Weird Norfolk: The ghost of Windsor Terrace, King’s Lynn

A view over the rooftops of houses on London Road in King's Lynn. Picture: Ian Burt

A view over the rooftops of houses on London Road in King's Lynn. Picture: Ian Burt - Credit: Archant

We've all heard of ghosts that rattle chains - but ghosts that rattle bedsteads in terrace houses in King's Lynn? No wonder crowds flocked in their hundreds to see what the spectre would do next.

In May 1902, a Norwich family packed up their belongings and moved to Windsor Terrace in Lynn - but it seems that someone, or something, wasn't glad to share one of the bedrooms there.

On their very first night in the house, three occupants were rudely awoken from their slumber by an invisible interloper.

As was common at the time three brothers were sharing a bed in the small house - it was in this shared room that the incident happened.

A report in The Weekly Press at the time said: '...during the night the occupants of the bed rushed terrified from the room, averring that a ghostly visitor had laid hold of the bedstead and given it a good shaking, since then watch parties have been organised, and they declared that if they never believed in ghosts before they believe in them now.

'One individual, it is stated, was pitched neck and crop out of the room, and the bedstead has repeatedly given evidence of unearthly animation.

'Strange noises have also been heard, and altogether the room is credited with containing all the elements of a haunted chamber.

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'At all events the family have been genuinely alarmed and have not dared to pass the night in the house since some of its members were so rudely disturbed, and a kind neighbour has provided them with sleeping accommodation.

'They have taken another house, but intend to leave the animated bedstead behind. In the meantime it has been determined to continue the midnight watches in the hope of 'laying the ghost''

News spread of the ghostly visitor's nightly antics - always between 11.15pm and 11.30pm - and a crowd of up to 400 people gathered around the house, refusing to leave until 3am.

The head of the family invited some of his fellow workmen to stake out the haunted room, but the as The Press noted: ' could only have been expected, their vigil produced nothing of an exciting nature. 'The sensational manifestation has been reserved for those persons who have paid a visit to one of the bedrooms in the house and a story of strange happenings is given.'

The eldest brother's account was chilling - the 18-year-old spoke of a violently shaking bed, a sound like rushing wind before a '...visitor from the other world revealed itself to them in a shadowy form, and he saw two large eyes staring at him'.

When the young man's parents came to reassure him and coax him back to bed, lighting his way, ' apparition approached the woman, and she threw herself upon the bed terrified, and the husband saw the bed rock and heard the rushing sound'.

The lack of a ghostly visit when a vigil was mounted was explained away by the fact the spectre had been, ahem, spooked by the crowds outside.

Having spoken to the terrified family, an intrepid group of reporters from the Eastern Daily Press offered to spend the night in the room, but the offer was later withdrawn by the occupier who explained he no longer thought it wise to continue to publicise the tale.

'He thinks it best to keep the house shut up for a night or two so that the general interest in the affair may abate sufficiently to prevent large crowds assembling,' the EDP reported.

A few weeks later, on June 7, it was reported that the mystery had been solved and the culprit unmasked. The EDP wrote, on June 7 1902: 'The mystery of the haunted house in Windsor Terrace, King's Lynn, has been solved, and the ghost – or rather one of them – has been captured.

'On paying a visit to the empty house, strange noises were again heard, and, upon a close investigation, it was found that this ghost had come down the chimney, and was fluttering about the room in its attempts to escape – possibly to pay a visit to some other abode.

'Like all angels of bad repute, the ghost was dark in colour, and was possessed of a strong pair of wings. After a desperate struggle the all-disturbing visitor was captured and placed in the hands of an ornithologist, who pronounced it to be a fine young starling – evidently one of a nest subsequently found in the chimney.

'It must have been a very strong imagination to have moved the bedstead in the manner described by those who were frightened by the visitor.'

It must also, one might counter, take a very strong imagination to suggest this mystery could be so easily solved - wild birds that move bedsteads? There must be something in the water in West Norfolk...

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