The Rougham Mystery
The small Suffolk village of Rougham lies four miles south-east of Bury St. Edmunds and has been the site of a strange phenomenon.
In fact, the Suffolk area has had some curious incidents ranging from the 12th Century where you have the incident at Woolpit where upon two green colored children appeared speaking an unknown language.
To the English Roswell at Rendlesham Forest in the 80’s and the Black Shuck in 1577 and the Kersey time-slip.
The most famous incident of a time slip is possibly the case of Versaille which dates from 1901 When Two English academic ladies visiting Paris apparently found themselves wandering the gardens of the famous palace in the time of Marie Antoinette.
Palace of Versailles
Rougham, just a small village, has had twenty known incidents of time-slips and possibly more to be discovered.
On scouring the internet, I came across a fascinating report written by Carl Grove which can be read HERE
In October 1926 Ruth Wynne was tutoring for a young lady by the name of Evelyn Allington. Ruth’s father was the Reverand at Rougham Rectory, and Evelyn's lessons would take place there in the morning and then the girls would take a walk around the surrounding area of an afternoon. On this particular afternoon, they decided to walk to the nearby church of Bradfield St George. Here is their account as told by Ruth Wynne:
One dull, damp afternoon, I think in October ’26, we walked off through the fields to look at the church of the neighbouring village, Bradfield St. George. In order to reach the church, which we could see plainly ahead of us to the right, we had to pass through a farm-yard, whence we came out on to a road. We had never previously taken this particular walk, nor did we know anything about the topography of the hamlet of Bradfield St. George.
Exactly opposite us on the further side of the road and flanking it, we saw a high wall of greenish-yellow bricks. The road ran past us for a few yards, then curved away from us to the left. We walked along the road, following the brick wall round the bend, where we came upon tall, wrought iron gates set in the wall. I think the gates were shut, or one side may have been open. The wall continued on from the gates and disappeared around the curve of the road.
Behind the wall and towering above it was a cluster of tall trees. From the gates, a drive led away among these trees to what was evidently a large house. We could just see a corner of the roof above a stucco front in which I remember noticing some windows of Georgian design. The rest of the house was hidden by trees.
We stood by the gates for a moment, speculating as to who lived in this large house, and I was rather surprised that I had not already heard of the owner amongst the many people who called on my mother since our arrival in the district. This house was one of the nearest large residences to our own, and it seemed odd that the occupants had not called. However, we then turned off the road along a footpath leading away to the right to the church which was perhaps under a hundred yards off. On leaving the church, we cut down through the churchyard into the fields and home, without returning to the road or the farmyard. It was then drizzling rain.
On arriving home we discussed the big house and its possible occupants with my parents, and then thought no more of it.
From this description it's not clear as to which direction they have taken and Carl speculates whether it is in the location of Colesville Grove or the vicinity of Bradfield St. George. Ruth Wynne goes on to say:
My pupil and I did not take the same walk again until the following spring. It was, as far as I can remember, a dull afternoon with good visibility in February or March. We walked up through the farm-yard as before, and out on to the road, where, suddenly, we both stopped dead of one accord and gasped. ‘Where’s the wall?’ We queried simultaneously. It was not there. The road was flanked by nothing but a ditch, and beyond the ditch lay a wilderness of tumbled earth, weeds, mounds all overgrown with the trees we had seen on our first visit.
We followed the road round the bend, but there were no gates, no drive, no corner of a house to be seen. We were both very puzzled. At first, we thought our house and wall had been pulled down since our last visit. But closer inspection showed a pond and other small pools amongst the mounds where the house had been visible. It was obvious that they had been there a long time.
You may think that they had just got lost and had the wrong location, but these women were only walking a distance of about a mile and a half as the crow flies and were doing it on a regular basis. It is unlikely that they were not familiar with their neighbourhood.
