Saturday, 14 July 2012

REVENANTS; The walking dead of Medieval Britain.

    "A revenant is a visible ghost or animated corpse that was believed to return from the grave to terrorize the living. The word "revenant" is derived from the Latin word, revenans, "returning". (Wikipedia).
William Parvus.

    William Parvus of Newburgh was born in 1136 and between 1145 and 1208 he lived in the abbey of Austin Canons at Newburgh in Yorkshire, England. 
    It was here that he wrote the Historia Rerum Anglicarum or The History of the Affairs of England, which was completed in 1198. 
    William took his study of history very seriously and he wrote with historical accuracy in mind taking as his mentors people like St Gildas and the Venerable Bede.

The Buckinghamshire Vampire.

    It is with this in mind that we include three stories from his Historia, the first is from Buckinghamshire where "A most remarkable event took place". The story was told to William in detail by Stephen "an esteemed Archdeacon of that diocese."     It begins with the death of a man who is buried on the 29th May, the following night the dead man enters the room where his wife sleeps and leaps upon her nearly killing her with fright. The next night he does the same.
    Each night there after the wife had others with her to watch over her and when her dead husband returned he was driven away by shouts and cries, so he then attacked his brothers who soon employed the same method of defence as the wife. 
    Next the dead man terrorised any animal in or around peoples houses which meant everyone had to guard each other all night!
    With all this watchfulness by night the dead man then began to walk by day causing much fear, eventually the good villagers went to seek the advice of Archdeacon Stephen who in turn went for guidance from Hugh Bishop of Lincoln.
    The Bishop found that this occurrence was not unusual and there had been many well known instances, to rid themselves of this evil the villagers had to disinter the dead man and burn his body to ashes. 
    However, the Bishop found this barbaric so instead told the people to open the grave and place a chartula of absolution on the dead man's chest, this they did. 
    When the grave was opened the corpse was still uncorrupted and was just as it had been on the day it was buried, the chartula was placed on the chest and from that day on he never walked again.

William of Newburgh.
The Berwick Revenant.

    Our second story comes from the border town of Berwick upon Tweed in Northumberland, England and concerns a wealthy merchant who by evil deeds becomes richer. 
    After his death he was seen to rise again and wander the streets at night, where ever he went dogs would howl and who ever met him would become frozen with terror.
    The great and good of Berwick met to discuss what could be done, they decided not to fight the revenant as it would do much injury to them but they could not leave it as it would spread plague and pollute the air as other revenants were known to have done.
    Finally they decided that ten brave men would exhume the corpse and dismember it, this they immediately did, after it was cut up each part was thrown into a furnace and burnt up.
    When this had been done "the slaughter ceased" but a terrible pestilence broke out in the town and killed many people. It is said that when the plague victims were being carried to the graveyard people could still hear the barking of dogs and the scream of the revenant.

The Hundeprest.

    The third and last story from William of Newburgh takes us over the border to Melrose in Scotland. 
    At the beginning William states "it is quite true that unless they are amply supported by many examples which have taken place in our own days and by unimpeachable testimony of responsible persons, these facts would not easily be believed, to wit, that the bodies of the dead may arise from their tombs and that vitalised by some supernatural power they speed hither and thither, either greatly alarming or in some cases actually slaying the living and when they return to the grave it seems to open to them of it's own accord."
    The story starts with the death of a high ranking lady's chaplain who was more interested in hunting with horse and hound than in religious matters.
     After he was buried he was seen trying to force an entrance into Melrose abbey cloisters, night after night he tried and failed to get in. 
    Eventually he began to wander elsewhere terrifying people, he even appeared in the bed chamber of his Lady to whom he had been chaplain.
    Her screams and shouts prevailed and the Hundeprest (hound priest, named because of his passion for hunting) went away, the monks of Melrose held a council to decide what to do.
    The plan was for four monks to stand guard over the grave of the Hundeprest. Nothing happened for some hours and three of the monks went to a nearby cottage to get warm, no sooner had they gone when the Hundeprest attacked the remaining monk.
Melrose Abbey.

    Armed with an axe the monk swung at the advancing revenant striking him in the chest, with an unearthly howl the Hundeprest fled back to it's grave and disappeared. 
    The other three monks hurried back but they waited until day break before opening the grave.
     When they opened the coffin the Hundeprest's body was still fresh and it was bleeding from a gaping axe wound in it's chest.     The monks then pulled the body out of the grave, took it off the abbey grounds and burned the corpse until all that remained was ashes, these ashes were then scattered to the four winds, the people of Melrose now slept peacefully. 

Walter Map.

    Walter Map was born in Hereford during the late 1130's and his family were held in high regard by King Henry II, under his patronage Map became Archdeacon of Oxford. 
    Unlike William of Newburgh Walter Map had a different style of relating history, his style is more in the way of telling a good story than sticking to known facts.
    Walter Map's major work was De Nugis Curialium or Courtier's Trifles, this is a book of stories and anecdotes was written between 1180 and 1193.
Walter Map listen's to King Arthur.

