Better late than never. The correspondence eluded me at the time as it
came in Issue 97, some 21 issues later than the article.
Two letters were published. The first from Andrew M. Green of Robertsbridge,
Sussex recounts his own version of an interview with John Cornford, the farmer
quoted in the article. The body of the vicar who disappeared, Reverend Neil Snelling,
was discovered in October 1981, a few feet from his normal route. He had been
prone to heart attacks for some time. The vanished horse was probably the work
of the same thieves who took an oak table and some lead pipes from the
church. The disappearance of Cornford's own collie was attributed to a local
gamekeeper whose electric fence was designed to protect "his" pheasants.
The second letter from Charles P. T. Walker* of Worthing recorded that at least two
circles of witches were operating in Clapham Wood during this period. He blamed
the disappearances of the horse and dog on a sinister group called The Friends of
*If this isn't the same Charles Walker, referred to by The Discordian in
April 2003, we have a curious Fortean coincidence!
I last visited Chanctonbury Ring back in the early '90s with a bunch of fellow pagans. I'd been there a number of times before as a kid in the '60s as my parents had a caravan on the South Coast; but never had any weird experiences there. Of course, 25 years later, having read all about the place's
wierdness, it was a different story.
IIRC, it was quite a bright, sunny day, with a number of other people about. As we trudged up the path to the ring, one of the group, an archaeologist, reckoned that the place had been built as a charnel house; he said the name Chanctonbury was a dead giveaway (sorry!) and that it was in an ideal location to make the most of the winds blowing out to sea, which would have been much closer when the place was built. Another of the group, a Wiccan, said that she could sense a distinct aura of despair/desolation which got stronger the closer we got to the summit. When we reached the ring itself, she was almost in tears and wouldn't cross the bank into the circle, saying that there was something preventing her. The rest of us, though a little shaken, were undeterred and all went inside. Now at this point I'd like to explain that the fillings in my teeth sometimes vibrate when I'm close to ancient power centres - I know it sounds daft; but it's not at all uncomfortable and the closest I can describe the feeling is the 'Background Hum Of The Universe' that I'm told you get on a mild trip. Anyway, the old dental amalgam picked up a number of hot and cold spots inside the ring. I'm sure I read somewhere that a number of leylines intersect at Chanctonbury; maybe these were what I was picking up; but as none of us had thought to bring pencils or paper, we couldn't note where they were for later reference. There was a definite wierdness about the place that I hadn't picked up as a kid - inside the ring it's noticeably cooler than outside as the trees blocked out most of the direct sunlight as well as a lot of the ambient sound. All of us noticed that the air pressure changed once we were under the trees, although this could have been due to the altitude or some natural cause.
We spent about an hour poking around, the most interesting thing we found were the ashes of a relatively recent fire. The lass who'd stayed outside then said that she was picking up an increasingly hostile vibe and that we should leave. She looked genuinely worried, and told us that she felt that there was a presence somehow bound to the place, which wanted us to leave. So down we all went; but there was the distinct feeling that we were being watched all the way back to where we'd left the car. We were spooked a couple of times by rustlings in the undergrowth - most likely animals disturbed by our passing - but nothing else of note happened except the Wiccan's mood got better.
All in all, an interesting experience. We had planned to go back there one evening later in the year, with cameras nd recording gear; but never actually got around to it. Maybe this was not such a bad thing after all.
The second letter from Charles P. T. Walker* of Worthing recorded that at least two
circles of witches were operating in Clapham Wood during this period. He blamed
the disapperances of the horse and dog on a sinister group called The Friends of
*If this isn't the same Charles Walker, referred to by The Discordian in
April 2003, we have a curious Fortean coincidence!
On the above subject of ultrasound, I wandered around Arbor Low ("The Stonehenge of the North TM") yesterday and tried using a recorder to see if I got anything.
Nowt, before you get excited. Rather oddly, not even the conversation I was having at the time. Certainly not the odd chanting that MrsHyde kept hearing, which I put down to some of the other site visitors to be honest.