Map of Kingshall St and possible locations of sightings
The next account is from James Cobbald (his pen name) he had been told about the disappearing house by another child when he was 11 yrs old. He had laughed at the girl's account and had told his grandmother about it. She then told him that her father; Robert Palfrey, had seen the house. Around 1860 her father had been out in the field making a haystack on a warm June afternoon; as he looked across the field, he could see a house, It was of red brick, and set in a garden with flower beds full of blooms, edged with red bricks placed slantwise. It had two wrought iron gates, one 4 ft wide, the other 9-10 ft. A sudden chill had developed. He had returned home and told his family, and all returned to the location only for the mystery house to no longer be there.
The location was off Kingshall Road and in the direction of Colesville Grove which is a large grove of dense woodland. Here is how Carl describes his visit to the grove:
Most of us have been in woodlands from time to time, but the Grove is something different. It is overgrown with every type of nettle, bramble, and thorn. Just moving around is a major undertaking. In the southern part, where I entered, the earth forms numerous mounds and ditches, very like the buried ruins of a large building. Heading north from the central part is a distinct avenue of trees; the south avenue contains a few newer trees in what would have been the driveway. But there can be no doubt about their significance: nobody would consider planting two substantial avenues of trees leading just to a piece of derelict woodland. There must at one time have been a large building at that location. Perhaps not a stately home, but certainly a mansion of some kind. Note that the trees do seem to be around 200 years old, consistent with our deductions from the available mapping.
It was not long after this that James Cobbald had his own experience of the disappearing house. George Waylett, the local pork butcher, was born in nearby Hessett in 1851. He reared the pigs then would slaughter them, then he would then bring the carcasses over to his shop in Rougham. Cobbold would accompany him on his Saturday rounds, making deliveries with his pony and trap.
On a warm June day, Cobbold and Waylett were heading south down Kingshall Street when the house suddenly materialised with a loud swooshing noise. The pony uttered a kind of scream of terror and reared up; the butcher fell out of the back of the trap. Then it bolted, and eventually, young Cobbold was able to bring it under control. In those seconds he had had a clear view of a double fronted red brick house. Three storied, of Georgian appearance, and a garden comprising of a large oblong flower bed flanked with two circular beds. And three smaller oblong beds in front, with pansies and geraniums all in bloom, all edged with red bricks placed slantwise, also rose trees. Then a mist enveloped the house, and it faded away. Waylett scrambled to his feet and exclaimed, "That ******** house! That's about the third time I've seen that happen!" Despite Waylett's warnings, the young lad could not resist entering the field and looking in vain for traces left by the mystery building. It is estimated that this sighting took place in 1908
The next sighting was In the 1940s, Edward Bentley was working for the Bury St Edmunds men's outfitter Aubyn Davies. Bentley, aged about 20, used to go out with his manager in the late Summer, distributing catalogues in the surrounding area.
After harvest time, the farm workers had their bonuses and could afford new outfits. Davies was driving, and Bentley and another member of staff were delivering the catalogues. It was a warm, sunny day. They were heading south down Kingshall Street when Bentley suddenly spotted a house off to the right and quickly told Mr Davies that they had missed one. Davies glanced back and reversed the car, but there was now no house to be seen. Bentley put the affair down to a mental aberration, but years later, when discussing the incident with his nephew, Chris Jensen Romer, he realised that he must have seen the ghost house.
He later pointed out the location as the same as the prior sightings by the Grove.
The next incident was in 1974, Sandra Hardwick was 14 yrs and lived in Rougham, and on a warm summers evening she was meeting her friend at the youth club which was situated at the North end of Kingshall Street (Sandra lived at the South East end of Kingshall)
She had promised to get home before dusk and as she was approaching the two bungalows on the east side of Kingshall Street when a house suddenly appeared on her right. It had become unnaturally quiet. The house was brightly illuminated, "like the sun had come out on it on a bright Summer's day." But it was now extremely cold. "I thought I was going bonkers. It was beautiful -- thatched roof, windows open, and a garden with yellow and pink flowers, a fence and a gate." The curtains were blowing out of the open windows. But despite the beauty of the scene, Sandra was terrified, and she pedalled frantically away. Sandra was quoted as saying, "The windows were very small, but open with the curtains blowing, and it was a happy, carefree, friendly house. It had a thatched roof; it was like a perfect country cottage that everyone wants to live in. But there was nobody there."
