The Green Children of Woolpit

Wonder of village of Woolpit

The Green Children of Woolpit were two seemingly feral children that were discovered in the fields of Woolpit, England sometime between 1135 and 1154. They get their name from the green colored skin that they reportedly had when they were found. The story of these children sounds a lot like a fairytale and is not really backed up by any solid evidence that they truly existed. However, the story can be explained logically, so it is possible that two green children really did arrive in Woolpit hundreds of years ago.
The story goes that while the villagers of Woolpit were out harvesting their fields, two green children came out of the ditches that had been dug to trap wolves. There was one young boy and one girl. Their clothing was unrecognizable to the villagers in color and material. The language they spoke was also unfamiliar. The children seemed lost and disoriented, so the villagers took them into the village of Woolpit.

The green children were brought to the home of Sir Richard de Calne and an attempt was made to feed the children. They would not eat any of the food that was presented to them there for several days and it soon seemed as if they would starve to death. However, they eventually ate when they were given fresh beans that were still attached to their stalks. At first, the children did not know how to open the beans and they cried, but they were shown how to do it by the people of Woolpit. They supposedly subsisted on beans for several months before they began to eat bread as well.

The younger of the two children, the boy, was depressed throughout his ordeal and he eventually became very ill. He passed away, but his companion continued to get healthier until she finally lost her green coloring. The young lady came to accept her surroundings and became a member of the village. She learned the language and was able to tell the people of Woolpit what she knew of where she came from. She didn’t know much and what she did tell them was rather mysterious.

The girl said that she had come from a land called “St. Martin.” She said that it was always twilight there and that everything there was green. She also said that a land of bright light was visible across a great river. She explained that the green boy had been her brother and that they had gotten lost in a cave one day while tending to the family’s flocks of sheep. They had found an exit from the cave when they followed a strange sound. When they reached the exit, they were blinded by the light of the sun and became disoriented. They attempted to find their way back into the cave, but were found by the villagers of Woolpit.

The girl who had once been green supposedly grew up to marry a man from Lavenham, but he died a few years after they were married. There are several stories about the identity of her husband and that of the girl herself, but no official records have been found. Could it have been something of a fairytale? It certainly could be, however, it is possible that two children, separated from their family and starving could take on a greenish color to their skin. In fact, it is a well-known medical condition caused by malnutrition. Of course, the story of semi-perpetual darkness is a little harder to explain.

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