Weird Norfolk: The Mousehold Street poltergeist

A report in the EDP of the poltergeist activity at 93 Mousehold Street, Norwich in 1958. Picture: ED

A report in the EDP of the poltergeist activity at 93 Mousehold Street, Norwich in 1958. Picture: EDP Library - Credit: Archant

They were an ordinary family in an ordinary house in an ordinary street. But what happened behind closed doors was absolutely extraordinary.

Mousehold Street, Norwich. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Mousehold Street, Norwich. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY - Credit: Copyright: Archant 2017

Norwich City Council's housing department was used to receiving requests from its tenants to move to another area, but the very unusual reason for wanting to leave caused a few eyebrows to raise: there was, claimed the family in question, an unwanted lodger at the city property – a resident poltergeist.

In the summer of 1958, a couple appealed to their housing officer, begging to leave the council house they shared with their two children at 93 Mousehold Street due to the presence of a spirit which was plaguing them day and night and was unconcerned by religious paraphernalia such as the crucifix on the front room mantelpiece.

'Strange things have been happening at number 93,' said a report in the Eastern Daily Press on July 2 1958, 'panes of glass have broken to a set pattern; stones and bricks have been flung across rooms; a tin of polish has come through the ceiling; clocks and watches have been found in unusual places. All these things have happened in the last fortnight.'

After sleepless nights and days of worry, the couple contacted the Reverend S Long, vicar of nearby St James the Less church and he blessed the house and the family.

The children's mother explained the troubles had started two weeks previously when she found a watch in an unaccustomed place and then a clock at the foot of the stairs. Seven window panes were smashed in the sitting room and the stones that broke them were hot to the touch. She and her husband reported seeing branch-like shadows inside their home.

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Doors banged at night and sometimes the mother of the house heard a noise as if a baby were crying – she later reported she had previously felt as if she were being strangled by an invisible force.

Mr Long visited the house three times and while he was blessing the house, its rooms and the family, a stone fell near his feet. But despite the blessing, the family were unwilling to stay in a house they felt they were sharing with a malevolent presence and took up the vicar's offer to stay in the parish hall.

Before the family left for their temporary residence, and just before a violent thunderstorm, four stones appeared to hurtle through the ceiling at 93 Mousehold Street. With a reporter in tow, the husband took the brave reporter into a bedroom where he claimed he could normally feel the presence at its strongest. It felt less intense.

'I hope you strangers have driven it away,' he told the reporter, who was spending part of the night in the house, along with a colleague and reporters from Fleet Street.

The reporters heard 'clicks' in the house, which were said to precede stone showers, but nothing else manifested and the family returned the next night, assured of continued company.

In the following days, the police visited the house and later declared the matter 'satisfactorily cleared up.'

But the poltergeist was of sufficient interest to two members of the Cambridge University Society for Psychic Research who travelled to Norwich to investigate further. Anthony Cornell, a para-psychologist and prominent ghost investigator and Alan Gauld, who wrote a book about poltergeists. No results were ever made public.

Number 93 Mousehold Street is long-since demolished, replaced by modern housing. But the mystery still hangs in the air, even after the police claimed the troubling issue of the so-called haunted house had been resolved 9e implication being that a prankster had been responsible) the husband claimed the spirit was still active.

A final report notes: 'When seen at his home on Thursday night by a reporter, he said that only the previous night buttons had been torn off his jacket while it was hanging up.'

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