Family experiences fleet-footed figure in Surrey – Spring Heeled Jack? (Updated)

Terrified Banstead family confronted by ‘dark figure’ on bypass (From Surrey Comet).

A taxi ride home on Valentine’s night turned into a nightmare when a family were confronted by a terrifying apparition that looked and moved like the legendary Spring Heeled Jack.

Scott Martin and his family were travelling home by taxi from Stoneleigh on Tuesday, February 14, at about 10.30pm when they saw a mysterious ‘dark figure with no features’ dart across the road in front of them before leaping 15ft over a roadside bank as they approached Nescot College on the Ewell bypass.

“We were driving down the Ewell bypass and saw a man on the other side of the road. We didn’t pay much attention until he started crossing over to our side of the road, the next thing he jumped over the centre fencing in the road and ran across our two lanes. On the side of our road is a bank easily 15ft in height and this figure crossed our road, climbed this bank and was gone from sight all in about two seconds.”

Tip: @ForteanLondon and @Fortean_UK on Twitter

I LOVE the stories about Spring-heeled Jack from Victorian London. They were so strange and baffling. The old stories about a mysterious super-human are similar to those of Monkey Man and Oily Man in Asia. It appears they are tales with a grain a truth but they are exaggerated and take on supernatural elements because people are surprised and freaked out over an incident that usually takes place at night.

The tipsters above had linked to this story through this piece from Dr. David Clarke (whose excellent blog I am now following):

…as recent research into the Victorian newspaper archives has made clear, there was no one identifiable person called ‘Spring-heeled Jack’. Rather he was a frightening figure, an archetype: ‘part ghost, part bogeyman, part mystery assailant’, whose name and disguise was adopted by a range of human imitators in the century that followed his reign of terror in Victorian London.

As this Surrey story shows, the leaping legend continues to live on in the collective memory 175 years after his name was first uttered….

UPDATE (8-Mar-2012): An Update to this story made me chuckle.

I can’t quite understand why “paranormal experts” are looking into the explanation. Why assume it’s paranormal? (We can NEVER assume that because we can’t possibly discount all the potential normal explanations.) This quote cracked me up, had to share:

“A scientific explanation might be that he was an extra terrestrial entity for example and possibly an alien. If he came from somewhere with greater gravitational pull he would be able to jump higher.”

HOW, under any definition of science is that explanation scientific? Scientific is based on observation, hypothesis, testing and evidence, of which that random idea has none. Go on, you can laugh. Some times things are absurd.

UPDATE (22-Mar-2012) The taxi driver didn’t think it was that weird.

  3 comments for “Family experiences fleet-footed figure in Surrey – Spring Heeled Jack? (Updated)

  1. Massachusetts
    February 26, 2012 at 1:43 PM

    The Victorian original was much more aggressive, accosting women and such, not merely running by. Sanctuary, the Sci Fi channel show, featured him on a time travel episode. He seems to be coming back in style.

  2. Sacha Martin
    March 3, 2012 at 12:35 PM

    We had never heard of spring heeled jack until we posted on Facebook to friends about what we had seen and they likened our experience to the legend. Unfortunately people are quick to doubt because there are crazies out there spouting rubbish but we aren’t publicity hungry weirdos writing to the paper – we saw something very strange and wanted to share it. Who knows who or what it was but it gave us a memorable end to an evening for sure!

  3. March 3, 2012 at 3:45 PM

    Thanks for commenting! We don’t doubt you saw something weird; it just isn’t quite right for the media to go from “I don’t know what is was” to “It’s PARANORMAL”. I imagine it’s not satisfying to not have an answer. I hope someday you do. But, that was a cool experience you had. Check out the news brief MP3 to be posted this weekend. I talked about your sighting (mostly what was already in the piece).

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