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Lair of the Beasts: A Monstrous Beginning
Where It All Began…
By Nick Redfern
November 12, 2011
People often ask me how on Earth (or, perhaps, even off it!) I got involved in investigating, researching and writing about the weird and enigmatic worlds of the paranormal, supernatural, ufology, monster-hunting, creature-seeking, and cryptozoology. Well, there were a couple of particular reasons that stand out as being highly relevant to the odd direction in which my life has headed.
(1) My dad worked on radar when he was drafted into the British Royal Air Force in the early 1950s, and was involved in a couple of UFO incidents which occurred off the east-coast of England, and which, eventually – in fact, nearly thirty years later - he chose to quietly tell me about. And he still talks about it!
(2) When I was just a five year old kid, my parents took me to Loch Ness, Scotland, and, as a result, I became fascinated, excited and enthralled by the mysterious tales of the legendary water monster – or, maybe, monsters - said to dwell deep within its huge, darkened depths.
But, there was yet another reason, too, concerning why I gravitated towards the world of all things weird. I grew up in a small English village called Pelsall, which in 1994 celebrated its 1,000th anniversary. The village itself is situated literally only about a five-minute drive from the scene of one of the most notorious, infamous, and grisly events in early 20th Century British history - the strange affair of a young man named George Edalji.
A resident of the town of Great Wyrley, Edalji – who was a priest’s son – gained a status of deep infamy when he was convicted of, and jailed for, slashing and maiming horses in 1903.
They were events that provoked outrage and fear, and even attracted the notable attention of none other than Sir Arthur Conan Doyle – the author of the legendary and famous Sherlock Holmes novels - who firmly believed Edalji to have been wholly innocent of the attacks, which resulted in a number of the horses dying.
But, there were a lot of very strange – and almost definitively cryptozoological - aspects to the strange saga of George Edalji, too.
For example, when the horse attacks were at their absolute height, rumors flew wildly around Great Wyrley and its immediate surroundings that they were the work of a "hypnotized ape;" "a malicious aviator" or monstrous bird; a pack of trained wild-boar (yeah, I know that's an oxymoron of the highest order!); or Moon-worshipping occultists who were intent on secretly sacrificing the horses to ancient gods, and covering their tracks by having the blame for the killings placed on the unfortunate George Edalji.
The photo to the right (which was taken by me in the summer of 2010) shows St. Mark's Church, Great Wyrley, at which George Edalji's father, the Reverend Shapurji Edalji, was the vicar. Who would have ever guessed that such a pleasant-looking place would be so tied to such dark secrets and diabolical events of times long gone?
Whatever the full truth of the matter (and, it’s probably fair to say we’ll never really know for sure now, given that the killings occurred more than a century ago), the controversial story of George Edalji became legendary - and still is legendary to the people of Great Wyrley to this very day.
And, growing up just down the road from where all of the old carnage, killing, and high-strangeness occurred is yet another - little-known - reason why I gravitated towards the world of all-things freaky...
Nick Redfern’s new UFO-themed book, Keep Out!, is published in December.