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The Green Children of Woolpit

In the heart of Surrey lies an idyllic village named Woolpit. The first recorded mention of the village was in the 10th century, and its modern name comes from the old English ‘Wulf-Pytt’, which means ‘pit for trapping wolves’.

The residents of Woolpit were cautious that wolves stalked the area and posed a significant threat to their livelihoods. People in the village raised cattle and chickens, which were their primary sources of income. 

Artwork of the green children.

Now, Woolpit is home to around ~2,000 people and is considered a quaint and quiet place to live. Many visit the village to marvel at its medieval architecture and to soak in the history of the invading Normans.

Others choose to visit this otherwise unassuming village for another reason entirely. Legend has it that in the 12th century, the residents of Woolpit were visited by little green children from another universe.

Harvest Season

Exact details are shaky, and most sources state this event occurred sometime in the 12th century, with some giving the exact date as 1150.

One afternoon, the residents of Woolpit were bringing in their harvests when they heard a rumbling from one of the wolf pits.

They stopped what they were doing and listened for more noises. Seconds later, two green children appeared from the pits, which were at least twice as tall as they were.

The little boy and girl were dressed in strange clothing and held hands as they walked. One resident ushered the children to their side, thinking they had possibly gotten separated from their parents.

As they took the children into the town, people slowly gathered around. Nobody recognised these children, but more importantly, why were they green? 

Townsfolk tried to gently coax details from the pair, but bizarrely, neither of them spoke English. They spoke in a ‘bizarre tongue’ that nobody else could understand.

Unsure of what to do, the residents took them to the home of Sir Richard de Calne, who took them under his wing. He offered the children a plethora of meals, but everything repulsed them.

It wasn’t until the pair were offered green beans that they began to feast, even going so far as to eat the beans straight from the ground. Several months passed, and the children continued to live with Richard.

The children slowly began to eat a wider variety of food, which caused their strange green complexions to fade. Unfortunately, the little boy became gravely ill and passed away weeks after emerging, leaving behind the little girl.

St Martin 

Richard spent hours with the little girl teaching her English. After months of hard work, she had mastered it and began to open up about her life.

She told the people of Woolpit that she and her brother came from a land called St. Martin, where everything was green, and it was always twilight. 

One villager recorded the girl’s speech in which she said: 

“We are ignorant of how we arrived here; we only remember this, that on a certain day, when we were feeding our father’s flock in the field, we heard a great sound, such as we are accustomed to hear at St. Edmund’s, when the bells are chiming; and whilst listening to the sound in admiration, we became on a sudden, as it were entranced, and found ourselves among you in the fields where you were reaping.” 

Villagers began to wonder whether Woolpit was somehow connected to another universe or dimension. The girl, whom Richard later named Agnes, could never fully recall how she had gotten there from St. Martin.

According to sources, she continued to work for Richard de Calne and eventually married and had a child. As Agnes grew, the Green Children of Woolpit were forgotten, sidelined to mythology.


Today, the Green Children of Woolpit has become an exciting internet tidbit, and there are a few theories floating around out there. The first is that the children’s green-tinged skin was a result of malnutrition.

Sign for the town of Woolpit which depicts the green children.

According to Historic UK, malnourishment can cause ‘green sickness’. If this were the case, this would explain why the children’s skin returned to normal after being fed a normal diet. 

It may also be the case that the little boy died as a result of ‘refeeding syndrome’, which is defined by the NCBI as “the potentially fatal shifts in fluids and electrolytes that may occur in malnourished patients receiving artificial refeeding.

These shifts result from hormonal and metabolic changes and may cause serious clinical complications.”  

Another theory of the green skin is that they were suffering from arsenic poisoning. In the 12th century, it wasn’t uncommon for people to wipe out their entire families using arsenic as it usually flew under the radar.

Some have reported that the children were poisoned and abandoned by an Earl in Norfolk; however, this claim is unsubstantiated.

The final theory, in this case, relates to the ‘bizarre, gibberish’ language the pair were speaking. In the 12th century, there was a wave of persecution against Flemish immigrants by the kings of the time.

The strange language may have actually been Dutch, not a bizarre alien language like some hope. There are, of course, theories that these children came from outer space or another universe, but we will never know. 


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