The Legend of ‘The Black Dog of Bungay’
The most famous event connected with St Mary’s church is the apparition of the devil in the disguise of a Black Dog in 1577. During a storm on Sunday, August 4th, a terrifying thunderstorm occurred with such – “darkness, rain, hail, thunder and lightning as was never seen the like”.
Storms were always greatly feared during a period when most houses were built of timber and thatch and a lightening strike could quickly set large areas of a town ablaze.
As the people knelt in fear, praying for mercy, suddenly there appeared in their midst a great black Hell Hound. It began tearing around the Church, attacking many of the congregation with its cruel teeth and claws. An old verse records:
“All down the church in midst of fire, the hellish monster flew
And, passing onward to the quire, he many people slew”
Then as suddenly as it had appeared, it ran off, departing for Blythburgh Church about twelve miles away where it killed and mauled more people. Bungay Church was damaged, the tower struck by lightening and the Church clock was broken in pieces. Although there is no official record of injuries caused, the Churchwardens account book mentions that two men in the belfry were killed.