Mar 05, 2014 I Tom Head

Is This the Ghost of James Stanley?

Employees at the 763-year-old Ye Olde Man and Scythe, a pub in northwest England, say that they had a strange day at work on February 14th. After noticing that the security camera shut itself off early, they reviewed the last moments of the footage and saw something they didn't expect to see:

The London Mirror has been covering the story. There's no shortage of possible natural explanations—corruption from an old recording, car lights reflecting off bottles, a prowler, a hoax—but local scuttlebutt has it that we're looking at James Stanley (1607-1651), Seventh Earl of Derby, who had a reputation for hanging around the place both before and after his death.

It's hard not to enjoy the video at face value. Most ghost videos are pretty underwhelming, unless you're into that sort of thing—an orb here, a shadow there—but this will catch your eye. If it's a hoax, it's a brilliant hoax. The figure is undeniably human, but he doesn't move like a human; if you've ever experienced hypnagogic hallucinations, his shifting form and strange, unpredictable patterns of movement may look familiar.

Of course, shifting forms and unpredictable patterns of movement can also be characteristic of a wide range of natural phenomena. It would be interesting to know whether the tape had been previously used to record people walking around the pub, whether reflections of street traffic show up on video when cars drive by, and so forth. But for now, the videotape simply is what it is; whether it is evidence of something supernatural, evidence of something natural, or a brilliantly-constructed work of art, it looks like the wispy figures we almost see out of the corner of our eyes when we've put in a long day.

Tom Head

Tom Head is an author or coauthor of 29 nonfiction books, columnist, scriptwriter, research paralegal, occasional hellraiser, and proud Jackson native. His book Possessions and Exorcisms (Fact or Fiction?) covers the recent demand for exorcists over the past 30 years and demonic possession.

Join MU Plus+ and get exclusive shows and extensions & much more! Subscribe Today!