The Green Children of Woolpit - Suffolk

                    (c) by John Ashley Photography
In the heart of rural Suffolk in a village said to be named after 'a pit for trapping wolves' is a strange green tale. Now this is not green in the sense of immature but in the fact that it is about two green people or to be more precise two green children.  

This is another account documented by Abbot Ralph of Coggleshall who also documented the tale of the Wild Man or Merman of Orford, he along with another 13th century cleric place this occurrence when King Stephen was on the throne 1135-1154. The season was summer and the farm workers were out in the fields four or five miles from the monastery of St. Edmund bringing in the harvest when they saw two children a boy and a girl emerge from a "Wolfpitte" (old english for pits for wolves).

What made this a strange occurrence was that the two children had completely pea green skin. They also wore strange clothing and were unable to understand anything that the villagers said, though they could converse with each other. The farm workers took the boy and the girl back to the village of Wulpet and to the local landowner a knight called Sir Richard de Calne.

They were offered victuals but refused to eat, until they were presented with some green beans which they consumed hungrily. As time went by the young boy sickened and died but the girl who was slightly older thrived and eventually lost her green hue. She also learnt English and was able to answer the question where had she and her brother come from?

She told of a land which she called St. Martin's land where the sun never shone and it was permanently twilight and all of the people were the same shade of green as she and her brother. She said that they could see a bright country, which could be seen from their land, but that it was divided by a very broad river. One day she and her brother were tending her father sheep when they heard the sound of bells (the bells of St. Edmunds).

Following the sound they entered an underground tunnel and emerging from it found themselves in a land full of light, which bedazzled them. It was then that the farm workers found them.

The girl remained in the employment of Sir Richard de Calne and one of the clerics reported that her morals were loose, but that she eventually went on to marry a man from Lynne (King Lynn).

It is possible that the children were feral children who had become lost or even abandoned. Around that time there had been a large influx of Flemish people whose language and dress would have appeared foreign to the villagers. Perhaps the children had sought refuge in the woods around Woolpit and lived in the underground tunnels of that area.

Another suggestions is that the children may have been suffering from a 'green sickness' the name that was given to anemia a dietary deficiency. Which would also explain why the girl eventually lost her green colour when she was put on a proper diet.
 Picture (c) by John Ashley Photography