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Wednesday, 4 January 2017

The "Mince Pie Martians" : the Original Account

     The 4th of January was the 38th anniversary of what the English press whimsically labelled the "Mince Pie Martians". It was on that date in 1979, two days from the festival of the visit of the Wise Men to Bethlehem, that a small West Midlands town allegedly received a visitation of three quite extraordinary beings. Under normal circumstances, I would provide an abridged version, but in this case I feel that it would be impossible to do justice to it without copying verbatim the written account of the alleged witness, 43 year old Mrs Jean Hingley. A briefer version originally appeared in The Dudley Herald of 12 January 1979, but it was left to a UFO researcher, Eileen Morris to interview Mrs Hingley and her husband several times, make extensive notes, and eventually type up the report, which the witness affirmed as accurate. Most of the other versions you will find on the internet refer back to secondary sources, particularly one by Alfred Budden in 1988, but this is the original, and thus has priority, so here goes. [Square brackets represent my own inserts.]
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    On the morning of January 4, 1979, a cold dark morning with snow on the ground, I had the strangest experience in my whole life.
     I live in a small council house in Bluestone Walk, Rowley Regis, near Birmingham. The house is one of a number on a small estate surrounded by waste land and quarries. We are near Hailstone quarry and our road is named after the Bluestone Quarry. We, my husband Cyril and myself, have lived here for nine years. We have an Alsatian dog, Hobo, who is two and a half years old.
    I work at a factory making sound proofing for cars and my husband is employed at a Cement Works.
    The house has a small front garden and a small lawn at the back about seventeen feet by eleven feet [5.2 x 3.35 metres]. There is a carport at the end of the lawn and a shed. A door opens to a road at the back of the house.
     At seven o'clock on January 4th my husband was going to work by car and I stood at the back door to wave him off. Hobo, our Alsatian dog, was by my side.
     When my husband had gone I saw a light in the garden and thought, "Cyril has left the light on in the car port." I went down the garden to the car port but saw that the light was switched off.
     As we turned to go back to the house I saw an orange light over the garden which gradually turned white. It lit the whole garden.
     We went into the back door of the house. Suddenly with a sound like Zee . . . zee . . . zee . . . three "beings" floated past me through the open door. They glowed with a brilliant light and seemed to float about a foot [30 cm] above the floor. As they floated past me into the lounge I saw that they had wonderful wings. I was so terrified that I grabbed the steel sink in the kitchen. I couldn't speak. I was frozen.
     I looked at Hobo. He seemed to "hobble" to his drinking bowl, swaying from side to side. His hair was sticking out all over like a hedgehog's. Yet Hobo is afraid of nothing. He seemed as though he was drugged. He just flopped down and lay on the floor, stiff, with his eyes open.
     I felt as though all the blood in my body had drained out through my toes. I was paralysed. My mouth was wide open. I couldn't move or speak.
     After a while the fear seemed to leave me. I felt as if I were lifted up. I wondered what was happening to me. I felt as if I were a different person; as though I was in Heaven although I was still at home. I seemed to float into the lounge. I held the door but my feet didn't touch the ground. The doors were wide open and it was a bitterly cold morning but I felt warm. All the downstairs lights were on as it was dark outside.
    I could hear the little artificial Christmas tree shaking but the light was so brilliant that I had to cover my eyes. The three "creatures" seemed to read my mind. It was like a light or an X-ray penetrating my mind.
     When I took my hands from my eyes I could see. They seemed to have turned down the light that surrounded them. There was a glow round their heads. I could see them clearly. They were shaking and tugging at the little Christmas Tree. There they were - three little slim "men" in silvery-green tunics and silver waistcoats with silver buttons or press studs. They were about three feet six inches to four feet high [107 - 122 cm], all alike. Their pointed hands and feet were covered in the same silvery-green, and they had pointed caps on their heads of the same colour and with something like a lamp on top. They had transparent "fish bowl" helmets over their heads which rested on their shoulders. There were no eyebrows or ears to be seen.
    Their faces were waxy white, corpse like, and they had "black diamond" eyes. I don't know much about precious stones but that is how I would describe them. I didn't notice their noses. Their mouths were very thin.
     Their wings were wonderful, large, oval-shaped and glowing with rainbow colours - red, violet, gold, blue, green - but more beautiful than our earthly colours. Their wings were covered in dots like "Braille" dots. I thought of "Joseph's coat of many colours." Our colours seems like "chemical" colours compared to them.
     They were floating round the lounge touching everything - the Christmas cards, the clock, the radio and all the furniture.
     At last I could speak. I said: "Three of you and one of me. What are you going to do? What do you want with me?"
     Each of them put their hands to their chests with their pointed hands and seemed to manipulate the buttons. A "beep" sound came from each "being's" chest and then the voice came from the chest. The mouths never moved. They all spoke together: "We shall not harm you."
     "Where have you come from?" I asked, and they said: "We come from the sky."
     They started to shake the little Christmas tree again and the little fairy fell from the top. I still seemed paralysed. I couldn't move to pick it up.
     I said: "We put up a tree at Christmas because we believe Jesus was born then." They said, "We know all about Jesus."
     They were looking at the Sunday papers on the table. There was an Honours list on the front page. I said, "These people have been made lords." They said: "There is only one Lord."
     They looked at a picture of the Queen, and I said, "You should go to the Queen or go see a real lady." I wondered why they came to me as I am just a working woman. They said, "You are a lady."
      We have a large lounge with a corner unit couch. They sat on the couch and bounced like children. I said: "Be careful of my furniture," and they stopped.
     When I spoke sharply they put the light up, so I thought I had better be friendly with them. They were only small but they seemed to have power in their bodies that might have harmed me.
