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Church Curses & Legends

The United Kingdom is steeped in history, and as a result, it has its fair share of legends and curses associated with churches and other historic sites. These legends and curses often add to the mystique and historical significance of churches and other ancient sites in the UK. While many of them may not have concrete evidence to support their claims, they continue to be part of the folklore and cultural heritage of the region.

Here are a twelve notable examples:

Maude Carew

Location: St Mary's Churchyard, Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk

Cursed by a monk after Maude murdered the Duke of Gloucester in 1447, her shade is now said to appear once a year. The alleged ghost often brings dozens of people to the area in the hope of seeing her.

Toppling Tower

Location: St. Andrew's church, Chelmondiston, Suffolk

St. Andrew's church tower was cursed by a local witch. First it burned down, and when rebuild was struck by lightning and burned down again. To prevent this from happening a third time, a large square tower was built, only to be hit by a bomb during the Second World War.

Devil's Treasure

Location: Old church and Callow Pit, Southwood, Norfolk

A local legend states that the door handle of the church is all that remains of a treasure chest discovered by three (or two) men at the bottom of Callow Pit. As the men tried to take the chest away with them, Old Nick appeared and pulled at the other end - the men managed to escape with only one handle from the chest.

Blue Lady

Location: Church and Vicarage of St Werburgh, Spondon, Derbyshire

The blonde lady wearing a blue dress has been seen (and once photographed) within the church and leaving the building via the vestry door. The vicarage is home to an old lady, monk and bishop. A local legend speaks of the 'Devils Gravestone', which from the nearby path you can see the image of Old Nick upon, but up close there is nothing.


Location: Church, and nearby ruins, St Michael's Island, Isle of Man

It is said if you knock on the church, one can hear the screams and cries of a group of pirates. These men were killed on the nearby rocks as they tried to escape with the church gold. The nearby ruins are haunted by the drowned people buried around the site. They have been seen sitting on the rubble and walking inland from the sea.

Curse of Crowland

Location: Crowland Abbey, Crowland

The monks here embraced pagan ideals, and for their sins, the Devil appeared and told them that a new abbey would soon be built on the site, but all present would die before it became so. Soon after, a Viking raid levelled the building, and all the monks died

Black Tom of Scothill

Location: Dewsbury Parish Church, Dewsbury, Yorkshire

Black Tom is the name of the bell in the church and is tolled the number of the year (ie, in 2007 it was tolled 2007 times) to ensure Old Nick does not visit the village during the following twelve months. The last peal must occur on the stroke of midnight to ensure success.

Talking Cross

Location: Dovercourt church, Dovercourt, Essex

This church once contained a cross that spoke - it is reported that often it was impossible to enter the building as so many people flocked to the cross to listen.

Summoned Entity

Location: Akenham Church, Akenham, Suffolk

Further Comments: A local myth states that walking around the church thirteen times anticlockwise will summon the Devil.

Missing Steeple

Location: East Bergholt Church, Suffolk

Night after night, during the construction of the church, the Devil appeared and pulled down the steeple. The builders finally gave up building the tower, and the bells now stand in a little bell house.

Monks Curse

Location: St. Mary’s Church, Aylesbury

Legend has it that the curse was placed on the church by a group of monks who were wrongfully accused of a crime and hanged in the churchyard. The curse was said to cause the death of anyone who tried to remove a stone from the church's exterior walls.

Finger Lickin' Good

Location: Queen Anne's Well, cathedral area, Lincoln, Lincolnshire

There are six holes in the door to the well. Legend says if you walk around the well seven times and place your finger in one, good people are awarded with feeling the breath of the Devil on their digit, while bad people have their finger bitten off.

Head over to our friends at the Churches Conservation Trust to carry on the topics of Churches, curses and the paranormal this October.

1. Curses Legends and Murder: Folklore and Strange Tales of Thomas Becket Click Here

2. Unholy Ghosts in Holy Places: England's Churches in the Haunted Imagination, with H.E Bulstrobe Click Here

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