Tag Archives: folk tale

Green children, pudding and a ruddy great swan…

Okay, I lied – there are going to be three blogs on the Green Children. That’s how much I love this tale. This one, however, is a more personal take, going back to my earliest memories of Suffolk’s stories. As a tiny child my mythology was personal, concerning only the village, Layham, where I lived – with terrors like the bridge over the Brett by the mill which had gaping holes that would, I was sure, suck me down; like the fascinating fungus in the dead elm spinney next to the house. I had no idea that the rectory where I once got terrifyingly lost at a garden party was where poor Maria Marten had her first and only job, or that Black Shuck lurked on the lanes into Hadleigh – but that was soon to change.

the-swan

Back in 1979, when I was six or seven my Mum started making really exciting things. Mum was props mistress at the local amateur dramatic society, Hadleigh Amateur Dramatic Society (HADS), and I became used to her making all sorts of strange things – I particularly remember the box of fake gems that I loved to run by fingers through and dream… Some of the furniture she acquired actually stayed in the house, I think! This time, it was a huge, huge prop. It was a swan – to be the centrepiece of a medieval feast – and I was fascinated. Mum says of it, ‘I know I used a bird book to work from. It must have taken a while, though, to build up all the stages. It was a wire netting base then papier maché then possibly crepe or tissue paper.’ It was, as you see, a thing of beauty!

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There were also tempting puddings – almost edible, they were: Mum didn’t have any clay so she simply made the puddings from pastry, which she then painted and adorned with plastic fruit. Having been a props mistress myself, I know they often have long, long lives – not so these. She says, ‘eventually they just disintegrated in the props cupboard…’

the-green-children-jpegBut what were they for? I knew it was a play, of course, but I was intrigued by the title, ‘The Green Children’. Who – or what – were these children, and why were they green? I was too young to go to the play and find out for myself, but Mum must have told me the story. It was one of my first encounters with the county’s folklore, and I loved it, even though it was a sad tale. It stayed with me ever since, helping develop a fascination with fairy lore and the Otherworld that lasts to this day. The sad fate of the green boy particularly affected me – and still does, I confess. As a child who was uprooted from my home several times, I admire the green girl for getting on with it, knuckling down and fitting in, but I was like the green boy, lonely and pining for a time and place where I was comfortable…

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The play was written by a couple who lived a couple miles north of Hadleigh in Whatfield, Mona Bruce and Robert James. The Internet Movie Database describes James as ‘a prolific “I know the face, but” performer of intelligence, authority and a distinctive countenance’, whose finest moment may have been as a ‘conscience-stricken scientist’ in the 1966 Doctor Who episode, ‘The Power of the Daleks’![i] His wife was a writer and actress, ‘known for Within These Walls (1974), To Sir, with Love (1967) and Agatha Christie’s Miss Marple: 4.50 from Paddington (1987).’[ii] They became heavily involved in HADS – James was the Chairman, and also in the Whatfield Amateur Dramatic Society.

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They wrote the play – actually a musical – in 1972, and it was revived in 1979, the production my Mum was involved in. Here’s what they have to say about it – it sounds as if we ought to have known the play better, if only for the tickly question of money! Let’s revive it, now! It was a humorous take on the story, full, says a local newspaper, ‘of funny Suffolkisms’ such as ‘“They must have been foreign,” said a startled villager. “’Appen they come from Essex,” came the reply.’[iii]

 

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In rehearsal

 

 

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So hungry!

 

 

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In the ‘green’ room… (just to give an idea of how green they were!)

Fortunately, Mum has a few pictures from the production, which, in 1979, stared Allyson White as the green girl, and Stephen Hicks as the green boy. Captions my Mum’s. You can even see my Mum, looking willowy and Pre-Raphaelite in the background of the rehearsal one…

 

She – and I – wonder what happened to the swan…

Notes:

[i] http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0416877/bio?ref_=nm_ov_bio_sm

[ii] http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0115551/bio?ref_=nm_ov_bio_sm

[iii] Newspaper clipping ‘Musical Shows Off Group’s Talents’ (3 December 1979), private collection

Images:

All images © Cherry Wilkinson

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The Green Children of Woolpit (and Bardwell)

The cover image on Suffolk Folk Tales shows two of my favourite tales from the book. One, the story of King Raedwald of East Anglia, has featured already in this blog, but the one that gazes soulfully out of the page at you hasn’t – despite being one of Suffolk’s most famous tales. I’ve been biding my time, waiting for the right moment. And now it’s arrived – The Green Children features in The Anthology of English Folk Tales (The History Press) out on 1 November. I was really keen for this story to feature in the book because not only it is important for Suffolk, but is a nationally important tale, one of the first that shows the place of the fair folk – or the dead? – the Otherworld. Or does it? I’m going to do two blogs about this story – this is the first, looking at the story in Suffolk, and the places and people associated with it. The second blog will look at the theories that have grown up around this little tale – and other medieval mirabilia.