     My eyes still felt sore from the bright light but I felt happy with them. They looked at me with friendly eyes, I thought. I said: "I can't call you 'creature' so I shall call you 'gentlemen.' I started to say, "Nice to see you! Nice." They replied: "Nice."
     When they floated about the room their wings fluttered gently - there was no sound. When they moved through the open door to the hall they folded their wings behind their backs like pleated fans. They circled in the hall then floated upstairs. The doors to the upstairs rooms were closed and they floated down again.
     They picked up the tapes for the tape recorder and looked at the packets of cigarettes on the sideboard. There were bottles of whisky and sherry on the sideboard as it was not long after Christmas. I asked: "Do you want a drink?" They said "Water" three times. I went to the kitchen and fetched four glasses of water. I put them on a metal tray. I thought I would bring one for myself as well - to show that it wasn't poisoned - and to drink with them to keep them company. As I came near them with the metal tray I could hardly hold it. The tray seemed to be magnetised towards them. I put the tray down on the table and each of them picked up a glass when I lifted mine. They seemed about to lift their masks but when they saw me watching they put the "power light" on. I didn't actually see them drink but when they put the glasses back on the tray the water was gone.
     They said: "We have been to Australia, New Zealand and America. We come down here to try to talk to people but they don't seem to be interested."
     "Shall I tell people on earth about it?" I asked, and they replied "Yes.'
     They said: "We have been here before," and "We shall come again." Another thing they said was, "Everybody will go to Heaven. There are beautiful colours there."
     They seemed to put a light on me to draw out the words they wanted to hear. I was stuttering with nervousness. I was talking about politics and women going to work and said, "It's a man's world." They seemed interested and excited as though they were listening and understanding. I told them I had not been to chapel for a year or two as chapels had pop groups and guitarists these days and I didn't like that kind of service.
     "There is no need to worship in synagogues," they said. I didn't know until my husband told me later that it was the name of the Jewish place of worship. I said: "The bible is hard to understand," and they seemed to know what I meant.
     I  told them that I had looked after foster children for seven years and at one time I looked after thirteen stray dogs. The neighbours' children used to come with me to take them for walks.
     Then I went to fetch a plate of mince pies for them. I put six on a plate and told them to help themselves. They each lifted a mince pie from the plate as though their hands were magnetic. I saw that they were looking at the cigarettes again. "I'll show you how people smoke these," I said. I struck a match and lit a cigarette. They leapt back as though they were frightened and began to float towards the back door. I stubbed out the cigarette and called out "Come back! Come back!" I still seemed to be floating as I followed them and as they went through the back door I saw an orange coloured glowing "thing" in the back garden - a "space ship." It must have been eight to ten feet long [2½ to 3 metres] long and four feet [120 cm] high. It had round windows or portholes. It seemed to be covered with a kind of shining plastic. I couldn't see through the portholes. There was something like a "scorpion tail" at the back and a kind of "wheel" on top.
     They still held a mince pie each as they went towards the "space ship" and entered it. They flashed the lights twice as if to say "Goodbye." Then they took off over the fence and away across the open ground towards Oldbury. The sky was still dark, with no stars, and there was snow on the ground.
     Hobo came to life then and wandered around the garden as though he was looking for them.
     There was a deep impression on the back garden where the "space ship" had settled.
      I felt warm and happy although it was such a cold morning. I felt "good," as though I had been blessed.
     When I went into the house and looked around I realised that the clock and the radio had stopped. I spoke to my next door neighbour and she said: "You should ring the police." I rang the Oldbury police and they said they would come.
     I rang my husband but he couldn't leave his job. I said to him: "I have had visitors with wings." He said: "What do you mean? Birds?" I was shaking and crying. I said, "No. Men with wings." He laughed and said: "Why don't you go and have your hair done and tell the girls about it." I did that later on, and they were very kind.
     The police came from West Bromwich Police Station. They looked around and said: "You look pale as though you have had a shock." They couldn't do much - they couldn't take finger prints. They went away and came back later. They rang UFO Investigation Service in Birmingham. The people came and measured the impression on the ground in the back garden. It was eight feet by foot feet [2.4 x 1.2 m]. They also took soil samples for analysis. I haven't heard the results yet.
     I have had a lot of nice letters from people who were interested after reading reports in the papers. Some people sent tapes to be returned to them with my own story.
     The West Bromwich College of Technology - Television Production Course students have made a film of me telling my story. It was filmed at the Technical College on March 19, 1979.
     My eyes were sore for about a week and I had to wear dark glasses. I have had to have some weeks away from work as I haven't felt well and the doctor advised me to have a rest. My jaws ached after staring with my mouth open with shock when I first saw the "beings".
     I have never read books about UFOs. I only read the papers. I don't look at a lot of television, but like the Crossroads programmes and Coronation Street, and love stories.
     Some people have made jokes about me, but people who know me believe me as they know I am truthful. [In a taped interview I heard, she told of receiving envelopes containing Mars Bar wrappers.]
     Some people have written to say that they think the visitors were elves or beings from the Fairy Kingdom, or even robots, but I don't know what to think. I know I shall never forget them if I live to be a hundred.
     A few days later we tried the "tapes" that had been handled by the "beings." They were so distorted that they were ruined. Before January the 4th they were quite normal.
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    The article ends with a list of people who would confirm they had gone to the house and heard the story, headed by the Oldbury Police and the West Bromwich Police.