The Matron.

    There are three stories that interest us here, the first involves a knight and his lady who have been blessed with a new born baby. 
    The morning after the birth the baby is found in it's cradle with it's throat cut, the next year another child is born and dies in the same way, a third baby is born only to suffer the same. 
    To stop a fourth tragedy the knight lights up the house with lanterns, this light attracts a stranger who asks if he may stay the night, to which the knight agrees.

    During the night everyone falls asleep except the stranger who sees the well respected matron enter the house, she then picks up the baby and is about to cut it's throat when the stranger shouts and wakes the knight up.
   Seizing the matron the stranger and an increasingly large crowd of people drag her to the church where they brand her in the face with a cross, however, soon the real matron arrives and the Demon, with a howl, escapes by crashing through a window.

The Criminal.

    The second story concerns an English soldier called William Laudun who lived in Wales. He had several lodgers in his house but one was a Welsh criminal who died while staying there. 
    Four nights after he was buried the criminal returned and one after another the lodgers sickened and died. 
    By the time Laudun had told his story to the Bishop only three remained, the Bishop gave Laudun some advice and so Laudun dug up the grave, cut through the neck of the corpse and sprinkled holy water on it then reburied it.
    The revenant soon came back. One night Laudun heard his name called three times, he rushed outside with his sword drawn and the revenant fled back toward it's grave, but Laudun was too fast for it and he beheaded the fiend, from then on it was seen no more.

The Athiest.

    Our last story tells of an atheist who died but was seen three days later wandering around an orchard dressed in a hair shirt.
     Bishop Rodger ordered a cross to be erected on it's grave, when the revenant was followed back to it's grave by a crowd of people he was seen to jump back at the sight of the cross. 
    The cross was then removed and revenant entered it's grave, the cross was put back and the revenants wandering ceased.

    There were many more stories and reports of this type of activity all over Europe and there are many similarities between the medieval revenant and the traditional east European stories of the Vampire.
    We tend to see the Vampire as a foreign phenomenon and yet these stories of animated corpse's were told from town to town and believed by many right here in Britain nearly six hundred years before the Vampire epidemic of eighteenth century Europe which brought the name Vampire to the English language.

Saturday, 30 June 2012

Jack the Ripper scare in Market Harborough.

Jack the Ripper on his holidays!

The Lodger, Jack the Ripper - The Macabre Observer

    Dreadfully sorry to keep banging on about the Whitechapel fiend, but on one of my story finding expeditions I discovered this little gem from the Market Harborough Advertiser, 20th November 1888. 
It was at the peak of the Autumn of terror that swept the nation and everyone was on the look out for suspicious characters, I quote verbatim.............

    "               THE WHITECHAPEL MURDER.

                 A man suspected at Market Harborough.

     Some excitement was caused in a certain part of Market Harborough on Friday on hearing that a man answering the description of the Whitechapel murderer had come from London that afternoon and had taken up his abode with a Mrs Green, near the British school. 
    The police were communicated with almost immediately and a watch was set on his movements. During the evening the man went to the station (followed by officers in plain clothes) and returned with his luggage - a portmanteau.
Marker Harborough railway station - The Macabre Observer
Market Harborough railway station.

     On his reaching home again the police entered the house and searched the portmanteau, but nothing  was found to connect the man with the crime of which he was suspected.

    He said his name was Dietrich and that he was a doctor at one of the London hospitals and gave his address at 22, Howland Street, Tottenham Court Road. 

    He wore spectacles and his overcoat was trimmed with astrachan. Not being satisfied with this information, Supt. Bott placed a cordon of police around the house and telegraphed to Scotland Yard for instructions as to whether the man should be detained or not.

     This was about 9 o'clock and an answer was expected within an hour or two. At 11.30, however, no reply had been received and it was not until 5.10 on Saturday morning that an answer was handed to the police. 

    This was of a somewhat vague nature, but the police were on it's receipt withdrawn from the house and no further notice was taken of the matter.

     One thing which had excited the suspicions of the neighbours and the police also, was that the same man was in Market Harbough about three weeks ago and stayed at the same house. 

    His movements were then considered peculiar and the neighbours were actually alarmed about him. While here, no murders occurred in London, but after he had gone back, the latest horror was perpetrated."
Marker Harborough market square - The Macabre Observer
Victorian Market Harborough.

     So, has anyone investigated Dr Dietrich of 22, Howland Street, Tottenham Court Road and why did Scotland Yard tell the local plod to stand down.     Did they want the glory then let him slip away or was he quietly committed to an asylum?? Who knows, he was probably just someone on his holidays......wasn't he!

Saturday, 21 April 2012

The Music of the Ripper.

 The Music of the Ripper.

