“TO HELL AND BACK” and More Terrifying True Tales! #WeirdDarkness
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IN THIS EPISODE: What is it truly like in hell? Of course the only way to find out is to die – and that’s a bit extreme if you are just simply curious about the subject. Especially if you find yourself on the wrong side of the faith issue and have to spend an eternity in the “bad place”. But there are some who have reached the edge of life, teetering on the precipice of death, and believe they have experienced the fires of hell, and they were somehow able to return to tell us of their experience. (To Hell and Back) *** Most people are already familiar with the story of the ghost of Abraham Lincoln in the White House, but he is not lonely, not by far. There are many who have claimed to have seen, heard, and even felt ghosts while in the White House… even in the Oval Office itself. (Ghosts of the Oval Office) *** Do you sometimes experience visions of future events? You have dreams and sometimes they come true later? What should you do if you are having realistic premonitions? (Handling Your Premonitions) *** Jane Cakebread loved her liquor… a lot. How deep was that love? Well, she was arrested hundreds of times and convicted an amazing 281 times for drunkenness. (The Drunkest Woman In The World) *** In olden times, pure and reliable water was the staff of life – so a well with fresh water was a godsend. But what if that well is haunted? (The Haunted Holy Well) *** Growing up together as next door neighbors, a boy has a crush on a beautiful young girl – but the crush turns into obsession, and that obsession lead to the end of two lives. (In Love With The Girl Next Door)
TRANSCRIPT FOR THIS EPISODE…
Find a full or partial transcript at the bottom of this blog post.
MENTIONED IN THIS EPISODE…
“Myths About Hell” afterword: https://youtu.be/H3SlErZJaP8
ARTICLE: William Desmond Taylor: https://weirddarkness.com/archives/4034
EPISODE: Including Virginia Rappe story: https://weirddarkness.com/archives/996
EPISODE: Including Jean Spangler story: https://weirddarkness.com/archives/3660
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STORY AND MUSIC CREDITS/SOURCES…
(Over time links can and may become invalid, disappear, or have different content.)
“Handling Your Premonitions” by Stephen Wagner for Live About: https://tinyurl.com/y9gd6axa
“The Drunkest Woman in the World” by Geri Walton: https://tinyurl.com/ybtfgr9l
“The Haunted Holy Well” by Chris Lloyd for The Northern Echo: https://tinyurl.com/y9w8yktt
“In Love With The Girl Next Door” by Robert Wilhelm for Murder By Gaslight: https://tinyurl.com/y2snzy89
“Ghosts of the Oval Office” by Paul Seaburn for Mysterious Universe: https://tinyurl.com/y8vjd6kv
“To Hell and Back” by Katherine Ripley for Ranker: https://tinyurl.com/y8payubb
Weird Darkness theme by Alibi Music Library. Background music, varying by episode, provided by Alibi Music, EpidemicSound and/or AudioBlocks with paid license; Shadows Symphony (http://bit.ly/2W6N1xJ), Midnight Syndicate (http://amzn.to/2BYCoXZ), and/or Nicolas Gasparini/Myuu (https://www.youtube.com/user/myuuji) used with permission.
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I always make sure to give authors credit for the material I use. If I somehow overlooked doing that for a story, or if a credit is incorrect, please let me know and I’ll rectify it the show notes as quickly as possible.
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Most people who go through a near death experience come back talking about the tranquillity of the experience and how they have seen bright lights which they perceive to be a heavenly afterlife. But there are an unlucky few who believe that they have experienced the darkest side of all… they have known HELL. One woman who wishes to remain anonymous, spoke of her experiences when she technically ‘died’ for some time while undergoing an operation. She says she floated above the operating table and saw them trying to revive her. She felt a pull on her, and flew out through the very top of the room. She remembered very clearly floating above the light fixture on the ceiling and then there being darkness. Suddenly she found herself floating above the ground several inches just above a field of dirt. In front of her was a very large chasm, deep, very dark, she couldn’t see the bottom of it from where she was. On the other side of the chasm was a beautiful field. Green grass, flowers, trees and sunlight. On her side of the chasm however, it was overcast and very little light, no vegetation just brown dirt. A pair of hands then reached out of the blackness and started pulling at her, almost like ripping the flesh from her legs and feet, causing horrific pain. The hands ripped at her and she felt pain like she had never felt before. Finally she came to the dirt side of the chasm again. Then blackness. Then she was on the ceiling of her room in the hospital again and she saw her body spasm violently and her arm smacked the doctors arm breaking his watch, before she was eventually revived. She had apparently returned from hell.
I’m Darren Marlar and this is Weird Darkness.
Welcome, Weirdos – this is Weird Darkness. Here you’ll find stories of the paranormal, supernatural, legends, lore, crime, conspiracy, mysterious, macabre, unsolved and unexplained.
While you’re listening, you might want to check out the Weird Darkness website. At WeirdDarkness.com you can find transcripts of the episodes, paranormal and horror audiobooks I’ve narrated, streaming video of Horror Hosts and old horror movies, plus you can visit the “Hope In The Darkness” page if you are struggling with depression, anxiety, or thoughts of suicide. You can also shop the Weird Darkness Store for podcast merchandise, and 100% of all profits I make from the store are donated to the International Foundation for Research and Education of Depression. You can find all of that and more at WeirdDarkness.com.
Coming up in this episode of Weird Darkness…
Most people are already familiar with the story of the ghost of Abraham Lincoln in the White House, but he is not lonely, not by far. There are many who have claimed to have seen, heard, and even felt ghosts while in the White House… even in the Oval Office itself.
Do you sometimes experience visions of future events? You have dreams and sometimes they come true later? What should you do if you are having realistic premonitions?
Jane Cakebread loved her liquor… a lot. How deep was that love? Well, she was arrested hundreds of times and convicted an amazing 281 times for drunkenness.
In olden times, pure and reliable water was the staff of life – so a well with fresh water was a godsend. But what if that well is haunted?
Growing up together as next door neighbors, a boy has a crush on a beautiful young girl – but the crush turns into obsession, and that obsession lead to the end of two lives.
