Unexplained and Strange Experiences in Suffolk Churches
Lori Graham discusses a number of strange and disquieting experiences while visiting churches in Suffolk in her first article for Horrified...
Atheists shouldn’t like to go to church. I despise religion. Growing up as a preacher’s daughter in America, the land of god and bibles, I came to England to live with my wife, Natascha, prepared to hate churches here as well. But Natascha and I have recently developed an obsession with visiting old churches and graveyards around Suffolk, England. Most of these churches were deserted and left in peace and quiet when the world went into lockdown for COVID-19. But many have left their doors open (either for prayers or accidentally) and we have discovered that there is something very eerie, mystical and ghostly about visiting ancient, deserted churches during a pandemic, whether you believe in ghosts, or not.
We have had some strange and unexplained experiences at several of the 21 Suffolk churches/graveyards that we have visited. Most of the time it’s like we step into another world the minute we are on the church property. This may be because no one is around. We have never seen a person inside any of these churches that we visited. Some churches have a very normal and friendly feeling to them. I did not include those in my account here. I have only included our experiences with the strange and unusual churches and graveyards that we visited between November 14th and December 7th.
St Mary’s of the Assumption, Ufford
On the morning of November 21st, we woke up very early and drove to St. Mary’s of the Assumption in Ufford, a small village on the outskirts of Woodbridge. It was about 7 AM when we arrived. It was a very cloudy morning with fog hanging over the graveyard. We parked about 100 feet from the graveyard, which was just across the road from the church. Before we even got out of the car, we both saw a fast-moving, white figure move across the graveyard.
We got out of the car and I turned my video on my phone to see if I could capture what it was. I am sure it was a rabbit or a fox, but neither of those is white. It’s interesting that when we talk about it, we remember just a flash of white out of the corner of our eyes. We both walked around the graves, reading the names and dates and trying to imagine the people who used to live.
We sat on a memorial bench and watched the morning slowly creep in. I still think about that morning and have a very unsettled feeling. It reminds me of movies about ghosts when they show a small flash of something. Our brain immediately tries to make sense of it. Sometimes logic has nothing to do with it. That is what I tell myself. You know the feeling that you often ignore? Like when you walk into a place and feel like you are not the only person there? Or when you see a small movement out of the corner of your eyes and your brain immediately starts using the logic of the world you currently know and understand? This has happened often while visiting old churches and graveyards.
St John the Baptist, Snape
On November 22nd we visited St. John the Baptist in Snape. The place gave us that eerie feeling from the moment we stepped out of the car and walked into the church through the graveyard. I am surprised at the number of churches that leave their doors unlocked. We try them all. The church in Snape was one that hit us with a heavy feeling as soon as we stepped inside.
We began taking pictures because it is such a beautiful building inside. When Natascha took pictures of a window that looks out to the graveyard, she kept getting a blue glow in the picture. We stood in several places and took the picture at various angles, and still kept getting the glowing blue light. My logical brain tells me that this is the way the light was coming in and reflecting. But then a tiny part of my brain asks why we were not able to explain it while standing there in the empty church.
St. Mary Magdalene Church, Saxmundham
On November 22nd We drove to St. Mary Magdalene in Saxmundham when it came up on our Sat Nav that it was close to another church in Snape.
This church, like a few others, was way out away from any town. The only strange experience we had here (Besides the ever-present eerie quiet and odd feeling inside the church) was when we walked around the church in the graveyard, the ground felt so loose and felt like it was shifting around.
We were going to look at the graves a bit more, (as we are both writers and like to get ideas for character names) but we got nervous and decided to leave. When we first arrived, it was SO quiet here. Even the birds and normal nature sounds seemed to have frozen. I ran back out to the car to get the mask that I had forgotten and I saw Natascha standing in the foyer of the church waiting for me and snapped the first picture, which gives off a feeling of how this whole church and graveyard felt.
The church was very dusty and looked like a haunted mansion in a ghost movie. The last picture shows some cobwebs that had built up on a wooden crosier.