The Early Years

   Since 1888 there have been many songs, ballads and poems concerning the unknown entity that was Jack the Ripper, they started as the murders were being committed and are still going strong.
    Songs such as “The Whitechapel Polka” and “Who killed cock Warren” (Lyrics) were favourites amongst music hall audiences in the late 19th century, also popular was the song sung by Mary Kelly on the night she died “Only a Violet from my Mother’s grave”, a song covered by many folk artists ever since.
Nemisis of neglect - music of the ripper

    Children even had rhymes about the Ripper, this one dates from around 1889;

                “Jack the Ripper's dead
                 and lying in his bed
                 He cut his throat
                 With Sunlight soap
                 Jack the Ripper's dead.”

    A poem of dubious origin, but certainly of some age is “Eight Little Whores” (author unknown);

 “Eight little whores, with no hope of heaven,
  Gladstone may save one, then there'll be seven.
  Seven little whores beggin for a shilling,
  One stays in Henage Court, then there's a killing.
  Six little whores, glad to be alive,
  One sidles up to Jack, then there are five.
  Four and whore rhyme aright,
  So do three and me, I'll set the town alight
  Ere there are two.
  Two little whores, shivering with fright,
  Seek a cosy doorway in the middle of the night.
  Jack's knife flashes, then there's but one,
 And the last one's the ripest for Jack's idea of fun.”

    In the early 20th century we still find the odd reference to the Ripper in music halls, like “The Caretaker” (1912) and “Cohen is arrested for exceeding the speed limit” (1915,1920 recording by Joe Hayman.). But it was not until the late 1950’s that popular music found the Ripper.

The 1950's

    In 1958 Reg Owen and his orchestra, a popular Jazz/Swing band released the single "Jack the Ripper" with "Car Hop" on the B side.

Link Wray - music of the ripper

    In 1959 American guitarist Link Wray recorded “Jack the Ripper”, Wray was a master of the early “garage” sound that would become popular in the mid to late sixties and this instrumental was very much ahead of it’s time, also covered by The Surfaris, Del Toros, Surf Trio, Los Twang! Marvels!, Darrin Stout Band, Insect Surfers, The Raybeats and many more!) (Link Wray).

The 1960's

    In 1961 American band Clarence Stacey and Group released a song they wrote called "Jack the Ripper", two years later British singer Screaming Lord Sutch released his version of this song and made it a huge hit. The song was originally banned by the BBC.   (Screaming Lord Sutch),

“There's a man who walks the streets of London late at night
The Ripper, Jack The Ripper
With a little black bag that's oh-so tight
The Ripper, Jack The Ripper
He's got a big black cloak hangin' down his back
The Ripper, Jack The Ripper
Well, that's a one big cat I just a hate to fight
The Ripper, Jack The Ripper”

     Sutch would appear on stage wearing a long black cape, top hat and carrying a Gladstone bag from which he’d produce plastic kidneys and other body parts! Many bands have since covered this song including; The Gruesomes, The White Stripes, The Horrors, The Sharks, The Fuzztones, Johnny Knife and his Rippers and many many more!
Screaming Lord Sutch

    Surf rock band The Mustangs from Rochester Minnesota released "Jack the Ripper" in 1964, this track was used on the opening of John Waters B movie "Mondo Trasho" in 1970.

    Also in 1964 Prince Buster All Stars released the Ska instrumental "Jack the Ripper", it's been included on many compilation albums ever since.

    Casey Jones and the Governors, a German beat band gave us another "Jack the Ripper" in 1965, it was re-released in 1973.

    The film A Study in Terror was released in 1965; in May 1966 Kathy Keegan released the song "A Study in Terror" which was the B side of "You Send Me Silver Bells".

    This was the theme tune from the film but with lyrics added, the song has a wonderful James Bond feel about it. It was arranged and produced by Don Costa who, with his own orchestra, released as a single "Theme From A Study in Terror" in June 1966.

   The 1970's

    During the 1970’s we find "Jack the Ripper: The Musical", with  lyrics by Ron Pember and music by Dennis DeMarne packing out theatres.

     In 1972 Jack got a mention on The Grateful Dead track "Ramble on Rose", this is found on their "Europe '72" album. Also in 1972 Screaming Lord Sutch released his second album under the band name Lord Sutch and Heavy Friends, it was called "Hands of Jack The Ripper" and featured a song of the same name. The band included such rock heavy weights as Keith Moon, Noel Redding and Richie Blackmore but as a musical venture it failed badly.

    Swedish prog rockers Nationalteatern released their album "Livet Ar En Fest" in 1974, on it we find the track "Jack the Ripper".

     Heavy metal act Judas Priest latched onto the Ripper’s infamy releasing “The Ripper” in 1976; (Judas Priest)

            “You'll soon shake with fear
             Never knowing if I'm near
             I'm sly and I'm shameless
             Nocturnal and nameless
             Except for "The Ripper"
             Or if you like "Jack The Knife"

    John Cale (of Velvet Underground fame) tried to release his single "Jack the Ripper at the Moulin Rouge" in 1977 but because of the Yorkshire Ripper scare it was shelved until 1994 when it was released on the "Seducing Down the Door" compilation album.

