Wednesday 8 December 2010

A Seal Shot In The Thames

From THE FIELD magazine of January 3rd 1857 : A few days ago, the attendant on the boats at the Feathers, Wandsworth, shot a large seal in the Thames, near the above place. It is a beautiful specimen of the species, and is the only one of the kind that has been seen by anyone of the Thames fishermen above bridge. It measures four-feet in length, two-feet one-inch  in breadth, and is two-feet three-inches in girth. The fish may be seen at Mr H. Salter's, the Feather's Tavern, Wandsworth

Whales and other strange creatures in the River Thames

In 2011 my book Mystery Animals Of The British Isles: London will hopefully be published by CFZ Press. As a teaser for what I can only describe as the best book I’ve ever written, here are a few weird accounts of unusual animals in the River Thames.

From The Kentish Notebook by G. Howell of 1891 in reference to an appeal for whale sightings in the stretch of river, a chap named ‘Bookworm’ responds, ‘’Whales In The Thames (Sept. 12th 1891) – I can assure “T.C.U.” that the whale is no uncommon visitor to our River, for numerous records, both ancient and modern, testify to the fact of its appearance at different times. I have made a brief compilation, from various sources, of the discovery of whales and other monsters in the Thames, which may interest “T.C.U.”:

1457 – In this year a considerable commotion took place, caused by several whales in the river. After considerable trouble two of them were caught off Erith, together with a sword-fish, and a fish called a Mors Marina.

1642 – On July of this year a “terrible monster” was caught by “a fisherman near Wollage (Woolwich”, and afterwards exhibited at Westminster. A tract published at the time informs us that the monster “is like a toad, and may be called a Toad-Fish; but that which makes it a monster is, that it hath hands with fingers like a man, being neere five-foot long and three-feet over, the thicknesse of an ordinary man.”

1699 – On the twenty-sixth of March, after an extraordinary storm, there came up the Thames a whale 56-feet long.

1718 – On August 30, great excitement occurred among the waterside inhabitants of Gravesend, in consequence of a whale forty-feet long being captured just below the town.

1746 – On the 25th of July a young whale came up the river and was killed near Execution Dock, after having sunk three boats; it measured 18 feet in length.

1762 – In February a whale was caught in the Hope and after being chased by the boats, some time it was secured and killed by digging holes in it. It was fifty-four feet long and 14-feet broad, and was landed on the shore by Greendland Dock, near Deptford. No doubt the Watermen found plenty of employment, as an immense number of people visited it by land and water. It was computed that on the first day, Sunday, upwards of fifty thousand visitors inspected it.

1809 – “On the 25th March, a whale 75-feet long and 25-feet in circumference, was wounded and driven on shore off the Bligh Sands below Gravesend, by a pilot named Barnes. It weighed upwards of thirty tons. The Lord Mayor ordered it to be removed in a barge above the bridge, when it was exhibited at one shilling per head, until the officers of the admiralty claimed it as a droit, and forcibly took possession. The blubber was valued at one hundred and fifty pounds.”

1842 – In November a whale was caught off Deptford pier, 16 feet long weighting two tons. It was purchased by three individuals, and exhibited there for some time. It was afterwards shewn at the half Moon Inn, Boro’, where 2,000 persons paid for admission in one day. On being dissected, the skeleton was taken to the British Museum.

1849 – A whale 21-feet long, was taken in this year off Grays, in Essex.

Sunday 14 November 2010

Neil Arnold, in conjunction with Time Out magazine - An Autumn Monster Walk

For Halloween 2010 Time Out magazine ran an article on monster folklore around the capital. Neil Arnold was consulted and the magazine put togetehr a brief walk through the city streets to tie in with various locatiosn where monsters and strange creatures had been seen in the past. To find out more, read about it at TIME OUT

Thursday 11 November 2010

Spring-Heeled Jack - a monster for the milliennium ?

