The grey beast of challock
Submitted by Kenton Archer
The grey beast of Challock. Of the many stories of the Kentish weald villages, the sightings of the Grey Beast in the old original village of Challock, near Canterbury in England, is quite possibly the strangest on record. The present village is around a mile and a half away from the original settlement, though Challock church is still there and is still used. The countryside around the church is wild and wooded and reached from the present village down a twisting, dark, tree shrouded and narrow lane which goes nowhere else but to the church. The site of the medieval village can be identified by various man made objects and ruins along the path out of the churchyard, but one has to look carefully or use a period map to see the various features as it is very overgrown.
For many years reports have been made by local people and walkers, of a strange beast which prowls the woodland, often following them but only just in sight. Deions vary a little, but the animal, if animal it is, seems to be a cross between a huge goat or sheep and a human figure. It is said that the beast is misty grey with glowing amber eyes and having horns of a golden metalic appearance, and bearded face. A photograph used to exist, though in black and white, and showed a weird shimmering halo along the body and a long sharp tail although much of the beast was obscured by foliage as it stared out at the camera. Often animals are discovered in the woods, often torn apart and strewn across the ground. Many skeletons of animals can be found here. The area is very quiet, rarely can a bird be heard, although in the early summer evenings the air is full of bats, their strange calls whistling and echoing back from the ground. It is not a place to go alone, and at night is both creepy and confusing. The area is not large but it is very easy to lose all sense of direction and finding your way back can take hours. The beast was often seen in the 1930's, and lately, in the new millennium, has once more made appearances, once even being tracked for several hundred yards by a young man, before it turned on him with such force that all he could do was run for his life. Arriving back at the church he locked himself in and immediately passed out from fear, only to awake the next morning safe and snug in his car. Who took him there and how they entered the bolted church door, is still not known to this day.
Recent reports are often of heavy crashing noises coming from the dense undergrowth, and of a strange sickly smoke like smell following behind people as they hike through the woods. A grey 'presence' is often mentioned, caught in a slight sideways glance. It is thought that the village was moved to its present location at the time of the plague, although some say that the prevelance of witchcraft in the area made only the church safe to visit, and then only by day when a priest was in attendance. The church is interesting in its own way too. Some years ago a local artist painted the portraits of all of the villagers on the wall inside the church, the pictures still remain, but some appear to have changed their expression to one of fear. And by the way, do not visit the site on a bicycle. These machines seem to attract the beast to charge through the undergrowth, and several subsequent accidents to cyclist have happened as they struggled to speed away. You have been warned, nothing in the world would make me visit this area alone or at night!
Before we leave Challock, I must tell you of an experience that I had at the local tearooms and gardens, Beechcroft, just off of the Leas, a large open space in the new village on the Canterbury road now used for the annual goose fair. After ordering tea and sandwiches in the tea rooms, I decided to use the gentleman's wc while it was prepared, just a few steps away in the garden and a very small room. As I approached, I saw a person enter the toilet and close the door. I waited close outside for a few minutes, then decided to knock on the door to hurry him up. To my amazement the door was unlocked and open and the toilet empty, with only one exit, back through the same door. As I looked, the toilet seat banged shut, apparently of its own accord. My back turned cold and I felt the hair begin to rapidly erect on my neck. My immediate need for a pee receded instantly and after another quick glance around, I left, closing the door behind me.
Had I been dreaming? I think not. I had been standing close to the door and anyway, the path to the loo is narrow. No physical body could have passed me without me stepping aside, and I had been looking at the door the whole time. I was so shaken by this experience that it completely spoiled my afternoon tea, as delicious as it turned out to be. Both of these places are worth a visit if you are in the Challock area, which is easily reached from Canterbury and Ashford and is really beautiful in spring, when the bluebells abound.