Norfolk Myth - The haunting of Acle Bridge in Norfolk
Acle Bridge Haunting

Acle Bridge early 20thcIf you find yourself on the bridge that spans the river Bure in the village of Acle on the 7th of April, it is said that you will discover a pool of blood, which would not have been there the night before.

This pool of blood has two possible contenders for its origin, both of whom met their end on the bridge.

The first was a brute of a man, who according to legend was both a swindler and a murderer, the other, a man who killed the first for reasons of revenge.

John Burge was a corn chandler who lived hereabouts in times past, a corn chandler was a person who dealt in corn and meal. Burge lived with his wife and children in a house close to the bridge in Acle.

He was known as a man who cheated his customers, beat his wife and starved his children. So it will come as no surprise that he eventually went to far and killed his long suffering wife. He was brought to trial in Norwich for her murder but was acquitted, as he had bribed the local doctor to say that his wife had died of a heart attack.

Though I have never heard of a heart attack causing sever bruising and contusions to the body. Discolorations as would have been made by a length of pipe, like the one hidden behind the cabinet in Joshia Burges kitchen. But whatever the state of the body Joshia Burge was declared innocent of the murder of his wife and released. But the story does not end there. Joshia wife had a brother who hearing that Burge had been acquitted decided to meet out justice for his poor dead sister himself.

On the 7th of April he lay in wait for Burge on the bridge at Acle. Burge who had been in Great Yarmouth on business did not get back to the village until late in the evening. As Burge walked across the bridge the brother of his dead wife leapt up and wrestled him to the ground. He then took out a huge butchers knife from his pocket and cut Burges throat from ear to ear.

Burges blood gushed out spraying the brother and the stonework of the bridge, before finally coming to rest in a pool around Burges dead body. Realising that the police would probably suspect him of the deed the brother decided to make his way to Great Yarmouth and take ship, leaving England's shores. Unfortunately after the body was discovered the police accused another man for Burge's murder. This man had been cheated by Burge in a business deal and had threatened to get even. This poor unfortunate was tried, convicted and sentenced to hang for Burges murder. 

Some years later the brother returned to England and pretended surprise upon hearing of his brother-in-laws death. As the anniversary of Joshia Burges death approached the brother had an irrisasistable urge to visit the bridge in Acle where he had done the dastardly deed. So it was that he found himself on the bridge on the very night where years earlier he had sliced through the sinews of Burges throat. As he peered over the side of the bridge into the murky waters below a shadowy figure materialized out of nowhere, a figure made more of mist and marsh fog than flesh and bones which crept towards him. 

The next morning the townsfolk found the brothers body dangling over the side of the bridge with a rope around what remained of his neck which had been severed as if by a large butchers knife. Some say the shadowy spectre was that of Joshia Burge others that it belonged to the innocent man who had been hung for Burges murder. Either way on the anniversary of the original murder a pool of blood appears on the bridge and some even report seeing a shadowy figure. Though whose blood it is, Joshia Burge or the murdered wifes dead brother who can say.

So if you find yourself on the bridge on or around the 7th of April have a care where you tread. And for those of you passing underneath the bridge on your way to the Broads, the drip drip drip you hear may not contain rainwater. The bridge can be found just outside Acle town centre on the Acle to Caister road, though it is not the original bridge, but a replacement, which however does not appear to deter the haunting.