Black Shuck is a large, spectral dog in British folklore - especially in Norfolk, Suffolk, Essex and Devon - in areas steeped in supernatural and witchcraft lore. Sightings of Black Shuck continue in contemporary times. His appearance is often taken to be a death omen.
The name ‘Black Shuck’ may have come from a local word, ‘sucky’ meaning ‘shaggy’. Some believe that Black Shuck’s name derives from an Anglo-Saxon term scucca or sceocca, meaning 'demon’ or 'satan’. Other names are Old Shuck, the Galleytrot, the Shug Monkey, the Hateful Thing, the Churchyard Beast or the Hellbeast, Swooning Shadow and the Black Dog of Torrington.
Black Shuck is described as an all-black creature about the size of a calf. He has large eyes that glow yellow, red or green as if on fire. Sometimes he is one eyed like a cyclops. Often, he is headless, yet his eyes - where his eyes should be - glow in the dark. He may wear a collar of chains that rattle as he moves.
Pictured above are the church doors in Blythburgh, Suffolk. The most infamous sighting of Black Shuck occurred in this church, where the majority of the town were congregated, in August, 1577. There was a great storm raging of the Suffolk coast, and with a clap of thunder the doors burst open and Black Shuck entered the church, running through the congregation, killing a man and a boy. As Black Shuck left he reportedly left the scorch marks seen on the church door above, where they remain to this day.
The Principality of Sealand is a micronation located in the North Sea. Its mass consists of what was HM Fort Roughs, a former Second World War Maunsell Sea Fort, off the coast of Suffolk, England, United Kingdom.
While it has been described as the world’s smallest country, or the world’s smallest nation, Sealand is not recognised by any established sovereign state, although Sealand’s government claims it has been de facto recognised by the United Kingdom (after an English court ruled it did not have jurisdiction over Sealand as territorial water limitations were defined at the time) and Germany.
Since 1967 the facility has been occupied by family and associates of Paddy Roy Bates, who claim that it is an independent sovereign state. Bates seized it from a group of pirate radio broadcasters in 1967 with the intention of setting up his own station at the site. He attempted to establish Sealand as a nation-state in 1975 with the writing of a national constitution and establishment of other national symbols.
The legend of Black Shuck, the ghostly black dog that is said to roam East Anglia, is famous along the Suffolk Coast. For centuries the tale of Black Shuck has been retold. According to legend and folklore, Black Shuck has flaming red eyes and shaggy black fur. Some say he is a huge beast, the size of a horse; others say that he is no bigger than a large dog.
The most infamous sightings of Black Shuck happened in August, 1577. On that day a great storm was raging along the Suffolk Coast, and the people of Blythburgh were congregated in the church. Suddenly, a clap of thunder broke, and the doors of the church crashed open. Black Shuck ran through the congregation, killing a man and a boy as the churchgoers watched in horror. Then the church steeple fell, crashing through the roof, and Black Shuck left, leaving scorch marks on the church door that can still be seen to this day
Piper painted this ruined church, near the coast in Suffolk, at the time of his eightieth birthday. It reflects the knowledge of architecture he had built up over his lifetime in two ways: he was aware of the existence of this quite remote church and he understood how to convey its particular character.
This is an emotional as well as an architectural view. The racing clouds and fitful light suggest a personal sense of the ruin as an image of preservation as well as destruction.