Scrooge was famously visited by ghosts at Christmas and he’s not alone: just after the Winter Solstice in 1974, a couple saw a figure made of ‘solid smoke’ as they drove near Snape.

Thinking about the dead and remembering the past are tied to Christmas like baubles in a time when there is more night than day. Winter stories of "sprits and ghosts that glide by night", as Christopher Marlowe poetically put it, have traditionally been told at Yuletide when stories about the darkness are told to try to disperse the threat that it holds for us all. But it is difficult not to feel afraid at the thought of a misty figure appear from nowhere in the road in front of the car you're travelling in and then move quickly into a nearby hedge and simply vanish. This is precisely what happened to a couple who were returning home from a concert held at Snape Maltings on Sunday December 22 1974. As our part of the planet leans furthest away from the sun and we experience the longest nights of the year, something strange was lurking on the road which links Snape to nearby Sternfield.

It was around 6pm and pitch black as the husband and wife began their journey home. As they passed under some power cables which crossed Church Common, they suddenly saw something in the middle of the road. Slowing the car to an almost-standstill, both saw what they later described to the Psychical Research Section of the Borderline Science Investigation Group, based in Lowestoft, as "a grey figure, adult height". The couple provided a very rough drawing of the figure they'd seen. As they watched, the figure moved from the centre of the road towards the hedgerow from right to left and then vanished entirely. There was, the couple reported, a rough track leading to a small wooden barn on this side of the road, although the building in question has, since this time, disappeared too.

It had been a remarkably mild December in 1974 with record temperatures of around 10 degrees during the daytime, which could have been responsible for a sea fret drifting from the North Sea and over Snape. But although sea frets regularly cast a ghostly mist across coastal regions, a soft wet mist that reaches like fingers through the land, the couple had not reported that they were driving through mist or fog or that any was present. The couple's report to the BSIG gave further description: that they had been unable to see clothing or features, just a dark grey shape which appeared to be made of "solid smoke". In its report, the BSIG added: "The lady witness said although she was not conscious of any feeling of fear, she went icy cold and felt that every hair was standing on end." Just what did the concert goers see appear from nowhere on a midwinter night in Suffolk?