Weird Norfolk: The White Shuck of Great Snoring
- Credit: Eastern Counties Newspapers
In a village whose name suggests restful sleep, something terrifying yet oddly familiar prowled the streets: White Shuck of Great Snoring.
We feel certain you'll have heard of the legendary devil dog of Norfolk, a coal-black hell hound with glowing red eyes who foretells impending doom, but how many of you have heard of his cousin, White Shuck?
Norfolk and Suffolk shiver at the name Black Shuck, Lucifer's own canine messenger who stalked the countryside and coastline of East of England and who was often considered to be an omen of death.
It is said that if you catch the eye of Black Shuck, you would see reflected in his gaze the fiery depths of hell and as a result, you would never greet another sunrise alive.
Stories of the supernatural hound stretch far back into history and include the terrifying tale - told by Abraham Fleming in 1577 - of a 'black dog, or the divel in such a likenesse' who appeared at Bungay's St Mary's church during a storm in the summer of that year.
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The beast left death and destruction in his wake, indiscriminately slaying the faithful before moving to Blythburgh Church, also in Suffolk, where he continued his reign of terror, killing and mauling more victims and leaving his claw-marks on the door.
In an 1850 edition of the Notes and Queries journal, Reverend E.S Taylor wrote about East Anglia's feared phantom dog, describing him as the 'Shuck the Dog-fiend'.
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Taylor writes: 'This phantom I have heard many persons in East Norfolk, and even Cambridgeshire, describe as having seen as a black shaggy dog, with fiery eyes and of immense size, and who visits churchyards at midnight.'
But we digress. Everyone knows about Black Shuck and takes the necessary precautions if in the vicinity of large, black dogs - but no one thinks to be as wary if a white dog approaches.
It could be a deadly mistake.
In the late 1930s, just before the outbreak of World War Two, a farmer was driving in the North Norfolk village of Great Snoring when something loomed in the middle of the road.
Unable to brake in time, the man found himself ploughing into what looked like a large white dog - but was ever-more horrified when he realised his car had passed straight through the creature.
Scared out of his word, he stopped his car, got out and then ran as fast as he could (not, one might suggest, the wisest of tactics with a phantom dog on the loose).
In The Ghost Book by A.A MacGregor from 1955, the author writes about the 'White Shuck' if Great Snoring: 'Shortly before the Second World War, it was reported to have been seen on several occasions, slinking along the lonely road between the villages.
'According to the villagers, it had a terrifying habit of dashing across the road in front of cyclists and motorists, to disappear, howling, into the adjacent fields.
'It was about this time that a motor-cyclist declared that he had run through this ghost-dog – an experience which so unnerved him that he abandoned his vehicle by the roadside.'
While it is Black Shuck who is credited with being a terrible omen, could it be that White Shuck appears before monumental loss of life, such as occurred during World War Two?
I think few of us would tempt fate in making a wish to see White Shuck on a lonely street in sleepy North Norfolk.
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