Norfolk author inspired by tales of the supernatural
PUBLISHED: 09:19 14 October 2015 | UPDATED: 09:57 14 October 2015
An author known for his books on local people has turned to the supernatural to inspire his latest work.
Geoff Brock, who lives in Worlingham, recently published Tales of Ghostly East Anglia – a departure from his usual work.
“I thought I had just about exhausted my local characters,” he said. “And I’ve always been interested in the supernatural; I’ve seen a few ghosts in my time, someone suggested I write a book about ghosts, so I started to do the research.
“It’s different from anything I’ve ever written.”
Mr Brock spent the summer travelling around East Anglia, then sat down and put pen to paper over the winter.
The ghostly wherry that sails the Broads
Every June 24, a ghostly wherry appears on the broads, trying to berth.
One day in 1854, a man called ‘Blood’ Stephenson came to Beccles to look for work and lie low as he was wanted by the authorities, having committed several murders abroad.
He was appointed captain of a wherry called the Mayfly, which transported grain between Beccles and Great Yarmouth.
One day, he was tasked with running a large sum of money from Beccles to the bank in Yarmouth.
The Mayfly reached Breydon Water, and Blood declared his intention to steal the cargo, killing the deckhand who refused to join him.
Later, a fight ensued resulting in Blood’s death.
A young cabin boy called Tim was the only crew member left alive.
He lowered the lifeboat, took provisions and drifted out to sea.
And then a boat passed him, sails glowing, white figures aboard and bearing the name the Mayfly.
Tim was picked up two days later, and the Mayfly was found drifting in a rough sea full of corpses.
A year to the day later, a wherry drew near to where Tim was fishing, bearing the name Mayfly, glowing with a phosphorescent light.
It can still be seen heading on its way every June 24th, desperately trying to find a berth before disappearing at dawn.
“I travelled to various places because it helps you get a flavour of whatever phenomenon it might be,” he said.
And the result of those months writing is Tales of Ghostly East Anglia, which includes the grisly history of Roos Hall, in Beccles.
Built in the 16th century, the hall was owned by the family of Lord Nelson’s mother.
Not only does it feature a hanging tree where many criminals met their end, there is also a mysterious burn mark in a cupboard.
Legend says the Devil came to Roos Hall to make mischief, but the hall staff caught him and threw him into the cupboard. In his fury, he kicked the door and left a mark.
“I had heard Barsham Church was haunted and I know about the boy on the bike in Yarmouth, but you do find out a lot as you go along,” he said.
Mr Brock says he had his own encounter with the local ghosts in Gorleston, about a decade a go.
“I saw something looming in my peripheral vision,” he said.
“And there’s this kid on a bike and he seemed to take one push on the pedals and then disappear.”
And Mr Brock is undeterred by nay-sayers. “Let them be sceptical,” he said.
Tales of Ghostly East Anglia is available to buy now from Beccles Books, where Mr Brock will be doing a signing from 11am to 1pm on October 31.