Spring-heeled jack was the nickname given to a mysterious fiend able to leap over high walls and roofs with superhuman ease, who pounced on his terrified victims with eyes glowing like hot coals, hands like claws of ice and a mouth spitting flames.
This demonic figure has always been a favourite of mine. He is a character of English folklore of the Victorian era. Tales of this devil-like attacker came first from those who had seen him leaping across Barnes Common, in south west London in the 1830’s. Then Polly Adams, a farmer daughter who worked in a south
savagely attacked while walking across Blackheath by a strange creature who
eventually fled, with amazing leaps through the air. Another woman, assaulted in
a Chapham churschyard, gave similar description of her assailant but at the
beginning such accounts were dismissed as imagination or plain hysteria. London
Then, in January 1838, the reports received official recognition when the Lord Mayor, Sir John Cowan, drew the public’s attention to a letter from a terrified resident of Peckam, giving convincing details of the creature’s exploits. Immediately, accounts flooded in from people who had been too scared or embarrassed to speak out before.
In February 188, Jane Alsop answered a loud knocking on the door of her home in Bow to find a towering, cloaked figure standing on the step. As she raised her candle towards his shadowy face he grabbed her dress and pawed at her body, she managed to tear herself away, screaming at the top of her voice. He grabbed her by her long hair, only letting go and making off into the darkness when her father and sisters ran to help her. Jane told the police that he had been wearing something that looked like a close-fitting helmet on his head and a tight white costume under a black coat. His face was hideous. His eyes were like balls of fire and he vomited blue and white flames. His hands were like claws, but icy cold.
Lucy Scales and her sisters were leaving their brother’s house when a cloaked figure leaped out at them in Green Dragon Alley, Limehouse, spitting flames that temporarily blinded them. Their brother heard their cries and found them lying dazed on the cobbles, with a giant figure towering over them. The attacker ran, bounding easily over a brick wall, more than twice the height of a man.
Panic spread rapidly, with newspapers labelling Jack as “public enemy number one” and demanding immediate action. Sightings spread from
to the Home counties but the
descriptions of the creature were too fantastic that the police were at a loss;
none of their usual procedures helped in the search for such a monster. London
The last account of this fiendish creature came as late as 1904, when people in the Everton area of
Liverpool chased him as he
bounded from roof to roof, eventually leaping effortlessly over a row of
terraced houses and disappearing into the distance, never to be seen again.
Perhaps, after all, Jack was only an athletic villain who enjoyed frightening
his victims, whose fevered imaginations embroidered the story. Anyway, the
Spring- Heeled jack is the spooky story I love to hear by the fire in a winter
Sergio Calle Llorens