Ghostly Bury St Edmunds

If you like ghost stories, you'll love Bury St Edmunds. From ghostly medieval monks to a curious cat, this historical town offers chills and thrills galore.

The Grey Lady

Bury’s resident ghost, the Grey Lady, has been sighted at the Abbey Ruins, St Saviour’s Hospital ruins, the Priory Hotel, the Theatre Royal, in shops on Abbeygate Street, in buildings on Angel Hill, and in the cellars of the 16th century Cupola House on The Traverse, now The Bourgee restaurant.

The Grey Lady is also said to appear in St Edmundsbury Cathedral churchyard annually on 24 February at 11pm.

Some believe the ghost is a nun linked to the death of the Duke of Gloucester, who was allegedly murdered in St Saviours Hospital in 1447. According to local tales, it was this nun, named Maude Carew, who killed Gloucester (and not the Duke of Suffolk, as portrayed in Shakespeare’s Henry VI, Part II). 

Other tales suggest she is a medieval nun who was punished with execution for a liaison with a monk at the Abbey. Whoever our Grey Lady is, she is the town’s most frequently spotted spirit.

Medieval monks

Apparitions of the Abbey’s Benedictine monks are also said to be frequently seen. Individuals and groups have been sighted walking around the Abbey’s grounds and through surrounding buildings. 

In 1961, two men claim to have seen a monk drift down Angel Lane before disappearing through a wall. A year later, a monk was reportedly seen ‘hovering’ in Churchgate Street.

Enid Crossley, a resident of the Cathedral Cottages, claims a monk appeared in her bedroom several times. Staff in shops on Abbeygate Street have also made claims about sightings of ghostly monks. 

A doomed love affair

Visitors to the town in October should keep their eyes peeled for a soldier and a nurse in Victorian dress. The first reports were made in 1935 by two girls and their mother, who felt a chill as a man and a woman rushed past them on Eastgate Street. A gunshot and a scream were then heard. 

Legend has it the woman was a 19th century nurse called Mary Treese, returning from the Crimean War with a wounded soldier she had tended and fallen in love with. Her father, however, disapproved of their relationship and shot the man dead. Their fateful end is said to be played out every year on 20th October on Eastgate Street.  

Ghosts in the Nutshell 

As well as being one of Britain’s smallest pubs, The Nutshell, built in 1844, may also be one of its most haunted.
In 1975, the landlord returned downstairs from the room above the bar, telling patrons he had just seen a small boy sitting by himself and then disappear. And, in fact, it is thought a boy did die here in suspicious circumstances – some say by drowning in a bathtub. 

Locals of the Nutshell also claim to have experienced poltergeist activity in the pub, with many blaming glasses shattered and batteries drained on the young ghost. Others, however, point the finger at a mummified cat, which hangs over the bar. This cat is said to be cursed, bringing misfortune to anyone who touches it. 

Alan Murdie, Chair of the Ghost Club and author of Haunted Bury St Edmunds, says bad luck befell a landlady who tried to clean it as well as a group of servicemen from RAF Honington who kidnapped it as a prank. The landlady lost her job shortly after her cleaning attempt, and the servicemen say they were plagued by fires and accidents until the cat was returned.  

Troubled souls at Moyse’s Hall Museum

Once a workhouse and gaol, Moyse’s Hall Museum has been the focus of ghost tales for centuries. The oldest of these stories dates back to 1328, when a woman is recorded as saying she saw ‘a most horrible devil’ in the building’s cellar. 
In 1828, shrieks and apparitions were reported after the hanging of the infamous Red Barn murderer William Corder. These only stopped when Corder’s skull was duly buried. 

A haunted hotel and walks 
Footsteps on empty corridors in the middle of the night are said to make the 15-century Angel Hotel a spooky place to spend the night. A peak out of your window at night may also reveal the restless monks said to haunt the Abbey – or the Grey Lady.  

Brave souls can hear more spine-tingling tales about the town’s eerie goings-on by joining the Ghostly and Macabre Walk, held on various dates on dark autumn and winter evenings.