The Sneering Ghost of Corton Jun 21, 2019 7:47:14 GMT -5
Post by JoannaB on Jun 21, 2019 7:47:14 GMT -5
The Sneering Ghost of Corton
Sea frets have often blurred the lines between this world and the next – and one phantom that appears from the mist is the Sneering Man of Croton. This terrifying ghost suddenly appears in the road, terrifying drivers, some of whom claim to have driven straight through the figure.
In 1974, the summer edition of The Lantern, the journal of the Borderline Science Investigation Group based in Lowestoft, featured a terrifying tale related by a man who was driving home from Great Yarmouth to Lowestoft – two coastal Suffolk towns – along the old A12. As he neared Corton Long Lane, his headlights illuminated someone – or some thing – standing in the road, directly in the path of his vehicle. “I was struck most of all by the face, so much that I cannot recall seeing a body or even the outline of one,” he told a BSIG investigator. “It was staring straight at me with a horrible sneer on its lips. It was not white or flimsy, but had a definite ‘flesh and blood’ appearance. I braked hard, but instead of hitting him as seemed certain, my car went straight through him.”
It wasn’t the first time the witness had experienced something unusual on this stretch of road.
“Some months ago,” he continued, “I was driving past more or less this same spot when, despite my heater going at full blast, my car suddenly became icy cold and an unexplainable wave of fear swept over me and my one thought was to accelerate away from the place as fast as I could. By the night in question, I had completely forgotten about the incident.”
Fearful he had hit someone – though he felt no impact whatsoever – the man pulled onto the hard shoulder, got out of his car and nervously looked back at the road to see if there had been an accident, but saw nothing. “As soon as I realized that I had not knocked anyone down, my previous experience here came to mind admitting that I was overcome by a fear bordering on panic,” he explained. “With no more to do, I leapt back into my car and put as much distance between me and that place as I could. I cannot get the memory of that horrible sneering face out of my mind and even now, the thought of it fills me with a strange feeling of apprehension, tinged with fear.”
Close to Corton, the home of the Pleasurewood Hills Family Theme Park, is Hopton, where a similarly horrifying ghost has been seen – and driven through – on the same stretch of road. In the 1980 winter edition of The Lantern, the tale of a Lowestoft man driving on the new A12 Hopton Bypass was reported. Frank Colby of the British Transport Police and his wife were driving along the road when he saw a man crossing the duel carriageway at Hopton. Stocky in build and clad in a calf-length, shapeless garment, the figure was hunched over and, according to Colby, wearing “fantastically huge footwear ... and he was lifting them up well as he plodded across.” He told Ivan Bunn he braked and yelled for his wife to look, but she didn’t see the figure in the road disappear into thin air.
One of the earliest recorded stories of Hopton’s jay-walking ghost came from Roger Hammersly of Lowestoft who, early in 1957, was driving in convoy with a friend, R. Gardner, from Yarmouth to their hometown. The were traveling along the old A12 (now the A47) just south of Hopton just before midnight, when both men saw what Hammersley described as the figure of a man wearing very large boots, a fawn overcoat and hat crossing the road in front of them. He was close to the figure before realizing it was no longer there, although he did not remember seeing it actually disappear.
During an interview with Bunn, Hammersley admitted that many times prior to this encounter he had often felt distinctly “uneasy” when driving along this particular part of the road and after seeing the “ghost” back in 1957, attempted to avoid the Hopton stretch of the old A12.
On a wet, miserable night in November 1981, a year after Colby saw the spectral figure in Hopton, Andrew Cutajar was traveling from Lowestoft to Great Yarmouth when, as he approached Hopton, encountered a patch of grey mist in the middle of the carriageway. As he drew closer, the mist took the form of a man, whom he described as “tall and dressed in a long coat or cape coming well past his knees. He had on old-fashioned, heavy, lace-up boots and had long, straggly grey hair.” The figure stood stock still in the middle of the road and as Cutajar frantically braked to avoid hitting him, his car skidded out of control and went straight through the figure, coming to rest on the grass facing in the opposite direction.
One theory is that the figure is the spirit of William Balls, a Hopton postman who worked himself to death in January 1899 after 22 years serving the village. Though he had the flu, Balls refused to allow illness to keep him from his appointed rounds. On January 2 at 10:30 a.m., his corpse was discovered in a field close to the spot where people report seeing the misty figure. He was lying face-down in a pool of blood and the coroner determined he died of pneumonia. He was buried at Hopton church, the ruins of which are visible from the road.
Bunn learned of the dedicated postman’s sad death from Gwen Balls, wife of the dead man’s grandson. She said her husband’s grandfather, who began working for the post office at age 18, had been warned by the doctor that he was overdoing it and without rest, he was going to die – he was likely suffering from tuberculosis. “What am I to do? I must do my duty,” he told the doctor. On the morning of his death, he set out on his 16-mile round at 6 o’clock and worked until 9:30, at which point he set out for home to rest before returning at 4;20 p.m. He was found in his father’s field by a farm worker. His wife, Angelina, was pregnant when he died.
Is William Balls the phantom pedestrian of the A47, a dedicated postman who hasn’t allowed death to keep him from his appointed rounds?
Source: Stacia Briggs and Siofra Connor, The East Anglian Daily Times, June 21, 2019.