The Ghosts of Thetford Priory, Norfolk
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.
The Devil in Westleton
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!
The Woolpit Wolf
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.
The Sudbury Head
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.
The August issue of Psychic News sees me interview Jason Figgis about his latest film documentary on Simon Marsden, the photographer and author. www.psychicnews.org.uk/
Southwold Ghosts & Monsters
Gun Hill is said to be haunted by the figure of a soldier. He is always seen standing next to one of the six cannon that can be found on the hill. He lost his head when one misfired.
Sutherland House is home to a phantom lady. The red-headed women is said to be waiting for the return of Lord Sandwich, who was killed in a 17th Century sea battle with the Dutch. Footsteps and the sound of doors opening are heard on 28th May, the anniversary of the Lord's death.
Southwold is also known as the haunt of a strange creature. On the 21st October 1938, local fishermen claimed to have seen a grey coloured sea monster swimming near their boat. The beast was described as being over 65 feet long.
The Druid's Stone in the grounds of St Mary's Church has an interesting legend attached to it.
Folklore and local gossip claim that it was used by the druids in religious ceremonies over 2000 years ago. It's interesting to note that churches were often built on pagan shrines and so the stone could have formed part of such a structure.
Others claim it was brought here from Bungay Castle after the castle fell into ruin. But why would someone go to the trouble of doing this for no apparent purpose?
It's said that you can call up the Devil by dancing around the stone twelve times. You have been warned!
The Haunting of Potsford Gibbet
Potsford Wood – off the B1078 – can be a spooky place even on the brightest of days. Halfway down a long and overgrown lane can be found the rotting remains of Potsfold Gibbet.
It was last used on the 14th April 1699 when Jonah Snell was executed for the murder of John Bullard and his son at the nearby Letheringham Water Mill. He killed them with an axe - bizarrely hanging them upside down from a beam in the mill after committing the dreadful deed. His victims are supposed to haunt the mill still.
Snell's body was left to rot on the gibbet as a warning to others. He was later buried nearby after the skeleton fell to the ground. Presumably, it's still there!
Many locals will not visit the wood and some claim that they have seen strange lights hovering near the gibbet. Groans and chocking sounds have also been heard. A figure in black has been seen standing near the gibbet.
In 1997 a couple reported being harassed by a black figure that moaned at them one night after their car broke down on the main road. In the 1980s another sighting supposedly took place in daylight - a truck driver walked down the lane and started reading the plaque on the gibbet. He felt a tap on his shoulder. Turning back, he came face to face with a skeleton, hooded and robed. He fled in terror.
Sadly, it has proved impossible to verify the two accounts mentioned above as no sources have ever been given in previous accounts published. Investigating hauntings can prove to be a frustrating business at times!
I should add that ghostly apparitions in this wood can sometimes have a more down to earth explanation!
During research for this article, I was talking to a retired poacher who used to 'visit' the woods. During one such expedition, he spotted several white figures standing by some trees. They didn't move and continued to stare blankly ahead, apparently unaware of his presence. He fled the scene. The next morning he decided to return to the wood to see if he could find a rational explanation for the eerie apparitions. Imagine his surprise when he noticed that the figures were still there! It was only when he came within 20 feet of them that he realised what they were - someone had dumped several stolen garden statues in the wood!
One can only wonder if some of the other stories concerning ghostly sightings in Potsford Wood were down to the local poaching fraternity? It's hardly surprising that they would have a vested interest in ensuring that locals stayed away from the area - especially at night!
Hearing three knocks in an empty room means that someone known to you has passed away.
Don't leave your shoes on the table! It can bring sickness and even death according to folklore.
Experiencing a chill up your spine means that someone has just walked over your future grave.
Some cultures believe that tombstones prevent the souls of the dead from leaving their graves.
Coffee grounds in a straight line at the bottom of your cup? You can expect an impending funeral.
Touch a loved one who has died and you won’t have dreams about them.
John is a producer, TV/Radio presenter and writer living in Suffolk