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Ghostly & Macabre Tours are back!

Bury St Edmunds' famous ghost walks are back this October!

Uncover spine-tingling tales about Bury St Edmunds eerie goings-on by joining the Ghostly and Macabre guided walk around the Suffolk town held on various dates on dark autumn and winter evenings between Halloween and the end of March.  Lasting 90 minutes, the Bury St Edmunds Tour Guides will take you on a haunted journey with ghostly stories of murder, riots, plague, witchcraft and a mummified cat, with chills and thrills galore.

Starting with Moyse’s Hall, the tour winds around the darkened streets to tell stories of screaming skulls, mysterious ‘monk’ like figures appearing in cellars, burnings and hangings and more, finishing up in the dark and deserted Great Churchyard.

The guides certainly get into character.  Dressed all in black with a Lincoln hat, Mike Dean, one of the founder guides is a casual nod to the notorious and local 17th century Witchfinder General, Mathew Hopkins. Describing the Ghostly and Macabre walk, Mike said: “These tours are completely different from the rest and although there are references to some of the darker periods of our local history, the underlying theme is fun. Some on the tour have been genuinely spooked by the stories they hear and others tell.”

The ghostly walks are also led the ‘Grey Lady’, the only female spirit in the team of guides.  Lynn Whitehead’s alter-ego is fascinated by the Stone Tape theory - could this be what made Room 63 of the Suffolk Hotel so chilly?

The Grey Lady and medieval monks

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

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 while a resident of the Cathedral Cottages claims a monk appeared in her bedroom several times. 

Ghosts in the Nutshell pub

As well as being one of Britain’s smallest pubs, The Nutshell, built in 1844 which became a beer house in 1873, 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.

Details about the Ghostly and Macabre tour priced at £7 per person and how to book are shown at www.burystedmundstourguides.org or call 01284 758000; due to the content of the tour, participants must be aged 14 years or over. The necessity for smaller group sizes makes it essential to book early online.