Thursday, 7 February 2013



Spring Heeled Jack Evades A Pursuer

One of the strangest unsolved mysteries of Victorian London  is the curious case of Spring Heeled Jack. Various witnesses attributed Jack with the ability to leap tremendous heights and he was described as having a terrible and frightful appearance, clawed hands and eyes of red fire, he wore an oilskin suit with a black coat and facial helmet and leaped from nowhere to confront his unfortunate victims. 
The first claimed sighting of Spring Heeled Jack was by a business man in 1837 who, when returning home from work late one night  was confronted by a muscular man who jumped from the high railings of a cemetery wall to land in his path, although no attack took place Jack was described as having devilish features including a pointed chin, long pointed ears and nose and glowing eyes and thus the urban legend of Spring Heeled Jack was born. Later in 1837 Jack was to appear twice more, Mary Stevens a servant girl was returning to her workplace at Lavender Hill via Clapham Common when a strange figure attacked her in an alleyway, the attacker who held her in a tight grip ripped her clothes with his sharp claws and kissed her face, the attacker fled when in a  panic she screamed loudly, the very next day however Jack was to appear in front of more than one witness when he jumped down in front of a horse drawn carriage causing the coachman to lose control and crash, this led to him being seriously injured , several witnesses saw Jack escape by jumping a 9ft wall cackling with laughter as he fled.
 The most notorious accounts of Spring Heeled Jack were related by two teenage girls Lucy Scales and Jane Alsop. On the night of February 19th 1838 Jane Alsop answered the door at her fathers house to a stranger who claiming to be a policeman begged her to bring a light saying they had caught Spring Heeled Jack in the lane, once she handed a candle over to the stranger she noticed he wore a large black cloak which he then threw back revealing his true hideous appearance, he vomited blue and white flames and his eyes resembled red balls of fire, Jack attacked Miss Alsop with what she described as metallic claws , ripping her gown, she managed to scramble away but Jack caught her and only fled when he was disturbed by Miss Alsops sister. Eight days later 18 year old  Lucy Scales was returning with her sister from their brothers house when they spotted a person standing at an angle in a passage, as they neared the man he bounded in front of Lucy spitting blue flame in to her face, after hearing screams the brother ran from his house into the passage to find Lucy suffering a violent fit being comforted by his other sister, The Times reported this case as The Late Outrage at Old Ford.
Numerous accounts of Spring Heeled Jack were reported throughout the 1800s, not just in London but throughout the length and breadth of England and even in Scotland, in one instance in 1877 Jack was seen at an army barracks in Aldershot, a sentry being alerted by a figure who bounded towards him making a metallic sound, the soldier challenged the stranger who leaped in front of him slapping him around the face several times with icy cold hands, after hearing a commotion several men rushed to the place but Jack eluded them by jumping several feet over their heads and landing behind them. In Lord Ernest Hamiltons memoirs written in 1922 he recalls that the events at Aldershot were not peculiar to there and that similar events had occurred the year previously when his regiment had been based at Colchester, Hamilton recalled how sentries were ordered to shoot on site if Jack was spotted.


 A more recent report of a possible sighting of Spring Heeled Jack was related by a traveling salesman who claimed that in 1986 while on a road in South Herefordshire a man jumped over him with an inhuman bound and slapped his face, the salesman described his attacker as wearing a black ski suit and who's face had an unusual elongated chin.

So who or what was Spring Heeled Jack? Was he a man, alien, demon or just a hoax? In 1838 the Lord Major of London John Cowan revealed that he had received an anonymous letter claiming that a group of gentlemen had had a wager where a nefarious character of their acquaintance would try to scare members of the public dressed in disguise as either a bear, a ghoul or a devil although if this were true it could account for some of the reports it is unlikely that one hoaxer could appear at so many locations over such a long period of time, at one point the finger of suspicion was pointed at the Marquis of Waterford an Irish nobleman known for his lewd and drunken behavior and his fondness for drunken pranks.    
The Marquis of Waterford

The Marquis however  had an alibi at the time of the attacks on Jane Alsop and Lucy Scales and even after his death from a riding accident in 1859 the reports of Spring Heeled Jack continued. If Jack was indeed a hoaxer or several hoaxers that have copied others exploits over the years, the fact that Jack was reported as being able to leap over great heights is not easy to explain, some skeptics have suggested that Jack really did have mechanical springs in his heels, when experiments were carried out by the German military during the Second World War to fit soldiers with spring heeled boots all the test subjects were left with broken ankles so that also seems unlikely. Some of the more stranger explanations of Spring Heeled Jack have claimed that he was an extraterrestrial , or a demon summoned by occult practitioners of the time.   

Entities similar to Jack have been reported from other parts of the world , in the Czech Republic a similar figure known as the Spring Man of Prague became a folklore hero and starred in a series of comic books fighting the Nazi SS.  In Houston Texas in the USA a figure was reported as being sighted in a pecan tree by three witnesses who described a character dressed in a black cape , tight fitting pants and quarter length boots. There are similarities between Jack and some other mysterious  legendary entities such as The Mothman of the USA and The Owlman of Cornwall and Jack is very similar in appearance to the Japanese thunder god Raiden, although Raiden legends claim he was a predator of men who devoured them eating them through their navels!

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