What is it truly like in hell? Of course the only way to find out is to die – and that’s a bit extreme if you are just simply curious about the subject. Especially if you find yourself on the wrong side of the faith issue and have to spend an eternity in the “bad place”. But there are some who have reached the edge of life, teetering on the precipice of death, and believe they have experienced the fires of hell, and they were somehow able to return to tell us of their experience.
Now.. bolt your doors, lock your windows, turn off your lights, and come with me into the Weird Darkness!
People of all religions debate whether hell is real , but for the people I’m about to tell you about, the question is not up for discussion. These are people who truly believe they have gone to hell and came back to tell everyone that it is a place you never, ever want to end up in. Most of these people claim to have seen hell during near-death experiences, but not in all cases. For some, you don’t have to be almost-dead in order to experience an after-death torment or get a glimpse of the place of eternal damnation. So what is hell like, according to these travelers? Some of their descriptions are rather conventional, with lots of fire and endless suffering. Some of the descriptions are more creative and resemble Greek myths like Tantalus. In every case though, getting a glimpse of hell changed these people’s lives forever.
Angie Fenimore attempted suicide in January 1991 and claims to have visited hell before she was saved. After being subject to a “life review,” where she had to relive her entire life as a series of images, she entered hell. At first, all she saw was endless darkness and a group of other young people whom she refers to as “the suicides.” She also spent time in a different part of hell where lost souls rambled through a field, too miserable to interact with one another. Fenimore has since been named Her Royal Majesty Princess Angie Fenimore, the Divine Royal of Utah and the Prophetess and Leader of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latte Dei Saints.
In May 1997, Jennifer Perez nearly lost her life after a group of friends drugged her soda and attempted to sexually assault her. Perez was hospitalized for three days, where she slipped in and out of consciousness. During this time, Perez claims she floated out of her body. She was led first to heaven, then to hell: “When we stopped, I opened my eyes, and I was standing on a great road. I didn’t know where it leads to. But the first thing that I felt there was thirst. I was really thirsty! I kept telling the angel, ‘I’m thirsty, I’m thirsty!’ But it was like he didn’t even hear me. I started to cry, and when the tears ran down my cheeks, they completely evaporated. There was the smell of sulfur, like burning tires. I tried to cover my nose, but that made it even worse. All my five senses were very sensitive. When I tried to cover myself, I could smell the sulfur even more. Also, all those little hairs on my arms, they just disappeared. I felt all the heat, it was very hot.” Perez witnessed people being tormented by terrifying demons, and though she tried, she could do nothing to save them. After she was given this glimpse of hell, she was led back to heaven, where God gave her a second chance at life.
Matthew Botsford was shot in the back of the head outside a restaurant in March 1992 . To save his life, doctors put him in a medically induced coma which lasted 27 days. Botsford claimed to have spent that time shackled and dangling over a pit of magma being tormented by terrifying, four-legged creatures who would devour his flesh only to have it grow back to be devoured again. However, he says that worse than all these torments was the profound loneliness and isolation he felt, as every sufferer in hell is totally alone. Eventually, a gigantic hand pulled him out, while a voice said, “It’s not your time.”
In December 1943, Dr. George Ritchie, who was suffering from pneumonia, perished for nine minutes. Ritchie claims his spirit rose from his hospital bed and glimpsed his dead body below before Jesus escorted him through a tour of the afterlife. One section of hell was reserved for people who can never fulfill their longings. He saw dead people in a bar desperately grasping for drinks, and smokers reaching out for cigarettes in vain. In another part of hell, Ritchie saw a huge fight between souls of the dead, with endless physical conflict and terrible, perverse acts.
Howard Storm was a strident atheist until he nearly died from a perforated stomach in June 1985. He “woke up” in his hospital bed and realized he was a ghost. A group of figures then led him into a dark hallway filled with thick fog. He followed the figures as they retreated farther down the hallway, struggling to keep up. Eventually, these shadowy demons began eating his flesh. As he was tormented, a voice in his head told him to “pray to God.” Though Storm had never prayed before, he tried his best, and his prayers saved his life. After his near-death experience, Storm became a United Church of Christ minister.
In September 1985, 15-year-old Tamara Laroux attempted suicide by shooting herself in the chest. After pulling the trigger, she found herself in a fiery pit, where hundreds of souls were screaming in agony, unable to talk to one another, even though they were crowded together. Laroux also says she saw a creature with dragon-like heads, “more fierce than anything that the earth has ever seen.” Then, a shining hand descended and carried her up to heaven, before depositing her back in her own home again. Laroux survived because the bullet missed her heart by a quarter of an inch, and now dedicates her life to teaching others about the truth of hell.
In April 1985, Father Jose Maniyangat was hit by a drunk driver and nearly lost his life. Maniyangat claims he saw heaven, hell, and purgatory during his near-death experience. He says hell is about 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit and filled with souls screaming in agony. He also says there are seven levels of hell, and you are assigned to a level based on the severity of the sins you have committed. Interestingly, Maniyangat claims to have seen fellow priests and bishops suffering in hell. “Many of them were there because they had misled the people with false teaching and bad example,” he says.
Bill Wiese claims to have visited hell even though he did not have a near-death experience. Wiese was already a devout Christian who lived a normal, peaceful life. Then, on November 28, 1998, at exactly 3 AM, Wiese was suddenly “plunged into hell.” He describes being trapped in a 15-foot-by-10-foot cell with giant, foul-smelling reptile-human creatures who went after him. At last, he woke up in his own bed again at 3:23 AM and dedicated his life to spreading the word that hell is real.
A Polish nun named Sister Faustina claimed to have visited hell in 1936. She wrote about the experience in her diary, where she described hell as one torment after another, from eternal darkness to a “terrible suffocating smell.” However, the worst torments are psychological – the “perpetual remorse of conscience” and the loss of hope. In addition to this general despair, there are caves and grottoes equipped with special torments designed for different kinds of sinners. “I would have died at the very sight of these tortures,” she writes, “if the omnipotence of God had not supported me.”
Another nun, Sister Josefa Menendez , claims to have visited hell several times over the course of her short life. In 1922 and 1923, right before she passed, she wrote about her experiences in hell, which included being squeezed between burning planks, getting pierced by red hot irons, and constantly smelling the putrid scent of burning flesh. In her account, she writes, “A sickening stench asphyxiates and corrupts everything, it is like the burning of putrefied flesh, mingled with tar and sulfur… a mixture to which nothing on earth can be compared.” Menendez passed at the age of 33, after, she claims, God led her on many terrible visits to hell.
