Ghostly goings-on in Bury
Medieval Bury St Edmunds has a rich history of ghost sightings and stories, mainly centred around the Abbey ruins but also in the older buildings in the town centre.
The petrified cat in The Nutshell
Cynics may say it's a coincidence that stories of ghosts in Bury are often linked to pubs, but Alan Murdie from the national Ghost Club explained that some of the tales have substance.
"The Cupola House on The Traverse dates from the 16th Century and almost every landlord of recent years has a story. The best is the appearance of the Grey Lady who has been spotted at various places in the town.
"One barman was clearing up after closing time and saw a woman in old costume on the stairs inside the pub. He didn't believe in ghosts but this changed his mind.
"We think the Grey Lady is a nun who was involved in a sexual liaison with a monk at the Abbey. This was of course contrary to their vows of chastity and they were punished by their Orders.
"There are also reports that she was seen in the Theatre Royal and one former manager used to leave a programme out for her on a seat where it is claimed she was spotted."
Marian Thomas used to be the landlady of the Cupola, which is now a restaurant, and had an eerie experience in the cellars:
Stairwell in the Cupola
"The lager had gone off and I went downstairs to check things. The gas bottle was full, as was the barrel of lager.
"I went upstairs again but it still wasn't working. Then when I went down to the cellar again the barrel was still full, but the gas had been emptied and when I tried to lift it, it seemed as if someone was sitting on it.
"I know how the mechanism works and I'm sure it was the paranormal at work."
The story of a cursed cat
Marian also used to be the landlady just along the road at Britain's smallest pub, The Nutshell.
A mummified cat hangs over the bar to ward off evil spirits and it is bad luck to touch it: "One bar woman did take it down to wash it, because it gets dusty with no-one else daring to touch it.
"However, the tail fell off and soon after the woman lost her job.
"There was another occasion when some of the boys from RAF Honington decided to kidnap the cat for a joke and soon after there were tales of kitchen fires on base and a plane having an accident.
"One day when we went into work at the Nutshell the cat had been returned and was left hanging outside. The servicemen had obviously realised their error."
Alan Murdie also believes there's a ghost in the Nutshell:
"In the 1970s one member of the dominoes team went upstairs and saw a blond haired boy who then vanished in front of his eyes.
"We're aware of a story of a young boy who died on the premises and we think it's probably his ghost."
last updated: 22/10/2008 at 10:58
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