Pad Pad

Pad-Pad 'Don't sleep out in Mulgrave Woods! There's the Pad-Pad.' Those were our Nana Morgan's words. But we were young, needed adventure, so of course we just ignored her. We went to the woods in the afternoon to play in the trees and streams there. Come twilight, when we were sure no rangers or game keepers were about to shoo us away home, we pitched our tents in a remote clearing by the old castle. My brother, my cousin, our neighbour and me, we slept out. We lit a camp-fire and enjoyed a summer's night in the gorgeous blackness of the woods. No Pad-Pad came to torment us that time. The Pad-Pad. One third panther, one third goat, one third something resembling human. Or so Nana Morgan claimed. It was a true forest-beast, long lost now to the outside world, but she knew for sure that a family of them still thrived in the ancient heart of Mulgrave Woods. Evil, cruel, sadistic beasts, they were silent in the shadow of the forest, their only sound the pad-pad-pad of foot-tread as they closed in on their prey. That sound, then the awful, fang-bared howling just before they ripped into their victims. Nana Morgan had told that to our Dad and Uncle Peter, and when she was old she told it to us grandchildren, trying to scare us with her gory stories. 'And what does Pad-Pad feed on, my loves?' Nana Morgan's wrinkled eyes widened as she told us: 'On mice and cats and rabbits and owl-young; on fairies and goblins. Oh… and on children. Yes, my little sweethearts. On your kind! On tiny, little frightened children! The Pad-Pad will come for you as sure as I'm sitting here!' Old Nana Morgan died years ago now, but the Pad-Pad lives on beyond her wild story. 'You can't sleep out in the Mulgrave Woods! There's the Pad-Pad. And it's Hallowe'en!' Our Uncle Peter's words now. But our parents were young-hearted. They loved adventures. They didn't want us out trick or treating in the streets and alleyways of Whitby at night. 'Don't be daft, Pete,' our Mum told him. 'That's just Nana's nonsense. Anyway, we'll be with them. We're camping in the field just over the hill.' Uncle Peter seemed angry then, and spoke as if holding back something secret from the ears of us children. 'You can't let them go, John. Tell her. You must both be mad. It's Hallowe'en. The Pad-Pad. Remember that night - the Pad-Pad!' 'Oh, stop it,' snapped Mum, taking Peter's arm, leading him toward the house door. 'You don't still really believe all that stuff, Peter? All that nonsense Nana Morgan used to spout.' 'The Pad-Pad,' she'd tell them - her neck quivering, the skin pimpled like uncooked chicken skin. ' They live in the woods. In the hollows in the woods. In the castle in the woods. In the tunnel in the woods. Stay there after sunset and call out its name - that'll be the last of you! Pad-Pad will have you! Mark my words.' 'It was all just nonsense,' Mum said. 'Old folk-tales. Listen Peter, we'd rather have our kids happy in the woods than roaming the streets with Hallowe'en weirdoes!' Uncle Peter shook his head. 'Pad-Pad,' he whispered. 'I wouldn't take my kids down there tonight, not for all the money in the world.' He stormed from the house then, slamming the door. Mum sighed with relief. Dad lit the candle in the pumpkin. We packed food, torches, lanterns and firewood; me, our Sam, our cousin Martin and little Billy from down the road. We loaded the tents and sleeping bags into the car. We locked the door and checked the windows. At last we set off for Sandsend, and Mulgrave Woods. 'Whooo… Whoooh…' We spooked weird noises through the darkness, imitating owl and squeaking bats. 'I used to be a werewolf but I'm all right nowwhoooooh!' I joked. 'Pad-Pad,' shouted cousin Martin. 'Pad-Pad. Come and get us, if you dare!' 'Ssh!' I hissed, thumping his arm. 