Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Man-Monkey Musings

As some of you probably know, the one so-called "British Bigfoot" that interests me more than any other is the "Man-Monkey of Ranton," which haunts Bridge 39 on England's Shropshire Union Canal. A very atmospheric, tree-shrouded locale, Bridge 39 is arguably as weird as the hairy man-beast itself.

Aside from the fact that the original story of the beast's activities (which kicked off in the late 1870s) is both chilling and packed with supernatural overtones, the case is made more significant by the fact that sightings of the beast have continued up until pretty much the present day; and additional data on the affair always seems to be surfacing.

And, with that last point in mind consider the following:

A couple of weeks ago I flew back to England to speak at Jon Downes' annual Weird Weekend gig (where I spoke on the strange story of Stalin's Ape-Men, which can be found in my brand new book, Science Fiction Secrets).

Well, the transatlantic flight from here in Dallas, Texas to Birmingham, England is always a long and mind-numbingly tedious one; so to pass the time (and particularly so when the only things on the aircraft's TV are [A] a soppy chick-flick, and [B] some kids' film about robots), I always take with me a book or several.

This time, I took a book that I hadn't read in years: The Eye of Fire by Graham Phillips and Martin Keatman - the sequel to their earlier title, The Green Stone.

Psychic-questing books like this have always fascinated me, and I eagerly devoured both titles when they were published back in the 1980s - as I also did with Andy Collins' books on the subject, such as The Black Alchemist and The Second Coming.

But, I often like to re-read books I haven't touched in years - hence why I decided on The Eye of Fire for the flight to the Weird Weekend.

Well, imagine my surprise when, at one point in the book, I came across something that I had long-forgotten about: a strange and intriguing reference to Ranton Abbey, which is situated only the very briefest of trips away from the infamous haunted bridge.

Ranton Abbey - known more correctly as the Augustinian Priory - was built around 1150, and flourished in the 13th century as a subordinate house to Haughmond Abbey, near Shrewsbury. In the early 19th century the property became part of the estate of the Ansons of Shugborough, latterly the Earls of Lichfield. Today, it is in ruins; having been destroyed by fire in the Second World War, while occupied by Dutch soldiers.

And, with that said, onto the story.

While much of The Eye of Fire is beyond the scope of this blog, the relevant data relates to a July 1982 trip to the abbey that the team of investigators in the book embarked upon, as part of their quest for the Eye of Fire of the book's title.

Basically, the relevant parts of the book reveal how one of the characters in the book, named Mary Heath, created a diabolical and monstrous "Guardian" at the abbey - whose role was to protect an ancient artifact that plays a vital role in the story.

Interestingly, the "Guardian" is described in the book's pages in highly ominous tones, and, variously, as: "...a complete blackness, seething within itself, shapeless but at the same time having substance...;" as "...an abomination...;" and as a heavy-breathing "great beast."

In other words, the "Guardian" is a monstrous, protector-style thought-form, brought into being and roaming an ancient abode in Ranton. But there's more: the vile thought-form was reportedly created by a woman named Mary Heath in 1875.

How intriguing that a diabolical and violent thought-form was created in Ranton in 1875; and then - only 4 years later - the Man-Monkey (for which the best explanation is that it is indeed a Tulpa-style thought-form) was seen roaming around the nearby Bridge 39.

Could it be that Mary Heath's monstrous creation and the Man-Monkey were (and still are) one and the same?

Admittedly, this is a speculative question. However, the location, the time-frame, and the nature of the "Guardian" entity strongly suggest (to me, at least) that we should consider a possible link between the two.

Thoughts or comments, anyone???


Kithra said...

Very interesting, Nick. And, reading it, for some reason I was immediately reminded of those age-old Cormons!

Nick Redfern said...


Yes, it does indeed!

borky said...

It could be the other way 'round, of course, Nick.

A canal, a bridge - these are boundary regions where, traditionally, the barriers between the worlds are thinner or weaker, making the possibility of passage between them more viable.

An attempt to 'dream' a guardian into existence from an abbey, (itself a temenos, or sacred precinct, designed to insulate its denizens from the 'worldly' world) that's in such close proximity to them may well've resulted in some interloper getting trapped in a perpetual loop between the two sites.

My own take though is, even if the above's true, 'something' operating at a much 'loftier' position than the original participants may deliberately engineer such 'tableaux' to draw certain types into particular areas in order to expose them to certain types of energies or forces - 'radiation' - they wouldn't otherwise have a chance of encountering.


Nick Redfern said...

Cheers Alan, all good points.

Andrew D. Gable said...

As I was looking at this, a weird bit of the synchronicity type things written about in The Rebirth of Pan and bits of Coleman's Mysterious America - how certain names pop up again and again in Fortean context - hit me. Here in Pennsylvania, we also have a Union Canal (in Reading). The canal is the site of some weirdness, as well. At least two notable ghost stories I can think of originate from that area. Isn't the ghost story associated with Man-Monkey something about a suicide? It's also a weird bit of synchronicity that THIS Union Canal was site of a notable suicide/triple murder...

Nick Redfern said...


Very interesting! Yep, the Man-Monkey is indeed linked to a death - a man who drowned in the canal. Not sure if it was a suicide or accident; but the local police suggested the creature was seen specifically after the death.