WEIRD SUFFOLK: A ghost that floats next to a Pauper’s Graveyard
The strange sighting of a floating figure near a Pauper’s Graveyard in Onehouse – could it be the spirit of one of the dead?
The figure looked completely normal and would have drawn very little interest if it wasn't for the fact they floated above coarse brambles before disappearing. Seen in the 1970s by an unnamed witness, the figure seemed to hover over a prickly hedge which would have caught on clothes and flesh had whatever it was the witness saw been human. In 1851, the population of Onehouse - which suggests a village consisting of a single lonely dwelling - was 432, but 225 were inmates of Stow Union Workhouse.
There are still inmates from the workhouse in Onehouse, albeit those who have passed to the next realm and who lie in eternal sleep in a graveyard - a Pauper's Graveyard with no headstones. The workhouse opened in 1798 so this graveyard is more than 200 years old, the final resting place of an unknown number of former residents, hundreds, it is thought, some of whom who died of smallpox, all of whom saw their grave marked with a simple wooden cross. It is close to this spot that the hovering apparition was spotted. And it is believed it made a repeat visit to the same location in July 2018 when a woman reported leaving the graveyard and spotting a fast-moving figure disappearing into brambles.
Could it be, as is suggested by one witness on the Paranormal Database, that the spirit is linked to the Pauper's Graves - buried there, perhaps, or a parent or child returning to see a loved one? It is, of course, a rare workhouse which has no ghost associated to it. They could be cruel places where families were split and treatment was harsh, although to those with no choice, they did at least offer a roof over their heads and some food. The last burial at the site was in 1933 and, over the years, the woods surrounding the graves became overgrown, its importance as a graveyard lost to the ravages of nature and time. But the purchase of the area by Onehouse Parish Council in 2000 - scuppering plans for housing - has seen the area transformed into a peaceful haven with new plantings, bird boxes and a walkway that people can use. While we do not know who lies here, we can visit them and remember them - and possibly spot one of them, free at last, forever floating.
On which note, we have to mention the famous Onehouse Fairies, whose story we have already told in our Weird Suffolk chronicles…