CATHI UNSWORTH talks to Jayne Har­ris, the di­rec­tor of a new doc­u­men­tary about the Ha­gley Wood mur­der

Fortean Times - - Blasts From The Past -

The Bella mys­tery is the fo­cus of a com­pelling new doc­u­men­tary, Who Put

Bella in the Wych-Elm?, by Stour­bridge res­i­dent, jour­nal­ist and para­nor­mal in­ves­ti­ga­tor Jayne Har­ris (pic­tured at right).

“I live just a few miles from Ha­gley Woods and have been fa­mil­iar with the graf­fiti for some years,” she ex­plains. “In late 2013, I de­cided I wanted to delve into a mys­tery for a 10-minute YouTube video. I was walk­ing on Wy­ch­bury Hill one Novem­ber af­ter­noon, the sun was low in the sky and as it il­lu­mi­nated the obelisk, I sud­denly re­alised that the best mys­tery of all was un­der my nose. When I got home, I be­gan re­search­ing. It quickly be­came ap­par­ent that this needed to be longer than 10 min­utes…”

The re­sult­ing film ended up tak­ing three years to make, with many con­tri­bu­tions from lo­cal res­i­dents, jour­nal­ists and his­to­ri­ans prob­ing the case’s mul­ti­ple com­plex­i­ties and con­tra­dic­tions. “I love the twists and turns, and peo­ple’s re­ac­tions to them,” Jayne says. “More of­ten than not they are left not know­ing what to be­lieve, even when they thought ini­tially that they knew which the­ory was cor­rect. The more you hear about each, the more you be­gin to won­der... Just when you think you may have cracked it, some­thing will spin you around and you find your­self fac­ing in an­other di­rec­tion.”

Some lo­cals who weren’t so keen on re­vis­it­ing Bella were the in­hab­i­tants of Ha­gley Hall. “Lord Cob­ham dis­likes the whole story and does not al­low any kind of per­mis­sions when it comes to vis­it­ing the woods. The open­ing shot of the doc­u­men­tary was shot us­ing a drone from the pub­lic foot­path which runs par­al­lel. They were not happy, and the grounds­man ap­proached me to move on, but they couldn’t stop me us­ing the footage, as I was on a pub­lic area. Ha­gley Hall is a wed­ding venue now and they prob­a­bly feel it will im­pact on its ap­peal.”

Does she pre­fer any par­tic­u­lar the­ory? “My favourite, in terms of pure imag­i­na­tion, is that she was in­volved in witch­craft, pos­si­bly part of a coven. How­ever, I don’t think it’s likely. If I were be­ing re­al­is­tic, I’d put my money on her be­ing a trav­eller. There are some co­in­ci­dences which seem to point in that di­rec­tion, and it would ex­plain why no one came for­ward to claim her. With­out her re­mains, I doubt we will ever have any solid clues to her iden­tity. Chances are the killer is now dead, as would be any as­so­ciates or con­fi­dantes, and so I’d say that the truth will re­main buried. But maybe that’s the beauty of it. Of­ten the magic of a mys­tery is in keep­ing it such.”

• For more in­for­ma­tion and to or­der a copy of the film, please go to www. hd­para­nor­

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.