Halloween Chills, Thrills & Ghostly Encounters In & Around Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk

September 24, 2022 1:00 AM ‐ HalloweenLong Reads
Haunted Bury St Edmonds
Photo: © Phil Morley

From ghostly medieval monks to the infamous Grey Lady, the historic town of Bury St Edmunds in Suffolk offers chills and thrills galore. Could it be the most haunted place in England? There are evening ghost tours, events for children and families, pumpkin patches to visit and eerie churchyards to walk through this Halloween.

Halloweenies - Kentwell Hall's School for Sorcery

22 - 30 October, 10.30am - 4pm

Bring your little witches and wizards for some spooky and safe half-term fun and enter a magical Halloween world at Kentwell Hall's Halloweenies School for Sorcery, near Bury St Edmunds. Explore the spooky outdoor zones around the buildings and 30 acres of gardens and grounds for immersive Halloween fun, challenges and activities aimed at children from 3 to 14 years of age and their families.

Come dressed in your favourite Halloween outfit but as this is an outdoor event ensure you are wrapped up warmly underneath; the house will be closed to visitors.
A selection of ghoulishly delicious food and snacks will be available as a take-out service.

Halloweenies runs from Saturday 22 until Sunday 30 October, 10.30am-4pm, last entry at 2pm. Adults and children aged 6-15 from £18.90; children 3-5 years from £14.45; under 3s free; family (2+2) from £62; book online to save on the ticket price. Advance booking required as numbers limited. For details call 01787 310207 or visit kentwell.co.uk.

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Ghostly Secrets Guided Walking Tour

From November to March

Uncover spine-tingling tales about Bury St Edmunds eerie goings-on by joining an evening, 90-minute Ghostly and Macabre guided walk around the Suffolk town over the Halloween weekend with start times between 6pm and 7pm. The walks continue every Friday from 4 November until 23 March 2023.

Dressed in character, the Bury St Edmunds tour guides will take you on a haunted journey with ghostly stories of murder, riots, plague, witchcraft and a mummified cat, with chills and thrills galore. Starting with Moyse's Hall, the tour winds around the darkened spooky streets to tell stories of screaming skulls, mysterious ‘monk' like figures appearing in cellars, burnings and hangings and more, finishing up in the dark and deserted Great Churchyard where the tour guides will recall stories from the Abbey and the infamous Grey Lady.

Details about the Ghostly and Macabre tour priced at £7.50 per person and how to book are shown at burystedmundstourguides.org or call 01284 758000; due to the content of the tour, participants must be aged 14 years or over and under 18s accompanied by an adult, dogs are not permitted. Tickets limited to five per customer.

Victorian All Hallows' Eve Ball

The Athenaeum, Bury St Edmunds Saturday 29 October, 7:30pm – 11:45pm

Dress in your finest Halloween inspired Victorian fashion and go along to the All Hallow's Eve Ball at The Atheneum; gentleman are required to wear a Victorian frock coat/evening or regency attire. This is a strict dress code, steampunk or modern Halloween/theatrical costumes will not be allowed. There will be dancing to the Warleggan Village Band and a finger buffet, the bar will also be open all evening. To book tickets at £100 per person and for more information email regency83@hotmail.co.uk; organised by LK Present to Past. Over 18s only.

Terrible Tales Exhibition

Moyse's Hall Museum

Horrible Histories creator Terry Deary has helped Moyse's Hall Museum bring Bury St Edmunds' gruesome history to life by linking the museums' most horrific artefacts to six Terrible Tales, each told in first person. The Battle of Fornham is spoken through the eyes of a blacksmith, while a nun tending to the body of St Edmund tells of his grisly end. The stories of Mary Tudor, Queen of France (who is buried in St Mary's Church, Bury St Edmunds), the Red Barn Murder, the Nichols Murder, witchcraft and Witchfinder General Matthew Hopkins, all feature.

