On Saturday 25 March 1144, the day before Easter Sunday, the dead body of a boy was found in Thorpe Wood, on the eastern outskirts of Norwich. It appears that it was first discovered by a nun and a peasant who informed a forester called Henry de Sprowston. He went to the spot, examined the body and noticed that there were some wounds and there was a wooden gag in the boy's mouth. The body was only partially dressed just with a jacket and shoes. He sent for the local priest and suggested the body should be buried in the local churchyard. However, as it was Easter eve they decided not to take any action until Easter Monday. So far no great excitement and it would seem no investigation as to the cause of death or who the victim was. Rumours of the discovery of the body reached Norwich and on Easter Sunday a number of boys and young men went to Thorpe wood, presumably to gape. It seems that some recognised the body as that of William a local boy.
On Easter Monday, Henry de Sprowston and his family went to the site and decided to bury the body there - no priest was present. On the Tuesday Godwin Sturt, an uncle of William, together with his son Alexander and William's brother Robert, went to Thorpe Wood and discovered the grave. Godwin Sturt was a priest and thus we learn that in 12th century England Roman catholic priests could marry. His son Alexander was a Deacon. They exhumed the body, identified it as William, and reburied it, this time with due ceremony.
On their return home Godwin told his wife Liviva about their find. She became very agitated, as it would seem that two weeks previously she had had a dream warning her about Jews. The next day her sister Elviva, Williams mother, arrived and on hearing the news ran hysterically through the town screaming that the Jews had killed her son. There was a mixed but rather muted response.
Nothing else seems to have happened until a week or so later when the Synod of the clergy of the diocese met. At the synod, Godwin proclaimed that his nephew had been murdered; he accused the Jews of the deed and demanded justice. At this stage the accusation was murder - not ritual murder and blood was not mentioned.
As we shall see it was only later that the charge of ritual murder or crucifixion was levelled and it is interesting to note that although subsequently there were quite a few such charges against Jews in medieval England, the accusation of using blood for Pesah purposes never occurred. The first blood accusation or libel was about 25 years later in 1171 in Blois in France. There is though a Pesah connection for the Norwich accusation - the first day of Pesah in 1144 was Tuesday 21 March, so that Saturday 25 March when the body was discovered was Shabbat hol hamoed.
As a result of Godwin's accusation, the Jews were summoned to appear next day before the synod. They went to see the Sheriff, a man called John de Canaito, and he advised them not to attend the synod. He also reminded the Bishop, Everard, that