Bury St Edmunds in Suffolk is known as one of the most haunted towns in England, with tales of medieval monks and a grey lady. CHRISTINE MILLER tells us more!
The Nutshell Pub
The Nutshell Pub, known to be the country’s smallest pub at just 15’ x 7’, was established in 1867. Many ghostly sightings have abounded since the day the pub opened its doors all those years ago.
There’s said to be the phantom monk who stalks the interior of the tavern, as well as the ghost of a young boy who was said to have been murdered. Unable to rest after his untimely taking, he calls The Nutshell home for eternity.
And then there’s the story of the mummified cat that hangs from the ceiling in the diminutive public house. The tale goes that some rather inebriated service personnel from nearby RAF Honington decided that they would “borrow” the gruesome feline as a joke.
It was to be a grave mistake.
The men were soon plagued by a succession of ill-fortune on the airbase, from spontaneous kitchen fires to near-death experiences. So scared were the gang that they hastily returned the preserved beast under the cover of darkness, where it has remained untouched ever since.
Moyse’s Hall Museum
Moyse’s Hall has stood proudly in Bury St Edmunds for over 900 years and is easily one location that has had more than its fair share of spookiness over the centuries.
One particular episode involves William Corder, also more commonly referred to as the Red Barn Murderer, who was hanged on the site back in 1828.
Corder was found guilty of murdering his lover Maria Martin and fleeing the scene in nearby Polstead. He had continually kept up the pretence that Maria was very much alive and well. The young girl’s remains were eventually discovered in a shallow grave in the Red Barn (then a local landmark) after Martin’s stepmother chillingly recounted a vivid dream in which her stepdaughter had been brutally dispatched within this very location.
Not only had Maria been shot, but she had also been repeatedly, savagely stabbed and garotted with Corder’s handkerchief, which was still hanging from her decomposing body when her remains were unearthed.
For his heinous crimes, Corder was sent to the gallows where we would swing on 11th August 1828.
His body was quickly dissected, but there soon came loud and unearthly howls and shrieks throughout the area. It wasn’t until Carder’s body was laid to rest (in the short-term at least; his skeleton was subsequently used as a teaching tool by the Royal College of Surgeons) that the horrifying vocal sounds ceased.
Whether Carder’s ghost is truly at rest or still wanders the hallways of Moyse’s Hall, we may never truly know.
It’s a tragic ghostly romance as old as time: boy meets girl, girl’s father disapproves and brutally murders boy in cold blood.
That’s what is said to have occurred at Eastgate Street in the town in the 19th century.
A young nurse by the name of Mary Treese had returned to her hometown shortly after the Crimean War, alongside her wounded lover whom she met while tending to his care. Her father was furious when he learned that the two were to be married. In a fit of madness, he retrieved his shotgun and discharged it into his daughter’s lover’s torso.
The scene is said to replay each year on the anniversary of the murder, 20th October.
Reports of the sighting first were documented in the 1930s, when a mother and her two daughters watched as a man and woman hastened past them, swiftly accompanied by the sounds of a gunshot.
Then the tragic duo quite literally vanished into thin air.
St Edmundsbury Cathedral
The most famous undead resident of Bury St Edmunds is that of The Grey Lady. She sure does get about, appearing at a variety of locations in the town, including St Saviour’s Hospital (or what’s left of it – more about that one later), the Abbey ruins, the Theatre Royal Bury St Edmunds, as well as many more.
However, it’s said that at the stroke of 11 at night each 24 February, her faint figure can be seen walking through the graveyard surrounding St Edmundsbury Cathedral in particular.
As well as the Grey Lady, a monk is also said to have been seen on occasion passing through the ancient graves of the 11th-century holy site.
(Strangely enough, it’s not just the dead that chooses to frequent the Cathedral. There have even been strange UFO reports of flying saucers witnessed by as many as 15 people at one time.)
St Saviour’s Hospital (and Tescos!)
The Grey Lady also calls the crumbling ruins of St Saviour’s Hospital home too. She has allegedly been spotted by a variety of witnesses over the years. She is seen walking forlornly before moving through the ruin’s walls and vanishing.
Even the Tescos supermarket sitting behind the hospital ruins hasn’t escaped any of the paranormal phenomenon attributed to her ghost!
Employees have often complained of poltergeist-like activity in the communal staff rooms, with crockery flying through the air and unexplained footsteps throughout the building.
Perhaps you’ve seen the Grey Lady? Or, maybe you know any more spooky locations in Bury St Edmunds? We’d love to hear from you: tell us your experiences and favourite haunts in the town in the comments section below!