I’ve actually created an afterword to this story, talking about the “Myths About Hell” – but it does take a decidedly Christian direction – a kind of “Weird DarkChurch” if you will. If you’re interested in hearing it though, I’ve placed a link in the show notes.
Most people are already familiar with the story of the ghost of Abraham Lincoln in the White House, but he is not lonely, not by far. There are many who have claimed to have seen, heard, and even felt ghosts while in the White House… even in the Oval Office itself.
Do you sometimes experience visions of future events? You have dreams and sometimes they come true later? What should you do if you are having realistic premonitions?
These stories and more when Weird Darkness returns.
As a Weirdo family member I know you’re already a fan of all things dark and scary, so I was thrilled when I found out that AMC’s SHUDDER channel wanted to work with me and give Weird Darkness listeners a special deal. If you don’t know about Shudder, it’s awesome – it is all things dark. Horror, thrillers, even documentaries – and all bloody great! I’ve been watching Shudder on my Roku during the day, and then once in a while I’ll lay in bed at night and watch it through the Shudder mobile app. You can get it just about everywhere you consume content. Aside from classic horror films on the channel like “The Changeling”, “Halloween”, “The Exorcist”, “Night of the Living Dead” and so on, they have a ton of exclusive content you won’t find anywhere else other than Shudder that I’ve really been enjoying. They have a documentary series called “Cursed Films” which is exactly what it sounds like – they take a deep dive into films that have been surrounded by tragedy either during filming or afterward, and it is fascinating. It very much something I would’ve done on Weird Darkness for a story – but they do it SO much better than I ever could! I would also highly recommend Eli Roth’s “History of Horror” series – it was not only entertaining, but informative; I learned a LOT about films I thought I knew everything about. Shudder also has the original series “Creepshow” based on the film, and I have to say, the writing on those episodes is some of the best horror fiction writing for the screen I’ve ever watched. And if you like our Weirdo Watch Parties, you’ll love Shudder’s “The Last Drive-in WithJoe Bob Briggs”. A lot of people know that name – well, he’s brought his show to Shudder! Or if you don’t know what to watch, you can just click on “Shudder TV” and you’ll get a constant stream of killer content that plays non-stop 24/7! Shudder already gives anyone who visits their site a 7-day free trial, which is very generous – but Weird Darkness listeners get a special deal. Shudder loves us, so they are giving you a full month for free. A full 30 days of Shudder absolutely free! All you have to do is go to Shudder.com, that’s S-H-U-D-D-E-R dotcom, Shudder.com, and then use the promo code “weirddarkness” all one word, no spaces. That’s Shudder.com, and promo code “weirddarkness” all one word. Horror comedies, slasher films, anthologies, zombie flicks, even the classic horror that inspired it all, Shudder has it. Get a full 30 days to try it out absolutely free. Go to Shudder.com S-H-U-D-D-E-R dotcom and use the promo code “weirddarkness” all one word to get this special deal just for Weirdo family members! Shudder.com, promo code “weirddarkness”!
A recent book by Bob Woodward, Pulitzer Prize-winning Washington Post writer and co-author of All the President’s Men, made the rounds and numerous passages were quoted, debated and disputed. One that was particularly intriguing claimed that the current president believes there are ghosts in the Oval Office, particularly the spirit of President Lyndon Johnson who likes to knock papers on the floor. It turns out the story is not in Woodward’s book (it was traced to a fake Twitter site) but there are plenty of people who claim to have seen, heard, felt or feared ghosts throughout the White House ever since it was built. There are plenty more than just the spirit of Honest Abe prowling his old bedroom.
That’s a good place to start though, since the long list of people who claim to have seen Abraham Lincoln’s ghost includes Presidents Theodore Roosevelt, Herbert Hoover, and Dwight Eisenhower; First Ladies Jacqueline Kennedy and Lady Bird Johnson; British Prime Minister Winston Churchill, Queen Wilhelmina of the Netherlands and numerous presidential children and relatives. The first person to report seeing Lincoln’s ghost was First Lady Grace Coolidge, who claimed to see him at a window in the Oval Office. The last reported sighting of Lincoln’s ghost was in the 1980s by a White House employee.
Lincoln’s 11-year-old son Willie died of typhoid fever in the White House in 1862 and many people have seen his spirit, possibly including his mother, Mary Todd Lincoln, who held spirit circles and seances after his death in the Red Room (a parlor on the first or State Floor which leads into the State Dining Room). Mary Lincoln is also one of many who reported hearing the ghost of Andrew Jackson laughing in the Queens’ Bedroom or Rose Room, where many have also seen Jackson’s ghost lying on the bed.
Other presidents who can’t seem to let go of the White House include John Tyler, who haunts the Blue Room (another first floor parlor) with his second wife, Julia Gardner, with whom he had seven children and married while in office after his first wife, Letitia Christian, died of a stroke in the White House after bearing eight of his children. Perhaps Tyler is just trying to find a quiet place to escape all those kids in the afterlife. Tyler was the first vice president to assume office after the death of a president. In his case, he followed William Henry Harrison, whose ghost has been seen in the White House attic or third floor where the First Family can relax in a billiards room, a workout room, a music room or a sun room (or any place Harrison isn’t). Is it required for the vice president to take over in the afterlife as well?
Speaking of First Ladies, their spirits also like to stick around the White House. Dorothea “Dolley” Madison loved the place, holding many parties there during her husband’s two terms. She saved George Washington’s portrait when the British set fire to the White House in 1814 and helped manage its redecoration. Madison succeeded Thomas Jefferson and Dolley also served as a stand-in First Lady for the widower. While you’d expect to find her ghost inside, the most popular story is that gardeners during the Wilson administration were told by Mrs. Wilson to dig up the Rose Garden, first planted by Dolley Madison, and they refused after seeing her ghost. A great tale, but the Rose Garden was an invention of the first Mrs. Wilson, not Dolley.
Another presidential spouse whose spirit was seen in the White House is the second First Lady, Abigail Adams. She’s been seen carrying a load of laundry (really!) in the East Room (the largest room in the White House and often used for receptions and press conferences) where she reportedly had her servants hang clothes to dry because the rest of the White House was too damp … and you can’t have a clothes line on the front lawn of the people’s house!
