Stacia Briggs unveils the story of an otherworldly sighting in mid-Norfolk


An eerie blue-white ‘ghost’ was seen at the dead of night at Seamere near Hingham, passing so close to a witness that he could have touched it.

Today’s tale comes by virtue of Simon Young’s wonderful blog and in turn comes from a book, Echoes from the Counties, written in 1880.

A young man was walking the seven-mile journey home after a concert in the late 19th century when he saw something strange at Seamere, a Hingham farm which includes a 20-acre circular lake formed by a retreating ice-sheet 10,000 years ago.

There, some distance from him across a piece of common land, he could see someone – or something - that appeared to be carrying a lantern in the darkness.

The author notes that the man:“…observed…a bright light, moving steadily along at a fair walking pace, with just such a motion as would be imparted to the light of a lantern by a person in search of something he had lost. 

“He thought it so strange at such a time of night and in such an out of the way place for an honest man to be jogging round with a lantern that he paused involuntarily, and felt come upon him a queer kind of impulse to bawl out and ask what was the matter…”

As he watched, the flickering light altered its course and now appeared to be coming straight across the common, “…bearing down full upon him.”

The eerie light continued towards the man, much to his horror, and as it grew closer, he saw that it was “a moving space of bluish-white light…”

Transparent and glowing, he could see the heath where he walked illuminated at night and through the light he could see the hedgerows, grass and heather.

“…and then, as it passed him on his right, so near he could almost have thrust his hand into it, he knew it was useless to address it, for there was no man in it, no lantern, nor any human agency, only a body of pale light moving along swiftly as if with invisible feet upon the ground, and in dead silence!

“When the thing had passed him, he resumed his journey and having mastered a mile of road in 10 minutes, stopped and lighted a cigar – a sedative much-needed.”

The Lantern Man is one of many names for the elusive, natural phenomenon which causes an occasional flickering glow or dim flame which appears over swamp or marsh land.

Will o’ the Wisps are caused when marsh gas, or methane, is formed from rotting vegetation and bubbles up from submerged mud sometimes spontaneously combusting to produce a ‘cold’ flame.

In Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings – The Two Towers, Sam and Frodo see the ghostly fire when they cross the marshes and are warned not to look at them.

Weird Norfolk has written about Norfolk’s ghostly Lantern Men before, particularly the cases of Joseph Bexfield, who was lured to his death on Thurlton Broad in August 1809 and cases at Irstead where the ghost lights were said to have attached themselves to the restless spirit of a criminal who had drowned there.

Lantern Man has also been spotted at Bawburgh Church and Horning, where a man was said to have mocked him and been knocked off his horse for his troubles.

And the path between Gimingham and Southrepps is known as Jack o’ Lantern’s Lane and is said to be the territory of the Lantern Man.

Do you have a Weird Norfolk story? Email