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Friday, 13 June 2014

The Haunted Wood - Potsford Gibbet

At the Potsford Gibbet, near Wickham Market, Suffolk

Potsford Wood – off the B1078 – can be a spooky place even on the brightest of days. Halfway down a long and overgrown lane can be found the rotting remains of Potsfold Gibbet.

It was last used on the 14th April 1699 when Jonah Snell was executed for the murder of John Bullard and his son at the nearby Letheringham Water Mill. He killed them with an axe - bizarrely hanging them upside down from a beam in the mill. His victims are supposed to haunt the mill still. 

Snell's body was left to rot on the gibbet as a warning to others. He was later buried nearby after the skeleton fell to the ground. Presumably it's still there!

Many locals will not visit the wood and some claim that they have seen strange lights hovering near the gibbet. Groans and chocking sounds have also been heard. A figure in black has been seen standing near the gibbet.

In 1997, a couple reported being harassed by a black figure that moaned at them one night after their car broke down on the main road. In the 1980's, another sighting supposedly took place in daylight - a truck driver walked down the lane and started reading the plaque on the gibbet. He felt a tap on his shoulder and, turning back, came face to face with a skeleton, hooded and robed. He fled in terror.

Sadly, it has proved impossible to verify the two accounts mentioned above as no sources have ever been given in previous accounts published online. Investigating hauntings can prove a frustrating business at times!

I should add that ghostly apparitions in this wood can sometimes have a more down to earth explanation!

During research for this article, I was talking to a retired poacher who used to 'visit' the woods. One night, he spotted several white figures standing by some trees. They didn't move and continued to stare blankly ahead, apparently unaware of his presence. He fled the scene. The next morning he decided to return to the wood to see if he could find a rational explanation for the eerie apparitions. Imagine his surprise when he noticed that the figures were still there! It was only when he came within 20 feet of them that he realised what they were - someone had dumped several stolen garden statues in the wood! 

One can only wonder if some of the other stories concerning ghostly sightings in Potsford Wood were down to the local poaching fraternity? After all, they would have a vested interest in ensuring that locals stayed away from the area - especially at night!

Copyright: John West

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