Mysterious people from other worlds: The Green Children of Woolpit

Woolpit is a village in the English county of Suffolk, halfway between the towns of Bury St Edmunds and Stowmarket, known for the story of the Green Children.
To date it is not clear whether it is a legend or a real historical mystery even if it is reported by two different sources of the twelfth century: the Chronicon Anglicanum by Abbot Ralph of Coggeshall and the Historia rerum Anglicarum by the historian William Parvus.
According to evidence in the XII century, perhaps during the reign of King Stephen of England or of the King Henry II's one, a harvester found two strange children, brother and sister, in a canal in the village of Woolpit.
They had some bizarre peculiarities: their clothes were different from those seen in the village, they spoke an unknown language and, above all, they had an unnatural green skin.
Nobody knew them nor knew where they came from so they were taken to the village, where they were welcomed in the home of the local landowner, Mr. Richard de Caine of Wilkes. Although hungry they ate none of what was offered to them until the inhabitants brought some beans, which the children devoured raw and which were their only sustenance for months.

Mysterious people from other worlds:The green children of Woolpit-the_village_sign

The male was ill and died after being baptized while the girl, who took the name of Agnes Barre, after starting to eat different foods, lost the green color of her skin and adapted to her new life by learning to speak English and getting married to a man at King’s Lynn.
She was also able to tell her story: she and her brother came from a land where the sun never shone, and the light was like sunset. In William Parvus' accounts the girl called that land St Martin's Land and she couldn't explain how she had arrived at Woolpit: she and her brother were tending their father's cattle when, following a loud noise, they found themselves in the place where they were found by the reaper. Abbot Ralph reports instead that the two boys had followed an animal into a cave and, after getting lost, were guided to the light - and to our world - by the sound of bells.

Mysterious people from other worlds: The Green Children of Woolpit-Babes_in_the_Wood

The explanations given to the singular story of green children follow two strands: according to the first, which finds its roots in English folklore, it would be nothing more than the imaginary description of an encounter with the inhabitants of a "fairy world", otherworldly, and children would be the embodiment of spirits or magical creatures. This explanation, however, does not take into account the fact that there are different sources testifying to history.
The second explanation consider this story an event that really happened. In a 1998 article for Fortean Times, Paul Harris suggested that at the time, many Flemish immigrants came to England, so the children could have been orphaned by the persecution that immigrants suffered.
There was an immigrant settlement called Fornham St Martin, from which the two children may have fled.
The color green may have been a case of hypochromic anemia, not surprisingly also known as "green disease" or as chlorosis, a disorder caused by a lack of essential nutrients that affects red blood cells.
This theory, however, is incompatible both with the fact that, if the language spoken by the children had been Flemish, the educated men of Woolpit would have recognized it, and with the fact that the children remembered having lived in a place with very little sunlight.
It was therefore assumed that the children came from a village deep in the Thetford forest, and that they were actually lost following the cattle entering one of the underground passages of the mines in the area that would then lead them to Woolpit.

Mysterious people from other worlds: The Green Children of Woolpit-The_Anatomy_of_Melancholy_by_Robert_Burton

Others, however, claim a more otherworldly origin of children. Robert Burton, in his 1621 book The Anatomy of Melancholy, argues that green children were "fell from Heaven", paving the way for the hypothesis of an alien origin. In a 1996 Analog Science Fiction and Fact article, astronomer Duncan Lunan suggested that the children were accidentally transported to Woolpit from their planet, which may have been trapped in a geostationary orbit around the sun, presenting conditions suitable for life only in a narrow twilight zone between an intensely boiling surface and a dark and cold side with unusual genetically modified vegetation, which would allegedly explain their unusual skin color.
They were mistakenly transported to Earth due to malfunction in a matter transmitterand he also claimed that he can trace the Green Girl's descendants to the present.
Were they really visitors from another world?

Mysterious people from other worlds: The Green Children of Woolpit-Duncan_Lunan


These pretty babes, with hand in hand,
Went wandering up and down ;

But never more they saw the man
Approaching from the town:

Thus wander'd these two pretty dears,
Till death did end their grief;

In one another's arms they died,
Poor babes, past all relief:

No burial these innocents

Of any man receives,
But robin red-breast lovingly

Did cover them with leaves.

-Babes in The Woods- Traditional English children's tale


Resources related to Mysterious people from other worlds: The Green Children of Woolpit


Cover image by Mary J. Newill

Article image by Rod Bacon

Article image2 by Jessie Willcox Smith

Article image3 by Robert Burton

Article image4 by McMarcoP


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