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Monday, 17 October 2011

The Ghosts of Dunwich by John West


It is hard to believe that this quiet village was once one of the most prosperous towns in England. Over the centuries coastal erosion has resulted in most of the town, including nine churches, being lost to the sea. It is said that you can still hear sunken church bells ringing out a mournful tune. Local fishermen believe that they are only heard before a storm.

The ghosts of the town’s former inhabitants – including a man dressed in Elizabethan clothes - are thought to haunt the shore below the cliffs. The ghostly laughter of children has also been heard. The ruins of Greyfriar’s monastery are supposedly haunted by the obligatory phantom monks.

There is a tradition that three crowns were buried in East Anglia to protect England from invasion. One was hidden in Dunwich but was lost when the town fell into the sea. Another was discovered in Rendlesham in the 18th century but was melted down for the gold. The third remains buried somewhere along the coast. M.R. James based his classic ghost story ‘A Warning to the Curious’ on this legend. Or did Mr James invent the legend himself?