Local Legends and Folklore
At Haw Wood we love both our local area but also the history and folklore around it so below we have collected some tales and stories for you to enjoy
When the old Anchor Inn, long known as a smuggling haunt, was pulled down in the 1920s, workmen are said to have found a bricked-up doorway in the remains of the cellar. A new pub of the same name was then built, a little further back from the original, and when the water supply was being laid on,traces of an underground
passage were discovered, leading from the cellars towards the beach. "Bell Cottage was said to be connected to the old vicarage near the ferry by a tunnel, part of which was discovered when building work was being carried out".
The legend of The Black Shuck, the ghostly black dog that is said to roam East Anglia, is famous along the Suffolk Coast. For centuries the tale of Black Shuck has been retold, and though the details vary, every account agrees on one thing: the spectral Black Shuck is terrifying to behold!
According to legend and folklore, Black Shuck has flaming red eyes and shaggy black fur. Some say he is a huge beast, the size of a horse; others say that he is no bigger than a large dog.
The most infamous sightings of Black Shuck happened on the same day in August, 1577. On that day a great storm was raging along the Suffolk Coast, and the people of Blythburgh were congregated in the church. Suddenly, a clap of thunder broke, and the doors of the church crashed open. Black Shuck ran through the congregation, killing a man and a boy as the churchgoers watched in horror. Then the church steeple fell crashing through the roof, and Black Shuck left, leaving scorch marks on the church door that can still be seen to this day!
Since that day, the sinister black dog has become a common image along the Suffolk Coast. Though thankfully, there have been fewer sightings of the real Black Shuck, and he seems to have stopped his murderous ways. At least, that is, for now…
Where the Walberswick road meets the A12 and continues as an old path over Blythburgh Common is said to be the crossways where Black Toby was hanged, then gibbeted on the same spot for the rape and murder of a local girl named Anne Blakemore in 1750. After death, his corpse was dipped in tar and left to rot on the gibbet, and his ghost is said to roam on Toby's Walks, in Blythburgh church, and at midnight, in a large barn that used to stand until recent times by the roadside called Toby's Barn.
When seen in the open, he is more often than not driving a huge black coach or hearse, drawn by four headless horses. The barn in later years was not thatched but tiled, as tradition told that the thatch would never stay on it. When the gibbet finally collapsed about 50 years after the event, a master thatcher is said to have made a thatching comb out of the nails.
In historical fact, Tobias Gill was a negro drummer stationed with a regiment of dragoons on preventive service at Blythburgh, was allegedly drunk when he killed the girl, and was convicted on all charges.