Reference: This article was copied verbatim from: Eileen Morris, "The winged beings of Bluestone Walk", Flying Saucer Review 25(6): pp 24 - 27 (Nov - Dec 1979, published April 1980).
     Now let us approach the issue raised by J. Allen Hynek: what do you do when perfectly credible people tell perfectly incredible stories?
     I was interested to note that the beings claimed to have visited Australia, New Zealand, and America. Do these countries harbour similar stories which the witnesses have been too afraid to tell? Come to think of it, I note that the beings appear to have been completely harmless, except for producing sore eyes for a week. I wouldn't mind if they had visited me!
     Be that as it may, from my background in zoology, I can affirm that wings of such size could not possibly lift bodies of such dimensions - at least not under earthly gravity and air density. They could, I suppose, have been mechanical, but I also have severe reservations about a human scale intelligence existing in a heads of that size, although I wouldn't rule it out completely. Furthermore, the fact that the visitors appeared to possess a diffuse, internal light source does nothing to support the hypothesis that they were flesh and blood.
     Readers will surely have noticed a similarity with popular depictions of fairies in children's books. There are also people who claim to have seen them. Believe it or not, when I showed the article to a workmate some years back, he said that the picture was similar to the band of tiny beings which had appeared in his bedroom when he was a child. I always assumed he had experienced some sort of waking dream, although it would be difficult to invoke that explanation for this case. However, accounts like this almost invariable involve very small beings, which practically never interact with human beings. Obviously, taking such stories seriously would involve a huge paradigm shift but, nevertheless, I would be more comfortable with Mrs Hingley's tale if it didn't involve a "space ship".
     A rule of thumb in ufology is to reserve judgment until such time as a similar case appears elsewhere. The fact that nothing similar appears to have been recorded in the decades either before or after does not bode well for its authenticity.
     However, if we are going to label it a hoax, we are going to have to ask: why? What would make an apparently ordinary person suddenly, out of the blue, make up such a fantastic story and report it to the police, of all people! - thereby putting her at risk of being charged with an offence as well, of course, of becoming a laughing stock? And what sort of act would she have to put on in order to make it look like she'd experienced something emotionally draining.
     Just the same, we must accept that occasionally people unexpectedly do completely irrational things. It doesn't happen very often, but I suspect it is more frequent than visits from luminous, winged beings. But if we are going to head down that road, we still need to ask: where did she get the idea from? She wouldn't have found it in the ufology literature, and she would have to dig deep into science fiction before she came to anything similar. What about all the unlikely incidental details which serve no purpose in the story: the lack of eyebrows or ears, pointed hands, the "fish bowl" helmets, the "Braille" dots on the wings, "something like a lamp" on top of their heads, and the "scorpion tail" on the space ship with a kind of wheel on top, not to mention her own impression of floating into the lounge? What about the inane conversation? Didn't she know that our space brethren are supposed to send us messages of peace and brotherhood, or else apocalyptic warnings about our wars and misuse of the planet? To put it simply, not only is this story too fantastic to be true, it is too fantastic to make up.
     Then again, there is that pesky impression on the ground.
     Needless to say, I conducted a web search before writing this article. I found a number of summaries of the incident, but the only thing I could discover in the way of a follow-up was the report that she suffered a nervous breakdown after the event (not surprisingly), and the statement:
Jean Hingley was a deeply religious woman who saw continuity, not difference, between her faith, the psychic experiences she had experienced since childhood and her alien encounter. [p 140]
     I'd like to know more about this. It is true that many people who witness anomalous events have a history of psychic experiences, often of a low level, and this might be significant. On the other hand, considering how common psychic experiences really are, it might not be.
     In fifty years of following the UFO scene, I have come to two conclusions:
  • The fact that a witness appears completely sincere and sensible does not mean the story is true.
  • The fact that the story is completely fantastic and unbelievable does not mean that it is not true.


