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7 Oct: Babes in Wayland Wood

Cruel fairytale Babes in the Wood is said to be based on a true story that happened near Watton in the 1500s: Griston Hall owner Edmund de Grey had a grandson Thomas whose father died when he was seven-years-old.

The town sign for Watton depicts the Babes in the Wood. CREDIT: Adrian S Pye/Geograph

The little boy’s uncle was Robert de Grey who stood to inherit Griston and the land it stood in if young Thomas died before he married and had a family of his own. When young Thomas went missing at the age of 11 and Robert claimed the de Grey wealth as his own, rumours flew.

With the shadowy wood so close to Griston and the murky dealings of Robert de Grey creating a storm of suspicion, a story was spun in which Thomas had been murdered by Robert and his body hidden in the darkest recesses of the forest, a tale which was later adapted and became Babes in the Wood.


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