All Saints Church, Easton
On December 6th, we took a drive to Easton to see All Saints Church. This church was the scariest / disturbing feeling of all. When we opened the giant, heavy wooden door, we both said “wow” together. The air felt thick and is there another word for eerie? No? Then I guess I will have to use the word eerie again. The odd thing about this church, beside the feeling that we were not alone and a scary encounter with a mirror (Which was oddly placed at the back of the church up high, so that when I turned to look I saw my own reflection moving, so I jumped, then laughed at myself when I realised that it was my own reflection).
The inside and outside of this place were strange and foreboding. So, we found it quite fascinating when we got home and saw this cloudy image in the bottom left of the frame. We both took several pictures of this window and only one of them had this strange fog-looking bit in it. We visited this church a while before sunset (about 3:15 PM) and when we went around the back of the church, we felt the eerie feeling again. We both felt that this place was beautiful, but gave us an uneasy feeling.
Dunwich Leper Chapel and St. James Church
Probably the strangest and most surprising of all experiences that we have had was at the Dunwich Leper Chapel just next to St. James Church. We drove to Dunwich to visit on November 29th. I was wandering around looking at graves and Natascha was standing just inside the black gates that open to the old Leper Chapel. I walked through the gates and felt a very strange, almost electric kind of energy. I don’t really know another way to describe it. I think I said something like “Woah, this place feels strange.” I turned to look at Natascha and she had been waiting for me to say that, as she felt the same feeling. It was a very strong kind of feeling that hits you in the chest. I took pictures of the spot (to the left) but did not want to stay in there long.
I knew nothing about Dunwich before we went to look at the sea, tour the church and look around. We were not aware that there was a leper hospital until we arrived to look at the church. I also didn’t know that in 1286 the city fell into the sea after 2 bad storms. The leper chapel was at the edge of town. We have since found out that other people have also had this feeling when standing in the Leper Chapel.
We came home and began looking up Youtube videos about places in Suffolk that had a strange feeling or “ghosts” reported and we saw a man standing in the exact place that we had stood and he said he felt a strange feeling as well. It was very odd and surprising. (The video was called The Ghosts of Dunwich by Chris Dalton.)
St. James Church, Dunwich
Just after the strange feeling inside the Leper Chapel, we walked into the church. The inner doors appeared to be locked (they were glass with slide-down locks), so we pushed the locks up and the door somehow opened. We both stood there surprised that we got into the church. The second we walked into that church, we both felt like there was someone in the building. Natascha heard a dripping sound, or she thinks it sounded like footsteps to the left of us, and the bells immediately rang. We were both startled.
It was 9:57 when I looked at my phone for the time. Again, we thought someone was in the church and had rung the bell. (Since that is where we heard the noise) Natascha looked behind the curtain (See picture) that led to the bell tower and there was no one there. We did not stay long in that church because we were convinced that someone was in there. But when we went around to the outside of the church and peeked in the window of the bell tower, we saw the rope for the bell, but there was no one inside there and stairs leading up to the tower were boarded up and locked. It was completely empty.
Do these experiences make me believe in ghosts? No. I am still very sceptical and logical, but I do know that sometimes those strange feelings, the odd atmosphere, the intuition of something being strange or just off… there just may be something to those feelings and I am going to continue to keep an open mind. If someone would have told me that I would have these experiences at these old churches and graveyards I would have either laughed at them or kindly smiled and thought to myself that they are a bit dramatic.
We don’t have buildings/churches that are as old as most of these in the United States. Many of the churches I attended as a child and teen were just boring buildings with no charm or character at all. Some of these churches have people buried around (and some inside) them that are older than any buildings in the area that I used to live. Is the eerie feeling that we get in some of these places due to them being so old? Do we feel these things because there are graveyards surrounding the churches? Is it because of the quiet and lack of people due to lockdown? I guess these questions will never have definitive answers. Which is slightly unsettling for me.
*Note: We are very respectful of all of the churches and graveyards that we visit and do not touch anything except the door when we open it. We sanitise our hands and always wear a mask. We only look at the churches and take photos.