1947: Reverend Byles’ Hole

In a letter to a magazine in 1974, the Reverend Alfred Byles told of an extremely strange event he was witness to; Rev. Byles was later interviewed and featured in an 1985 episode of the BBC TV show Arthur C. Clarke's World of Strange Powers, where he explained what had happened.

        According to Rev. Byles, in 1947 he was serving as the Vicar of St. Bartholomew's Church in Yealmpton, South Devon, England, when one Saturday afternoon while walking in the churchyard he discovered a large hole in the path near a door into the church.

Rev. Byles points to the spot the hole appeared.Reverend Byles indicates where he found the hole [Picture sources here]

        The hole spanned about a yard across the path and was of irregular shape. Guessing it was a bad case of subsidence, Rev. Byles went into the church and talked to his wife... when he walked back out he discovered that, in the short time he was away, the hole had greatly expanded in size. He called his wife out to look at it. Rev. Byles at first thought of climbing down into the hole to explore it, but neither he nor his wife could determine if it had a bottom. He threw a stone into it, and it hit stonework... looking at this, he later said that it looked like a wall was in the hole.

        Being a practical man, Rev. Byles was mostly concerned that someone would fall into the hole; so he went into the village to fetch some boards to put over it. While in town he met Mr. Knight, the local builder and undertaker, and invited him to come see the hole.

       When they arrived at the church, the hole was gone. The path and grass where the hole had been located now looked as if nothing had ever happened to them. As Rev. Byles puzzled over the matter, Mr. Knight excused himself and left; he never mentioned the incident again. Rev. Byles remained perplexed. He knew that both he and his wife had witnessed the hole, and so knew it had been there... yet he had no explanation for what seemingly occurred.

Particularly Paranormal

        In the vast world of anomalies, curiosities, and mysteries, there are many repeating types of strangeness reported. These stories are often grouped together into larger catagories -- such as "UFOs" or "psychic powers" -- based on apparent similarities or relationships between the various individual reports of bizarre phenomena. There are, however, reports of strange occurences that appear to be totally unique unto themselves; I like to feature these when I find them, in the hopes that one of my readers out there may have heard of anything similar to these extemely odd events. The case of Rev. Byles' hole currently falls into this catagory. 

        As far as I know, this event was first reported in the Reports and Transaction of the Devonshire Association in 1975, when Rev. Byles sent a letter to the magazine describing the occurrence. Ten years later, Rev. Byles was interviewed for the British TV series Arthur C. Clarke's World of Strange Powers. For some reason, the television account of his story did not include the detail of him throwing a rock into the hole and hitting some stonework; but when the companion book to the TV series was published in 1987, the account given in it was essentially the same as the Reverend's original letter to the Devonshire Association. 

        The first presentation of the event was written in the Reverend's own words, and the second presentation was an interview with the Reverend, both of which show that he was willing to stick to the story and to take ownership of it... which speaks towards credibility. On the other hand, the fact that it was nearly thirty years after the event before Rev. Byles reported it, and the fact that only the Reverend and his wife saw the occurrence and his wife's testimony never seems to have been recorded, all put a suspicious tone over the matter. In the end, researchers are left with only two responses: take the Reverend's word that the event happened, or accuse him of lying. The choice is yours.

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