'Shut up! Don't be so stupid.' The woods about us rustled, but our torches were bright. Mum and Dad were in their tent a few hundred yards away. We'd eaten hot dogs and marshmallows. We'd had diet coke and a sip of Dad's cold beer. We'd told spooky stories about babysitters, voodoo spells and freaky dolls. Black trees hissing in the breeze; the drone of the sea moans in the distance; Pad-Pad is out there in the darkness. Hallowe'en in the heart of Mulgrave Woods. How much cooler can you get!? Night blossoms to deeper blackness. Above the trees a silver moon floats its cruel, slanted smile. Stars swarm like angry wasps. Real owls hoot, making all of us jump. Our torches are still bright, but we are cold now. Suddenly we all goose-pimple with real fear. Crick! Crack! The snapping of twigs. A footstep on dry leaves. We stop breathing. We freeze. We listen. 'It's just Dad,' I say. 'He's mucking about.' Though even I don't quite believe myself. More rustling, then a louder SNAP! And now we are frightened, head hair prickling 'Dad?' shouts Sam, my younger brother. 'Dad? Mum? Stop mucking about!' Sssnap. Snap. Pad. Pad. We edge nearer to the embers of our camp-fire. There is a silence. Even the trees cease hissing. The sea's drone now is just a whisper. Then we hear it - a sort of soft breathing, quite as the rustle of silky moth wings. There's movement in the trees. Something is definitely creeping toward our tents! Pad-pad-pad-pad… Soft, thudding footsteps, circling, slow-moving, pacing toward our little camp. 'Dad!' I scream - he's gone too far with the joke this time, teasing us, trying to scare us like this. He's probably just sneaking up with a surprise pizza. Pad… pad… pad…pad… The strides stop just beyond the range of the camp-fire light. Our torches flash madly, picking out nothing but black shapes and shadows. Little Billy from down the road clutches onto my leg and begins to whimper. Hoping that this really is just them mucking about, I manage to tremble out: 'Mu-um? Dad? Stop it now and get over here into the light.' A pause. Just silence. Then something is sprinting toward us, a shape rushing out of the darkness. 'Run!' it screams. 'To the car park. Now! Run for your lives!' It's a familiar voice. Uncle Peter's. But he sounds different - screeching - terrified. And there in the light of the camp-fire I see that he's covered in blood. In his hand he has a knife. His face is raked with bleeding scratches, his shirt and trousers ripped to shreds. 'Pad-Pad!' he screams. 'Run from the Pad-Pad!' And we run, blindly, screaming, stumbling in mud, tumbling in ditches, ploughing through streams without a thought of their depth or slippery treachery. And always, just behind us, the breath on our shoulders, the graze of fangs and the horrible foot-fall: Pad-pad! Pad-pad! Pad-pad! Pad-Pad! We make it to the car park. The sea gleams like silver milk across the beach there, hissing white foam upon the sands. We make it to the car, gasping, lungs hurting from the sprint. There's me … there's Sam… there's cousin Martin… there's little Billy from down the road. At last, Uncle Peter … shirt shredded… covered in blood… and behind us… around… the awful echo… Pad-Pad Pad-Pad Pad-Pad Pad-Pad. Then another noise swelling, shrilling, piercing through the banging my own blood-beat. Whar...whar...whar…whar… A siren. Blaring, screeching closer. A suddenly welcoming and hopeful sound. Of all things, a siren - I never thought I could be so comforted by that awful wail. We laugh and hug, weeping a cheer, so relieved to see the blue flashing lights. Only Uncle Peter is silent, standing away by the trees. He's staring back into the blackness of those terrible woods, going back in, slashing at the dark with his razor-edged knife. *** 'Don't sleep out in Mulgrave Woods!' I say. I say it now to all our children. I'm horrified at the thought that their parents might let them stray. 'There's the Pad-Pad,' I say. 'Pad-Pad. One third panther, one third goat, one third something resembling…' I don't finish the sentence. It can't be human. I can't bring myself to say the human. 'My own Mum and Dad,' I say, but can't continue. Our Mum. Our Dad. And Uncle Peter. Pad-Pad snatched them all from us on that murderous night.


