Goblins, Fairies, Trolls, Sprites, Brownies: they all provoke imagery of magical beings, and times long gone. However, what about those people who claim to have seen such things in relatively recent times? Should we dismiss the tales or dig into them. Well, for the purposes of this article, I'll dig. You may be surprised how the old times and beliefs are still with us. Wirt Sikes was U.S. Consul to Wales, a noted expert on Welsh folklore, and the author of an acclaimed 1880 book, British Goblins. In its pages, Sikes wrote of the hairy little Bwbach that it: "…is the good-natured goblin which does good turns for the tidy Welsh maid who wins its favor by a certain course of behavior recommended by long tradition. The maid having swept the kitchen, makes a good fire the last thing at night, and having put the churn, filled with cream, on the whitened hearth, with a basin of fresh cream for the Bwbach on the hob, goes to bed to await the event. In the morning she finds (if she is in luck) that the Bwbach has emptied the basin of cream, and plied the churn-dasher so well that the maid has but to give a thump or two to bring the butter in a great lump. Like the Ellyll which it so much resembles, the Bwbach does not approve of dissenters and their ways, and especially strong is its aversion to total abstainers." The Bwbach is largely forgotten today, but encounters with small, hairy, man-like figures in the U.K. are certainly not. Jon Downes says of such matters: "I have many similar reports of such creatures being seen in Devonshire woodland."
Jon Downes, of the Center for Fortean Zoology, continues. The location, Jon reveals, was Churston Woods, which is situated close to the English holiday resort of Torbay: "Over a six week period, in the summer of 1996, fifteen separate witnesses reported seeing what they could only describe as a green faced monkey, running through the woods. Granted, some of the descriptions were quite vague, but most of the witnesses told of seeing a tailless animal, around four to five feet tall, with a flat, olive-green face that would run through the woods and occasionally would be seen swinging through the trees. Now, to me at least, this sounds like some form of primitive human, but again, of course, such things simply cannot exist in this country – and yet they seem to. And this area – Devon, Somerset and Cornwall - is rich with such tales, you know."
Jason Hill related the details to me in 2008 of a fascinating story: "My dad was visiting a friend in Heath Hayes [England]. This friend sadly died in the early 1990s; so I am afraid the details are secondhand. Even so, my dad is not the sort of person for tall tales; and the details he repeated to me last Sunday were the same as he told me thirty plus years ago. It was back in 1959 and dad was at his mate’s house talking when his friend’s mother pipes up: 'Look! In the newspaper: your little green man!” The newspaper story - dad thinks it was the Express & Star or the Cannock Advertiser - told of a little girl from Pye Green [an area of Cannock, England] running back home to her mother in tears. "When questioned," Jason added, "she said a little green man had run from the undergrowth and frightened her. Dad waited his chance and raised the question. His friend, who was very embarrassed, said that in the summer of 1958 he played cricket for GEC [the General Electric Corporation] at Stafford, his place of work, and cycled back home, later than normal across the Cannock Chase. On a weaving part of the road he saw something in the headlight of his cycle. The 'something' he saw ran into the road, stopped, and then ran back into the trees. He described it as a 'little green man.'"
In November 2008, an extremely strange story surfaced from Wanstead - a suburban area of the borough of the city of London. According to witness testimony, a small Bigfoot-type creature was supposedly seen wandering in Epping Forest, a 2,476 hectare area of forestland which, by name at least, was first referenced in the 17th Century, but that has existed since Neolithic times and which, in the 12th Century, was designated as a Royal Forest by King Henry III. Neil Arnold describes how the distinctly odd story began: "The animal was first sighted during early November by eighteen-year-old angler Michael Kent who was fishing with his brother and father in the Hollow Ponds area of Epping Forest, on the border of Wanstead and Leytonstone. The teenager claimed that whilst walking towards his brothers, he heard a rustling in the bushes and saw the back of a dark, hairy animal around four feet in height, that scampered off into the woods." Another of those that caught sight of the diminutive beast was Irene Dainty, who claimed a face to face encounter with the thing on Love Lane, Woodford Bridge. She told the press: "'I had just come out of my flat and just as I had turned the corner I saw this hairy thing come out of nowhere. I really don’t want to see it again. It was about four feet tall and with really big feet and looked straight at me with animal eyes. Then it leaped straight over the wall with no trouble at all and went off into the garden of the Three Jolly Wheelers pub. I was so terrified that I went to my neighbor’s house and told her what had happened. She couldn’t believe it and asked me if I had been drinking, but I said of course I hadn’t – it was only about 3:00 p.m.'"