Did a brief investigation of Chanctonbury Ring recently though definitely plan to do an overnighter there v.soon. Apart from signs of idiot teens (massive campfire and about thirty empty cans of lager) it all seemed quite peaceful. There were signs of a small ritual circle in the bare unwooded area at the centre so perhaps the energies have been settled.
Didn't take any chances and asked permisson of the Genus Loci first and performed a visualisation ritual of protection. I tend to go at these sorts of things from all angles scientific and spiritual (can't be too careful!) .
Did a baseline EMF test and kept a digital dictaphone going for any EVP but to be honest the place just felt peaceful. After a few hours my partner and I cleared up the mess that others had left, thanked the Genus Loci and left.
Most of the EVP etc seem to be picked up at night so I do plan to return before the weather turns and do an all nighter at some point.
Truly Hill is situated a couple of miles North of Shoreham-by-Sea in West Sussex. It is classed as a beauty spot and has a couple of radio towers on the top with red lights to warn aircraft. Just to the South West nearly at the sea is Shoreham (Brighton City) airport. Also to the East and very slightly North is a large country estate called Wiston House. This estate encompasses a large are including the famous earth site of Cissbury Ring. Now Wiston House (A Real life Lara Croft Mansion) is owned by the government but is run as a conference centre and is also hired out for private functions. However, It is well known to the local populace (some of which work there) that from time to time the government holds secret and highly guarded meetings there. I can vouch for the military activities by road and helicopters at odd hours.
Now, this whole area has been a focus for a long time of UFO and strange activities. Check out the account of school children at a Hassocks school who saw a strange craft heading down over this way in the 80’s. There have been crop circles, real life MIB’s strange noises and peculiar lights.
The locals at Steyning (near Wiston) will tell you that a certain hill was hollowed out in the second world war by British and American forces as a hiding place for troops should Germany invade. It was during the 50’s, 60’ and 70’s that they noticed these underground chambers were in use again. They heard subterranean bangs and rumbles possibly indicating excavations going on. At the top of Truly Hill unusual traffic has been observed, occurring apparently unknown, to the youth hostel situated there!
I have personally observed with others, that started out just as sceptical as me, many strange things in this area. Probably one of the weirdest was being a low lying cloud that remained stationary one night, even though all the others were moving briskly and contained a strange swirling light source. This light would go out when any aircraft approached and resume when it has passed.
There are many more weird stories I could tell you but I don’t know if it would be appropriate as they cannot be proved. They might be of some interest though for discussion and dissection!
I confess to only ever really going to the UFO forum here at FTMB, however it was a pleasent surprise to see all this material about this very strarnge part of the world!
If I may, I've certainly got some unusual stories to add to the discussion!
I was glad to see 'Bramber Castle' mentioned - did you know that there is an underground crypt at the church in the grounds of the castle!This is kept secret for a number of reasons.I only fouind out about it because,again a number of locals had the job of cleaning it out after a flood. Apparently the walls and ceilings are decorated in elaborate paintings.From the descriptions given to me, they sound possible Knights Templer'?!! In fact, the whole area under discussion in this thread, was used by the Knights Templer at one time. Possible because of its unusual vibrations that would help magical invocations become manifest! Just an IMHO!
Shame about banning people who are clearly intelligent and have something decent to add to this forum...
However my hubby and I used to go quite regularily to Clapham wood when we lived in Brighton. I can say that even though nothing really heavy ever happened, there were little things that could be construed as slightly weird.
For starters I've been in many forests in my life (being originally from Germany) but I have never seen one that is as gloomy as Clapham forest. It is so dense that even in the summer at about 21:00 h while it was still light, we had to rush out of the forest as you almost couldn't see a thing and we were worried not to find our way out.
At another time, on the way in, passing a farmhouse on the right, there was a sulphuric stink, that started very suddenly and stopped after a few meters. We went backwards and forwards and had to conclude that it was definately localised. We even went closer to that farmhouse to see if they were burning something but firstly that time was in the middle of winter and quite late and there was no smoke or any other time that someone was burning something.
