While most will undoubtedly be snuggling up on the sofa, warmed chocolate cupped in one palm, tv remote in the other, the residents of East Barnet will be endeavouring upon a very different xmas eve: as was the tradition back in 1932, those with a ghoulish disposition will be flocking to Church Hill Road, near Oak Hill Park, in the hope to catch a glimpse of the former Sir Geoffrey de Mandeville, a headless medieval knight.
The legend of de Mandeville has all the ingredients of a Tim Burton movie- in fact we’re rather surprised Burton hasn’t yet been inspired (hint, hint). De Mandeville was not a nice chap – politically shrewd and blood hungry, he was accused of high treason in 1143, whereupon he became short of head and then, short of burial. He was not happy. Indeed, he still isn’t – the last sighting reported was as creepily recent as 2004.
Of course in its modern context, this tradition has been given an altruistic bend: to raise awareness of the plight of fund-strapped St Mary’s Church, also on Church Hill Road, also ridiculously old, and also likely haunted.
Thus, if a scavenger hunt for a decapitated specter ain’t your bag (personally, we think it's inspired), then perhaps a little charity will be. Alternatively, you could just donate directly.
Picture courtesy of parl’s flickr photostream. We love its caption: ‘It’s all fun and games … until someone looses their head.’