and to feel superior to other people in general. This attitude was tacitly cultivated through an endless parade of assemblies and ceremonies celebrating the history of the school and the achievements of its alumni (which amounts to building a few bridges and some minor contributions to Conservative Party politics). It is one of these ex-Grammar boys who has supplied the following report:

‘I first heard about the reunion on Facebook and I confess my immediate reaction was: what’s the point? What are we trying to prove? Although I still keep in touch with a handful of people from The Grammar, conversation rarely turned to our school days. Nobody I knew would be interested in attending a reunion, for them that whole era now seemed either unimportant or unpleasant or both. So if I did choose to attend I would have to go alone. What we would talk about after all this time? What could we possibly have in common? There were probably good reasons why I had lost touch with all those people; it was perfectly natural to move on. Yet Jason Nock was so persistent that in the end it felt discourteous to refuse. Not that he ever contacted me directly with a personal message or invitation; he simply requested that I like the page that he had set up for the occasion. To be honest I was surprised he even remembered my name. We had never been close friends. He was always the centre of attention, the life and soul of the party, whilst I loitered awkwardly in the wings. I am sure you know the type. It was as if Jason had been born with the awareness that this was his time to flourish, an inherent knowledge of how to manipulate the school environment to his advantage. These are skills that it takes people like me years to develop, and by then it is too late. Yet Jason slipped so comfortably into the role: admired by the boys, attractive to the girls and maintaining a good rapport with the relevant teachers. Of course he was a natural at sports, captaining a number of teams. Yet his academic work was also of an accomplished standard, and if his grades had been any higher they may have compromised his all around appeal. As to the future, Jason’s prospects were rosy; he seemed to have the potential to achieve anything. To think that was all thirty years ago now.

On visiting Jason’s Facebook page, I could not resist the temptation to take a quick browse. A date had now been set for the reunion (aptly, a school night); further details to follow. A healthy number of people, presumably notified before I was, had already signed up and confirmed their attendance. This included a few teachers, who had been lured out of retirement for one last performance in front of the class. As I scanned the list of names one or two inspired a flicker of recognition, half formed images of adolescent faces. Yet the majority were now forgotten, unfamiliar to me, and attempting to scrutinize the photographs of them as prosperous adults offered few additional clues. As an introduction, Jason had helpfully provided a paragraph of text about himself and what he had been up to, whether out of pride or a need to prompt our recollections it was not clear. Snapshots of his wife and children; Jason himself holding aloft various amateur sportsman trophies, looking a little younger than in recent family pictures. All in all, he seemed to be doing alright for himself:  Executive Director at Stainrod’s Sheet Metals, a small but successful local company. Perhaps he had not quite achieved the lofty heights his trajectory at school had promised, but I was sure he was earning considerably more than me.

Somehow I became convinced that my attendance at the reunion was inevitable, predestined. Possibly I was swayed by the repeated notifications, status updates and latest additions that stoked the on-line air of anticipation. If you cast your mind back, last Thursday was a dark, dismal evening. The building had changed so much since my day that I was through the gates and into the ultra-modern entrance foyer without even the slightest twinge of nostalgia. No doubt due to Jason’s tireless efforts, a significant crowd had already assembled in the main hall, which was brightly lit and had recently been refurbished. Soon it was just like old times and we listened to the current headmaster’s introductory speech in respectful silence. The gathering was reminded us of the honours that Lethmachen Grammar had bestowed upon us; like the emblem of the lion on every blazer pocket, so we were the lions of learning. Fortunately Mr Peel, the deputy head master during our day, succeeded in lightening the mood when he took to the stage. The crowd particularly seemed to enjoy the superficially barbed, yet deeply affectionate remarks ‘Peeley’ directed at his old ‘nemesis’ Jason Nock. With the brief speeches concluded, and a generous buffet wheeled out, I braced myself for the true impetus of the evening. It was time to impress people who belonged to my past. Feeling a little isolated and self conscious, I gravitated once more to the fringes of Jason’s circle. He was charismatically holding court in the centre of the hall.