On a cool but sunny Sunday afternoon in February 2007, Jean Batram and her husband Sydney (better known as "Johnnie"), a retired couple living in Great Barton, decided to go for a drive around some of the picturesque local villages. They headed south-east towards Rougham, which Jean had never visited before, and drove south down Kingshall Street.
They had just passed the two bungalows opposite Colville's Grove when Jean spotted, on her left side, a large Georgian house. It lay across a newly harrowed field, in front of some woods. She pointed it out to Johnnie, who glanced over briefly, and said that as it was such a lovely house, she would take a closer look at it on the way back.
After a pleasant drive, they returned along the same route. But there was no house to be seen. Jean was puzzled and asked Johnnie if he was certain they had come out on the same road. He told her he was certain as it is the only road running south from Rougham.
Jean became increasingly worried over the coming weeks. She felt that they should report the incident to someone, but Johnnie disagreed vehemently. He declared that he had no wish to be subjected to ridicule, and would deny that he had seen the house himself.
For eight months Jean agonised over the matter. Then, during a phone call to a friend of hers, Katarzyna Powell, she admitted that she had seen something very strange and didn't know what to do. To her surprise, Katarzyna replied, "Oh, you haven't seen the ghost house, have you?" Jean had had no idea that others had also witnessed the same phenomenon. Katarzyna went on to say that her daughter's boyfriend had also seen it, while out driving his van.
The real problem was that while most other witnesses had seen a house on the west side of Kingshall Street, she had seen hers on the east side. Peter and Mary Cornish had told Carl that there was a general disagreement amongst the Rougham community about which side the house appeared on, suggesting, perhaps, that other sightings on the east side had taken place but remained unreported. Mary's grandmother had always told her that the house was seen there. She was certain that it was a fairly large Georgian style house, and that it was standing somewhat to the right of Gypsy Lane, a narrow track which runs from Kingshall Street immediately south of the second bungalow. Carl states "As Phil explained to me, Gypsy Lane is a Greenway, a path originally employed by monks to transport wood to the Abbey at Bury St Edmunds. The Lane is an area subject to unusual events: ghostly figures, strange lighting phenomena, and other interesting occurrences."
Another focus for strange events is Gypsy Lane, the track leading off Kingshall Street immediately south of the two bungalows. The Rose family, who have lived in the second bungalow for many years, have had many occurrences to report. On one occasion, Edith Rose was crocheting in the living room that is right alongside the Lane. Suddenly half of the room became intensely black. When she placed her hand inside the dark zone, she could no longer see it. It is very hard to account for such a phenomenon in any normal physical terms, and I have never come across it before. Could it be a localised time slip back to a night-time period?
Another time, several monks were seen walking past the living room window. Shadowy figures were often seen coming up the front path, always at dinner time. The Roses' horse would refuse to walk past a certain point on Gypsy Lane. Often horses and ponies would break free and run off in a panic. Bob and Win Barker, who lived in a house at the northern end of White Horse Lane, about 400 yards south of the Grove, often independently observed balls of light in their bedroom. The lights would emerge from a wardrobe on the right of the room and travel to the left, about two feet below the ceiling until it disappeared into another bedroom.
An elderly lady and her two daughters, who live in the main part of the village, have a good view of the fields leading up to the Church. On many occasions, they have witnessed a strange arc of light come up out of the ground and form a kind of rainbow. The light persists for a considerable period, but they have been afraid to mention it to others, the last sighting being 2011
Years ago, when Rougham extended to what is now Moreton Hall, the railway line ran at ground level, and there was a level crossing where today a small bridge exists. One of the callers responding to Carl's appeal in the Free Press, a gentleman named Peter Webb, told him of a rather sinister experience that his father had at that spot. Cycling over the crossing one evening, Mr Webb had seen what looked like a body lying about 50 yards down the track. It seemed as if a terrible accident had taken place. Dismounting, he walked towards the body, only for it to disappear before he could reach it.
