The son of the man who invented crop circles has spoken for the first time and revealed how he slowly discovered his secret after finding ears of corn in the kitchen.
Jim Chorley, 48, grew up unaware that his father Dave Chorley was one of the 20th century’s most infamous pranksters.
Dave and his pal Doug Bower hatched a plot to start drawing crop circles in the 1970s and 1980s in Winchester – and their handiwork made headlines around the world.
Jim Chorley, 48, grew up unaware that his father Dave Chorley was one of the 20th century’s most infamous pranksters. Pictured is a crop circle seen at Wilton Windmill in Wiltshire in 2010
Their circles sparked debate about how the circles were formed – fuelling UFO mania.
In 1991 Doug and Dave made front pages of national newspapers when they unmasked themselves as the creators of the original circles.
Dave and his pal Doug Bower hatched a plot to start drawing crop circles in the 1970s and 1980s in Winchester – and their handiwork made headlines around the world. Pictured is son Jim
They were hailed ‘the men who fooled the world’ who had used simple tools including a plank of wood, rope, and wire to help them walk in a straight line.
Bower and Chorley claimed to be responsible for all circles made prior to 1987, and for more than 200 crop circles in 1978-91.
Doug’s son Jim has revealed how his father, who died in 1996 aged 67, told him the truth in 1986 when he was a teenager.
He now says looking back it all made sense and recalls ears of corn appearing on the kitchen top on Saturday mornings and wondering how it got there.
Jim said: ‘The morning after Dad had been in the field with Doug, I’d wake up and find a single ear of corn on the kitchen table.
‘I’d rub my eyes and wonder how it got there, but then stop.
‘Looking back, I wonder if Dad was just collecting them – a bit like when you go to the beach and take a pebble home as a souvenir.
‘He might have been trying to leave me a clue about what he was up to.
In 1991 Doug and Dave made front pages of national newspapers when they unmasked themselves as the creators of the original circles. They were hailed ‘the men who fooled the world’. Pictured are Jim and Dave Chorley
‘I have this vivid memory of Dad coming into my room one dark and stormy night, where we were talking about aliens and crop circles.
‘I told him that I was sure that aliens were drawing the circles, and he smiled.
‘Dad paused and then asked – ”Do you really think aliens drew those circles?”
‘The meaning of that wasn’t lost on me. And then he told me how he and my Uncle Doug had been drawing the circles since the late 70s.
‘He said they’d come up with the idea at Doug’s art gallery to have a bit of fun.
‘It’s hard to imagine for someone born now – but at the time, in the 70s and even early 80s, aliens and UFOs were all over the media and in the movies.
‘We really believed that aliens had come down and drawn these circles.’
Bower and Chorley used to drive half an hour on Friday evenings from Shirley, Southampton, to The Percy Hobbs pub in Winchester, Hampshire, during the summers.
After a couple of pints and general chin-wagging, Dave and Doug would venture into the fields and draw the huge circles into the early hours of the morning.
In a time before drones could take pictures from bird’s-eye-view, the crop circles were only really visible to the farmers who went through the fields the next day.
So the pranksters’ breakthrough came when they learned that corn would be planted in the fields next to Cheesefoot Head – the Holy Grail for so-called ‘cereologists’.
As crop circles became a world-wide phenomenon, Dave and Doug made a pact to keep their quirky project as secret as possible.
That meant not telling even their respective families – including their wives.
Dave and Doug remained the anonymous authors of the mysterious crop circles for well over a decade, despite signing their work with two initials – Ds.
The pair used to take their families to Cheesefoot Head on Sundays with other sightseers and UFO enthusiasts to look at the circles.
On Fridays, Dave and Doug would chat with ‘experts’ watching out for aliens thought to be drawing the circles in Winchester – and ask if ‘tonight was the night’.
Dave and Doug (pictured at one of their crop circles) remained the anonymous authors of the mysterious crop circles for well over a decade, despite signing their work with two initials – Ds
After going to the pub, Jim said that his dad and Doug would sneak into fields next to UFO enthusiasts perched on the nearby hillside after sunset.
With the watchmen looking one way, Dave and Doug worked under the cover of night, drawing the circles in adjacent fields in total secrecy.
From their homes in Southampton, the mischief-makers would chuckle to themselves as UFO enthusiasts cried: ‘How did we miss them?’
When Dave and Doug came clean to the press in 1991, the two pranksters made headline news in Britain and around the world.
But folk musician Jim has revealed he knew his dad co-created the circles as early as 1986 – when he was sat down one night in a stormy June.
Jim added: ‘I’d have been around six or seven when Uncle Doug first started driving off to Winchester on Fridays after work with my dad.
‘Growing up, I’d always thought they had gone to the pub.
‘Well, Dad told me they did in fact go to the pub on those Fridays, where they’d have a couple of pints, and chat a lot about art.
‘But they also plotted and schemed about the crop circles they’d draw that night.
‘With time, they perfected their method by using a plank of wood, a rope, and a cap with a loop of wire fitted inside for guidance.
‘At the very beginning, though, they used a security bar from a door at the back of Winchester Gallery – and flattened the crops manually.
‘They’d get on their hands and knees to make these designs.’
Singing Jim, of Winchester, now travels the country singing songs about his father – one of which is tellingly called Painting Circles In The Corn.
He said he hopes to share as much about artists Dave and Doug, and celebrate their greatest achievement – making art on the ‘biggest canvas available’.
Jim said: ‘Dad and Doug were both artists. Dave ran the gallery, and my dad was a watercolour artist – and a pretty good one at that.
‘Though they wanted to keep their plan secret for as long as possible, I think they craved the sort of recognition drawing the circles warranted.
‘They even started signing their work with their initials – two Ds. It was their way of putting their name to art made on the biggest canvas available.
‘When Dad told me all about what they’d done, I wasn’t disappointed in the slightest.
‘It was the coolest thing to find out, and it was my dad doing all this.
‘He and Doug were super mischievous, and both lovely men.
‘They weren’t being cynical, playing off of people’s beliefs in the extraterrestrial.
‘Dad was just having a laugh, and wanted to see if they could get away with it all.
‘When the phenomenon blew up, Dad and Doug made a pact not to tell anyone.
‘He’ll have told Doug that he was going to let me in on their amazing secret.
‘I know my brothers and sisters also knew about the crop circles, but I have no idea when they found out to be honest.
‘Dad told each of us, but we didn’t know for sure growing up who knew what. So we never discussed it at that time.
‘We were this family, in a council house, with this great secret.
‘I wanted to tell everybody that my dad was drawing crop circles. It was such a hard secret to keep as a 15-year-old.
‘Now, all I want is to celebrate what my dad and Doug did.’