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Chronicon Anglicanum

        The Chronicon Anglicanum is a historic chronicle of important and interesting events that occurred at or near the abbey of Coggeshall from the time of it’s establishment in the early part of the 12th century (the earliest event that I know was noted in the chronicle is dated 1113 CE). This chronicle was reprinted in 1857 as part of a preservation of ancient scrolls and manuscripts of England, and this reprint, in turn, was reprinted in 1965; it is from a copy of this last reprint that I’ve located a Latin original of the account2.

        The part of the chronicles reprinted was authored by Ralph (Radulphi) of Coggeshall Abbey, and the bit in particular that we’re interested in was written sometime in the year 1200 CE. Ralph’s account of the green children is presented in a section of the book featuring many fantastic stories that the author had heard and chose to write down; in fact, the green children story is sandwiched between a story about a merman and a report about some giant teeth that were discovered. If this is considered with the fact that Ralph wrote his account a minimum of 46 years after the green children were supposed to have been found, it seems a safe bet that Ralph was not an eyewitness to the events and is therefore merely noting an interesting story he has heard.

        Ralph’s account of the Green Children of Woolpit is the only source that claims the children were taken to the home of Sir Richard de Calne, a knight, at Wikes... perhaps this is because, as Ralph states, he had frequently heard this story from de Calne himself. In this version, it is at de Calne’s home that it was discovered that the children would eat the raw beans. Also, Ralph’s account claims that after the death of her brother the girl then worked for de Calne’s family as a servant for several years, during which time she was “rather loose and wanton in her conduct”.

        In Ralph’s account, the girl lost her green hue, learned the local language, and was baptized only after the boy had died; and so it was only the girl who was questioned about the origins of herself and her brother. As to the question of how the children traveled to Woolpit from their original home, Ralph says: “...as they were following their flocks, they came to a certain cavern, on entering which they heard a delightful sound of bells; ravished by whose sweetness, they went for a long time wandering on through the cavern, until they came to its mouth.” Upon exiting the cave, the children were overwhelmed by both the excessive sunlight and the temperature of the air; when found, they tried to find the cavern they came out of but were caught before they could.

        And thus ends Ralph of Coggeshall’s account of the Green Children of Woolpit.