I’m walking through the house with a glass of wine in hand….it is Sunday afternoon what else could you possibly drink after a Sunday dinner??
It is 16:30 and the light is fading fast as I walk through the main corridor which was in fact a cattle corridor, I would say up until a few decades ago but my Vinnie and Rambo both came through that corridor to their place of residence in my garden/woodland in June, I think to myself about the history of the house and the area in general. The house and indeed the local area catapults you to another time period in which superstition and spooky occurrences were the norm.
One of the most famous gothic horror stories of all time, Bram Stoker’s Dracula was set in Whitby only 12 miles from this house. Dracula arrived in Whitby in the form of a black dog onboard a ship called the Demeter, which contained mould filled wooden boxes and had been piloted by a dead man lashed to the wheel……This guy knows how to arrive!
“But, strangest of all, the very instant the shore was touched, an immense dog sprang up on deck from below,as if shot up by the concussion, and running forward, jumped from the bow on the sand. Making straight for the steep cliff, where the churchyard hangs over the laneway to the East Pier so steeply that some of the flat tombstones, thruffsteans or through-stones, as they call them in Whitby vernacular, actually project over where the sustaining cliff has fallen away, it disappeared in the darkness, which seemed intensified just beyond the focus of the searchlight”. (Dracula, chapter 7)
Whitby Abbey which is the setting of Dracula’s arrival onto British shores has inspired many ghost stories. There is also local legend that a phantom coach pulled by six black horses appears the night after the death of a fisherman in the town. The phantom coach allegedly picks up ghostly mourners along the route to the abbey. The otherworldly mourners would stop at the church and circle the grave of the fisherman three times. They would then again enter the ghostly coach, which would be driven at speed over the edge of the cliff.
It’s easy to see why Whitby and the Abbey have featured so heavily as it oozes atmospheric gothic appeal. The area is quite simply stunning.
We know Dracula came to shore in the form of a black dog. However, before Dracula was written legends were abound across the country of tales of demon dogs. My local area also has its fair share of black dog legends. It may in fact be that Bram Stoker was inspired by the local legends whilst staying in Whitby writing Dracula.
A popular tale in this area revolves around a sighting of large black demon dog appearing along the cliff side of Kettleness, which is near to Whitby. However, this event certainly didn’t inspire Stoker as it happened fairly recently in historical terms. This event is said to have occurred in the 1950s and had been witnessed by a schoolmaster and two of his friends. The schoolmaster contacted The Reverend Dr Donald Omand, a leading exorcist at the time. This is an extract taken from a book written about the life of the Doctor.
“On visiting Kettleness they [the schoolmaster and two friends] all experienced a wave of terror when, looking over the shore to the misty sea, they had seen a huge hound—so large it could not be mortal appear out of thin air. Silent with shock they watched it move towards them before disappearing as silently and mysteriously as it had come. All three were left with such a strong sense of evil that the schoolmaster believed it was a case desperately in need of exorcism”. (Alexander, M. (1978).To anger the Devil: Exorcist extraordinary The Reverend Dr Donald Omand . Suffolk: Neville Spearman) p48.
The Reverend was apparently very keen to meet up with the schoolmaster and attempt to exorcise the beast. As they walked along Kettleness the Reverend is alleged to have said:
“All we need now is for Dracula to come bounding ashore in the form of a great black dog,” ‘muttered Donald with a smile. But the smile froze as his companion suddenly gripped him by the arm…
‘What we saw looked like a huge black hound, but bigger than anymember of the canine species, known to man. It was moving straight in our direction and the schoolmaster’s nerve gave way completely. He rushed back to the car.‘Uncorking the bottle [of Holy Water] which I was carrying, I commanded the spectre as follows: “Be gone in the name of the LordJesus Christ. Be gone to the place appointed for you, there to remain for ever. Be gone in the Name of Christ.” ‘As I spoke the last words, I splashed Holy Water in the direction of the apparition, and the latter disappeared as suddenly as it had materialised. Then I exorcised all the ground which the spectre had covered and a great heaviness went out of the atmosphere. The menace of Kettleness was ended’. Alexander, pp 49-50
There are many more ghostly and eerie incidents around this coastline and I will touch upon these in further posts.
I hope you’ve enjoyed these posts so far. Please leave me message below if you have enjoyed the posts or think I could improve. Also please feel free to email me. Thanks Rach