Suf­folk’s Most Haunted Spots

EADT Suffolk - - INSIDE - By Jayne Lindill

From a mum­mi­fied cat in Bury St Ed­munds to a ghost caus­ing a car ac­ci­dent in Long Melford (maybe) to devils on the marshes in Iken, Jayne ex­plores Suf­folk’s spook­i­est tales

The thatched church of St Bo­tolph, one of around 60 which bear the saint’s name, is a hid­den gem. It’s built on a bluff above the River Alde where the sev­en­th­cen­tury Saxon no­ble­man Bo­tolph landed and was gifted land on which to build a monastery.

It was here that he set about ex­or­cis­ing the “devils” that glowed in the marshes at night.

Bo­tolph was taught at a Bene­dic­tine Abbey in France be­fore he re­turned to East Anglia to build his house of wor­ship.

To in­tro­duce a less ro­man­tic el­e­ment, it’s likely that Bo­tolph’s ex­or­cism was, in fact, due to his drain­ing of the land which elim­i­nated the marsh gas and the lu­mi­nes­cence pop­u­larly known as Will o’ the Wisps.

Pop­u­lar tra­di­tion said Will, the

Lan­tern Man or Jack o’ Lan­tern, car­ried can­dle-lit lanterns in the dark­ness to at­tract weary trav­ellers, who they led across the marshes to their cer­tain death.

Back in Iken, Bo­tolph had more than marsh de­mons to con­tend with while build­ing his monastery. The Griff­mon­ster Walks web­site reads: “Bo­tolph ini­tially at­tempted to build his monastery on Yarn Hill but dur­ing the night the stones would be moved and the work­ers were found dead, their bod­ies mu­ti­lated. The road to Scil­las­forda (Chilles­ford) was also said to be plagued by ghosts of rest­less souls. Bo­tolph be­lieved the is­land was pos­sessed by the devil him­self and built the Iken High Cross, a mono­lith of stone seven feet tall and in­scribed with carv­ings of wild dogs and wolves.

This was to ward off the evil spir­its and ban­ish the devil from the is­land. It ap­peared to work and the con­struc­tion was shifted from Yarn Hill and on to where the mod­ern day church stands.”

St Bo­tolph died af­ter a long life of Chris­tian en­deav­our in 680. His monastery con­tin­ued un­til it was de­stroyed by Dan­ish in­vaders in 870AD. His re­mains were buried at Burgh, north to the present parish of Grundis­burgh, also said to be haunted by marsh de­mons. Around 50 years later, King Cnut granted per­mis­sion for his relics to be di­vided be­tween churches in­clud­ing Bury St Ed­munds, Ely, Thor­ney and pos­si­bly Had­stock.

It is per­haps this last jour­ney that led to St Bo­tolph be­com­ing the pa­tron saint of way­far­ers and trav­ellers?

1 The Nut­shell, Bury St Ed­munds

Bri­tain’s small­est pub with a max­i­mum ca­pac­ity of 10 to 15 peo­ple has a cursed mum­mi­fied cat hang­ing just above pa­trons’ heads. Keep your hands off this pet­ri­fied pussy­cat as any­one who touches it suf­fers some mis­for­tune, as men from RAF Hon­ing­ton found when they kid­napped the cursed kitty, only to later ex­pe­ri­ence kitchen fires and a plane ac­ci­dent. It was soon re­turned. If that isn’t enough, the ghosts of a mur­dered boy and a phan­tom monk in a black habit have also been sighted. If you start smelling a lady’s per­fume when no women are present, that’s yet an­other en­tity let­ting you know it’s just be­hind you.

2 Roos Hall, Bec­cles

If you’re tak­ing a walk through the coun­try­side sur­round­ing this 16th cen­tury hall, then keep an eye out for the ap­pari­tions said to fre­quent its grounds. It may be the ghostly fig­ures of the many crim­i­nals put to death at the hang­ing tree or, most fa­mously, the head­less horse­man with his four horses drag­ging a coach said to con­tain a mem­ber of the Blen­ner­has­sett fam­ily. In­side the Grade I listed build­ing - which has pre­vi­ously opened for tours - the devil has singed his foot­print into the wall and the face of a small, pale girl has of­ten been seen peer­ing out from one of the top win­dows. If you wish to dance with the devil, ru­mour has it walk­ing around the hang­ing tree six times will sum­mon Lu­cifer him­self…

3 Greyfri­ars, Dun­wich

As you look out on the Suf­folk coast within the ru­ins of this for­mer monastery, it may be hard to be­lieve that dur­ing the Mid­dle Ages this was the site of

IM­AGE: Spooky Shin­gle Street

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