Were bizarre messages discovered on a Cheshire computer screen in 1984 paranormal or an elaborate prank. LES HEWITT takes a look at the mysterious Doddleston Messages

BBC Micro - Doddleston Messages

Nestled quietly within the English county of Cheshire, a small village can be found that is atypical of scores of similar hamlets dotted all over the UK. However, Doddleston hit the headlines back in the 1980s when, if reports made were indeed true, something quite remarkable took place there.

In late 1984, a trio of people decided to have a normal evening out. The three, Ken Webster, his girlfriend Debbie and their lodger, Nic, spent a couple of hours catching up with friends. When they all returned back to their residence, Ken discovered someone had left him a message on their BBC Micro, which had been left on during their night out.

The message went as follows:

Ken, Deb, Nic
True are the nightmares of a person that fears.
Safe are the bodies of the silent world.
Turn pretty flower, turn towards the sun for you shall grow and sow.
But the flower reaches too high and withers in the burning light.
Get out your bricks —
Pussy Cat, Pussy Cat went to London to seek fame and fortune.
Faith must not be lost for this shall be your redeemer.

None of the three could make head nor tails of the message itself. The computer was borrowed from the school that Ken worked at. Each of them chalked this down to some sort of prank or trick being played on them. But who was responsible could not be determined. The computer was returned and nothing more was considered.

This was until February 1985, when the same computer was required for another loan period. Just as before, the computer was left on and unattended on another evening out. As with the previous night out several months prior, a message been left for them. This one had an altogether different tone and prose to it. It read:

“I wryte on behalf of many. Wot strange wordes thou speake, although, I muste confess that I hath also been ill schooled. Some thymes methinks alterations are somewot barful, for they breake mane a sleep in myne bed.

Thou art goodly man who hath fanciful woman who dwel in myne home, I hath no want to affrey, for onlie syth myne half wyted antic has ripped attwain myne bound hath I beene wrethed a nyte. 

I hath seene manye alterations lasty charge house and thou home, tis a fitting place, with lytes whiche devil maketh, and costly thynges, that onlie myne friend, Edmund Grey can affore, or the king himselve. Twas a greate cryme to hath bribed myne house. – LW

One message may have been light-hearted or even whimsical, but two left them pondering whether or not something was truly at work here. Each were a tad more cautious and less dismissive of what they saw. The initials LW and name of Edmund Grey meant nothing to any of them. What about the ‘King’?

Something else was troubling to Ken. How had these messages actually appeared? The computer had no internet or intranet connection. It was almost as if someone had physically typed the message using the computer itself. The World Wide Web was still in its infancy and was really only reserved for major metropolitan areas. 

Ken decided to try and get some much needed answers. He enlisted the help of another teacher, Peter Tinder. When Tinder inspected the message, he quickly concluded that the jargon, tone and grammar were Middle English. Tinder dated it to sometime during the 16th century.  

That only told them so much about the message. It was clear that more answers would be required. Webster played something of a hunch and asked the author about LW and Edmund Grey. A day or two after, a reply was given freely. LW was Lukas Wainman. According to local research conducted, Wainman owned the land that Webster’s home was situated sometime during the 1540s.

Tinder did consider that all of this was some kind of hoax or fabrication. To dismiss that possibility, he tried an experiment. He sent messages to the author of the note left on screen and then deleted them. Neither Ken, Debbie nor Nic ever saw what he sent.

Ken got back in touch with Lukas and revealed that he was living in the year 1985. The response to that was something even more bizarre. The reply stated:

Yow sayd yowr tyme be 1985 methought yow were als from 2109 lyk yowr freend whom didst bringe leems boyste prey

When Webster attempted to make contact with 2109, he also received a reply. Even though curiosity got the best of him, he considered it a frivolous and token gesture. 2109 revealed:

Try to understand that you three have a purpose that shall in your life time change the face of history, we, 2109, must not affect your thoughts directly but give you some sort of guidance that will allow room for your own destiny. All we can say is that we are all part of the same god, whatever he is (?), is.

Doddleston Messages, not just on a computer

All of these strange events took place solely on the computer. This was not to last for much longer. Additional odd events began to surround the household. Debbie revealed that she saw a stranger in a vision. Lukas then made it clear that his identity was an alias, his real name was actually Thomas Harden. At some point, Trinder was said to have ‘interfere with the messages, until 2109 put a stop to it. 2109 claimed point blank that the three witnesses were ‘on a mission’.

Like a lot of supernatural or paranormal tales, there would those that believe and those that don’t. Conventional wisdom likely states that a Middle Ages peasant would be highly skeptical of a modern device like a personal computer if turned up in his world. On more than one occasion, terms like witchcraft and devilry were mentioned back and forth during these exchanges.

The Doddleston Messages is a fantastic tale that is easy to dismiss as a hoax or even a publicity stunt. Webster did go onto publish this series of events in a book. It is called The Vertical Plane and is still on general sale. 

LES HEWITT lives in London and is a freelance writer with a long standing passion for the unexplained and paranormal. Les collected numerous accounts of strange, unexplained and paranormal events and compiled them into an eBook. This eBook is titled Histories & Mysteries and is available from the Kindle Store on Amazon. Les is currently working on a follow up title. In his spare time, Les is a keen amateur magician and enjoys astronomy whenever possible. 

 

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