Hidden East Anglia:
Landscape Legends of Eastern England
In Ferry Lane, Walton, right by the container terminal, stands The Dooley Inn (TM279342), thought to date from the 17th century, and known previously as the Ferry Boat, Ferry House and Ferry Inn. Before land reclamation it was right on the shoreline, but there are still tales of a smuggler's tunnel running to the docks.1
Another tale says that smuggling was the reason for a second tunnel, from the Dooley cellars to St. Mary's church in the High Street (TM296356). Apparently men being pressed to serve onboard ship also used the tunnel to escape the pressgangs. The cellar entrance has since been blocked off with concrete.2
There are further rumours of a 'network' of subterranean passages linking the Dooley, the church, and three other pubs close to St. Mary's in the High Street. These are the Half Moon (opened in the 18th century) at TM293358, the now-closed late 16th century Feathers (TM295356), and the 16th century Angel Inn (now a coffee house), virtually opposite the Feathers.3
1. Information gratefully received from Sadie Cable, 15/8/16.
2. Peter Holloway, comment on former webpage: https://www.streetlife.com/conversation/li9tb2kxvkfc/, Jan. 2016.
3. 'Felixstowe Flyer' (online), March 2011, Issue 159, p.19.
Mermaid in the well
Somewhere within the village there was once said to be a well, in which a mermaid lived who waited to grab and drown children who ventured too close and touched the water.
A thickly-wooded eminence not far from the ruined church at Fornham is called Kingsbury Hill (TL834688), traditionally marking the graves of 'three British kings'. An inn at Fornham All Saints is named the Three Kings in honour of the legend.
Although they were actually prehistoric in origin, a number of mounds in a plantation called 'The Clumps' (now built over) were said to be where the dead from the 1173 Battle of Fornham were buried. This was a skirmish at the approaches to Sheepwash Bridge between Fornham All Saints and Fornham St. Genevieve, when the rebellious forces of Robert de Beaumount (Earl of Leicester) were routed by the army of Henry II under his Constable Humphrey de Bohun, and the Chief Justice Richard de Luci.
1. John Gage Rokewood: 'Chronica Jocelini de Brakelonda', p.86.
Beside a roundabout (formerly a crossroads) on the B1106, and just within South Lodge Drive, stands a single short gate column, the last remnant of the gates to the former Fornham Park (TL848678). Here a ghost known as Red Hannah used to appear at dusk. Once used as a 'bogey' with which to scare children, even in modern times people have experienced an 'unpleasant' atmosphere at the spot at night.
Source: Alan Murdie: 'Haunted Bury St. Edmunds' (Tempus Publishing Ltd, 2006), p.73.
The Hiring Stone
Near the yard of Hall Farm there stood a smallish sarsen known as the Hiring Stone, at which, so it's said, for generations labourers were hired and wages paid (TL864672). Many years ago the farmer told me that even then he met his men on that spot every morning. He believed the rock to be "a marker on the Roman road that ran through here", but the only 'possibly Roman' route in the vicinity passes more than half a mile away to the east. Dr. Ernest Rudge in the 1950's proclaimed this stone to be one of the markers on his supposed 'Puddingstone Track' stretching all the way from Stonehenge to the north Norfolk coast,1 although it's actually a sarsen, not puddingstone.
Sometime after my visit in the 1970's the stone became obscured by soil and the growth of a hedge around it, but it was uncovered again in 2014.2 In July 2018 I visited again, but the stone is once more almost completely buried, and hidden beneath a hedge of conifers and ivy. The surface area that I could uncover measures 71cm x 42cm.
1. E. A. Rudge: 'Further Observations on the Conglomerate Track' in 'Essex Naturalist' (Vol. 29, 1952-6), p.258.
2. Information gratefully received from Sam Barker of Hall Farm.
The Castle Inn stands at the entranceway to the grounds of Framlingham's 12th century castle, and naturally, a subterranean passage connecting the two is rumoured. See also Leiston.
A tunnel is said to pass beneath the road, between the Hall on one side, and what used to be called Beacon Mound (TL668719) in Mount Meadow on the other. Some have said that the passage was big enough for a coach and horses to gallop through. Although allegedly Saxon, the mound itself is now known to be the chalk-built motte of a small castle that had gone out of use by the 14th century.
Allan Jobson: 'Suffolk Villages' (Robert Hale, 1971) p.182.
Peter Tryon: 'The Castles of Suffolk' (Poppyland Publishing, 2004), p.39.
A ghost known as White Hannah is said to sit at night in a pit called the 'Spintow', a spot where Roman remains were once found. She sits there crooning mournful songs and spinning 'tow', the broken part of flax or hemp.
Source: 'The East Anglian Magazine', Feb.1956, pp.236-7.