Bryony contacted me to share a story about the legendary beast that haunts the streets of the aptly named Yapton in West Sussex. The Black Dog was known to roam the village and the inhabitants left their doors open so that it could enter their homes. This was not because it was a welcome visitor, but rather because it would howl if it was prevented from entering at will.
There are many tales of Black Dogs in the area, including a headless one at Ditchling and a number of ghostly Black Dogs, as well as another that has been seen near the hill figure known as the Long Man of Wilmington.
Alfriston has two Dogs, one black and one white. The white dog is said to be a harbinger of ill-fortune or even death. He was thought to be the ghost of a dog murdered with his master, the son of a local landowner, killed by labourers in search of ale-money. The corpses were hidden, hastily buried beside the road and, from that moment onwards, every seven years on Midsummer’s Eve, the dog would be seen. This continued until roadworks uncovered the bodies and they were properly interred.
Oddly, when searching Geograph.org for a photo of Yapton to illustrate this post, the first image I came across was of the church… taken by Derek Voller… the same surname as Bryony.
The Black Dog of Yapton
My Grandmother was born in 1921 in Bognor Regis and lived in the same council house for about 75 years. Nearby to Bognor is Yapton which has a Black dog legend. My grandmothers mum was from nearby Walberton so she would’ve known about it.
Anyway, in about 1974 my Grandmother’s husband (my Grandad) was ill in a nearby hospital. It was serious but he was doing OK. My grandmother was cleaning her house and she suddenly saw a massive great black dog in her house. It looked real and it disappeared and she went to find it but all the doors and windows were closed and it was nowhere to be seen. A few minutes later the hospital phoned. Her husband had just died.
She also told me about the lost town under the sea off the coast of Bognor (she was from a fishing family) the church bells could be heard on some nights or the steeple seen, I can’t remember which.
I’ve had a lifelong interest in the hidden, ghosts, folklore and family/local history. I’m an artist and sometimes I pick up on images associated with the folklore of a place when I’m working on ideas. My grandmother was very important in my life and I’m glad to pass on some of her stories.
How did your granny predict the weather? What did your great uncle Albert tell you about the little green men he saw in the woods that night? What strange creature stalks the woods in your area?
So many of these old stories are slipping away for want of being recorded. legendary creatures, odd bits of folklore, folk remedies and charms, and all the old stories that brought our landscape to life…
Tell me a story, share memories of the old ways that are being forgotten, share the folklore of your home. I am not looking for fiction with this feature, but for genuine bits of folklore, old wives tales, folk magic and local legends. Why not share what you know and preserve it for the future?
Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and put ‘Living Lore’ in the subject line. All I need is your article, bio and links, along with any of your own images you would like me to include and I’ll do the rest.