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  • The Headless Bear and the Woman Who Became a Hoop June 7, 2016

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern , trackback

    headless bear

    Headless bears must be one of the strangest of all British bogeys. Where do they come from, what do they mean? This is a question for another day. But here is the single most detailed account of an encounter with one. The events described too place 9 May 1584 in the house of one Stephen Cooper ‘a man of good wealth and well-beloved of his neighbors’. Stephen was ill and sent his wife Margaret on a job away from the house to look after a farm of his in nearby Gloucestershire. While there Margaret began to experience some form of possession, which followed her back home. Her husband attempted to cure her with the Lord’s Prayer, and from then on in things get sixteenth-century strange.

    Then [Stephen] calld for [Margaret’s] Sister, for that he was not able to keep her in the bed: which when her Sister and [Br]other were come to the Chamber, they kept her down violently in the bed: and forthwith she was so sore tormented that she foamed at the mouth, and was saken with such force that the Bed and the Chamber did shake and move in most strange sort: her husband continued praying for her deliverance: so that within one half hour after her shaking was left, she began to tell them that she had been in Town to beat away the Bear which followed her into the Yard when she came out of the Country, which to her thinking had no head. Then her husband and friends persuaded her to leave those vain imaginations, persuading her that it was nothing but the lightness of her brain which was become idle for want of rest. Wherefore her husband and friends persuaded her to say the Lord’s Prayer with them, which she did, and after took some small rest: and thus they remained until the Sunday following: in which time she continued raging as it were bestraught of her memory, which came by fits, to the great grief of her husband, friends, and neighbors.

    So far we have, apparently, an episode of mental illness. However, her visions are about to be shared by the whole household: folie à deux?

    Well (quoth she) if you see nothing now, you shalt see something by-and-by: and forthwith they heard a noise in the street as it had been the coming of two or three Carts, and presently they in the Chamber cried out saying: Lord help us what manner of thing is this that commeth here. Then her husband looking up in his bed espied a thing come to the bed much like unto a Bear but it had no head nor tail, half a yard in length and half a yard in height: her husband seeing it come up to the bed, rose up and took a joined stool and struck at the said thing, the stroke sounded as though he had broken upon a featherbed: then it came to the woman and struck her three times upon the feet, and took her out of the bed, and so rolled her to and fro in the Chamber, and under the bed: The people there present to the number of seven persons were so greatly amazed with this horrible sight, that they knew not what to do, yet they called still upon God for his assistance: but the Candle was so dim that they could scarcely see one another. At the last this Monster which we suppose to be the Devil, did thrust the woman’s head between her legs and so rolled her in a round compass like a hoop through three other Chambers down a high pair of stairs in the hall, where he kept her the space of a quarter of an hour: Her husband and they in the Chamber above dared not come down to her, but remained in prayer weeping at the stairs’ head, grievously lamenting to see her so carried away. There was such an horrible stink in the hall, and such firy flames, that they were glad to stop their noses with cloths and napkins. Then the woman cried out calling to her husband, now he is gone: then (quoth he) in the name of God come up to me, and so even upon the suddan she was come so quickly that they greatly marveled at it. Then they brought her to bed, and four of them kept down the clothes about the bed, and continued in Prayer for her.

    After this a ghostly child (an angel?) comes and Margaret’s ordeal is at an end. Beach will put a wager that there are no other examples of men or women being rolled around a house like a hoop by supernatural entities. Drbeachcombing AT yahoo DOT com Note that most of this seems to have gone on out of view of the household.