While most of these ghosts seem to be benevolent, there are few who may still be in the White House out of spite. Multiple people have heard a voice identifying himself as David Burns, the man who owned the land before it was confiscated by the government to build the house. The most famous evil ghost is naturally tied to Abraham Lincoln. Mary Surratt owned a boarding house where John Wilkes Booth stayed and she was arrested after the assassination as a co-conspirator. Despite pleading innocent, she was found guilty and hanged, she was the first woman executed by the US federal government. While you’d expect her ghost to be there looking for the ghost of Andrew Johnson who refused to grant her clemency, many have instead seen and heard the ghost of her daughter Anne pounding on the door of the White House and begging for her mother’s release. If you’re there on July 7, the anniversary of her mother’s hanging, you might see her sitting on the front steps.
Bob Woodward would probably have a tough time corroborating these ghost stories, but it’s certainly more fun to read and retell them than the tales of the DC living.
Ebenezer Stanyard and Alice Hancock (sometimes spelled “Hancox”) were next-door neighbors in Youngstown, Ohio. Both of their families had emigrated from England and Ebenezer, and Alice had been playmates from an early age. But by 1887, when Alice turned 17, their paths had diverged. Alice, a pretty, petite brunette, was bright and popular, while Ebenezer, who could barely read and write, was considered weak-minded. Alice had moved on to more congenial company, but Ebenezer had become obsessively in love with her.
When Alice refused Ebenezer’s advances, he became more determined to have her. He was often loitering around her house, and her brother had caught Ebenezer peeking through her window. After that, the Hancock family kept their doors locked out of fear that Ebenezer might enter and commit assault. Reportedly, Ebenezer had asserted that Miss Hancock would not live to marry anyone else.
The night of March 25, 1887, Wilbur Knox, a 20-year-old mechanic, came to call on Alice. They had planned to walk together to the home of Alice’s sister. As Wilbur approached her door, he saw Ebenezer skulking around the house and said to him, “Eber, you ought to be ashamed of yourself in frightening this poor girl.” Ebenezer uttered a threat and walked away.
When Wilbur and Alice left her house, they saw no sign of Ebenezer, but as they passed his house, Ebenezer jumped up from behind the gate holding a five-shot revolver. He fired twice, hitting nothing, but he held the pistol so close that the powder burned their faces. The third shot hit Wilbur in the right hand, severing his index finger. The fourth shot shattered Alice’s left arm. Then he placed the revolver against Alice’s right temple and fired the shot that killed her.
Ebenezer fled, and Wilbur chased after him. When Wilbur caught him, a struggle ensued, and Ebenezer managed to escape by beating Wilbur’s head with the empty revolver. Ebenezer managed to elude capture until the next morning when the police found him and took him to jail.
Ebenezer Stanyard was charged with first-degree murder, and when the case went to trial the following May, his plea was insanity. In addition to testimony regarding his behavior, Ebenezer’s mother provided documents from England proving that the sister of Ebenezer’s grandfather and the brother of his grandmother were both insane. The jury was not impressed; they took just two and a half hours to find him guilty. He was sentenced to hang on November 25.
Stanyard’s attorneys filed an appeal on the grounds that two witnesses had been asked about Stanyard’s sanity without stating any facts on which they based their opinion, and the judge had not properly instructed the jury regarding insanity. Just four days before the scheduled hanging, he was granted a new trial. Stanyard told the guard that he did not intend to hang and would have committed suicide if the new trial had not been granted. The guards searched him and found an iron table knife, pointed and sharpened on both sides, hanging on a string around his neck.
The defense’s request for a change of venue for the new trial was not granted, and the court had difficulty filling a jury in Youngstown with men who had not already made up their minds on the case. When the trial finally began Stanyard again pled insanity and for the entire three weeks of testimony kept his head bowed expressing no interest in the proceedings or evidence. Regarding Stanyard’s insanity, the Cleveland Leader said, “If he is acting a part he has studied it well, as his attitude each day is the same.” However, Ebenezer Stanyard was found guilty a second time and sentenced to hang on July 13, 1888, and this time his request for a new trial was refused.
Before ascending the scaffold on July 13, Ebenezer Stanyard played “Listen to the Mocking Bird” on the accordion. On the scaffold, he began a rambling speech protesting his innocence that continued as the black hood was placed over his head. He was still talking when the trap was sprung at 1:15. He died 18 minutes later.
The rare places where safe and fresh water sprang miraculously from the ground were known for miles around and were treated with the greatest reverence from pagan times.
As the North-East became Christianised, so the springs became regarded as holy wells. Many of them were dedicated to saints whose miraculous intervention was believed to have caused this life-giving water to gush endlessly out of the ground.
In County Durham, there are believed to be at least 30 holy wells which once had religious significance.
The best preserved is probably the Holy Well in Wolsingham, which is dedicated to saints Godric and Aelric and which has a stone byre over its head.
Others now are lost, just names on a map that hint at a sacred spot: Holywell Burn at Willington, Holywell House at Staindrop or Halliwell Beck at Heighington.
The city of Durham has more than its fair share of holy wells – one of which even has its own ghost.
“Possibly the best preserved is the Flass Well, which can be accessed by the steps at the top of Mowbray Street and Flass Street,” says Peter Makepeace, who wants to draw attention to its current condition. “It was used by local people during the winters of 1947-48 and 1962-63, when it provided pure spring water, but it is now so overgrown and full of rubbish that you cannot see it.”
The Flass Well is beneath Redhills, the Durham Miners’ Association’s splendid hall, and as the association restores its site, the historic well will be on its to-do list.
Beneath the overgrowth there should be quite a lot of stonework holding the bank up and providing a seat beside the gushing spring.
Only it gushes no more. Many of the holy wells of County Durham are now dry. Mining affected water levels and, of course, development has redirected many streams.
But does Jeannie, the White Lady, still haunt the Flass Well area?
According to research by the late Peter Jefferies, in 1789, a maid, Jane Ramshaw, was “decoyed from her house at night and murdered”.
The crime caused a sensation. Several men were interviewed, but no culprit was traced, although it is said that some years later, a soldier at the gates of death on a continental battlefield confessed to the murder.
