|SHUCKLAND Introduction Alphabetical List of Locations|
|Legend:||The Abbot of Ely sent armed men to protect the monks, who were building
the original St. Mary's church at Southery, from the wild Fenmen, but they were lost one by one. He asked the Baron of Northwold to send more men but he sent a pack of wolf-hounds instead. The hounds began to kill the monks, and the church building was abandoned. At last the hounds ran out of game and ate each other until there was just one left, a young bitch the size of an ass. When she was weak from hunger, a Fenman and his wife took her, tamed her and cared for her, and the monks came back to continue building the church.
After being missing for some time, the hound came back pregnant, and with bleeding paws. As there weren't any other dogs for miles, the monks said it must be the work of the Devil, and the dog later gave birth to something that was a cross between a dog and a wolf. It grew to the size of an ox, and became a hunter for the Fenmen.
At last the church was finished, and the Bishop of Elmham arrived with a company of soldiers for a great feast. One of the soldiers saw the wolf-dog, and remembering what the pack had done, tried to slay it. But the wolf-dog tore his throat out and began to eat him. Then other soldiers shot it with arrows, till it crawled off to die in the fens, howling like a wolf.
Since then, anyone who is out at midnight on May 29th, Southery Feast day, and who hears the dog howl, knows he will die within a year. The corner stones of the charnel house on the north side of the church ruins [TL622946] are (supposedly) all gnawed away, which is said to be caused by the wolf-dog, who returns on this night every year to try to get at the bones within. (1)
"...the 'Southery Hound' which [is] supposed to have been as large as a donkey, black in colour, and only ventured out on very black nights and would attack anyone who crossed its path...it is thought that the hound used to sharpen its nails on these [church] ruins and that the marks can still be seen." (2) Actually very little is left of this church now, and what remains is shrouded in ivy, and enclosed in safety fencing to protect the unwary from crumbling masonry.
|Sources:||(1) W. H. Barrett, (ed.) Enid Porter: 'Tales from the Fens', (Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1963), p. 136-9.
(2) Letter from Mr. D. Blows to me, 25/10/1983.
|Place Name:||Southery - OE 'southern island'|
|Other:||See also encounter below, and Between Feltwell & Southery|
|Encounter:||In May of 1945 Mr. J. A. Cochrane, then aged 23 and in the RAF, was riding one late night on his motorcycle from his camp at Tuddenham to his wife's house at Downham Market. Having just got through Southery, he was near an old bridge when his bike ran out of petrol, and with about 6 miles still to go, he had to start pushing it. In less than 100 yards he became aware of "a faint baying as of a hound", but soon the baying seemed to be coming from the right hand side of the road, and had become "quite ear-splitting." Along with it came the sound of a chain or heavy weight dragging along the ground about 5 to 10 yards away.
He became very scared then, and started running, still pushing his bike. After a few hundred yards the baying got much fainter, and he slowed down. During his flight he never saw any dog, but didn't actually look, as he felt sure that something terrible would have happened to him if he hadn't fled.
Years later he told this story to an old lady, who was sure that something must have happened to him soon afterwards. This he denied, but later recalled that, on that very spot, he had run into the back of an RAF lorry on his motorbike and had been slightly injured. He swears that he was pursued by 'Black Shuck' that night.
|Source:||Letter from witness to Ivan Bunn, July 1976.|