Are you brave enough to visit these haunted churches, castles and houses?
PUBLISHED: 19:30 25 October 2018 | UPDATED: 17:38 29 October 2018
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Weird and wonderful ghost stories abound in many corners of East Anglia, with sights and sounds that just can’t be explained. Here are 23 of the most haunted places in the region.
Blickling Hall, Aylsham
This grand stately home in North Norfolk once belonged to the Boleyn family. It is believed Anne Boleyn, the second wife of Henry VIII, was born there in around 1501. Anne was famously beheaded on the orders of her husband. According to the National Trust, which now owns the hall, her headless ghost is said to return to Blickling every year, at nightfall on the anniversary of her execution, May 19. She is said to arrive in a coach drawn by a horseman, also headless. The ghost of her father, Sir Thomas Boleyn, is also reputed to haunt the area.
Mountfitchet Castle, Stansted
Ground staff at this historic, privately-owned castle reported their latest sighting of a hooded monk just a few days ago, on October 21. They suddenly felt a strange chill in the Grand Hall, and briefly saw the apparition pass across a doorway and vanish. The ghost was previously seen back in 2010, and a photo taken on that occasion appears to show it, just before it disappeared.
Ghostly and supernatural happenings have been reported at the castle from the 1920s onwards, especially in the area of the Grand Hall, where people have heard faint medieval flute music, clashing of swords and chanting, supposedly by monks. A ghostly knight has also been glimpsed by both staff and visitors. The castle has a Halloween pumpkin event running until October 4 and will be open daily until November 11, so staff are keeping their eyes peeled for any further appearances!
A ghostly woman in black is just one of the apparitions said to haunt the landmark Norman castle. Reports of sightings have been reported since at least 1820 and are still noted to this day in the art gallery. Other ghosts seen haunting the keep include the remains of rebel Robert Kett, hanging from the castle in a cage, a floating skull and the ghost of a wife executed for killing her husband.
Norwich Ghost Walks leads a tour through the castle every Thursday until December 6. There are also regular walks around the river on Mondays and Elm Hill on Tuesdays, where the “Shadowcaster” tells tales of the ghosts and weird happenings in those areas.
Adam and Eve pub, Norwich
One of the oldest pubs in the city, the Adam and Eve dates back to the mid-13th century. It has a couple of resident ghosts, including the ghost of Lord Sheffield, who was stabbed during Robert Kett’s rebellion in 1549 and taken to the inn, where he died. He is said to be a friendly character, and licensees have heard him ringing a bell in the upper bar when it is empty. Items are also often moved around mysteriously in the cellar, and staff members say they have felt someone running ghostly fingers through their hair.
It is said you can hear ghostly church bells under the sea at Dunwich, on a stretch of coast with a truly eerie atmosphere. Now a small village, this Suffolk coastal community was once one of the largest cities in Britain, before violent storms and coastal erosion led to most of its buildings being lost to the sea. Divers have since found the ruins of churches, shipwrecks and other buildings underwater.
Although so much has been lost, the ruins of the Greyfriars Priory survive, and over the centuries there have been reports of ghostly monks and other apparitions being spotted there. A large phantom dog with glowing eyes was seen in 1926, possibly Black Shuck? It is also said that a sailor from the Elizabethan age has been seen roaming the beach and walking into the water, looking for his lost love.
Bury St Edmunds
The town doesn’t just have one spot renowned for ghosts and spooky happenings, but many. The Abbey ruins and surrounding gardens are said to be haunted by a mysterious Grey Lady, who has also been seen in many other locations. She is thought to be a nun linked to the death of the Duke of Gloucester, who is said to have been murdered in St Saviours Hospital, near the town’s rail station, in 1447.
Local residents say the nun, Maude Carew, killed Gloucester, and she returns to St Saviours every year on February 24. The Grey Lady has also been seen at the tiny Nutshell pub and various other places. Other ghosts reported in Bury range from screaming skulls to mysterious monks. If you’d like to know more, you could join one of the town’s Ghostly and Macabre Tours, which will run on Halloween and then every Friday until the end of March. Tickets need to be booked in advance from the Bury St Edmunds Tour Guides.
