Sep 27, 2022 I Nick Redfern

A Flying Monster, a Woman in Black and Ancient Secrets: Here's the Strange and Sinister Story

Colin Perks - an Englishman who died prematurely in 2009 - was for years possessed by a definitive obsession. As a child, Perks became fascinated by the legends pertaining to one of the most well-known and cherished figures of British folklore: King Arthur. For Perks, however, Arthur was far more than mere myth. Perks, like so many other students of Arthurian lore, came to believe that the stories of King Arthur were based upon the exploits and battles of an all too real ruler of that name. This Arthur held sway over significant portions of ancient Britain from the latter part of the 5th Century to the early part of the 6th. He and his fearless soldiers bravely fought off invading hordes of Germanic Saxons and, as a result, left major marks upon British history and mythology. By the time Perks reached his thirties, he was the proud possessor of a huge library on all-things of a King Arthur-themed nature. His research, by now, was not just focused on the past, however. Rather, Perks, following clues that he believed were hidden in a series of complex codes and ciphers that had been provided to him by a fellow Arthur-enthusiast in 1978, was a man on a mission to find the final resting place of King Arthur. The location, Perks concluded, was somewhere in the vicinity of the old English town of Glastonbury.

(Nick Redfern) Glastonbury Abbey, U.K.: One of my trips to Glastonbury in search of the elusive Gargoyle

With origins that date back thousands of years - to the Neolithic era, no less – Glastonbury is noted for its atmospheric, centuries-old abbey, its links to the story of the Holy Grail (the cup alleged to have held the blood of Christ), and even claims that Jesus himself once visited the town. Today, Glastonbury is a hotbed of new-age stores, bookshops, meditation centers, and haunted old inns and hotels. The town is enveloped by a captivating and almost magical atmosphere. It echoes back to a time long gone, but one which still tenaciously clings to life in this little town, and where the mysterious traditions of old still stand solid. For many years, Colin Perks dwelled in Glastonbury, tirelessly searching for the underground vault that he believed existed nearby and which housed the remains of King Arthur. And, perhaps, still houses those remains.

As the 20th century neared its end, Perks’ research to try and find Arthur’s grave reached its height. He was, by now, convinced that the location was somewhere within a small area of woodland situated just a few miles from Glastonbury itself. When time allowed, Perks headed off into the heart of the woods, metal-detector and shovel in hand, trying to uncover evidence that deep below the enchanting woodland floor lay the remains of one of Britain’s mightiest warrior-kings. Late one evening in September 2000, and after a day and evening spent digging in the woods, Perks received a strange, and somewhat disturbing, phone call. It was from a woman who made it very clear that she wanted to discuss with Perks his studies of an Arthurian nature. She also made it clear she would not take “no” for an answer. Colin Perks found this highly worrying, since his phone number was not listed in the telephone directory. On top of that, he had no family, aside from a very elderly mother in a nursing-home, and he rarely discussed his research with anyone. Nevertheless, the mysterious woman at the other end of the line clearly knew all about him, even including his forays into the old, nearby woods in search of King Arthur’s remains. Perks was puzzled, disturbed, and intrigued by the call. As a result, he agreed to a face-to-face meeting. It was a decision he sorely came to regret.

Several nights later, and at the arranged time of 7:00 p.m., there was a knock at the door. Perks took a deep breath and opened it. He was confronted by what can only be described as a Woman in Black. Stood before him was a beautiful woman, thirty-five to forty years of age. She was dressed in a smart and expensive-looking outfit, had a long and full-bodied head of black hair, and just about the palest and smoothest skin possible. For a moment there was silence. Perks simply stared, feeling various parts captivated, intimidated, and downright frightened. Although the woman’s face appeared utterly emotionless, Perks detected a hard to define air of hostility, and perhaps even hatred, of him. This was hardly a good start to the evening. And it proceeded to get even worse. The silence and eerie awkwardness was only broken when, after about twenty seconds, the woman said: “My name is Sarah Key. May I come in?” Perks nodded and the woman entered his abode, made her way straight to his couch, sat down, and motioned him to follow by patting the cushion next to her. It was immediately clear who was running the show.

(Nick Redfern) My book on the mystery of the Women in Black

Wasting no time, Sarah Key got straight to the point and informed Perks that she, and what she described as her “colleagues,” had been carefully watching him for years. She added, in no uncertain terms, that the purpose of her visit was to request that Perks cease his research. As in, right now. A suddenly defensive Perks loudly responded that there was no way he would ever stop his work to find King Arthur’s burial site. On top of that he scoffed at the very idea that shadowy figures were watching his every move, both in Glastonbury and in the heart of the old woods. Or, it’s more correct to say he scoffed until Sarah Keey reeled off fact upon fact about where Perks was on specific days and nights, even down to which local pubs he visited for dinner and a pint of Guinness after his nightly work of toiling in the woods was over. That’s when the scoffing came to a shuddering halt. As Colin Perks sat silently, Sarah Key continued that Arthur’s grave – or his “chamber,” as she specifically described it - was no ordinary resting place. Rather, it was built atop a paranormal gateway, a portal to other dimensions where there dwelled hideous and terrible beasts of the kind that would have made H.P. Lovecraft forever pleased and proud. The chamber had been constructed as a means to prevent the foul things of this strange realm from entering our world. Perks’ dabbling and digging, Key told him, might have been innocent and earnest, but he was playing with definitive fire of a type that could provoke catastrophe and carnage if the magical “gateway” was opened. 

