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The Phantom Coach

Cornish Legends and Myths





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16 June 2011

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A lonely drive through quiet country lanes one wet November afternoon led to an extraordinary encounter for Mr Cliff Hocking of Mevagissey.

He was driving from Mevagissey to Truro to visit his wife in hospital when, to his shock and amazement he rounded a round bend and without warning was suddenly confronted with an old fashioned stagecoach thundering along the road towards him, drawn by four horses galloping at full speed. At the reigns sat a coachman in a greatcoat with wide blue lapels, whipping the horses into a frenzy of speed. Beside the driver blowing a posthorn sat the guard, clad in a scarlet coat and black hat. Horrified, Mr Hocking stamped on his brakes, stalling the car and throwing his hands up over his face. As the mysterious coach bore down on him, the thundering wheels, galloping hooves and urgent blast of the horn rising to a crescendo, he sat helplessly awaiting the imminent collision. Nothing happened. Instead, the terrifying sounds of the coach ceased abruptly and all was quiet again. When he looked up it had literally disappeared into thin air. The road was empty.

The phenomenon of phantom coaches drawn by ghostly horses is not an uncommon one, especially in the uncommonly haunted county of Cornwall, but to Mr Hocking this vision was a very real one. He remembers quite clearly that the coach was painted bright red, low bodied with small doors and windows and a sloping rear. Such a coach would once have carried the mail to towns and villages in the vicinity - some two hundred years ago. Why was the driver in such a hurry? Well perhaps he was late with the post - or maybe he had a rendezvous to meet. After all, Walter Cross - the Mevagissey man who had introduced the stagecoach service into Cornwall in 1796 was, among other things, a smuggler. Was it him at the reins?





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