It’s an old tale, one of three in Suffolk Folk Tales recorded by the monk Ralph of Coggeshall in his Chronicon Anglicanum around the turn of the 13th century: the others being the Wildman of Orford and Malekin. Unlike the other two, the Green Children has another source, a slightly earlier source, from the Yorkshire monk William of Newburgh. The stories vary a little, but not in their essentials – the discovery of children with green skin in the small Suffolk village of Woolpit just outside Bury St Edmunds, then a major pilgrimage site for the relics of St Edmund. I decided to mostly follow Ralph’s story, for, although his is a slightly later recording, he knew Suffolk and his feels more realistic, with its names and places specified. Anyone who has anything to do with folklore will know that that is a mocker – specificity does not historical accuracy make – but when you are reaching back into the reign of King Stephen, much is inevitably guesswork.

In Woolpit they are proud of the green children – they feature on the village sign, and in the museum you can buy mugs featuring them!

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I should note that Woolpit probably doesn’t mean ‘wolf pit’ as William of Newburgh assumes – or, it does, but not in the way he thinks. Woolpit’s an old village. We know of it in the early 11th century when East Anglia was under the rule of Ulfketel Snillingr. Ulfketel is in the background of another of the tales in Suffolk Folk Tales, The Legend of the Holy Wells. Woolpit (Wlfpet) was given by Ulfketel to the abbey at Bury (in thanks?) after the battle of Thetford in 1004. Ulfketel means ‘wolftrap’[i]. Is that the explanation behind the name? Simply named after the lord of the manor?

There probably were pits around the village, though. There were three Romano-British farmsteads nearby – perhaps the pits were in one of those? Or maybe they emerged from the Roman clay pit at nearby Elmswell?[ii] We’ll never know – and more on the theories in the next blog! Ironically, the story of the green children wasn’t the most famous thing about Woolpit during the middle ages. It was the site of a holy well, and a shrine to the Virgin Mary. By the time the green children were found in the late 12th century, pilgrims were probably already making their way to pray at the image of the Virgin in the church. No wonder the villagers moved the green children on so fast!

In Ralph’s version, you see, it isn’t Woolpit where most of the action takes place. According to him, the villagers take the children to the nearby manor of Wikes, to the custody of the Constable of the neighbouring hundred, Blackbourn (Woolpit was in Thedwastre hundred), Richard de Calne. He was a real person, who definitely held a manor at Bardwell. We know his granddaughter Sibilla sold land there. Her name possibly links us back to Ralph – she is ‘de Colonia’, not de Calne. Is this a reference to Colchester (Colonia Victricensis) in Essex, not far from Coggeshall? Well, probably not, but you never know – after all, he had links with the landowners at Dagworth where Malekin is set.

To my mild dismay I discovered there were two manors called Wikes – both of them in the little village of Bardwell. I confess I couldn’t discover which was the correct manor. So, after an unsatisfactory lunch at Wyken Vineyard (sorry – it was really nice, but very small and rather expensive!) I decided to plump for the other one, Wykes. If you look on an OS map today, Wykes manor is not there. However, we had an old map bought by my Grandad in the 1970s, and there it was – low earthworks near the church, clearly marked. All gone, ploughed away in the last 40 years.

 

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The Black Bourn still trickles past, and it was possible to imagine the scene – but, as you see, there wasn’t a bump in the field to mark the house.

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I felt rather sorry for it, so Wykes it was. I felt a bit sorry for Bardwell too, oblivious, it seemed, to its association with Ralph’s famous story, and was keen to bring it back into the tale.

The green girl seems to have been happy at Bardwell – although in the end she did go to yet another country … across the border to Norfolk, to live with her husband in what is now called King’s Lynn!