Another story told to Carl by Phil Sage the local historian - he and his wife had just moved into a cottage near the Bennet Arms in Rougham, and he was home on extended leave when one evening a noise on the stairs attracted his attention. His baby daughter was in her cot on the landing, about six steps up. Standing over her was an old lady, wearing a knitted hat. As he watched, with his eyes popping out, the figure faded away towards the window. He was reluctant to worry his wife by telling her about this but mentioned it a few days later to an elderly neighbour three doors away. "Oh, that's nothing to worry about," she declared. "That's just old Millie, looking after your baby. She's often around here." In the context of the Rougham mystery, ghosts are minor players.
Most of the mystery houses seen in Rougham appear in the vicinity of Colville's Grove, either nearby at the end of Gypsy Lane, or in the same field, just in front of it. Phil Sage is firm of the opinion that the Grove is the source of some unknown energy, and that it is this energy that is responsible for all the strange phenomena going on.
Phil first encountered the Grove as a young man, when he decided to train as a gamekeeper. His mentor, an older man with much experience in the field, took him to the Grove to catch rabbits. After a while, however, the old gamekeeper grew uneasy, and he suddenly said: "Come on boy, I want to get out of this place. There's something not right here." Phil admitted that he disliked being there. Later, when training dogs, he found that they all reacted with fear and aggression when he tried to make them enter it.
When Carl visited the grove he stated "Perhaps because it was a blazing hot day when I visited the Grove myself, or perhaps because I am insensitive in some way, I didn't feel anything sinister. It is a physically demanding place, overgrown with everything thorny and brambly. It reminded me of how one might imagine the situation around the castle where Sleeping Beauty was imprisoned. But there was something a little odd, which only came to me quite recently. I can't remember hearing any birdsong while I was there."
Later on, Phil was told by members of a family whose ancestors had lived near the Grove, three generations ago, that a witches' coven used to meet there. In the 1970s, Phil volunteered to help archaeologists search for Roman artefacts in the field near the Grove.
He was using a metal detector on a lovely afternoon in early summer, working his way along the western side of the Grove. He had already found several items. His headphones were set on "Deep Search," and suddenly he could hear a rushing noise. When he pulled them off, he realised that the sound was coming from behind him. He turned to see what appeared to be a vortex. It travelled in a circular motion like a wheel, sucking in branches and material, heading towards him. He didn't move. The vortex swept past him, and in that instant, he felt terrible. It continued, and when it reached the end of the Grove, everything just went quiet. Phil remained in a shaken state for some time afterwards.
When Carl asked Phil if he thought his metal detector might have attracted it, he agreed that this was possible. Later, two boys scrumping apples along with a hedge in Bradfield St George, near where Phil believes the two ladies saw the house in 1926, heard a rushing wind and saw something similar whirling around with sticks suspended in it. It went past them. One wonders if the rushing noise, "as if of air displacement," heard by Cobbold, connects in some way with the vortex phenomenon. If so, is it the case that the vortex is a factor in the generation of a time slip? If it is, this is a significant clue.
A friend of Phil's, from Woodbridge, was a dowser, and Phil asked him to see if he could "pick up" any unusual energies around the Grove. What happened next, besides being a piece of high drama, eventually led to a breakthrough in Carls investigation. Phil's friend found three places near the Grove where very strong energy was emerging. At the third, and most powerful, his dowsing rod (a metal one) was thrown out of his hands, and he became agitated. He had suffered from cardiac problems and had got a pacemaker; this was now going crazy. Phil helped him back to his car and placed one of his heart tablets under his tongue. After some coffee from a thermos, he slowly recovered. "Boy oh boy," he declared. "I had a funny feeling. It came up my detector. I'm not going there again!"
