Weird Norfolk: Does this photo show ghosts at Norwich Cathedral Cloisters?
- Credit: DENISE BRADLEY/Archant
Taken after opening hours in the deserted cloisters of Norwich Cathedral it was only after the photograph was developed that Rachel Burch spotted something strange. The shot was part of Rachel’s GCSE art project in 1990 and was taken at the Cathedral when it was virtually deserted: but in the photograph she had developed, there were two clear figures, one clad in black, the other in white.
The white figure appears to be sitting on the stone ledge in the cloisters while a figure clad in what looks like a black robe stands by one of the doors that leads into the Cathedral. Neither figure, says Rachel, was there when the photograph was taken.
Norwich Cathedral has the second largest cloisters in England which connected the cathedral to the various buildings where monks lived and worked. When it was finished in 1096, it incorporated a monastery of Benedictine monks, sometimes called ‘Black Monks’ in reference to the colour of their religious habits.
The photograph was shared in Weird Norfolk’s Facebook group by Caroline Weeds, of Mulbarton, who first saw it when she worked at Norwich Cathedral’s shop from 2002 to 2007, when it was based closer to the old refectory. Caroline said: “I loved working there, it was so wonderful that it didn’t feel like a job.
“The lady who ran the restaurant at the time regularly talked about the ghost that was there – they called him ‘Brother Fred’.
“We used to wash our cups up there and it felt like someone was watching you, it was a very real, solid feeling that someone was there with you, even if the room was empty. Once, when I was walking up the stairs, I felt something icy cold touch my hand – I didn’t imagine it, it was there.
“Another time, the assistant manager of the shop tried to leave a room and there was someone pushing against the door, not letting her out – but when she looked, there was no one there.
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“And I also remember when we had a customer, an older gentleman, come in who was very shocked – he’d seen a figure come through the wall. We had to sit him down and get him a glass of water to calm him down.”
The photograph taken in the cloisters by 15-year-old Rachel was given to Caroline by the student’s mother, Gwen, who was a volunteer at the Cathedral shop. Gwen told Caroline that the photograph had been taken as part of Rachel’s GCSE project which required her to take images in sepia, a form of photographic print toning which adds warmth to a shot.
Weird Norfolk managed to track down Rachel, who is now living in Devon.
“This photograph was in my portfolio when I got into my photography course at King’s Lynn. I took it on film and had it developed at St Stephen’s Street Boots,” Rachel explained. She confirmed that when she took the shot there was no one was in the cloisters.
Caroline added: “To me, one of the figures looks like a monk in a black robe. Gwen said that Rachel had checked that the photo hadn’t been tampered with – it’s just very strange.
“I shared the photograph because it fascinates me. I never felt frightened at the Cathedral, quite the opposite. But this photograph does seem to show something quite strange.”
In 2015, Kerry Launders took several photographs of Norwich Cathedral on her mobile phone – when she was looking at them later, she was astonished to see what looked like the ghost of a bishop, clad in long robes and a tall hat. The photograph is of one of the Cathedral’s upper chambers and shows what looks like a shadowy clerical figure.
According to other reports, builders who have worked on surrounding buildings have reported objects moving on their own and visitors have told of ghostly figures seen inside the Norwich landmark.
Weird Norfolk has previously reported on many ghosts in this spectral corner of the city including the ghostly Victorian preacher that haunts Elm Hill, the ghost of Erpingham Gate at the Cathedral and the Grey Lady of Tombland.
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