Notes:

[i] Information taken from http://www.woolpit.org/history/

[ii] The Green Children of Woolpit by Elizabeth Cockayne (n.d.), p. 5

Images:

  1. Me and the Woolpit mug © Kirsty Hartsiotis
  2. The ‘green children’ of Woolpit on the village sign © Copyright Rod Bacon and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence
  3. The Black Bourn at Bardwell © Kirsty Hartsiotis
  4. Wykes Manor, Bardwell © Kirsty Hartsiotis

Vikings and holy wells – an exercise in how difficult it is to find the ‘truth’

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It was a freezing cold day when we rocked up at Holywells Park in Ipswich to try to find the ‘hermit’s mossy cell’ as described by Elizabeth Cobbold in her poem ‘Holy Wells’ that inspired my Legend of the Holy Wells. Snow lay everywhere around, and children were racing while chilly parents followed them. It wasn’t easy to see what we were looking at, but it certainly showed what a vibrant place the former grounds of Elizabeth’s house has become.

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Why is it called Holywells? Well, shh, let me tell you a secret … it was called Hollow Wells (1) before , and our romantic 19th century citizens changed Hollow to Holy – maybe Elizabeth herself coining the term. The place does have a religious history, however, as it was owned by the Bishops of Norwich. There may possibly have been a residence for the bishops, and potentially a small chapel – but the idea of a Bishop’s Palace may well also have been concocted by Elizabeth! She seems to have been a woman after my own heart – keen to enchant, or re-enchant the landscape around her.

Is there any possibility that Elizabeth’s story has a grounding in history? The importance of the water on the site doesn’t seem to have been celebrated until the Cobbold’s came along to use it in their beer making in the 17th century. But there have certainly long been rumours of something holy happening at Holywells. Was it a guardian of the wells? A guardianship handed down from father to son over the generations? Had there, in fact, been a guardian there since the Iron Age and the time of the druids? A friend of Boudicca, maybe? We’ll never know – unless archaeology does turn something up in the future.

But, what about those Vikings? They were there, right? Oh yes. On the 5 May in 1010 there was a battle at Nacton, and indeed there is a snippet of folklore about the area. The Seven Hills mounds at Nacton – there are actually eight, and there were thirteen or fourteen once – by the A1156 are supposed to be the graves of the Saxons who fought under Ulfcytel Snillinge, or the Bold, Ealdorman of East Anglia, and who were killed by the invading Vikings under Thorkell the Tall (2).

In the saga of St Olaf, the Heimkringla, East Anglia is Ulfketel’s Land. He seems to have ruled from 1002 until his death in 1016. He may have been married to a daughter of King Ethelred. The Saxon forces in the battle at Nacton did not cover themselves with glory however. Thorketel Mare’s Head ran away, taking his force with him, and only the men of Cambridgeshire held firm. The Vikings then sack Ipswich, and raid the region.

But there are Vikings on both sides. This is a war for the rule of the country, not random raids to take plunder. Ulfketel and Thorketel are Scandinavian sounding names, and fighting on Ethelred’s side was also St Olaf, Olaf Haraldsson, the king who brought Christianity to Norway. And it’s complicated. The ‘enemy’ is Sweyn Forkbeard, and one of the reasons he felt able to invade was that his sister Gunhilde was said to have been killed as part of the St Brice’s Day Massacre on 13 November 1002, when Ethelred ordered all Danes (Vikings!) in England killed as he was afraid they might come after his throne – he was afraid that the Danes were ‘sprouting like cockle amongst the wheat’. Of course, his plan backfired and led to his overthrow, not once, but twice – badly counselled indeed! And an early indicator of the effects of an intolerant political agenda towards migrants. The Danes in Oxford, for example, sought refuge in a church, and were burnt out and killed. Who is the bad guy here? Can we tell? Can we judge – I doubt they could judge at the time, and I doubt we can judge now even with hindsight.

The battles continued. The same year at Rymer in Suffolk (seven miles south of Thetford, near RAF Honington and indeed another Seven Hills with mounds…) there was another battle in which St Olaf fought alongside Ulfketel:

To Ulfkel’s land came Olaf bold,
A seventh sword-thing he would hold.
The race of Ella filled the plain —
Few of them slept at home again!
Hringmara heath
Was a bed of death:
Harfager’s heir
Dealt slaughter there.

