One of the brief items of folk tradition recorded by J. Harvey Bloom in the 1920s is as follows:

At Alveston a plough lad named Charles Walton met a dog on his way home nine times on successive evenings. He told both the shepherd and the carter with whom he worked, and was laughed at for his pains. On the ninth encounter a headless lady rustled past him in a silk dress, and on the next day he heard of his sister’s death.

In itself, this simply reflects the common belief that a phantom dog is an omen of death. However, it is made more memorable by what happened sixteen years later, when the same Charles Walton was murdered in 1945, in circumstances which suggested to the police that local people suspected him of black magic. At the time of his death he was aged seventy-four, so he must have been in his fifties when he told Bloom about his supernatural encounter when young. This anecdote might well have played a part in building up his occult reputation.



Haunted England : The Penguin Book of Ghosts – Written by Jennifer Westwood and Jacqueline Simpson
Copyright © Jennifer Westwood and Jacqueline Simpson 2005, 2008