1885, January 3 (pre): Swancliffe Black Dog

On January 3, 1885, Augustus Hare dined with his friend Mr. Wharton, who told Hare of the odd occurence a friend of his had experienced.

        Whaton's friend was Johnnie Greenwood, of Swancliffe, England. One night, Greenwood had to ride on a road through a wood to get to where he was going. The road was about a mile long and, as he entered the woods, he was joined by a large black dog running beside his horse. He didn't see where the animal had come from, and it stayed with him through the whole trip... even when the woods became dark enough that he could not see the dog, Greenwood could still hear the animal running alongside him in the dark. As Greenwood emerged from the woods, he realized that the black dog had somehow vanished, and had no clue as to where it could have gone. Greenwood paid the visit he had set out to do, and then started home along the same road. Once again, as he entered the woods, the black dog appeared from nowhere to run beside Greenwood... and, once again, it vanished as he left the woods.

        Years after this strange experience, two condemned prisoners in the York jail confessed to the chaplain that they had planned to murder Greenwood and rob his corpse that night in the woods... but both times they saw him, he was with a large black dog. They had felt that having to fight Greenwood and the large dog would be more than they could handle, so they let their intended victim escape.

A Matter of Place

        There's no 'Swancliffe' in England... there's also no town called 'Ayscliffe', which is where Mr. Wharton claimed to have heard the story about Greenwood. There are, however, two towns near each other named Swalcliffe and Newton Aycliffe (formerly just Aycliffe), in County Durham, England. I have no idea why the town names are spelled wrong in Hare's book, but it's clear he printed it that way from the start. Go figure.

        This account has an undeniable resemblance to another tale in which a Black Dog appears to protect a person from a potential threat... follow the link below to read more.

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