There has been a lot of speculation and gossip around the village this week, due to an alleged sighting of a Murrow’s Mule by Mrs. Georgia Grief near Setchell’s Copse on Thursday evening.
Mrs. Grief was walking her dog ‘Mitchum’ for a late stroll down Pricking Lane at around 9.30pm as she often did, when the old greyhound took interest in the copse.
“He’s an old dog and doesn’t go much for chasing these days, but I seen that look about him when he sensed rabbits years back” she told me this morning. “Anyways, I says ‘c’mon’ and keeps walking, but he just stands there, stock still, as if he’d spied something. Then he starts to growling. Not like an angry growl, but something else, lower and nervous, like. Then he starts backing up! I never seen him do nothing like that afore and it put the willies up me I can tell you.”
I pressed Mrs. Grief to continue; “So I holds up my stick and goes a bit closer for a look. I don’t see nothing at first, but then, this thing shoots out and goes tearing off up the edge of the field, quick as you like! It was a fair shock but I’ve lived around here all my life, and know that there’s wildlife about at nights.” I suggested that it may have been a muntjac deer, but she was quick to reply. “Weren’t no deer that. I know what a deer looks like, even in the dark. This were bigger, fatter and a lot less graceful than a deer – it were a mule. Ungainly I’d say it was, like it didn’t care much for running about, but once it had been seen, off it went.”
Our very own Jessie Blunt went out to the site early on Friday morning and reported that there was evidence of grazing and hoof prints in the mud just outside the copse. Jessie explained that the prints were definitely not deer prints – muntjac have tiny cloven hooves and the prints are about the size of a 10p coin. The track we found were almost 9cm across and although not particularly clear, they are distinctly not cloven. Jessie has since been out searching for more evidence and possibly some droppings, which could be used to identify the creature.
It has been 22 years since the last credible sighting of one of Murrow’s Mules, said to be descendants of the Spanish mules imported for use in the lichen mill in 1792 and released into the wild in 1829 when the the mill became powered by water diverted from The Leam. Many believe that a sighting of a Murrow’s Mule is lucky and signifies a whole year without earache, whilst others believe it to have more a sinister and malevolent significance, but out of respect for Mrs. Grief, I shall not elaborate on this further.
Nevertheless, we shall continue to investigate, and will let you know if there are any developments…