Some time in the 12th C, two children, a boy and a girl, suddenly appeared at harvest time in the village of Woolpit in Suffolk; their skin colour was green. No-one knew who the children were, or from where they came. They wore clothes that were unfamiliar to the villagers.
They didn't speak English, nor would they eat the food offered to them; eventually eating a few Broad Beans which they seemed to find acceptable.
Later having learned to speak some English, they claimed to have come from some subterranean land called St Martins Land, where everything, and everyone, was green.
The children were taken-in by a local benefactor, Richard de Calne, were baptised, and brought up by the family. They soon adapted to local food, and eventually lost their green skin colour. Sadly after a short while the boy died, and his 'sister' went on to become a servant in de Calne's household; although she was said to be 'wanton and impudent'.
She later left their employ, and married a man from King's Lynn.
So, who were these green children? Did they ever exist, or are they just the subject of folklore? There are many possible explanations, but the one that most appeals is that they had been working as slave labour in a local Copper mine since a very young age, and had not seen the light of day for many years. This could explain their colour, and that they claimed that everything in St Martin's Land was also green. It might also explain why the boy died; which could have been by Copper poisoning.
Some also say that the whole story is pure mythology, and that they'd never actually existed; although the many contemporary references to them suggests that there must be a certain amount of truth in there somewhere.
If you live anywhere near Woolpit, maybe you know more; or have even visited St Martin's Land. I'd love to know.
Tosh but entertaining toshReplyDelete
There is often some truth behind bizarre stories; as I expect there is here.Delete
St martins land is so specific a nameDelete
Sad they were around so long ago. Today they could make a living promoting tinned sweetcorn and possibly windmills.ReplyDelete
The Jolly Green Copper Miner? Or, with a touch of Photoshop, Strumpfs maybe?Delete
I grew up just a few miles from Woolpit and still live not far away and the Green Children tale was well known. I wrote about them when I went to the church there in 2019.ReplyDelete
"The two green children, who climbed out of the ground, speaking a strange language and afraid of the sunlight. The boy died soon after, but the girl grew up and married; she learned to speak English, and told of St Martin's Land, from where she and her brother had emerged. There are holes in the ground around Woolpit, quarries where bricks were made in the 19th century and gravel extracted through much of the 20th. But perhaps there was once something much older, for every Suffolk schoolchild knows that the name 'Woolpit' is nothing to do with wool, but with the wolves that once lived in the pits here........... "
It too well known and repeated to be total rubbish but as to the truth? There were gravel pits and brickworks all round Woolpit but Copper mines are Very unlikely.
And there was me thinking that Copper Mining was the logical explanation!!Delete
Well that negates the comment I left down below.Delete
They might simply have been the offspring of The Jolly Green Giant...or maybe The Incredible Hulk.ReplyDelete
Or maybe they both fell into that unmentionable pit at the end of the garden.Delete
I was told they were children from Flanders and a weaving family and wool dyes had stained their skin. The 12th century was when the Flanders wool families arrived in nearby Norfolk and no doubt some went to Suffolk. They didn't speak English because they were from Flanders. Somewhere along the line they got abandoned. The lost children in Wayland Woods is far more of a fairy story than the Woolpit children. (Wayland Woods is near me in Norfolk). Check it out.ReplyDelete
In the version of their story that I know, there was no mention of wool dye or Flanders, but it does certainly sound more logical.Delete
The Wayland Woods children became 'The Babes in the Woods' story, and again possibly has some truth in its origins. One thing is for sure; we'll never know.Delete
It's a good story, whatever the reality.ReplyDelete
Yes. Never let the truth get in the way of a good story!Delete
Here, we only had the Blue Fugates. Unfortunately, the story has never been told in a fanciful way.ReplyDelete
I was reading about hypochromic anemia, or the green disease. The fact that the little boy died, lends me to think along those lines.ReplyDelete
I used to see a gray faced woman here in Brighton; I'd never seen anything like it before. It must have been a very rare illness!Delete
Fascinating tale Cro - the copper theory sounds quite feasible.ReplyDelete
That's what I thought, although Rachel's theory of green dye from Flemish weavers sounds very feasible too.Delete
Copper mines, no.Delete
Well Cro, I see that you are not the first to leave France and return later having, perhaps, let out your place to the Neanderthals.ReplyDelete
No, no letting to folk from the Low Countries; although we've had many offers.Delete
I love these strange tales. I listen to them mostly on paranormal podcasts and there they are presumed to come from a land in the middle of planet earth and somehow stumbled out into our world. It's the first time I've heard of your copper mine theory. Whether it's true or not it was a long time ago and must have changed a lot over the years. Fascinating anywayReplyDelete
Middle earth is the common factor. It makes the story more mysterious.Delete
Tales like this carry lots of speculation. The mystery lives on.ReplyDelete
Perhaps it's best not to know all the facts. A little mystery keeps the story alive.Delete
Those old stories are fascinating... and I have to say that I believe there is some iota of truth to them... although the real truth if anyone ever knew has long been gone or changed as the story passed on. But thanks for sharing it. I'd never heard it before.ReplyDelete
Such tales would never have sprung from nowhere, they must all be based on some event. Although, if the eventual 'facts' are anywhere near their origins is another matter.Delete
If you come upon s plausible theory, I hope you remember to tell us.ReplyDelete
Somehow I doubt if I will Joanne.Delete
Perhaps mythology based on fact given the copper mining part of the tale.ReplyDelete
There must be some truth in the story. It's lasted a very long time.Delete
I'm with Rachel as being the most plausible on this one, even though I tend to believe anything.ReplyDelete
One of my fathers maternal great grandmothers was from Norfolk. The story of the green children was eluded to, so I thank you for the explanation.ReplyDelete