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.
The term orb is used to describe balls of light, usually captured on digital cameras. Orbs can be any colour but are usually white. Many paranormal investigators believe them to be the spirits of the dead. Others believe that they are dust particles, water droplets or insects caught in the flash of a camera. Orbs could also be caused by lens flares or even damage to the camera. I would say that the majority of orbs can be explained away as any of the above.
Here are two examples. The first was taken in Framlingham churchyard, Suffolk. The second was taken in a house in Stonebow, York.
To find one is said to bring good fortune - especially if thrown by a horse. The custom was to hang them on your front door with the open end pointing upwards. This was to prevent the luck falling out. A horseshoe on the door was also believed to prevent witches from entering your home.
Thetford Priory of the Canons of the Holy Sepulchre dates from the 12th century. As you would expect, ghostly monks have been seen walking through the ruins. Chanting has also been heard. A group of teenagers claimed to have seen one monk running through the grounds in 1992. Jangling keys heralded his appearance.
On another occasion, a monk was seen standing in an upstairs window. The full account can be read by clicking here LINK
Summer evenings are said to be the ideal time to see and hear the phantom brothers.
St Peter's Church in Westleton, Suffolk dates back to about 1300. A local legend claims that Old Nick himself lives below a small grating near a door in the church. Near to this is a 14th century fallen gravestone known as the ‘Witches’ Stone’. It is claimed that grass will not grow over it.
It is said that if you put a piece of straw in the grating and run around the church seven times, anti-clockwise, the straw will either vanish or you'll hear the Devil rattling his chains below the surface. A word of warning if you do decide to carry out this ritual ...... you must never look at the grating until the end of your run!
A local told me that the story was invented by smugglers to deter locals from visiting the churchyard at night. Smugglers were believed to have used the crypt to hide contraband from the revenue men!
This Suffolk village is thought to take its name from pits dug to trap wolves. The area is said to be the haunt of one such animal, caught and killed centuries ago. A farmer was once out looking for a lost calf and claimed to have seen it emerge from a hole in the ground. He rushed for his gun but lost it in the moonlight. He then noticed that it had left no footprints and concluded that he had seen the phantom wolf.
For some reason, the ghostly wolf is only said to appear after a fall of snow.
St Gregory’s church in Sudbury is said to be haunted by the ghost of Simon de Sudbury, Archbishop of Canterbury, who was murdered during the Peasant’s Revolt of 1381. His skull is still preserved in a case in the church. A truly grizzly exhibit!
His body was buried in Canterbury Cathedral. Some believe that his ghost still restless because he wishes his head to be reunited with his body.
I have already written about the haunting of Potsford Gibbet in a previous post but would like to share with you another interesting legend connected with the wood. According to tradition, there was a large stone or boulder next to the gibbet which screamed if you kicked it with your heel. Whether this story started circulating after the execution of Jonah Snell is not known.
It appears that the stone has long since vanished as a recent visit to the wood failed to locate it.
John is a producer, TV/Radio presenter and writer living in Suffolk