“If a man shall meet a black dog once, it shall be for joy; if twice it shall be for sorrow; and the third time, he shall die”
Stories of dog apparitions have drifted through Britain for centuries, these stories revolve around huge black shaggy coated beasts that can be as large as a small pony, with larger than normal canines and piercing red or green eyes.
They are often seen in remote countryside, near to water (which is the majority of the UK), around places of death, cross roads, fairy path’s and often just before extremely violent storms. These black hounds vary in motivation but the majority do appear to be benevolent rather than vicious, in fact there are a number of stories of these dogs walking young women between villages in the UK.
Below is one of the most famous of the Black Dog legends, the Black Dog of Bungay.
It is mid morning, Sunday 4th August, 1577 the grey skies of Suffolk above the sleepy town of Bungay turn an ominous black as the crackle of thunder can be heard high above.
The parishioners of Bungay were huddled together in St Mary’s church for their morning service when the terrifying storm broke, the church shakes with the furious wind howling through the cracks in the brick and the clasp each other tighter than before.
“darkness, rain, hail, thunder and lightning as was never seen the like”
Fearing the town could be set a blaze the townspeople worried about their timber houses with thatched roof, the knelt down a prayed. Suddenly the frightened congregation realised that something was in the church with them, a huge black dog that appeared in the lightning flashes with shaggy black fur and unlike anything they had ever seen before. They feared the worst, that doomsday had arrived as the creature ran through the centre of the church, they were not far off. As it passed between two of the congregation that were on their knees in desperate prayer it rang their necks so they died strangely where they knelt.
They were left in terrified wonder as the huge hound continued running up the centre of St Mary’s when it passed another man where it grabbed the back of his neck.
“he was presently drawen together and shrunk up, as it were a peece of lether scorched in a hot fire”
The man was left neither dead or alive,
The story does not end here however, whilst the towns folk of Bungay were being terrorized, the hound was also seen in the town of Blythburgh which is not far away.
Here the Black Dog appeared again in the parish church, whilst the very same storm raged above. The congregation in Blythburgh noticed the dog above them braced on one of the huge wooden beams where it leapt down amongst the terrified people who tried in vain to get away. Here as well as in Bungay it killed two men, a young boy and severely burnt the hand of another.
We know what happened through a detailed leaflet written by a Christopher Reeve (1988) which you can still find today in Bungay that featured the above account from Abraham Fleming. It is called, A Strange and Terrible Wunder wrought very late in the parish Church of Bungay.
Unfortunately though it appears that Abraham lived in London, and there is no evidence to show that he had ever visited Bungay.
There are also tales of a large dog that was seen in or around Peel Castle that go back as far as Charles the Second when soliders were stationed at the castle as guards.
The large black dog here had a long, unkept shaggy coat as well and had the appearance of a huge spaniel with the floppy ears but supernatural look. It was unknown where it had come from or how it would get into the castle but it would often be seen after the gates had been shut. It ignored the soldiers and would lie down by the fire, nights when it was in the castle the soldiers would be on their very best behaviour.
There is one story from Peel Castle telling of a inebriated solider that antagonised the beast yelling that he was not frightened of any dog supernatural or not. His fellow soldiers tried to stop him from leaving the safety of the room they were in, however he could not be restrained and wondered down one of the dark passage ways of the castle. The dog rose from in front of the fire and slowly padded down the candelit hallway. Silence feel until unearthly screams came from the passage way, the soldiers were too frightened to see what had come of their comrade. They listened intently, terrified as they heard unsteady footsteps come towards them. It was the solider, who would forever be changed as he had been petrified. He told no one what had happened and passed away days later.
Is there truth to any of these stories? Are there really large black dogs running through the English countryside? Who knows, however in 1871 the grave of Simon, Bishop of Sodor and man was discovered on the grounds of Peel Castle, at his feet the skeleton of a very large dog was found…
Whether good, evil, bengin or indifferent it appears that the Black Dog continues to be seen today, don’t hesitate to let me know of any stories or experiences that you have had!