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Monday, 31 August 2015

The Werewolf of Dogdyke


The folklore of Lincolnshire abounds with many stories of ghosts, Devil's, and Hobgoblins. But one of strangest tales has to be the following from Langrick Fen, near Dogdyke.

 The story concerns a young archaeologist who while digging in the peat made a grisly discovery. He unearthed a skeleton that at first appeared to be human, until a closer inspection revealed the skull attached to the remains resembled that of a very large dog, or wolf. Puzzled, he took the skeleton back to his cottage where he placed it on the kitchen table. After a careful examination, the archaeologist concluded that the bizarre basilisk was nothing more than a prop, possibly lost or discarded by some travelling freak show. 

That night, as he slept he was awakened by the sound of something scratching at the front door of the cottage. Cautiously, he crept downstairs to investigate and on entering the kitchen, he was horrified to see a hideous face half-wolf, half-human starring in at him through the kitchen window. With an angry snarl, the creature smashed the widow and a hideous clawed hand reached in towards him. With a scream of terror, the young man fled to another room and wasted no time in barricading every stick of furniture against the door.

There he spent a terrifying vigil, listening to the creature padding around the kitchen, smashing everything in its path. At last with the first light of dawn all fell silent. But several hours elapsed before he dared to unbar the door and hesitantly venture into the kitchen. There was no sign of his nocturnal visitor. However, on the carpet of smashed crockery and broken furniture lay the bones of the skeleton scattered all over the floor. He wasted no time in collecting the cursed remains and hastily reburied them where he had found them.... Never again was he troubled by his supernatural visitor. 

The story of the werewolf of Dogdyke was first recounted as far as I am aware, in 1922 by Christopher Marlow in "Legends Of The Fenland People" It is remarkably similar to the welsh legend "The Werewolf of Merioneth" 

Which story is the original?... Hard to say... The folklore of old like the modern urban myth can be transposed to other places with subtle alteration for local colour.   

Friday, 7 August 2015

The Shaking Grave

In Laughton Forest, near Gainsborough, is the grave of one Dicky Rainforth. Rainforth was a local fellmonger, who in the late 18th century, made his living on Scotton Common (now part of Laughton Forest) by killing diseased livestock and selling their skins. When trade was bad, Dicky was not averse to poisoning the cattle of local farmers to increase his yield. Eventually his scheme was rumbled and he found himself pursued by a lynch mob. He fled to a barn in near by East Ferry and there in a panic he hanged himself from one of the oak beams.

Having committed the crime of  felo de se (suicide), Dicky could not be buried in consecrated ground. Instead he was taken to Laughton Forest and buried beneath a slab between two fir trees.

Now, if by chance you find yourself walking in Laughton Forest, be very careful  where you tread. It is said that if you stand on Dickey`s grave, the ground beneath your feet will start to shake and his ghost will rise up to greet you.   

Incidentally, the owner of the barn kept the rope with which Dicky hanged himself as a gruesome souvenir until his daughter, who considered keeping it to be in bad taste, threw it away.

Until as recently as the early part of the 20th century, it was not uncommon for revellers to pause at Laughton crossroads to drink the health of Dicky Rainforth.