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25 of the most haunted places in East Anglia

PUBLISHED: 08:19 30 October 2017 | UPDATED: 08:19 30 October 2017

The Borley Rectory after the fire in 1939. Picture: CONTRIBUTED

The Borley Rectory after the fire in 1939. Picture: CONTRIBUTED

We’ve an abundance of weird and wonderful spooky spots and characters in Norfolk and Suffolk, from highwaymen galloping through inns to monks reassuring actors.

The Buttermarket Shopping Centre, Ipswich. Picture: GREGG BROWN The Buttermarket Shopping Centre, Ipswich. Picture: GREGG BROWN

With Halloween around the corner, now is the time to find out more about our favourite 25...if you dare..

1. Devil’s Alley, King’s Lynn

Take a stroll along this alley in this market town and look for the hoof imprint in a stone where it’s said the Devil stamped his hoof when a priest shooed him away. A local folk tale says the Devil arrived in the town by ship and headed ashore to gather some souls. A plucky local priest followed him and used his prayers and holy water to drive the devil away. The furious Devil stamped his hoof before going back to his ship, and the imprint is still there.

2. Warren Lodge, Thetford

Have you ever smelt ale on the spiral stairs when you've visited Orford Castle? Picture: BARRIE BROOKS Have you ever smelt ale on the spiral stairs when you've visited Orford Castle? Picture: BARRIE BROOKS

One of the most haunted spots in Norfolk is believed to be Warren Lodge in Thetford Forest where, it’s said, if you see a wild-looking white rabbit with large, red, flaming eyes - misfortune follows. Keep an eye out for a faceless man too, believed to be a leper, wandering the area. It’s thought there was a medieval leper colony close to the site of the old lodge.

3. RAF West Raynham

It’s not entirely clear why the Officer’s mess at RAF west Raynham is haunted by a polish pilot, who was killed during the Second World War. But RAF Bomber Command used the airfield during World War Two, losing 86 aircraft in that time. There’s also believed to be the ghost of a mechanic in the Armoury, a ghostly green character in the Sergeant’s mess bar, a grumpy poltergeist in the control room and other ghostly activity in the hospital, fire station, base HQ and the Guard’s building.

4. Framlingham Castle, Framlingham

Framlingham Castle thorough the trees. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN Framlingham Castle thorough the trees. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

Spooky goings on at the English Heritage moated castle vary from doors randomly opening with no-one on the other side to children’s faces peering through windows of the attic and the sound of them laughing. Several staff have seen paranormal occurances at the castle.

Andrew Wells, historic properties steward at Framlingham Castle, says he has witnessed many paranormal occurrences at the castle: “There were three of us in the admissions building and all of us were on one side of the room. All of a sudden, we heard the storeroom door handle move as if someone was trying to open the door – we looked to see the door open, but none of us were anywhere near it and there was not any wind blowing.

“It was the end of the day and I was in the shop on my own when I had a feeling that I was being watched, I tried to ignore it. Then, in the corner of my eye I noticed what looked like a boot walk itself out of the bake house door, then round behind me, until it went into the fireplace and disappeared.

“I was in the attic looking for something when I heard a noise sounding like a small stone being kicked across the floor. The longer I stayed up there the more frequent the noise became, it was at that point I decided something or someone did not want me up there and left.

The Woolpack in Ipswich is known to be one of the most haunted pubs in the UK. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN The Woolpack in Ipswich is known to be one of the most haunted pubs in the UK. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

“Another time, when I was going into the attic, as I was going up the stairs and turning to go round the corner, I noticed in the corner of my eye a dark figure standing over me. As I got into the attic, I turned to see nothing there.

“On one evening I was up on the wall walk, walking over the gate towards the house. All of a sudden, I felt like someone was following me. When I turned round expecting to see a colleague behind me, I saw a dark figure with a white face walking towards me about 10 metres away. I double-took and the figure had disappeared, I then turned back and headed down to ask a colleague if it was them, but they had not got that far round.”

