The United States is noted for its well-known monstrous “winged things,” such as Mothman, the Thunderbirds of Native American history, and even pterodactyl-style creatures. But, what about the U.K.? Well, I can say for sure that over the pond there are more than a few cases of creatures that spend most of their time high in the sky. Let’s have a look: Midway through November 1963, one of the most chilling and eerie of all monster encounters on record occurred in the dark and shadowy environment of Sandling Park, Hythe, Kent, England. It was an encounter that, in terms of the description of the creature, provokes Mothman-style imagery – even though the latter, famous creature did not hit the headlines in and around Point Pleasant, West Virginia until the mid-1960s onwards. Although Sandling Park was certainly shrouded in overwhelming darkness at the time of the beastly event, it was hardly the sort of place where one would expect to encounter nothing less than a fully-fledged monster. Amazingly, however, and according to a group of terrified witnesses, that is exactly what happened. Here’s the really interesting thing: the encounter occurred several years before the eerie, shining-eyed beast of Point Pleasant, West Virginia was on anyone’s radar. More intriguing is the fact that the description of the beast was eerily Mothman-like. The very same winged beast, but in a completely different part of the planet? Who knows?
How about the closest U.K. “thing” to Mothman? Its title? The Owlman. The story of the monster began back in the summer of 1976, and in Cornwall, England. In 1976 the dense trees surrounding Mawnan Old Church became a veritable magnet for a diabolical beast that was christened the Owlman. The majority of those that crossed paths with the creature asserted that it was human-like in both size and design, and possessed a pair of large wings, fiery red eyes, claws, and exuded an atmosphere of menace. No wonder people make parallels with Mothman. It all began during the weekend of Easter 1976, when two young girls, June and Vicky Melling, had an encounter of a truly nightmarish kind in Mawnan Woods. The girls were on holiday with their parents when they saw a gigantic, feathery “bird man”‘ hovering over the 13th Century church. The flying beast caused terror throughout the summer of seventy-six. Notably, sightings of the Owlman are still made – albeit not to significant degrees. Certainly, the leading figure – when it comes to Owlman investigations – is Jon Downes, who runs the U.K.-based Center for Fortean Zoology. Check out his full-length book on the subject: The Owlman and Others. It tells the complete story of the monster and its aerial antics.
Now, let’s look at something described as being like a pterodactyl. And, in the U.K., no less. Or, rather, in the skies above Needwood Forest, Staffordshire. The area was a chase, or a royal forest, that was given to Henry III’s son, Edmund Crouchback, the 1st Earl of Lancaster, in 1266, and was owned by the Duchy of Lancaster until it passed into the possession of Henry IV. In the 1770s, Francis Noel Clarke Mundy published a collection of poetry called Needwood Forest which contained his own poem of the same name, one regarded as one of the most beautiful local poems. And much the same was said about the forest – which was an undeniably enchanting locale, filled with magic, myths and ancient lore, as forests so curiously often are. And, it is against this backdrop of ancient woodland and historic and huge old halls that something decidedly strange occurred back in the summer of 1937, when Alfred Tipton was just a ten-year-old boy.
Like most adventurous kids, young Alfred enjoyed playing near Blithfield Hall, and in the Bagot’s Wood, with his friends: on weekends and during the seemingly-never-ending school-holidays. And, it was during the summer holidays of 1937 that something strange and monstrous was seen in that small, yet eerie, area of old woodland. According to Tipton, on one particular morning he and four of his friends had been playing in the woods for several hours and were taking a break, sitting on the warm, dry grass, and soaking in the sun. Suddenly, said Tipton, they heard a shrill screeching sound that was coming from the trees directly above them. As they craned their necks to look directly upwards, the five pals were horrified by the sight of a large, black beast sitting on its haunches in one particularly tall and very old tree, and “shaking the branch up and down with its claws tightened around it.” This was no mere large bird, however. Tipton says that “…it reminded me of a devil: I still don’t forget things and that is what I say it looked like.” Even more intriguing: Tipton was of the opinion that he and his pals had seen nothing less than a pterodactyl.
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