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Nunnery Drive, Thetford

The site of the Priory of St George in Thetford has at least two ghost associated with it, though I am unsure of any witness reports. 'Houses of Benedictine nuns: Priory of St George, Thetford', A History of the County of Suffolk: Volume 2 (1975) gives the following account of the nunnery's history. 'There was an old religious house on the Suffolk side of Thetford founded by Uvius, the first abbot of Bury St. Edmunds in the days of Cnut. It was said to have been founded in memory of the English and Danes who fell in a great battle near by between King Edmund and the Danish leaders Ubba and Hingwar. It was served by canons who officiated in the church of St. George as a cell of St. Edmunds. About the year 1160, in the days of Abbot Hugh, Toleard and Andrew, the two surviving religious of this cell, depressed with poverty, visited the abbot and expressed their strong desire to withdraw. At their suggestion the abbot and convent of St. Edmunds resolved to admit to the Thetford house certain Benedictine nuns who were then living at Ling, Norfolk. The bishop of Norwich, the archdeacon of Canterbury, and the sheriffs of Norfolk and Suffolk gave these ladies and their prioress Cecilia an excellent character, and the change was solemnly effected. The abbot assigned to these nuns, at the time of the transfer, the Thetford parish churches of St. Benedict and All Saints, his rights in Favertin Fields, and whatever else belonged to the abbey of Bury within the limits of Thetford. As an acknowledgement of this, the nuns were to pay yearly 4s. to the abbey infirmary. The prioress undertook to be in all respects faithful and obedient to the abbot.'

As part of the Dissolution of the Monasteries, the Priory of St George was dissolved in February 1537 and was granted by King Henry VIII to Sir Richard Fulmerston (Born 1516 – Died 3 February 1567). This is our first ghost. In his 'Handbook for Essex, Suffolk, Norfolk, and Cambridgeshire' (1870), John Murray tells us 'The site of the nunnery was granted by Hen. VIII. to Sir Eichard Fulmerston, who made the monastic buildings his dwelling-place, and converted the ch. into "lodgings and convenient rooms." A long gallery was formerly shown here, in which (1569) the young heir of the Dacres, Lords of Gilsland and Greystock, was killed by a fall from a wooden horse. He had been placed under the care of Sir Richard Fulmerston by the Duke of Norfolk, his guardian. Spots of blood were shown on the floor. Sir Richard's ghost troubled the gallery, and "made night hideous" in various parts of Thetford — since, without the slightest truth, it was asserted that he had played the part of the wicked uncle, and, for the sake of lands (to which he was never in any degree entitled) had "taken a pin" out of the "vaulting horse," and so caused young Dacre's death. The remains of the nunnery are mere masses of flint wall. Their position will be seen from the river bank beyond an iron Bridge, a little below the Bell Inn. Here large elder-bushes hang picturesquely over the water.'

The above is not strictly accurate. The child, George Dacre, 5th Baron Dacre of Gilsland and Baron Greystoke was killed on 17 May 1569, two years after Sir Richard Fulmerston had died, so he could not have been responsible and hence his ghost should not be troubled. As it happens the young Lord Dacre on a headless rocking horse was thought to haunt the nearby Nuns' Bridges.

The other ghost is mentioned in the Thetford Haunted Trail and is said to be a phantom horse that has been reported jumping through the ruins

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Ian Topham
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Re: Nunnery Drive, Thetford

Prioresses of St. George, Thetford
Cecilia c. 1160
Agnes, 1253
Ellen de Berdesette, 1310
Margaret Bretom, 1329
Beatrix de Lystone, 1330
Danetta de Wakethorp, 1339
Margaret Campleon, 1396
Margaret Chykering, 1418
Alice Wesenham, 1420
Margaret Copynger, 1466
Joan Eyton, 1477
Elizabeth Mounteneye, 1498
Sarah Frost, 1519
Elizabeth Hothe or Both 1535

When the Priory dissolved in 1537, the last Prioress, Elizabeth Hothe, received a pension of £5. She was still collecting this whilst living in St. James, Norwich in 1553, aged 100.

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Re: Nunnery Drive, Thetford

has there ever been a sighting of a scruffy black dog as my daughter was driving along in a car on the 19th feb 2012, early evening and saw a little black scruffy dog near the second bridge running along side the car when she looked again it had just vanished has there been any other sightings like this also a few yrs before this my dad sat near those bridges in the daytime waiting to drive over the bridge when he saw a red car approaching so he sat and waited for it to go over the bridge it never came towards him no more and it did not turn off anywhere another mystery of the nuns bridges

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Ian Topham
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Re: Nunnery Drive, Thetford

Welcome to the site Jules67. I hope we get more comments which throw some light on the experiences you described.



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