The Green Children of Woolpit

You may also like...

6 Responses

  1. Ian Topham says:

    Re: The Green Children of Woolpit
    In  Fortean Studies 4 (1998), Paul Harris suggested that the children were malnourished and discarded Flemish orphans, possibly from Fornham St. Martin and he put the date of the event during the reign of King Stephen.

  2. Mauro says:

    Re: The Green Children of Woolpit
    There’s a completely identical tale (minus the place names, of course) from Spain. The Spanish case is supposed to date from 1887.
    While Woolpit is a real enough place I have tried for years to discover if there’s a place called "Banjos" in Spain but no luck. Given the recent date records could have survived and even the burial place of the two children.
    Then I confronted the Suffolk and Spanish story. Apart from place names and dates they are identical almost verbatim. The local worthy who is supposed to have taken the children into his own care is called Sir Ralph de Caine in Suffolk and  juez (Justice) Ricardo de Calno in Spain.
    Far too many coincidences to be an original story.

    In Distortion We Trust

  3. Ian Topham says:

    Re: The Green Children of Woolpit
    This is new to me Mauro and throws a new element to the story, if it just shows how far it migrated.

  4. Mauro says:

    Re: The Green Children of Woolpit
    The story comes from Jacques Bergier. I’ll try digging out which sources he quoted.

  5. OldTimeRadio says:

    Re: The Green Children of Woolpit
          The "Spanish" version was created in the 1960s by a British pop-Fortean "journalist"(nameless here) who believed that he could make the story more salable if her updated the yarn by 600 years.

          Bergier copied from him.

  6. Ian Topham says:

    Re: The Green Children of Woolpit
    ‘English Fairy and Other Folk Tales’ (1890) by Edwin Sidney Hartland

    "ANOTHER wonderful thing," says Ralph of Coggeshall, "happened in Suffolk, at St. Mary’s of the Wolf-pits. A boy and his sister were found by the inhabitants of thai place near the mouth of a pit which is there, who had the form of all their limbs like to those of other men, but they differed in the colour of their skin from all the people of our habitable world; for the whole surface of their skin was tinged of a green colour. No one could understand their speech. When they were brought as curiosities to the house of a certain knight, Sir Richard de Caine, at Wikes, they wept bitterly. Bread and other victuals were set before them, but they would touch none of them, though they were tormented by great hunger, as the girl afterwards acknowledged. At length, when some beans just cut, with their stalks, were brought into the house, they made signs, with great avidity, that they should be given to them. When they were brought, they opened the stalks instead of the pods, thinking the beans were in the hollow of them; but not finding them there, they began to weep anew. When those who were present saw this, they opened the pods, and showed them the naked beans. They fed on these with great delight, and for a long time tasted no other food. The boy however was always languid and depressed, and he died within a short time. The girl enjoyed continual good health, and becoming accustomed to various kinds of food, lost completely that green colour, and gradually recovered the sanguine habit of her entire body. She was afterwards regenerated by the layer of holy baptism, and lived for many years in the service of that knight (as I have frequently heard from him and his family), and was rather loose and wanton in her conduct. Being frequently asked about the people of her country, she asserted that the inhabitants, and all they had in that country, were of a green colour; and that they saw no sun, but enjoyed a degree of light. like what is after sunset. Being asked how she came into this country with the aforesaid boy, she replied, that as they were following their flocks they came to a certain cavern, on entering which they heard a delightful sound of bells; ravished by whose sweetness, they went for a long time wandering on through the cavern until they came to its mouth. When they came out of it, they were struck senseless by the excessive light of the sun, and the unusual temperature of the air; and they thus lay for a long time. Being terrified by the noise of those who came on them, they wished to fly, but they could not find the entrance of the cavern before they were caught."

    This story is also told by William of Newbridge, who places it in the reign of King Stephen. He says he long hesitated to believe it, but he was at length overcome by the weight of evidence. According to him, the place where the children appeared was about four or five miles from Bury St. Edmund’s. They came in harvest-time out of the Wolf-pits; they both lost their green hue, and were baptised, and learned English. The boy, who was the younger, died; but the girl married a man at Lenna, and lived many years. They said their country was called St. Martin’s Land, as that saint was chiefly worshipped there; that the people were Christians, and had churches; that the sun did not rise there, but that there was a bright country which could be seen from theirs, being divided from it by a very broad river.