Title:    Paranormal Purbeck - A Study of the Unexplained
Author: David Leadbetter
RRP: £9.99
Publication date: 17 July 2013
Format: 234 x 156 mm
Number of pages: 144
Illustrations: 37
ISBN: 9781906651-220

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Why understanding what we term ‘paranormal’ is of fundamental importance to comprehending the world we live in.

Footsteps echoing from the past, objects moving of their own volition, near death experiences, displacements in time, memories from the future, UFO sightings, synchronicities ... this book is a collection of remarkable experiences from the Isle of Purbeck. It visits nearly 70 sites and has contributions from over a hundred local people.
   Most of the first-hand accounts have never been published before, suggesting that the ‘paranormal’ is more commonplace than we generally suppose and is perceived intuitively, depending on the right combination of circumstances.
     The author challenges fixed opinions and beliefs, offering detailed personal experiences from a small geographical area and arguing that we need a fundamental reappraisal of how we view the world.
     Anyone with a thirst for mysteries and a desire to extend the frontiers of human knowledge will be gripped.


Acknowledgements and List of Contributors
Paranormal Activity in the Studland, Swanage and Langton Matravers Areas
Paranormal Activity in the Corfe Castle and Wareham Areas
The Royal Oak, Swanage - a Very Haunted Location
Near Death Experiences
Precognition, Time and Synchronicities
UFO Sightings
The Significance of the Phenomena 


From the Introduction:

Many scientists are reluctant to trust ‘evidence’ that appears to be mainly subjective or anecdotal, yet when that evidence becomes accumulative and then overwhelming and contains thousands of accounts of paranormal experiences (the Society for Psychical Research, for instance, has been collecting accounts since the 19th century), many of which have common elements where a pattern begins to emerge, surely it is time to sit up and take note? Personal testimony in a court of law is also subjective, yet is regarded as admissible evidence. Science itself is undergoing a revolution in which theoretical physics is becoming almost as esoteric as anything paranormal. The idea of multiple parallel worlds, once the domain of science fiction, is now considered almost mainstream physics. The strange world of quantum mechanics, where the uncertainty principle states that an electron can be in different places simultaneously until a measurement is taken, is hard to get one’s head around, while string theory opens up the possibility of extra spatial dimensions. Distinctions between subjectivity and objectivity are increasingly blurred and there are those who would even argue that an object only exists when we observe it (the arrogance of humans!). Reality is in a very real sense how we perceive things: we think of physical objects as being solid, yet at an atomic level they are masses of swirling particles, each atom containing a million billion times more empty space than solid matter. Our bodies, therefore, are full of empty space! Physicists are of the opinion that visible matter in the universe is only 4% of what is actually out there, with the rest consisting of ‘dark matter’ (invisible, but measurable and surrounding galaxies) and the even more mysterious ‘dark energy’ which is causing the universe to expand at an increasing rate. There is also the search for a ‘Grand Unifying Theory’ which would connect the quantum world with that of Einstein’s world of relativity and space-time, in other words, the very small measurements used by quantum physics at the atomic level combined with the grand scale of the vast distances in the universe in one ‘perfect’ theory. The problem is that whenever we think we have reached the limit of human knowledge, it becomes apparent that we have only just started on the journey.

From Chapter 1:

