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Phantasmagoric Throng In The Fog


Parish Watch
Staff member
Oct 29, 2002
East of Suez
Its been a while since i transcribed something from my shelf for the site but the ressurection of the 'animal ghosts' thread had me looking to my copy of Frank Podmore's Studies in Psychical Research, (London: Kegan Paul, 1897).

This vivid tale jumped out (pp. 273 - 274):

Mrs. E. F. writes (Feb. 7, 1882,) that she and her sister with a maidservant were returning from church one Sunday evening, ten ot twelve years previously. There was a thick fog, and the moon was full. Mrs. E. F. saw a man close to them and pulled her sister's sleeve, whispering to let him pass. "As I spoke, the man disappeared - its seemed into C.'s dress; neither C. nor the maid had seen him, and he had made no sound. In another moment we were bewildered at the sight around us; it was as if we were in a crowded street; innumerable figures were around us, men, women, children, and dogs; all were moving briskly about, some singly, others in groups, all without a sound; they appeared mist like. There was a broad strip of grass on our right, and a narrow strip on our left; the figures were hidden directly they got on either of these dark strips, or when they passed into ourselves; but as we walked on they came from every quarter. Some seemed to rise out of the grass on either side of us; others seemed to pass through us and come out on the other side. The figures all seemed short, dwarf-like, except one, of whom i write after. The women were dressed in by-gone fashion, high bonnets, big cloaks or shawls, and large flounces on their dresses, such as i remember my mother wearing when i was a child. We three were never mistaken as to the identity of the different shapes; if one saw a man, all saw a man; if one saw a woman, all saw the woman; and so on. Overhead it was perfectly free of them; they were walking on the ground as we ourselves were. We saw two men (at different intervals) that had sparks all round their faces; they appeared to grin. As we saw the second of these, looking hideous, close to us, one of my companions said, 'I can't pass that,' and I answered: 'Look at the sky, you don't see them then.'" Mrs E. F. goes on to describe a tall man - twice as tall as any of the other figures - who walked close beside them, with long, noiseless strides, on the road, never swerving, but walking as with purpose. This figure kept with them when all the rest had vanished, and finally walked on when they turned in at their own gate.

[Miss C. M. B. corroborates her sister's account, see also Proceedings of the S.P.R., III, p. 77.]

Whew! I don't remeber the last time i typed so many commas and semicolons but the text is verbatim.

Unfortunately the location of this encounter is not noted.


edit: minor spelling mistakes corrected.
Maybe it was some sort of bizarre-r than usual time slip . . .

carole said:
Maybe it was some sort of bizarre-r than usual time slip . . .

Possible, but with dwarves, a leader, and sparks around some faces? I love the story nonetheless.
I love that story!! I love it because it's not spooky lady in long white dress/tormented monk common-or-garden type tale. It's genuinely odd and scares me just a little bit (ok, quite a bit)...got any more like that?
Blueswidow said:
got any more like that?

A few odd ones actually in a couple of books - i'll see if i can manage another tomorrow.
Sounds like a "bumping into fairie procession" type event seen through victorian eye's The details wouldnt suggest there where actually seeing once real people?
Something about the Second spark faced fellow grinning at them, rings a bell but I cant think what.
What a fantastic story. But it does sound like something constructed out of a Phillip pullman novel (i know the books older). Could that story have been used as a basis for Scrooges christmas tale? All in all a nice original tale worthy of C.S. LEWIS.
PintQuaff said:
Could that story have been used as a basis for Scrooges christmas tale?
It reminded me of Scrooge too. Especially, the scene with Marley and all of the damned souls.
I think it sounds like a variation on the fairy procession tales too- it's good none the less! I love the unusual tales, Yithian I hope you do find more to put on:)
On the foggy theme I do remember this weird story- I think I read it in a Guy de Maupassant anthology, this wasn't one of his fictional tales but it's a myth relating to Mont St Michel in France-
Three ghosts haunt the sands and mudflats around the outcrop of Mont St Michel appearing only on Christmas Day- usually when misty, a hermit-type character in robes leads two goats that have human faces, male and female. The goats apparently cry, moan and generally don't sound too happy. He didn't give the local's reasons for the ghosts, I've been there myself in Winter and I must say it's eerie at anytime, but when the weather's not particularly clement it's a bit grim!
The 'Grinning Man' is a world-wide recurrent motif, at least, if you believe John Keel. Sparks around dwarf-like figures? That's a but like...er, that one where that man saw the dwarfs with weird faces and all sparks and that. Um. You know the story I mean. Usually quoted in UFO circles, mentioned in Loren Coleman's books...ah, I'll dig it out.
Long post but please be patient!

There's a church which faces the sea near Caernarfon Castle in north Wales which has several interestingly Fortean features.

(Lord Snowdon's father is buried there. Plus the Welshman who invented the Welsh Rope Trick- 'Sir, would you please hold this end of the rope and I'll pop round the corner with the other end so we can do some measuring....... Ah, sir, would you be so kind as to hold the end of this rope for me? Thank you!' ;) (runs off, leaving 2 strangers holding the ends of a rope in different streets, looking like idiots.) Didn't catch his name. But his mate who was visiting his grave told me that!)

The church has a gravestone on which is carved a very fine skull and crossbones, which we saw.

It is also the site of a spectacular alleged haunting. In years gone by, many ships were wrecked nearby and unidentified bodies would be buried in the churchyard.
Once a year, possibly Midsummer evening, the ghosts of these unclaimed shipwreck victims are reputed to walk from the churchyard and along the road to the shore, where they wade into the sea.
Plenty of people have claimed to witness this procession in broad daylight and sober. I'd love to see it myself.