    John Miles released his "Zaragon" album in 1978, on it is "Nice Man Jack" an eight minute prog rock classic. The song deals with the notion that Jack was a well liked aristocrat with a deeply dark side. The track is in three parts "Kensington Gardens", "Mitre Square" and finally "Harley Street" John Miles, Nice Man Jack.

The 1980's

    Entering the 1980's we remain in the world of heavy metal with Thin Lizzy, 1980 saw them release "Killer On The Loose" as a single from their "Chinatown" album. Iron Angel blasted out "Maniac of the Night" on their 1985 album "Hellish Crossfire", and 1987 brought us Tyrant's Reign with "Jack the Ripper" from their "Year of the Tyrants" EP.

    Psychobilly band The Frantic Flintstones had the wild track "Jack the Ripper" on their 1987 album "Nightmare on Nervous". Another Psychobilly band Spook and the Ghouls released their album "Whitechapel Murders" also in 1987, no actual songs about the Ripper are included but a great rocker of an album.

    The centenary year of 1988 saw two more metal bands add to the genre, Manilla Road gave us "Whitechapel" on their "Out of the Abyss" album and Australian thrash metal band Hobbs' Angel of Death gave us a murderous track "Jack the Ripper" on their "Hobbs' Angel of Death" album. Even hip-hop artist LL Cool J released a track called "Jack the Ripper", it was on the B side of his "Going Back to Cali" single.

The 1990's

     1990 saw The Legendary Pink Dots release their "The Crushed Velvet Apocalypse" album, Jack meets his doom in the song "The Death of Jack the Ripper".

    In 1992 Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds released their "Henry's Dream" album with a track called "Jack the Ripper", covered by The Japandroids (Nick Cave) and Morrissey also released a song in this year called “Jack the Ripper” this track was later covered by My Chemical Romance, Colin Meloy and AFI. (Morrissey)

    Also during this year Motorhead released their "March or Die" album which featured the track "Jack the Ripper." (Motorhead)

Morrissey - music of the ripper
     Heavy metal band Benediction brought out "Down on Whores" in 1993 on their "The Dreams You Dread" album.

    The movie "Last Action Hero" was released in 1993, on the soundtrack is the instumental track "Jack the Ripper" by Michael Kamen and Buckethead.

    In 1995 French band Jack the Ripper began, they took their name from the Nick Cave song but no songs (I believe) about the killer.

    Punk band Rancid mention the ripper in their song "Maxwell Murder" released in 1995.

    Another musical was staged in 1996 this one was called “Yours truly; Jack the Ripper” with lyrics by Frogg Moody and Dave Taylor. The musical includes one of the most authentic renditions of "Only a Violet From My Mothers Grave", very haunting. The play is still touring and well worth seeing.

    Alternative band Sun City Girls released their "Dante's Disneyland Inferno" album during 1996 and on it is the track "Jack the Ripper".

    Metal band Sigh had their album "Scenario IV: Dread Dreams" released in 1999, on it is a Ripper track "In The Mind of a Lunatic".

2000 - 2010

    Entering the 21st century celtic rock band The Town Pants released their "Piston Baroque" album (2001) included was the song "Dark Annie", this is a jaunty tribute to Annie Chapman. (The Town Pants)

    Also in 2001 thrash metal band Iced Earth gave us "Jack" on their "Horror Show" album.

    Swedish rock band Backyard Babies added the track "Jack the Ripper" to the 2002 compilation album "National Sanger".

    Macabre released the very dark thrash metal song "Jack the Ripper" which is a very fast reading of the Dear Boss letter, it was included on their 2003 album "Murder Metal"
    The Servant released a bouncy track entitled "Jack the Ripper" on their 2004 album "The Servant" and Industrial/Punk band Error included "Jack the Ripper" on their debut EP "Error".

    Lordi's 2004 album "The Monsterican Dream" included the track "Blood Red Sandman", this song has a great video. Lordi - Blood Red Sandman.

    In 2005 a concept album by Vince J. Wilson called “1888 Jack the Ripper: A Factual Account”, was released and it saw the finger of blame being pointed at……that would be telling!

    Another addition to the genre in 2005 was the track "Jack the Knife" from the "Kiss the Goat" album by The Electric Hellfire Club.

    Norwegian Teddyboy Rock 'n' Roll band Rebels Revenge released their "The First Album" in 2005, on it is a short rocker "Ripper Jack".

   British Ska band The Riffs released a track called "Jack the Ripper" around (I believe) 2006, I'm really struggling to find any information about this track but it's very good! (The Riffs).

    Also in 2006 rock band Revenge included the track "Jack the Ripper" on their album "Titties-N-Beer" and another song called "Jack the Ripper" can be found on metal band Deja Voodoo's album "Brown Sabbath".

