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Weird Norfolk

A special tale for Easter: the storm-raising witch from King’s Lynn said to have used eggs to drown sailors

The team are at Norwich Cathedral again and this week we have a chat about the Lantern Man of Thurlton. Siofra becomes starstruck as Budge the cat drops by.

A new behind-the-scenes tour at Holkham Hall allows visitors to discover how life was lived upstairs and downstairs in the servants’ areas, attics and the cellars at Holkham Hall. Today, Weird Norfolk follows the tour guide up the winding staircase to the highest tower rooms and attics.

A Shaggy dog story - the tale of Black Shuck in Coltishall: “As big as a calf and noiseless as death”

A pact with the Devil, a midnight ritual and the sacrifice of a toad – it sounds like medieval witchcraft, but in fact it’s a ritual which took place in Norfolk within living memory. Weird Norfolk examine Norfolk’s amphibian witchcraft.

Standing as a signpost to a village that longer bustles, in a rhododendron clearing in the woods, Mark Goldsworthy’s timber carving shows the curious tale of the brave Bishop Beaver of Babingley.

At Norfolk’s own Borley Rectory at Syderstone near Fakenham, a Reverend and his family were plagued by a terrifying poltergeist. But just who was the ghost who wreaked havoc on a holy man’s house?

She’s been seen in the streets, houses and churches of Tombland, a grey lady who glides through walls and hides a terrible secret: when she was locked into a room with her plague victim parents, she ate their flesh to stay alive and met her end choking on their flesh.

This week’s weird wander takes us to Syderstone near Fakenham and a haunted parsonage which made a small Norfolk village a national sensation. In this first of two parts, today we look at the haunting of Syderstone parsonage.

It’s the tale of two tragic sisters, an attic bedroom at Felbrigg Hall, ghosts caught on camera and deadly wallpaper – just what secrets does one of North Norfolk’s best-loved stately homes hide?

In the midst of the dead, one name stands out: Oliver Tomkins, the Great Yarmouth man who went to preach the word of God to “savages” but whose reward was to be cooked and eaten by cannibals almost 120 years ago.

There are secrets hidden in every corner of Norfolk, even in the least expected places: what today forms part of a modern shopping mall was once the place where city people went to have curses removed and good luck restored.

She’s been seen in the streets, houses and churches of Tombland, a grey lady who glides through walls and hides a terrible secret: when she was locked into a room with her plague victim parents, she ate their flesh to stay alive and met her end choking on their flesh.

It’s the impressive tale of a dragon, a labyrinth under Ludham and a daring escape to a riverside abbey. Weird Norfolk finds out if the Ludham Dragon is still lurking underground.

This week we discuss the infamous red balloon ghost of Chapelfield Mall as well other hauntings in the shopping centre.

Weird Norfolk takes a tour of the Bridewell’s Undercroft, where fascinating stories of merchants and misery await.

It’s one of Norfolk’s most famous landmarks boasting the tallest tower in the county which gazes out over a beloved part of the coastline – but when Cromer Church’s chancel lay in ruins before it was rebuilt in the 19th century, something terrifying lay in wait for the faithful.

After Weird Norfolk took readers on an underground adventure to find a hidden street deep below one of Norwich’s busiest roads, the charity that runs the subterranean tours has announced another 70 dates when they will be opening up the caverns beneath Castle Meadow.

To marry one woman accused of witchcraft is misfortunate, to marry two is plain suspicious. Weird Norfolk recount the tale of the Norwich man who may have seen two wives sent to their deaths for witchcraft.

In a village whose name suggests restful sleep, something terrifying yet oddly familiar prowled the streets: White Shuck of Great Snoring.

If a ghost you should meet; as you walk down the street – the street of Short Beck as it’s known – just hold your head high and don’t cry ‘oh my!’ or with fear you’ll be chilled to the bone: these ghosts are so clever they always endeavour to frighten you out of your wits but the ghost in Long Lane you should treat with disdain or you’ll suffer some panicky fits…

It was a curious case of bewitched sausages which saw a Great Yarmouth man seek an enchanting cure from a town wise woman.

A new haunted theatrical dining experience has launched in the historic Norwich Guildhall, with spine-tingling stories from those that occupied its cells awaiting trial.

Last year, we brought you news of the Wildman of Watton or Bigfoot of the Forest who has been spotted along the A1075 in a number of sightings from 1986 onwards – witnesses have reported bear-like creatures and shaggy beasts that walk on two legs in the wooded areas that shroud the road.

In the shadow of Norfolk’s most famous ‘mountain’ - the aftermath of Norfolk’s glacial legacy – lies a mysterious pond said to the ghostly resting place of a spectral coachman who can be seen driving his horse and cart into its inky depths.

Some say the video is definitive proof that ghosts exist: a red balloon appears to be floating through intu Chapelfield shopping centre in Norwich as if being held by an invisible hand, it floats down the escalator and then comes to rest by a chair at a café area.

Mighty oaks from little acorns grow, but in Ashwellthorpe, a little Christmas magic meant the oak tree in questions sprung up in front of a festive crowd’s very eyes.

We’ve all heard of ghosts that rattle chains - but ghosts that rattle bedsteads in terrace houses in King’s Lynn? No wonder crowds flocked in their hundreds to see what the spectre would do next.

