Spring Heeled Jack - a Victorian panic

Myth and Legend

Spring Heeled Jack - a Victorian panic

Echoing earlier stories of a cloven-hoofed devil, the mysterious appearances of Spring Heeled Jack terrorised the country for more than 60 years in the 19h century, and the facts about his existence remain unclear.

The demonic creature was first seen in 1837 in London.
Over the next year there were numerous reports of a cloaked figure attacking women and able to escape pursuit by bounding over roof tops!

In January 1838, a barmaid, Polly Adams, was attacked while walking across Blackheath in south London. Mary Stevens, a servant girl was terrified by what she saw on Barnes Common, and in Clapham churchyard a woman was assaulted. Lucy Scales, a butcher’s daughter was attacked in Limehouse and Jane Alsop was almost strangled by a cloaked creature in her own home before her family managed to beat-off her attacker…at which point he leapt and soared off into the darkness.

Jane Alsop described her inhuman attacker to London magistrates.”He was wearing a kind of helmet and a tight fitting white costume like an oilskin and he vomited blue and white flames!”

The police did not dismiss these stories and even the Duke of Wellington went out looking for the monster.

During the 1850’s and 60’s Spring-heeled Jack was also seen all over England, particularly in the Midlands.

The Army in 1870 set traps to catch him after scared sentries reported being terrified by a man who sprang on to the roof of their sentry box. Also in 1870, angry townsfolk in Lincoln are reported to have shot at him in the street, but he just laughed and bounded away, leaping over fences, and even small buildings.

Spring-heeled Jack was last seen in 1904 at Everton in Liverpool, bounding up and down the streets, leaping from cobbles to rooftops and back. He vanished into the darkness when locals tried to corner him and was not seen ever again.

Further reading

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