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Half a century ago, Belgian Zoologist Bernard Heuvelmans first codified cryptozoology in his book On the Track of Unknown Animals.

The Centre for Fortean Zoology (CFZ) are still on the track, and have been since 1992. But as if chasing unknown animals wasn't enough, we are involved in education, conservation, and good old-fashioned natural history! We already have three journals, the largest cryptozoological publishing house in the world, CFZtv, and the largest cryptozoological conference in the English-speaking world, but in January 2009 someone suggested that we started a daily online magazine! The CFZ bloggo is a collaborative effort by a coalition of members, friends, and supporters of the CFZ, and covers all the subjects with which we deal, with a smattering of music, high strangeness and surreal humour to make up the mix.

It is edited by CFZ Director Jon Downes, and subbed by the lovely Lizzy Bitakara'mire (formerly Clancy), scourge of improper syntax. The daily newsblog is edited by Corinna Downes, head administratrix of the CFZ, and the indexing is done by Lee Canty and Kathy Imbriani. There is regular news from the CFZ Mystery Cat study group, and regular fortean bird news from 'The Watcher of the Skies'. Regular bloggers include Dr Karl Shuker, Dale Drinnon, Richard Muirhead and Richard Freeman.The CFZ bloggo is updated daily, and there's nothing quite like it anywhere else. Come and join us...

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Thursday, February 26, 2009

GUEST BLOGGER NEIL ARNOLD: The Monster Spider of Stock

It is with great pleasure that we welcome Neil Arnold to the CFZ bloggo with this first guest blog. I have known Neil for fifteen years now since he was a schoolboy with ambitions for adventure and I was an earnest young hippie who merely wanted to start a club for people interested in unknown animals. Nothing much has changed over the years. We are just both a tad older...
When frontman of The Cure, Robert Smith mumbled, “On candystripe legs the spiderman comes, softly through the shadows of the evening sun…”, I’m pretty sure he had no recollection of one Charlie Marshall. Mr Marshall was known in Essex as the ‘spiderman of Stock’, although he was by trade an ostler, but ol’ Charlie, for extra income, decided to cash in on a legend which remains as one of the county’s most obscure.

In 1777, an Arthur Trumble visited Brazil and brought home with him a variety of strange and large beetles and insects and creeping arachnids. Unfortunately, most of these creatures were dead by the time he got off the plane, but one particular specimen was an huge spider which he plucked from the Amazon jungle. Trumble conducted lectures on his expeditions, but one day was horrified to learn that his monstrous spider had escaped, and so was born the legend of the ‘Spider of Stock’. It is alleged that one elderly lady died of a heart attack after spying the eight-legged crawler, but once winter enveloped the area, many who’d become unnerved by the alleged spider’s presence, felt they could breathe a sigh of relief as surely the spider would have perished in the coldest weather.

During the early 1900s, sightings and legend still persisted in reference to an enormous spider which many locals called the ‘ghost spider’. The creature would often spring upon those sleeping and then scuttle out of sight, leaving many to believe that the area of Stock was indeed haunted by this legend.

In 1974 Mrs Gloria Craven from Hedingham saw a spider the size of a dinner plate, slowly creeping up her husband’s jacket sleeve. So terrified was she by the sight that she attempted to batter it with a heavy book, but instead smashed her husband on the back of his neck. This was the last sighting of the monstrous thing.

Charlie Marshall attempted to be a bit of a local Spring-Heeled Jack and steal the thunder of the monster spider. His antics, which he performed for a few coins in his bowler hat, involved climbing up the local church tower, and writhing up the tall, cold chimney of the local pub, where on one occasion he failed to return. It is believed the ‘spiderman’ of Stock died, wedged in one of the chimneys, or indeed the legend, or possibly the ghost of the monster spider, had devoured the imitator, intent on cashing in on the monster legend.

1 comment:

Syd said...

Not wishing to appear pedantic (or to be a bloody awkward sod, as Mr. Downes might say), but Arthur Trumble seems to have had an exceptionally long life.
"In 1777 an Arthur Trumble visited Brazil ..... Unfortunately, most of these creatures were dead by the time he got off the PLANE."