In 1966, Mrs Kenyon, a longtime resident of the village of Chipping, Lancashire, England, claimed to have had a terrifying paranormal experience that led to the death of a local dog. Here is her story.
The fear that the incomplete corpse is earthbound and wanders as a restless spirit constantly searching is as old as mankind itself. Equally ancient is the terror of the disturbed grave: there seems an almost instinctive belief that the broken rest of the body in some ways destroys the peace of the spirit, which must return once more to earth, often to seek revenge. Perhaps it was this that occurred in the moorland village of Chipping in North Lancashire in 1966. Leagram Hall, Chipping, the ancestral home of the Weld family, had by 1963 fallen into such a state that it was entirely uneconomic to repair and was demolished. The coffins from the vault in the family chapel were removed to the nearby Catholic churchyard - an event that, it was said locally, "upset the ancestors no end to be among ordinary people." Not surprisingly in view of expectations, on top of a centuries-old tradition of hauntings, "events" began almost immediately. Cars were reported to have stopped inexplicably in the lane which skirted the estate and would not restart; figures leapt from the bank right into the path of moving vehicles that went right through them; sounds, mists, and the whole range of psychic phenomena were claimed. With the stories of the supernatural, the press and TV soon arrived in Chipping, but as usual, the phantoms disdained to display themselves for vulgar entertainment. The media soon tired of the futile pursuit, and as the light of publicity turned elsewhere, so did the fickle public. The ancestors, if indeed they were responsible, seemed to have accepted their status and position in the modern world and to have resumed their centuries-old sleep.
There was, however, a dramatic revival: a few days before Christmas in 1966, Madge Kenyon, whose family for at least three generations had been estate agents at the hall, and her 16-year-old daughter Mollie, set out along the deserted lane that led from the village past the site of the old mansion towards the moors, taking their miniature poodle for its usual run. It was shortly after 4pm, with the dusk settling down in misty anticipation of Christmas. At around 4.30, when they were about half a mile from the village, the Kenyons decided that as they had done nothing towards preparing the family supper they must return home, and were just about to do so when both simultaneously saw three figures approaching them from the direction of the moor. Because of the fading light, the people appeared at first to be little more than silhouettes but soon they were clearly distinguishable as a woman and two boys aged about ten and twelve. This seemed enough to identify them as a farming family the Kenyons knew slightly and who would certainly want to stop and talk: conscious of a homecoming husband and an unprepared meal, Madge Kenyon wanted to avoid them but did not want to appear rude by turning about so abruptly that the reason was obvious.
Her dilemma was, however, resolved in a surprising way: the village postmistress' dog Sam, who normally accompanied them on their walks but who that afternoon had missed them as they passed his home, shot round the bend, excited and delighted to have found them. The Kenyons' attention was diverted for a few moments from the approaching trio by Sam's cavortings, and when they looked up again the woman and her sons were only a few yards away, although neither Madge nor her daughter had heard a single footstep.
Mrs Kenyon had time only to notice that the newcomers were complete strangers and not the family she had expected when a dramatic change in Sam's behaviour demanded her whole attention: he crouched on his stomach with fangs bared and hair bristling as he fixed his eyes on the strangers, snarling savagely. Sam, who was normally the most amiable of dogs so alarmed Madge that she turned back to the woman and her children to explain that they need not be afraid as the dog was quite harmless - and found the road completely empty. The family who seconds earlier had been standing no more than a couple of yards away had vanished: there was no possibility they had gone on because visibility was still reasonable, and in any case, their movement would have been noticed. The disappearance of the three figures had a traumatic effect on Sam: suddenly in desperation, he leaped forward exactly as if he were in a fight, snarling, snapping the air, ducking, weaving as he now attacked, and now retreated from an invisible enemy. The Kenyons' own dog crept closely between them and stood trembling in every fibre. Then abruptly in what seemed to be a particularly vicious phase of the battle, Sam was utterly defeated: turning in ignominious flight with his tail tucked between his legs he made a frantic swerve as if to avoid some force attacking his flank and broke away rushing headlong down the lane, howling pitifully.
Absolutely bewildered by the unexpectedness and speed of the whole incident the Kenyons stared at the dog as it raced towards the village, screaming and beside itself with terror: then as they peered into the grey dusk where an instant before there had been nothing but an empty lane and incipient night, the three figures materialised about 10 yards away, waving their arms threateningly as they chased the fleeing Sam. Whether it was reality, or whether a trick of the half-light, the gruesome trio now seemed larger than when they had been near at hand. Mother and daughter watched horrified and speechless as the dog and the ghastly apparitions disappeared round a bend in the track. It was only after everything had vanished from sight that they spoke - and then only to confirm that they had both seen the same nightmare scene. It was then too that they realised that they had the worse ordeal to come, because the phantoms were now between them and the village.
But the journey back was something of an anti-climax: there was nothing but the deepening dusk and their own footsteps on the way back to Chipping - except that their own dog, instead of his normal random rushing to and fro, shrank between the two women, his nose touching Madge's leg at every step as if to reassure himself that she at least was mortal. In the village, they rushed home, too afraid even to stop at the post office to ask if Sam had reached safety. "I was", Madge said, "past explaining".
A few days later when she heard that the dog was very ill she regretted her cowardice. The vet was certain that there was nothing organically wrong: it just seemed, he said, as if the animal had given up the will to live. A week later it was dead, responding to no drugs and rejecting all help. "I told the post office people," Madge said, "and they believed me, but it was no use saying that to the vet."
For a long time, the Kenyons refused to use the lane in case the terrible silent family was still vengefully stalking it, but as the immediate fear subsided, once more they resumed their usual walk, though it was many months before their own dog would accompany them again. But never since, though Madge had passed the spot hundreds of times, both alone and with others, had ever again felt even a trace of the weird events of that December afternoon. Mrs Madge Kenyon, Lancashire.