Edmund Swifte / Tower Of London 'Cylinder' Apparition (1817)

stu neville

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#1
(Copied from the 'Blue Bar' thread)
https://forums.forteana.org/index.php?threads/blue-bar.2873/


I remember a similar account at the Tower of London, spotted by a warder near the Crown Jewels, but it was a red bar, just hovering vertically: heard it a while back, been Googling but no mention: anyone else remember hearing something similar?

Could have been one of the other Royal Palaces...
 
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A

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#2
Stu Neville said:
I remember a similar account at the Tower of London, spotted by a warder near the Crown Jewels, but it was a red bar, just hovering vertically: heard it a while back, been Googling but no mention: anyone else remember hearing something similar?

Could have been one of the other Royal Palaces...
I think I know the story you're referring to. Years ago I read a story (can't remember the source unfortunately) about a family, probably a warden and his family, who lived in the Tower of London. They were sitting having dinner one night when they spotted a bar of light-I rememeber it described as blue-that appeared over the table and slowly moved around the room while rotating. I think this was during the 18th or 19th Century. As the bar thing moved behind the wife she cried out and hunched over as if it had hurt her. I think it either then disapeared or went through a wall. Sorry about the vagueness of this story. :(
 

stu neville

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#3
Yes! It was blue, now you mention it: I remember the wife being hurt by it too.

Where did I read it? I'm sure it was one of those 99p paperbacks with no discernable author and cheap drawings. I used to have hundreds of them, but they all went in a wifely book pogrom some years ago (along with my Unexplained collection, mutter mutter...)
 

carole

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#4
Stu Neville said:
I remember a similar account at the Tower of London, spotted by a warder near the Crown Jewels, but it was a red bar, just hovering vertically: heard it a while back, been Googling but no mention: anyone else remember hearing something similar?

Could have been one of the other Royal Palaces...
Yes, I can remember reading about that, Stu. It was definitely in the Tower, but I thought it was seen in the warder's residence. I'm sure I have it in a book somewhere, but I'm not going to look tonight, I promised myself an early night!!

Carole
 

augustverango

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#5
Regarding the encounter with a similar object in the Tower of London, I remember reading about that in a letter to FT a few year's ago. So I dug that out as well, and here it is -

Tower's Terrifying Tube

I have recently become intrigued by an apparition, reported as occurring in October 1817, which - in spite of being included in two true ghost tale anthologies (John Harries, The Ghost Hunter's Road, 1968 and J A Brooks, Ghosts of London, 1982) appears to be a very early attempted alien abduction. At any rate, it involved a hovering prehensile object of extraordinary appearance. The venue is the Jewel House at the Tower of London, the narrator the distinguished Keeper of the Crown Jewels, Edward Lenthal Swifte. After leaving office, he felt able to report his experience in Notes & Queries (1860) as follows (somewhat abbreviated):

"In 1814 I was appointed Keeper of the Crown Jewels in the Tower, where I resided with my family till my retirement in 1852. One Saturday night in October 1817, about the 'witching hour', I was at supper with my wife, her sisters, and our little boy, in the sitting-room of the Jewel House... I had offered a glass of wine and water to my wife, when, on putting it to her lips, she paused, and exclaimed 'Good God, what is that?' I looked up and saw a cylindrical figure, like a glass-tube, seemingly about the thickness of my arm, and hovering between the ceiling and the table; its contents appeared to be a dense fluid, white and pale azure, like to the gathering of a summer cloud, and incessantly mingling within the cylinder. This lasted about two minutes, when it began to move... Passing behind my wife, it paused for a moment over her right shoulder. Instantly she crouched down, and with both hands covering her shoulder, she shrieked out, 'Oh Christ! It has seized me!' Even now, while writing, I feel the fresh horror of that moment. I caught up my chair, struck at the wainscot behind her, rushed upstairs to the other children's room, and told the terrified nurse what I had seen."

