Woolpit Village
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What's New - Last Updated 25/02/2020


One question that is always asked by our visitors is "how did Woolpit get its name; was it from wool, wolves, etc.?" Our village sign should give some clue; early spellings vary - Wlfpeta is just one example - but many think that the name means 'a pit for trapping wolves'. However, the most probable explanation will be found in the local Museum, housed in the Institute in the village centre.


In 1016 Ulfketel, Earl of East Anglia, granted the church and manor of St Mary's Church Woolpit VillageWlfpeta to the Abbey of St Edmunds. The monks received ten marks yearly from this grant, but the King appropriated the revenues for the benefit of one of his officials. A monk named Sampson determined to put matters right and in 1159 travelled to Rome to obtain a charter from Pope Alexander III. Despite being captured and robbed by his enemies in the course of his journey, Sampson managed to preserve the Popes precious letter directing the reversion of Woolpit and its church to the monks, and returned to England after three years. The monks were once again able to enjoy the income, and Sampson was later appointed Abbot.


Woolpit Green ChildrenOne prominent feature of the village sign is two small children. They depict a story that goes back to the 12th century and tells the legend of 'The Green Children of Woolpit'. This curious tale is recorded as taking place at about the same time as Sampson's journey to Rome. Very briefly, reapers were astonished at the discovery of a boy and a girl in a hole in the ground. The children were green, and spoke no recognisable language. The boy, who was sickly, soon died, but the girl grew up in Woolpit, and is said to have married a man from King's Lynn. This story has been re-enacted on many occasions and has appeared on childrens' television.


According to records which date back to the fifteenth century, two important fairs were held in Woolpit. The Horse Fair was held on two closes, or fields, on September 16. The Cow Fair, on September 19, was also held on its own field; here toys were sold as well as cattle.


The village centre is a conservation area and the brick-faced houses are mostly all timber faced.

Woolpit Village House