Friday, October 17

A Time Slip Helped Him Glimpse The London Body Snatchers

Hanging Sword Alley Source: Museum of London
Peter Lewis worked on a newspaper in Fleet Street, London. He was returning to his office after a break from Tudor Street. He and a colleague were running late so they took a short cut along a narrow footpath called Hanging Sword Alley.

It was late at night and the passage was dimly lit. They crossed another footpath and both of them couldn't believe what they were seeing. Lewis said:

"Slowly both of us looked back the way we had come. Perched on a step to a building doorway was a large sack which we had not noticed on the way past.

From the neck of the sack protruded a large human hand,"

I think I would have carried on walking as fast as I could, but Lewis went and looked at the sack and could see that it was a real hand. He could make out the veins and texture of the skin. He looked more closely but couldn't bring himself to touch the hand.

He noted that the sack was big enough to have contained a body as well.

The couple rushed on, knowing they would have to tell the police what they had seen. Before doing so, however, Lewis returned to the path and to where they had seen the sack. It was gone.

The strange thing is that the area looked different. This was only 2 or 3 minutes following the sighting. He decided not to phone the police but scoured the news for any stories of a body or hand being found in the area. He discussed this with his companion and said of this:

"We agreed on what we had seen. Particularly the unearthly clarity of the vision and the disturbing feeling it gave us both. There were two of us sharing one experience. It could not be dismissed as imaginary. I wondered if we had time-travelled into a previous century for those few moments. Or else the sack had done so into ours."

Okay, you might write this all off as some sort of fantasy but Hanging Sword Alley was mentioned in Charles Dickens The Tale Of Two Cities. To quote from the book:

"The scene was Mr. Cruncher's private lodging in Hanging-sword-alley, Whitefriars: the time, half-past seven of the clock on a windy March morning, Anno Domini seventeen hundred and eighty. (Mr. Cruncher himself always spoke of the year of our Lord as Anna Dominoes: apparently under the impression that the Christian era dated from the invention of a popular game, by a lady who had bestowed her name upon it.)"

The sign today
Mr Cruncher (Jerry Cruncher) had a night-time job: body-snatching! He, along with his gang, went to cemeteries to dig up recently buried bodies, which they sold on to London's medical schools.

Dickens based his story on fact. Body-snatching really happened and, what's more, centred around Hanging Sword Alley. This is on record at London's Old Bailey court and is why Dickens used that particular alley in his book.

Hanging Sword Alley has unfortunately now gone due of redevelopment but a sign remains.

The question is though, what did Peter Lewis and his companion see? A ghostly scene from another age?

Other Random Posts:
The Tickling Ghosts
Are You Ready For A Ghostly Bump In The Night?
The Giants Of Tenerife Left Over From Atlantis

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  1. Fascinating account of a very strange experience and a wonderful Dickens connection!

  2. Decided to come read this post before going to the next. Wow, I think it would shake me up to find a sack with a body - and then it disappears? London has some of the most unusual happenings. Okay now let's see what the "bedsit" is about... yipes!