Among the numerous ‘U̳F̳O̳ phenomena’ or ‘poltergeist-type phenomena’ reported from Warminster on 1964 Christmas Day after 6 a.m., when a young married couple claim that they were awakened by the frantic barking and whimpering of their dog in the garden outside.
Josie, their daughter, went to investigate, and found the dog lying in a corner of the woodshed, trembling and whimpering. Just as Josie was about to re-enter the house she experienced, as it were from the air right overhead, the terrifying ‘whining, crackling, rasping, droning, shattering phenomenon’ which later became known throughout the world as ‘the Warminster Thing’ or ‘The Thing’.
At around the same period there also occurred a case in which a flock of pigeons allegedly fell dead near Warminster, struck down by this mysterious force, “rigor mortis” supervening in the bodies almost at once.
A public meeting was held in the town to discuss the strange phenomenon (Photo credit: BBC)
The same informant claimed that on yet another occasion large numbers of dead field mice had been found on the ground just after the passage overhead of ‘The Thing’, their bodies riddled with tiny holes.
Other such “sonic attacks” which occurred at around the same time in different locations around the town were later reported. Perhaps the strangest was that witnessed at 6.12am that morning by Mrs Marjorie Bye, who was walking to the Holy Communion service at Christ Church in Warminster.
As she approached the church the air about her filled with strange sounds that she found disturbing, and made her feel weak and unable to move. These unidentified noises continued on an ad-hoc basis until at least June 1966.
In total, more than 30 individuals reported hearing mysterious noises that Christmas morning—and there was more to come.
Roughly nine cases are described in The Warminster Mystery in which the only unusual phenomena are noises. Over the course of time this “noise” phenomenon receded and the visual phenomenon took its place to become the most important element of the Warminster phenomenon; the Warminster Thing became a U̳F̳O̳.
Many people took photos of the Warminster Thing during 1965 (Photo credit: BBC)
Arthur Shuttlewood at the time was the features editor on the local weekly newspaper, The Warminster Journal. He reported in his book The Warminster Mystery: “The air was brazenly filled with a menacing sound.
Sudden vibrations came overhead, chilling in intensity. They tore the quiet atmosphere to raucous rags and descended upon her savagely. S̳h̳o̳c̳k̳waves pounded at her head, neck and shoulders.”
By June 1965, strange objects were being seen in the skies around the town. Shuttlewood soon became the voice and champion of The Warminster mystery. Sightings of “The thing” continued, but, by the early 1970s, they were beginning to decline. Cradle Hill became the centre of skywatching activities, but Starr Hill and Cley Hill were also popular with skywatchers.
Descriptions of the U̳F̳O̳s vary from person to person, with one describing what they saw as “cigar-shaped and covered with winking bright lights,” and another like “twin red-hot pokers hanging downwards, one on top of the other, with a black space in between.”
he unusual events began to receive national attention, and people flocked to Warminster hoping to get a glimpse of the “Thing.” Over the August Bank holiday of 1965, an estimated 8000 people descended on the small town.
The following month, when resident Gordon Faulkner claimed to have captured a photo of the U̳F̳O̳, The Daily Mirror published the picture, garnering even more publicity for Warminster.
Faulkner would eventually give this photo to Warminster Journal editor Arthur Shuttlewood, telling him to “do as he seemed fit with it.” In return, Shuttlewood would attach this image to an article he was writing for the Daily Mirror – a very popular British tabloid. This article would appear in the September 10th issue of the Daily Mirror, bringing further attention to the small town of Warminster and those involved.
By that time, the news had even made its way stateside, with newspapers as far as California reporting on the eerie events in the sleepy market town.
Sightings and unexplained noises continued intermittently over the coming years, ranging from “a ball of crimson light” in the sky to a “terrible droning sound” that made the witness’s floor and bed shake.
Interest in the mysterious phenomenon remained strong. In 1966, the BBC filmed Pie in the Sky, a documentary about the events. Shuttlewood penned several books on the subject, while a local U̳F̳O̳ enthusiast named Ken Rogers began publishing The Warminster U̳F̳O̳ newsletter.
Warminster’s reputation as a U̳F̳O̳ hotspot diminished towards the end of the 1970s, although U̳F̳O̳s do continue to be reported in the area. However in the 1980s the growth of the crop circle phenomena in Wiltshire rekindled interest in Warminster’s U̳F̳O̳ connection.
Though more than 50 years have passed since these strange events began. Because there is no legitimate answer to explain why hundreds – if not thousands – of people all saw odd things in a very short period of time, we consider the story of the Warminster Thing to be unresolved.