    In 2007 American metal band Whitechapel released  their debut CD “The Somatic Defilement”, it's a concept album concerning the Ripper’s murder spree.
    Pop experimental band Animal Collective released their "Unsolved Mysteries" track taken from their album "Strawberry Jam" in this year.
    Also in 2007 Goth band Uninvited Guest featured a Ripper song “Jack Dandy” on their “Malice in Wonderland” album. (Uninvited Guest)

              "On the streets of London town
               in Whitechapel and around
               is where my visceral adventures did begin
               in the service of the Crown
               I did hunt my harlots down
               and quite literally get under their skin."

    Italian Black Metal band The True Endless added to the genre when in 2008 they released the CD “1888 From Hell”, it included such charming tracks as “My knife is so nice and sharp”, “London 1888”, “From Hell” and “Eight little Whores” (a take on the famous poem.) (The True Endless).

    Swiss synth rockers FAQ released "The Whitechapel EP" in 2008, on it are the tracks "Leather Apron", "Ten Bells", "Miller's Court", "Birth Of The Twentieth century" and "Leather Apron (FAQed Up Mix)".

    Towards the end of the first decade of the 21st century a new genre of music was becoming popular, Steampunk. The Steampunks take their inspiration from Victorian sci-fi and history so it comes as no surprise that the Ripper also makes an appearance.
Paul Roland - music of the ripper
Paul Roland.

     In 2008 Paul Roland released his “Nevermore” CD which includes the song “Eight Little Whores” and in 2010 he released his “In Memoriam 1980-2010” album which features previously unreleased tracks including the excellent “The Ballad of Mary Kelly”, Paul Roland also wrote the book “The Crimes of Jack the Ripper (Paul Roland), also in this year Cleveland Ohio band Vatican released  their speed metal track "The Ripper (Jack is Back)".

    Staying in the metal genre deathcore band Through The Eyes Of The Dead released the CD "Annihilation of Expectation" (2009) along side melodic death metal band The Knife Trade, on it is the Ripper track "Reconstruction of the Female Anatomy".

    Jack was even mentioned in the 2009 Eminem song "Music Box" on his album "Relapse".

    The awesome Spinal Tap finally released their song "Saucy Jack" in 2009, I'm led to believe it took ten years!!

    2010 British Steampunks Savile Row released their “Tales of Villainy and Wickedness” CD on which we find a Ripper song “My Secret Life”.
Saville row - music of the ripper
Savile Row.

          From America, San Francisco based Steampunks Vernian Process released their CD “Behold the Machine” which features the song “The Curse of Whitechapel”. (Vernian Process) and Australian pop punk band Short Stack released the album "This is Bat Country", this included the track "Jack the Ripper".
vernian process - music of the ripper

    The Cretins, an alternative/experimental band from New Jersey released their “Clock Rock ‘N’ Roll” CD also in 2010, on it there is the song “London 1888” a two and a half minute rocker about the Ripper.
    Metal band Witchgrinder released their CD "Through the Eyes of the Dead" in 2010, on it you will find "Jack the Ripper". 


2011 to present

     The Misfits, from New Jersey, delved into the genre with the track "Jack the Ripper" on their 2011 album "The Devils Rain" (The Misfits).
The Devil's Rain
     Drum and Bass band Pull Up released their instrumental track "Jack the Ripper" also in 2011.

     Abrasive punk band Yet To Define from Canton Ohio released their Think Twice EP in 2012, on it you will find the three minute rocker "Jack the Ripper".

    Figure and Bare, a dance/electronic band included a track called "Jack the Ripper" on their "Monsters Volume 3" album in this year.

    Chris Bolister, a very talented singer/songwriter who's influences include traditional Irish and old East End Cockney music wrote "Foggy Night in Spitalfields" in 2012. It is a song dedicated to and about the victims and their hard lives, Foggy Night in Spitalfields.

    2013 saw the track "Jack the Ripper" released by Irish rapper Rob Kelly, he reprised this theme in 2014 with "The Ripper Returns" featured on his "Black Irish Rogue" CD and more rapping was to be found on Mendo Dope's album "10 pack of Mendo Dope" with their track "Jack the Ripper" (feat. DJ Ignite).
Tiger Lillies

     In 2014 the darkly whimsical Steampunk Miss Von Trapp released her hauntingly beautiful "Stabcurdle Jack" Miss Von Trapp. Another haunting song released in 2014 was "Jack" by the delightful Tiger Lillies, it was included on their "Lulu - A Murder Ballad" album.

    2015 saw Cephied (feat. Gumi) an English alternative metal band release "Jack the Ripper", it is a melodic almost Gothic track with fine female vocals.

    February 2015 saw Australian death metal band From Hell release their CD "Autumn of Terror", this seven track album is everything you would expect form a death metal band, it's raw and noisy.

