Note from the Editor
Mwah ha ha ha! Welcome to our Halloweeeen themed newsletter. This edition is filled with things that have an Autumn and Halloween vibe. So carve your pumpkins, get out your toffee apples and and sit down for a spooky read. A little quote for when things get tough: “Autumn shows us how beautiful it is to let things go”.
Can you guess who this is, in a masked disguise?
Here are a few clues:
- She’s good at leading
- She knows how to deal with teenagers
- Her last name consists of 5 letters
That’s all the clues you are getting!
To find out who it is, see the bottom of the newsletter.
A joke to take the roof off
The minister was preoccupied with thoughts of how he was going to ask the congregation to come up with more money than they were expecting for repairs to the Church building. Therefore, he was annoyed to find that the regular organist was sick and a substitute had been brought in at the last minute. The substitute wanted to know what to play. ‘Here’s a copy of the service’, he said impatiently. ‘But you’ll have to find something to play after I make the announcement about the finances’. During the service, the minister paused and said. ‘Brothers and sisters, we are in great difficulty; the roof repairs cost twice as much as we expected and we need £4,000 more. Any of you who can pledge £100 or more, please stand up’ at that moment the substitute organist played ‘The National Anthem’, And that is why the substitute became the regular organist!
Snow White: A Chilly Tale
I would like to make it clear at the outset that this true story has no connection with Walt Disney’s film ‘Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.” Instead it relates to what happened to me in the late 1980’s when I became a victim of heavy snow in the Highlands of Scotland. As we know, Christ experienced 40 days and nights in the desert with neither food nor water. I in my case, it was just 3 days in deep snow in the middle of the Scottish highlands.
It was in March of that year when my journey began. It was Monday morning and I was on a routine trip from my home in Sale to Dounreay on the north coast of Scotland. I was employed by the UK Atomic Energy Authority and Dounreay was a research station. As usual on these trips, I was picked-up before dawn by taxi and taken to Liverpool Airport. From there, I was to fly by private charter on a small 6 to 8-seater aircraft. As normal, a large flask of coffee was also placed on board for consumption by the crew and passengers on route for the 2 to 3-hour flight. Our destination landing strip was to be directly onto the Dounreay site. The journey’s travel time was subject to weather conditions with wind speed and direction taking effect. Some of my fellow passengers took little notice of the scene outside their cabin window as they would fervently read reports connected with their trip. I was scheduled to stay on site for a week whereas the others of my fellow passengers were just on a day’s return trip. My hotel was scheduled to be at a place called Thurso which was about 5 miles to the east of Dounreay on the north coast.
Part-way on our journey, our pilots received a weather warning of high winds in the highlands – but especially so at our destination landing strip. The pilots explained to we passengers that they had sufficient fuel to land safely, but if a second attempt were required owing to strong winds, there could be problems as no radar assistance was available on site as landing procedures were carried out entirely by visual control on the part of the pilots. Our two pilots therefore decided to terminate our journey safely by going to the nearest landing strip which did have radar-controlled landing: namely, RAF Lossiemouth. We disembarked and were taken by taxi on a short journey to a nearby hotel. The plan was to return to the airstrip the following morning when hopefully the winds would have died down.
Morning came and sure enough, we returned by taxi to the RAF Base. Unfortunately, the wind was still strong as we assembled in the changing room for the RAF pilots. Just one RAF pilot came to get changed into his flight gear and then walked out onto the Apron to his jump-jet aircraft. After a few minutes, he returned to the changing room and explained to us that it was too windy for a safe take-off for his jump-jet. “Oops,” we thought. “What now?”
A message came through from our travel department to say that no aircraft would be available to complete the journey owing to wind conditions. For those of us who were scheduled for a daytrip only, arrangements were in place for a return journey home; I was the only passenger scheduled for a week’s stay. I was thus offered to complete my journey by train. I accepted – a big mistake! A local train service took me to Inverness and from there, another train would take me on my last leg of the journey.
