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Paranormal Staffordshire by Anthony Poulton-Smith
Welcome to Staffordshire, I have to say it's not a county I've visited very often. I did get lost one time in Staffordshire down some country roads whilst looking for a haunted property. I seemed to be followed by some farmers in a land-rover who appeared no matter which road I took, that was a bit unnerving and when I did stop for directions outside a pub called The Hand and Cleaver, somehow the helpful local managed to set my map on fire – however, I digress from the book review, and in reading Anthony Poulton-Smith's new book, Paranormal Staffordshire, I think it's maybe about time I visit the county again, and hopefully the farmers will have disappeared.
Following in the same vein as the other books in the Paranormal series published by Amberley Publishing the author gives a good introduction, making it clear he is open minded to the stories, he gives the facts as he's found them and leaves the reader to make their own conclusions, I like this style and it's unbiased in it's approach. These interesting local accounts take a look at both traditional folktales and legends, providing the reader with good historical stories, along with more modern day experiences that we can relate to more easily.
Following an A-Z format, Anthony starts with a tale about a monk named Robert who, disappointed with his life, made a pact with the devil, following his death his spirit was forced to wander the local valley in Abbey Hulton for a thousand years before he could find peace. The monk died just over two hundred years ago so according to the legend he will roam the lands for at least another eight hundred years.
The book goes on to show information on Blithfield Hall – which has five ghosts associated with the site and is certainly well known in the area. Other stories include that of a fairly recent investigation at the offices of The Burton Mail, where psychic investigators were brought in to help solve a mystery that had plagued the office for years. Focusing on one of the main towns, Litchfield, Anthony includes a few good accounts which I didn't know about – the Kings Head pub has three spectres associated with it. Going back to the Civil War, a Cavalier soldier was murdered outside the pub and his body left to rot in the cellar. He is known more as the Laughing Cavalier and can be seen wandering around the area, still showing his wounds!
I have to say there is one account I was amazed to see in the book – that of the Green Stone at Ranton Lodge. I don't doubt Anthony's research into his stories but I'm very sceptical as to the truth behind this psychic quest and discovery.
However, apart from that one blip, this is a good book for anyone interested in the area and certainly gives you opportunity to discover more yourself. If you're a local or simply visiting the area on holiday, the paranormal isn't far from you. The format as an A-Z is good for finding places, but it does require a certain amount of local knowledge. Contents or a map would have made it a bit easier in that respect.
Paperback: 128 pages
Publisher: Amberley Publishing (6 Dec 2011)