Volume Three of It Happened To Me ( a booklet compiled by the editor's of Fortean Times magazine) mentions a peculiar incident reported by a 'Kevin' from 2003 pertaining to a possible modern-day encounter with the fabled Spring-Heeeled Jack. To quote:

'I was making my way to Faringdon train station after having spent an evening out with friends in the Clerkenwell area of London. Not knowing the place very well, I got a bit lost and ended up walking the streets, looking for someone to ask directions. London seemed strangely deserted that night and I freely admit I was starting to worry, about missing my train home more than anything else, but I also had the feeling of unease you only get if you are totally unfamiliar with your surroundings.

Out of the corner of my eye I noticed a darting figure and turned instinctively to look. The alley was lit sporadically by old-fashioned street lamps, and it was behind one of these lamps that I thought I could make out the shape of a figure trying to conceal himself. I pondered for a second on what it could be. I decided I would react to it in the traditional English manner - avert my gaze and pretend nothing was happening. As I was putting this plan into action, I heard a burst of shrill laughter. I turned to face the alleyway once more. Coming toward me in great lolloping movements was a tall, thin figure. It moved silently and was dressed in what looked like tight black leather. I could not make out its face, but i was transfixed by this apparition. It moved as if it were dancing in reverse, coming closer toward me, moving like a giant strong puppet. Just as I gathered my wits enough to run, it issued another ear-piercing laugh, crouched on the ground, then shot off upwards out of my view. I did not try to see where it had leapt to - I ran as fast as I could until I found a main road. I followed the main road to the station and only just got the train home. I have no idea what it was - probably a practical joke of some kind. However, a search on the Internet the next day brought up the name Spring-Heeled Jack, not seen in London since the Victorian era,'

Saturday 30 October 2010

Neil Arnold interviewed for London's Wharf magazine

Read the interview about Neil's monster-hunting and new PARANORMAL LONDON book HERE

Wednesday 15 September 2010

London's spectral bears...

Issue 52 of PARANORMAL MAGAZINE has an article from Neil Arnold on ghostly bears, including those seen in the Tower of London and around Chelsea. Magazine available from all good newsagent's or by visiting:

Tuesday 31 August 2010

Friday 20 August 2010

Strange creature in the Thames ?

Nick Redfern, in 2007 covered a brief story, with photo, of an alleged mystery creature photographed swimming in the Thames. It's most likely to be a piece of driftwod, but interesting all the same. See the photo HERE

Wednesday 18 August 2010

Paranormal About delve into the mystery of Mr Davys 'monster'!

PARANORMAL ABOUT is a website which often looks at varying strange phenomena, from monsters, to UFOs, and ghosts. HERE they look at a creature Neil Arnold has written about in articles and in PARANORMAL LONDON, his new book from The History Press, available on Amazon.

Wednesday 30 June 2010


Roll up, roll up for the magical mystery monster tour...step right this way for a surreal and supernatural safari through the concrete jungle.

Neil Arnold's new book, 'Paranormal London' is OUT NOW. Published by The History Press, this collection of obscure, chilling and monstrous tales features a menagerie of phantom animals, from hellhounds, to ghostly cats and birds, spectral ape's, and ethereal bears. Relive the horror of Hackney Marshes, or come and visit Mr Davy's monster. Peer in at the London mermaid, or howl in terror at the wolf of Clapham Common.

And then we have the tales pertaining to 'big cats' on the loose...the Surrey puma, the Sydenham leopard, the Cricklewood lynx, the Edgware tiger and the lioness of Winchmore Hill.

And it gets weirder...flying jellyfish on Wimbledon Common ? Forget The Wombles!

An angel on the Thames, UFOs, ghostly goings on, dancing coals, fish falling from the sky, pennies from Heaven, and those ghastly, sinister phantom assailants such as Spring Heeled Jack, the London Monster, the Hammermsith spook and the phantom wall smasher. And what about vampires ? Oh yes, they are here too. The Highgate vampire, a tall, red-eyed spectre responsible for mass hysteria in the 1960s at Highgate's Gothic cemetery.

'PARANORMAL LONDON' is a highly original look at London's weirder side...a side where the wild things are.

Available from all good book shops, Amazon, or direct from The History Press

Buy your copy now and see London in a different light....