Shortly after we left Inverness, the train tannoy speakers announced that snowing had begun further along the route. I thought to myself “Now that will be interesting.” By now it was late evening and quite dark outside. In the outside gloom as I looked through the train window, I could just about see snow falling. I was soon to learn that I was one of only 4 passengers still on board the train. We eventually came to a halt and another announcement explained that the train could not continue because a little further on, a train snowplough was stuck in the snow! “All passenger must now disembark,” was announced. Oh dear, I thought, now what?
I climbed down onto the platform: it was still snowing heavily. Although it was a proper station, there was no light owing to a local power cut; it was pitch-black. I wandered along the platform and realized that the other passengers were following me. There were no buildings in sight, but then in the gloom, I spotted a footbridge which crossed over to the other platform. The other passenger still followed me as I ascended the metal steps. When I reach the highest point of the bridge, I saw 6-inch-long (14 cm) icicles – sticking out horizontally from the hand-rail owing to the high wind. Again, no lights, but just then I could see a faint glimmer along the platform which I followed. It turned out to be a small wooden hut with three railway men huddled around a small gas lamp and a ham-radio which allowed them to communicate with other railway stations. We were now in a place called Helmsdale on the east coast of the High Lands and all four of we passengers were now stranded. One of the railway men took pity on us and ferried us on a short journey in his car to an hotel. I was surprised how well he managed driving through the deep snow. On reflection, I realize that he must have had snow chains fitted to his wheels.
The hotel was huge, but with no lights because of the power outage. However, the two large lounges were well illuminated by fierce fires roaring in the fireplaces. In those days we didn’t have mobile phones and so I asked a member of staff if there was a public telephone I could use so I could ring home. The reply was yes, just outside the hotel entrance and to the right. I went outside and found the booth, but when I entered the telephone booth, I suddenly found myself standing nose-to-nose with another man I had not seen in the dark. Later, I did ring home and asked Pat, my wife, to ring my office to explain what had happened.
Whilst in the hotel, I learnt about my fellow passengers: One was a soldier on extended sick leave with one arm in a sling because of a motorcycle accident he had, had. Another was a lighthouse keeper on crutches whose station was off the north coast of Scotland and had been attending a Health & Safety course. Unfortunately, he had slipped and broke one of his legs whilst on the course. The third was a lady who was desperate to get to Thurso to attend a family funeral.
On the third day, which was now Thursday, the trains were running again and so I completed my journey, but what I saw was incredible. Unlike a tram, a train carriage is very high and I found myself looking up through the carriage window in some parts to see the top of the snow, but all I could see was a wall of snow towering above the carriage. In another part of the journey, we were above the snow level and I could see pylons snapped like matches and also the tips of firtrees just poking up through the snow. Incredible! When we reached Thurso, there was absolutely no sign of snow at all! When I eventually got back to my own office, someone had stuck a map of Scotland on the wall with a red map pin stuck in it indicating “Joyce was last seen here.” Truly, this was an experience I will never forget.
Written by Alfred Joyce
Top 10 Spookiest Churches in England
From funerals to dark confessions, each church could write a book about the number of goings in inside their walls. Is it any wonder that many have spooky tales and a sinister history? There may be more to add to the list, but this is what I have discovered in my research. If you have a church that hasn’t made it onto my list, then feel free to drop me an email. I can post about it on our Facebook page. Please note that this list is in no particular order.
Number 10 – Norwich Cathedral, Norwich
Apparently, several ghostly holy men have been spotted at Norwich cathedral. A lady in 2015 took a rare photograph of what looked like a ghostly bishop on the grounds. It even made it into the news.The ghost of martyred priest Rev. Thomas Tunstall who was hung, drawn and quartered is also rumoured to have been seen. During renovations of the church, items reportedly moved of their own accord!
