Did Green Children Really Visit Suffolk?

Last Updated on March 9, 2023

We never shy away from the opportunity to talk about our green friends here at Woodfarm Barns and Barges. Indeed, as we’re only a short distance away from an alleged UFO hotspot in Rendlesham, it should come as no surprise that we like to talk up the martians whenever we get the opportunity.

Whilst the idea of aliens is broadly accepted across the globe – and perhaps the universe at large – the notion of green children may be a little confusing to anyone unfamiliar with Suffolk myths and legends.

Allow us to explain.

It is believed by many that at some point in the early 12th century, a group of villagers from Woolpit chanced upon two young children with green skin. According to reports from Ralph of Coggeshall, an English chronicler who presumably received the story secondhand, the children behaved nervously and spoke to one another in a language of their own. After being taken into the care of local squire Sir Richard de Calne, the children refused to eat until they stumbled across some green beans in the garden which they delightfully gobbled down straight from the ground.    

Keen to introduce the children to a more balanced diet and to understand more of their history, Sir Richard spent the next few years raising the children as though they were his own. Over the course of these years, the children gradually lost their green complexion and were able to answer questions that the villagers put to them.  

Obviously, one of the more popular questions was “where did you come from, and why was your skin green?”.

To this they replied:

“We are inhabitants of the land of St. Martin, who is regarded with peculiar veneration in the country which gave us birth.”

“We are ignorant of how we arrived here; we only remember this, that on a certain day, when we were feeding our father’s flocks in the fields, we heard a great sound, such as we are now accustomed to hear at St. Edmund’s, when the bells are chiming; and whilst listening to the sound in admiration, we became on a sudden, as it were, entranced, and found ourselves among you in the fields where you were reaping.”

“The sun does not rise upon our countrymen; our land is little cheered by its beams; we are content with that twilight, which, among you, precedes the sun-rise, or follows the sunset. Moreover, a certain luminous country is seen, not far distant from ours, and divided from it by a very considerable river.”

Eerie stuff indeed!

Convinced that the children were speaking about some otherworldly realm, rather than a less pleasant village than the ones we have here in Suffolk, Sir Richard took the children to the local church to have them baptised.

Sadly, the young boy passed away not long after disclosing the mystery of his origin, whilst his sister went on to marry the archdeacon of Ely, Richard Barre. Though records were kept with far less vigilance in the 12th century, it is believed that the couple went on to have at least one child together.

In the intervening years, there have been numerous attempts, both scientific and paranormal, to ascertain the truth of this fantastic story.

The more generally accepted view amongst the scientific community is that they were the children of Flemmish immigrants whose parents had fled persecution from King Henry II. Totally confused, they took off and found themselves in Woolpit speaking a language that none of the locals could understand.

The consequence of malnutrition, the scientifically-minded suggest that the green skin is a result of the childrens’ poor diet. This argument is largely supported by the way their skin returned to a normal pallor once they began eating properly.The more romantically-inclined like to believe that the children were delivered from another world, either from elsewhere in our solar system or from some subterranean labyrinth beneath our feet.

And then there are those who think the whole thing is simply a folk tale that has gotten wildly out of hand.

Whether you choose to visit Woolpit – a village that is crowned by a sign bearing a reference to the green children – during your stay in Suffolk, we’re confident that you’ll enjoy it all the more for returning to one of our Barns or Barges for rent.