One of the best-known tales of the phantom coach in Norfolk is attached to the massive tomb of Edmund Reve (d. 1647) and his wife (d. 1657) in the north chancel of St Mary’s church, Long Stratton. Their recumbent figures are shown, she lying in front, he behind and above her, propped on his elbow. He is dressed in scarlet robes, having been a judge of Common Pleas from 1639.
John Varden tells the story in the East Anglian Handbook … for 1885, saying:
… there is or was a local legend that at certain times his ghost, jokingly known as ‘Old Hunch,’ drives … round the parish. Once a country labourer returning home late at night saw the ghostly carriage being driven furiously towards him, and scrambled into a tree … Scarcely was he up in the branches than it went dashing by, and finding himself safe … he shouted … ‘Old Hunch, Old Hunch.’ Instantly a hideous face was thrust out of the carriage window, and a harsh voice yelled back, ‘If I was as far behind you as I am in front, you would never call me Hunch again.’
Varden gives no reason for the haunt, but, according to a later source, ‘popular legend has it that he wrongfully obtained the manor and advowson’. In other words, this is the common tale that the occupant of the phantom coach is being punished for some injustice.
At Spixworth, ‘Judge Peck’ rides out at midnight in similar fashion, a tradition likewise connected with a pompous church monument, dated 1634, and bearing the effigies of William Peck and his wife.