AMAZING PHOTO: Ghostly presence in north Norfolk church
PUBLISHED: 15:02 25 July 2011 | UPDATED: 09:34 26 July 2011
© ARCHANT NORFOLK 2011
A pub’s name-change in honour of a north Norfolk village’s ghost brought haunting memories flooding back for EDP reader Diane Berthelot.
Mrs Berthelot read about the re-launch of Worstead’s New Inn in the EDP and was thrilled when she saw it was to become The White Lady; celebrating the ghost said to appear in the nearby church every Christmas Eve.
One hot summer’s day 36 years ago, Mrs Berthelot believes she unwittingly had her photo taken with the White Lady while visiting the church, and the EDP article prompted her to get in touch.
While one early account of the ghost’s appearance ends in the witness’s death, Mrs Berthelot, of Hipperson Close, North Walsham, says her own experience was of a healing and peaceful spirit presence.
In 1830 a man is said to have climbed into the church belfry on Christmas Eve, boasting that he would kiss the White Lady if he saw her. When he failed to reappear, his friends followed and found him huddled and terrified. He managed to whisper “I’ve seen her, I’ve seen her,” before dying.
Mrs Berthelot, now 79, says she had never heard of the ghost when she, husband Peter and their 12-year-old son David visited the old weaving village of Worstead on Saturday August 2 1975, during one of their regular holidays in Norfolk from their then home in Essex, and went inside the church to escape the heat.
She had suffered ill health for some time and remembers that she was taking antibiotics for an infection and felt unwell that day. As her husband and son wandered round the empty church taking photos, Mrs Berthelot sat close to the font on a wooden bench and prayed for recovery, unaware that her husband had caught her on camera too. She remembers feeling warm, relaxed and at peace.
Months later, back in Essex, the family and their lodger Barbara decided to have a slide show and view their summer snaps for the first time. They were astounded when Barbara asked: “Who’s that sitting behind you Di?”
Mrs Berthelot said: “I looked up, saw the white figure and my feet started to ‘tingle’. This sensation eventually engulfing the whole of me. It was a pleasant, comforting feeling.”
The photo appears to show a woman dressed in light-coloured, old-fashioned clothes, with a bonnet, sitting on the bench directly behind Mrs Berthelot.
The following summer Mrs Berthelot says she went back to the church and showed the slide to the late Vicar of Worstead, Rev Pettit, who told them about the legend and said there was talk that the White Lady was a healer who appeared when there was sickness.
For many years Mrs Berthelot said she experienced the same tingling sensation whenever she looked at the photo, although this has since stopped.
“I’ve been back to the church many times since but nothing ever happened again,” she said.
Mrs Berthelot has now presented a copy of her photo to Dennis Gilligan, the new owner of Worstead’s pub, who decided on the name change after finding an ageing newspaper article about the White Lady when he moved into his own home in the village.
Mr Gilligan plans to frame and display Mrs Berthelot’s photo. He suspects the White Lady may have started drifting across to the pub since it was renamed as lights appear to turn themselves on and off without human intervention - and he was recently touched on the shoulder while alone in the cellars.