46. Attack of the flying things!
For some reason the capital has always attracted hordes of flapping, screaming, leathery, frighteningly feathery, demonic and mysterious birds over the years... and I'm not just talking about those terrifying hen-nights in Soho!
Tudor historian John Stowe wrote in the 1500s of a dreadful creature that invaded St. Michael's Church in the Cornhill ward, as told to him by his father:
My father told me that on the night of St James, certain men were ringing the bells of St Michael's, in the loft, when there arose a tempest of thunder and lightning, and a thing of an ugly shape and sight was seen to come in at the south window, and it lighted on the north. For fear whereof, all the ringers fell down and lay as dead for a time, leaving the bells to ring and cease of their own accord. When the ringers came to themselves, they found certain stones of the north window to be razed and scrat as if they had been so much butter, printed with a lion's claw; the same stones were fastened there again, when it was repaired, and remain so to this day. I have seen them oft, and have put a feather or small stick into the hole where the claw had entered, three to four inches deep.
At the same time, certain maine Timber posts at Queen Hith were scrat and cleft from top to bottom, and the Pulpit Cross in Paul's churchyard was likewise scrat, cleft and overturned. One of the ringers lived in my youth, whom I have oft heard to verifye the same to be true, and I have oft heard my Father to report it.
In the Spring of 1922 a giant winged creature, dark in colour, haunted West Drayton church. At the time it was perceived as a local vampire, several decades before a similar entity prowled the catacombs of Highgate Cemtery. However, on this occasion the monster, said to have a six-foot wingspan, eluded police and was often heard screeching in the gloom as it fluttered around the headstones.
Next episode... more things a-flutter!
Photo courtesy of artolog's Flickr photostream