Saturday 12 June 2010

Crows attack woman in Catford

From the Newsshopper:

An elderly dancer is the latest person who has fallen victim to an horrific crow attack. Last month, News Shopper revealed how blonde joggers in an Eltham Park were being terrorised by a crow. Now 75-year-old great-grandmother Edna Lunt, of Nelgarde Road, Catford, has revealed how she was recently attacked by a bloodthirsty bird in her own garden.She said: “I pulled my sunchair towards the light. As I sat down on it, it tipped up backwards. “While my legs were up in the air this crow came down and started dive-bombing me and making screeching noises. “It was like a horror movie.“I got up and started running. I shouted ‘It’s after me,’ and then I fell in the flower bed.” Edna Lunt said: "I was relieved I hadn't lost my beans" Mrs Lunt, a keen dancer and former actress, sprained her ankle but managed tolimp back inside her house to escape. She said: “Scared would be an understatement. I had to pour myself a brandy. “It was determined to have a peck at me and it wouldn’t go away. After I went inside, it flew on the roof and just stayed there, waiting.”Mrs Lunt admits the attack made her doubt her own sanity.She said: “I was relieved when I saw the News Shopper story and realised I hadn’t lost my beans.” Edna Lunt's injuries News Shopper has also received reports of a crow targeting staff at a car park beside Queen Elizabeth Hospital, Woolwich. One victim, blonde hospital ward clerk Irene Wade, was divebombed and even pursued into the hospital building.She said: “It was emitting an awful croaking noise and seemed to be doing it more as it followed me. I was scared stiff.”

Friday 14 May 2010

A snake story...

Researcher Richard Muirhead, whilst scanning the archives sent the following:

Manchester Iris volume 2 June 14th 1823 p.195



On the 28th ult. Was discovered in a water-butt, in the house of Mr James Robertson, Old North-street,Red Lion-square, a large snake, three feet in length,of the common kind, which was seen swimming in the water with its head partly out: on its being touched, it made a disagreeable hissing noise until it was killed. What makes this occurrence very extraordinary is,the manner in which the snake found its way into the water-butt, which cannot be accounted for, unless came through the pipe that conveys the water from the New-river, in which case it must have come a distance of nearly two miles out of its own natural element. In other respects the water-butt is so situated (being surrounded by a wall nearly ten feet high) that all idea of the snake gaining access from any other quarter is precluded.

Sunday 11 April 2010

If 'big cats' are myths....

After the statement from organisation NATURAL ENGLAND that all big cats are "a myth", it's interesting to note that in March 2010, Kent Big Cat Research received twenty-seven reports of large, exotic cats throughout the county. This suggests of course that either every witness is hallucinating, or NATURAL ENGLAND are completely wrong.

In March 2010 there were sightings from Blue Bell Hill, Lordswood, Densole, Lenham, Canterbury, and Ashford. These mainly concerned reports of black leopard, the most recent coming from a Jules C, who on March 25th at 8:00 am, whilst on a train from Ebbsfleet to Canterbury, stated that, "..on the other side of the tunnel between Boxley and Blue Bell Hill, near train track I saw a big, black cat from a short distance. It resembled a black leopard."

In early March a black leopard was observed by a male motorist, a Mr Wright and his girlfriend. At 6:00 am they travelled down North Dane Way in Lordswood in the Medway Towns and saw a big black cat bound towards the undergrowth. Mr Wright was convinced it was a black leopard as he'd seen a similar one in 2000 in Hempstead.

On march 12th a woman named Anne observed a black leopard in a field at Lenham, near Maidstone. It was 2:15 pm as she travelled on the M20 London bound and saw the cat which she described as being, "very long in the body".
On March 10th a lady named Eve saw a black leopard whilst travelling on a train between Canterbury and Selling.

Cats such as the leopard use railway lines not only for navigation but of a night they provide perfect food and there is a lot of shelter in these areas.
During the same month there were two sightings of a black leopard made by a Jason Roberts from Reinden Woods in Densole.

In 2010 Kent Big Cat Research has already received seventy-three reports of large cats. On 2nd January a member of an angling society from Marden was walking along a field at 4:15 pm when a big, black cat bounded across the field fifty yards away. The cat was around five-feet in length.The witness was quite shocked by the appearnce of the animal as he never previously believed such animals existed.

