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The Babes in the Wood

The Babes in the Wood

13+. Today I’m going to tell you a creepy tale considered a legend, the 'Babes in the Wood'. The tale is set several hundred years in the past in Wayland Wood in Norfolk and involves two young children going missing in the woods! Robert de Grey of Griston Hall’s brother was dying and his brother's wife was also dead so he asked Robert de Grey to look after his children. Robert promised under the name of God to protect them and make sure they live safely. Their family had money and the son was entitled to three hundred pounds a year once he turned 21 years old and the daughter would gain five hundred pounds when she got married. Due to inflation that amount of money would be the equivalent of thousands of pounds in modern day. Therefore the greedy uncle Robert realised that if the children were to die before the boy turned 21 or the girl got married then the money would be his, and being a horrible and greedy man this gave him an idea!

He set about making a deal with some criminals to for them to kidnap and kill the children in the Wayland Wood nearby! The evil old man told his wife that the children had been sent to London for the day so that she did not worry when they had disappeared from the house and meanwhile the criminals had convinced the children they were going to the woods to play games. One of the criminals could not bring himself to harm the innocent children and fought with and killed his comrade who wished still to carry out the job. He left the children in the woods and said that he would return with food and drink for them whilst thinking what to do but they never saw him again…

Darkness began to fall and cold, tired and hungry the children began to scream for help but no one could hear them. With only a few berries to eat they soon ran out of food and more importantly water and after several days they passed on and were covered in leaves to be buried by the birds in the woods.The evil uncle thought he would be happy and rich but because he had committed such an evil deed he was cursed by God and suffered endless nightmares and was haunted. A curse upon him, his barns burnt down, his crops and cattle died and he could make no money. After just a short time he became largely in debt and was imprisoned where he died, cold and alone. The surviving criminal was caught and condemned to death for a different crime that he was guilty of. Destined to die he confessed as to what had happened and the truth about the children was revealed.
The great tree by which the children were buried was honoured for many years and the birds that covered the children with leaves were honoured locally. No one was allowed to take a bird’s egg from the forest or they would suffer a curse like the evil uncle.

The great tree was destroyed by lightning and Griston Hall became a farmhouse but the children were never forgotten and are still pictured on the Griston village sign, with wicked Uncle Robert. It has become a village legend and supposedly the name Wayland Wood comes from Wailing Wood as it was named after the incident and it is said that if you listen carefully, on a dark night, you can still hear the cries of the children.


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