Another time we tried to find a bomb crater (probably due to my ancestors...sorry) which was supposed to be in the woods and was linked to UFO activities. We eventually found it but left soon afterwards because there was a trailer in the middle of these woods, inhabited by some strange bloke who made us feel even more uneasy than the forest ever did. That time, the friend we went with needed a pee and went off the beaten path. We were waiting nearby. When he came out he felt strange, as if somethign was nearby (now he is not one of the paranoid kind at all, rather the opposite, making jokes about stuff like that). He was serious that time. Another time we went through the bit on the hill and I have to say it is some strange kind of wood, the trees looked more like bones (it was winter) and you just couldn't help getting an eerie feeling.
Apart from that nothing else ever happened but going there is still a must I recon.
Mysterious disappearances, attacks by strange powers, UFO sightings and peculiar occult practices - all have occurred in or near the ancient Sussex site of Chanctonbury Ring, TOYNE NEWTON seeks the connection
Is there an unidentified force associated with ancient pathways and ley lines whose energy is capable of killing people? This seems an outlandish suggestion, but if the other peculiar phenomena that occur in and around the ancient earthwork of Chanctonbury Ring in Sussex, England, are anything to go by, there may indeed be something in it.
Consider first the case of the Reverend Neil Snelling, former vicar of Clapham Church, who was last seen in August 1978, heading in the direction of the nearby Clapham Wood (see page 1085). In the summer of 1981 his remains at last came to light. They were discovered by a Canadian hiker named Mike Raine. He was flying to Africa the next day, but sent the local police the Rev. Snelling's wallet and a map of the woods showing where the body could be found.
From medical records and from the watch and ring worn by the corpse, positive identification was made of the dead vicar. At the inquest in August 1981 the coroner, Mark Calvert-Lee, said it was impossible to tell how the Rev. Snelling had died, and an open verdict was returned. One of the odder aspects of the case was that searchers claimed to have gone over that area with a fine toothcomb only, somehow, to miss the remains.
Equally unsettling was the disappearance of police constable Peter 'Nobby' Goldsmith in 1972. On 6 June he checked in as usual at Steyning police station, which is just 2 miles (3 kilometres) from Chanctonbury. An international athlete and former Guardsman, he was 6 feet 6 inches (2 metres) tall and was an extremely fit man. But later that day he went for a walk in the woods and was never seen alive again.
Intensive searches were made. At one time, it is recorded, 30 police, 10 tracker dogs, many horsemen and a helicopter were all deployed in an exhaustive search of the area. Every inch of land was gone over several times, but to no avail. Then, six months later, on 13 December 1972, His body was found near Chanctonbury Ring, not very far from where the Rev. Snelling had been found.
In 1981 a third person fell victim to the mysterious area. On 14 November the corpse of Mrs. Jillian Matthews, who had been reported missing on 28 September 1981, was found near Wiston House - once again, close to where the Rev. Neil Snelling's skeleton had been discovered. During the two months she was missing, several searches were made in the area. And when the beaters from the pheasant shoot at nearby Wiston Estate found the body, they insisted that they had been over the exact spot only two weeks before - and had seen nothing. The post-mortem failed to determine the cause of death, because the body had suffered an unusual degree of decomposition. Needless to say, no one knows quite why.
Is the pattern that seems to emerge from these deaths one of mere coincidence, or is there an unknown - and deadly - force at work? What attracted these three very different people - a retired vicar, a policeman and a housewife -to this particular area in the first place? Many theories are being put forward - some of them quite bizarre. Because of the persistent UFO sightings recorded in the vicinity of Chanctonbury it has even been suggested that these people were snatched by aliens and later returned. But there is one common factor: it appears that each of them was suffering to some extent from depression. Not only that but, according to local investigator Dave Stringer, all three bodies were found on ley lines. The question, then, is whether there was some kind of mutual attraction between some force generated by the leys, and their state of mind. Could such a force be capable of exerting an evil influence, as a black stream does (see page 514)? Could it somehow take over an individual whose mind is temporarily aberrant? Certainly the area is one in which some very strange forces seem to have been at work, and many people have reported frightening symptoms and occurrences when in the vicinity of Chanctonbury Ring.
Chanctonbury is a hill on the South Downs approximately 700 feet (215 metres) above sea level, crowned with a ring of beech trees. It is steeped in occult history and has long been associated with witchcraft, unseen forces and, latterly, with UFO sightings.