Five days later a Mr Head reported to police a big black cat which he observed whilst sitting on a train at Swanley station at 9:00 am. The witness noticed a creature on the embankment opposite the Kent bound platform. As people began to move along the platform the cat crouched low. It had piercing green eyes.

The following day on the 8th a black leopard was seen at Pheonix Place in Dartford and on the 15th January a Mr Jackson observed a massive black cat at Shottenden. The sighting took place at 2:15 pm as the animal walked into a field around fifteen yards away. On 31st January a black leopard was observed by a couple in Meopham who were sceptical to such sightings. It was 2:00 pm when they spotted a big black cat on a woodland path which sauntered off into the woods.

In February 2010 there were numerous sightings around Canterbury and Ashford. A black leopard ran out in front of a vehicle near Wye on the 20th at 6:00pm, there were also several sightings from Sevenoaks of a black leopard. In April there were sightings of lynx from Sussex and Romney Marsh, puma from Canterbury and Dover, and black leopard at Hawkinge, Gravesend, and near Bromley and Bexley.

Maybe NATURAL ENGLAND, if they admit to such animals roaming the wilds, would have to re-name themselves UNNATURAL ENGLAND! Sightings date back across Surrey, Kent, and Sussex to the 1500s. A majority of animals sighted in the countryside are not connected to zoo escapee's as the organisation stated. Hundreds of puma and leopards, mainly cubs, were released in the 1960s and '70s and what we are now seeing are their offspring. Also, previous centuries prove that animals escaped and were released from menageries. In 2007 Neil Arnold wrote a 400 page book, MYSTERY ANIMALS OF THE BRITISH ISLES: KENT, a result of his twenty years of research into such animals. Proof that such animals are reported quite regularly across the south-east.

How many strange, and rash statement's will these organisations issue over the next few years ? If some organisations refuse to believe in such animals, it may be wiser to not issue any statements whatsoever. With their type od scepticism is it any wonder that NATURAL ENGLAND and similar groups only receive a handful of reports each year. The vicious circle of repetition continues...

Tuesday 6 April 2010

Coming a bookshop near you!

They say that in London you're never more than five-feet away from a rat...but after reading PARANORMAL LONDON rats will be the last thing on your mind!

Mysterious 'big cats', phantom assailants, UFOs, high strangeness, Hampstead's spectral ape, ghastly hellhounds, monsters on the London Underground, bizarre beasts, flying jellyfish, ghostly horses, the Highgate 'vampire', hair ripper's and skirt snipper's, buttock slashers and whip crackers, Spring-Heeled Jack, phantom airships, the Devil in Mayfair, raining fish, phantom stone throwers, ghostly bears...many previously unpublished stories, obscure, baffling and weird.

PARANORMAL LONDON....where the weird and wild things are!Coming soon, available from Amazon, and all good book stores....

Wednesday 17 February 2010


Neil Arnold's long running series THE SATURDAY STRANGENESS, which Londonist have featured for more almost 140 episodes, is coming to a close. However, fear not...all will be resumed on this very website....stay tuned.

The Surrey puma...

For several decades, the legend of the Surrey puma has existed. The mystery animal, alongside the 'beast' of Exmoor', has become the most famous 'big cat' said to roam the English countryside. Thousands of sightings have been recorded since the 1950s, although there are a few which date back even further...centuries further. The reports still persist, despite the fact the tale has become something more akin to an urban legend. However, despite the theories and investigations, there is now a website devoted to the sightings and the legend. SURREY BIG CAT RESEARCH is the work of full-time researcher and author Neil Arnold, who for twenty years has investigated and collated reports of 'big cats' in the countryside. The website will chronicle hundreds of sightings, featuring old press reports to modern eye-witness accounts.

Stay tuned...

Friday 5 February 2010

An extraterrestrial, and beastly event...

On Saturday 6th March a small conference will be held in London showcasing the expertise of UFO researcher Nick Pope, Loch Ness Monster investigator Adrian Shine, and Bigfoot expert Paul Vella. For more details of location, time, entry fee, click HERE

Saturday 2 January 2010

The murderous bird of Lincoln's Inn

Neil's latest episode of THE SATURDAY STRANGENESS looks at a spooky mystery.