Weird Norfolk: Could this be the most haunted building in Norfolk?
PUBLISHED: 09:00 10 August 2019 | UPDATED: 12:43 10 August 2019
This Norfolk building boasts not one ghost but almost 40 – from lost boys waiting for a father who never returns to a young woman who fell in love with the wrong man, a poltergeist and even the ghosts of some pub drinkers.
True's Yard in King's Lynn offers a fascinating glimpse into the fishing community which once dominated this town on the very edge of Norfolk - and it is also home to a host of ghosts.
At its heart is a pair of 18th century fishing cottages and a yard named for William True, the man who purchased the buildings in 1818: the preserved cottages, built in around 1790, show what life was like in Lynn in the 1850s, when a family of 11 crowded into just one cottage while the other reflects family life in the 1920s.
A smokehouse, once owned by Thomas Westwood, is next door and in the courtyard a fishing smack, the Activity, can be found. The main museum houses fascinating exhibits that bring the fishing industry to life, but today's story concerns the exhibits that are no longer alive - the museum's ghosts.
Doors have been slammed shut without explanation, paintings knocked off of walls and a function room is said to be haunted at True's Yard. There are said to be a jaw-dropping 38 ghosts that live in the museum including a poltergeist called Henry and a young girl who was murdered by her father for loving the wrong man.
When David Wharmby's Nottingham-based Bassetlaw Ghost Research Group - now itself long gone - visited True's Yard to hunt for phantoms in 2005, they produced evidence which, they said, suggested that the museum was a supernatural hot, or rather cold, spot.
The group, which boasted an impressive five mediums and 10 technicians, encountered ghosts in every room they investigated, documenting up to three ghosts an hour.
Resident poltergeist Henry, who lives in a room where fisherfolk once laid their heads after a hard day's work, has been known to cause light bulbs to blow, knock paintings off walls and send staplers flying across rooms - it is thought that Henry was part of a press gang, working for the Navy and forcing unsuspecting men to take the King's Shilling.
In one of the cottage's bedrooms, it is said that a young woman met a grisly end when her father strangled her after finding out that she had fallen in love with a man he didn't approve of - rather than risk embarrassment, he took the decision that ending her life was better than bringing shame to the family - she has been seen with red marks around her throat.
Her father's ghost has been seen in the room where he committed the crime: visitor's have heard a voice imploring them to leave as the temperature drops markedly around them.
Children are seen waiting inside one of the cottages or on the doorstep for their fisherman father while the ghost of a little girl has been spotted roaming in cottage six.
In the First Gallery, which was once The Naval Reserve public house - itself the amalgamation of two Victorian alehouses - a band of six spectral locals enjoy a quiet pint and in the main museum, the tragic figure of a docker's son has been spotted desperately looking for his father and seemingly unaware that he is no longer alive.
A ghost has been seen at the window of the museum and the yard itself is said to be haunted by the ghosts of children who are seen playing - according to some reports, these spectral scamps aren't adverse to playing tricks on visitors, so beware!
Finally, something tragic hides in the attic: during a routine inspection, a hanging man was spotted in the rafters.
Ironically, the one report we have of someone who did breathe their last in True's Yard does not - as far as we know - remain there in phantom form: on September 2 1910, the Eastern Daily Press told the story of poor Mary Ann Wilkin, aged 61, who died after falling down the stairs at True's Yard.
Her husband Jacob Buck Wilkin, who she had married at St Margaret's Church in King's Lynn on May 22 1887, said that he had been sleeping in the downstairs room at the house which he frequently did, and that his wife had been asleep upstairs.
The fisherman explained that Mary had been unwell for a few days and had been looked after by her daughter while at sea. At 2.15am on August 28, a Sunday morning, he heard a loud noise.
"He rushed to the staircase and saw his wife lying flat on her back with her head against the staircase," the report read, "blood was flowing from a wound across the right temple. He gave her every attention, and when she regained consciousness helped her upstairs again. He did not call anyone in at the time.
"His wife did not say how the accident happened, but she said she felt very sore, and that her head was bad. She also fell downstairs three months before. It was her habit to come downstairs to look at him. On Sunday evening he went for Dr Jackson who came at once."
The borough coroner recorded a verdict of accidental death - and it seems Mary has not returned to claim otherwise.
* For more information about True's Yard, visit www.truesyard.co.uk.
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