Nick Warren Greenford, Middlesex
 

suzyblue

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#6
Hi this is the first time that I've posted on this MB. The Jewel house story has always stuck in my mind, although I've only seen it in that FT letter mentioned. If I was a UFO/time travel believer I would be trotting this out as evidence all the time, so its strange that its not more widely discussed. Unless its a known hoax?
I just love that description
a cylindrical figure, like a glass-tube, seemingly about the thickness of my arm, and hovering between the ceiling and the table; its contents appeared to be a dense fluid, white and pale azure, like to the gathering of a summer cloud, and incessantly mingling within the cylinder.
Does anyone know more about it , It just seems out of any frameof reference of the 1800's.
 

darrenxyz

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#7
I'm reminded of a rather odd story I came across years ago in a book called "The World's Greatest Mysteries." I've fished it out so I can quote it here. It apparently relates to the Tower of London.

In 1817, Edward Swifte, Keeper of the Crown Jewels, whose family lived with him in Martin Tower, saw an apparition like a glass tube as thick as a man's arm, filled with white and blue liquid, hovering above his supper table.
That's it. But that bizarre image stayed with me ever since. Has anyone come across it elsewhere?

(Edit: regarding the dancing cows, I did a search for images relating to dancing cows, and found this book cover, which, at first, I thought was the scene described in the story. Of course, looking closer, it's two girls, not two bulls, and one of them is the wrong colour, but still... I wanted to share it with you. http://www.mnhs.org/market/mhspress/0039.html )
 

austen27

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#8
Tower of London Blue Bar

I have found more on the Tower of London Blue Bar:

mysteriousbritain.co.uk/hauntings/tower_london.html
Link is dead. MIA page can be accessed via the Wayback Machine:


https://web.archive.org/web/2004022...iousbritain.co.uk/hauntings/tower_london.html

geocities.com/theunx/toweroflondon.html
Link is dead. MIA page can be accessed via the Wayback Machine:

https://web.archive.org/web/20090829120749/http://geocities.com/theunx/toweroflondon.html

100megsfree4.com/farshores/paatap.htm
Link is dead. MIA page can be accessed via the Wayback Machine:

https://web.archive.org/web/20041226183926/http://www.100megsfree4.com/farshores/paatap.htm

(See transcription of this 3rd link's relevant text in a later post below.)

It seems E L Swifte also used to see ghost bears in the tower!
 
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#9
I always liked the story of the Beefeater who saw a floating cylinder of light in the Tower of London.

I seem to recall it just floated there, glowing.

My theory is...dimensional strip lighting engineer, his replacement tube momentarily flickering in this reality.
 

escargot

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#10
The floating cylinder moved around the room where the family were eating dinner and hovered over the the lady of the house. She complained that it was gripping her shoulder. :shock:
 
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OldTimeRadio

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#11
Moooksta said:
I always liked the story of the Beefeater who saw a floating cylinder of light in the Tower of London.
Mooks, that was no ordinary Beefeater, but Edmund Lenthal Swifte, Keeper of the Crown Jewels!

The Swifte family's sighting transpired in October, 1817.

I consider the Swifte family sighting as one of the genuine "white crows" of Paranormal research. The only caveat I can think of - and I don't consider it a fatal objection - is that Swifte didn't publish his report until 43 years after the event.
 
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JamesWhitehead

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#12
"One October night in 1817, the keeper of the Crown Jewels, Lenthal Swifte, had just sat down to dinner here, when his wife suddenly exclaimed, ‘Good God! What is that?’ A glass cylinder filled with a bluish-white fluid had appeared and was floating around the table. Swifte watched dumbstruck as it drifted behind his wife. ‘Christ, it has seized me!’ she screamed. Her terror moved the keeper to action and, leaping to his feet, he flung his chair at the apparition. It moved towards the window and vanished."

Stories from the Tower of London

In some anthologies, it is connected with a story from the same era when a Yeoman of the Guard was menaced by a spectral bear.