Everyone secretly hoped they’d catch more than just a glimpse of the magical menagerie making its way through the Broadland village of Potter Heigham - but you should always be careful what you wish for.

It looked like any other council house in the row, a sturdily-built home, close to local amenities and perfect for a growing family – particularly one with an attendant poltergeist.

In Sheringham, there is a special name for the severe squalls which sometimes besiege the coast in this corner of Norfolk: the sudden strong winds which cause brief but violent storms are known as Yow Yows – and those Yow Yows are said to be linked to the captain of an old, drowned ship.

Remember, remember the beginning of November…it was the month, back in 1995, when Norfolk’s skies were lit up by close encounters of the third kind.

It’s Norfolk’s own Diagon Alley, a hidden street completely hidden from the Muggle world, a secret deep below a bustling Norwich street accessed not through The Leaky Cauldron, but rather through the headquarters of a charity which encourages people to be kind.

A Norfolk castle, the She-Wolf of France, a murder and bloodcurdling shrieks which have heard for centuries – the spine-tingling story of Queen Isabella’s haunting of Castle Rising has been passed down through generations.

Everyone who is anyone in Norfolk knows the legend of Black Shuck – but have you heard of the county’s other demon dog with flaming eyes which haunts Burgh Castle, and sometimes further afield into Great Yarmouth?

At the tail-end of the 1800s, a series of strange goings-on haunted Bumbler’s Farm in Shelfanger: doors opened and closed of their own accord, a towel roller in the kitchen spun violently as if powered by an unseen hand, ornaments in the parlour crashed to the ground and the ghostly figure of a woman was seen.

There are secrets hidden in every corner of Norfolk, even in the least expected places: what today forms part of a modern shopping mall was once the place where city people went to have curses removed and good luck restored.

The strangest stories are hidden in plain sight behind buildings which look as unremarkable as any other, but which harbour secrets which are passed down through the years by wide-eyed witnesses who have spotted something unusual about their workplace.

It’s the highest Norman motte in England although no trace remains of the castle built in turbulent times which it housed: but today’s tale regards the hill, not what topped it.

An East Anglian theatre company is keen to hear your extraterrestrial experiences at two special Flying Saucers Cafes being held in Norfolk and Suffolk - do you know if the truth is out there?

Let’s weave a Weird Norfolk Fairytale of our own: pull up a chair, huddle closer to the fire and let me begin with the curious tale of King Gurgunt and the Frozen Bear.

It’s the little-known story of a Phantom of the Office that haunts one of Norwich’s most ancient streets.

Remember the so-called Millennial Bug which we were told would bring the world grinding to a standstill and lead to technological apocalypse?

In 1980, Norfolk staged its own Y2K trial run.

Sea frets have often blurred the lines between this world and the next – and one such creature to appear from the mist is the Old Man of Hopton, who stalks the A47 in front of terrified drivers, some of whom claim to have driven straight through him.

As ghostly goings-on go, North Walsham can boast a host of hauntings.

Shakespeare counselled that one should neither a borrower nor a lender be and in Burgh St Peter, a deal was struck that led to this phrase quite literally haunting the pair who made it.

It was Norfolk and Suffolk’s unexplained humming noise which fed suspicions of an alien invasion or UFO activity and which could only be heard…by women.

Could that slight chill in an upstairs corridor, that shimmer of shifting light on the staircase, those footsteps fading into silence be one of our county’s most intriguing apparitions?

He was the feral child who became a human pet at the grandest household in Georgian England, a boy said to have been raised by wolves who swapped finery for a cell when he visited Norwich.

Will o’ the Wisp, or Lantern Man, has led Norfolk travellers a merry dance for hundreds of years. Stacia Briggs and Siofra Connor go in search of this elusive, mysterious ‘cold fire’.

Today, it’s in the heart of the city – but in 1823, Rampant Horse Street was at the heart of a deeply distressing tale of bodysnatching from five Norwich churches.

Like the very best ghost stories of all, this one was discovered by chance, pasted in the back of an old magazine dated 1736 and titled ‘A Strange Occurrence’.

Long before The Giant in Twin Peaks told Agent Dale Cooper, Norfolk knew that the owls were not as they seem. For more than a century, there have been reports of glowing owls streaking across county skies in the dark of night, luminous birds that appear like flying spectres, feathered ghosts causing those that see them to believe they had seen something truly other-worldly.

When churchyards yawn and hell itself breathes out contagion, the witching time of night is when the spectral woman appears, clad in red and seemingly tethered to the remains of a cross-stone which once towered over this lonely patch of Norfolk.

Avid readers will remember last week’s story of the ghost who made a guest appearance on Anglia Television and a promise to tell the tale of the Mad Monk of Morley Hall in more detail and his link to Binham Priory.

It was set to be a televised example of how a ghost hunter worked and proved to be so effective that a ghost actually appeared to make a guest appearance.

Standing as a signpost to a village that longer bustles, in a rhododendron clearing in the woods, Mark Goldsworthy’s timber carving shows the curious tale of the brave Bishop Beaver of Babingley.

Thousands of us pass over it every day without a passing thought for the role it played in Norwich’s dark past.

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