In the field of paranormal research, one of the more well-known subjects one will encounter is that of so-called ‘cursed objects’. From the famous sarcophagus of the Egyptian boy-king Tutankhamun, allegedly responsible for several tragic deaths since its discovery, to the limestone statue known as ‘the Woman of Lemb’, which apparently kills all who touch it, history presents us with many examples of this particular phenomenon.
But the sensational nature of these objects affords them a certain kind of notoriety, and it would be foolish to believe that these stories have not become more than a little exaggerated over the years.
So what of other examples of this nature, examples less well known and rather closer to home?
February 19th 2014
Angela Chamberlain is captivating company. A septuagenarian, she has so many tales of adventure it is possible to imagine that she has in fact lived several lives.
A long-time resident of Edwalton, an affluent area of Nottingham, I meet her in a wine bar in nearby West Bridgford, where we spend a good few hours discussing everything from mountain climbing in Nepal to white-water rafting in North Carolina. She is such a pleasure to speak with that I almost forget the reason why I arranged to meet her in the first place.
Eventually, the subject of the paranormal comes around, particularly her own experience in 1992.
These are her words.
‘I’d just had my fifty-first birthday that May, and I was looking for a new challenge. A friend of mine suggested that I might like scuba diving.
‘Well, Doctor Gotobed, I’m game for anything. So I thought, ‘why not?’ It might be fun, after all.
‘I flicked through the Yellow Pages and found a diving school in Ruddington, just up the road.
‘There was a good group there, and the teacher was a lovely woman. I bought all the gear: the tank, the breathing apparatus, the flippers – the whole kit and caboodle!
‘If I’m doing something new, I like to throw myself into it.’
I don’t doubt this.
She flashes a mischievous smile before continuing.
‘After a few pretty intense weeks at the indoor diving pool, I was ready to try something a little more advanced, so a group of us got together and went out to Stoney Cove.’
Stoney Cove lies between Stoney Stanton and Sapcote in Leicestershire. Initially a quarry for the mining of granite, it was allowed to flood in the early ‘60s and became a popular inland diving site, used for both training and pleasure purposes.
‘It was a lovely day, with one of those cloudless skies you sometimes get in late June. We did a couple of dives, the second of which took us all the way to the bottom of the old quarry. It was about thirty metres down, I think.
‘Exciting stuff, I’m sure you’ll agree.
‘Visibility wasn’t great down there, but I remember seeing something shiny through all the dirt that was floating about.
‘It was about the size of a playing card, and partially submerged in the mud on the floor.
‘You’re not supposed to take stuff from there, I’d even signed something saying that I wouldn’t, but I couldn’t help myself. I dug it out and took it back to the surface.
‘I didn’t show it to anyone; I popped it in my pocket and decided to wait ’til I got home before I took a look at it.
‘We packed up and had a lovely spot of dinner in the local pub and then I drove home.
‘I’d forgotten about the thing I’d found, until it fell out of my pocket as I was hanging my wetsuit up to dry. It was all dirty, so I cleaned it up and, would you believe it, it was a metal leaf!’
She passes me a photo of the object, I have attached it to this file.
‘It had the same odour that a two pence piece has when you handle it, so I guess it was made of copper, or something similar. I thought it was a nice little curio, so I popped it on the mantelpiece above my fireplace and didn’t really think too much about it.
‘But that’s when weird things started happening.’
That night, at about 2am, the alarm system in Ms Chamberlain’s house is tripped. Getting out of bed to investigate, she finds a series of wet footprints leading from the front door and through the hall, terminating at the fireplace in her living room.
‘The footprints were huge, a damn sight bigger than any person I’ve ever met, and they looked like whomever had made them wasn’t wearing any shoes. You could make out the toes and everything.
‘I thought about calling the police, but what would I say?’
The footprints are gone by the morning. All the external doors to the house are still locked.
But that is not all. Ms Chamberlain starts to notice other odd occurrences. The clocks in her residence, including a selection of expensive analogue and digital watches, have all stopped, their faces stuck at 2 o’clock.
The next night, the alarm sounds again. There are more wet footprints in the hall and living room.
Unknown pieces of cutlery begin to appear in the kitchen drawers and a teapot goes missing.
On the third evening, determined to get to the bottom of the mysterious footprints, Ms Chamberlain decides to stay awake through the night. Fuelled by strong coffee and armed with a cricket bat, she waits in her living room to meet this uninvited, nocturnal guest.
Ms Chamberlain continues.
‘So I was sitting there, cricket bat in hand, trying not to nod off, and nothing happened. Until about half past two, anyway.
‘I noticed this odd smell, like damp. Fetid, that’s the word I’m looking for. It seemed to be everywhere.
‘As I was searching for the source of that nasty odour, I heard the crunch of footsteps on the gravel outside, so I went to the window and took a peek through the gap in the curtains.
‘Even to this day, I’m not a hundred per cent convinced of what exactly it was that I saw.
‘But I know this: it was terrifying.’
Ms Chamberlain goes on to explain that she saw the shape of a tall, thin man striding up her driveway. She estimates that this man must have been at least twelve feet tall; she distinctly recalls the figure stooping to get underneath a streetlamp on the edge of her property.
This man was naked, with grey skin that had an almost ethereal glow, although she concedes this may have been the light reflecting from the streetlamp. The figure has elongated, bony limbs and gnarled hands and feet. Long strands of wet hair hang down from its head.
It approaches the house, and bends down to peer into the living room window.
This figure has no facial features, just a blank space where a face should be.
It comes close to the glass, and the sight of it causes Ms Chamberlain to faint.
‘I woke up a few hours later, strewn out on the ground. My hands were shaking as I made myself a cup of tea, slipping a shot of rum in to calm my nerves.
‘As I went back into the living room, I saw that damn metal leaf lying on the carpet in the centre of the floor.
‘And then it dawned on me. None of this nonsense started happening until I bought that bloody thing home.
‘I threw on my dressing gown, drove all the way to Stoney Cove, and tossed it back into the water. Heavens knows what I must’ve looked like.
‘I’ll tell you this, Doctor Gotobed; if I hadn’t have done that, I don’t know if I’d be talking to you now.’
It is speculated that certain objects can somehow become infused with energy, energy that may be capable of drawing forces of a supernatural nature towards it, in the same way that certain buildings sometimes do. Indeed, there are parallels with the case of the two stone heads that were discovered in the town of Hexham in 1971. In that instance the shade of a large hound, also accompanied by similar low-level poltergeist activity, appeared to be linked to the objects in question.
Is it possible that Ms Chamberlain inadvertently came into ownership of such an object? I find her a most credible witness, and her life seems full enough without inventing such a tale. Even if the figure at her window was no more than a product of her imagination, that does not explain the other phenomena, such as the footprints in her living room and the kitchenware appearing and disappearing seemingly at random.
Whilst I understand her desire to be rid of this apparently cursed item, I can only lament the missed opportunity it represents.
Who knows what answers may have been gleaned by having it in our possession.
Dr Thomas Gotobed