Unavenged, Jeannie may still haunt the damp, dark track beneath the miners’ hall.
But… the word “flass” is an old, northern term meaning “marshy”, and that would be an understandable condition for the land around – Flass Valley – if there is a constantly gushing spring. Marshy land, particularly in the days before streetlights, gives rise to mists through which all sorts of half-seen shapes and spirits can drift complaining about how they were murdered many moons ago…
THE other holy wells of Durham:
The Galilee Well: the Galilee Chapel at the west end of the cathedral was built between 1175 and 1189 over the top of this well. There is a stone wellhead on a footpath beneath the cathedral with a mysterious metal grille over a chasm, but inside now appears to be dry.
St Cuthbert’s Well: near the Galilee Well, the shape of the slope changes, from steep sandstone to less pronounced shale, and St Cuthbert’s Well gushes from between the two rock formations. Its wellhead was restored in the 1970s, including the legend “Fons Cuthbert” and a date of 1600.
St Mary’s Well: it once flowed into the Wear from its south bank beneath South Street, but it has been dry for centuries.
St Oswald’s Well: directly beneath St Oswald’s Church on New Elvet is a well dedicated to the saint which was once a great outpouring – when Samuel Grimm sketched it on his countrywide tour in 1773, it had three basins. Much of its stonework was destroyed by vandals towards the end of the 19th Century.
Fram Well: it doesn’t seem to have been a holy well, just a medieval drinking well. Its wellhead was moved slightly in Framwellgate in 1959 for the street clearances
When Weird Darkness returns…
What should you do if you begin to have visions or dreams that start coming true?
I’ll tell you about Jane Cakebread, quite possibly the drunkest woman to ever have walked the face of the earth.
Plus, we’ll step into the Chamber of Comments.
Our next Weirdo Watch Party is Friday, June 26th and features horror hostess Arachna who brings us “The Ape Man” from 1943 starring Bela Lugosi! The plot is simple: “A crazed scientist accidentally turns himself into a half ape, half human creature, and scrambles to find a cure!” The Weirdo Watch Party is ALWAYS FREE, it’s ALWAYS FUN, and it promotes different horror hosts and shows them we appreciate what they do! Our last party with Igorro had people from 113 countries in 933 cities watching! So join us Friday, June 26th with Arachna and the 1943 Bela Lugosi horror film “The Ape Man!” The fun starts at 7:00pm Pacific, 8:00pm Mountain, 9:00pm Central, 10:00pm Eastern on the Weirdo Watch Party page at WeirdDarkness.com!
In the weeks following the terrible events of September 11, 2001, many people claimed to have had premonitions of the attacks days or even weeks before that fateful day. The problem with the vast majority of alleged premonitions is they are not documented. Anyone can say they’ve had a premonition about a train wreck, World Series outcome, or some other event after the fact. What makes them worthy of serious consideration is proof that you indeed had the premonition well before the event.
Premonitions are a feeling that something is going to happen—it is foretelling the future. Most people have experienced premonitions to one degree or another. The phone rings and you “know” who it is calling, even though the call was unexpected. Sometimes the premonition isn’t as specific, but just as strong or stronger. Perhaps a great, unexplained feeling of sadness has been bothering you all day. It is only later that you learn that a close relative has died.
There are many such instances that we experience now and then, and sometimes (skeptics would say always) they can be attributed to mere coincidence. Others say there’s no such thing as coincidence, but that’s another topic.
There are times, however, when a premonition is so strong that the one experiencing it has little doubt that it is going to happen. These powerful premonitions are much rarer but happen often enough that some paranormal researchers believe they are real. Some people seem to be more sensitive to these types of feelings and may be called “sensitives” or “psychics.”
These feelings are also most powerful among close relatives, where the psychic bond seems to be strongest. And if this talk of “psychic bonds” irks you as sounding like New Age gobbledygook, consider that even some mainstream scientists—quantum physicists and psychiatrists alike—understand more and more that all human consciousness is connected.
Premonitions can be as subtle as a gnawing feeling or can be so overwhelming that they jolt you out of your everyday routine and prevent you from thinking of little else. They can be vague, nothing more than a feeling, or they can be so vivid that some experiencers say it is like watching a film. Premonitions can foretell something that happens a minute later … or weeks or even many months later. They can come while you’re doing the dishes or they can come in dreams.
If you are prone to premonitions that very often come true, or you’ve had a strong premonition about some future event, you must document it. An undocumented premonition is virtually worthless and will not be believed.
You’re probably not going to want to document every little premonition you have. In fact, it may not be possible to document some of them: for example, that phone call that comes just two minutes after your premonition.
Explore this example of documenting a premonition. Although you haven’t talked to her in a while, you’ve had a premonition or a vivid dream that your sister is about to experience a major life change—somehow you just know she’s pregnant. This is just one example, of course; the premonition could be of anything—a plane crash, an accident involving a relative, or a natural disaster.
So how do you document your premonition? There are several ways:
Keep a diary. Get a journal and write down any premonitions you might have. Be sure to note the time and date that you experienced it. The weakness in this method, as far as verification by others is concerned, is that such diaries can be altered and faked— putting down a pre-dated notation for an event that’s already happened. The value of a diary, assuming you are being honest, is that you have a personal record of your premonitions, the success rate of which you can track.
Tell others. Don’t keep your premonitions a secret. You won’t want to become an annoying bore by haranguing your friends with every little premonition you have, but if you think it may be something important, tell someone you trust. It’s another piece of evidence. Using the example I gave previously, you’d certainly want to surprise your sister Mary with your premonition about her pregnancy before she has a chance to tell you. The weakness in this method is that it, too, relies on human honesty and sometimes faulty memories. Using e-mail might be better. Although e-mails can be altered, they are initially date-stamped.
Use a date-stamped location. The best way to document your premonition is in a date-stamped location that is not in your control. You might want to use the Premonitions Project or a similar database to enter your premonition.
These methods provide very convincing and compelling evidence for the date of your premonition.
Regardless of the methods you use, be thorough in the description of your premonition, including as many specifics as you can recall. It’s sometimes difficult to describe feelings but do your best. Describe locations, people, names, landmarks, shapes, colors, smells, temperatures, and emotions that you sensed. Guard against padding your descriptions with things you didn’t really sense. You want to be as accurate and honest as possible.
