The 12th century Norman keep is said to be haunted by Queen Isabella, mother of Edward III. She was the lover of Roger Mortimer and had her husband, Edward II, murdered to secure power for herself and Mortimer.
Edward III eventually seized power from his mother and had Mortimer executed. It's claimed that he then had Isabella imprisoned in the castle. She eventually went mad and supposedly died there in 1358. Since then, her tortured screams have been reported echoing from the upper rooms of the keep.
Sadly, much of the legend surrounding this tale is untrue! Isabella did indeed live at the castle but was free to travel to her other properties and died in Hertford in 1358. She was buried in Greyfriars by Newgate in London. Her ghost is said to haunt the site of the graveyard, holding the heart of Edward II in her hands.
However, people still claim to hear screams and maniacal laughter coming from the castle in the early hours of the morning. So if not Isabella, who or what is behind the terrifying sounds?
The church in Walberswick has been haunted for many years by the figure of a small, stooping man.
George Orwell claimed to have seen him on the 22nd July 1931. He was sketching when he noticed a small man dressed in brown enter the churchyard and head towards the church. Orwell followed him but found that he had vanished through a locked door! No one knows who the ghost could be.
The common is haunted by a phantom dog and the sound of galloping horses. The old railway line has a sinister reputation. Strange moaning sounds have been heard along the overgrown track. Locals claim that dogs and horses are reluctant to walk there.
The screech of a Barn Owl flying past the window of a sick person was seen as an omen of death.
The Barn Owl's screech was also regarded as a warning that a storm was at hand.
It was said that if you kept walking around an owl, it would keep turning its head until it had wrung its neck!
Raw owl's eggs were used as a sure-fire way to cure drunkenness. The ashes of cooked owl's eggs were used in potions to improve eyesight.
Owl broth was believed to cure Whooping-cough.
To see an owl is regarded as good luck in Northern England.
The ancient woodland of Epping Forest is said to be the home of several ghosts.
Queen Boudica and her daughters haunt Ambresbury Banks - an Iron Age fort near Loughton. Tradition states that it was the site of her last battle against the Romans in AD 61. On certain nights, drumming and mournful groans have also been heard.
The Wake Arms roundabout is a notorious accident blackspot and has a selection of ghosts ranging from phantom horsemen to headless bikers. One phantom is said to run out in front of cars and then vanish!
Dick Turpin, the notorious highwayman, used Epping Forest as a hideout and his ghost has been seen riding through the trees. Traps Hill is said to be a good place to spot him - if you are so inclined!
A certain pool in the forest was the scene of murder over 300 years ago. Two young lovers used to meet there in secret. The father of the girl was against the relationship and murdered his daughter by the pool in a fit of anger. Her grief-stricken lover couldn't face life without her and killed himself at the very spot where she was murdered. Following this, the waters turned black and wildlife shunned the area. It was said that the pool had the power to make people commit suicide following the tragedy.
Rumours of witch covens gathering in the woods for pagan rites persist.
Never sweep a chimney with holly as it will bring bad luck to your home!
A bride feeding a cat on her wedding day was always considered lucky as it would bring happiness to her marriage. And the cat, no doubt, would be content too!
In some parts of the UK, it is considered unlucky to see a dead pigeon.
It is regarded as lucky to keep your hat on in church - but only if you are female!
To dream of coal is a sign that one day you will be rich.
The ruins of the Norman castle can be found in the town centre. The former owners, the Bigods, were said to be notorious for their wickedness and were doomed to haunt the castle as a penance for all their naughty goings-on.
On certain nights, they are supposed to appear in a coach drawn by four horses - the beast's mouths and nostrils issuing flames and smoke. It is driven by the obligatory headless coachman with his head under his arm. And to cap it all, the hooves of the horses strike fire as they hit the ground. Shades of Hammer Horror this one!
The coach travels from the town to Geldeston in Norfolk, past the church, down Lover's Lane into Bigod's Hill Lane and then back home to the castle. The coach is never both seen and heard. You either see it or just hear it rumbling by.
Is this the same ghostly coach that is supposed to ride from Bungay to Ditchingham and forces motorists off the road by driving at them?
One of the Bigod family, Hugh, is also said to haunt the castle grounds as a black dog. Or is it just Black Shuck up to his tricks again?
The Three Tuns pub is also reputed to be haunted. In 1969, it was claimed to have 24 ghosts, including an 18th-century highwayman, Tom Hardy, who used the pub to plan his robberies. He was later executed. Another ghost is that of Rex Bacon. He supposedly hanged himself in the building after killing his wife's lover in 1682.
