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The Beast of Croglin Grange

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The area around Croglin in Cumbria has long been linked with strange beasts. Back in 1733, in the nearby village of Renwick, as workmen were pulling down the old church, they said they disturbed a sleeping Cockatrice (a medieval monster), which flew up and attacked them. Others laughed and said it was just a bat, and bats were harmless, weren't they! However, it was only a century later when another beast brought terror to Croglin Grange.

Croglin Grange is a low granite-brick farmhouse, standing on a hill overlooking a valley. Nearby is an ancient churchyard. In the 1800's the Fisher family, who owned the farmhouse, moved to a larger place and rented out Croglin Grange.

The house stood empty all winter but in the spring new tenants moved in. They were Edward, Michael and Amelia Cranswell; three young Australians who were visiting England and had fallen in love with the Cumbrian countryside and the isolated but beautiful house. The young people were very friendly and soon became popular with the locals.

About a year later, one summer's night in 1875, feeling 'a little under the weather', Amelia went to her room early. Moonlight bathed Croglin Grange. It had been very hot. It was such a beautiful night that Amelia left open the shutters of her ground floor bedroom.

The old farm yard was filled with shadows. Among the shadows there seemed to be two flashing lights away near the churchyard. As they moved closer, Amelia could see they were eyes, but of what animal she could not make out. Making sure that the window was shut fast and the door locked, she went to bed to try and sleep.

Some moments later, she heard a rustling sound and looked up to see the eyes staring at her through the glass of the window. Around the eyes, the poor girl glimpsed a shrivelled brown face. Then she heard the horrid sound of nails scratching at the window pane. Amelia leapt from her bed and ran to the door, her heart thumping as she tugged at the handle. It would not open! Remembering she had locked the door, she groped for the key.

Her hands were shaking so badly that she fumbled and could not work the key. Another sound made her made her blood run cold. The creature was pulling away the lead strips which held the window panes in place. A pane rattled, then fell out. A bony arm came through the broken pane and began to open the window. Amelia desperately rattled the key.

Seconds later, she was aware of something in the room. She tried to scream but no sound would come. The hideous thing moved toward her. It twisted its long bony fingers in her hair.

Blood curdling screams brought the brothers running to her door. They forced it open with a poker and rushed in to see Amelia collapsed on the floor with blood oozing from bites in her neck.

Michael looked after his sister while Edward rushed to the window and could just make out a strange figure vanishing through the arch in the farmyard wall.

The doctor was called and he gave Amelia a sleeping draft. He advised that she should take a long holiday to get over the shock. As for the intruder, well, he could only think it was a madman or a monkey escaped from a travelling show.

As soon as Amelia was a little better, they left for a holiday in the Swiss Mountains. But, such was Amelia's fondness for the old house, that they returned the following year. The Swiss air had dimmed the horror to a misty memory.

This time, however, Amelia kept her shutters closed and Edward slept with a gun beside his bed. For, unknown to Amelia, while she was away there had been other reports in the area of girls being attacked by a strange bony creature. And a wave of sheep killings had also begun. Edward heard of these things and his worry grew.

All was well through the autumn and winter. Then, one night in March 1876, Amelia again heard the horrid sound of fingernails on the glass. The creature broke open the shutter and was trying to enter, when her cries brought the brothers to her room. Edward ran to the yard and in the wintry moonlight caught sight of a tall, cloaked, shadowy shape.

As the beast fled towards Coglin Road, Edward fired his pistol and it staggered and gave a howl before stumbling over the frosted fields towards the churchyard.

He returned to his brother and sister. The next day, at dawn, the brothers gathered together the Gamekeeper and some men from the village and went to the misty graveyard. At first nothing looked wrong. Then they saw that the mossy top of the Fisher Family vault had been moved and lay partly out of place.

Inside, the tomb was in a terrible mess, except for one stone coffin. The villagers drew back, as the brothers tore off the lid of the coffin. Inside, lay a hideous mummified figure. Features could still be seen on the wrinkled skin, now walnut coloured through age. In the thin, yellowed skin of one leg was a fresh shotgun wound!

One of the villagers stepped forward. He told the brothers he had seen this same creature of the night attacking and killing livestock. He said the only way to destroy it was with fire. The shocked villagers all agreed that the hideous corpse should be burnt immediately.

Sped on by terror, the men hurried away to find wood and, in the far corner of the graveyard, they built a huge bonfire. With trembling hands, they lifted the skeletal creature from the coffin. Desperate to be rid of their horrible burden, they stumbled across the ground and cast it into the fire. As the sun rose the beast howled and crumbled to ashes in the flames. Since that day, the terror of Croglin Hall has never been seen again.

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