If you believe your premonition has been fulfilled, be as honest about that as well. It may not be 100 percent accurate, but there should be enough correct detail to verify your premonition. This is where your detailed report comes in. If you just say, “I sense a train wreck somewhere in the eastern U.S. …” your credibility goes way down because, unfortunately, virtually every week there’s a train wreck somewhere in the eastern U.S. The more likely an event is to happen, the less seriously your vague premonition will be taken.
Don’t let your premonitions slip by. The more verifiable evidence we have of this phenomenon, the closer we will come to understanding it.
Jane Cakebread, or “Miss Cakebread” as she liked to call herself, was a homeless and destitute woman considered the drunkest woman in the world in the 1800s. That was because she broke all records being arrested hundreds of times and convicted an amazing 281 times for drunkenness. Her constant drunkenness also meant that she constantly moved from “court to prison, from prison to the streets, thence again to the court.”
She was born to a respectable tradesman from Hertfordshire around the 1820s, perhaps around the time that Napoleon Bonaparte died. Around the age of fifty, Jane Cakebread decided to take to the bottle, but prior to acquiring a reputation as the drunkest woman in the world, Cakebread functioned as a domestic servant working as either a house or parlor maid and recalled her time of sobriety with great pride:
“Dressed like a lady I used to be at one o’clock. Muslin aprons with five tucks in them. …. ‘This is what you write and say: Say as you present your compliments to Mrs. ― and wants to know what sort of a servant Jane Cakebread is. And she will answer that she presents her compliments to you, and has always found that you could trust Jane Cakebread, for honesty, industry, and sobility.’ … I knows just what’s to be done when there’s company, and dozens of champagne bottles I have opened.”
Jane Cakebread drifted from Hertfordshire to London, which is where her drinking began. In London, she was described as shrewd and cleaned face. A Westminster Budget reporter claimed in 1895 that despite her drunkenness her appearance “[bespoke] a totally different class of person from that which might readily be imagined. There are no symptoms upon her of the habitual drunkard.” However, a Dr. Robert Jones involved in insanity and epilepsy related to life insurance policies reported she “was not a drunkard in the ordinary sense … having vanity, love of display and notoriety found in hysterics and other instabilities.”
Thomas Holmes of the Church of England Missionary Society worked in behalf of drunken women. He also wrote a book about the problems in London police courts and came to know Jane Cakebread personally. Of her he provided this eye-opening description:
“Five minutes’ conversation with Jane was quite sufficient to prove to me, at any rate, that she was an absolutely irresponsible creature, of unsound mind; not insane in the ordinary acceptation of the term, yet insane beyond a doubt. Her language in conversation would vary, sometimes choice, grammatical, and well-expressed, the next moment drivel, the next idiotic. I have seen her eyes light up with keen intelligence one moment, and the next moment be dulled with vacancy. [Yet] when before the magistrate she was always at her best, and the knowledge that she was sure to be the cause of many paragraphs next day seemed to brace her up for a special effort.”
Because of her drinking Jane Cakebread became a familiar and regular figure at Worship Street in Clerkenwell and in the North London police courts. Of this familiarity with the law it was reported:
“[T]he smallest amount of drink roused the worst elements within her; a pennyworth of four ale was quite sufficient, and after the nearest policeman she would go. The police often fled at the sight of her; they did not want to take her into custody. Many an officer had bribed her to go away when she approached him. I have seen policemen running away and ‘old Jane’ after them to be taken into custody. When she could not catch them, she would lie down on her back, screaming ‘Murder!’ and ‘Police!’ when of course they had to return and arrest her; but not an inch would she budge then till they had fetched the ‘perambulator,’ as she called the ambulance; and fetched it had to be, and Jane strapped on it, before they got her to the station.”
Magistrates were also highly familiar with Jane Cakebread. Most treated her “kindly and leniently.” Further, it was reported that she was often amusing and verbose when she appeared in court. There she was also reported to regularly state that “it was quite a pleasure to appear before a Metropolitan police magistrate.” In fact, it was maintained:
“[T]he old woman thoroughly enjoyed her periodical visits to the courts. She delighted in the fact that she was always ‘reported,’ and evinced a supreme contempt for the policeman who did not know her.”
One explanation as to alcoholic behavior was detailed in 1905 in The Alienist and Neurologist. It appeared in an article written by Dr. James G. Kernan (a fellow of the Chicago Academy of Medicine, Honorary Member of Chicago Neurological Society, and Professor of Medical Jurisprudence in Dearborn) that was titled, “Mixoscopic Adolescent Survivals in Art, Literature, and Pseudo-ethics.” Kernan stated of Cakebread:
“She desired admiration and approbation, and her exalted ideas of her own importance accorded well with her love of power. The happiness she derived from hearing her name called in the police court amply compensated for a night spent in a cell, and one of her greatest joys consisted in reading clippings or extracts about herself from the police news. Her susceptibility to the opposite sex was merely an esthetic interest springing mainly from vanity. She would put up her hair in curl-papers, decorate herself with bits of ribbon, lace, etc., to impress the doctors on their rounds. Like a child, her greatest pleasure was to ‘show off,’ but she was indifferent and indiscriminating as to her audience. It was accompanied by jealousy, distrust of the nurses, who she thought injured her, and by violent outbursts of anger when praise was not forthcoming.”
Despite Cakebread loving the press she received for her drunkenness and despite all the attention associated with her alcoholism, the English public developed a certain odd affection for her. This caused some to recount of her:
“Queen of her domain, she held the field against all comers. Many were her challengers for notoriety, but they came and went, the grave closed over them, yet she held on. … Her quips and cranks, ready wit, and cool assurance, made her dear to reporters, Jane became national property.”
It is noteworthy that Cakebread’s behavior (her constant drunkenness and notoriety) was the origin behind the Habitual Drunkards Act of 1879. This act allowed authorities to establish retreats for inebriates but payments by inmates were required. Thus, despite the act being well-meaning it excluded many drunkards among the working-class, the very people who were at highest risk and the least able to pay for the retreats.