  1. Thank you for that. I used to take a major interest in UFOs but I don't think I ever read about this case, certainly not in such detail. As to whether it could be true, I have no idea.

  2. Fascinating - this case is truly weird! The whole thing seems very dream-like though and if we are to make any sense of it, I suppose one would have to say it was some kind of psychotic episode, in which Christmas lights, the Christmas tree fairy and (perhaps) a pre-existing dent in the ground have all somehow been incorporated into an elaborate hallucination. Much as one might like to believe these creatures were somehow "real", for me the most telling sentence in the narrative is the husband's response...

  3. I would suggest you look up the books of UK author Albert Budden as he studied this case and more in-depth.

  4. I lived in Rowley Regis, and left there in 1977. My parents remained there until their deaths in the early years of this century. My father used to work afternoons (2 - 10pm) and would cycle home to Haden Walk from Birmetals on Woodgate Lane. He told me one night, a really bright light - about the same size as the Sun but about as bright as the moon - appeared in front and to the left of him in the sky, and remained in the same spot all the way from Birmetals to Haden Walk. When he came in he pointed it out to Mom and they saw it remain in the same place until they went to bed an hour or so later. I think it may have been part of the same apparition. (I should say that Dad was ex-RAF, ex-Jap POW, a devout atheist and certainly not given to flights of fancy.)

  5. It's only my opinion but the creature "fairy" of Alien Bill ( similar to alien creature of Jean Hingley.

  6. Been looking for this story for ages since I sold all my old Flying Saucer Reviews. Thanks for posting, fascinating story. I think it really did happpen as she described

    1. I discuss this case in my broadcast of 17 December 2020.