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Lair of the Beasts: A British Werewolf

There’s something in the Woods…

By Nick Redfern     January 21, 2012

 

With the new Underworld: Awakening movie starring Kate Beckinsale finally among us, I thought that I’d make this weekend’s Lair of the Beasts feature one for fans of all things of a lycanthrope-style nature. It’s a feature that focuses on the forty-year-old memories of one of Britain’s most famous monster-hunters: Jonathan Downes, the director of the Center for Fortean Zoology. Jon begins his monstrous tale thus:
 
“When I was at school in Bideford, England, in the early 1970s a story was told about one of the older houses on the outskirts of the village of Abbotsham, a few miles outside Bideford and where a werewolf was supposed to reside. It was very much a friend-of-a-friend tale – everyone knew about ‘the beast’ and its predations, which were supposed to be on sheep. I visited my friend Jim regularly and on one June weekend we conspired together to go werewolf hunting.”
 
The intrepid friends set off soon after breakfast and cheerfully walked along Abbotsham Road, past the old school gates and towards the village where the werewolf was alleged to have its dwelling.
 
“Climbing over a field gate at a predetermined point, our expedition became an illegal one,” Jon reminisces, “as we shamelessly trespassed across farmers’ fields towards our destination. About a mile and a half from the road was the beginning of the woods. This was, allegedly at least, our destination, and we started to feel a little uneasy.”
 
Slowly and carefully, they entered the woods. The boys carried on in silence but both felt uncomfortable and neither wanted to be the first to suggest that discretion should be the better part of valour and that they should get out of there as quickly as possible.
 
“So we carried on,” Jon explains. “After what seemed like a lifetime – but was probably only about half an hour – the undergrowth began to thin out and before us we could see a rusty three-strand, barbed-wire fence. Being the intrepid souls that we were, we didn’t hesitate to clamber over. We found a house in the woods alright, but no werewolf.”
 
As a result, Jon and Jim set off for home; however, direction finding was certainly not one of their strong points and the pair soon became hopelessly lost. And as they went deeper and deeper into the woods, the atmosphere became more and more unpleasant.
 
They began running as if their lives depended on it, as Jon explains: “We just wanted to get the hell out of the accursed woods. Then it hit us: a stench the like of which I have never encountered before, or since, rolled up towards us through the trees.”
 
Suddenly, there it was, added Jon: a dead roebuck. Its head was caught in a barbed-wire fence and its tortured body lay splayed out behind it, bloated with putrefaction and with its intestines spread out beside it.
 
Jon’s voice lowered in tone as he continued his tale to me: “I am convinced that I know what killed it. In the half-light we could see an amorphous shadow of what appeared to be an enormous black predatory creature crouching over the carcass of the roebuck. If you looked at it directly there was nothing to see, but out of the corners of our eyes it was clearly visible. That was just too much for us. We were explorers no longer and ran like hell until we found ourselves on the cliff path. To this day I am convinced that we encountered the Abbotsham werewolf.”
 
If you’re heading out to watch Underworld: Awakening, remember this: it may not all be fiction…
 
Nick Redfern is the author of many books on real-life mysteries, including the newly-published Keep Out.

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InnerSanctum 1/22/2012 3:32:14 PM

 The time of youth and adventure.  I remember it well.  I found a furry animal hide in the woods and convienced myself it was that of a bigfoot.  A road went right through the woods where we rode our bikes.  I'd ride like hell to get through it at night.  I distinctly remember the change in temperture as you dipped down in the road and into the middle of the woods.  The smell, the sounds...I always felt a bit like Ichabod Crane racing like the devil to reach the other side.   The power of the imagination and a strong belief in the fantasy.  Who am I to say that it is impossible to be in tune with a another reality, or even create it out of our minds?  

This also reminds me of the hulking mass that was dragging an axe, witnessed in the dead of night, camping as achild, but I digress...

NickRedfern 1/24/2012 9:19:16 AM

Inner:

Yeah, imagination is a powerful thing. But, I do think there is something to the idea that, particularly in childhood, there is something that allows us greater interaction with these "things." Maybe it's that our brains are less cluttered and more receptive to incredible things at a young age.

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