Seckford Hall, Woodbridge
One of the grandest Tudor buildings in East Anglia, this stunning building, dating from the 1530s, is now a luxury country house hotel. Thomas Seckford, who was an official at the court of Elizabeth I. It is said he haunts the hotel at night dressed in a formal Tudor costume and carrying his wand of office. The ghost appears angry and complains that the money he left to benefit poor people in the town was mishandled by his executors and used for other purposes.
Christchurch Mansion, Ipswich
When you visit this magnificent Tudor mansion, now a museum in the heart of Ipswich, you might just spot a ghost or two among the exhibits. Over the years, there have been numerous sightings of a young woman in Edwardian dress in the picture gallery, said to be laughing and playing “ring of roses” with two children. She is thought to be a maid who lived in the house with her children. A Victorian lady wearing a grey gown and a young servant girl, said to have died under mysterious circumstances, have also been spotted. The mansion also boasts its own poltergeists, as there have been reports of paintings turning around or even flying across the room.
Osea Island, near Maldon
One of the most remote and mysterious locations in East Anglia is this tiny private island in the River Blackwater, which is connected to the mainland by an ancient causeway built by the Romans. Running through salt marshes, the causeway is covered over by the water much of the time and only exposed for a few hours at low tide. The island has a unique, bleak atmosphere, and has been used for a number of films, including the 2012 film of Susan Hill’s horror story The Woman in Black.
Landguard Fort, Felixstowe
Many ghost sightings and paranormal activity have been reported over the years at Landguard Fort, which was the site of the last opposed invasion of England, by the Dutch in 1667. A ghostly musketeer, said to have been the only soldier to die in the battle, has been seen here. He is believed only to appear when the country is in danger. The present fort dates from the 18th and 19th centuries.
Other ghosts include a sailor seen looking out a window, a plague victim, and a Portuguese woman who threw herself from the ramparts after her soldier husband was killed by a firing squad in the mid-18th century. A ghostly soldier was also seen by soldiers stationed at Landguard during the Second World War. Overnight ghost hunts are occasionally held at Landguard, and bookings are currently being by the company Ghost Hunt Events for an event on March 9, 2019.
This small town, which was spotlighted in the weird Norfolk series of features, has a number of different ghosts who have been reported over the centuries. A woman wearing old-fashioned clothes is said to have once appeared among a group of young men walking home from the town, but she then vanished. Another ghost, Hannah Whitepost, is said to appear in nearby Hanworth, crossing the road and uttering three blood-curdling shrieks. There is also a very fast-moving spectre wearing a cloak who rushes by along what used to be called “The High Walks”, said to look as if he is wearing the Devil’s roller-skates.
Binham Priory, near Fakenham
This ruined Benedictine priory, founded in the late 11th century, is said to be haunted by the ghost of a fiddler. The story goes that he went to check an underground network of tunnels after they partly collapsed during a storm. His dog ran out after a few hours, but the fiddler, Jimmy Griggs, was never seen again. A mysterious black-hooded monk was also spotted in the parish church, which was originally the nave of the priory, during the 1930s, according to a report in the Norwich Evening News.
Castle Rising, near King’s Lynn
A royal ghost is said to haunt this medieval castle. It is the French-born Queen Isabella, nicknamed the “She-Wolf of France”, who was the wife of Edward II, and allegedly murdered him. She lived in the castle from 1330 to 1358. People are said to have heard her dress swishing and her laughter. Members of the Essex Ghost Hunting Team who visited in 2016 took a photograph which they claimed shows a faint image of Isabella, together with her pet wolf. The team said they also heard a wolf howling.
The Pavilion Theatre might be a lively, colourful place, which is famously home of the world’s only remaining traditional End-of-the-Pier Show. But it is also believed to play host to ghostly performers, who have been known to appear on stage alongside the present-day cast. There has also been poltergeist activity, including objects moving by themselves and glasses and bottles smashing in the bar. Some people also believe that ghosts of lifeboatmen haunt the theatre, and a phantom island across the sea has occasionally been seen. The TV show Most Haunted visited in 2009 because of the pier’s ghostly reputation.
Devil’s Alley, King’s Lynn
Although it is no longer there, the “devil’s hoof print” used to be seen in King’s Lynn. Legend has it that the Devil visited the town by ship, trying to steal souls, but a priest cornered him in the road now called Devil’s Alley, and defeated him with prayers and Holy water. The Devil stamped his foot, leaving an imprint on the ground.
