at the bottom of your garden? Perhaps a few rows of sprouts, a water
feature or an attractive wooden bench?
the ancient remains of two slaughtered bears, whose demise is at
the heart of one of the Forest of Dean's most bizarre legends?
sad story of the bears of Ruardean still arouses strong feelings
among some locals, over a century after the events took place.
Alan Capps, resident of the village's former police station, believes
he may have found the unfortunate ursines' final resting place -
beneath his vegetable patch.
two Russian bears came to the Forest in 1889 with four Frenchmen.
is believed that they had been displayed in Cinderford, and that
the animals and their keepers were en route to nearby Ruardean and
angry mob gave chase.
myth at the time had it that foreign bear-keepers fed their animals
on the flesh of children.
inspired by this, a rumour had spread that the animals had killed
a child and mauled a woman in the village.
Forest: bears beware
residents launched a vicious attack, slaughtering the innocent animals
and brutally beating two of the Frenchmen.
from Ruardean witnessed the violence, and came to the rescue. They
sheltered and nursed the injured itinerants.
assailants were later fined heavily for their parts in this unfounded
attack, but during legal proceedings they were erroneously described
as residents of Ruardean.
mocking refrain, "Who killed the bears?" taunts the people
of the village to this day, and visitors are best advised not to
mention the sorry episode.
| ...people still get asked 'Who killed
for the bears, rumour has it that the local constabulary, unsure
of what to do with the deceased beasts, buried them in the garden
of the police station.
dug around a few places, but it's an area of two acres, so this
is an ongoing project," said current owner Alan Capps.
exact whereabouts of the bears' bones is obscured by a lack of historical
records and conflicting word-of-mouth stories.
what's written down, it's not 100% certain.
incident happened at the bottom of Drybrook so it's possible that
they took the bears to Drybrook police station," said Mr Capps,
although he intends to continue excavating his garden.
lived in the Forest 20 years," and people still get asked 'Who
killed the bears?', but it's all tongue in cheek. Mind you, I wouldn't
want to say it in the pub on a Saturday night."
poet Joyce Latham remembers an earlier time, when passions still
ran high in the village.
got blown out of porportion," she said.
course it's not so bad now, but at one time you daren't mention
it, you'd have got your head kicked in."
you heard a different version of this story, or a similarly odd
tale from Gloucestershire? e-Mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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