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Posted Friday, July 6, 2007
Unexplained Tales of Paranormal Chesterfield:
Relating strange experiences which defy any rational explanation is not my forte, and doubtless I would have difficulty extemporising on the subject of the `paranormal’.
`I've witnessed some strange things happening in and around Chesterfield'
But I’ve witnessed some strange things happening in and around Chesterfield which I can neither explain nor understand, and wondered if any of my readers had experienced any similar strange happenings in and around the town?
My first experience of witnessing the unbelievable happened many years ago on a Saturday morning at the junction of Holywell Street and Tapton Lane, where my father had an office, and I was to meet him there. As I walked towards Tapton Lane from what in those days was the Public Library, I saw an old lady standing in the doorway to the office building. She was quite small and wore a heavy woollen shawl around her shoulders, but I didn’t recognise her.
As I crossed the road and approached, I saw her turn and walk up the two stone steps to the door and disappear inside – but I didn’t see the door open or close!
I followed seconds later, expecting to see her either in the hallway, or on the stairs which led up to the office, but there was no one to be seen.
Incredulously, I ran up the stairs. I couldn’t believe a woman her age could be so quick and agile, and half anticipated finding a much younger woman when I opened the office door.
My father sat at his desk typing. He was alone.
“Where is she?” I asked.
“Where’s who?” he answered – “there’s no one here but me, and you now, of course”.
I explained what had happened and we searched the building. It was empty.
It seemed that the old lady had vanished into thin air.
Some years later in May 1987, I had another strange, and even more mindblowing experience of someone `vanishing into thin air’ on a Saturday morning in Chesterfield!
This happened at Elder Yard Chapel, off Elder Way and Saltergate.
It was a bright early summer morning as we unlocked the padlock and removed the chains from the iron gates. We were opening up ready for the usual Saturday coffee-morning, and two of our regular helpers followed us down the path to the chapel, chatting as we unlocked the side door and went in, leaving them sitting talking together on the stone wall outside.
As we entered the main body of the chapel we were astonished to see an elderly gentleman sitting in one of the rear pews, reading a newspaper!
I glanced at my companion, whose eyes, like mine, were wide open with surprise. We hurried down to the vestry in shocked silence, and once inside hastily debated what to do.
Who was the man?; what was he doing here? - and how had he got in?
Inside five seconds we’d decided to simply ask him, but when I stepped back into the chapel, he’d gone.
I ran outside and asked the two helpers who were still sitting talking, if they’d seen a man come out and they assured me that no one had passed them since they’d been there.
The main door was locked and barred from the inside, and the only way out was via the side door `guarded’ by the two helpers – which had been double-locked and we’d just unlocked it! This meant he must still be inside.
We searched every nook and cranny of the entire chapel, but both the elderly gentleman – and his newspaper - were nowhere to be found.
Once again it seemed, someone had simply vanished into thin air!
Finally, on the subject of thin air, I recently experienced an encounter with something that I can neither explain nor understand.
Whether this qualifies as paranormal or not, I will leave to the judgement of others, for I am a rationalist as well as a writer and prefer simply to relate the facts in my quest for the truth of the matter.
The facts are simple:
I was driving home to the dales from an evening in Chesterfield with my wife when I decided to pull in by the roadside for a smoke. I roll my own and it`s difficult rolling a cigarette whilst driving - especially in the dark!
Now ninety nine times out of a hundred – and I make this same journey a dozen times a week - I would have turned right off the Matlock Road towards Darley Dale, gone across the moor and down Sydnope Hill, through Two Dales, over Darley Bridge and up through Wensley and Winster on my way home.
But tonight, or rather this morning, for it was well past midnight, I had suddenly decided to return a different way and came across the moor towards Beeley, before turning across Beeley Moor to Darley Hillside.
I found a shallow lay-by almost on the crest of the hillside overlooking the Derwent Valley and pulled in.
I remember that we had the radio on and were listening to Peak FM, and I reclined the seats and opened the sliding sun-roof so that we could lay back and gaze at the stars.
Then I switched on the interior light so that I could see to roll a smoke, and as I was putting the roll-up to my lips I glanced up at my driving mirror and saw what I believed to be the diffused glow of distant headlights approaching.
I lit the roll-up and reaching up to switch off the interior light, casually remarked to my wife, “There`s a car coming”.
But when I turned around in my seat to look through the rear window there was only the lighter sky of the horizon, which I took to be the glow from Chesterfield.
I switched off the radio to enjoy the silence of the night, wound down my window and relaxed to enjoy the smoke.
I laid my head against the open window and looked out into the silent night, at the dark shapes of the landscape across the road, and at the approaching black cloud shadow as it swept slowly and silently past along the lighter grey ribbon of moonlit road.
When I first glanced back along the road and noticed it moving toward us, I pointed it out to my wife, and we both watched in fascination as it sailed silently by and went slowly off down the road before disappearing into the distance.
I began to quietly sing the old Cat Stevens song, “I`m being followed by a moon-shadow, moon-shadow, moon-shadow” when my wife looked out of the passenger window, and asked suddenly, “What moon”?
The words died on my lips as I looked at the open sky above, where there were plenty of stars - but no moon! There were no clouds visible anywhere in the entire sky either, which would account for my mistaking the bright starlight for moonlight. It was a very clear night indeed.
But then it occurred to me - if there was no cloud and no moon- then there could be no moon-shadow, - and if there was no moon-shadow then what was the dark shape that we had seen moving in complete silence down the road? Had it been a bicycle, a vehicle of any kind, or even any sort of physical mass then surely we would have heard it passing, for the radio was switched off and the window was wide open and the road was only three feet away from the car.
Such is my scepticism when it comes to anything labelled either `paranormal’ or `supernatural, that had we not both seen this happening then I would probably have convinced myself that I had imagined it.
The incident may seem unremarkably trivial, and somewhat less than spectacular, but nonetheless, whatever my wife & I experienced that night on Beeley Moor neither of us can understand or explain. Can you?
If you live in or around Chesterfield and have had any strange experiences which have defied rational explanation, then the author, who is compiling a book of them, would like to hear from you.
Alternatively, if you can offer any explanation for the event on Beeley Moor please contact me: firstname.lastname@example.org