Two murders by witchcraft: The deaths of Charles Walton and ‘Bella’ in Hagley Wood.
Under The Shadow Of Meon Hill
The Lower Quinton and Hagley Wood Murders
(180 pages Royal Size)
£7.19 from Lulu (20% reduction)
by Paul Newman
(All copies will be Signed by the Author unless the buyer prefers otherwise)
On February 14th, 1945, Charles Walton, aged 74, a hedger and ditcher of Lower Quinton, Warwickshire was found dead on Meon Hill in Warwickshire. He had been subject to the most brutal attack. A pitchfork had been thrust through his neck, pinning him to the soil and what looked like the sign of a cross slashed across his chest. The police classed it as a major murder enquiry and called up the most famous detective of the day, Inspector Robert Fabian of Scotland Yard, to investigate. Employing the most modern techniques, Fabian combed the crime scene and surrounding area, using surveillance aircraft and metal detectors in a search of clues. He interviewed locals, POWs from the camp at nearby Long Marston and individual soldiers, but found no convincing leads. Doors were closed in his face; people refused to talk and the atmosphere turned hostile. Abruptly the investigation took an unexpected twist after one of the detectives drew Fabian’s attention to a work on folklore that suggested Walton had been killed in the way that witches once were – ‘stanged’ or pierced with a pitchfork on a sacrificial date.
Suddenly the whole enquiry turned bizarre and tortuous, with the appearance of threatening apparitions of black dogs, bizarre coincidences and macabre threats. Famous people were invited to give their views like the anthropologist, Dr Margaret Murray, and psychics held séances to discover the killer. Hence what started as a hard-headed investigation trailed off into an extraordinary and disturbing occult morass.
Making use of Fabian’s original papers, the whole story is now set down for the first time in Paul Newman’s bone-chilling account of this historically significant and gruesome enquiry.
“Who’d kill a gnarled old man going about his daily toil in the late evening of his life? The murder was an outrage that seemed to run counter to the decorum of natural law. Within a few years, the shadows would have claimed him as their own and the earth taken him in gently. So why this violent intrusion, this flagrant disruption of the natural course, so that a person who had lived so humbly and inconspicuously, in apparent harmony with birds and nature, should meet a blood-spattered fate that more befitted a doomed tyrannical king in a Greek tragedy?”
The wider reaches of the investigation involve chapters on Cecil Williamson’s opinions and memories of Aleister Crowley, on how Pat Doherty, the Beast’s mistress, became associated with the Walton Murder; also on the ceremony that was said to take place, with Crowley and Ataturk in Ashdown Forest, drawing down “a cone of power” in order to repel the Nazis. There is also a full description of the Saveock site near Truro where primitive fertility rites, possibly over a thousand years old, were continued into the 20th century. There is a precis of David Pinner’s novel ‘Ritual’, the filming of the Wicker Man and David Rudkin’s ‘Afore Night Comes’, demonstrating the far-reaching cultural echoes that spread from this notorious crime. Folklore aspects are covered, too, with chapters on the Black Dog, Meon Hill and the potent magic embodied by the Rollright Stones.
The book features a landmark chapter on Odin, the Norse god of mystery, prophecy and magic, and his relationship to a type of brutal crime that remains prevalent today. There is also a section on ritual sacrifices that includes the case of Netta Fornario, who was found naked and dead in a carved circle on the Isle of Iona in November 1929.
The literary angle is extended through citing a disturbing murder from Laurie Lee’s ‘Cider with Rosie’: how a group of young men in Slad killed a returning native who appeared to them as boastful and purse-proud. The community clammed up rather than betray one of their kind, just as appeared to happen Lower Quinton.
The final chapter considers the possibility of the crime being a ‘rampage killing’, drawing upon examples of random attacks from different parts of Britain and Europe.
A delicious and frothy piece of light reading.