5. Christchurch Mansion, Ipswich

Originally called Withipoll House, this grade I listed Tudor mansion was believed to have been built by Edmund Withypoll in 1548, after the death of his father Paul Withypoll, a master merchant trader and merchant adventurer. Now a museum, home to John Constable and Thomas Gainsborough artwork, it is also home to some ghostly-beings as well.

Spooky goings on at Thetford Priory. Picture: Ian Burt Spooky goings on at Thetford Priory. Picture: Ian Burt

There have been many sightings of a young woman between her late 20s and early 30s, thought to be from the Edwardian period, dancing and laughing with two children in the picture gallery. She’s thought to be a maid who lived and worked in the mansion with her two children.

Other sightings include a Victorian lady in a grey gown rushing past visitors and a young servant girl wandering the halls, thought to have died in the property by ‘mysterious circumstances’. What’s more, there have been many sightings of paintings moving by themselves and flying across the room.

6. Orford Castle, Orford

King Henry II chose to build a Suffolk castle in Orford village when it was a busy and thriving port, second only to Ipswich as the most important trading port in the county. The chapel in Orford Castle is directly above the shop where staff have heard the sound of heavy footsteps walking on the floor above, as if someone is pacing backwards and forwards. They believe they are those of Philip Wimar, the Chaplain of the chapel. On the main spiral staircase staff and visitors have smelled ale. The smell doesn’t linger and tends to have already disappeared by the time another member of staff is sent to check it out.

Blickling Hall, does the ghost of Ann Boleyn still roam the Hall.      Picture Sam Robbins Blickling Hall, does the ghost of Ann Boleyn still roam the Hall. Picture Sam Robbins

7. Binham Priory

Listen closely to the tunnels near Binham Priory and you may hear the faint sounds of music. The tunnels are thought to be haunted by a local fiddler who went to check the tunnels when they partially collapsed during a storm. He went in with his dog, which ran out a few hours later, terrified. The tunnels then collapsed completely, and the fiddler, Jimmy Griggs, was never seen again. The music is said to be Jimmy playing his fiddle

8. The Woolpack, Ipswich

This pub was a well-known smugglers’ hangout, with tunnels for smuggling goods from underneath the pub to the Ipswich waterfront, a thriving trading port years ago. It’s best known ghost is Admiral Edward Vernon, who was nicknamed the ‘Old Grog’ after he introduced a law to water-down rum aboard navy ships. He has often been witnessed walking through the pub wearing a naval officer uniform. Look out too for Geroge, the spirit of a former owner who many think was helping a monk hide from persecution before his death. The monk also haunts the pub and has been seen scurrying past the end of a bed in a staff bedroom there.

The Adam & Eve, the oldest pub in Norwich, is said to have a ghost.   Picture: DENISE BRADLEY The Adam & Eve, the oldest pub in Norwich, is said to have a ghost. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

9. The Brown Lady of Raynham Hall

There can’t be many stately homes and halls without a ghost or two and Raynham Hall is no exception. The ghost of The Brown Lady of Raynham Hall is that of the long ago Lady Townshend, locked in a room of the hall after her husband, Charles Townshend, heard that she was cheating on him. She wasn’t allowed out, not even to see her children. Her distraught ghost has been spotted wearing an old brown dress for hundreds of years.

10. Buttermarket Shopping Centre, Ipswich

It may have had a major refurbishment and addition of new restaurants, shops and cinema, but it has its fair share of ghosts too. The shopping centre is on the site of an Anglo-Saxon graveyard, and replaced the former Cowells department store and Cowells printers. Startled witnesses saw the ghost-figure of an old monk at the site and according to Pete Jenning’s ‘Haunted Ipswich’ (2011), many passer-bys have reported seeing a male figure running toward them in a nearby alleyway, only for him to disappear in front of them.