There are also some grisly interactive displays for children and adults. Step inside a gibbet cage (made for the museum by blacksmiths Kingdom Forge), try on a ball and chain for size, experience the smells of history including the wretched tanner's pits, handle thumbscrews, try on manacles and pick up a Norman sword. You can even trace the artefacts in the Red Barn Murder including the murder weapon and the disease box, where visitors can smell a pus ridden hand, is likely to be a museum favourite!

Terrible Tales is a permanent exhibit at Moyse's Hall Museum but particularly fun to explore during Halloween. For more details visit moyseshall.org, Tel: 01284 706183. Admission adults £12, children (5-16) £6 and concessions £8. Open Mondays to Saturdays 10am - 5pm. Sundays 12pm - 4pm.

Pumpkin Patches

Opening around October half-term when the pumpkins are ripe for picking, this year's pumpkin patches are likely to include the Rougham Estate, where a field full of different varieties and sizes will await collection. Grab a wheelbarrow and choose your perfect pumpkin to carve into spooky faces or scary scenes this Halloween. There will also be some family games and activities and light refreshments roughamestate.com.

Where To Stay & More Information

The town centre Angel Hotel has rooms from around £139 B&B for two sharing, it's also home ot the AA two rosette Eaterie restaurant. To book visit theangel.co.uk or call 01284 714000.

For more information about Halloween events, where to stay and other things to see and do visit burystedmundsandbeyond.co.uk.

Hauntings & Ghostly Encounters In Bury St Edmunds

Haunted Bury St Edmonds
Photo: © Phil Morley

If you like ghost stories, Bury St Edmunds has more than its fair share. Read on for some spine-tingling tales about the town's eerie happenings.

The Grey Lady
Bury St Edmund's most famous ghost, the Grey Lady, has been sighted in the Abbey ruins, the former St Saviours Hospital site, the Priory Hotel, Theatre Royal, in shops on Abbeygate Street, in buildings on Angel Hill and in the cellars of the 16th century Cupola House on The Traverse. She is also said to appear in St Edmundsbury Cathedral Great Churchyard annually on 24 February at 11pm.

Some believe the ghost is a nun linked to the death of the Duke of Gloucester, who was allegedly murdered in St Saviours Hospital in 1447. According to local tales, it was this nun, named Maude Carew, who killed Gloucester (and not the Duke of Suffolk, as portrayed in Shakespeare's Henry VI, Part II) but this was recently debunked by historian Dr Francis Young. Other tales suggest she is a medieval nun who was punished with execution for a liaison with a monk at the Abbey. Whoever our Grey Lady is, she is the town's most frequently spotted spirit.

Medieval Monks
Apparitions of the Abbey's Benedictine monks are also said to be frequently seen. walking around the Abbey's grounds and through surrounding buildings.

In 1961, two men claim to have seen a monk drift down Angel Lane before disappearing through a wall; a year later, a monk was reportedly seen ‘hovering' in Churchgate Street. A resident of the houses built into the Abbey's West Front claimed a monk appeared in her bedroom several times. Staff in shops on Abbeygate Street have also made claims about sightings of ghostly monks.

A Doomed Love Affair
Visitors to the town in October should keep their eyes peeled for a soldier and a nurse in Victorian dress. The first reports were made in 1935 by two girls and their mother, who felt a chill as a man and a woman rushed past them on Eastgate Street. A gunshot and a scream were then heard.

Legend has it the woman was a 19th century nurse called Mary Treese, returning from the Crimean War with a wounded soldier she had tended and fallen in love with. Her father, however, disapproved of their relationship and shot the man dead. Their fateful end is said to be played out every year on 20 October on Eastgate Street.

Ghosts In The Nutshell Pub
As well as being one of Britain's smallest pubs, The Nutshell, built in 1844, may also be one of its most haunted.

In 1975, the landlord returned downstairs from the room above the bar, telling patrons he had just seen a small boy sitting by himself and then disappear. And, in fact, it is thought a boy did die here in suspicious circumstances – some say by drowning in a bathtub.