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The Mulgrave Tales ISBN 0-9536405-5-8 Published by East Coast Books 108 Church Street, Whitby, North Yorkshire Price £6 including postage and packing. Tel: 01947 600135 or 01947 603159 Written by award winning local author and English Teacher Chris Firth

Old Lisa

For many years St Mary's church yard was closed on April 24th, St Mark's eve. anyone peering over the walls would see lanterns glistening here and there, as the wardens patrolled the grounds through the night to prevent anyone from getting in. A careful observer might notice that the patrolling wardens took care only to patrol in a clockwise direction. For many years a "wise woman" from the town had been in the habit of visiting the church on St marks eve, and walking three times round the building in an anticlockwise direction, then waiting in the porch until midnight, for it had been believed for many hundreds of years that the souls of those who are to die in the following year will then appear. No other person in the town dared to visit the church on this night, and as a result old Lisa was held in great reverence.
Many times people would try to get Lisa to pass on her knowledge as to who was doomed to die, but she always kept her council, saying "I knows what I knows". It was one of her great pleasures in life to nod sagely at the funeral of one of her neighbours and say "I knew, of course". Many people held her in great awe, believing she had some supernatural knowledge, but some of the younger people doubted her, pointing out that anyone could be as wise as her - after the event. One St Mark's eve saw a great change in old Lisa, however.
For many years the fishermen had been in the habit of paying "old Lisa" a weekly retainer, fearing that she would curse their fishing if they didn't, but after her visit to the Church Yard, she started to refuse the payments, "Treat yourself to a pint of ale" she would say, she even knitted some warm socks for some of the single men.
The children on the street who had once rushed by her house in terror, were now likely to see her sitting on her doorstep, peeling spuds, or shelling the peas she grew on her steep cliff side garden. They never went past that summer without her presenting them with some treat, a boiled sweet, a handful of her succulent peas, or a new dress for a favorite doll. Soon it was that if a child fell and cut her knee, she would run to old Lisa for comfort rather than home. As winter drew on, less was seen of Old Lisa, she would be seen on a Sunday going up the stairs to St Mary's church, or occasionally visiting one of her poorer neighbours, giving them blankets to "keep the bairns warm" or other thoughtful presents. Then in midwinter, an epidemic of pneumonia broke out in the town, and Old Lisa disappeared into her house, and was not seen for over a week. The local children became curious, and began to peek through her key hole. They reported they could see her on her knees, muttering prayers.
As spring came on, the epidemic passed, and another change in Lisa's behaviour became apparent. The children had begun to play out again, and naturally played by the house where they had been so welcome the year before. Old Lisa would rush out of the house and shout out "go play in yer own yard" To the single fisherlads she said "yer still ain't paid me fer them socks yet". The day before St Mark's eve, old Lisa was walking up Henrietta street, she was doing the rounds gathering up the "presents" she had given out the previous year. One of her neighbours asked her "are you going up to St Mary's tomorrow?" Old Lisa turned and laughed, "no", she said, it's all nonsense you know". At that moment, the brewery dray horse, delivering to the Prince of Wales, took fright, and galloped down the road, crushing Old Lisa under the cart wheels. She had only time to gasp, "God save me, it's true" before breathing her last. The meaning of these words will be clear to our reader.

Strange to relate, that in 1942, this same dray horse, now much older, collapsed and died on the same spot, on Henrietta Street, on St Marks eve. Though if you were to find Police records from the date, you would see that the event is supposed to have taken place on Church Street. The truth is that at that time all street signs had been pulled down to confuse any Germans who might invade, and the local constable, a large but not very well educated man, could not spell Henrietta, so he unhitched the horse, and succeeded in dragging it some 15 yards onto church street before filling in his report.

The Whitby Puppeteer

On the wintry morning of December 10th 1710, a puppeteer arrived in Whitby, proposing to perform his "Incredible Motion" that evening. He hired a room near the market, set up the show, then posted advertisements round the town to let people know that he would begin at 7.30pm.
Having some hours to spare, our puppeteer decided to visit a local hostelry now known as the Black Horse, and setting himself in a corner listened, fascinated, to the fabulous yarns spun by the locals there. A local rogue, named William Pickering was also present, he had no stories to tell, but shouted "that's the way to do it" at him, Mocking the puppeteers profession. The puppet master was rather upset, for he was a sensitive man, who had once had ambitions "tread the boards" of the London theatres, and his shows were noted for their genteel quality and high moral tone. He left the bar in a foul mood, leaving Pickering to gloat. Pickering had spent all his money on beer, but deciding he wanted to watch the show, sneaked into the room shortly after the it had started.
The buffoon tiptoed loudly down to the front, where he squeezed rudely between two young ladies who had paid good money for their seats, and there he sat grinning lewdly at them and muttering "that's the way to do it" The puppeteer was obviously enraged but tried to continue. However, as two puppet lovers met in a tender kiss, Pickering belched loudly, which proved the last straw for the puppet master, he rushed out upon Pickering, pulling out the large dagger he always carried for protection. He lunged at Pickering's chest, but the fortunate drunkard threw up his arm just in time, deflecting the murderous blow, the blade piercing instead the heart of one of the pretty young girls at his side. For a second there was a horrified silence in the lamp lit room, then horrified groans and screams.
The fled from the room, and ran through the market place, the bloody dagger still gripped tightly in his hand. He succeeded in hiding himself beneath a pile of stinking crab pots hoping to escape once the street were quiet. But during the long night the face of the poor girl appeared before him over and over again, and as dawn came, in remorse of conscience, he surrendered himself to the town constable.
He was tried in York, and pleaded guilty to murder, even though he was told the court would accept a plea of manslaughter. The judge had no choice other than to condemn him to death, and he was hung outside the walls of York, his body, as was then the custom, was returned to Whitby, and displayed in a gibbet, a little cage, hung from the top of a pole at a place called Spital bridge, at the end of Church street. Eventually his body was buried outside the town, at a place until recently known as gallows close.