Look out for the benign ghost at the Adam & Eve, the oldest pub in Norwich. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY Look out for the benign ghost at the Adam & Eve, the oldest pub in Norwich. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

11. Maddermarket Theatre, Norwich

Keeping the tradition that ‘every theatre worthy of its name should have its own ghost’, as Nugent Monck, the founder of The Maddermarket Theatre is believed to have said, the Maddermarket’s ghost is a rather benign monk. The theatre is based in a former Roman Catholic Chapel and the ghost has been seen walking across the stage, haunting the alleyway beside the theatre, in the theatre itself and has opened or jammed doors, moved costumes, and hidden wigs. He’s said to have saved the life of an actress who was about to be hit by a falling light, and in modern days he’s said to comfort actors who forget their lines

12. Elm Hill, Norwich

It’s no surprise one of the oldest streets in the city has more than one ghost. Not only have people heard random and unexplained footsteps stamping around the antique shop but they’ve been cursed by the ghost of a furious priest. He’s said to be Father Ignatius, a feisty priest who cursed those that didn’t pray with him in 1864. The city people became so enraged by him that an angry mob drove him out of the city. His furious spirit returned and now curses passers by. Watch out too for the footsteps of someone in one of the houses, the ghost of someone who supposedly died in a fire.

A benign ghost is said to haunt the Adam & Eve, the oldest pub in Norwich. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY A benign ghost is said to haunt the Adam & Eve, the oldest pub in Norwich. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

13. Borley Rectory, Sudbury

The Borley Rectory house was demolished in 1944 after most of the property burned to the ground in 1939, but the grounds are still accessible to the public. Visitors have reported ghostly encounters on the site that was once a home. A nun from a nearby nunnery has been seen at the monastry site, believed to be looking for a monk she fell in love with. The two are said to have tried to runaway together, but were found and sentenced to death with the monk sent to the gallows and the nun sealed into the walls of the nunnery alive.

Owners in the 1920s, said they’d heard mysterious footsteps, doorbells ringing and poltergeist activity, and then paranormal investigator, Harry Price, stayed for the following year to examine these reports. The couple moved out of the house two years later, and the new residents reported far more extreme poltergeist activity, such as smashed glasses, broken windows and being thrown from out of bed.

14. Adam and Eve Pub, Norwich

Look out for ghosts at Cromer Pier.
Picture: ANTONY KELLY Look out for ghosts at Cromer Pier. Picture: ANTONY KELLY

Enjoy the company of a relatively cheery ghost at one of the oldest pubs in Norwich. The ghost of Lord Sheffield, stabbed in 1549 during Kett’s rebellion and dragged to the inn on the site of the Adam and Eve, where he died, is, fortunately, known as a friendly chap. Licensees have heart a bell ringing in the upper bar, when they know no-one is there. Look out too for James Rush, hanged for trying to murder Norwich Recorder Isaac Jeremy and his son. It’s thought to be him when staff members say they feel someone running their fingers through their hair.

15. Blickling Hall

Every stately home has at least one ghost and one of Norfolk’s most famous ghosts haunts Blickling Hall. It’s the headless body of the Anne Boleyn, the famous wife of Henry VIII. Blickling Hall was her childhood hall and when the King lost interest in her, she was blamed for turning him from the church. Eventually executed for adultery and treason, is it any wonder her angry apparition is spotted every year on the anniversary of her death?

16. The Scole Inn, Scole

A seagull enjoying the Cromer Pier  Picture: ANTONY KELLY A seagull enjoying the Cromer Pier Picture: ANTONY KELLY

Listen out for galloping phantom hooves at this pub which dates back to 1655. They belong to the horse of a highwayman, galloping through the inn trying to escape from his captors. The best known ghost here is Emma, a young woman killed by her jealous husband who wrongly believed she was having an affair with a highwayman. It’s not clear if it was the highwayman we heard galloping through the inn.

17. Norwich Castle

Once a place of execution and prison, the iconic Norman castle has several ghosts haunting the keep. There have been reports of a floating skull and the ghost of a woman who was executed for killing her husband. Some people say they’ve seen the decomposing remains of rebel Robert Kett, hanging from the castle in a cage. Reports of the ghost of a woman in black have been noted since at least 1820 and are still noted to this day in the art gallery.

