Bury St. Edmunds: Just about everyone has a ghost story to tell
October 25, 2006
In a town whose founding father is shrouded in mystery and folklore, it’s no surprise that stories of hauntings, ghosts, specters and spooks abound.
Local legend has it that St. Edmund, the ninth century king of East Anglia, was resurrected after his beheading by invading Viking hordes for refusing to forsake his Christian faith. A pack of wild wolves protected his severed head until it was miraculously reattached.
Today, men who refer to themselves as the Knights of St. Edmund still pay homage to the revered saint with marches in the 1,000-year-old streets.
But that is only the most widely known supernatural phenomenon reported Bury St. Edmunds, a town of 35,000 souls.
Folklore and bedtime stories have been passed from generation to generation about the scent of a woman who roams a line of shops along a busy street, the unsettled spirit of a murdered woman who lurks in a cemetery, and the ghosts of a monk and a nun who wander tunnels beneath the city center.
“If you walk up and down this street talking to people, just about everyone you meet would have a ghost story or two,” said Beverley Wilsher from behind the counter of a city center jewelry shop connected to the underground chambers. “I have no doubt there are many ghosts in this town.”
Tiny, but haunted?The Nutshell draws thousands of visitors from across the globe every year to what is known as the smallest pub in Britain. But a handful of paranormal investigators also make visits to the 131-year-old pub housed in a 17th-century building.
Bartender Jack Burton said he’s heard of at least four ghosts haunting the pub.
The ghosts of a nun and a monk reportedly have been seen in the basement, which connects to the tunnels leading back to the Abbey Garden. The specter of a young boy murdered by drowning in what was an upstairs bedroom also reportedly stalks the pub.
And with somewhat regular frequency, the scent of a woman’s perfume will waft around the bar when it’s only filled with men.
“The nun and the monk used to meet in the tunnels for illicit purposes,” the 21-year-old Burton said. “And the woman haunts the entire street. Just the other week we were in here and a strong smell of lavender suddenly swept across the room. And that’s happened several times in the last few months especially.”
The gray ladyThis oft-seen specter has prompted enough cold shivers to keep the ghost stories buzzing for generations.
Some have seen her peeping out of the front window of the former Cupola Bar, just down the street from the Nutshell. She’s also been spotted at the Tesco grocery store near the A14 interstate, where poltergeist-type activity also has been reported.
She’s even been seen wandering around Angel Hill in the heart of town.
And there are no concrete stories to explain her origin.
Could she be the sources of the lavender smell? Or just among the undead patrolling the streets of this historic town?/p>
Star-crossed loversA few miles from the town center, another ghost tale prevails. Legend has it that a nurse from a military hospital fell in love with an injured soldier during the 1850s Crimean War.
Her father, however, forbid their marriage, and killed the soldier in an attempt to keep them from marrying.
Today, she can be seen around the railway bridge near the intersection of Mustow and Eastgate Streets. No sightings of the slain soldier have been reported.