Private citizens also became involved and tried to help the alcoholics. Among them was Lady Henry Somerset, a British philanthropist, temperance leader, and campaigner for women’s rights. She got involved with drunkenness after a close friend of hers committed suicide while intoxicated.
Lady Somerset founded a rehabilitative center for female alcoholics named the Colony for Women Inebriates. It opened in 1895 in Reigate. At the time, Somerset thought she could help the most well-known alcoholic in the United Kingdom, Jane Cakebread. She therefore took her there only to find her efforts unsuccessful. It seems that “Jane objected to be ‘buried alive’ and made things so unpleasant that at last … [she sent] her back to London.” Similarly, as time passed Holmes also found it increasingly difficult to deal with Jane Cakebread:
“[She] became a great nuisance, not only to the public but especially to my family. As soon as she was discharged from prison she would make her way to the street in which I lived; but she never could remember which was the right house, and as there was a number of houses exactly alike, she invariably began at the first and inquired at every one till she arrived at mine.”
Cakebread wasn’t the only woman who gain notoriety for her drinking. In America, there was a Mary Green of Newark, New Jersey. She had been arrested and discharged numerous times, although in Green’s case she had only been arrest 144 times. Like Cakebread, Green was also the target of reformers. After her release in November 1895, the Sunday News of Pennsylvania reported that Green was intent on making a permanent change, but as the paper noted, it appeared as if it would be unlikely:
“[Green] is seventy years old … has seen a good deal of life in her way and now she wants the quiet and the peace of a respectable home. [She] has experienced and expressed these cravings for the beautiful and the good many times … but a few days later she would be back in her old serving out another thirty or sixty days.”
Another American case of a female drunk was Kate Kelley of Evanston, Illinois. She was said to be a “replica” of Cakebread because like her, Kelley had been arrested hundreds of times over a twenty-five year period shocking “ordinary conventionalities” with her drunkenness. She also displayed unusual characteristics, just like Cakebread, including Jane’s “hysteric desire” for infamy.
Despite Cakebread’s drinking she was said to take excellent care of her teeth. She could be found pounding bricks into a fine brick powder so that she would have “tooth powder” to clean her teeth. She also frequently told stories about her teeth, which were so nice attendants often thought them false and when they tried to remove them for fear she would choke on them, they found themselves involved in a horrendous fight. “She bit right and left, and they soon came to the conclusion that her teeth were best let alone.”
By the 1890s, although some kind-hearted people were on occasion able to provide sanctuary for the elderly Jane Cakebread, she was not always able to find shelter. In fact, she usually only achieved it when she was in incarcerated in the gaol. Indicative of this was that during the great frost of 1894 and 1895 that was referred to in the United Kingdom as the “Little Ice Age,” Cakebread was stuck outdoors for a nine week period. Of this time Holmes noted:
“[H]er lodging the bare ground, her bed a bundle of sticks, her dressing-room the banks of the Lead, where morning by morning she broke the ice that she might wash. ‘Ladies always wash in cold water,’ she was fond of saying.”
Eventually, it was reported that Cakebread was more out of control than ever and that her mental state had worsened. People began suggesting that she be sent to an insane asylum, an idea supported by a medical officer named George E. Walker who examined her. He sent the following report to the magistrate:
“H.M. Prison, Holloway, January 27, 1896, Registered No. 17,706 Jane Cakebread, is well known to me. I have always considered her to be of impaired intellect. Her mental condition has, however, so much deteriorated of late that I am of opinion that she is now not responsible for her actions, and that she should be sent to any asylum.”
With that she was ordered to be removed from the prison, but a fiesty Cakebread was not about to go and gaolers found they had a fight on their hands as they tried to pry her loose from the prisoner dock. Holmes eventually arrived and tried to reason with her telling her that it would be better for her if she cooperated and “ultimately, after a struggle, during which she tried to bite the gaoler, she was secured on the police ambulance, and taken to the Hackney Workhouse.”
Eventually Cakebread’s continued drunkenness landed her inside the lunatic asylum at Claybury in Woodford Bridge, London. English architect George Thomas Hine had won the design competition to create the facility. His “compact arrow design” proved to be more logical than any other layout. The asylum opened in 1893 making it the Fifth Middlesex County Asylum and reportedly one of the most important asylums in England in the late 1800s.
Jane Cakebread was never happy about her incarceration at Claybury. Nonetheless she had to stay and while there the Cardiff Times reported on her stating:
“Though there is an indescribable something wanting in the old lady’s mental capacity, her memory and powers of conversation are as active as ever, and she clings fondly to the hope that she will be able to come out and enjoy her fortune and to reward Mr. Holmes … and others who have been kind to her.”
Cakebread’s unhappiness remained even though she was half-blind and even though Holmes visited her numerous times during the eighteen months that she was there. Just before her death Holmes went again to visit her. He found her lying on her bed in a “half-comatose” state. When he spoke to her he got no response and so bent over and touched her stating that he was Holmes. According to him:
“She half opened her eyes for a moment, and said: ‘You are a liar. Mr. Holmes wouldn’t leave me here.’ Even in death she had some kind of faith in me, and I am glad to remember it.”
When Cakebread died in 1898, she was practically forgotten. A few papers did mention her, among them the Western Mail, who reported on her death by writing a single line that stated:
“Jane Cakebread, who appeared hundreds of times at the police-courts of the Metropolis on charges of being drunk and disorderly, died on Saturday in Claybury Asylum.”
She was buried on 9 December 1898 at the Chingford Mount Cemetery, located in the London Borough of Waltham Forest. The funeral was a low-key, quiet affair. The hearse drove up two men lifted her remains out and placed them in the grave before leaving. The clergyman then read a short service. Holmes and a newspaper reporter were the only two in attendance.
We’ll step into the Chamber of Comments in just a moment. A quick reminder first. Anything you buy in the Weird Darkness store now benefits the International Foundation for Research and Education of Depression. No matter what you buy in the Weird Darkness store – tshirts, mugs, pins, totes, face masks, whatever item – and whatever design – 100% of the profits I receive are now donated to help those who suffer from depression or anxiety. In fact, thanks to you, I was just able to send a donation of $162.50 for the sales received in May. Start shopping now by clicking on STORE at WeirdDarkness.com!
