The Ghost of Thurne Mouth.

After having finished exploring and photographing St Benet’s abbey we returned to our boat and set out once more down the river Bure. We did not have to travel for very long, perhaps 15 minutes before we came to the spot where the river Thurne runs into the river Bure, and where another intriguing story awaited us.

My intrepid crew moored at St Benet’s abbey before leaving for the mouth of the river Thurne.

It was July the 15th 1926 when Dr Sampson was moored between the small dyke that runs to boundary house and the river Thurne. He struck up a conversation with a local stock man who was attending to his cattle in an adjoining field. According to Dr Sampson he was  heavily built, quite tall and slightly bent with advancing years, he wore brownish clothes with leggings and heavy boots. Dr Sampson steered the conversation onto legends and ghosts of the area, and unlike many locals who were reluctant to broach the subject this stockman was more than willing, he narrated the following tale:

The mouth of the river Thurne where it meets the river Bure.

Around about 1830-40 there lived a beautiful girl called Phyllis in a house called Sunnyside close to the mouth of the river Thurne. She was well loved by everyone that knew her with her long brown hair falling in ringlets around her shoulders and she was a model daughter to her Father the local Bailiff and her Mother, she also doted on her sister Betsy and her young brother James. She must have made a lasting impression on the local schoolchildren as they used to follow her around a lot of the time, so all in all she was a very popular person.

This is where the story turns into the age-old problem where the girl falls for someone who the parents aren’t enamoured with, in this case she falls for one of the ploughmen who worked  for her Father,who although of good character was nevertheless a workman. Her parents had a young man with far better prospects lined up for her, a Bert Issacs who was only 22 years of age, and Phyliss who was only 18 was not really ready for settling down, especially not with someone she was not in love with. Her Father put his foot down and barred her from having  anything to do with the ploughman whose name was William Ethelwistle otherwise he would have him sacked. However previously when Phyllis’s Father had been struck down by pneumonia it had been William who had stepped in and done her Father’s work as well as his own. William was not a drinker and this fact probably had made a difference when he ran the farm as he made a success of it and the profits increased when he had stepped into the Father’s shoes, the only down side was the fact that he could’nt read or write.

Phyllis’s Father was taken ill once more, however this time William had been sent away because of Phyllis’s infatuation with him, this resulted in Bert Isaac’s taking over the running of the farm, he made such a disaster of things and lost the farm so much money that the Father and Mother begged William to come back and take over running the farm once more.

William returned to the farm and by this time he had learnt to read and write, he once more turned the farm around so that it was making money once more. This did not sit well with Bert Issac’s who became jealous of Williams success and started started to slander his name as well as Phyllis’s behind his back.

Phyllis’s Father took Berts side and this resulted in William leaving despite all he had done for the family and the farm. He moved to a place called lower street beyond Horning, however it was not long before Phyllis came to seek him out as a terrible fight had broken out between her Father who had been drinking and Bert, this had resulted in her Father being knocked unconcious. She went on to say that if Bert ever met William again that he would kill him and that he had been the cause of the argument between himself and Phyllis’s Father.

William said that he would return and put things right as long as Phyllis agreed to marry him, she said that she would and the following day William left her in the safety of a friends house while he returned to Sunnyside farm. When William entered the farmhouse he came across Bert who tried to stop him entering the living room, he pushed past him and he found the Farmer dead. At this point Bert pushed past William before he could call the police, he ran across the meadow and hurled himself into the river Thurne and drowned.

William went back to Horning and broke the news to Phyllis, eventually they married in the church close to Thurne and returned to Sunnyside farm where they lived for the rest of their lives.

Although Dr Sampson was fascinated by the story he had to ask the Stockman where the ghost comes into the tale. The Stockman said that every two or three months Phyllis’s Father wanders around these fields looking for the person that had murdered him. “And what will he do when he finds him”, asked Dr Sampson, “well I’ll kill him of course” and with that the stockman simple vanished before his very eyes!

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