Sketchy Details Here.

I like these a lot more than Anne Boleyn, however. :)
 
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#14
Just checked the appendix of From Hell and the spectral cylinder in 1817, a "vague fog" in 1954 and and undisclosed shape that slides under a jewel room door (date unknown) are all described in J A Brooks' Ghosts of London: The East End, City and North (Jarrold Colour Publications 1982).
 

JamesWhitehead

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#15
Oh, we're all Northern really!

Here's a page that puts the stories together.

E. L. Swifte, who was a keeper of the Crown Jewels in the 19th century, recorded one of the most interesting and fullest descriptions of a haunting within the tower. He and his family were sitting at a candlelit dinner in his room in the Martin Tower in 1817, when his wife spotted something on the other side of the room. She cried out in alarm and Swifte turned round to see a cylindrical object resembling a glass tube, filled with bubbling blue fluid. The strange apparition started to move and came round behind his wife, who was still sitting at the table. She cried out that it had tried to grab her, and Swifte let fly at it with a chair, which passed straight through the object. The cylinder then receded backwards and disappeared.

Swifte was also a confidant in another ghostly oft quoted sighting; apparently a sentry on guard in what is now the Martin Tower, witnessed the apparition of a bear coming from out of the Jewel Room. He stabbed at it with his bayonet, which passed through the apparition and embedded in a door, whereupon the bear promptly disappeared. The sentry died a few days later, possibly of shock, but he had already confided in Swifte and another sentry who verified his story. The sighting has been dated to January in the year 1815 or 1816.

End quote from Mysterious Britain site.

I wonder where Swifte's testimony was first published . . .

This may take a moment. :)

edit 10:44 pm: Source may be All the Year Round Magazine in an article called London in Books

source: http://trove.nla.gov.au/ndp/del/article/75666518

A more readable version of the same story can be found in a Mexican paper:

Mexico Independent December 28th, 1865

My suspicion must be that the now retired and elderly Swifte was yarning in the age before pensions. But it was a startlingly original kind of ghost to invent! :)
 

JamesWhitehead

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#16
It may need a thread of its own soon but the Tower of London thing seemed worth transcribing. I started today with a post about John Keel and remarked how wrong he was to assume that strange news did not travel fast in Victorian times. I am ending the day with a transcription from one of Dickens' magazines made possible because it was picked up (probably word-for-word) by a Mexican paper!

Here it is, then. Swifte's narrative from 1865:

Recently, Mr. Edward Lenthal Swifte, former keeper of the crown jewels in the Tower, has put forth an extraordinary narrative of an appearance which he saw in the Jewel House in the year 1817.

One night in October, about twelve o'clock, as he, his wife, their little boy, and his wife's sister were sitting at supper, his wife, when about to drink a glass of wine and water, suddenly exclaimed, "Good God! What is that?" Mr. Swifte looked up and saw a cylindrical figure like a glass tube, seemingly about the thickness of his arm, hovering between the ceiling and the table. It appeared to be filled with a dense fluid, white and pale azure, incessantly rolling and mingling within the cylinder.

In about two minutes it moved towards Mrs. Swifte's sister, then passed before the boy and Mrt. Swifte, and ultimately floated behind Mrs. Swifte, who instantly crouched down, covered her shoulders with both hands, exclaimed in the utmost terror, "Oh, Christ! it has seized me!" Mr. Swifte caught up his chair, and struck at the wainscott behind her, then rushed up stairs into the children's room and told the nurse what he had seen. The phantom had previously crossed the upper end of the table and disappeared.

The strangest part of the business is, that neither the sister in-law not the boy saw anything of this appearance. Mr. Swifte says that he is bound to state that, shortly before the event, some young lady residents in the Tower had been suspected of making phantasmagorical experiments at their windows; but he alleges that those windows did not command any in his dwelling, and on the night in question the doors were all closed, and heavy dark cloth curtains were let down over the casements, The only light in the room was that of two candles on the table.

