In 1979, Jean Hingley encountered glowing, winged beings in her West Midlands home, experiencing bizarre events and conversations, sparking ufologist interest and debate. NEIL NIXON tells us about the case dubbed “The Mince Pie Martians”
On the morning of 4 January 1979, housewife Jean Hingley was at home in Rowley Regis (these days a town in its own right but formerly a borough within the remit of Sandwell in the West Midlands).
Having seen her husband off to work, Jean noticed a distinct orange light in her snow-covered garden and decided to open the back door for a closer look.
She was astonished to see three glowing beings with small wings float past her and into the house, making noises she subsequently described as “zee, zee, zee” as they moved around her kitchen.
There were immediate physical effects on both Jean and the family dog, Hobo. Jean felt herself paralysed whilst Hobo started to sway, raised his fur, and eventually fainted.
The dog slept, but Jean’s morning got even more bizarre as she distinctly felt herself floating into the lounge, where a bright light blinded her, and she got the strong impression the light was linked to an attempt to penetrate her mind.
The physical effects on the environment continued.
The family Christmas tree still stood in the lounge and Jean could hear it shaking.
What did the Mince Pie Martins look like?
In the next few minutes Jean got a close look at the three beings, later describing them to UFO investigators as small and slim. They had thin mouths, black eyes, were around three and a half to four feet in length and lacked eyebrows, ears, and noses. Their clothing amounted to waistcoats worn over tunics, the tunics sporting silver buttons and their heads were covered in little silver caps topped with something that resembled a small lamp.
The head-on collision between classic alien grey types and creatures more akin to fairies in a film for children has kept the case as a talking point amongst UK ufologists.
A tetchy exchange followed.
The trio upped the ante on strangeness as they spoke in unison, the buttons on their tunics were pushed giving Jean the impression these buttons operated a translation device.
The beings said they came “from the sky”, and meant Jean no harm.
A brief row followed, Jean telling the creatures off for bouncing on her furniture and the trio responding by turning up the painful and paralyzing light before harmony was restored with more conversation, the beings revealing they had a familiarity with Christmas, The Queen, and knew about Jesus Christ, telling Jean, “There is only one Lord”.
Incredibly, during the conversation they revealed a fondness for UK entertainer Tommy Steele and repeated Bruce Forsythe’s familiar “Nice to see you…” catchphrase!
Jean offered a drink of water and mince pies (a detail that has given the case its lingering name) but terrified the trio when she lit a cigarette, they fled – taking the mince pies with them.
Jean gave chase, arriving in the garden to them leaving on a ten-foot-long egg-shaped craft.
Brief local press notoriety followed along with a full-scale investigation from ufologists. The police rapidly withdrew from the case, ufology has taken a longer-term interest.
Legacy of the Mince Pie Martians Visit
After effects included Jean’s need to wear dark glasses after exposure to the bright lights and electronic devices including her television apparently being impacted to the point they refused to work. Significantly, some cassette tapes touched by the creatures had been wiped.
Making literal sense of the encounter has provided a few fringe investigators with a fertile furrow to plough, notably the late Albert Budden who developed his “electro-staging hypothesis”, suggesting that a combination of natural but often rare electronic effects could induce mental episodes akin to epileptic seizures.
In this hypothesis fantasy experiences could easily be taken for conscious events. For him the Hingley case was strong evidence if only because of the collision of classic elements of an alien encounter alongside truly bizarre and personal elements – the Mince Pie Martians remain the only alien (to admit to being) fans of Tommy Steele in UFO history.
The story continues to inspire comments and responses, including the track “Dance of the Mince Pie Martians” which features on Perception Report 2 by The Night Monitor (a musician specialising electronic sounds inspired by tales of alien encounters).
On a very personal level the case remains a classic for this author, mainly because in years of talking to random groups about UFO cases I’m regularly struck by two things.
Firstly, the sincerity of people coming to report the most unusual events in their lives and secondly the odd collision in these reports between patterns familiar from the best-known UFO reports and highly unusual, often unique, details that often attach to individual stories.