Ghosts of West Suffolk
by Wendy Mansfield
The theme of November’s meeting of Wickhambrook WI was a suitably spooky one. Graham Higgins gave us a talk on the various ghost stories that abound in West Suffolk. Apparently one of the most haunted places in Suffolk is Denham which appears in the Encyclopaedia of Haunted Places. There are stories of two ladies often seen walking up a cottage door and the story of a poor farm worker who lost his head after being crushed by a wagon. He can now be seen walking down the hill in Denham minus his head. The most moving story is that of a beautiful young girl who during the 1640’s, a time of witch hunts was accused of being a witch who turned all the men’s heads. The local villagers locked her up in the church before putting her to trial in the traditional way. They shackled her in chains and threw her into well to see if she would sink or swim. Naturally bound in chains she drowned and the villagers hushed things up. She was buried at a crossroads in the village. The story is that some years ago workmen were digging up the road there and found a body wrapped in chains.
This might also be confused with the tradition that suicides were never buried in consecrated ground but instead were buried at crossroads, often bound in chains and with a stake through the heart for good measure! This practice is based on the idea of “felo de se” , literally a crime against oneself. Graham gave us a lively vision of this with rattling chains and a very authentic looking stake! There were other stories of burning effigies and blood stains that refused to disappear at Denham Hall, all guaranteed to make us wonder. At the end of his talk, Graham asked if anyone else had any ghost stories and several members related their own otherworldly experiences.
The competition was to write a spooky poem and members had let their imaginations run riot!
We all wished each other a safe journey home!