Now, let’s step into the Chamber of Comments…
Here in the Chamber of Comments I answer your emails, comments, podcast reviews, letters I get in the mail, and more. You can find all of my contact information, postal address, and social media links on the CONTACT page at WeirdDarkness.com. While you’re there, join the Facebook Group, “Weird Darkness Weirdos” and hang out with me and the rest of our Weirdo family! Or drop me an email anytime at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
(Email from “Weird Rocker”): Hey Darren – I just want to tell you how much I appreciate your podcast; it’s funny but when I have a really bad day, I listen to your podcast and can feel a lot better. I also appreciate the fact that you are a Christian, it really brightens my day when you give a Bible verse at the end. I also suffer from depression and anxiety and it’s a blessing to know that I’m not alone. God bless you very much and one day soon I will tell you a lot of my stories; man do I have some weird ones! Again God bless you and thank you!
REPLY: Thanks, Rocker! Looking forward to reading your stories someday! And it’s good to hear I have another Weirdo in Christ in the family!
(Email from Rene): I just wanna say thank you for everything you do and for having such a amazing heart and personality. I struggle with depression for most of my life and just last year it got worst since my grandma pass away suddenly. When i got the news i was at work and its tore a hole in my chest. I was looking for a good podcast to listen to on the car ride to go say my goodbyes and weird darkness pop up and i sat in the car for 8 hours just listening to you and hearing you support people with depression. Still right now as I write this im in tears because knowing without you I wouldn’t be here with my family. You help me get thru those tough days and i cant thank you enough. Its a tradition to listen to you at work and pretty much anywhere i go i have you in my ear. Thank you and your wife for being amazing people. Stay strong and keep on trucking. Someday i will be an official weirdo and will support you til your last podcast my dude. When that day come i wont know what to do. So let not let that happen please. Thank you again from the bottom of my heart.
REPLY: Hello, Rene! I plan to do Weird Darkness until I am no longer physically able to do so – and I’m only 51 years old, so hopefully I’ll be around for a long while! Let’s just hope they don’t make computers so complex that I can no longer figure out how to use them anymore – I swear, every new computer I upgrade to is a whole new learning curve – and a more difficult one each time! I’m very very sorry to hear about your grandmother’s passing. Sounds like you were close. I know that death is a part of our mortal existence, but that doesn’t make any easier to accept. And having depression can certainly make it more difficult. You mentioned that the podcast has helped you to get through some tough times recently, which I’m glad about, but I hope you are also reaching out for help elsewhere – either with a local doctor who is helping to find the right treatment for you, or the resources available on the “Hope In The Darkness” page at WeirdDarkness.com.
(Email from Jynna “Jenna”) Good morning Darren! Just wanted to say that I absolutely love your podcast. I listen to it at work every day as well as on my hour long drive to work every morning. I listen to it at home and even got my mother in law to start listening, and have recommended to several friends! I started listening in March of this year and am currently caught up on all of the new episodes and now only have 697 more until I’m 100% caught up on all of the archives. I’m very happy to be part of the weirdo family! I suffer with depression so I have loved getting to look into the resources that you have mentioned and have also given them to a few friends. Keep doing what we all love! Be safe & stay in faith. Love Jenna ofMontana!
REPLY: You’ve only been listening for three months and you’re already brainwashed into the cult of weird! I’m better at my job than I thought! Glad to have you as part of the family, Jynna! I’m really happy to hear that you’re sharing the resources with your friends so they can get help with their depression and anxiety as well, that’s awesome. We tend not to talk about it at all, and if we do, we’re really quiet about it and just look for help for ourselves, so it’s great that you’re being loud about it and giving people hope the way you are.
(YouTube comment from Kristina J. regarding the episode about actress Thelma Todd called “Death of the Ice Cream Blonde”): I have for a long time love to read or follow older cases. Especially those of Old Hollywood cases. Thanks for covering Thelma’s case! People my age don’t even know who she is or the glamour of the time period she lived and sadly died in. I can’t express how much I enjoyed the coverage of Thelma Todd’s case. I hope in the future you consider doing more Old Hollywood cases or mysteries!! I would love to hear you cover Jean Spangler, Virginia Rappe, William Desmond Taylor etc. There are so many mysteries and scandals. I wish someone like you with an open mind, great voice, and so thorough with your research would in fact cover Old Hollywood Mysteries, Scandals, Conspiracies, and Unsolved Crimes among these glamorous people in a glamorous time period. Please consider it.
REPLY: I’m glad you liked that episode, Kristina. I have in fact covered all of those stories you just mentioned. I posted an article written by Orin Grey about William Desmond Taylor on the Weird Darkness website, and stories about both Virginia Rappe and Jean Spangler both can be found in previous episodes. I’ll add links to all of those in the show notes.
I’ll answer more of your emails, comments, and more next time! Again, you can find all of my social media and contact information on the CONTACT page at WeirdDarkness.com.
If you made it this far, welcome to the Weirdo Family. If you liked this episode, please share it on your social media or tell a friend/family member about the podcast and maybe they’ll become a Weirdo family member too! And I’d greatly appreciate you leaving a review in the podcast app you listen from, that helps the podcast get noticed!
Do you have a dark tale to tell of your own? Fact or fiction, click on “Tell Your Story” at WeirdDarkness.com and I might use it in a future episode.
All stories in Weird Darkness are purported to be true (unless stated otherwise), and you can find source links or links to the authors in the show notes.
“Handling Your Premonitions” by Stephen Wagner for Live About
“The Drunkest Woman in the World” by Geri Walton
“The Haunted Holy Well” by Chris Lloyd for The Northern Echo
“In Love With The Girl Next Door” by Robert Wilhelm for Murder By Gaslight
“Ghosts of the Oval Office” by Paul Seaburn for Mysterious Universe
“To Hell and Back” by Katherine Ripley for Ranker
Weird Darkness theme by Alibi Music.
WeirdDarkness™ – is a registered trademark. Copyright ©Weird Darkness 2020.
If you’d like a transcript of this episode, you can find a link in the show notes.
Now that we’re coming out of the dark, I’ll leave you with a little light… Proverbs 18:24 = A man of many companions may come to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.
And a final thought… You are not what has happened to you. You are what you choose to become. – Unknown
I’m Darren Marlar. Thanks for joining me in the Weird Darkness.