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Lincoln's Inn Phantom Bird


There is a strange tale of a phantom bird like creature that in 1913 attacked and killed a young barrister named Charles Appleby in offices connected to Lincoln’s Inn, the oldest of the four Inns of Court in London. An account of this haunting appears in True Ghosts & Spooky Incidents by Vikas Khatri.

‘A group of men were standing near the lodge of the legal offices at Lincoln's Inn, London, on the evening of 25 February 1913 when they heard a terrified scream. They looked up and saw, silhouetted in a window, the figure of a man fighting off an invisible assailant.

They rushed up the stairs to the first floor office but they were too late - Charles Appleby, a young barrister, lay dead on the floor covered in blood.

In the months that followed, a number of other tenants occupied the offices but they all left because of the evil atmosphere that was present. A short while later, another barrister, John Radlett, was found hanged in the same office where Charles Appleby had been found. There were deep scratches on the inside of his locked door; they looked as if they head been made by the claws of and enormous bird.

When stories began to circulate about the ghost bird that haunted the offices in Lincoln's Inn, two newspaper editors, Sir Max Pemberton and Ralph Blumenfeld, decided to investigate. They locked themselves in the ill-famed room, sprinkled powdered French chalk all over the floor and bean their vigil.

The two men spent the evening playing cards, by midnight, they were getting bored with the whole idea. It seemed obvious that nothing untoward was going to happen. They were about to leave when the locked door swung open. The windows, which had been bolted shut, also opened by themselves and the harsh wind entered the room, extinguishing the gaslight.

There was a horrific beating noise which sounded like the flapping of enormous wings. In the dim light the two men could just see a large dark object moving across the room and out through a wall. Then the noise stopped and the light came back on.

A reporter, who had been waiting downstairs heard the commotion, rushed into the room and all three men stared in disbelief at the floor. In the chalk, running from the centre of the room to the corner, were a set of gigantic claw marks!

A few years later the building was demolished and the giant bird, if that is what it was, was never heard of again.’

This is an interesting haunting, but I would like to find the primary source if possible. Ralph Blumenfeld (born 1864 – died 1948) was Managing Editor of the Daily express from 1909 and Sir Max Pemberton (born 1863 – died 1950) was a novelist and journalist who had been the editor of Chums magazine, so if they had spent the night together investigating a haunting with such interesting results, surely there will be a written account of it somewhere.

As for Charles Appleby I wasn’t able to find out anything about him or his death.


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