    German Hip-Hop Rap artist Rako included the track "Jack the Ripper" in his 2015 album "Rakokalypse".
    A Drum and Bass band called Jack the Ripper released the single "There will be Blood" and "Chosen One" in this year as did hardcore dance band Al Storm and Euphony with their track "Jack the Ripper" off their album "Mind Over Matter".

    Towards the end of 2015 Karliene released her Mary Kelly EP, this concept EP contains five songs about the rippers last victim. The tracks are "Girl from Limerick", "Miner's Wife", "Black Mary", "Jack's Five" and "Mary Kelly". It has a great folk feel to it and is definitely worth a listen. Karliene - Mary Kelly.

    In 2016 dark Steampunk band Gladstone gave us the rather disturbing "Purple Reefer Nemisis"  a song based on the Punch cartoon The Nemisis of Neglect, which is only available on the Steampunk Records compilation volume 4. (Steampunk Records)
    This year brought us the crazed instrumental "Jack the Ripper" by Sasakure.UK on their mini album "Mertojackz".
    Yet more thrash metal added to the genre in 2016, Creeper hailing from Dallas Texas brought us "Ten Bells"

"The night you step into the Ten Bells
There's not a lot in this world that bothers me
But they're at the top
When I erase every trace of them from this Earth
Is when I'll finally stop
At the corner of Commerce and Fournier
Is where you'll meet your fate."

    2016 also saw the release of the album "Cloak and Dagger" by British band Fear Incorporated, they describe themselves as a "theatre macabre avant garde band" and they are truly disturbing as their song "Jack the Ripper" clearly shows. Fear Inc. Jack the Ripper Video.
    Rock band Volbeat realeased their album Seal the Deal and Let's Boogie in 2016, on this album is a tribute track called "Mary Jane Kelly", it's well worth checking out.

    Steampunk band The Filthy Spectacula released their album "Thup'ny Upright" in 2016, this album is full of little treasures, one of them is "Jack The Knife".

    A Hip/Hop - Rap band called Jack the Ripper included the song "Scream Jack" on their 2017 album "Victorian England".

    Norfolk Psychobilly band Stage Frite released their superb album "Scarier than Swans" (2017) on it you will find "The Ripper's Revenge".

    A very interesting song called "Jack the Ripper" by Fawn was released for Halloween 2017 "...the Leather Apron is heartless..." Fawn, Jack the Ripper.

    Steampunk funkster Montague Jacques Fromage made an unholy alliance with the New Jacobin Club and released the live EP "Totally Unexpected, part deux" in November 2017. The EP is great fun, on it is the track "Whitechapel".
Double Negative

    Steampunk band  The Men That Will Not Be Blamed For Nothing, who take their name from the Goulston Street graffiti allegedly left by the Ripper after the 4th murder, released their fourth studio album in March 2018 called "Double Negative",

    On this album the track "Occam's Razor" is an interesting take on a Ripper song, it's about the many conspiracy theories out there and the people who twist facts to suit their theories, release a book and grab the money.

    Their record label is “Leather Apron Records” and their guitarist Andrew O’Neil is a stand up comedian who used to do Ripper walks around the east end and did a show called “Winston Churchill was Jack the Ripper".
The Men That Will Not Be Blamed For Nothing

 So as we see interest in the Ripper goes unabated, we have an endless list of books being published every year, T.V documentaries, films, tours and (of course) music all dedicated to the one that got away...............

Saturday, 7 April 2012


    Dracula the stage play, adapted by Hamilton Deane and J.L Balderston, opened at the Palace Theatre, Leicester on Monday 30th July 1951 and it starred the great Bela Lugosi reprising his most famous role. 
    The play was on a six month tour of England, during which Lugosi also starred in the film "Mother Riley Meets the Vampire".
 On stage the star worked very hard as each night saw two performances, one at six o'clock and another at 8.15. 
    The Palace Theatre management took no risks with squeamish patrons, as a note in the programme shows; 
    "The management cannot be responsible for patrons who may faint or feel unwell, but first aid attendants are in the theatre throughout the performance."
The Palace Theatre, sadly demolished in 1959.

    "Old John" (a Leicester Evening Mail correspondent) went to see Mr Lugosi for a piece in his "Round the Clock Tower" column on 31st July.
    His first impression of Lugosi was that just as Dracula sleeps by day, so does Bela Lugosi, as he took a look around the city well into the night and in the morning he went to bed.
    When Old John eventually got to speak with the star Lugosi confided that "after 24 years of Count Dracula I am waiting for someone to find me a comedy role." 
    Old John writes "The hypnotic eyes lit up as he admitted a partiality for blood oranges and raw steaks", and notes "off stage Lugosi is a quiet charming man who collects stamps in his spare time and is accompanied everywhere by his wife Lillian......but when I ask his age.....ah the artist's temperament appeared then and I changed the subject hastily, fearing a Lugosi scowl."

