Of the many stories of the Kentish Weald villages, the sightings of the gray beast in the old village of Challock are quite possibly the strangest on record. The present village is around a mile and a half away from the original settlement, though Challock church is still there and is still used. The countryside around the church is wild and wooded and reached from the present village down a twisting, dark, tree-shrouded, and narrow lane.
For many years, local people and walkers have reported seeing a strange beast which prowls the woodland, often following them, but only just in sight. Descriptions vary a little, but the animal, if animal it is, seems to be a cross between a huge goat or sheep and a human figure. It is said that the beast is misty gray with glowing amber eyes, horns of a golden metallic appearance, and a bearded face.
A photograph used to exist, though in black and white, that showed a weird shimmering halo along the beast’s body and a long, sharp tail. Much of the beast was obscured by foliage as it stared out at the camera. Often, animals are discovered in the woods, torn apart and strewn across the ground. The area is very quiet, rarely can a bird be heard. It is not a place to go alone, and at night is both creepy and confusing.
The beast was often seen in the 1930s and has made more appearances in the new millennium. A young man once tracked the beast for several hundred yards before it turned on him with such force that the young man was forced to run for his life. Arriving back at the church, he locked himself in and immediately passed out from fear, only to awake the next morning, safe and snug in his car. Who took him there and how they entered the bolted church door is still not known to this day.
Recent reports from the area around the church speak of heavy crashing noises coming from the dense undergrowth and a strange, sickly smoke-like smell following behind people as they hike through the woods. A gray ‘presence’ is often mentioned, caught in a slight sideways glance. It is thought that the village was moved to its present location at the time of the plague, although some say that the prevalence of witchcraft in the area made only the church a safe place to visit, and then only by day when a priest was in attendance.
The church is interesting in its own way too. Some years ago, a local artist painted the portraits of all of the villagers on the wall inside the church. The pictures remain, but some appear to have changed their expression to one of fear. And by the way, do not visit the site on a bicycle. These machines seem to entice the beast to charge through the undergrowth, and several cyclists have had accidents as they struggled to speed away. You have been warned. Nothing in the world would make me visit this area alone or at night!