Manor Farmhouse, Studland

Andrew Purkis, former proprietor of the Manor House Hotel, lived at Manor Farmhouse, close to St Nicholas’s Church, with his wife Karen from 2000 until 2013. The building, which is now divided into two sections as the result of a dispute that occurred between the previous owners, consists of one part dating from the late 17th century and a newer part from the 1820s, which is where Andrew and his family lived. Andrew said that he thought there had been a lot of unhappiness associated with the property and that the previous owners may have had children who had died there.
     Andrew described a number of paranormal experiences that had occurred at Manor Farmhouse. The most dramatic concerned his wife Karen, who had woken up one night to find a man dressed in black, and in appearance like a highwayman, standing by the bed with his hands outstretched. She thought he was going to strangle her, but instead he stroked her hair. Some while later, their stepson, who had not been told of the appearance of this strange figure, reported seeing a similar man in black standing at the top of the stairs leading down to the cellar.
     Andrew also related how a few years previously the wicker chair in his baby daughter’s bedroom would sometimes creak as though someone was sitting in it when there was no one there. On a different occasion there appeared to be some resistance to the door being opened. Another strange incident occurred one Christmas morning when some tinsel, which had been draped over a clock in the kitchen, started shaking. Andrew went over to examine this, but could find no logical explanation. Karen told me that a number of photographs taken in the house a few years ago showed orbs (small circles which some claim are signs of paranormal activity).
     Their daughter Portia had an imaginary friend called Lucy when she was under 2 years old. This ‘imaginary friend’ was so persistent that Karen once asked Portia if her friend Lucy would like a drink and she replied that she would like some beer/ale, which seemed quite strange for a young child to say. Lucy became such a feature that Andrew and Karen even visited the churchyard to see if they could find the name on any of the gravestones, but were unsuccessful.


David Leadbetter has lived in Swanage most of his life, where he worked at a local school teaching English to foreign students and administering examinations. David has a long-term interest in natural history and conservation and has led many guided walks locally to help people with plant, bird and insect identification. Most of his travelling has been in connection with the natural world, or historical sites, and he has a passion for Africa.
     David’s fascination for the paranormal started as a boy when he learned about some of his family’s experiences and began to read books on the subject. He has been studying the paranormal for a number of years and is particularly interested in how it connects with certain aspects of science and the metaphysical core at the heart of some religious experience. David believes that by understanding the paranormal, our insights into this world and what may lie beyond will grow.


On first reading Paranormal Purbeck, I wanted to read out of interest in paranormal research and not just for the purpose of review. It didn’t take long before I was engrossed in every page, eager to turn the next in order to find what was lurking around the corner. The book refreshingly begins with some pages dedicated to what we feel ghosts might be and gives some thought to what could be at play, during an alleged paranormal encounter. There is no doubt that strange things happen.This book reveals some of those hidden mysteries from the normally quiet and tranquil Purbeck region of Dorset. It is a very welcome addition to my library of research and reference books. 
David Goulden, The Dorset Paranormal Research Team 

Without being too academic this is a serious book that is well written, easily read and entertaining. It poses enough questions to be mentally stimulating yet offers some satisfactory conclusions. Its title may be parochial but the contents are far reaching and way above the provincial.
Trevor Vacher Deane, Society of Dorset Men Year Book 2014

‘Most of the accounts are contemporary and form an impressive body of modern folklore which, if taken as such, is a valuable addition to the canon of Dorset lore as a whole … the accounts have quite a genuine feel to them being quite different from traditional ‘haunted house’ tales, and Mr Leadbetter has done well to collect such a large and varied body of accounts; he cites no less than 107 people in his list of contributors.
     The author states plainly from the start that he believes in the ‘paranormal’ as a reality which can be perceived through the ‘intuitive mind’ … he refrains from subjecting the reader to too much spychobabble, and he also writes coherently and argues his case well enough to at least engage the interest of the most ardent of sceptics.’
Jerry Bird, Dorchester Voice & Merry Meet Journal of Folklore and Pagan Heritage

‘Presenting books on ghosts and apparitions while trying to maintain your integrity as a writer can never be an easy task, and for a first book, Leadbetter has achieved a nice balance of objectivity and enthusiasm … well researched.‘
Purbeck Gazette

‘It makes a useful guide book for phenomenologists. Locals will delight in the familiar places and stories told by people they may know, though there are a few anonymous accounts among them; fear of ridicule perhaps, or fear of hoards of dribbling ghost-hunters at the windows. True sceptics should read this book alone, at night. With all the other lights in the house switched off. Enjoy.’
Purbeck! Journal

'One of the most fascinating books to have come into my hands for a long time.’
George Willey, Swanage and Wareham Advertiser