Post by Graveyardbride on Apr 9, 2018 8:21:24 GMT -5
Has ‘Old Hutch’ Returned to Prowl the Streets of Long Stratton?
LONG STRATTON, Norfolk, England – No one knows why “Old Hunch” has returned from the grave to once again haunt the streets of Long Stratton, but his effigy in St. Mary parish church (above), is a constant reminder of a soul that is not at rest.
Sir Edmund Reeve was a colorful character in life and remains so in death: not only can Old Hunch still be seen in the round-towered medieval church, his ghost – ensconced in a phantom carriage pulled by four horses – reportedly patrols the streets of the village he once called home. His effigy (pictured below) – posed with his head propped on his right arm – looks anything but furious in his splendid scarlet robes flowing across his body down to his toes. Beneath him, the stone figure of his wife, Dame Mary Corie, who died 10 years later, is cast in a more traditional position with one hand grasping her dark robe and the other clasping a Bible to her heart.
Sir Edmund, born in 1585, was one of at least four sons of the five children of Norfolk attorney Christopher Reeve of Aylsham, Oulton and Felthorpe. He was educated in Cambridge and went on to study law at Barnard’s and then at Gray’s Inn. Later, he relocated to Norwich, where he was called to the bar in 1611 and appointed steward of the city and Justice of the Peace for Norfolk. In 1624, he joined Francis Bacon in repairing the font in St. Gregory’s Church in the city and by 1639, he had been knighted.
By the 1630s, Sir Edmund had purchased the splendid Stratton Manor House from Sir Henry Bedingfield. Many believed there was some sort of wrongdoing involved in the sale and this was the reason Judge Reeve wasn’t able to rest. His spirit, they claimed, was trapped in the location he called home.
As a judge, it appears Sir Edmund courted controversy: he supported the Long Parliament and sat alone at Westminster when a third of the members of the House of Commons and majority of the House of Lords had joined the alternative Oxford Parliament of King Charles I. In 1640, Reeve refused to proceed in a case against one of the Lambeth Rioters who stormed Lambeth Palace in May of that year to protest against the dissolution of Parliament. By the end of 1642, he was one of only three common-law judges still sitting at Westminster in defiance of Charles’ will – on January 4, 1642, the king had entered the House of Commons to arrest five MPs for high treason, but when the speaker defied him to uphold the privileges of Parliament, he was forced to leave without any arrests. No monarch has entered the House of Commons since.
In 1643, Sir Edmund and Sir Thomas Trevor were served with a writ from King Charles requiring their attendance in Oxford, but instead of complying, they simply committed the messengers to prison: one of the imprisoned men was later executed as a spy.
Sir Edmund died March 27, 1647, leaving Dame Mary his property in Norfolk and Suffolk and because he had no children of his own, his manor was left to his brother, Augustine Reeve of Bracondale, whose son later inherited the judge’s home and wealth.
The East Anglian Handbook for 1885 notes: “There is or was a legend current in the neighborhood that at certain times the Judge or his ghost, familiarly known as ‘Old Hunch’ drives at a furious rate round the parish in a coach and four. Once on a time (what wondrous occurrences have happened at that date!) a country laborer returning home at a late hour beheld the ghostly vehicle coming furiously towards him, and in his terror climbed into a tree by the roadside.
“Scarce was he safe amid the branches than it dashed by, and finding himself safe, his fright disappeared, and peering from his leafy screen, he shouted after the retreating carriage, ‘Old Hunch, Old Hunch’. Instantly a hideous face was thrust out of the carriage window, and a harsh voice yelled back, “If I was as far behind you as I am in front of you, you would never call me Hunch again.”
More recently, local people out for their nightly constitutionals, or on their way to the pub, have reported hearing what sounds like a coach and horses rumbling through the streets. Is Old Hunch still on the prowl?
Source: Stacia Briggs and Siofra Connor, The Eastern Daily Press, April 7, 2018.