Friday, March 07, 2008

2008 Friday fun 7

The Ghost of Gibbet Lane, Stourbridge

Gibbet Lane is a short cut between Stourbridge and Kinver and has been used for many centuries. Strange, creepy sounds are said to haunt the underbrush that lies on both sides of the lane. Trees creak and groan in the wind and the scurrying of night creatures also break the stillness. People have reported uneasy feelings. They feel like they are being followed by something sinister and strange that haunts the night.

In times gone by, the bones of cutpurses and murderers hung in chains along the road. Their mortal remains left hanging for months; a fatal warning to others contemplating a criminal career.

The gibbet post was driven into the ground at the exact spot where William Howe shot and robbed a wealthy local farmer, Benjamin Robins, on a winter’s night in 1812. It was market day in nearby Stourbridge. Mr Robbins was wearing a well-filled money-belt, having sold some sheep. He had celebrated the sale in the near by Nag’s Head hostelry, before setting off on foot to his farm in Dunsley.

The victim was a tough individual. After being robbed and left for dead, he managed to stagger home leaving a trail of blood in the snow. He lived for ten days before dying on 28th December. On his deathbed he gave a description of his attacker.

His brother was quick to react. He rode to Stourbridge and ordered one hundred “Wanted” posters. The crime caused such a sensation that the famous Bow Street Runners, Harry Adkins and Sam Taunton (ace detectives of their time), were brought in by the local magistrate in a determined effort to bring the robber to justice.

They interviewed many locals which paid the dividends. Thomas Bates reported that he had noticed a suspicious character lurking in bushes. He described a man wearing a tricorn hat, a dark riding coat and carrying a pair of pistols stuck into his belt. Others reported similar sightings.

The investigators followed the trail and discovered their quarry was a servant of the Marchioness of Downshire, by the name of William Howe. He had some instinct that the Bow Street Runners were on his trail as he packed his bags and left without giving notice.

But Mr Howe was finally apprehended at the Castle and Falcon pub in London. He was sent in irons to Stafford Gaol to await trail. When on trial, after a mere seven minutes the verdict of “guilty” was reached and the sentence of hanging by the neck until dead (and then being cut down and dissected and anatomised) was carried out within 48 hours.

However, when the verdict was announced, the attending Stourbridge magistrate immediately applied for the body to be released to them and hung in chains near the sport where the crime took place. Recent murders in Kidderminster, Bridgenorth and on Whittington Common resulted in the request being granted as a warning to others.

Vast crowds gathered to witness the arrival of the body and follow the procession. The body was suspended in chains “for the moral benefit of the local population.”

The corpse swayed in the breeze for many months and was little more than a skeleton when it was stolen at night by a local surgeon, who felt his profession had been cheated from using the body for medical advancement.

The legend of William Howe became widely circulated and sightings of the phantom started to occur regularly during the last century. Howe’s spirit has been reported to appear as a malicious figure which glides rather than walks. One witness, who claimed to have lashed out at the spectre in fright, says he stumbled back after his stick passed straight through the ghostly apparition.

Equally disturbing encounters with the spectral shade of William Howe continued to emerge regularly in the local press. The old tale was enlivened once more in 1908, when a skeleton with a rusty dagger protruding from its rib cage was discovered near the ‘old gibber tree.’ It is now speculated that William Howe is not the only lonely shadow haunting the old lane.

The most recent investigation into the Gibbet Lane phenomena took place in December 1975, when three paranormal researchers hailing from Dudley kept a four-night vigil in the vicinity of William Howe’s haunting. Bill Oddy, Kevin Stokes and Roy Banks took scientific equipment and spent the December nights searching for paranormal activity. In a summary of their findings, they explained how they heard eerie tapping sounds, shared the feeling of being followed or being invited to follow a presence, and witnessed a black, human form crossing the lane.

But the researchers concluded that, due to their lack of convincing evidence, the surrounding countryside around Gibbet Lane is at peace. Perhaps the spirits are finally at rest...

(Story courtesy of Charlotte Duckworth)


Laura Hamby said...

Oooo. A ghost story that's purty spooky before it became a ghost story.

Anonymous said...

just to let your friends that my friends in our paranormal group have just this minuite got in from that site in gibbet lane.
i was being watched from the shadows,i heared voices coming over the top of my other members radios as we kept in contact.
i had an electic shock from somthing as it brushed past me with the wind that rushed up the path to meet us at the middle.
i saw eyes glowing from the sides of the banks as we went further up.
we came to what we belive to be the hangmans tree.
but one thing me (wayne) and team mate kebvin heard was talking from the side of the roads in the hedges.
from what i could make out twice i was told to (get they way)wich i think was (get away).
later as we pushed onwards in to the woodlands surrounding gibbet lane i and a few others saw strange lights appear in front of us in the distance.i can tell you the trees were cracking and creaking all the time but we heard a few sounds like dogs barking.
i heard hoves at one point i told my friend kev to shush a min and he did i heard it again but he said he couldnt.
anyway the girls who were further back said they heard a groan and the floor vibrate as if somthing had hit the ground.but nothing was found near to suggest anything had fallen.
we did hear a scream on the wind at one point but lasted a second.
i also heard what sounded like a gunshot in the distance but i will say it could have been anything at all but sounded like a old powder gun shot.
of course i was the only one to hear this at the time.
kevin got spooked a couple of times by sounds.
we even called out to the spirits to see if anything would happen for us,(a groan was heard followed by a word)but i couldnt make it out at all to be honest but it could have been the wind.
in one part it was warmer then we moved it was freezing then several times we moved about in turns to experiance warm and cold air tempratures and also winds that seemed to come and go in less than a second.i think there is more to be gained by another visit to this site.
i truelly think there is somthing there as we cought several orbs on cameras that we all used at difrent times.
im going to try and get a few other members to join our group to search out and see how they feel afterwards.there were 7 in our party tonight all felt somthing and saw things we cant explain all had pictures of orbs and all had radio interferance too.
but the highlight was when i called out to william howe,and at that point kev and myself felt colder then our radios got completly switched of on us at the sametime.both at the exact same time and on my way back to the a449 road i was pushed from behind.
well thats what i felt and i am 6.7 tall and 22 stone so im shure i can tell what a push feels like as it was on my hips i was pushed.
not like my leg gave way or i lost my footing at all but was my waist that was touched as i went forwards but stayed on my legs and we had torches to light our pathe but didnt really use them apart from my 3 red leds on the head light i used.
i recomend this place if your of a brave personality.