On the hill to the south of this mansion [Creech Grange], a.. Phenomenon is recorded to have been observed.. This was the visionary semblance of a vast number of armed men, apparently several thousands, who appeared to be marching from Flower's Barrow, over Grange Hill: at the same time a great noise, and clashing of arms, was supposed to be heard. Yeah but why would local people used to these fogs interpret them as soldiers? You'll have to do better than that to convince me. From p401 of The Beauties of England and Wales, Or, Delineations, Topographical, Historical, and Descriptive of each County. Vol 4. John Britton and Edward Wedlake Brayley, 1803. Online at Google Books.
These appearances were observed on an evening in December, 1678, by Captain John Laurence, then owner of Grange, his brother, and "by all the people in the cottages and hamlets thereabouts, who left their supper and houses, and came to Wareham, and alarmed the town; on which the boats were all drawn to the north side of the river, and the bridge barricadoed [sic]. Three hundred of the militia were also marched to Wareham; and Captain Laurence and his brother went post to London, and deposed the particulars on oath before the Council.*
*Hutchin's Dorset, Vol1 p327, ad Edit.
"I have in my possesion," continues our author, "an original letter, written by Mr. Thomas Dolman, I suppose then clerk of the Council, dated December 14, 1678, directed to George Fulford, and Robert Cotton, Esqrs. Officers of the Militia, wherein he tells them, Mr. Secretary Coventry had communicated their letter of the 10th instant, touching the number of armed men, pretended to be seen in Purbeck, to the Lords of the Council, who commanded him to let them know, that they took in good part their care of putting themselves in a posture of defence; and that the contrivers and spreaders of this false news were ordered to be sent for, to be dealt with according to their deserts; and had not Captain Laurence and his family been of known affection to the Government, he would have been severely punished.
This phenomenon seems to have been owing to the thick fogs and mists that often hang on the hills in Purbeck, and form grotesque appearances of craggy rocks, and ruins of buildings. At this time the evening sun might glance on these, which, assisted and improved by a strong imagination, caused the spectators to fancy what never existed."
Posted by Rhiannon
18th March 2007ce