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  • Mysterious Boggart Body Found in Manchester September 4, 2014

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern , trackback

    white furry thing

    Beach apologises first of all for three days of animals: cats, killer sheep and now boggarts, but this one really got his curiosity going. The book in which the description is found is Edwardian, but the author is recalling his boyhood in mid-nineteenth century Lancashire on the edge of Boggart Hole Clough in northern Manchester. What is this thing: drbeachcombing AT yahoo DOT com Note that the author is a bit unclear in the opening sentence. Stay with it.

    There is nothing much in the next name unless it be connected with the Moston boggart, and that is scarcely worth mentioning, although it made a great stir at the time it was moving about, being seen by a few, Emanuel Hird, tenant of Nuthurst, having seen more of it than anyone else. It is said that he left the place, having been much frightened by it, and dared not stay any longer. It was said to be a pure white animal, with glaring eyes and never seen but at night. Hideous noises were heard, which could not be reconciled as belonging to any animal known to the inhabitants. It appeared to be about the size of a large fox. It certainly struck  terror in the hearts of the dwellers of Nuthurst, and many other were also infected with dread.

    So far this does seem quite like a boggart, a Lancashire bogey which often became an animal in shape-shifting moods: the white skin or fur, nocturnal appearances, the horrible noises, the eyes… Then against all expectations someone found the body, which isn’t, of course, supposed to happened with supernatural creatures.

    It had been missed for some time when a man prowling through the dingle on Nuthurst Farm during the day came across a strange animal which seemed to have been caught in briars overhanging the brook which ran through the dingle. It had been dead for some weeks, and was almost dried up. It had cloven hoofs, and its hair was fine and short as the fur of a mouse. It was taken to the Blue Bell, and hundreds of people came to see it from all the country round; but none of them ever named it.

    The animal in the briars is very strange. It almost sounds as if someone had found the creature dead on the road and then hurled him into the undergrowth where he had caught. If it hadn’t been for the cloven hoof a dead white cat (am assuming was white?) might have been the best bet: or an albino fox. But cloven hoofs… A shaved goat?

    Perhaps most interesting is that there is no other record of this monster corpse in the only local pub: it is a nice example how a bit of local history seen by hundreds can be forgotten in the space of a half century.

    24 Sep 2014: Invisible writes: ‘Could the white-furred boggart have been the mammalian equivalent of a Jenny Haniver? Hundreds of people coming to the pub to see it might have been an incentive to shave a goat or doctor some other animal corpse.’ And Borky offers a more mystical explanation: ‘Beach is it me or does the boggart “caught in briars overhanging the brook which ran through the dingle” smack of a sort o’ Golden Fleece fallen on hard times which afterall itself came off the back of a sort o’ ram shaped water vaultin’ super boggart? I’m also struck by its curious fate which if it really were a boggart looks almost vindictively cruel ie a creature associated with regions o’ dampness dandled over a water source unable t’escape until it dried out [were all those fire breathin’ bulls surroundin’ the Fleece really there t’protect it or t’keep it dried out?]. [If the account were from a Katharine Briggs type book o’ course the explanation’d be Emmanuel Hird was precisely the rare kind o’ powerful seer other categories o’ fairies etc thrive on an’ when the boggart drove the Balder-like human sun from their midst they took their Loki-like revenge]. It also now occurs t’me fairies etc like Apollo’re long associated with launchin’ their disease inducin’ revenge with teensy weensy mystical arrows. Is it possible once upon a time the bog part o’ boggart was related in some way t’the word bow implyin’ the blind unreasonin’ panic boggarts induced in the likes o’ Manny Hird was also conceived as bein’ brought about by the launch of invisible projectiles?’ thanks, Invisible and Borky!