Royal Tunbridge Wells is a quaint historical town in
which is reputed to be the epitome of middle England.
Its very name conjures up images of well-moved lawns and pruned hedges, double
garages with Ford Mondeos, golf courses, the Rotary Club and Women's Institute,
church hall events, commuters standing on trains and housewives who write in to
the BBC to complain. The last thing you'd expect to see in Tunbridge Wells was
what a rambler in the local woods allegedly came across in October 2012. He was
strolling on the Common, a forested park near the town centre, when he was
approached by a humanoid creature covered in fur with red eyes that the witness
called "demonic". It was much larger than a man, about eight feet
tall. He fled the scene, understandably, when the being made a loud roaring
sound at him. This is only the most recent account of very similar entities
seen in the same area and in many other places in Kent.
Reports date back at least seventy years, and the most recent news story on the
subject caused another resident to come forward with a tale he had heard about
an encounter with it on the Common during World War II. In this case it was a
couple sitting on a bench when the beast accosted them from behind; again they
ran off. Nobody believed their story and thought they were making it up. The
description is identical: "a tall, hairy ape-like creature with eyes that
were 'burning', had a reddish colour". Paranormal investigator Neil Arnold
has collected even more reports from Dartford, Maidstone,
Hythe and Chatham, see: http://www.kentnews.co.uk/news/britain_s_bigfoot_spotted_in_tunbridge_wells_1_1699895?usurv=skip.
This folklore might have inspired the Kentish author Clive King to write his
famous children's book about a modern day caveman: Stig of the Dump, see: http://www.booktrust.org.uk/books/view/33315.
This phenomenon has become known as the "Kentish Apeman" and it remains a mystery. Some residents suspect that it's somebody dressed up in a furry suit playing a prank, but so far nobody has confessed or been exposed. It would also have to be a multi-generational enterprise to explain the encounters covering seventy years or more; you'd think the novelty would have worn off by now. As regular readers will know, I have a lot of interest in the appearances of creatures known as "Bigfoot" or "the Yeti", large upright-standing primates living in the wild. They are so far undiscovered by man, but we sometimes encounter them when our paths cross unexpectedly.
See here for background: http://hpanwo-voice.blogspot.co.uk/2014/04/bigfoot-hoaxer-confesses.html.
Having examined the evidence I'm fairly certain beasts like this exist somewhere on our planet, but not everywhere. The reason a large land animal might go undetected by man would be because it lives in a separate habitat to us. This is where new species tend to be discovered, high up in the mountains, in the centre of the great forests or deserts, or deep in the oceans; regions of the Earth where very few humans live. Suburban
is not one of these places. Yes, there are areas of ancient woodland in Kent
which would take a few hours to walk across. Possibly there are unknown species
of fly or beetle living in them, even a big cat or two, but not a primate larger
than a man. The kind of wilderness where an ecosystem could covertly support a
Bigfoot-like animal are the forested and mountainous regions of western North
America, Siberia or the Himalayas.
is the seventh largest island in the world with an area of 88,000 square miles.
Squeezed onto that landmass are over 61 million people; that makes its mean
population density 693 human beings per square mile. Locally that can vary
considerably, between the mountains of Scotland
and central London for example, but
that's the average for the whole of Britain.
The United States
on the other hand is far bigger in area, 3,700,000 square miles, but with its
population of 318 million that gives it a density far lower, just 88 people per
square mile; and the USA
has some regions covering thousands of square miles in which the human
population is virtually zero. Conversely Kent's
population density is 1,200 per square mile, twice the national average. I'm
verging with the notion that a researcher once told me, that a Bigfoot colony
could remain hidden in darkest Scotland,
but it's simply not possible in Kent.
So what did those people see? The newspapers claim that Neil Arnold says that the
Tunbridge Wells apparition is a paranormal figure, but not a flash-and-blood
monster. He supposedly says the archetype exists in legend, the "wild men
of the woods". Could it actually be something more akin to a ghost; I'm
reminded of the famous case of the "Beast of Bolam Lake" which began
as a monster hunt, but ended up discovering something else, equally strange but
very different indeed, see: http://www.cfz.org.uk/expeditions/03bolam/.
I saw something similar myself in Oxford
once, see: http://hpanwo.blogspot.co.uk/2010/10/river-ghost.html.
Could these phenomena be intrusions of entities from a parallel universe or
manifestations of our spirit? It's perfectly possible that the apemen of the
remote continental forests are biological creatures, but if the ones in built
up areas cannot be, and they're not blokes in suits, then what else are they?