On the outside the ring of trees seems perfectly normal, and yet on entering, one is immediately aware of an uncanny silence, for no birds or animals are found here. Dead and dying trees, some fenced off, add to the air of general decay, as if stepping from the outside to the inside of the ring has deposited one in a strange and different world.
Among the many people who have had terrifying experiences here is Dave Stringer, who runs the Southern Paranormal Investigation Group. One night in June 1966 he and a group of members decided to spend a night there. They arrived early at about 9.30 p.m. After a while a group of motorcyclists with girl pillion riders turned up. Stringer's group had built a campfire in the centre of the ring, and the motorcyclists stayed chatting with them before moving off on their own to another part of the ring.
As the night was advancing Stringer thought it expedient to make a circle of protection, which he did with powdered chalk, incense and holy water. He and his group then sat within it. Shortly after midnight they heard a kind of crackling -distantly at first, but becoming louder, and presently accompanied by a gusting wind, although on looking outside the circle of trees it was still a clear calm summer's night, and there hadn't, until that moment, been the hint of a breeze.
This lasted for about half an hour, when at 45 minutes past midnight the group noticed a form moving around outside the circle of trees. Then suddenly they heard a woman wailing as if in pain, followed almost immediately by the cry of a baby. This went on for over half an hour, then there was silence. The form, which had been constantly encircling the trees, was no longer to be seen. Until 2 a.m. there was a period of quiet. Then the group heard a church organ playing and some form of chanting. At the same time they all complained of feeling 'intense pressure', but they managed not to panic. After a while the feeling subsided, but shortly after this, at about 2.30 a.m., one of the motorcyclists came running up to them saying they had experienced 'something really evil' the other side of the ring, and that the others 'were petrified'. The motorcyclists then promptly left the area. Dave Stringer and his group stayed until daylight, but all said they felt extreme aches and pains and headaches. It was only when they got outside the circle of trees that these pains left them.
Among other groups who have kept an all-night vigil at this mysterious site is the Sussex Sky Watchers, a UFO research group. On 15 June 1968, in the early hours of Sunday morning, one of their members was walking around inside the ring of trees when he suddenly fell to the ground screaming for help, having lost the use of his limbs. On running to his aid, his companions experienced a similar form of paralysis, as if they had all suddenly been hit by a force that robbed them of the use of their arms and legs. Fortunately within a few minutes everyone recovered, and there were no ill effects.
Another all-night vigil was led by Charles Walker, who has made an extensive study of Chanctonbury Ring. On 25 August 1974, he and three other members of the Ghost and Psychic Investigation Group were walking inside the ring of trees at approximately 11 p.m. when one member - William Lincoln was levitated by a force that took him some 5 feet (1.5 metres) into the air, where he hung suspended for about 60 seconds before being 'released' and crashing back to the ground.
During this terrifying experience he was pleading with the unseen force and crying: 'No more! No more!' Lincoln's back was hurt when the brief period of levitation ceased and he was so badly shaken he felt unable to talk about the happening afterwards, beyond refusing to go back to Chanctonbury ever again. The whole episode was witnessed by the other members of the group - Charles Walker, Dave Wills and Richard Walker.
In September 1979 Charles Walker returned to make a further investigation, this time with Dave Stringer, Dave Wills and Paul Glover. As they were approaching the spot where William Lincoln had been levitated - and where the others had experienced paralysis of their limbs - Dave Wills was suddenly knocked down to the ground by an invisible force. While Charles and Paul were endeavouring to calm him. Dave Stringer was looking for the crucifix he always wore around his neck attached to a chain, and which he had missed at the same time Wills was knocked down. After searching for a few minutes, Dave Stringer saw the crucifix on the ground. When he picked it up, it was burning hot as if it had been placed in an open fire. He also noticed that the link fixing it to the chain around his neck had been twisted and broken as if it had been wrenched off, yet none of the others had been close to him at the time.
So, something very peculiar seems to be at work in the ring. Does it have any bearing on the three unexplained deaths? And does the persistent local UFO phenomenon have anything to do with the mystery?