It should be pointed out that the above information was obtained by a landlady who used an Ouija board. Checks of local records can find no trace of either man. During one seance there, a Mr Beckett claimed to have seen a white figure standing in the corner of a room. And a former assistant manager, a Mr Blakeway, said he had witnessed a window open and close.
No ghosts have been reported since the removal of a wall dating back to the 1500s.
The nearby King's Head can boast of at least one ghost. Strange sounds have been reported, including creaking floorboards. One staff member puts that down to natural causes - it is an old building.
Finally, the ruined Greyfriars priory in the grounds of St Mary's has an auditory haunting. The sounds of chanting and the ringing of bells have been reported at night from time to time. A ghostly black dog has also been seen in the churchyard.
Below - the ruins of Bungay Castle.
Have a great 2020. May all your dreams come true. And now over to Kenny Everett, Thin Lizzy and the Sex Pistols to take you into 2020 ..... or 1980
Here's a link to an radio interview I did a couple of years ago. I was a guest of presenter, Leo Bonomo. www.blogtalkradio.com/leobonomo/2015/01/27/mediumship-readings-and-guests-guest-john-west-broadcaster-and-ghost-hunter
The town of Saxmundham in Suffolk can trace its origins back to the Saxons and was first mentioned in the Doomsday Book of 1086. The name itself derives from the Saxon 'Seizmond's home'.
Top hat and tails.
A man in Victorian or Edwardian evening dress has been seen walking down the High Street. One man is reported to have seen him during a trip to the local fish and chip shop. Upon reaching the shop, he was told by other customers that this was not the first time this ghostly gentleman had been seen.
One house in the High Street has been the subject of paranormal activity for the last few years. Parts of the property date back to the 17th century and a visiting medium confirmed that at least six residents ghosts were active in the building. These included an old priest and a boy.
Orbs have been captured on camera, a woman's sigh has been heard and a duvet has been pulled off a bed late at night by unseen hands on two occasions.
On South Entrance, beyond the crossroads, can be found a group of small houses bearing the name of Monk's Cottages. They date back to the 17th-century and once formed part of a much larger property. They were built on the site of 14th-century chapels - known as chantries - where priests said masses for the recently deceased, generally a benefactor to the chantry, in the belief this would help them pass on from Purgatory to Heaven.
In 2000, one of the cottages was occupied by Doreen Pelletier. In that same year, she decided to clear her cellar of rubble and called in a group of builders to do the job. However, they soon began to complain of ghostly activity, including lights being switched on and off. They finally said enough was enough and quit, suggesting that she contact an exorcist.
Doreen learned that previous owners had also experienced ghostly activity in the property. One woman had even seen a figure on the stairs and had sought out an exorcist to clear the house. Doreen finally decided to contact the House Detectives - a BBC series devoted to investigating the history of old properties - who eventually confirmed that the cellar had indeed formed part of a chantry. Doreen also tried to take pictures of the cellar at the request of the BBC. It is interesting to note that her camera jammed and the film strangely rewound itself.
So does the phantom priest - if indeed it is a priest - walk the cottage still?
Two children claimed to have witnessed a group of dancing ladies, dressed in white muslin, in this narrow lane. They vanished after just a few seconds. This is supposed to have occurred in the early 20th century.
A few years ago I was a presenter on Felixstowe TV. One of the shows I did was called The East Anglian Ghost Hunters. It was a show devoted to investigating haunted sites in the region. One of our investigations took us to Leiston Abbey in Suffolk.
We spoke to local pupils who told us about one particular area in the abbey where strange knockings and voices are heard at night. Searches of the area have always failed to provide a rational explanation!
Two members of the team also had a strange encounter with 'something' just off the ruins of the Chapter House. We had just finished filming when a black shape the size of a dog appeared from nowhere as they were discussing the day's events. It rushed passed them and vanished into a wall! Unfortunately, I was walking in front and so missed it! So what was it? Could it have been Black Shuck, the legendary ghost dog that is said to haunt East Anglia?
Black Shuck is common in East Anglia and there are recorded sightings of the ghostly dog dating back centuries. Shuck may derive from the Old English word scucca meaning "demon", or even possibly from the local dialect word shucky meaning "shaggy" or "hairy". Black Shuck is sometimes referred to as the Doom Dog, or "Grim".
It is interesting to note that a few years later some excavations were carried out at the Abbey and they found the skeleton of a large dog. Elliott O'Donnell, the author of many books on ghosts, also wrote of a dog haunting the ruins in the 1930s.
Here's the film we made.
John is a producer, TV/Radio presenter and writer living in Suffolk