From Hringmara field
The chime of war,
Sword striking shield,
Rings from afar.
The living fly;
The dead piled high
The moor enrich;
Red runs the ditch.(3)

Ethelred won this one, and Ulfketel attempted to make a truce with Sweyn, but he broke it and tried to sack Thetford. This jockeying went on until St Edmund (allegedly) killed Sweyn in 1014, revenging himself on the Danes who had taken his life, and perhaps incensed that Sweyn had chosen the same day to get crowned as himself – Christmas day. But that’s another story for another blog. His son Cnut took the throne in 1016, after the battle that killed Ulfketel. It is said that he was killed by his nemesis at Nacton, the Jomsviking Thorkell.

A complex tale indeed, and who’s to say that two wounded Vikings didn’t make their way to Ipswich and that one found his long lost Saxon father and stayed as a hermit guarding the holy well…

There is a certain irony to all this, though. Because there is a Viking age holy well in Ipswich. A boundary charter of 970 records a haligwille near the Stoke area on the other side of the Orwell, probably where Fir Tree Farm was, and where the Chantry Estate now is. The well was already well enough established to be used as boundary marker:

The aforesaid land is bounded this way and that by these limits : ‘These are the boundaries (landgemaera) of the 10 hides at Stoke. The first of these is a hythe and along the midstream at Ashman’s yre and so forth into the middle of the stream it comes to brunna and so forth to Theofford and from there to Haligwille to Healdenesho and so to Pottaford to Hagenefordabrycge from Hagenefordabricgeto Horsewade to [into] a merscmylne from merscmylne to the bridge In the year of the Lord’s incarnation the nine hundred and seventieth was this charter written.’(4)

It may have been in use for a long time before, as it is close to the place where a cache of Iron-age gold torcs was found in 1968 – a ritual offering? The mystery deepens…

Notes:
1. http://www.gatehouse-gazetteer.info/English%20sites/4278.html
2. Actually Bronze Age bowl barrows…
3. http://omacl.org/Heimskringla/ The text of this edition is based on that published as “Heimskringla: A History of the Norse Kings” (Norroena Society, London, 1907, and edited, proofed, and prepared by Douglas B. Killings, April 1996
4. Fairclough, John ‘The Bounds of Stoke and the Hamlets of Ipswich’ in Proceedings of the Suffolk Institute of Archaeology & History Volume XL, part 3 (2003), pp. 262-277

A walk in unsuitable shoes, or, searching for the fairies

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On the way back from my book signing in Bury, which is a fair way from where my parents live near the coast, I wanted to visit one of the very few locations I hadn’t yet reached: Langham.  Half of the Malekin story is set there, but I’d never, ever been there.   The story is one that combines two small, remote places that make you feel as if you have stepped far away from the beaten track and into that deeper Suffolk that is inhabited by the stories of place I have captured in the book – and, it feels, by the denizens of the stories, too.  The other half of the story is set in Dagworth, about 8 miles away as the crow flies to the south east of Langham.  Both are tricky to get to – Langham especially if you don’t happen to have the 1:50 map on you at the time, as we did not.

In Malekin, the child says she came from Langham (or Lanaham in the original Latin), where she was ‘stolen by some stranger and taken away’ when she was left alone outside while her mother was working at the harvest with the rest of the villagers.  It seems highly likely that this is an early version of a changeling – this time, following the child snatched by the fairies, or, in Suffolk, ferishers or feriers.  More often, the story follows the fairy changeling that is left in place, but this tale tells what happens next to those who are taken off to fairyland – and it isn’t very pleasant or easy.  There are tales told in Suffolk of fairy changelings, too.  The same woman who recounts to the Reverend Arthur Hollingsworth the story of her own near miss with the fairies also says that she had heard of a woman who ‘had a child changed, and one, a poor thing, left in his place, but she was very kind to it, and every morning on getting up she found a small piece of money in her pocket.’[1] So, it seemed to me that this might be an ancient practice amongst the ferishers to reward the good – and why not reward Malekin’s mother as well, for the loss of her little girl and the gaining of another, different child.

But Langham has another mysterious link, one that I discovered by chance in Mike Burgess’s excellent website, Hidden East Anglia.  It isn’t even listed under Langham in his gazeteer, but under nearby Hunston.  This place, Burgess records, has a small earthwork called Mill Hill (a castle – or the site of a windmill – or even a more ancient burial mound?) from which it is said tunnels run to Great Ashfield Castle – and the Castle Ditches at Langham. 

