2022 saw the inaugural Black Shuck Festival which took place on 4 August – that legendary date when a straunge and terrible wunder befell Bungay.
The legend of the Black Dog of Bungay has long fascinated Bungay folk and mythologists. Was this Black Dog a manifestation of the Black Shuck that roams throughout East Anglian legend? Bungay’s Black Dog was certainly described as ‘a devil in such a lykness’.
The Black Shuck festival is an event that reveres this local legend through art, storytelling, music, and audio/video exhibitions throughout Bungay. 2022 gave a preview of what is to come in future festivals, including the erecting of a permanent bronze Black Shuck statue in Bungay curated by the internationally acclaimed portrait artist Stuart Pearson Wright.
The Black Dog is often described as representing depression and the Black Shuck Festival has mental wellbeing as a central ethos. In 2022 Demon Cards were delivered to every household in Bungay where recipients were invited to write down their demons – or whatever was bugging them – to be gathered up and ceremoniously burned on the Black Shuck pyre – constructed especially for the Festival, attended by Fire Sprites and upon which the effigy of Black Shuck was symbolically burned to rid the town of this devil for another year.
But before that, the effigy was paraded around the town, led by the Straunge and Terrible Wunder author, the Reverend Abraham Fleming and accompanied by a motley assortment of Tudors, sprites and townsfolk.
The Reverend Fleming addressed the audience at the Castle Bailey, followed by story telling and poetry from local artists, actors and storytellers.
Shuck was then despatched to the pyre.
The evening of the 4th saw events taking a more sinister turn at St. Mary’s Church. Here the Reverend Fleming read out his Straunge and Terrible Wunder to remind the congregation of those awful events in 1577 when the church was caught up in a violent thunderstorm and Black Shuck, in the shape of the Black Dog of Bungay, wreaked havoc there, killing two and maiming another. With music and poetry, this bloody event was reenacted, shocking the modern day audience.
The 2023 Black Shuck Festival begins on Friday August 4th and finishes on Sunday August 6th with tales of Bungay’s ghosts at one of East Anglia’s most haunted pubs – the Three Tuns in the middle of Bungay – which miraculously escaped the fire that consumed so much of the town centre just eleven years after Black Shuck’s visitation. How could that be, we wunder?