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The Devil: What’s in a Name? A Movie and a Real-Life Mystery

One of my all-time favorite movies is 1967’s Quatermass and the Pit, made by Hammer Film Productions.  Shout Factory says of the movie: “Hobbs End, Knightsbridge, London. While working on a new subway tunnel for the London Underground, a group of construction workers uncover a strangely shaped skull. Nearby, another discovery: a large, mysterious and impenetrable metal object. Initially mistaken for an unexploded bomb, the object and its strange power turn out to be far more horrific than anybody could have possibly imagined. Is it of this earth? Could it be the ancestral link to mankind’s evolution? Or could it be an ancient link to the unleashing of the ultimate evil? There’s only one man capable of unraveling the clues, and his name is Professor Bernard Quatermass (Andrew Keir), a man of science who thrives on the dark mysteries of the world…”

Cryptozoologist Loren Coleman says of the story that expands in Quatermass and the Pit: “The scientists involved in the unraveling of this drama soon discover this part of London [Hobbs End] has a long history of poltergeist, haunting and apparition activities. One keen young researcher discovers an old street sign near the diggings.” She notices that the road-sign was originally spelled “Hob’s End.” As Loren also states:  “Hob, it turns out, is another name for ‘devil,’ or the ‘Devil,’ if you prefer. Some words do not appear to be what they so calmly convey. “Hob,’ for example, is an alteration of Robin or Robert, as in Robin Goodfellow, a rustic, a clown (lest we get too far from the phantom clowns). Robin Goodfellow, sometimes called Puck, was/is a tricksy house sprite or elf in popular English fairy lore. And Puck is sometimes called hobgoblin. Even the descriptive verb ‘hobble’ refers to the word’s origins, as the classic view of the Devil shows cloven hooves.”

Some of this spills over into the real world. And in a very strange way. More than a century ago, and not too far from where I grew up as a kid, there was a stretch of road with the name of – wait for it – Hobble End Lane. There was also a Hobley End in the area, too. A coincidence? Maybe not, as you’ll soon see. The locations were the towns of Cannock and Great Wyrley. It just so happens that back in late 1903, a resident of Great Wyrley – a young man named George Edalji – was sentenced to serve significant jail-time for violently attacking horses in the area. The late-night attacks were so ferocious and deadly that the entire populace of Great Wyrley was shocked to its collective core. Both the local and national media covered the killings and reported extensively on Edalji’s sentence. But was Edalji really guilty of the crimes attributed to him? Someone who suspected there had been a major miscarriage of justice in the Edalji affair was none other than Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. He was the creator of the world’s most famous, fictional, “consulting detective.” We’re talking, of course, about Sherlock Holmes, of 221b Baker Street, London. Such was the extent to which Doyle tackled the Edalji case, the latter’s seven-year sentence was cut and he walked out of prison in 1906. Edalji was a free man. Albeit, not a pardoned man. Today, many researchers of the mystery believe that Edalji was not the culprit, after all.

Some of the theories put forward for who or what attacked the horses included “a hypnotized ape” (no, I’m not kidding), a giant bird, an ocelot, wild boars, and devil worshipers. I have to say, though, I find it most intriguing that the mysterious events (that still provoke controversy to this day in the area) went down in an area surrounded by a Hobble End Lane and a Hobley End. A coincidence? Or something much more mysterious and macabre? Edalji lived only a very short distance from one of the U.K.’s most infamous paranormal hot-spots, the Cannock Chase. It has been the site of  Dogman-type creatures, anomalous apes, Black Eyed Children, ghosts, phantom black dogs and more. Were Hobble End Lane and Hobley End named for specific, sinister reasons? Based on what we’ve seen in this article, they just might have been.

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Nick Redfern works full time as a writer, lecturer, and journalist. He writes about a wide range of unsolved mysteries, including Bigfoot, UFOs, the Loch Ness Monster, alien encounters, and government conspiracies. Nick has written 41 books, writes for Mysterious Universe and has appeared on numerous television shows on the The History Channel, National Geographic Channel and SyFy Channel.
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