    Another local newspaper, The Illustrated Leicester Chronicle, sent reporter Douglas Goodlad to interview Lugosi on 4th August.
    He begins his article by informing his readers that Lugosi hardly wears any make-up on stage and he achieves his "horrific countenance" by facial expression.
     To Lillian Lugosi he asks "does he frighten you?" to which she answered that he did not.
     Lugosi said "I love the part, it's fascinating. In Transylvania there are such things as Vampire bats and blood thirsty is easy to see how legends have grown up about creatures half-human, half-bat."

    As they said goodbye, Goodlad noted "he didn't give me one of those sinister `goodbyes` we've heard from him on the screen, nor did he disappear in a  cloud of white mist.
    Instead his wife said `Bela your tie's crooked, let me fix it` and that little domestic touch banished the un-dead Count as effectively as a stake through the heart. Bela smiled and said `thank you` and it was a warm human smile."

   Sadly Bela Lugosi would fail to resurrect his film career and he was destined to end his days with parts in low budget films.     His last being the wonderfully bad "Plan 9 from Outer Space", directed by Ed Wood, which is well worth seeing and now has cult status.
   After divorcing his wife Lillian in 1955 and marrying again, Bela Lugosi died of a heart attack in his Los Angeles home on 16th August 1956, aged 73.

Saturday, 31 March 2012


    There are several ways that a body may raise after death and burial, one is if they had been murdered and are seeking revenge. Another is if they are a murderer and cannot rest, as if possessed by their evil deeds.
    Other ways of ensuring a restless demise would entail the practice of Witchcraft and of course committing suicide which was illegal under English law.

     “Felo De Se” literally means a “felon of himself” and was punishable by staking the unfortunate body in a grave dug at a crossroads. 
    There are many instances of this practice from all over the country, to qualify for a staking it had to be proved in court that the person was sane when they took their life, but why stake these bodies at all and why bury them at a crossroads?
    Some will argue that to stake a body speeds up the decomposition process this, however, seems a little odd because the fastest and least gruesome way of disposing of someone’s remains is by covering the body in quick lime (calcium oxide). 
    This highly caustic material will burn a corpse very quickly and it was used in the burial process particularly during the time of the Resurrectionists when the robbery of graves was a lucrative business. 
    A famous case of this was the burial of Dick Turpin at York. When robbers tried to steal his corpse it was retrieved, covered in quick lime and re-buried.
Body snatchers at work.

    I do not believe this practice was only to aid decomposition, the majority of cases in which there was a staking took place during the 17th to early 19th centuries. 
   This was the time of the Vampire epidemics in Europe. Even though here in Britain such fears were scorned by academics and the medical profession, but this was still a very religious time in Britain. 
    Unlike more modern times the reality of Heaven and Hell for the ordinary person was unquestioned and to kill oneself was a crime not just against the law of the land but also against God. So when it came to the Judgement day God would reject you and you would be damned to walk the Earth forever. 

    To stake someone to the ground would ensure that the remains could not walk and the reason this had to take place at a crossroads is two fold. One, the cross is a religious symbol and would contain the evil and two the spirit of the restless dead would be confused as to which direction to go.

    Of course this kind of treatment could not go on for long and in June and July 1823 amendments to the Felo de se law came before parliament spurred on by Lord Archibald Hamilton, Mr Brandling and Mr Knight. 
    The staking of corpses was immediately banned as was the custom of burying at crossroads, instead a discussion took place about handing suicides over to the Surgeons colleges for dissection, this was also abandoned.

      Finally it was decided that the corpse should be interred in a church yard, on the North side and only between the hours of 9pm and midnight, today there are no such restrictions.
    If the punishment of Felo de se worked and now the bodies of suicides can be buried without any preventive measure at all just how many undead and restless souls walk amongst us!

Cases of Felo de se.

    I suppose one of the most famous cases would be that of Maude Bowen in Gloucestershire, made more popular by the band Incubus Succubus on their “Wytches” CD, but here are a few other stories from the age of “Felo de se”;

    The first is set in Liverpool in 1680 when a farmer murdered his wife then drank her blood before killing himself, at the inquest the farmer was judged to be sane.
   His body was then buried face down at the crossroads of Rupert lane, Breck lane, Heyworth street and Everton road and a “huge” stake was driven through his heart, it is believed he is still there today.

    Betty’s ghost haunts Clack mill in Gloucestershire, in life her name was Betty Wilkins and in 1788 she was a servant to a miller. 
   On Tuesday 23rd September Betty died in agony, her stomach burned by arsenic, the inquest heard she had been pregnant but not by her husband who she had not seen for some time.
   The verdict was guilty of felo de se and she was buried at a near by crossroads with a stake through her heart, possibly at a site called Coffin Tyning. Other crossroads in this area have suspicious names such as Tucker’s grave and Webber’s grave.

