"Dennis Freeman warned me off crossing People's Park"

 

 For many years People's Park in Ashington had a bandstand near its south-west corner. The idea that a Black Monk lived there behind the shutters was a common rumour.

 

Black monk
Creative Commons AttributionBlack monk - Credit: Roscoe Ellis

From the Ashington Advertiser Friday 23 October 1964

 (reproduced by permission)

The “Black Monk” gets around fast

            Is it mass hallucination or young people’s imagination? Whoever the ‘Black Monk’ is he must have transport – supernatural or petrol driven. Reports from schoolchildren of all ages, from infant to grammar school, all tally about the ‘Black Monk’, allegedly seen at Ashington, Blyth, North Seaton and Newcastle.

            Parents of Ashington schoolchildren were all told the same tale by their offspring last week, with some embellishments.

            A tall hooded figure, with cloak, in black, had been seen in the Hirst area, they alleged. Some have seen him carrying a shining axe, while others are reported to have seen him carrying a curved hook.

            One girl was said to have been scratched on the face by the mysterious figure.

            Even grammar school pupils from Newcastle report the same story, again with added dressings.

            But Ashington police report that they have not received any complaints about the Black Monk. They know about the story, having children of their own, who reported the same tales.

            “We have not received any complaints about this mystery man, but we are keeping a watch on the situation,” said an Ashington police spokesman at the weekend.

            As the stories spread, children have added their own local flavour to the ‘tale from school’.

            Fish hooks scratched a girl’s face, one story went; the figure disappears when a policeman is about; it becomes invisible and passes through walls; the black-cowled thing has staring eyes; the axe it carries has a blade of shining steel; it sometimes appears out of nowhere.

            Two Blyth girls allege they have seen the figure, but young imaginations, coupled with darkening nights, can turn a tree into a wrinkled armed monster.

            Another theory advanced is that schoolchildren start on projects of local history at this time of year, and old tales of haunted priories become a little too real to them.

            Hallowe’en is also not very far away, and horror films are quite common today.

            The only thing that is puzzling, is how the same tale was heard in two separate areas, 20 miles apart, on the same day?