The Fox Inn started life as Fox Farm and is just a stone’s throw from the old roman road in the village of Northwood. The main part of the house was built at the very end of the 16th Century by John Jeffreys, grandfather to Sir George Jeffreys. The same George Jeffreys who achieved notoriety as the “hanging judge” following the Monmouth Rebellion. The same George Jeffreys that entered the Inner Temple even after failing to graduate from Trinity College, Cambridge. The exact same George Jeffreys who was appointed Lord Chief Justice in 1683 and then swiftly to Lord Chancellor following the accession of James II in 1685. A man who made friends in high places with surprising ease considering his protestant beliefs in a catholic court that he openly despised. This was the only man in King James II’s government that stayed on to govern as the king fled the country following the rebellion in 1688.
Why would a man do this when he was hated by so many?
What kept him hanging around only to die of disease in the Tower of London?
This was a question that perplexed his friends and associates. But not all of them. Certainly not the Approved Men of Oakridge.
Three years after his death, they successfully petitioned the monarchy for a warrant to exhume Jeffreys from a chapel at the Tower and “to take his remains under their own care”. From the Tower he went, without ceremony, to a vault at St Mary’s church, Aldermanbury, London where he remained quietly until 1810 when he was removed from rest once again under the pretence of building works. The coffin was eventually replaced in the vault with just a small change. The decaying remains of Baron George Jeffreys were secretly exchanged with that of a tramp caught trying to open the coffin out of curiosity while it was temporarily on open display in the church. The Approved Men thought this was funny. And so did George Jeffreys. The coffin was then carefully pushed back into its anonymous resting place and the memory of Judge Jeffreys was quietly consigned to the annals of history along with his reputation.
Gradually he became a figure of fun. Someone to scare the children with. The Bogey Man.
As the nineteenth century progressed, so did the concept of spiritualism. A time when everyone wanted to speak to the dead. And they definitely wanted as many ghosts as they could lay their eyes on. But there weren’t enough historical ghosts to feed the frenzied appetite of the many Victorians clamouring to get in on the action because they’d only just been invented along with auras and ectoplasm. This was the age of invention. The gullible were lining up for the taking but the shysters and charlatans weren’t fully prepared for the feeding frenzy. And so ghost stories began to spring up everywhere. In castles. In trees. In nooks and crannies all over the country, spouting from the earth like a fountain of the dead. Especially where there were notoriously dark or savage events. Certainly around the Bloody Assizes in picturesque Dorchester.
In fact, Dorchester was getting pretty rammed with ghosts. And not just the top celebrity ghosts like Jeffreys. There were also the condemned of the Bloody Assizes conveniently roaming around Gallows Hill if you believed hard enough. You couldn’t move on South Walk at night for ghosts. But best of all was still the ghost of Jeffreys. Most often to be been seen at the Antelope Hotel where he had passed so many death sentences in his hastily convened court. And of course the rooms where he lodged in High West Street where he could look out onto the heads of the drawn & quartered traitors that were fixed on pikes outside St Peter’s church. It was good for this new thing they called tourism. And certainly for those wanting a change from the invigorating sea air at Weymouth.
It was also a good place to wander if you wanted people to think you were a ghost. You could scare the pants off people and they would be grateful. Thankful that their hard earned money had not been wasted on merely room and board. You could openly boast that you had been scared shitless in the early hours by the sight of Judge Jeffreys rifling through your belongings and stealing your watch and money. It was a small price to pay for the privilege of seeing the dead. But as the nineteenth century faded into the twentieth, people had become more discerning. More educated. Fractionally less gullible. The First World War had seen to that. Now the proletariat wanted facts, not synchronised bullshit from heaven and earth.
Annoyingly for the religious and political classes, the now slightly less gullible masses had started asking thoughtful questions such as ‘Does God really need all this money?’ and ‘Are you the lying bastard I think you are?’.
And they were certainly going off ghosts as paid–for entertainment. Ghosts were now up for questioning alongside angels, relics and a priest’s seemingly unwritten right to have sex with choirboys. So ghosts were moved to a new box. The Supernatural. It’s all in the title. It was nature at work in a super sort of way. Supernature was now a science to be studied, craved or sold depending on your motives. And one person unashamedly came to the fore to embody all of them combined. Aleister Crowley. And he had spent a lifetime studying this new thing called the Supernatural - obsessively and without respite. He was searching for the answer to Supernature. For resolution. And Aleister Crowley knew all about Incitatus.
