Hidden East Anglia:
Landscape Legends of Eastern England
The ancient Redgrave Hall was demolished in 1947, so only memories now remain of a tunnel which was said to begin in the cellars and terminate at St. Mary's church (TM057782). As usual, there was a man who recalled finding the tunnel when he was a child, but was afraid to explore it very far.1 There were alleged to be various passageways beneath the Hall, but it was at the church end, in 2010, that something tangible was found. A flagstone near the altar was dislodged, revealing a void that turned out to be the lost entrance to a short tunnel and an early 17th century burial vault.2 This vault contains members of the local Bacon and Holt families, and was opened to visitors for a while in 2011, but has now been resealed. There was no sign of any tunnel to the Hall, however.
1. 'Daily Telegraph' (online) 13/7/2010.
2. 'Diss Express' 25/7/2010.
Battle of Pipney Hill
A battle traditionally took place on Pipney Hill in Boudiccan times, but whether it was between the Iceni force advancing on Colchester and the Romans, or between Romans and locals eager to join the queen, no one knows.
Carol Twinch: 'Great Suffolk Stories' (Fort Publishing Ltd, 2003), p.204.
A haunted pond
I've recently found, in something I wrote 30 years ago, a mention that a pond somewhere in this parish is haunted. A ghostly woman in white has supposedly been seen either gliding upon its surface, or rising from its depths.
I doubt that the former pool is the same one that an elderly man wrote about in the 'Ipswich Journal' in 1877: "When I was quite a child, in 1814, we used to play at Rendlesham where there was a pond at one end with trees round it, the grass in early spring full of flowers. It was always called the S pond, being shaped like an S, so drawn. If we went too near our nursemaid would call out to us not to go so near 'lest the mermaid should come and crome (hook) us in'." Mermaids were once a common childhood bogey, living in ponds and pits, rather than the more romantic sirens of the sea known today.
The plague stone
By the porch in St. Mary's churchyard (TM039751) is an object discovered in the 1950s beneath the nave of Rickinghall Superior church. Its discoverer thought it to be a Norman font, but it seems more likely to be part of a medieval cross base. In local legend it's a 'plague stone', where money was washed during a time of plague, possibly by the lepers themselves. (See also Bury St. Edmunds, Stuston, Felsted, Feltwell and Thetford).
The Four Hills
Eastlow Hill (TL900617), a scheduled ancient monument, is the only survivor of the Four Hills, a line of Roman burial mounds that stood at the edge of Rougham parish. Three other mounds, long vanished, used to stand in a line to the south-west. They were a group of conical tumuli from the 2nd or 3rd century AD, standing beside Eastlowhill Road, an extension of Peddar's Way. The surviving mound was excavated in the 1840s, revealing the skeleton of a man in a lead coffin, in a brick lined burial chamber. The Four Hills were almost certainly the burial place of the family who lived in a nearby villa, discovered at about the same time - but the tradition is that the mounds mark the graves of those slain in battle.
Source: 'The East Anglian Miscellany' (1909-10), Note 2758.
"There is also a fable of an underground passage between Eastlow Hill barrow and Bury St. Edmunds, as I was informed by someone living opposite Eastlow Hill".
Source: L. V. Grinsell: 'The Ancient Burial-Mounds of England' (Methuen, 1936), pp.52-3.
The bargaining stone
An "immense stone unlike anything else in the neighbourhood" standing at the north end of the common is said to have been buried here when the lands were enclosed in 1851.1 The local children used to sit on it and play around it, but folklore also says that bargains agreed over this stone held good.2
1. 'The East Anglian Miscellany' (1907-8), Note 2128.
2. P. M. Warner: “Blything Hundred” (University of Leicester PhD thesis, 1982), p.44.