Wednesday, 3 July 2013

A dreadful tale of a ghostly black dog

I met up with a friend for lunch in a cafe just off Bread St.  He then took me up to the rooftop terrace and we explored the city skyline.  St Paul's dominated the foreground, and receding into the middle distance we saw  boxy modern buildings glowering over church spires, busy cranes creating yet more architectural wonders(?), the gentle tracery of the London Eye, and the Oxo tower squashed between two dull office blocks.

Then off to my radiotherapy appointment and back home.

But I haven't mentioned the ghostly black dog yet.  I had forty minutes to spare before lunch so off I went to bag another city church. Just along Newgate St is St Sepulchre's.  The door was locked so I was limited to the tiny garden containing the old churchyard, which included several crumbling tombs,  One of these had  large gaps in the stonework.  I've often wondered what is actually inside these tombs - skeletons, leaded coffins, urns?  I fumbled in my rucksack for my LED torch, and shining it through the gaps, I peered inside.  Empty.

But the ghostly dog? I'm just coming to that.

Outside the church was a sign about the infamous Newgate Prison which once stood nearby. Newgate was rife with  ghost stories, one of the most famous being the Black Dog of Newgate.  In 1596 a scholar, imprisoned for practicing sorcery, was killed and eaten by starving inmates.  A ghostly black dog appeared soon afterwards, and although the terrified prisoners managed to escape, the dog haunted them wherever they went.

Ever since then people have reported seeing a stalking black shadow accompanied by a hideous smell and the sound of dragging footsteps...

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