Is there a force in the earth that creates inexplicable phenomena - or are the weird events like those associated with Chanctonbury Ring part of a little-understood interaction between the landscape and the mind? TOYNE NEWTON examines the evidence
The Second Chapter of peculiar incidents associated with Chanctonbury Ring concerns the numerous UFO sightings that have occurred in the area.
One such took place during the night of 31 October 1972, at about 10.45 p.m. A Mr Simpson of Worthing was out walking with two friends at Chanctonbury. They saw a light flickering among the clump of trees, and at first thought it must be a bonfire. As they drew closer the light faded away. They were walking towards the centre of the ring when, said Mr Simpson, they saw 'the strangest object we have ever seen'.
The silence of the night was broken by a loud noise above them, as if something was brushing the tree-tops. Looking up, all three witnesses saw a dull red glow emanating from a large object above them.
'We were all three frozen to the spot,' Mr Simpson said, 'and we could not believe what we were clearly seeing with our own eyes. The object was making no sound whatsoever, apart from the noise when it brushed against the tree-tops. And although we watched it intently we did not break from the cover of the trees, as we felt safer whilst we were under them.'
As the object moved away, Mr Simpson said, they could see the top of the craft more clearly: 'It was illuminated by a much brighter blue light. We also noticed what appeared to be four small square windows or portholes.'
Everything was happening so quickly, however, and the object was moving away so fast that they could not be certain about the description. However, the craft came to a sudden halt, hovered for about 30 seconds, and then 'shot up into the sky at a terrific speed'.
A similar object was reported in the same area on 12 December 1979, but it did not come as close to the trees on this occasion. However it did spend some minutes hovering over the hill before suddenly moving off at high speed towards Brighton.
In the summer of 1974, a brilliant white circular object was seen shooting up the west side of the hill, where it hovered for about 45 seconds before 'changing its shape to an oblong' and disappearing in a north-westerly direction at great speed.
On 23 August 1975 a bright orange object was seen in the sky over Cissbury Ring, near Worthing. The object hovered for a short while and then shot off at high speed in the direction of Chanctonbury Ring. (This was reported in the Worthing Gazette on 3 September 1975.) Within moments of the object being seen heading for Chanctonbury, a local woman (who does not wish to be named) was walking her dog at Chanctonbury Ring when she saw a 'large, saucer-shaped, bright orange object land on the west side of Chanctonbury Hill'. The woman went on to say that the object remained on the ground for no than a minute or so, then shot straight into the air. It was lost to sight within seconds.
Many similar sightings have been recorded. The usual pattern is for the UFO to be first seen at Cissbury Ring travelling towards Chanctonbury Ring, and then independently reported from the latter area. Chanctonbury Ring is also well-known for being a venue for those pursuing witch-activities. From time to time hooded figures have been seen dancing around a bonfire amid the trees.
In March 1979 Charles Walker and Dave Stringer made an important discovery in this connection. While at Chanctonbury Ring they came across an unmistakable altar, formed out of a tree trunk. A 9-foot (3-metre) diameter circle of stones surrounded the altar. A five-point star, also made out of stones, rested within the circle. Thick paper or parchment bearing black candlewax lay between each star point.
The remains of a similar circle have been seen at nearby Devil's Dyke, where a black coven was known to be practising until December 1978. Grass has grown over the place, but the outline can still be seen. Also visible are the remains of what is thought to be a 'triangle of art', which is used to invoke or materialise a spirit (while the coven remains on the inside of the triangle for safety).
Devil's Dyke is a great cleft in the South Downs, south of the village of Poynings. Legend has it that the Devil himself dug the huge ditch when he thought the people of Sussex were too taken up with religion - the idea being that the sea would rush in and drown them all. Fortunately for the people of Sussex, however, he had got only halfway with the task when an old woman lit a candle, which set off the cock crowing. The Devil thought sunrise had come, and promptly fled. Perhaps not surprisingly, Devil's Dyke has also been the scene of mysterious events and UFO sightings.
