The Wickhambrook Hoax
One of the frustrations of ferreting about in local history is that one often aches to know more. The following example, which has just been discovered by GH, the Resident Historian, is a wonderful example. What, one wanted to know, was the beautiful woman doing all covered in white from head to foot?
May 29th 1868
For several weeks past the inhabitants of Ashfield Green at Wickhambrook have been alarmed by the appearance of a ghost and it had been reported that two houses in the locality are haunted, on Monday night last, Mr Pryke, butcher, gave chase to the nocturnal visitor and succeeded in overhauling it and finding it in the shape of a beautiful woman who was covered with white from head to foot.
to our rescue came the Internet, in a posting to rootweb by Janelle Penney
East Suffolk Gazette And Beccles And Bungay Weekly News
May 28th 1868
....Burning A Ghost In Effigy.----
At about nine on Saturday night several hundreds of persons assembled at Ashfield-green in Wickhambrook, to witness the burning in effigy of a ghost which had been caught on the proceeding Monday night by a butcher.
On the 23rd December last the wife of Edward SMITH died suddenly, and since that time it has been rumoured that the deceased woman has many times revisited her last abode, and her son, with his wife and child, who had since her death lived with his father, left their abode about a fortnight ago, in order to evade the nightly visits of the sprite, and no amount of reasoning could dissipate the fear that some supernatural agency was at work against them.
Many of their neighbours have also been much frightened by the apparition, and have been afraid to leave their dwellings after dark, but on Monday, the 11th May, between 11 and 12
at night, Mr James PRYKE, a butcher, had the temerity to give it chase, and the ghost, on finding its pursuer gaining ground vanished behind a hedge at the entrance to the occupation of Mr J.H. PRYKE. On overtaking it, and finding it a neighbour's wife, Mr PRYKE quietly retreated.
The inhabitants being disgusted at the conduct of the woman prepared an effigy which they carried on a pole for about three hours, and then consigned it to a bonfire, of 30 or 40 faggots, prepared on a field in the occupation of Mr R. GOODWIN, opposite Mr J. PRYKE's mill.