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Guided ghostly tours of Bury St Edmunds

Uncover spine-tingling tales about Bury St Edmunds eerie goings-on by joining the Ghostly and Macabre guided walking tour 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 evening Ghostly and Macabre tours begin at Halloween (Friday 27, Saturday 28 and Tuesday 31 October 2023) and continue on Friday evenings until Friday, 22 March 2024.

More details about the tours priced at £10 per person and how to book are shown at

Due to the content of the tour, participants must be aged 14 years or over and under 18s accompanied by an adult. The necessity for smaller group sizes makes it essential to book early online.

Ghostly happenings in Bury St Edmunds

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, 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.

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.

During the infamous witch trials, the accused were taken to a building where The Nutshell pub is today and had their nails or locks of hair cut off. These were stored in brown jars in the basement as it was thought that if you were not whole when you died, you wouldn’t be able to come back as a whole witch in the next life!

Troubled souls at Moyse’s Hall Museum

Once a workhouse, police station 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.

William Corder was hanged in Bury St Edmunds in 1828 after being found guilty of murdering his lover Maria Martin in what became known as the Murder in the Red Barn. She was shot and repeatedly stabbed before being buried in a shallow grave in a barn. Shrieks and apparitions were reported after the hanging, which only stopped when Corder’s skull was duly buried. Following his execution, a death mask of Corder was made and his skin was tanned and used to bind an account of the murder, which passed into Suffolk folklore. These are on display at the museum.

A doomed love affair

Visitors to the town in October should keep their eyes peeled for a soldier and a nurse in Victorian dress. The first reports were made in 1935 by two girls and their mother, who felt a chill as a man and a woman rushed past them on Eastgate Street. A gunshot and a scream were then heard.

Legend has it the woman was a 19th century nurse called Mary Treese, returning from the Crimean War with a wounded soldier she had tended and fallen in love with. Her father, however, disapproved of their relationship and shot the man dead. Their fateful end is said to be played out every year on 20 October on Eastgate Street.

Rougham Airfield

With its rich war time history, it is no wonder that the Rougham Airfield is said to be haunted.  Originally known as RAF Bury St Edmunds, and Station 469 to USAAF, the airfield welcomed 3,000 GIs during WWII as well as the Glenn Miller Orchestra, Bob Hope and Clark Gable, who visited to entertain the troops.

Several paranormal groups have visited Rougham Airfield and museum, many with amazing results, including sightings of a young spirit boy, who is said to have owned one of the bikes that are on display in the Nissen huts.

Visitors have felt uneasy in the tower with accounts of strange lights and people seeing what appears to be feet plus a strong smell of tobacco. In the Control Room at the top, there have been reports of a smell of oil and strong perfume as well as sounds like a prop aircraft flying overhead.

On the ground floor, there have been sightings of a man walking through the main room and two paranormal investigators caught what appears to be a figure walking across one of the smaller rooms on the first floor. Both claim they saw nothing while they were there, it was only when they reviewed the footage taken on their mobile phones, that they found the videos, which you can view on the Rougham Control Tower Aviation Museum’s website at

Witch Trials

East Anglia became synonymous with witch hunts due to the presence of one of medieval history’s most notorious figures Matthew Hopkins, the self-styled ‘Witchfinder General’.

From each town he visited he received ample pay (his services in Stowmarket alone earned him over £3,300 in today’s money). The more witches he rooted out, tried and executed on the flimsiest of evidence, the more Hopkins grew rich. It’s estimated Hopkins’ work led to around 100 executions across East Anglia.

The first recorded account of a witch trial at Bury St Edmunds was in 1599. In 1645, 16 women  from surrounding villages were found guilty of witchcraft and all executed in one day on 27 August 1645; previously the biggest legal case had been the 11 Pendle Hill witches, who were tried at Lancaster in 1612. Later in 1662, two elderly widows, Rose Cullender and Amy Denny (or Deny or Duny) from Lowestoft were accused of witchcraft by their neighbours. They were tried on 10 March 1662 at the Assizes at Bury St Edmunds by one of England’s most eminent judges of the time, the Lord Chief Baron of the Exchequer, Sir Matthew Hale, and the jury found them guilty on thirteen charges of using malevolent witchcraft.

The last witch trial at Bury St Edmunds was in 1694, when Lord Chief Justice Sir John Holt forced the acquittal of Mother Munnings of Hartis (Hartest) on charges of prognostications causing death.

For more information about Halloween events in and around Bury St Edmunds visit