Now, England is criss-crossed with secret tunnels and Suffolk has many: from those that run from the Angel to the Abbey at Bury, to the tunnel that run from the church to the Queen’s Head at Blyford.  Many of these tunnel stories have practical origins – drainage ditches at Bury, perhaps, and smuggler’s hideaways near the coast.  But what if those tunnels went … somewhere else?  The most famous tunnel story in Suffolk is that of the Green Children, who emerge near Woolpit from a tunnel from another land.  Is it fairyland – or maybe the underworld itself?  Once, a fiddler was lost forever in the tunnels at Bury, the ghostly notes still sometimes heard.  A farmer lost his pigs into the tunnels at Hunston – and there is no record that they popped out at Great Ashfield or Langham.  Perhaps the ferishers came out of the Castle Ditches tunnel to nab Malekin, and perhaps it is through the tunnels that she make her way around the county to steal food from humankind.  Perhaps.

But I wanted to see.  There is little info on the Castle Ditches on the web that I could find, just a note that they were east of the church, and that they are no longer visible.  Oh well. We were determined to try.  Without the 1:50 map we were a little stymied, but after a lot of dodging about to get a mobile signal I found the info about them being near the church.  We backtracked through the long village (yep, still lives up to its name) to the edge of the village and down the path that alleged it led to the church.  The path said PRIVATE in large letters, but did seem to be okay for walkers, so off we set, Cherry and I hobbling along in the pumps we had worn to Bury, and Dave limping on the track thanks to his dodgy knee.  To the left was a little strip of wood – a remnant perhaps of what the land must have been like when people named Great Ashfield, Elmswell, Oaktree Farm and Willow Wood nearby – and huge oak tree stood like a guardian spirit from the past to the side of the path to welcome us in.  Ahead, we could see water meadows by the stream that separates Langham from Hunston.  There were sheep grazing, and Queen Anne’s Lace blooming.  Idyllic.  But not, immediately, a church.

A turn of the corner onto a grassier track, and there it was.  A small flint church with a little bell tower. A tractor was dancing back and forth obliterating the long grass ahead of us, and the Hall stood imposing in 18th century brick to the left on higher ground.  It was a vision (except for the tractor!) of an earlier time.  However, the 21st century intruded not only in the tractor’s noise. The church was locked.  And to spite us, a sign informed us that the very next day there would be an open day at Langham Hall and a service in the church.  The tractor was creating a car park for the massed hordes…

Round the church we went, to the east – and higher ground.  Was there something in that thicket of brambles? We investigated the edges of the churchyard and found – a moat!  With a, um, bridge.  I hacked through the nettles (if you run through them quickly, they don’t sting, right?) but decided not to cross…

Then we took the path in front of the church.  It was clear where the castle ditches had been – two lovely flat horse paddocks now stood next to the church.  But the ground slipped away sharply to the right of the path, and we glimpsed water through the gaps in the trees. The moat again!  The castle was here – so somewhere must have been the entrance to the tunnels.  Was it near here that Malekin was stolen back when this was a fine timber castle?  Were they harvesting hay from the meadows beyond, and did the mother leave her babe safe close by the castle only to have the ferishers slip out and take her away?

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[1] Gurdon, Eveline Gurdon County Folk-Lore Suffolk: Printed Extracts No. 2 Suffolk (Lightening Source UK Ltd., Milton Keynes, 2011), p. 37, taken from Revd AGH Hollingsworth’s The History of Stowmarket, 1844, p. 248

 

Concerning dragons

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You wouldn’t expect East Anglia to be the ideal place for dragons, and indeed there are few tales in Suffolk, Norfolk or Cambridgeshire. In Essex, though, there are many tales – but this isn’t the place to discuss such creatures. If you do want to find out more, my History Press colleague Jan William’s book Essex Folk Tales has all their secrets. It seems as if the dragons have all been vanquished now, just like all the other large predators that compete with humans, but both Norfolk and Suffolk did once have dragons. Norfolk’s dragon lived in Ludham in the Norfolk Broads, but doesn’t seem to have troubled the Suffolk black. She spent her time on the county’s southern border – no doubt because of the proximity of all those Essex foes!

