Hidden East Anglia:
Landscape Legends of Eastern England
A tradition says that St. Edmund was martyred in a field here known as 'The Pits', in which remains of Danish arms and armour were allegedly found. This seems to be connected with a legendary Dane vs. Saxon battle that took place at Stonebridge (TM061613) on the parish boundary with Stowupland, not far from Columbine Hall. Over many years, the bones of men and horses were found here, along with rusty spurs, spear heads and fragments of sword blades. (See also 'Edmund of East Anglia'.)
Source: Rev. A. G. H. Hollingsworth: 'The History of Stowmarket' (F. Pawsey, 1844), p.20.
A former smugglers' inn, the 13th century King's Head in Front Street (TM422500) is said to be connected by underground passages to both St. Bartholomew's church nearby, and to the castle (TM420499).
Otley Mount (TM203545) is a circular motte in the middle of fields near that village. Charles Partridge Jr. visited this site on April 8th 1897, and says of it: "A labourer working there told me that it was 'hulled up by the Danes', that their arms etc. were buried beneath it, and that flat-bottomed boats from Woodbridge used, long ago, to come up the stream as far as this intrenchment. He called it 'the mut'." The 300 foot diameter earthwork is the remnant of a small Norman motte and bailey castle, now covered in undergrowth.
Source: 'The Eastern Counties Magazine and Suffolk Note-Book', Vol.1 & 2 (Aug.1900-May 1901), p.243.
The fruitless tree
At the site of the old Ivy Farm (TM512922, now an hotel and restaurant) at Oulton there was said to be an "apple tree in the garden that bore no fruit, in testimony to the fact that someone had once hung himself from its branches". Actually one Charles Goldsmith hung himself in a nearby barn on June 5th, 1874.
Richard Haxell in 'Lantern' No.26 (Summer 1979), p.10.
Ivan Bunn in 'Lantern' No.28 (Winter 1979), pp.4-5.
Ivan Bunn has recorded an oral tradition of a tunnel said to run from Oulton Hall to the parish church of St. Michael (TM510936). 20th century work under the church floor by the verger uncovered traces of steps leading down, in roughly the right place for such a tunnel to emerge. They were, however, covered up again.
In St. Michael's churchyard (TM510936, which is reportedly frequented by fairies on certain days of the year) is a large glacial granite stone 1.4m x 1.2m x 76cm high, which was dredged up from the bed of Lake Lothing in the 19th century, during excavations for the new Lowestoft harbour. One side of the stone is a planed surface, inscribed with the words "George Edwards; C.E. - J.P; 1804-1893".1 Edwards, who was the engineer in charge of harbour construction, wished the boulder to be placed upon his grave; but since the date of his death, one or two curious legends seem to have gathered about it.
Firstly, it is said that placing one's ear against the stone at any time of day or night will cause the listener to hear the church bells. Secondly, running round the stone
three times will cause the Devil to appear.2
1. M. L. Powell: 'Lowestoft through the Ages' (private, 1952), p.57.
There is a tale that a huge square tomb in St. Michael's churchyard was put on the grave of an atheist to stop him rising on Judgement Day. My informant said that when she was a child, she was often told if one scratched a pin in slow circles on top of the tomb, one could hear 'the old woman washing up the dishes'.