Weird Suffolk: The Flying Saucer that came to Bury St Edmunds for Christmas
In Weird Suffolk’s history of mysteries, sightings of UFOs remain high on the list of unsolved phenomena. In the winter of 2008, strange lights were spotted in the sky above Bury St Edmund’s Cathedral – was it a UFO or an early visit from Father Christmas?
As Bury St Edmunds started to prepare for the festive season, a strange visitor paid a visit to the skies above the town - not dressed in red and in a sleigh drawn by reindeer, this visitor fell into the distinct category of an unidentified flying object.
On November 29 in 2008, something strange was spotted in the night sky.
A man contacted the police to report that he had seen an unusual object hovering above the cathedral at around 10pm - it was grey, and was spinning in the sky, round and round. He claimed that it had been seen by four or five other people before it travelled round the cathedral and then disappeared - the whole experience had lasted around 10 to 12 minuts.
He then saw a bright orange ball flying through the sky from Churchgate Street towards the churchyard.
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A friend had subsequently suggested that he had might have mistaken what he saw for lights from the nearby Christmas fair in the Abbey Gardens and on Angel Hill and a police spokesperson added: "We did have a report of a large object in the sky for approximately 10 to 12 minutes that looked like a UFO."
But the Christmas fair theory didn't explain why there had been two power cuts at the precise time that the strange craft was spotted hovering over Bury's mother church…and then further witnesses began to come forward to say that they too had seen something odd over the Cathedral.
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A member of the Cathedral's staff also saw the craft: visitor officer Sarah Friswell said: "I mentioned it at our staff meeting yesterday and a member of staff did see 'it' as well. But I have to say no-one else has commented or mentioned it. It happened in between two short power cuts, so we wondered if it was linked to that."
The apparent sighting came just four months after similar reports of a UFO above the town's Mildenhall and Howard estates on September 3, when witnesses said they saw an object at about 9.30pm spinning and tilting above houses which appeared to change colour.
On December 11, another story appeared in the East Anglian Daily Times, claiming that "UFO fever is taking hold in Bury St Edmunds as tales of mysterious flashing lights over Suffolk's mother church abound".
Carol Marsh, who lived in the shadow of St Edmundsbury Cathedral, told the EADT that she and a group of friends had watched "entranced" at around 10.30pm on November 29 as lights travelled low in the sky from Northgate Street, over the Cathedral and neighbouring St Mary's Church and out of sight towards Southgate Street.
Mrs Marsh was no stranger to the phenomena - when she was an 11-year-old girl she firmly believes she witnessed a flying saucer in the skies over her then home in Lincolnshire. Her father, a Lancaster bomber pilot, was so convinced by his daughter's story that he called Ministry of Defence bosses to check out the mysterious sighting.
The Church Walks resident was less convinced her latest brush with an unexplained object was for real, but she believes there was a chance the sighting over the town could have been a UFO. "It's certainly a possibility," she said. "It was the weekend of the Christmas fair and I suppose they could have been sending up some sort of lights from Angel Hill but what ever it was, it was absolutely amazing. "The lights were low in the sky, very bright and seemed to be revolving. It was totally noiseless and for 45 seconds it lit up the sky - it was just incredible - an amazing thing going on the sky outside my house. The amber lights were almost like they were being fired up into the sky."
Did other-worldly visitors make a pre-Christmas visit to Bury? The truth is out there…