The story detailed in Suffolk Folk Tales brings together two fifteenth century accounts. The first comes from 1405, when Henry IV was on the throne. England was still reeling from the deposition of Richard II – and his subsequent death in prison. Owain Glyndŵr, the Welsh prince – and probably very familiar with dragons – rose up against the new king in 1400; and the Percy rebellion in the north was rumbling on. But these events didn’t affect the prosperous wool towns of Suffolk as much as a dragon arriving in their territory…

This first account comes from the Chronica Monasterii S. Albani – another example of a tale preserved by medieval monks. But this account isn’t as cut and dried as Ralph de Coggeshall. There is a bit of a mystery as to who wrote what – and when. Most people think the dragon was recorded by John de Trokelowe. It’s likely that Trokelowe was a scribe for another monk, William Rishanger. Trokelowe is a figure of some controversy as he took part in a rebellion against his mother house, St Albans, when living in the monastery’s dependent priory in Tynemouth (not very close to St Albans…) and he and the other monks were hauled back to St Albans as prisoners. Things must have been very tense in the monastery at that time, and it’s the time that’s the problem. This rebellion happened in the last years of the 13th century. Trokelowe was already a grown man – he couldn’t possibly have been writing more than a century later.

What about Rishanger? He was a chronicler at St Albans, but we know he was born around 1250. Still writing aged 150? Probably not, unless there’s a tale about St Albans that we don’t know! The Rishanger/Trokelowe chronicle was continued by Henri de Blaneforde, but he too is too early to be the writer. It seems likely that the chronicle that deals with Henry IV and Richard II was written by William Wyntershylle, another monk at the abbey described at the time as a ‘man of great learning’ by his peers. Who knows what went through his mind as he recorded the account of the dragon in far off Suffolk? Maybe he himself was a Suffolk man – or maybe this tale was the talk of the country!

This description gives us the first indications of the dragon’s appearance: ‘vast in body with crested head, teeth like a saw and tail extending to an enormous length.’ It identifies a key witness, the lord of Smallbridge Hall, Sir Richard de Waldegrave, the first of that name to live at the hall. He was 70 in 1405, and it’s possible that he, or a member of his family, span this tale to the monks at St Albans. But Sir Richard wouldn’t be there for the second sighting of the Suffolk black as he died in 1410.

The second account comes from another monastic source, and is found in the library of the Dean and Chapter of Canterbury Cathedral. It records, in brief, a battle between a black dragon and a reddish spotted dragon over ‘Sharpfight Meadow’, one, probably the black, coming from ‘Kydyndon Hill’ and the other from ‘Blacdon Hill’ in Essex. These are now known as Shalford Meadows, Kedington Hill and Ballingdon Hill – but some sources say that Kedington is really named Killingdown after the dragon fight. In the monk’s tale, the red Essex dragon gains the victory, which I must say offended my Suffolk pride, so I decided to reinterpret what had happened and put a different spin on it.

I visited all the sights of these tales, and the folk tales that embellish them – a good accounting is given on the Bures St Mary website. We – my husband, my mother and I – fortified by a coffee from a farm shop nearby set out one day last July to brave the site of the black’s lair on Kedington Hill. It was one of the few hot days of last year’s miserable summer, and the fields were cracked and scorched looking. In one, there was a fine view down to the Stour, and my Mum discovered the secret of the Suffolk dragons – underground lairs. After all, what else could have caused that cracking and scorching, after all the rain we’d had, except a dragon?

We then discovered the ancient looking willows amidst rampant nettles above the housing estates on Ballingdon Hill, and made our way up onto the hill and out into similarly dry looking fields – was this the lair of the Essex beast? Then down to Henny Street to look at Shalford Meadows, with a picturesque Stour hung over by weeping willows, and equipped with friendly cattle that my husband took a shine to. So far so normal.

We went on to Bures, parked the car, and headed up St Edmund’s Hill towards the chapel that sits on the site of a more ancient church where the young king was crowned by Bishop Hunberht. We went with the villager’s assertion that the ‘Clappits’ described in the 1405 tale was indeed the Claypits Avenue, and climbed the hill from there, discovering on the way some friendly pigs. Would these creatures be so relaxed if a dragon still lurked nearby?

At the church, we admired the unexpected tombs of the Earls of Oxford now resting there after their journey from Earls Colne Priory in Essex. And then, when we emerged from the chapel we discovered that the Suffolk black had at last come home. For there, drawn carefully onto the hillside opposite, was a perfect dragon.

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This dragon we discovered from a press cutting in the church, had been made by a local farmer – and distant descendent of Sir Richard de Waldegrave, Geoffrey Probert.
Long live the Suffolk black!