Various theories have been suggested as to how the legend of the Babes in the Wood came to be associated with Watton’s Wayland Wood.
One of them is that the Elizabethan Manor House, standing a half mile to the south-east, contained — until about a hundred years ago – a carved overmantel of the period, depicting the story of the Babes, so even in Elizabeth 1st time it was already a legend. It was also in this house that the Wicked Uncle, who paid two ruffians to dispose of the Babes, was supposed to have lived.
This house, a half mile past Wayland Wood, is supposed to be where the “Wicked Uncle” lived.
As all the world knows, the story of the Babes in the Wood has for hundreds of years been a favourite subject for Christmas pantomimes. From the 14th century until 1975 the wood was owned by the de Grey Family, but it was almost lost during Elizabethan times when Robert de Grey, a staunch Papist, who owned it at the time, was in Norwich gaol after having refused to attend the Anglican services or to pay the fines incurred by his action.