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Weird Suffolk

Just a few miles from the Victorian house that many believed to be the most haunted house in England is another fine hall which boasts its own spectral past.

A terrifying man-dog hybrid is said to stalk the site where St Felix of Burgundy buried his treasure in Suffolk – but is it a dog-headed monk, or a monk-headed dog?

It’s a handmaid’s tale with a difference – one which saw a Saxmundham minister’s servant ‘bewitched’ and taken spectacularly ill as she served her master dumplings.

They are the eerie organists compelled to visit the place where they last played together, sisters bound for eternity to a church in Ipswich no longer used for worship but instead a place that celebrates the glory of the town.

Legend has it that the lonely grave at a crossroads just outside Kentford is tended to by unknown hands and that the flowers upon it help anyone keen on placing a bet on the horses at Newmarket Races.

In a redundant church in the village of Wattisham, an 18th century stone tablet bears witness to a story which gripped villagers in the mid 1700s: the curious and grisly tale of the family of six from Judgement Farm who all lost their feet.

Long before ufologists had descended on Rendlesham, mystery had filled the skies of Suffolk and left locals pondering their place in the universe.

Many claim that Walberswick is the most haunted village in not only Suffolk, but England – even author George Orwell had his own tale to tell about this coastal corner of the county when he spied a spectre in the churchyard.

Only a dummy would ignore a curse linked to a haunted mannequin which threatened revenge on anyone that moved it.

Impressive stone walls illustrate just what a huge building this once was, fragments of the old refectory and kitchens have been identified along with a precinct wall and two gatehouses, an artist’s impression at the site reveals how the friary looked at the height of its prosperity.

Fairies are, as all self-respecting Suffolk folk know, regular visitors to the county with the area near Stowmarket in particular being popular with the gossamer-winged folk.

As areas go, it is surely one of the most haunted in Britain - but while Borley Rectory grabs most of the headlines, it is nearby Brundon Hall that captures our imagination for today’s visit to Weird Suffolk.

It’s an ancient spot which marked precisely where the parishes of Kesgrave, Foxall, Brightwell and Martlesham parishes join, the crossroads where an unquiet spirit appears to anyone who foolishly tries to disturb him.

It sounds like the opening to a corny joke, but for those who worked at the Bird’s Eye factory in Lowestoft, and those who had worked or lived close to the site for hundreds of years beforehand, it was no laughing matter.

They searched through the lonely earth for them, climbed through the briar and bramble - and finally, the detectorists found the treasure said to have been guarded by a ghost in a Suffolk field.

During the reign of King Stephen, a curious incident occurred in the village of Woolpit where two green children from a twilight world appeared as if by magic.

There could be few more potent anti-smoking warnings than that demonstrated by Grace Pett in April 1744.

It’s a holy stone which, if stories passed down through generations are true, has helped grow an entire village.

Mary I’s reign was steeped in controversy, tragedy and blood with the Tudor queen said to have been “the most unhappy lady in Christendom” – and in a quiet corner of Suffolk, some believe her legacy has thrown a curse over a field which refuses to yield a crop.

Other ghosts tend to stake their claim to a particular place or a particular time, but the Grey Lady of Bury St Edmunds doesn’t like to conform to stereotypes – she has been spotted all over the town and at different times of the year, making her Bury’s most famous (undead) resident.

In the dark, dark wood, there’s a dark, dark secret: a fantastical beast that’s part giant dog, part muscular bear and part enormous ape – is Suffolk home to the curious Shug Monkey?

Everyone knows that back seat drivers are the most annoying of passengers, but when the passenger in question is a manifestation of evil who tries to cause you to crash your car, it takes the concept to a whole new level.

It was Norfolk and Suffolk’s unexplained humming noise which fed suspicions of an alien invasion or UFO activity and which could only be heard…by women.

He’s a ghost with a social conscience who angrily returns to Seckford Hall in Suffolk to protest the 
fact that the money he bequeathed to the local 
poor was actually embezzled by rich people who 
had no need for it.

If you have reason to be on The Causeway in Needham Market, take a moment to consider that you are taking the same journey as those who have given the bridle way its name for ‘causeway’ is a variation of ‘corpse-way’.

The Devil is a cunning handyman – why dig a ditch yourself when you can employ the little people or giants to do your work for you?

Through the darkness the devil dog of Suffolk came, red eyes glowing like hot coals against fur blacker than the night, a malevolent shadow in the Leiston graveyard whose presence hinted at misfortune in the future.

It’s considered bad luck to give knives to newly-weds, cross the path of a nun on your wedding day or for a bride to use her married name before the ceremony: but you’d think it would be good luck to spot a holy warrior king on your big day.

It’s a time-worn story of star-crossed lovers thwarted by a tyrant and a ghost unable to break free of the earthly chains that tie her to a certain wood – but this Thornham Magna spirit has a rose-tinted twist.

If only stones could talk – what stories could the baffling boulder of Hartest tell, and would its tales need to be censored for those of a delicate disposition?

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