By coincidence, Phil's friend later came across an old map (very expensive) in a shop in the West Country which showed the Rougham area. There was a dark mark within the Grove, presumably a building. He tried, unsuccessfully it seems, to photograph it.
A few years ago, the couple who ran the Rougham post office/shop took a holiday, and it was arranged that another husband and wife team would take over while they were away. The wife had an interest in unusual phenomena and heard about Phil's researchers. One day she invited him to go to the back of the shop to discuss something. Phil was relieved that her husband was also there.
It seemed that having learned about the strange goings-on near the Grove, the lady wanted Phil to take her there for a visit. She had had some experiences of her own, so was a sensitive. Her husband encouraged Phil to agree, and one evening they entered the Grove and followed a path through it. (By the time Carl went there, any signs of formal pathways had long gone.) The lady began to act very strangely; she was clearly disturbed. Something had badly affected her, and she was frightened and sweating profusely. She asked Phil to get her out immediately, but he was himself similarly affected. They managed to help each other leave the wood. "There's something here we don't understand!" she declared. Later she told him that she had once had a similar experience in the Falklands, when she had travelled with the UK armed forces as an interpreter.
All these accounts lead us to some firm conclusions:
1. The Grove is at the centre of a zone in which some kind of strange energy holds sway. It can cause people to see visions of the past, but it can also be dangerous if approached in the wrong way, or at the wrong time. It can make people feel sick, dizzy, and weak, sometimes for hours. Many animals are afraid of it.
2. This energy can be perceived by sensitive people, and detected using the methods of dowsing. Maybe the witch coven had detected it and were trying to employ it for their own purposes.
3. The energy seems to come up from the earth, and may manifest in the form of a vortex. But ghosts, shadows, and globes and arcs of light have also been observed.
England is covered in many energy or Ley lines as they are commonly known, and a famous energy line is the Michael and Mary line. It runs from St Michaels mount in the South West of England crisscrosses its way across the south of the country and ends at the East Anglian coast. It goes through major sites including Avebury and Glastonbury, and It skirts Colesville Grove to the south but passes right through the site of the 1926 sighting in Bradfield. On its way from Bury, the Michael current was said to leave the Abbey ruins, go through the Norman Tower, and on to a Masonic lodge in Charter Square. It so happens that one of Carl's associates, Chris Jensen Romer, recently posted on his website an account of a strange experience he had as a teenager at that exact location. He was with a school friend between classes and saw a group of children in the uniform of his middle school, St James, near the West Front of St Edmundsbury Cathedral. Among them, he saw his younger self. Very soon he began to feel extremely ill: sick, dizzy, and a severe headache, so had to be sent home. Much later he decided that he must have experienced some hallucination caused by an attack of migraine. But it now seems more likely that he did see his younger self in a classic time slip, and afterwards suffered the same symptoms that others have reported after an encounter with the mysterious energy source. After leaving the Bury area, the line goes through Woolpit, famous for the "Green Children" mystery.
Here is a link to an interactive map of the Mary & Michael ley lines
So what is the conclusion to this mystery? is the house real and time has thinned enough for us to see a glimpse of the past? Is it a 'ghost' house and why does it appear in different locations? One thought is that in different timelines the house would have stood in that particular spot and in relation to the Sandra Hardwick's sighting maybe in that timeline a thatched cottage was built. Whatever the explanation is is intriguing and clearly more investigation is needed into the connection of the grove and the mystery house and the energy sources.
I could not have published the Rougham podcast nor this blog without the extensive work of Carl Grove whom most of this article is written from his work, I urge you to read his full article as it is far more extensive than I have time to write and contains many other stories of time-slips and strange occurrences from around the UK, thank you Carl.
Carl Grove's full report
Click here for a link to the podcast on the Rougham Mystery
Jo has been interested in the supernatural since long conversations with her invisible twin friends. Ghosts or imagination? who knows but her insatiable thirst for the paranormal was born in those long forgotten conversations