Number 9 – Westminster Abbey, London
1,000 years old and hosting the remains of 3,000 people plus 17 monarchs, I just couldn’t leave this one out! In the abbey stands a marble statue of Daniel Pulteney holding a book, and visitors have claimed they have seen him turning the pages. Then we have the ‘Father of Benedictus’ the monk who floats around, and the shadow ghost of John Bradshaw. With that many bodies in its grounds, it makes you wonder what else is floating around.
Number 8 – Whitby Abbey, Whitby
Bram Stoker gave Whitby the limelight when he wrote Dracula so that alone gives it a place on this list. Whitby Abbey also looks creepy, is near the edge of a cliff and has multiple haunted tales associated with the area. One being the howling Barghest that prowls the moors feeding on livestock and impossible to see in the dark due to its jet-black fur. Then there’s the terrifying phantom coach whose driver whips his horses at full speed right towards you until the horses rear their hind legs and disappear!
Number 7 – Buckland Abbey, Devon
A National Trust site, Buckland Abbey was the home to the famous Sir Francis Drake. Locals were not convinced Sir Francis managed to conquer the Spanish Armada all on his own. They believed he had made a pact with the devil and in return was given Supernatural powers to achieve this. It is rumoured that he travels in a black coach pulled by headless horses across Dartmoor. They say the coach is led by barking dogs and babbling goblins! Supposedly, any living dog who hears them will meet his maker.
Number 6 – St Bartholomew the Great Smithfield, London
Although this church started out as place for healing it became a place of death. A number of ‘heretic protestants’ were killed at the stake outside the church. Also, outside was the murder of Wat Tyler by the Lord Mayor, and where William Wallace was hung, drawn and quartered. The man who founded the church is said to roam around looking for his foot; a ghastly monk has been seen; and even an entire ghostly congregation!
Number 5 – Blythburgh Church and Bungay Church
These are synonymous with the tale of the ‘The Black Shuck’. The tale goes that on a thundery night a huge ghastly black dog burst through the doors of two churches, maiming and killing. On doing so it caused the church steeple of St. Mary’s to crumble through the roof. On the doors of Blythburgh lay scorch marks known as ‘the devil’s fingerprints’.
Number 4 – St. Nicholas Church, Pluckley
Situated in the ‘Most haunted village in Britain’ Pluckley’s church naturally makes it onto our list. The town itself was recorded in the Guinness book of records as it has potentially 14 ghosts! The church itself has its own small white ghost dog and a spirit known as The Red Lady. Plus, the monk that haunts the graveyard. It’s the ghost of the White Lady that is the most curious though, she was found inside 7 coffins and an oak sarcophagus.
Number 3 – St Botolph’s Church, Skidbrooke
Dubbed as a ‘centre of paranormal activity’ by ghost hunters, it was also given the name the ‘demon church’ as it attracts many Satanists. Local residents say they have been left feeling sick after the things that have seen left there by Satanists which includes animal sacrifices. Cracked gravestones, vandalism, ghost sighting, and unexplained lights were also reported.
Number 2 – Borley Church/Rectory, Essex
It seems there have been a huge amount of sitings and strange goings on at this place and one of the gruesome stories is of a nun who was bricked up alive as punishment for relations with a monk. As well as a nun, people have reported spotting a disappearing car, a Victorian boy, keys flying out of keyholes, bells ringing, stones being thrown, being slapped in the face whilst sleeping, and even a headless body. There’s more too!
Number 1 – The Church of St. Mary the Virgin, Clophill
This church was built around 1350 and has since been abandoned and a new version built. According to tradition, churches were built to face the heavens which were said to be in the east, so that when the congregation prayed it would be in the direction of heaven. This church doesn’t face east and so it is believed by some that because it faces away from heaven it’s open to the doors of hell. Its gravestones are situated up against the wall of the graveyard due to desecration issues, so that leaves it looking rather strange. It has a history of hauntings and is believed to have hosted satanic rituals.
To celebrate the month of dressing up, The Music Group would like to share with you a selection of some of their favourite outfits and makeovers from the last few pantomimes. – if you have one to share please post it on our social media and tag us.
Guess Who: Pam Boyes
Edited by Becky Vanden