Weird Cirencester Report November 27, 2013Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern , trackback
This pithy little piece appears in a fascinating book: James Malcolm Miscellaneous Anecdotes Illustrative of the Manners and History of Europe (1811), 39-40. Malcolm had ransacked seventeenth and eighteenth century newspapers in search of absurd stories, which he could make fun of. He then included these accounts in his book. He does not give us the date for this but he does say that it came from the Domestic Intelligence (British newspaper). It will be the seventeenth or eighteenth century, but any more information might be difficult to track down. As to what kind of illusion or invention this was, Beach happily leaves it to his readers: drbeachcombing AT yahoo DOT com
There is a very credible account that, upon Tuesday the 26th of August last past, the Carrier of Cirencester, with five passengers, coming toward London, about two miles from Abingdon, in the morning immediately after sun-rising they observed in the south part of the heavens the perfect appearance and similitude of a tall man in a sad-coloured habit, brandishing a broad-sword in his right hand, which was stretched out toward the south, he seeming to walk that way. This continued for some time plainly visible to them all, and then disappeared; and the sky seemed immediately in the same place to represent a calm sea, with fishes of several forms playing and leaping up and down therein, and a while after seemed to be tempestuous; upon which there presently appeared about an hundred ships of divers shapes and sizes, from whence there seemed some small ships or tenders to be continually plying to seaward, as if they had been sent as spies or advice-boats to the navy. This fleet remained in their sight for near a quarter of an hour, to the great consternation of the spectators; after which the sky cleared again, and then there arose the form of a very high mountain, and several villages, little houses, and woods appeared thereon, and some part thereof appeared plain, upon which they discovered about thirty horsemen well armed with pistols and muskets, which marched toward the villages upon a full trot, but by the rising ground they were soon out of sight, upon which the sky seemed to close again, and return to its usual form and likeness.
Cirencester is a long way from the sea so goodness knows what the fleet and fishes are doing here. As to the horsemen with pistols and muskets, memories of the civil war perhaps?