Very shortly after this strange affair, one of the night sentries at the Jewel Office was alarmed by the figure of a huge bear issuing from underneath the door; he thrust at it with his bayonet, which stuck in the door, and he then dropped into a fit, and in two or three days died. The sergeant declared that such appearances were not uncommon. The sentry, it is alleged, was not asleep or drunk at the time, but he may have been on the eve of a fit from natural causes. and the vision may have been the result of the state of his health. Mr Swifte's vision is more difficult to account for, from the fact of its having been seen by two of the persons present, and not by the other two; yet one cannot very well give a supernatural interpretation to so absurd and purposeless an appearance.

Article quote ends.

This more complete account raises a number of new questions which I may go into when leisure permits. :)
 

JamesWhitehead

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#17
Blow it! No time like the present . . .

1: I had imagined the cylinder as smaller than the thickness of an arm.
2: Is there any dense fluid substance that is white and pale blue incessantly mingling? I find myself thinking of those tilting displays in which oil and water mimic sea-waves.
3: The appearance of the thing to the husband of wife, while it was unseen by the sister-in-law and child is omitted from many abridged versions.
4: The object goes behind Mrs Swifte to seize her. A hard thing for a limbless cylinder to do but we could assume she meant some unpleasant sensation like a seizure?
5: The piece makes free with oaths, "Good God!" and "Oh, Christ!" which were often suppressed in polite literature.
6: Why did Swifte rush to the nurse and leave his wife at the mercy of the object? It suggests that the vision was mainly that of his wife in the grip of a spasm such as a nurse might understand?
7: Twelve o'clock, presumably midnight? seems a late hour for supper but perhaps there were duties for the keeper of the "Jewel House" which required this routine?
8: Phantasmagoria were early precoursers of the cinema. Strange images were projected on a cyclorama by magic lanterns. Hinges on the slides could mimic movements. Clearly Swifte was already aware of scientific explanations for illusions. He introduces the subject himself, as if to forestall objections that had previously? been made to his account.
9: Two candles were the only illumination. This detail is introduced as an objection to any idea of light from elsewhere causing mischievous projections into the room. Yet there is earlier no mention of light being emitted by the mysterious tube. We might ourselves expect it because we associate tubes with fluorescent light. The colours white and pale blue reinforce such an idea. But this was a much thicker tube and Swifte says nothing of it shining, which had it, he would have surely?
10: Most accounts of the bear story tend to omit the most startling detail - that it issued from underneath the door!
11: When the sergeant declared such appearances were not uncommon, he does not go so far as to say they were ever seen by anyone but the sentry.
12: Some sources remind us that the Tower was once home to a menagerie, which included bears. The article in All The Year Round begins with an even more horrid detail, "the mortar used in the original contruction was tempered with the blood of wild beasts."
13: While rare in supposedly true stories, the spectres of inanimate objects were not unknown in gothic literature. Walpole's Castle of Otranto features a giant sword and "casque" or helmet which fall from the sky, as if to put feeble mortals in their place. Such excess of scale seemed to excuse an excess of feeling and expression. The association of such emotions with ancient towers and fortifications seems to make the Tower of London an appropriate place for such a challenging ghost!
 

JamesWhitehead

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#19
Swifte was eighty-three in 1876, when his story was the subject of an enquiry in Notes & Queries. He responded in person with a first person account which adds a few details to the version above from some ten years before.

It is clearly transcribed on this blog. so I won't paste it here.

He explicitly addresses the matter of being in his "anecdotage" in his introduction. :)

edit: additional thought, in case I haven't already done this one to death.

The story is unusual to say the least but a part of its appeal was the early nineteenth century date - the year of Northanger Abbey. Yet it seems to have remained a personal or family memory until the 1860s when the fashion for ghost stories was well-established in the magazines. The 1840s was the key decade, spanned by A Christmas Carol in 1843 and the Fox Sisters' spiritualist experiments in 1848. Mr Swifte seems to have been unusually patient in holding out so long.