The wolf had finally come to him in a dream and led him to Aiwass who had told him almost everything. Almost. Certainly enough to lead him to a small property in Oakridge on the corner of Vyne Rd and Cromwell Rd to make plans. To appoint those who would rule in the Final Enlightenment. But no-one was listening. Even his new followers seemed unwilling to cross the Establishment which was now using the media to label him a Satanist, a charlatan and a menace. Risking everything on one outcome was a step too far. Even for his new prodigy, the chemist George Cecil Jones, it was inconceivable. Much as Jones believed in the Final Enlightenment, one throw of the dice was not the way of a scientist. They all warned Crowley to back off. But to Aleister Crowley, this was simply another perfectly surmountable challenge to be tackled in the search for truth. It only served to fuel the fire and further confirm proof of its existence. Proof of conspiracy. Proof of Supernature. At least to him anyway.
And so he pressed on alone into the twentieth century, biding his time, looking for the right partner. Someone who could share his vision. For almost everyone else on the planet, the Great War brought pain in one form or another. But for Aleister Crowley, the war, while inconvenient, had delivered an unexpected bonus amongst the whorehouses of France as the troops celebrated the end in the only way they knew how. Tradition is important in the military. It was during one of these debauched escapades that he was introduced to a young army officer by Madame Fahmy. A very royal one. A young man that was fascinated by the occult and by Aleister Crowley’s reputation for providing some of the most purest and interesting recreational drugs known to man thanks to his old friend G. Cecil Jones. He became indispensable to the young men of Blighty. And certainly to his new friend Edward Winsor, who told him all he knew all about the Approved Men of Oakridge in exchange for glimpses into the dark side and the power of Aiwass. He gave Crowley the knowledge that every English monarch had been imbued with since William the Conqueror.
For Crowley, it was to be the final fragment. He had found his new partner. The ultimate partner.
Together they would obliterate the English Establishment that they both despised. But not right now. They would wait for the old man to die first.
And their determination never waned as the 1920s slowly evolved into the 1930s. They continued to plan every detail so that they would be ready to manage any unforeseen circumstances that the Establishment could throw at them. Such as Edward’s new minder, Wallis Simpson. The Establishment was on to them. An establishment that labelled them both traitors and Crowley as scum. But they had a plan that was perfectly adaptable for this very situation. The inseparable pair decided on abdication. That showed them. And now they would take their story to Berlin and change everything. They would deal with Simpson and her cohorts in the establishment at a later date. But the Berlin of 1937 was getting rather busy. It wanted proof, not stories. It would have to wait until after Europe was more settled under the New Order. Then, with Edward back on the throne in England, it would be the final part of the story even if it was now getting a little crowded.
A story that in August 1939, would lead an increasingly impatient and frustrated Crowley to the tomb of Judge Jeffreys. He would do this on his own. Sod Fast Eddy and Adolf. He was now within touching distance of being remembered as the one who enlightened the world. He would finally be vindicated. The world would be at his feet. Immortality would be guaranteed. But his followers needed proof. And he would show them by opening up the coffin of Judge George Jeffreys and invoking what he knew. But before he could achieve what had eluded so many other eminent men before him, three rather inconvenient events got in the way - World War Two, Chronic Asthma and a sudden relapse back into heroin addiction. The first was clearly expected but the last two were the result of a short stay at The Fox curtesy of his old friend in British Intelligence, General Sir Richard Ingoldsby. Aka Sturmbannfuhrer Siegfried Knappe. Resident of Tumble. Or sometimes Berlin. Or Moscow.
Unfortunately for Aleister Crowley he never recovered his health well enough to reconvene his pursuit of resolution and he finally died of a breathing related illness in 1947. This particular illness is often referred to as suffocation unless you happen to know the doctor who signed the death certificate.
The church at Aldermanbury had already been destroyed during WWII thanks to Adolf Hitler and his Intelligence Officer in the Der Bunker, a certain Siegfried Knappe. After the war, the ashes of Aleister Crowley and the remains of the church were permanently relocated to the USA. Edward, Duke of Winsor, was returned to France out of harm’s way. And Sturmbannfuhrer Knappe ensured that every tiny little piece of what was left of the church went to America, brick-by-brick, stone–by-stone, and asset-by-asset. And most importantly of all, that Aleister Crowley’s ashes were well cared for. For ever.
Disaster had been averted but it had been an unexpectedly close call. Crowley was exceptional but if Aiwass had come to him, then he may come to others. From now on the Approved Men would be ruthless. And the monarchy would do as it was told if it wanted their continued protection to survive. Even though times were changing and the monarchy was no longer the power and influence it once was, they all had interests to protect. The status quo must be retained. In future, any transgressions would be swiftly dealt with regardless of age or gender. From that time on, an invitation to The Fox was always considered at some length before accepting.