Friday, 21 August 2009

A Darlaston Encounter.....


The following 'peculiar' encounter was related to the W.M.G.C. by Mr. Dave Bourne of Darlaston.... a good friend to the group and a regular contributor to our online forum. Over the past year or so Dave has shared a number of ghostly happenings and stories with us, the intriguing case mentioned below being the first of his experiences to be used on the blog.....

This first 'encounter' occured when he was just 18 years old, taking the reader back some 30 years to the middle of Autumn, 1979..... Dave told us:

"I was nearing home, just before Midnight, after walking from Wednesbury to Darlaston along the Darlaston Road. I turned into what I have always know as the "Blossom", which is an un-adapted part of School Street, beginning next to the Chapel opposite the Scot(s) Arms public house. It was a beautiful, bright, moonlit night - not a breath of wind - and just a little bit cold as we were at the end of October.

As I walked along the Blossom - to a point where it opens out into the main part of School Street itself - something caught my attention to my right hand side. I should explain that to my right, was the high bank of the edge of Kings Hill Park, which is scattered with trees and bushes, and had / has a low privet hedge along the top. As I looked up I just froze with instant fear, as looking down at me from the very peak of the bank was what I can only describe as a "Cavalier" style figure in full dress! I could clearly see his hat complete with feathered plume, his cape.... etc, etc.

Now, as I said, I was 18 at the time, 6ft tall, around 15 Stone, very fit and not frightened of anyone or anything much.... but after standing stock still for what was only probably 4 or 5 seconds I'll admit that took flight and must surely have covered the last 100 metres or so to our house in under 10 seconds. I managed to let myself in, just as my Mom and Dad were just going off to bed. On seeing me, they were shocked at the state I was in and, as my Dad said, I looked 'as white as a ghost !' I told them what had happened, and my Dad said: "Right come on then, lets go and sort this weirdo out". It seems that he was convinced that someone was most likely parading around the park dressed up in some sort of costume.....!!

So, somewhat 'reluctantly', shall we say, I went over to the park with the old chap and we had a good old look around. Needless to say we didn't find or see anyone. What I can clearly remember though was the precise spot where the "Cavalier" had stood and looked down at me..... This was on the top level of the park, on the edge of what we have always called the Bowling Green. This is where the park bandstand used to be situated before being vandalised and demolished some years previously. And although the night was going chilly anyway - and I was still basically still a bit shocked by what I had seen - it was absolutely 'freezing cold' on this top level.... much colder than the rest of the park.

Anyway - as I said - we could not see anything or anyone, so we made our way back home. 'Me' being 'me', I subsequently continued to walk home along the Blossom late at night......but never saw anything else, ever again!!"

For the sake of a little background information on the region concerned: Kings Hill Park was created in 1900, developed from land left over from colliery waste, utilising the local unemployed as free labour. It has been suggested by some authorities that the name of the region originated with the 'hill' of Kings Hill Park itself, on which Dave saw his strange, period figure.... Certain sources have intimated that some form of Civil War activity in the region may well have given the hill a somewhat regal monicker....??? However, research has since revealed that the 'hill' is certainly not a natural - or particularly 'old' - feature.... being a direct consequence of industrial activity in the area - a 'slag-heap', for wont of a better term - occuring in the centuries long 'after' the Civil War period.

So much for a romantic sounding setting then!! Laugh!!

Seriously though, the above-mentioned data does actually give rise to a rather perplexing connundrum involving the case: i.e. if the hill itself was not extant during the Civil War period, then what right does a stereotypical 'Cavalier-type' figure have to be appearing on it??? A question somewhat flippantly put, of course, but a most valid query non-the-less! Such motifs seem to have appeared in many other cases throughout the history of ghostlore, but - unless we are actually dealing with some form of 'sentient' beings in such cases - how do 'ghosts' frequently appear to interract with objects and places which never actually existed 'within their time period'??

As to the question of Civil War activity within the area concerned: while there were no major battles or actions listed for this region, the site involved lies very close to two, major garrisons..... those of Rushall Hall and Dudley Castle. Looking into details from that period for suitable candidates for Daves, somewhat lonely, figure, we find that a Wednesfield farmer by the name of Pitt is recorded as having served as a 'spy' between the aforementioned encampments. Sadly, his activities did not go unnoticed and, cutting a potentially long story short, he was duly executed in Smithfield in London in 1644 for his actions.

Regards to all,

The W.M.G.C.

2 comments:

Dave Bourne. said...

Hi,

Dave Bourne here, and thanks very much to Nick for Posting my Experience on the WMGC Blog.

I can indeed confirm that although some 30 Years have now passed since that Autumn Night in 1979, what I saw will always stay with me, and at the time, was a truly Terrifying Vision/Experience.

When I/we think of "Ghosts", the Stereotypical "Image" is probably of some Semi Transparent, White "Wraith" Like Figure, but, my experience just goes to prove how wrong this Idea can be. What I saw on that particular occasion was as "Substantial" and "Solid" a Figure as could possibly be imagined. With Hindsight, my only "Regret" was that due to the position of the Moon behind the Figure, even though I could easily make out specific detail(s), what I saw was chiefly in Silhouette, so I was unable to make out thigs such as exact Colours and dare I say Facial Features, although in retrospect, this may actually have been a Blessing in Disguise !!. Even though I lived on Kings Hill from Birth until I got Married, I had never even equated the name "Kings Hill" with anything of a "Civil War" Nature, BUT, although the actual Park itself was certainly not around at the time of the English Civil War, lets not forget the "Story" of King Charles himself being hidden at Bentley Old Hall, and aided in his escape dressed as a Female Servant/Maid by Jane Lane. Now if this "Story" does indeed hold any water, the site of Bentley Old Hall is still there to be seen today, and is only around 2 or 3 Miles away from where I saw my "Ghost" !!. This is as well as the other previously mentioned Civil War connections with Dudley, Rushall & Wednesfield etc, all of which are themselves comparitively close by. So, who knows, perhaps King Charles may actually have passed through the Kings Hill area en route to Bentley or similar, and I "Could" have seen his Ghost that night as he stood their on his own still pondering his Defeat by Cromwell`s Army !!. A very Romantic and Fanciful Notion I`ll grant you, but then again ...... who knows ??!!.

A small Postscript to this tale is that I now believe "Kings Hill" to be named after a Battle or Battles fought against "Invaders", on the high Ground of this area by Ethel Fleda`s Army in the 6th Century A.D, who were based in the Hill Fort, the site of which is now occupied by "St Bart`s" Church on top of Church Hill, just a very short distance away in Wednesbury.

W.M.G.C. said...

Hi Dave - thanks for the comment mate.... What a fascinating story!!

Re. the battles - there were two apparently.... 592 and 715 A.D.

Looking into the general history of the area, it seems the most troublesome aspects of the region for some centuries were different writs being taken out on land-owners who weren't interested in the upkeep of their fences and gates!! Laugh, laugh!!!

What an unruly lot these Wednesbury-ites and Darlastonians were in the past!!!

Cheers again matey!!!

Regards,

N