Weird Suffolk: Have you seen the ghost at Crazy Mary’s Hole in Pakefield?

Weird Suffolk: Crazy Mary's Hole, Pakefield Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

Weird Suffolk: Crazy Mary's Hole, Pakefield Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN - Credit: Archant

Wringing her hands and wailing, the tragic ghost waits on the cliffs for her drowned husband to finally come home to her. Today, the tragic story of Crazy Mary’s Hole in Pakefield.

Weird Suffolk: Crazy Mary's Hole, Pakefield Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

Weird Suffolk: Crazy Mary's Hole, Pakefield Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN - Credit: Archant

It was a beacon of hope for sailors passing through Pakefield Gateway, the channel between two shifting sandbanks which offered safe passage to Lowestoft harbour, but the lighthouse also beamed across the area said to be haunted by the crazed ghost of a widow waiting for her drowned husband to come home.

At the evocatively-named Crazy Mary’s Hole at Pakefield, still marked on maps and close to the disused lighthouse towards the south of the village, it is said that the distressed wife of a man whose ship was lost at sea can still be seen waiting on the cliffs for him to return.

The spirit is seen wringing her hands close to the once deep and rugged ravine in the cliff which was named for the lovesick maiden who has been seen close to it for centuries – ‘Crazy Mary’ had married a Pakefield fisherman who would go to sea from the beach to net the day’s haul.

But the sea is a cruel mistress and the sandbanks and shoals around the East coast are renowned by sailors, in particular the dangerous passages close to Lowestoft.

One day, Mary’s husband and his boat failed to return from a fishing trip and, distraught and bereft, she could be found pacing the cliffs every evening at around 9pm in the hope that she would see the sails of her true love’s boat as they approached the beach.

Driven mad by grief, some say that she finally joined her beloved husband in the sea, walking into the waves close to Crazy Mary’s Hole.

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Today, the gully is a shadow of its former self, but this particular point along the east coast has always been an Achille’s Heel for the UK and as such, the gully marked the place where a World War One sentry was posted in case the enemy chose this exposed spot to launch an invasion.

It is said that soldiers refused to guard alone because they were frightened of the dark shadow they’d seen pacing along the cliff, wailing in despair for her lost love – and the stories continued through the next war and up until the early 1980s, when a Pontin’s employee spotted the solitary figure of a woman close to the lighthouse, a figure that once approached, vanished into thin air.

Pakefield Lighthouse itself is a ghost: built in 1831 in the grounds of Pakefield Hall, the nature of the shifting sands and moving coastline meant it became redundant as an aide to sailors and its fire was finally put out in December 1864.

Derelict for almost 70 years, it then became a bar for Pakefield Hall Holiday came during the 1930s, then a photographic dark room and in 2000, it was renovated by volunteers and became a Coastal Surveillance station.

Hidden at the edge of a holiday park, the lighthouse is somewhat of a forgotten part of the village’s heritage to many people, a ghost of a seafaring past.

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