The Green Children Of Woolpit
Today we take a look at the mysterious case of the green children of Woolpit...
Woolpit is a village in the English county of Suffolk, midway between the towns of Bury St. Edmunds and Stowmarket. In 2007 it had a population of 2,030. It is notable for the 12th-century legend of the green children of Woolpit and for its parish church, which has especially fine medieval woodwork. Administratively Woolpit is a civil parish, part of the district of Mid Suffolk.
The medieval writers Ralph of Coggeshall and William of Newburgh report that two children appeared mysteriously in Woolpit some time during the 12th century. The brother and sister were of generally normal appearance except for the green colour of their skin. They wore strange-looking clothes, spoke in an unknown language, and the only food they would eat was raw beans. Eventually they learned to eat other food and lost their green pallor, but the boy was sickly and died soon after the children were baptised. The girl adjusted to her new life, but she was considered to be "rather loose and wanton in her conduct". After learning to speak English she explained that she and her brother had come from St Martin's Land, an underground world whose inhabitants are green.
Some researchers believe that the story of the green children is a typical folk tale, describing an imaginary encounter with the inhabitants of another world, perhaps one beneath our feet or even extraterrestrial. Others consider it to be a garbled account of an historical event, perhaps connected with the persecution of Flemish immigrants living in the area at that time.
Local author and folk singer Bob Roberts stated in his 1978 book A Slice of Suffolk that, "I was told there are still people in Woolpit who are 'descended from the green children', but nobody would tell me who they were!