    On the 14th August 1800 Charles Smith alias Jermiah Clay hanged himself in Giltspur compter in central London.
   He had been arrested for passing fraudulent cheques and had been concerned in illegal transactions in the lottery. 
   At the inquest many of Smiths friends and relations tried to influence the jury into believing him insane but to no avail. The inquest lasted until 9pm at which time the judge declared “the deceased should be buried at the crossroads at the head of the Old Bailey and a stake driven through the body”.
   As directed Charles Smith was staked and buried at the crossroads of Old Bailey, Hart row street, Giltspur street and Newgate street.

    And finally, the most famous case happened to able seaman John Williams who had served on the Dover Castle East Indiaman ship with a Mr Marr, in 1810 they both left the ship when it docked in London.
   Mr Marr opened a shop on the Radcliffe Highway during 1811 and he lived upstairs with his family, one night it was alleged that John Williams murdered Marr’s family and another family, seven people in all.

Williams was arrested but hanged himself before his trial. The inquest before J. Unwin esq returned a verdict of felo de se and so at midnight on 30th December 1811 John Williams body was processed by cart from Cold bath Fields to the crossroads of Cannon street and Cable street, pausing for a time outside Marr’s shop.

     At the crossroads in front of a huge crowd and 259 policemen Williams was thrown into a pit and a stake was driven through his heart, he was also covered in quick lime and buried. 

    Thomas de Quincey later wrote “and over him drives for ever the uproar of unresting London”. However, in 1911 the water board dug up this piece of road and disinterred Williams body, his bones went to an unknown destination but his arms went to the criminologist Professor Churton Collins.

    This article was very kindly published in “The Chronicles”, the magazine of the London Vampyre Group.

Friday, 23 March 2012

The English Impaler.

    John Tiptoft (1427-1470) was promoted to Earl of Worcester at the age of twenty-two on the death of his father in 1449. 
    He married Cicely Neville, the daughter of the immensely powerful Yorkist Richard Neville, Earl of Salisbury and the sister of Richard Neville Earl of Warwick, the "Kingmaker", Cicely sadly died in 1450.

    Tiptoft was an extremely intelligent and cultured young man who had travelled to Rome and impressed Pope Pius II with his enthusiasm to learn. 
    He was well thought of at home too, as well as being created Lord Treasurer for the Lancastrian regime he was also Royal councillor between 1452 and 1454.

    After the first battle of St Albans in 1455 power shifted to the Yorkist party, being the former son-in-law of one of the most powerful Yorkist families in the land, he continued to work for the Yorkist protectorate becoming the Deputy for Ireland from 1456-1457.
   Between 1457 and 1459 Tiptoft travelled again to Italy and went on the Spring Voyage pilgrimage to Jerusalem. He then returned to Italy and studied at Padua, this delayed his return to England until 1461.

    The Wars of the Roses had been in full swing for two years by then and the Yorkists were now in complete control since the huge battle of Towton fought on Palm Sunday 1461.
    This battle saw the total defeat of King Henry VI and his Lancastrian supporters. The new Yorkist King Edward IV immediately placed Tiptoft back into his old roles and added Constable of England to his titles.

    During the 1460's he remarried, this time to Elizabeth Greyndour, but this did not last long and he eventually settled on Elizabeth Hopton.
   In his duties as Constable he presided over trials for treason and he was very zealous in implementing the punishment of "hanged, drawn and quartered". 
   For this he gained the nickname "The Butcher of England", but it was another form of punishment that would lead to his undoing.

    Tiptoft certainly had a cruel streak and enjoyed terrorizing his enemies. During his tenure as Constable of England he could not indulge his bloodthirsty fantasies as he was subject to the law and to what punishments the law advised. 
    But an event in 1469 gave Tiptoft the excuse he was waiting for, this was an attempted coup by Lancastrians and Yorkist traitors.

    The rebellion was orchestrated by Richard Neville (the Kingmaker) and the Duke of Clarence, King Edward IV's brother.     There were several battles at this time but the event in which Tiptoft was to become infamous happened in Southampton. Several ships were at Southampton waiting to take the rebels to France, however, King Edward's men got their first and a fight broke out.

    Clarence and Neville escaped but some of their men were captured and handed over to the tender mercies of John Tiptoft and here I quote from a chronicle from that time; 
   "and so twenty Gentlemen and Yeomen were hanged, drawn and quartered and then beheaded, after which they were hung up by their legs and a stake was sharpened at both ends.
   One end of the stake was pushed between their buttocks and their heads were stuck on the other. This angered the people of the land and forever afterwards the Earl of Worcester was greatly hated by them."

    In 1470 the Lancastrian King Henry VI was back on the throne and Tiptoft's luck ran out.
    He was arrested, charged with treason and with the murder of the Earl of Desmond's two sons, along with his over-zealous method of executing Neville's men the verdict was inevitable. 

    He was sentenced to death by beheading at 3 o'clock on the 7th October 1470 but his execution could not go ahead because so many people had gathered to see this hated man die.
   He was held in the Fleet prison over night and early the next day he was taken to Tower hill and executed.

    His body was then taken to Ely cathedral in Cambridgeshire where he lies to this day his effigy is flanked by two of his wives.