At the Gatehouse

A thousand years ago, St Benet’s Abbey

Was a wealthy, thriving Anglo-Saxon monastery;

Now it is ruined and shrouded in mystery,

Isolated and not far from the sea,

Deep in the tidal marshes of the Broads.

All that remains on the north bank of the Bure

Under wide open windswept Norfolk skies

Is a gloomy gate house, a windmill and nothing more.

But if, on the 25th of May, you’re out walking late

And make your way past the abbey,

Beware the screams of agony

Of a monk who was bribed to be a traitor,

And then hanged from a beam above the gate.

Woe betide those who hear his screams

Or witness the final act of tragedy

That takes place at midnight,

When the shape of a monk writhes in agony

Of death, swinging stiff from the beam

And, with a final groan, ends the terrifying sight.

Many years ago, on All Hallows Eve

In foggy darkness, a wherryman lost his way

And found himself opposite the old gateway,

Rooted to the spot by the awful scene;

As soon as it was over, with a yell of terror

He stumbled off to reach his boat

Moored nearby and drowned in the river.


© Kim M. Russell, 2016

At the gatehouse

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