To this day it is said that the ghost of the puppeteer is sometimes seen running through the market place, dressed all in black, carrying his bloody weapon. Any man who sees this ghost is advised to avoid it: he who catches sight of its face, still contorted with the horror of the black deed, is plunged into insanity. (I might note that The Black Horse remains the haunt of yarn spinning drunkards, and a gibbering refuge for those who have had the misfortune to see the puppeteer.)

The Oyster man of Whitby

Today we think of Oysters as a rich man's food eaten in exclusive restaurants with a glass of champagne. How different it was two hundred years ago when "The Oyster man" was a familiar figure in most towns, plying his wares round the public houses. At that time, Oysters were a working man's food, downed with plenty of beer and brown bread: the pork scratchings of their day. Gadgy Clarke was the Oyster man of Whitby, making his daily round of the towns pubs, crying as he went "oysters alive oh" in his weak reedy voice. He was a thin man, whose long skinny neck seemed barely able to support the large oyster basket he carried on his head. In contrast to Gadgy was Jonathan Smith, a big dark. muscular man, a violent fellow, whose piercing eyes no man dare meet. How he made his living no one knew. He would disappear for weeks or months at a time returning in the dead of night. Some said he was a smuggler others a highway man, some even that he was fabulously rich lord who sold his soul to the devil. However he came by his money, it was sufficiently to allow him to live extravagantly and keep several thoroughbred horses, which he rode madly around the countryside, his head tilted back, his famous (and feared howls of laughter cannoning of the trees and hedges. It was on a cold blustery November night as Jonathan Smith was drinking in the bar of the Golden lion pub, that he heard old Gadgy`s call "Come in Come in" he shouted, rapping on the window. a few seconds later the oyster man entered the room. Now  Jonathan Smith always had around him a group of toadies, loungers and ne-er do wells whom he lorded over. Much to their delight Smith immediately began to insult Gadgy and his Oysters. Gadgy was a little annoyed at this.
He muttered a quiet oath and turned to go. But his words were not so quiet as to go unnoticed by some of the loungers in the bar. Smith was enraged: he could not bear to be insulted in front of his "friends". He snatched Gadgy`s basket  and threw it onto the fire. then with his massive hand grabbed the oyster man himself and threatened to do the same to him.
Gadgy, timid though he was, did what he could to protect himself, and stabbed the bully with a small knife he used to open the Oyster's shells. To everyone's surprise , smith a mortal wound to the heart, fell dead on the spot.
In court Gadgy was found not guilty of murder and was released. But despite the Judge and the Jury, Gadgy never appeared to forgive himself for the death of Jonathan Smith. he continued his rounds, his head sunk low with remorse, tears often dripping from his nose. but his cry of " Oysters alive-oh" was never heard near the golden lion, for he took a circuitous route to avoid it. with in a year, weighed down with guilt, he died.
On stormy nights Gadgy`s ghost still flits from pub to pub, his reedy voice heard faintly  in the wind: "OYSTERS ALIVE-OH"! However in death, as in life Gadgy shuns the golden Lion Pub, providing a refuge from his Ghost for the more apprehensive drinker. whether Smith lies easy in his grave is of course another matter. No guarantee can be given that his spirit will not come visiting the site of his death: his fearsome black piercing eyes appearing before the timid, Ghost avoiding customer with a WILD AND SAVAGE HOWL OF LAUGHTER.

All the stories on this page were taken from the Caedmon storytellers Books written by Michael Wray , Edited by Chris Firth a local English teacher, Illustrated by Anne Marshall.
These stories and more can now be bought from any local bookshop and also the local Tourist Information Center, if you have difficulty finding them they are also available from the Caedmon storytellers, 108 Church Street, Whitby, North Yorkshire, England. YO22. 4DE  Telephone 01947 603 159.

  the haunted coast  ghost stories from whitby

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