18. Cromer Pier

The ghosts at Cromer Pier are mostly in the Pavilion Theatre at the end and appear on stage next to modern day performers. It’s thought too that ghosts of lifeboatmen from the old lifeboat station have moved from haunting that spot to join the other ghosts in the theatre. A phantom island across the sea is sometimes seen, which could be linked to the lost town of Shipden, swallowed by the sea long ago. The ringing of its bell can sometimes be heard, warning of bad weather coming.

19. The Maids Head Hotel, Norwich

This historic building is believed to be haunted by the Lady in Grey. Thought to be an old maid at the building, she walks around the old part of the hotel with the smell of lavender trailing behind her.

20. Dunwich, Suffolk

Dunwich was once one of the largest towns in England and the capital of Suffolk during the Anglo-Saxon period (410 to 1066). Today however, it is a small seaside village as coastal erosion means most of the town was swept away - making it the world’s largest underwater medieval site. The ruins of four churches, several shipwrecks, a toll-house and evidence of the port were found when archaeologists explored the underwater site. People have reported hearing church bells ringing from under the sea and it’s said an Elizabethan era sailor roams the beach and walks into the water, searching his lost love. Not far away towards Dunwich Heath is a forest haunted by two men, one a broken-hearted man and also a Victorian squire on horseback galloping through the woodland.

21. Castle Rising Castle, near King’s Lynn

Infamously known as the “she-wolf of France”, French born Queen Isabella is said to haunt several rooms at Castle Rising Castle. She bought the castle in 1330 and lived there until her death in 1358. The Queen Consort of Edward II of England, and mother of Edward III, people have reportedly heard the swishing noises of her dress as she passes and her cackling laughter echoing around the castle.

22. Thetford Priory

Author and writer Christian Jensen-Romer and friends, then teenagers from Bury St Edmunds, spotted a ghostly monk-like character at the first floor window of the ruins of the Priory where they’d stopped for a break. They went to investigate and saw the black clothed character coming down the stairs. Being foolhardy teenagers, they went to run up the stairs towards him but hit the flint wall at the back of the room - no stairs existed. t the time, when they were running away, Christian says it felt as if they were running through mud or wet sand, he adds.

Now, years later, Christian doesn’t remember it well, he feels his mind has tried so hard to rationalise it he can’t recall it accurately. “But the five of us saw the same thing. It was extremely freaky,” he says.

The experience sparked a fascination with anomaly and paranormal research and he has since written articles around the subject, plus a book with Eric Quigley and Nicola Talbot (nee Jordan) named Spectral Suffolk about Suffolk ghosts. He’s a leading figure in the ASSAP, the Association for the Scientific Study of Anomalous Phenomena and has researched many ghosts and paranormal happenings.

23. Burnley Hall, near Somerton, Great Yarmouth

Dare you walk three times around the large oak tree in the grounds of Burnley Hall? It’s said that a witch with a wooden leg was buried alive in St Mary’s Church in the grounds of the Hall. The tree grew from her leg, destroying the church. It’s still growing in the middle of the original nave and it’s said that if you circle the tree three times, the spirit of the witch will be released.

24. Tunstall, near Great Yarmouth

Hundreds of years ago a fire destroyed the church of St Peter and St Paul’s church at Tunstall near Yarmouth. Its bells fell to the ground but were undamaged and became the centre of a fierce wow between the vicar and the churchwardens over what should happen to them. The Devil, it’s said, took his chance while the argument raged, stepped into the smoking ruins and carried the bells away. Spotted by the vicar who tried to stop him, the Devil dug through the earth - taking the bell with him and leaving a boggy pool of water. Known as Hell Hole, its occasional bubbles are said to be the continual sinking of the bells through the bottomless pit.

25. Rougham Green

The tale of the vanishing house was researched by writer Christian Jensen-Romer. The large red brick house with gardens in full bloom appears on a stretch of road between Rougham Green and Bradfield St George, and disappears as rapidly as it appears. it was first reported in 1860 by Robert Palfrey, and his great grandson James Cobbold and butcher George Waylett saw it in 1912. The butcher said that was the third time he’d seen it and several more people have reported sightings since.

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