Hello once again with a little update from me about my latest little trip away to the Suffolk coast, in search for Black Shuck – the subject of my latest painting!

The middle of May denotes my birthday and this year, it was celebrated by relaxing for a few days near the picturesque Suffolk coast. Even though I am born and bred in West Suffolk, the landscape and atmosphere is so different further East. It feels a lot more peaceful, remote and ‘wild’, being immersed in a landscape peppered with medieval churches it feels almost untouched for hundreds of years. My mind was soothed by a symphony of birdsong in the air, only to be interrupted by the the occasional farm vehicle!

It’s sad to think that just 100 years ago, before intensive agriculture, the wildlife and birdsong would have been so much more abundant and almost deafening, I would have been spoiled for choice through the lenses of my bins – but this is the closest experience to living in that era!

I really wish that I could have stayed longer than a couple of days, but we sure crammed a lot in to our short stay! I can’t resist sharing this beautiful view of this very obliging Grey Wagtail with you, in a little village called Wainford. What a treat!

The main purpose of this trip however, was to embark on a quest to find evidence of the mysterious hell hound that roams the coasts of east anglia, Black Shuck, who is the subject of my latest Black Shuck painting. I can tell you, that I was not unsuccessful on this mission!

A vestige of his presence can be seen in the Holy Trinity Church, situated in the village of Blythburgh. But first, grab a cup of tea, get comfy and get ready for a bit of story time to put this terrible tale in to context!

Original Oil Painting of the hell hound 'Black Shuck' that derives from folklore of Suffolk and Norfolk

‘T’was late summer, on the day of 4th August, way back in 1577 and the good folk that made up the congregation of the Holy Trinity Church in Blythburgh were about to start their service as normal. There were distant rumbles of thunder which made them begin to feel a bit uneasy, but it was a very hot day, even by 9am that morning, so it was not unusual for storms to break out.

As the rector was about to begin the second sermon, the following events that happened just after were anything but normal.

The storm encroached ever closer, the atmosphere got heavier and the church grew darker and darker. Suddenly, with a scream inducing crack of thunder so loud, accompanied by a flash of lightning and hammering rain, the congregation were filled with an impending sense of fear and soon, panic filled the church, as did the storm. With another deafening, biblical crack of thunder filling the air, they realised they were now not alone.

The congregation turned around in pure horror to have their eyes transfixed on humungous, unearthly black dog, standing in the middle aisle, heckles raised. The sound of thunder was soon replaced by the dog’s intimidating, deep growling and with another bolt of lighting, he galloped down the nave with his red eyes wide open, glowing with intent to kill.

With one fell swoop and a flick of his tail, he took the lives of a man and a boy who were on their knees, desperately praying for their lives. The atmosphere was as thick as treacle at this point, thick with fear, as the Black Shuck bounded from pew to pew and up the aisle of the church, terrorising the people and batting them with his big paws as they tried to flee the terrible situation. Amidst the commotion, the steeple of the church came crashing through the roof.

As the rector prayed for God’s mercy over the screams, the Shuck gave a wailing shriek and raced through the flames and rubble to the North door of the church, where the congregation watched him desperately scrape at the wood of the door before it gave way and the dog disappeared.

The smoking scratch marks of the door can still be seen to this day…

I have made a really cool little video to accompany this latest oil painting, but annoyingly, I came down with illness after my trip away and have been too full of mucus to narrate it! I am on the mend though now, thankfully, and you can expect to see the little video on my instagram in due course! @the.fable.key