Hidden East Anglia:
Landscape Legends of Eastern England
The Plains (TL916691) is a small house about a mile north-west of the village, off the A143, and was perhaps built as a gamekeeper's cottage. Local tradition tells us that this was once a 'halfway house' for the monks of Bury St. Edmunds en route to Ixworth Abbey (a 12th century Augustinian priory). Although there are cellars beneath the cottage, no trace has ever been found of the tunnels that are said to run to the monastic establishments at both Bury and Ixworth.
The holy thorn
A local man recorded in his private journal that "near Parham Hall is a white thorn bush which blossoms by
Christmas Day, and the people of the neighbourhood flock to it in great companies upon
Christmas Eve. I had some of the buds just blooming brought to me on Sunday, the 2nd of December,
1. 'The East Anglian Miscellany', 1924-5, Note 7168.
About halfway between Framlingham and Parham are the fragmentary remains, embedded in later buildings, of the early 17th century Parham House. Standing isolated in a field nearby are two square pillars of old brickwork, each about 15 feet high and 10 feet apart, being the former gatepiers to the grounds, left to rot when Parham House fell into decay. On top of each of the Parham Pillars (TM299618) is a large round stone ball, and the legend is that these balls revolve when the Framlingham church clock strikes 12, either day or night. But, even the sharpest eye can only just see them turning. Another tale is that the pillars change places when they hear midnight being struck - difficult to do without ears, of course.
The pond at Hellin's Bottom
"The ghosts of the past also no longer appear, but we are told of the coach and four horses, driven into the pond at Hellin's Bottom (TL998383), after being bewitched by the old farmer who owned the land, and of their ghostly reappearance on the anniversary of the disaster until exorcised by the Rev. John Whitmore in the early years of the 19th century".
Source: L. S. Harley: 'Polstead Church & Parish' (private, 1978), p.10.
The Gospel Oak here (TL988381) was once 32 feet round at shoulder height, but collapsed in 1953. Its decaying remains are seen just west of the church, between it and the Georgian hall. Some believe the slight eminence on which it stands was a religious gathering-place in pre-Christian times. At the end of the 19th century, the Rev. F. J. Eld claimed the tree had been standing in 640 AD when Anna was king of the East Angles. Legend says it was used as a meeting-place by the missionaries of Bishop Cedd in the mid-7th century. Indeed, some say the tree was planted by Cedd himself, or at least by his missionaries. From an acorn of the parent a sapling has sewn itself nearby, and every year on the first Sunday in August, the 'Gospel Oak Service' is held beneath it. (See also 'Gospel Oaks & other notable trees').
J. H. Wilks: 'Trees of the British Isles in History & Legend' (F. Muller, 1972), p.22.