During August 1974 Paul Glover was standing at Devil's Dyke on the site where the coven used to meet when he saw an orange and white disc-shaped UFO moving round the perimeter of the dyke. This was visible for two minutes. In April 1976, a group of watchers reported seeing two objects during their all night vigil, one at 12.55 a.m., when a 'white light' travelled west along the dyke and was visible for eight seconds, and another at 3.10 a.m. This time the object came to within half a mile (800 metres) of them before disappearing.
Perhaps the most intriguing evidence relating to sightings in this area was discovered by Paul Glover. After a spate of UFO sightings in 1965 he was walking along the top edge of one of the banks of the dyke when he saw two strange rings imprinted in the ground. Despite extensive enquiries, the reason for their presence cannot be found. In 1979 he was still able to photograph them, 14 years after he had first noticed them.
Have UFOs landed at Devil's Dyke? Many people believe so, among them four schoolboys who, greatly impressed by local newspaper reports of the UFO activity at the dyke, decided they would camp out there on the night of 12 July 1975. The father of one of the boys drove them there with a tent and camping equipment, saying he would pick them up again early the following morning. When he did so they had a strange tale to tell. During the night they had positioned themselves about halfway up a steep bank at the dyke and lay staring up into the night sky. After some time, having decided that there were no UFOs to be seen, the four returned to the tent. It was then they became aware of a patch of mist in one specific spot - although the rest of the dyke was clear. Quite suddenly the mist became denser and seemed to be moving towards them. Then they all saw the patch seem to divide into five separate patches, forming semi-transparent figures. They were not clear cut images, but all the boys thought they were male, though they could not give any specific reason for arriving at such a conclusion. All four agreed, too, that when the figures were within 15 feet (5 metres) of them they began to fade. Right up to the point the 'images' disappeared, they remained five separate columns of mist, although they lost their man-like shapes slightly as they faded.
The boys (whose average age was 16 years) were all very frightened. One of them is reported as saying: 'In fact we were glued to the spot for a few seconds and later considered leaving the dyke but we could not carry the heavy tent and as it had cost £60 we were not anxious to lose it. We decided that if we had seen five ghosts they could not ha rm us, so we decided to stay. When we examined the spot where we had seen the figures we were aware of a drop in temperature and we spent the rest of the night in the tent.'
Connection or coincidence?
Chanctonbury Ring and Devil's Dyke are both connected by ley lines (four of them intersect at Chanctonbury). What significance should we attach to this link between the sites where so much unexplained phenomena occurs? What is the purpose of these mysterious unseen pathways? What forces do they contain? Can they affect the human brain and do they provide some kind of homing device that attracts 'alien visitors'? Or is it merely coincidence that sightings and strange events have occurred in these ancient places? Or is there a further possibility - that such sites have, over generations, in some way absorbed the emotional energy that been expended within their bounds, and actually induce peculiar events? In this case, they may trigger phenomena in the mind of the observer, or a suitable subject may trigger energy in the site. If there is any significance in these reports then we may be witnessing one of those curious interactions between the human psyche, time, and the world at large, in which phenomena that are not precisely material are produced - though they are material enough for independent observers to become aware of them.
This is not an especially far fetched idea, given the indubitable emotional power exerted by many places where great events have been experienced (sometimes quite recently), and given the strange - and so far still mysterious - properties that leys, standing stones and ancient sites do appear to have. Chanctonbury and the associated places nearby could lead us to a more comprehensive view of anomalous phenomena, in which it may become apparent that 'hauntings', UFOs, inexplicable forces and the rest are only different facets of a single aspect of what we fondly call reality. But to establish that a great deal of concerted and concentrated research is required. Meanwhile, the odd events continue.
I have nearly finished 'The Old Ways' by Robert MacFarlane. In it he described sleeping under that stars in Chanctonbury Ring. He described hearing first one scream from the treetops, then two. He said that they were from a distance but then split apart and seemed to move along the treetops towards him, in the pitch black.
He describes himself as being terrified but decided to lie still and quiet rather than give in to his instincts to run.
I find this quite interesting as he appears to have walked in many places across the globe. He also appears to have a vast knowledge of nature in general and says that he could not identify them as coming from any animal.
As an aside, he also describes briefly seeing what him and a walking colleague thought was a panther, from their car.