This was perhaps the most famous psychic occurrence in the London of the sixties, in St. Patrick’s Roman Catholic cemetery in Leytonstone, London.
A friend had told me that come darkness each night from the depths of the cemetery would glow a large cross, so for me as a curious schoolboy, this just had, to be seen.
When we arrived up on the brow of the hill, there were already a dozen watchers, and on talking to them discovered that on some nights fifty or sixty people would gather, and some would sing hymns, and marvel, while others would gather a little down the road and catcall and verbally abuse them.
As the fame spread in local newspapers and radio, it became the local sport on pub closing time to go and torment the nightly gatherers, and the local police had seen it their duty to clear everyone away each night, especially as the numbers of tourists at weekends could reach one hundred.
These events always attract colourful characters, and a retired vicar would read the bible out loud for hours on end to a blank wall, oblivious to any abuse.
While one grey haired sillyarse catholic priest would come over and shout that “there was no such thing as the paranormal”
The council who tended the graveyard under pressure from the police, who were sick of complaints from people living nearby, began to take action, among the preventative things done were, painting a section of the nearby street lamps to stop any reflection, they examined some graves for signs of luminous paint, and even examining the stone itself for any phosphorous or mineral content that might shine in the dark, then they began to put up large wooden barriers, but no matter what they did the glowing cross continued, and they wanted it stopped, down to the re-routing of through traffic to discourage onlookers.
It was said that buried in this churchyard were several famous people, including a couple of Jack the Rippers victims and it was their souls crying out for vengeance, that was making the cross shine at night.
Incidentally, a group of teachers put a ouiji board out on a flat gravestone in the graveyards Victorian section and claimed they had been contacted by one of the rippers victims, who said it should have been Jacob the ripper, who was a Rabbi trying to clean up the area.
( It is on record that the spot where ripper victim Catherine Eddows was found still faintly glows in the dark.)
Incidentally the police black museum and modern criminal profilers claim that among the huge influx of polish Jews into the area, the profile they most suspect, is of Aaron Kosminsky.
One evening after listening to the stories of healings and other miraculous things that were rumoured to be happening there, and the opposing views that it could only be something evil, that I spoke to a little crowd of Jamaicans who were convinced it was an undead spirit, and voodoo was involved.
So direct action was called for, and scrambling over the vicious pointed railings, and jumping down on the other side, and allowing my eyes to adjust to the darkness as I picked my way toward the glowing cross that was causing all the attention.
It was said that the church authorities were at their wits end, with all the people tramping over church property demanding answers, often at dead of night.
As I trod my way towards the glow I became aware that it was the most incredibly powerful pale green light, and quite unnatural, suddenly when approaching the grave, and actually reading the wording on it, my eyes adjusted to the fact that it was bound round with lots of sacking, yet was still shining right through, this unnerved me, and heart beating very fast I quickly made my retreat, back to the railings, and the safety of the road.
Over the next week or so, the gravestone was taken down for “tests”
The knock on effect was quite surprising, it had become a gathering place for people to come and meet to talk about the “gravestone” couples had met and started relationships there, a local Jewish businessman could no longer bring his hotdog van there, the juggler who would put down his hat and juggle for pennies would have to find another site, the retired vicar with his bible went god knows where, and the religious pamphleteers would no longer be able to tout for their own church and most vocal of all, the bewiskered old lady in the sweet shop saw her takings on tobacco and sweets drop by half.
Amusingly the local publican considered changing the pub name to the “shining cross”, until the brewery told him where to get off.
Apparently the locals still argue over the cause of the phenomena, which was never solved satisfactorily, a Jamaican couple I met there fascinated me with their tales of Caribbean sorcery and voodoo, I still get Christmas cards from them each year, and their son who was conceived in their car within sight of the stone, intuitively perhaps, they called him “Crossley” and he now has his own family.