Weird Norfolk: The ghost house of Acle Straight

Aerial Looking west from Great yarmouth Acle straight.

Weird Norfolk received a message from reader Tina Clayton, who asked for our help in regard to something inexplicable she had seen on the Acle Straight as a teenager. - Credit: Mike Page

As Tina Clayton and her mother neared Great Yarmouth they saw something magical – a grand manor house, lit from within, the silhouettes of party-goers clear through the windows. 

It was clear that a grand party was in full-swing at the house which was framed by tall Poplar trees and which glowed against the night sky. 

Tina looked forward to seeing the house in daylight the next time she passed: but when they approached the precise spot, there was nothing there. 

No house, no party, no trees, not even a ruin. Just fields and a somewhat unnerving feeling that something very strange indeed had just happened: had Tina and her mother witnessed a time slip? 

Weird Norfolk received a message from reader Tina Clayton, who asked for our help in regard to something inexplicable she had seen on the Acle Straight as a teenager. 

It was 1979 and Tina was 12-years-old and a keen dancer who would often spend weekends travelling to London with her mum to dance. 

She wrote: “One early evening, my mother and I were travelling in the car and we saw a very large house on the left-hand side as we were going towards Yarmouth, very near to the corner near Vauxhall Holiday Park, but not really close to it. 

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“We both saw the same thing: a very large house, grand, Regency/Georgian-style but not quite a mansion. Three trees in front, tall like poplars, and all the lights were burning. 

“It looked like they were having a party as we could see people dancing in couples through the windows. We commented on it as we had not seen the house before, and then carried on with the journey.” 

The enchanting scene the pair had caught a glimpse of stayed with them, and the next time they were on the same stretch of road, they looked out for the house. 

“It was not there – no sign of it, or the trees and no ruin,” wrote Tina. 

“Nothing to indicated what we had seen before. There has been no sign of what we saw from that time on and I have looked every time I have driven on the Acle Straight. 

“There is a ruined building near to the site but this is obviously an old farm building and is nothing like what we saw.” 

Tina went on to explain that the house she and her mother saw was similar in size and design to the Georgian-built Assembly House in Norwich and that it was night-time when the pair had their unusual sighting. 

“It looked very real – there seemed to be a really good party going on inside! We looked every time we passed for the house and to my family, it remains a mystery. I would love to know if anyone else has seen anything like this…" 

The spot near to Vauxhall Holiday Park where Tina Clayton and her mother saw something inexplicable

The spot near to Vauxhall Holiday Park where Tina Clayton and her mother saw something inexplicable. - Credit: Google

Weird Norfolk has documented strange sightings on the Acle Straight in the past, including the story of the ghost spotted at the Halvergate turn-off, a notoriously dangerous stretch of the road which has tragically claimed many lives over the decades. 

A driver reported watching in horror as a middle-aged man walked out into the centre of the road from the right-hand side and into the path of their car. 

With no time to stop, the figure turned to look at the driver and as he did so, the car passed straight through him. 

Other drivers have reported seeing a phantom horse and cart crossing the road directly in the path of oncoming vehicles with others recounting their sudden impulse to brake violently and for no apparent reason at certain points along the road. 

And there are many stories from across the world of inexplicable time slips where people find themselves in another dimension or what feels like a parallel universe. 

Two are from our neighbour, Suffolk: the first happened in October 1957 when three 15-year-olds were taking part in an orienteering exercise on a Sunday morning when they walked into the village of Kersey and, apparently, a completely different period in time. 

All the boys could hear was a stream, the modern houses had been replaced by timber-framed buildings and they couldn’t even hear the ducks that looked as if they were splashing in the stream. 

Filled with unease, the boys began to look around: there in a butcher’s shop window were skinned oxen, green with age and covered with cobwebs as if the butcher had left in a hurry, weeks earlier. 

Houses in the village were bare of furniture, just empty, cold shells. 

Just then, a shiver passed through all three young men as all felt the icy stare of invisible watchers from all around the village tracing their every step. 

Petrified and nauseous, they walked quickly up the village street, eventually pelting away from the strange, medieval-looking houses, pausing only to glance back to check if they were being followed. Speaking in 1990, William Laing (one of the boys in question) said: ““It was a ghost village, so to speak. It was almost as if we had walked back in time… I experienced an overwhelming feeling of sadness and depression in Kersey, but also a feeling of unfriendliness and unseen watchers which sent shivers up one’s back… I wondered if we’d knocked at a door to ask a question who might have answered it? It doesn’t bear thinking about.” 

Another tale is told in Rougham where a stately Georgian home is said to appear and then vanish, leaving no trace: the Rougham Mirage has been spotted since 1860 and up to 2007. 

In Norfolk, there have been reports of unsettling time slips at Horning where a family found themselves in an eerie version of the Broadland village that hadn’t been seen for decades. 

And then there is the curious case of the Great Yarmouth shop – just a few minutes from Tina’s phantom house – where a man stepped into a smartly-painted shop from a traditionally cobbled road and noted almost straight away that inside it seemed quaintly old-fashioned – inside there was complete silence and the traffic outside had melted away entirely. 

It was 1973 and the man, the charmingly named Mr Squirrel, had gone to buy transparent envelopes to keep individual coins from his collection in. 

At the till, a young woman stepped forward to help. She was wearing a blouse with a cameo brooch at her neck, her hair was scraped back into a bun and her skirt was long and swished to the floor. 

Mr Squirrel asked for the coin envelopes and she produced them, noting that they were also used by fishermen to keep their hooks in – he bought 36 for a shilling, nodded his thanks and left the shop. 

Within a week, and having catalogued 36 coins, he found himself in need of more envelopes and set out once again for the old-fashioned shop. When he arrived, he was perplexed to see paving slabs instead of cobbles, a drab frontage instead of smart paint: inside, a much older woman stepped forward to serve him and, when asked for the envelopes, said she didn’t stock them. 

Mr Squirrel mentioned the lady he had seen a week earlier only to be told that no such assistant worked at the shop – in fact, the lady he was speaking to was the sole assistant and had been for many years. 

Just what did Tina and her mother see that night in 1979? Just how can a houses, villages and shops simply flicker in and out of existence at will?