Dancing on their graves!

PUBLISHED: 14:59 15 June 2006 | UPDATED: 11:01 22 October 2010


Today it is boarded up, waiting for a new lease of life, but there was a time when the old Samson & Hercules was the hottest dance spot in East Anglia.


Today it is boarded up, waiting for a new lease of life, but there was a time when the old Samson & Hercules was the hottest dance spot in East Anglia.

Generations of men and women from far and wide would flock to S&H House on Tombland in the heart of old Norwich. It was where boys met girls.

But did they know they had been dancing the night away on graves?

The grisly secrets of this extraordinary building that has played such a big part in so many lives are told by Evening News ghostbuster Dave Chisnell on his new walks.

According to Dave, some of those poor souls are still restless and have been known to rise up from time to time.

“While some of the dancers would have known that beneath the Samson dance floor there was a swimming pool, who would have guessed that just below the pool lies a plague pit dating back to the 14th century?” said Dave.

When the Black Death reached Norwich in 1349, it swept through the city claiming thousands of lives.

“Many pits were dug for the dead bodies and the biggest was located underneath where the Samson now stands and hundreds of bodies were piled inside it,” said Dave.

“And when the great plague of 1578 arrived in the city, the pit was reopened and hundreds more bodies were thrown into it,” he added.

It is estimated that as many as 5,000 bodies now lie underneath the dance floor.

“Many monks from the cathedral who perished in the plagues were buried in the pits and monks have often been seen wandering around the Samson,” said Dave.

“Some years ago, when a young women from Belgium delivered a lecture in one of the rooms on the top floor, she was shocked to see three monks sitting on the back row, listening to her. No one else had seen them,” he said.

And ghostly Dave goes on: “The Samson also used to be the YMCA and often people spending the night in one of the bedrooms on the top floor would complain of having nightmares.

“The nightmare was of being buried alive. Had they known what they were sleeping above, their nightmares could have been even worse.”

The Norwich City Ghost and Horror Walks, now in their ninth year, leave from the Adam and Eve pub, near the cathedral, every Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday at 7.30pm.

t If you fancy being spooked, we have 10 pairs of tickets to give away so you can join ghostly Dave on his walks. Answer this question: Just a spit from the S&H is the House of Augustine Steward, one of the oldest houses in Norwich built in the 16th century. And, of course, it is haunted - but by whom?

Is it.

1 The Lady in White.

2 The Lady in Red.

3 The Lady in Grey

Send your answers on a postcard to Dave Chisnell, at 7 Steward Close, Wymondham, Norfolk NR18 0EZ, or email them to

Entries must be received by Friday, June 30, and usual Archant rules apply. And one more thing - mind how you go!

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