New festival to honour town's famous legend on anniversary

Hidden Suffolk

Hidden Suffolk - Credit: Archant

A town's most famous legend is set to be honoured with a new festival next week.

The Black Shuck Festival will celebrate the iconic tale on the 445th anniversary of the legend.

Revering the Bungay Black Dog through art, storytelling, music and audio and video exhibitions throughout the town, the family-friendly spectacle will feature a giant Black Shuck effigy made by local schoolchildren.

Bungay Castle. Photo: Nick Butcher

The festival will take place at Bungay's Castle Bailey, then at St Mary's Church - Credit: Archant © 2011

Visitors are invited to gather around the effigy on Castle Bailey and present their own 'demon cards', a postcard-sized card where they can write down their own personal demons.

The effigy will be taken around the town in a procession with Tudor musicians and costumed paraders, before returning to Castle Bailey for the burning ceremony, with families encouraged to bring picnics and blankets.

Storytelling will then take place by local artists and writers, including children's author and illustrator James Mayhew.

The East Anglian legend recounts how, during a dry lightning storm on the evening of August 4, 1577, a wild black dog entered Bungay's St Mary's Church, attacking and killing four worshippers before vanishing.

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The animal then reappeared in Blythburgh, mauling more innocent worshippers at the Holy Trinity Church, where the beast was trapped.

What are said to be Black Shuck's claw marks can still be seen, burned into the surface of the church's front door.

For centuries, visitors and residents have marvelled at the details of the legend and its protagonist, questioning whether it was a rabid beast or the devil incarnate.

Following the burning ceremony, the festival will move to the birthplace of the legend, St Mary's Church, where artists will present an ensemble of storytelling, poetry and musical performances.

The legend of the Black Shuck has inspired generations of artists and writers and continues to live in the imaginations of many.

The event will also look to raise donations towards creating a bronze statue of Black Shuck to be permanently displayed in the town, created by internationally acclaimed portrait artist Stuart Pearson Wright.

The festival will take place at Castle Bailey from 4pm until 7pm, then at St Mary's Church from 8pm until 10pm.