Terrifying tours get Norwich in the Halloween spirit

Paul Dickson, a guide on The Vile and Horrible History Norwich Walking Tours.Picture: ANTONY KELLY

Paul Dickson, a guide on The Vile and Horrible History Norwich Walking Tours.Picture: ANTONY KELLY - Credit: Archant

As the days get shorter and the nights get longer, a darker side of Norwich's past is coming back to haunt the city - through guided Halloween tours that is.

The Vile and Horrible History Norwich Walking Tours, which started this Saturday and last until October 30, are back this season after popular demand. Cloaked guides will tell tales of malevolent witches, dragons, ghosts, murderers, and executions in 'olde Norwych' on tours fit for both children and adults (though at separate times).

The EDP met with Paul Dickson, a guide from the Norwich Tourist Information Centre, to hear some of the most ghastly stories of the city's often forgotten past.

Many Norwich historians may know the details of Kett's Rebellion in 1549, that began with an uprising of disgruntled people from Wymondham. Fewer may know the story of how Lord Sheffield - now memorialized on a plaque by Norwich County Court - lost his head.

Lord Sheffield was second in command of the Royal Army and therefore it was his job to quell the rebellion beginning in the countryside. A battle between the rebel forces and the Royal Army broke out by St Martin at Palace Church and Lord Sheffield realised he would either be killed or captured. He quickly took off his helmet - a clever manoeuvre during that time to show his powerful status and imply it would be more beneficial to capture him than to kill him.


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Fulke, a local butcher, did not know this rule of war and brought down his meat cleaver on his head. Lord Sheffield was brought to the Adam and Eve Pub where he died on a tavern table. It's said his ghost still haunts the watering hole today.

As for Martha Shewald, who lived in the cottages behind the Adam and Eve with her husband William, she met a similar fate. In 1851, Martha was murdered and her body parts were dismembered and strewn across the city.

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Though many townspeople suspected William had killed her, they could not find Martha's head and had little concrete evidence of her husband's culpability.

William went on to get married for the second time and moved to London in 1869. His downfall eventually came not from another person's testimony, but his own. After a night of drinking he marched into the local police station and confessed to murdering Martha.

William was found guilty and was hung at Norwich Castle: the first indoor execution in the city (until 1869 all executions were made public).

Sadly for Martha, William would not confess where he had stashed Martha's head, and it has never been found to this day.

For more ghoulish tales like these and to buy tickets for tours, contact the Norwich Tourist Information Centre at 01603 213999 or book online.

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