Freaky Folk Tales – a collection of macabre, supernatural and amusing tales, from the haunting of ancestral homes to the malignancy of inanimate objects.
In the Swallowfield road in Arborfield, Berkshire there stand two old farms that face each other – White’s Farm and Bartlett’s Farm. In the early 18th century, residing at White’s farm were a farmer and his wife. The farmer’s wife was scorned by the villagers believing that she regularly cheated customers, often watering down the milk and penny-pinching on the weight of butter and cheese. Some of the locals went further, accusing her of being a witch with arcane magical powers.
After she had been dead a few months, several people reported seeing a spectre haunting that lonely stretch of road – a phantom figure, wringing its hands and moaning in a hollow voice: “Weight and measure gave I never; Milk and water sold I ever!” Then, with a final shriek it sank silently into a deep pond by the road-side near to the local tavern, the Bull Inn.
This went on for some time until the entire population of the village became terrified, and were compelled to take drastic action. Seven priests came out from Reading; and they brought with them a party of men who led a cart on which was laid a huge flat stone. When the spectre appeared, the priests began chanting incantations: the ancient words that would lay a ghost. Then, after the apparition had descended into the pond, the stone was lifted over the shadowy depths and lowered into the water.
No more sightings of the witch’s ghost were reported until about a hundred years later, when a party of workmen was sent to clean out the pond. After excavating it out to the bottom, they came upon the flat stone, and were about to raise it when the manager of the site approached them and pleaded for them to not to touch it, telling them that his father had been one of the men present when the ghost was put down, and if they touched the stone, the spectre would escape and renew its nocturnal wanderings. How much truth there is in the whole thing no one knows, but to this day no one in the village would dare allow the stone to be raised!
“No sooner do they reach the entrance to the church when a blast of wind, violent and from nowhere, blows out the candles. The procession stops suddenly, each of the hunch-framed bodies consumed by an ice-cold chill. One of them screams and points into the near distance. Ahead, through the swirling mist, they make out a dark shape. It is moving towards them. As it approaches, the apparition grows; and from its black mass stems a gnarled, grey hand, the outstretched fingers of which drum out an invisible beat. Worse still, deep within its shapeless body comes a cold whisper; a voice that calls each of their names in turn: Henry Edwards, Matthew Bradeley, John Thynne, Martha Thynne… the unseen tongue continuing until all twelve names have been spoken.”
Perched on the border of two English counties, Oxfordshire and Warwickshire, stand a group of mysterious stones known as the King’s Men.
Part of a much larger arrangement, the Rollright Stones, the King’s Men are thought to be even older than Stonehenge.
Like sentries defending some forgotten treasure, they have stood for centuries gazing sombrely over fields of grassland.
Visit on a cold morning and you’re likely to see the circle bathed in an eerie mist — an atmosphere of ancient magic and enchantment, and the reason why the stones are the subject of many myths and legends. And where there are legends, come druids, magicians, mystics and storytellers, all who have visited the stones over the centuries, attempting to understand and harness their secret power.
To this day, the guardians of magic still gather here for meetings and rituals; visit and you may very well see their like standing amongst the decaying pillars. But if you do, mind that you are entering a place of sorcery. Strange energies have been detected around the stones, particularly in the circle of the King’s Men. Continue reading