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Lethbridge, T C - A Step in the Dark – The ghoul of Ladram Bay



Type of Spiritual Experience


A description of the experience

T C Lethbridge – A Step in the Dark

On 27 January, 1969, my wife and I went to collect seaweed to manure an asparagus bed. Ladram Bay was the most convenient place. As we stepped on to the beach we experienced a feeling of acute depression and what seemed to be fear. My wife felt the same thing at the other end of the bay and, after collecting our seaweed, we were glad to leave the place. That evening my wife talked to her mother on the telephone and learnt that she too had experienced the same kind of feeling one Christmas Day seven years earlier, that is 25 December, 1957.

On 3 February, 1962, we returned to Ladram for another load of seaweed. The really rather ghastly feeling was at the same two places and seemed to be connected with the naiad-fields of two small streams. But it was found also on top of the cliffs 75 yards or so to the north-east of the lane, which runs down to the beach. Here my wife had the unpleasant experience of hearing, or appearing to hear, something saying:

'Wouldn't you like to jump over?'

By the time the book had gone to the publisher, we knew of five people who had experienced something unpleasant at Ladram Bay. Now the number has risen to twelve. We made what enquiries were possible thinking that we might learn of some tragedy connected with the place. Apparently there was none although smugglers were suggested as a possible cause. In Ghost and Divining-Rod I wrote:

There may well be no picture at Ladram for anyone to see. The whole thing may be due to acute worry in somebody's mind, and as there was nobody else there to be worried at the sight of -X's mental disturbance, there was no one to impress the picture of X in his worried state on the naiad-fields. It simply is not there and there is no reason why it should be. We may then assume from all this that X, in a desperate state of worry, wandered up and down and around Ladram Bay. The idea came into X's psyche-field to jump off the cliff.  But there is no reason for supposing that he ever did it. He may just as well have gone back somewhere and had a couple of stiff drams of whisky; at which point the whole trouble may have cleared up' Nevertheless he has left a nasty ghoul all about Ladram Bay'

This was written in 1962, at which time several people had already experienced this ghastly phenomenon. In 1964 an empty car was found on Peak Hill above Sidmouth. The owner was a respected citizen, not of Sidmouth, but of a town some miles away  We will not give his name, the place where he lived, nor the date. A search was made. Nothing could be found of Mr. Y, who was probably Mr. X, until some of his gear was found at Ladram Bay. He had evidently walked along the cliffs from Peak Hill to Ladram looking for a suitable site from which to jump off, and had eventually found- it. His body- was later picked up near Portland Bill. Has the ghoul gone? I don't think so. '  We went to investigate.

Now this may be rather a grim story. It is better not to try to picture the frame of mind of Mr. X, alias Mr. Y, when he prowled along the cliffs. Why did he not jump off the much higher cliffs near Peak Hill? The answer must be that these are not sheer and he would have had an agonizing fall on to rocks.

But near the place where my wife had her nasty experience with the voice suggesting that she should jump off, the sea comes right up to the foot of the cliffs. He wanted to jump into water, and so was swept right up across West Bay to Portland.

I do not think that you are likely to get a better example of a ghoul than this. Moreover it does give a very good idea of what a ghoul is. It is the result of terrible mental strain projected into another dimension. It can lodge in the naiad-field of a stream, or the dryad-field of a tree and probably also into rocks, like the manner in which the slingers rates were imposed in the sling-stones. And there it becomes timeless.

The source of the experience

Lethbridge, Thomas Charles

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Science Items

Activities and commonsteps



Extreme emotion
Extreme unhappiness