Jun 09, 2020 I Nick Redfern

A Black-Eyed Child in Notorious Woods

"Located in West Sussex, England, Clapham Wood stands to the north of the small village of Clapham," reveal Mysterious Universe. They add: "Historically, Clapham has been an archetypal English village, one that’s been around, likely, since Saxon times.  Over the last 300 years, it has remained largely hidden from the outside world, except, that is, for the last four decades." Since the early 1970s, Clapham Woods have been associated with murder, mystery, and a secret society called the Friends of Hecate. It was in 1972 that the mystery began. In June of that year, a police constable named Peter Goldsmith disappeared while walking through the woods. His body was not found for around six months, specifically on December 13. What makes this even more intriguing is the fact that two months before P.C. Goldsmith vanished, he had investigated the death of a woman who had been murdered in the very same woods. Two victims inextricably linked to one another.

And, as Martin J. Clemens also reveals: "In July 1975, pensioner Leon Foster disappeared and was subsequently found three weeks later, by a couple who were searching for a horse in the wood, a horse that had also gone missing under mysterious circumstances.  Next, on Halloween of 1978, the vicar of Clapham, the retired Reverend Harry Snelling went missing.  His body was found three years later, by a Canadian tourist.  Again, no cause of death could be identified." Things were far from over. Three years later – 1981 – the body of a woman named Jillian Matthews was found in the woods. Matthews, a schizophrenic, had been raped and murdered. Moving away from the human casualties of Clapham Woods, there’s the matter of the disappearance of a number of dogs.It’s hardly surprising that Clapham Woods gained a reputation as a place filled with menace and mystery. In 1987, information surfaced suggesting that Clapham Woods was filled with something else too: a powerful and dangerous group – whose membership included elements of the British Government – called the Friends of Hecate.


The story of the Friends of Hecate first surfaced publicly in the pages of The Demonic Connection, a 1987 book written by Toyne Newton, Charles Walker, and Alan Brown. According to Walker, he met with one of the members of the secret group, who confirmed that the deaths of the various people – and the disappearances of the dogs – were the work of the Friends of Hecate, which has been described as "a quasi-pagan British occult order." While the existence of the Friends of Hecate has yet to be fully confirmed, the unsettling story of dark and mysterious deaths in the heart of Clapham Woods has ensured the legend of the group survives and thrives.

You may wonder what all of this has to do with the Black Eyed Children. Now, you'll find out. Of the many people who contacted me about their experiences with the BEC, one was Terri of New Orleans. Twenty-seven years of age, Terri - in September 2016 - spent two months in the U.K., hanging out with relatives. Terri admitted to me that she had an interest in the paranormal and was excited by the prospect of spending significant time in Clapham Woods - as she knew all too well of the legends and had a copy of Toyne Newton's The Demonic Connection. She admitted that she found the whole area to be eerie - which it is. Most bizarre of all, however, was the fact that while she walked through the woods, Terri  had a very brief encounter with one of the Black Eyed Children. In fact, it lasted barely a few seconds.

As Terri strolled through the woods, she said she saw a small girl in a hoodie and jeans - both black in color - who laughed at her in an unsettling fashion. Most terrifying of all were the eyes. By now, I don't have to explain what they looked like. In seconds, the black eyed thing was gone. As for Terri, she was rooted to the ground in fear. Hyperventilating, she just about managed to find her way out of the woods. None of this stopped Terri from returning to the woods three days later, however. She did not see the BEC again. Yet again, though, we have an example of a Black Eyed Child appearing when someone is immersed in the domain of the occult.

Nick Redfern

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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