Weird Norfolk: The TV ghost of Morley Old Hall
It was set to be a televised example of how a ghost hunter worked and proved to be so effective that a ghost actually appeared to make a guest appearance.
When Anglia TV set out to film a documentary at the allegedly haunted Morley Old Hall in Norfolk, a 16th-century manor house enclosed by a medieval moat close to Wymondham, parapsychologist Anthony Cornell conducted an investigation in which he deduced that there was no evidence to say a ghost was at work at Morley: the ghost, however, disagreed. Five people immediately contacted Anglia TV to say they'd spotted 'a hooded monk' between Cornell – who was a famous sceptic in matters of the supernatural – and the man who interviewed him, Michael Robson. When Robson re-ran the film he decided to broadcast it again and asked viewers to write in and tell him what they'd seen. An incredible 27 wrote in, 15 claiming to have seen a monk or a priest in the footage and one a hooded skull.
The Society for Psychical Research looked at the footage years later, a spokesperson saying: 'Morley Hall figures extensively in the longest section…in a documentary called The Unknown which Anglia Television transmitted on 24 August 1964. Tony Cornell acted as advisor and was asked to demonstrate a typical spontaneous case investigation. 'The atmospheric Morley Hall, a large sixteenth-century building which was being restored, was chosen by the television company for the purpose. Tony is prominent, and there is a rather lovely sequence in which he is shown walking around the labyrinthine building. It's all about as far from the histrionics of Most Haunted as you can get.'The Morley Hall investigation has achieved some fame, because this is the recording which caused several viewers to contact the station to say that when Tony was being interviewed, they could see a hooded monk behind him. The interview was broadcast again, and more people wrote in to say that they could see the figure. Cornell and Gauld wrote the story up in the March 1969 Journal, as 'A 'Ghost' on Television', concluding that the shape was an illusion caused by the pattern of markings on the background stonework.'
But the viewers were adamant about what they'd seen.'Both my daughter and myself certainly saw the outline of a priest to the right of the speaker and to the left of the interviewer,' said Mrs G D Hayden of Bromham, while Mr and Mrs Carter of Lincolnshire said the figure was 'very clear', enabling Mrs Carter to create a drawing of the lurking figure.
'Both my mother and I saw the monk looking through the window; he is cowled, bearded, and his hands are slightly raised,' said Elvira Panetta of Norwich, while Nora Kononenho of Suffolk explained that 'it first looked to me like a skull with a hood, and then, as the gentlemen went on talking, it seemed to come forward and peer in. At that moment it distinctly changed into a gaunt-looking face, with a horrible leer upon it.'
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And after the re-run, the testimonies continued to pour in as viewers described a monk who appeared to them as plain as day. Earlier reports of a ghost at Morley Hall had suggested the spectre haunting the building was a beautiful woman, who had been seen looking across the gardens from a particular window. Some believe the monk seen by Anglia viewers was the ghost of Alexander de Langley, one-time prior of Wymondham, who became insane through over-study (take note, GCSE and A Level students) who was said to have committed a terrible crime in the hall: more on the mad monk of Morley in next week's Weird Norfolk. A vigil at the hall was carried out by renowned American paranormal investigator Hans Holzer, author Ruth Plant and her friend in 1966 to try and determine if a woman truly did haunt the house her friends the Coterill family had bought and were restoring. After spending an uneventful night in the hall, Mrs Plant left her room. 'In the morning I walked across a landing and felt the presence of someone beautiful wanting me to look out at the view. My friend said she had had the experience of hearing heavy breathing and the rustle of material such as of a woman's dress,' she told the Eastern Daily Press.
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