Another walk and I find occult markings chalked on the path to Fort Clarence in Rochester…
I mentioned in my last post about my feeble attempt to photograph the bricked up sally port and tunnel connected to Fort Clarence. What I didn’t describe was the park from which I tried to gain access. It is called Willis Gardens – a plot split in two by the Fort’s trench.
It is an unlovely place with a melancholy air – perhaps less because it has been neglected but more because it has been forgotten. It is tended in as much as the grass is cut, but otherwise it is a drab little experience. What makes this a little tragedy is that it was donated to Rochester by a philanthropic cove by the name of Charles Willis (died 1943). Mayor, alderman and Freeman of the City, Willis gave boots to poor children and coal to the citizens of Rochester during the depression and on his death his house was bequeathed as a refuge for fallen women.
His gift of this park to Rochester was as a memorial to the death of his son, 2nd Lieutenant George White Willis, RAF,
shot down killed on active service in a flying accident while carrying out an engine test in France on the 4th January 1919 when the engine of the Sopwith Camel he was flying stalled at 200 feet. His distraught mother is said to have slept with the propellor of the doomed plane in her bedroom so crushed was she by grief.
The connection with this place, Charles Willis and aeroplanes runs a little deeper. Willis was instrumental in negotiations that led the Short Brothers to transfer from the Isle of Sheppey to Rochester in 1913 and he sold them the 8 acres of land on which they built their Seaplane Works. During the 2nd World War Shorts built a massive underground aircraft factory under Fort Clarence. The tunnel complex is now sealed off and under the stewardship of English Heritage, but developers of the site claimed that the tunnels still contain componentsof wartime aircraft.
Now a used-car lot on the Delce Road in Rochester, the original defensive military brickwork can still be seen. A few years ago at the end of Rochester Avenue, where it leads into the Delce, the road collapsed – allegedly because the tunnel system beneath had given way.
I made a healfhearted essay to the sealed tunnel entrance opposite Fort Clarence on the Borstal Road, but the collapsed wooden fence that had been so easy to climb over has been replaced by vandal-proof metal secuity fencing. My heart wasn’t in the job and I walked back to the road. I was caught up by a bloke I had taken for a street-drinker, hailing me as his long-lost firend Kev. When he realised his error he apologised in the over effusive manner of the underdog, practically bowing his apologies to me. We started talking as we walked back towards Rochester and I told him what I’d been up to. He told me that the new fencing has been erected after kids’ fires down there had begun to get out of hand, setting fire to garden fences and sheds backing onto the wastlground.
He then told me a story of a building site he’d worked on down this way. When a human leg bone was disinterred in the foundations the dig had to stop while an archaeologist was called in. It was dated as Anglo-Saxon and the downtime cost the developer £1500. So when a week later a human arm bone was dug up they were instructed to slop on the concrete as quickly as possible and bury it. Shades of the Tudor Wall demolition at Restoration House, and probably the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the shady destruction of our past.
He told me of the “hundreds of miles” of tunnels under the Medway Towns that him and his mates used to play in as kids – all now inaccessible and blocked up. Some of this might refer to the Shorts Tunnels or maybe earlier Napoleonic tunnels connecting the Medway forts.
I can only image that whatever occult working was being undertaken by the Totem of Liquid DNA(see right) is now complete. This totem was represented by a collection of full condoms, tied up to protect their sacred contents, affixed to a barbed wire fence on a pathway leading up to Fort Clarence. They have now perished in the elements. Was this the remenants of a powerful Sex Magick ritual – or the work of a mucky-boys’ circlejerk – we can only conjecture?