So far as I can tell, he did not have a stock of ghostly stories and the details of this one do not shift far between tellings. The later version is framed as a tale of the witching hour and the author's assurances about his veracity may be an expected part of the performance. Undoubtedly, he had his earlier account to hand. Leaving aside the question of how true or real the vision could have been in 1817, we are left with a narrative from the 1860s and 1870s.
 

Ermintruder

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#20
(Tangential discussion transplanted from - of all things - the Cumberland Spaceman thread)

(ps did I post previously about a curious incident supposedly occuring in the 1500s/1600s, in the Tower of London? A long-duration bright light appearing above or near the Crown Jewels....was this confirmed as being part of a sci-fi short story, or was it a reported actual experience?)
 
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#21
(ps did I post previously about a curious incident supposedly occuring in the 1500s/1600s, in the Tower of London? A long-duration bright light appearing above or near the Crown Jewels....was this confirmed as being part of a sci-fi short story, or was it a reported actual experience?)
Actual reported experience. A pale cylinder of light appeared before the Tower's keeper and his wife in 1817. In 1954 a 'vague, glowing fog' was reported in the Tower's courtyard.

Ghosts of London: The East End City and North, JA Brooks. (Jarrold Colour Publications 1982)
 

Ermintruder

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#22
A pale cylinder of light appeared before the Tower's keeper and his wife in 1817
I thought there was also a Tudor-era incident (unless that was a fictional addendum?). (Blessed be, immutable history, and easily-discernable fable...as if)
 

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#24
Actual reported experience. A pale cylinder of light appeared before the Tower's keeper and his wife in 1817. In 1954 a 'vague, glowing fog' was reported in the Tower's courtyard.

Ghosts of London: The East End City and North, JA Brooks. (Jarrold Colour Publications 1982)
oh i remenber this one!
dint the light have an drinking glass shape? and had strange glowing "fluids" inside it?
 
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#25
oh i remenber this one!
dint the light have an drinking glass shape? and had strange glowing "fluids" inside it?
Again, I don't know as I'm just quoting a second hand source. Any members have a copy of this book?

Ghosts of London: The East End City and North, JA Brooks. (Jarrold Colour Publications 1982)
It's on Amazon. 68p!

Amazon Link To Book.
 

GNC

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#27
The Tower's light cylinder makes me think it was a form of ball lightning. I know that's explaining one mystery with another, but aside from the shape it fits the pattern.
 

humanoidlord

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#28
The Tower's light cylinder makes me think it was a form of ball lightning. I know that's explaining one mystery with another, but aside from the shape it fits the pattern.
i have never seen other reports of cilindrical ball lightining
 
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#29
(ps did I post previously about a curious incident supposedly occuring in the 1500s/1600s, in the Tower of London? A long-duration bright light appearing above or near the Crown Jewels....was this confirmed as being part of a sci-fi short story, or was it a reported actual experience?)
As David Plankton remembers I think it was in the 19th Century and occurred in their rooms / apartment / flat / whatever it would have been called at the time - where they lived on-site, as it were. I loved this story when I came across it aged about ten in some anthology of Fortean happenings: it was easily fifty times wierder than any number of grey ladies or spacemen warning farmers about the downside of global thermonuclear destruction.

Funnily enough I was trying to locate the book tonight as the incident had come to mind for some reason while I was having a cuppa - to no avail *sad face*

Edit: if memory serves it was a levitating cylinder of shifting luminous colours like a kind of ectoplasmic lava lamp :)
 
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Ermintruder

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#30
.
Funnily enough I was trying to locate the book tonight as the incident had come to mind for some reason
Aetheric alignment. Morphic resonance, across the miles. And tuned-in to the zeitgeist, you somehow heard the call, that was enough.
 
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