Halloween in Britain: Paranormal Britain

A teabag floating in the aisles of a Whitstable supermarket. Image Source: vivat6205 (Youtube)

A teabag floating in the aisles of a Whitstable supermarket.
Image Source: vivat6205 (Youtube)

A recent study by the Association for the Scientific Study of Anomalous Phenomena has shown that 52% of people in Britain believe in the supernatural, and one in five claimed to have directly experienced the paranormal. So, you’d think I’d actually have accumulated more paranormal-related stories in the months I’ve been doing this Weird Britain column.

So, anyway, just in time for Halloween, here are a few stories related to ghosts, zombies, and just plain dead people.

Corpse attends college board meetings.

Jeremy Bentham has been to every University College London board meeting for many years, and not even death has stopped him. When the Utilitarian Philosopher died in 1832, he requested that his skeleton and head be preserved and dressed in his own clothes. The mummification process, however, left only the skeleton and some of his hair usable. So, therefore, they replaced the head with a wax model and stuffed the rest of his body with hay. He usually sits in a cabinet in a university corridor, but, whenever a council meeting rolls around, he’s moved out to participate, where he is marked as being “present, but not voting.”

Jeremy Bentham, July 2013. Image Source: University College London.

Jeremy Bentham, July 2013.
Image Source: University College London.

Quoth UCL Curator Nick Booth: “It’s a brilliant story. It has everything: a dead body, academic eccentricity, reanimation of a corpse, ancient tradition. What’s not to love? Except, unfortunately, it’s a myth, one of the many legends that have built up around the “old radical” that he would have enjoyed.”

The Ghost in the supermarket.

CCTV footage of a box of tea levitating in a Whitstable, Kent supermarket has hit Youtube. In the video, a box of tea can be seen levitating behind a customer, while another box flies off the shelf and an old man stands by, oblivious to the whole thing.

Quoth Michelle Newbold, owner of the shop: “I was perplexed I suppose. I just couldn’t believe it. I have no idea about how it has happened. I have never seen anything like it since I’ve been running the shop. The customer never said anything and I don’t even know who it was. I review the CCTV about once a week and that’s when I came across it,’ she explained. We check sometimes if we think something is suspicious or if a dodgy character is in the shop. I’d be interested to find out more if anyone knows anything because I have no clue. I have never seen anything like this since I have been in the shop. I don’t believe in ghosts and this hasn’t changed anything.’

You can examine the footage yourself:

Well, at least it looks more convincing than the poltergeist footage in “Night of the Ghouls,” at least

Brighton cancels Zombie Apocalypse.

When there is no more room in Hell, do you really think there’s going to be much more room in Brighton? An annual
Beach of the Dead was cancelled due to budgetary concerns, and more concerns over health and safety. Quoth organiser Kate Amer: “It just costs too much and takes up too much time. Last year it all went way over the £2,000 budget. We just didn’t expect the sheer amount of people that turned up. It was ridiculous. We have had to go back to the drawing board because otherwise it would be too unsafe.” Last year, over 6000 took part. However, a new event was set up for October 26, and I have yet to find any information on it.

They talk to spirits, they call them out by name…

There’s no need to be scared of ghosts, it’s a very childish attitude as the majority of them are quite harmless, so saith “Look Around You.” For instance, Jadon and Ludy Billington of Sandbach, Cheshire (10 and 8) see ghosts every day. Over the last year, they’ve made friends with no less than 10 spirits, including their own grandmother. Their mother hears them talking about a ghostly American couple named Sam and Simon Crease and a young ghost girl named Rose like they’re part of the family.

Quoth Pam Billington: “It all started a couple of years ago when Jadon told me he had been visited by an angel in the night. At first I dismissed it as being the product of an overactive imagination. But when Lucy started talking about it too I started to listen. It’s a gift and you either have it or you don’t. It isn’t a hoax, I really believe my kids can talk to spirits… It sounds crazy but since then I’ve been able to experience some of what they tell me too. One night I was watching TV and I said to Jadon if they are really here now ask one of them to tug at my trouser leg. Jadon asked, then a few seconds later I felt something prod my leg and I saw with my own eyes my trousers move. It’s incredible. Now, they touch me all the time. They’ll poke me in the arm and touch me on the leg. I’ve even been poked in the eye by a ghost. They also made the television go fuzzy when Jadon asked one to prove that he was there. You have to experience it to understand. I’ve always read things but I didn’t have a true appreciation of it until I went through it with my children.”
The hauntings began two years ago back when the kids were convinced that their Manchester home was haunted. They moved to Cheshire, and, apparently, so did the spirits.

When asked her opinion of the hauntings, Pam said: “I love having spirits in the house, I think it’s great. I think it shows that anything’s possible and it gives me hope for when I pass away. I know that this is not the end and we carry on.”

Pam, it should be noted, didn’t raise her children to believe in the supernatural, or nurtured any psychic abilities, and yet, the children are convinced. And she even saw the ghost of an old woman who had passed away in the house.

Quoth Jadon: “I used to have trouble sleeping because I always felt like someone was watching me. I would wake up in the night and run into mum and dad’s room. Now when I see spirits I talk to them – and they talk back. I see them during the day and night. Mum and dad asked me if I was making this up and I’m not – there really are ghosts in the house.”

And here’s Lucy’s take on the situation: “I used to get scared. When I first saw them I didn’t know whether it was a spirit or my imagination. Now I see lots of them not and I’m used to it.”

However, their dad Daron is still not convinced, and he has never had any experiences with the ghosts. He says, “I was raised in a religion that is definitely against things like spirits. I am still a little bit cautious with my children when we talk about ghosts but they seem okay and it keeps them happy so I leave them to it. I reacted with disbelief at first and a few times I thought they were based on imaginary friends. But the children went in to so much detail when they were talking about them that as time went by I started accepting it. I’m still not really 100 per cent convinced but I think there’s a little bit of truth in it. My kids aren’t liars and if you listen to how they speak they tend to be quite believable.”Pam and Daron have one child who has not picked up any ghosts, 14-year-old Emily, who said, simply: “I don’t mind them but I haven’t seen them. If I did I think I would freak out.”

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  1. avatarGardenOfEnglandGirl says

    Just to confirm though….. Jeremy Bentham’s preserved skeleton with wax head and dressed in his own clothes is very much real. He is in UCL in a wooden cabinet and can be viewed by the public. His actually head is also still kicking about the Uni in a very safe place. Just in case anyone thinks you mean the whole thing is a myth!
    And whilst his regular attendance of Council meetings is a myth, he has actually attended a couple of them on special anniversaries of the Uni… including this year… here is the newspaper link if you are interested: http://metro.co.uk/2013/07/12/181-year-old-corpse-of-jeremy-bentham-attends-ucl-board-meeting-3879586/

    I studied Christian Theology as one of my A Levels. For one of our ”field trips” we went to UCL to see Jeremy Bentham’s auto icon. They actually wheeled him out and sat him the meetings board room for us!!! Of course back then he wasn’t as secured in or gently treated as he is today.

    ….So he has probably attended far more meetings… imaginary or real than the Uni is letting on 😉