As you may have guessed I am a big fan of the stories that are pretty well known locally, or even the very big stories. I like to look for the ones that are not always featured on blogs but also I like to find ones I haven’t heard of before. This one I stumbled across and thought was worth a share.
Happisburg is in Norfolk and the churchyard contains the unmarked grave of the “Happisburg Poisoner” his real name being Jonathan Balls. Legend has it that Mr Balls had worked out he was destined for hell, he died having accidentally taken his own poison… bit clumsy of him but anyway he asked to be buried with a Bible, a plum cake in one hand, a poker and a pair of coal tongues in the other hand. It seems that the locals were fearful he might not remain in the coffin as it was believed evil and suicidal people would become vampires after death.
Crossroads were places that these folks were buried as a precaution, the idea that they would be confused by which road to take. They also got buried in unholy grounds and suicides were then staked through the heart, this was legislation until 1834 (I can’t provide citation but I wouldn’t be surprised).
For some reason they exhumed him 6 months later, it was preserved by the arsenic he had consumed. He’d perhaps consumed it over a long period to build up a resistance, this was not an unknown practise. Anyway it seems that the reaction to this fact was not recorded, a shame as I am sure they would have been concerned by the potential of the vampire evidence presented.