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Viscountess Boudica’s Halloween

October 31, 2013
by the gentle author

Viscountess Boudica consults her crystal ball

Halloween is a very important festival for Viscountess Boudica, the trendsetter and wise woman of Bethnal Green. For days now, she has been hanging up her pumpkin decorations, arranging her spooky knick-knacks and organising her witchy outfits in preparation for the big day. “I like it because it is the celebration of the Pagan New Year,” she admitted to me, as one who identifies herself with the Ancient Britons and still adheres to the pre-Julian calendar which contains only ten months.

Yet Viscountess Boudica is also highly sensitive to the significance of Halloween as the time when the spiritual and temporal worlds become permeable. And so, when I visited her this week to take this new series of portraits recording her observation of the rituals and customs of the season, she confided to me this spine-chilling personal account of her first encounter with supernatural forces in the form of a Headless Horseman in Braintree.

“I saw the Headless Horseman for the first time on April 20th 1987 when I lived at Plains Field near Braintree. One night, my friend Ted and I, we walked to the Three Ashes which was down a dark lane full of ditches and hedges and no light. We played darts and there was no-one else there, so I said, ‘It’s getting late and we have to walk back down the lane.’ So we left the pub and walked back in the dark and, after we’d left the lights of the houses behind, this old black iron street lamp appeared in the lane. I said to Ted, ‘Have you heard that Braintee Council was putting lamps up here?’ There was no moon and you could tell this was no normal lamp because it burned with a red flame.

Then we heard the sound of horses’ hooves approaching and, all of a sudden, the clouds parted and it was a full moon and we stood under the lamp as the Horseman appeared, coming closer with his cloak billowing. His big black horse reared up with piercing eyes and foaming at the nostrils. And the rider had no head! But when he lifted his cloak, there was his head with blue eyes and a long grey beard. Then the wind picked up and blew the clouds across the moon, and he took off towards Braintree. I said to Ted, ‘What do you make of that?’ He said, ‘It must be for a film,’ so I said, ‘I didn’t see any cameras.’

I said, ‘What are we going to do? We can’t tell anyone, they wouldn’t believe us.’ Braintree is known for its ghosts and Coggeshall has all the ley lines, so I thought, ‘I’m going to sleep with the lights on,’ and I did for six months.

After five years, in 1992, we decided to go back. Ted said, ‘You’ve got to wear exactly what you wore in 1987,” and we went there on the same day, April 20th, and walked down the lane to the pub but I said to Ted, ‘There’s no chance of seeing him again.’ I took a Polaroid Instamatic camera with me in case I could get a picture. It was five to twelve by the time we returned down the lane and I said to Ted, ‘I don’t think it’s going to happen.’

All of a sudden, the lamp appeared burning with the red flame and we heard the sound of hooves approaching. I said to Ted, ‘Your luck’s in.’ The beating of the hooves got louder  but the Headless Horseman galloped past and he set off towards Braintree. Then he turned and came back and the great big horse reared over us and the cloak lifted up and I saw it had a red silk lining. The light grew brighter and I realised it was time, so I produced my camera and took a picture. Immediately, the light went out and he rode away, but when we reached the end of the lane the Headless Horseman was there waiting for us, blocking the path. So we turned and walked back the other way to the pub where we met an old lady.

We showed her the photograph, it was pitch black and all you could see was just the shape of the Horseman. Ted said, ‘I’ll take it to see if we can the resolution improved,’ and he said, ‘We’ll go back again in five years,’ but shortly afterwards he died and that was the end of it.”

Keeling the pot

Hanging the lanterns

Preparing the altar

Brandishing her wand

Working the broomstick

Mixing the brew

With her familiars, Keith & Paul

Consulting the Tarot

Cooking up a spell in the kitchen

Seeing the future in her looking glass

Setting out to bewitch Bethnal Green

Viscountess Boudica - “The only ghostly experience I ever had in Bethnal Green was in the Underground – as I was going down the escalator, someone tapped me on the shoulder but when I turned round there was no-one there. I remember talking to a friendly clairvoyant who told me, ‘There was a witch in your family and that’s why these things happen to you.’”

Drawings copyright © Viscountess Boudica

Be sure to follow Viscountess Boudica’s blog There’s More To Life Than Heaven & Earth

Take a look at

Viscountess Boudica’s Domestic Appliances

Viscountess Boudica’s Blog

Viscountess Boudica’s Album

Read my original profile of Mark Petty, Trendsetter

and take a look at Mark Petty’s Multicoloured Coats

Mark Petty’s New Outfits

Mark Petty returns to Brick Lane

Christmas With Boudica

7 Responses leave one →
  1. October 31, 2013

    wow I must admit you did a great write up on the story and im sure if ted was still with us he would of said the same he was a great writer him self but sadly at the time at the grove his articalls got burnt on the bonfire back in 1986 as for the headless horseman I went yesterday by long green the roads now called but the 3 ahes pub is still there but there has been many changes there but the story still sends a shiver down my spine and as im writing this to you the room has gone very cold and the lights are flickering perhaps the ghosts of Braintree are pleased that you wrote about then as for me in my blog its like a reacord that the ghosts in it will live like again and will allwaysbe reamemberd and never age so happy Halloween old been tally hoehappy halloween

  2. Glenn permalink
    October 31, 2013

    Happy Halloween Viscountess Boudica!

  3. Jeannette permalink
    October 31, 2013

    happy halloween, baby grrrl.

  4. Libby Hall permalink
    October 31, 2013

    Wonderful drawings! Wonderful photographs! A glowing orange-pink visual treat.

  5. October 31, 2013

    Wonderfully setting the mood for when the boundaries of worlds blur and magic happens!

  6. William Sovie permalink
    October 31, 2013

    Oh my Viscountess, what a big broom stick you have!

  7. feral permalink
    October 31, 2013

    There wasn’t a full moon on April 20th 1987.

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