Sarah Key’s tone then became undeniably threatening and her face became grim in the extreme. She explained that if Perks did not give up his quest, he would receive yet another visit. From who, or what, was not made entirely clear, but Perks knew it was destined to be nothing positive or friendly. At that point, Key stood up and, rather inexplicably, picked up from the living-room table a pen of Perks’ and placed it into one of the pockets of her jacket. She laughed slyly as she did so, to the extent that a chilled-to-the-bone Perks dared not ask for it back. Notably, in centuries past the “wee folk,” such as fairies and goblins, invariably stole innocuous items when they visited the world of humans, and which they took back with them to their own strange realms of existence - as an odd kind of memento. And, recall, back in the 1960s a MIB stole the pen of one of John Keel’s closest friends, Mary Hyre – an investigator of the Mothman enigma, which descended on Point Pleasant, West Virginia in the mid-1960s. Sarah Key repeated her words of warning at the door and suggested, in the strongest tones, that Perks give up his obsession. Or else. Perks did not, however. As a result, the second visitor that Sarah Key warned about soon turned up.

It was roughly two months later, and late at night, when Perks had a truly terrifying encounter. He was driving back to Glastonbury from the city of Bath – which, like Glastonbury, is also located in the English county of Somerset. On one piece of road that lacked illumination, and which was curiously free of any other traffic, a bizarre figure suddenly materialized in the road ahead. Luckily, as the road was a small and winding one, Perks’ speed was barely twenty-five miles per hour, which gave him time to quickly slam on the brakes. In front of him was what can only be described as the closest thing one could imagine to a gargoyle. That’s to say a tall, man-like figure sporting nothing less than a large pair of bat-style wings. A pair of blazing red eyes penetrated Perks’ very soul. Hysterical with fear, Perks hit the accelerator pedal and the creature vanished in front of his eyes, and just before impact could occur. Matters weren’t quite over, however.

One week later, and not long after the witching-hour, Perks was awakened from his sleep by the horrific sight of the gargoyle looming menacingly over his bed. Paralyzed with fear, and with the creature gripping his wrists tightly, Perks could only stare in utter shock as the beast delivered a telepathic-style message to stay away from the woods, and to cease looking for the chamber of King Arthur. An instant later, the monstrous form was gone. Perks wondered for a few seconds if it had all been a horrific nightmare. In his heart of hearts, however, he knew it wasn’t. In fact, Perks ultimately came to believe that Sarah Key – Perks’ very own Woman in Black – and the gargoyle were not just inter-connected. Rather, he concluded that they were one and the same. For Perks, Key was a hideous and supernatural shape-shifter, one that could take on any form it desired, including that of something akin to a gargoyle. And a beautiful Woman in Black, too, of course.

This did not, however, deter Perks from continuing his research. He continued for the next eight years, never ultimately finding the resting place of King Arthur, whether in those mysterious woods or elsewhere. Nor did he receive a follow-up visit of the WIB kind. That was not the end of the high-strangeness, however. In 2002, Perks claimed to have photographed, from his position on a bridge, nothing less than a sea serpent traversing the waters of London’s famous River Thames – and in an area of the river that was directly opposite the headquarters of MI6, which is the British equivalent of the CIA. Precisely what all this meant, Perks never knew, but he felt that the sighting of the alleged creature, and its close proximity to MI6 was intended as a warning to keep away from things that didn’t concern him. Such was Perks’ concern about the photograph, he mailed it to me, forever wishing to wash his hands of it.  I said to Perks, when I received the picture, that to me it looked like a thin log bobbing along on the water. Perks replied that even if that was the case, the fact that it appeared to resemble a serpent – and that he was there at the very time it appeared, and with his camera, no less – was evidence of some kind of supernatural, “trickster”-style phenomenon giving him a warning.

(Nick Redfern) Perks handed over to me all his photos from the River Thames. Only this one was worth looking at.

If it was such a warning, it’s somewhat unsettling – and undeniably tragic – that death came for Perks while he was only in his sixties. Whether Colin Perks’ death was due to bad luck, ill-health, or the actions of Sarah Key – perhaps the ultimate British Woman in Black – is something we will likely never know. The mystery of King Arthur – and of that alluring, menacing and dark-garbed beauty – remains. There is a very interesting, and extremely similar, parallel to the ultimately tragic affair of Colin Perks. It adds a great deal of weight to Perks’ claim that someone was trying to silence those who just might be getting too close to the truth surrounding certain characters from British folklore, legend, and mythology. Of course, with a story like this it has to be seen as somewhat dubious and over the top. And largely for one reason: I'm not at all sure that his real name was Colin Perks. A very bizarre story, to say the very least.

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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