The ruins of Bungay Castle date back to the 12th century, when it was built by Roger Bigod, Earl of Norfolk. One of the family, Hugh Bigod, is said to haunt the remains. Another apparition said to appear there is a ghostly black dog, associated with the famous Black Dog of Bungay. This was a “hell-hound”, or apparition of the devil, which appeared at St Mary’s Church in 1577 during a storm. The hound is then said to have departed for Blythburgh Church, where its claws left scorch marks on the door. The dog is also sometimes associated with Black Shuck, a legendary dog seen around the Norfolk and Suffolk coasts.
Ancient House and St Stephen’s Church, Ipswich
As one of the most historic and famous buildings in Ipswich, it’s no surprise that the Ancient House, where Lakeland Plastics is now based, is reputedly haunted by a “Grey lady”. When it was a bookshop, staff there were said to be reluctant to go into its attics after dark. Two female ghosts have also supposedly been seen at St Stephen’s Church, just behind the Ancient House, which is now the Tourist Information Centre and the starting-point for ghost tours of Ipswich. Gemini Ghost Tours run on the first Thursday of every month and need to be booked in advance.
The Red Barn, Polstead
One of the most famous crimes of the 19th century was the murder of Maria Marten by William Corder in 1827. Maria’s body was discovered after her stepmother claimed she had dreamed that her body was buried in the Red Barn. Corder was hanged in Bury St Edmunds and his skin was used to bind a book telling the grisly tale. There have been numerous reports of ghostly re-enactments being seen at the site.
The Bell Inn, Thetford
Believed to be one of the most haunted pubs in the UK, the Bell Inn often hosts ghost tours and is a popular spot for paranormal investigators. There have been numerous sightings of Elizabeth Radcliffe, a landlady who was killed by being pushed out of a window in the 19th century. Greene King has a page on its website about haunted pubs, and says staff have also seen the ghost of a hooded monk. This figure was last spotted in 2002 by a cleaner in the Priory Bar. Children have also been heard playing in rooms which were known to be empty. It is not just the pub which is thought to be haunted, though, as ghosts have also been reported in other areas of the town, including Warren Lodge. Here, a wild white rabbit with fiery eyes has been spotted and is regarded as a bad omen.
White Hart, Coggeshall
Said to be one of Britain’s most haunted hotels, this historic building in north Essex partly dates back to the 1400s. Owners Greene King say that the ghosts of two children, who were thought to have died in a fire, have been seen here. However, other sources say that nobody really knows the identity of the ghost at the timber-framed inn, or even if it is male or female. Paranormal investigators have frequently visited the hotel.
Harwich Redoubt Fort
Like nearby Landguard Fort, the fort in Harwich is known for supernatural sightings, and ghost tours and walks are regularly held here. The fort in north Essex was constructed in the early 19th century, to protect the area against Napoleon. Witnesses have reportedly seen ghosts through the windows and heard mysterious footsteps, and there have also been strange changes in temperature and other phenomena. Cee’n’Dee Paranormal Investigators are holding a ghost hunt for Halloween here on October 31-November 1, while Ghost Hunter Tours will hold another overnight event on November 10-11
Glemham Hall, near Saxmundham
This grand Suffolk stately home was built in the 16th century by the de Glemham family, and is now owned by Major Philip Hope-Cobbold. The staircase is said to be haunted, and visitors can feel a strange chill in this area. On October 31, there is a ghostly house tour and haunted supper, taking in the ancient attics and creaking cellars before a “devilish dinner”, but all the tickets for this year’s event have gone. However, other guided house tours and suppers with a less spooky flavour are still available.
Borley Rectory, near Sudbury
Back in the late 1920s, the former Victorian rectory at Borley, just over the Essex border from Sudbury, gained fame as “the most haunted house in England”. Owners said they had heard mysterious footsteps and poltergeist activity, and paranormal investigator Harry Price stayed there to examine the reports. The Society for Psychical Research rejected most of the sightings. The house was demolished in 1944 after most of it burned down in 1939, but , the public fascination has continued, with the story featuring on film and TV, and visitors have reported ghostly encounters on the site, including sightings of a phantom nun.
For many more strange, spooky and out-of-this-world stories, see our regular Weird Norfolk and Weird Suffolk features.
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