Locals of The Nutshell also claim to have experienced poltergeist activity in the pub, with many blaming glasses shattered and batteries drained on the young ghost. Others, however, point the finger at a mummified cat, which hangs over the bar. This cat is said to be cursed, bringing misfortune to anyone who touches it.

Bad luck befell a landlady who tried to clean it as well as a group of servicemen from RAF Honington who kidnapped it as a prank. The landlady lost her job shortly after her cleaning attempt, and the servicemen say they were plagued by fires and accidents until the cat was returned.

During the infamous witch trials, the accused were taken to a building where The Nutshell pub is today and had their nails or locks of hair cut off. These were stored in brown jars in the basement as it was thought that if you were not whole when you died, you wouldn't be able to come back as a whole witch in the next life!

Troubled Souls At Moyse's Hall Museum
Once a workhouse, police station and gaol, Moyse's Hall Museum has been the focus of ghost tales for centuries. The oldest of these stories dates back to 1328, when a woman is recorded as saying she saw ‘a most horrible devil' in the building's cellar.

William Corder was hanged in Bury St Edmunds in 1828 after being found guilty of murdering his lover Maria Martin in what became known as the Murder in the Red Barn. She was shot and repeatedly stabbed before being buried in a shallow grave in a barn. Shrieks and apparitions were reported after the hanging, which only stopped when Corder's skull was duly buried. Following his execution, a death mask of Corder was made and his skin was tanned and used to bind an account of the murder, which passed into Suffolk folklore. These are on display at the museum.

Witch Trials
East Anglia became synonymous with witch hunts due to the presence of one of medieval history's most notorious figures Matthew Hopkins, the self-styled 'Witchfinder General'.

From each town he visited he received ample pay (his services in Stowmarket alone earned him over £3,300 in today's money). The more witches he rooted out, tried and executed on the flimsiest of evidence, the more Hopkins grew rich. It's estimated Hopkins' work led to around 100 executions across East Anglia.

The first recorded account of a witch trial at Bury St Edmunds was in 1599. In 1645, 16 women from surrounding villages were found guilty of witchcraft and all executed in one day on 27 August 1645; previously the biggest legal case had been the 11 Pendle Hill witches, who were tried at Lancaster in 1612. Later in 1662, two elderly
widows, Rose Cullender and Amy Denny (or Deny or Duny) from Lowestoft were accused of witchcraft by their neighbours. They were tried on 10 March 1662 at the Assizes at Bury St Edmunds by one of England's most eminent judges of the time, the Lord Chief Baron of the Exchequer, Sir Matthew Hale, and the jury found them guilty on thirteen charges of using malevolent witchcraft.

The last witch trial at Bury St Edmunds was in 1694, when Lord Chief Justice Sir John Holt forced the acquittal of Mother Munnings of Hartis (Hartest) on charges of prognostications causing death.

Rougham Airfield
With its rich war time history, it is no wonder that the Rougham Airfield is said to be haunted. Originally known as RAF Bury St Edmunds, and Station 469 to USAAF, the airfield welcomed 3,000 GIs during WWII as well as the Glenn Miller Orchestra, Bob Hope and Clark Gable, who visited to entertain the troops.

Several paranormal groups have visited Rougham Airfield and museum, many with amazing results, including sightings of a young spirit boy, who is said to have owned one of the bikes that are on display in the Nissen huts.

Visitors have felt uneasy in the tower with accounts of strange lights and people seeing what appears to be feet plus a strong smell of tobacco. In the Control Room at the top, there have been reports of a smell of oil and strong perfume as well as sounds like a prop aircraft flying overhead.

On the ground floor, there have been sightings of a man walking through the main room and two paranormal investigators caught what appears to be a figure walking across one of the smaller rooms on the first floor. Both claim they saw nothing while they were there, it was only when they reviewed the footage taken on their mobile phones, that they found the videos, which you can view on the Rougham Control Tower Aviation Museum's website.

For more information about Halloween events, where to stay and other things to see and do visit burystedmundsandbeyond.co.uk.
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