At first it was all in good humour. Jason, flanked by a couple of cronies he had obviously maintained contact with, regaled us with exaggerated tales of his youthful escapades. What surprised me was the depth of detail with which he could recall the staff members he had plagued. Jason not only knew their names and the subjects they taught, but could also describe their appearance intricately and mimic their mannerisms perfectly. It was as if they were back in the room. Or we were back in theirs. There was a certain supply teacher that Jason had been especially fond of, even though she had only been with us for one term. Who could forget Miss Linden, he demanded? Who, but me? Next the results and controversies of every sporting event were recounted, whether inter-house or opposing rival schools. Many of those present were probably drinking too much, no longer knowing their limits, simply glad to be free of the kids for the night. Yet Jason seemed to be slugging back the bubbly particularly recklessly, as if he needed the courage to fuel his stories, to keep people listening. Although those about me continued to be entertained, I noticed an embittered, sour tone beginning to creep into his reminiscences. Before long the collective memories had been dispensed with altogether. No more awkward romances, no more fashion disasters, no more cancelled parties. Instead Jason was demonstrating his photographic memory of the old school registers. Swaying unsteadily on a chair he had called for silence in the bustling hall. Then, in a slurred, bullish voice he announced the name of every pupil who had not attended, following each name with a drawn out laugh of derision. Members of the crowd began to shift uneasily. This was no joke; it was evident he genuinely despised all those who had ignored the invitation. It was as if each had personally offended him with their evasiveness, their disinterest, their soft resistance. Everyone seemed to breathe a sigh of relief when Jason, suddenly looking a little queasy, was obliged to depart the hall in search of the toilets. Someone threw on a compilation of well known chart hits from ‘our era’. When Jason returned he still looked ill. I have no idea why he chose to speak to me that night. As I said we were never close. However, this is the story he told me:

‘‘I wasn’t expecting it to be so dark…but as soon as you’re out those doors there isn’t a light anywhere. Of course I knew where I was supposed to be going, only things don’t look the same these days. Without realising I must have taken a wrong turn. Being lost wasn’t so bad for a while. I was quite enjoying strolling the corridors and remembering all the laughs we had in this place. That was when I saw the child. We both stopped still, him like a sentry at the far end of the corridor. Although he was really only a silhouette, I could make out his school uniform by the moonlight. It took a few seconds to register what I was seeing. Then, without warning, the boy took to his heels with a sort of nervous laugh and disappeared down a side corridor. I ran after him; don’t ask me why. There was no way I could keep him in sight, like I said the whole building is pitch black. The direction I had followed led me to a dead end. All that was in front of me was a closed classroom door; I think it had once been my home room. Catching my breath, I put my ear to the door and listened hard. At first there was nothing but dead silence, a sort of low drone, like I hear in the factory at nights. But I’m not fooled so easily. Sure enough, I heard something: whispering on the other side.

Perhaps I should have questioned what I was doing. Why would anybody still be at school at this time? Yet at that moment all I cared about was knowing the big secret. Flinging the door open I stepped onto the threshold. Dozens of eyes met mine in silence, glinting like marbles in the darkness. The classroom was packed with children, sat stiffly upright at their desks, as if waiting for someone. Their teacher? Was that why they were here, without light? Were they all in detention? It couldn’t be me they were waiting for? You know how I am, usually got a joke on hand to break the ice. But for once the words just stuck in my throat. I think I got as far as gasping ‘Why…?’ but that just made them stare fiercer, harder, like they really hated me. I’ve never experienced anything like that before. Then, as if obeying some secret command, every single child in that room began to rise slowly from their desk. Was their teacher here at last? I did sense a sudden presence at my shoulder. Someone at the back of the room pointed a finger at me. ‘You don’t belong here’. That was all they said. Softly, but making it sound like a threat. All the time, the front rows struggled closer through that crowded room. Some of their faces caught the moonlight coming in through the windows. Do you understand? That was the worst thing of all! Because I recognised them. The faces of those who did not come tonight. Only they hadn’t needed an invitation because they had never left, they had been here all along. I felt the shadow behind me move closer, but I no longer thought it was a teacher. It was more like a zookeeper about to throw some live prey to a pack of lions. Something broke and I turned and ran, faster than I ever did on the track. Behind me, I heard a classroom door slamming shut.”

In a sad coda to the above tale, word has reached us that this week Jason has been signed off sick from work, for what will possibly be the long term. Apparently his ailment is stress related. Colleagues report that when he returned to work on the Friday morning after the reunion they initially assumed his behaviour was the result of a hangover. However the main nervous symptoms persisted: Jason appeared terrified of opening any door when on his own, even doors leading into rooms he was very familiar with. This neurosis prevented him from entering the boardroom, the accounts office, even the bathrooms at Stainrod’s Sheet Metals. ‘They will be waiting for me’ he sobbed to one mystified business associate, ‘One day I will open the wrong door and they will still be there, waiting…’

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