This creepy dude is from the church of St George in Brede, where yesterday’s creepy box came from.
Things we know about him that are probably true: his name was Sir Goddard Oxenbridge. Known as the Giant of Brede, he was a powerful but a pious and peace-loving man. He was knighted by Henry VIII in 1509 and his daughter was the Princess Elizabeth’s governess. He died in 1531 and is buried in the church (presumably, right here under this thing).
Things we know about him that are probably not true: he was seven feet tall and he ate children. He had a crow for a familiar and was enormously strong. He could not be harmed by metal weapons.
Children from all over Sussex disappeared without a trace for years and reappeared on his table, but Oxenbridge was so powerful that no-one dared complain to the king.
So one day the children of the county took matters into their own hands. They rolled a huge barrel of mead (or perhaps beer) to the Groaning Bridge on Stubb Lane and lay in wait. The giant loved him some booze. He found the barrel, drank it up and passed out dead drunk in the middle of the bridge.
Then the children leapt out with a special saw they had made out of wood — the children of West Sussex took one end, the children of East Sussex took the other — and sawed that sonofabitch right in half. You can see the blood stains to this day.
Mmmmm…okay, it’s rust. And the story probably comes from the smugglers who used Oxenbridge’s old estate, Brede Place, to store contraband when it fell into disuse in the 18th Century. They put it about that Goddard’s ghost still haunted the place to keep people away.
But there he is in the church. And the Groaning Bridge is still there. And Brede Place is still there, and persistently reported to be haunted over many years. So hold a happy thought…