13 Spooky & Haunted Places in Norwich

Norwich Cathedral Cloisters

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Norfolk is considered to be one of the most haunted regions in the UK, while Norwich is considered one of, if not the most haunted cities in the UK. In 2016, 49% of the population of Norwich reported experiencing something paranormal. The next highest is the city of Bristol with 42%.

There’s also a mildly alarming number of UFO sitings on the outskirts of Norwich.

Jeremy and I both spent years living in Norwich and love the rich culture of stories – ghostly and otherwise – that Norwich is known for. Plus, we really do love a good ghost story.

So strap in, ’cause here are 13 spooky tales about ghosts and haunted places in Norwich that you should check out on your next visit!

1. Pubs

Outside seating area of Adam and Eve Pub, Norwich's oldest pub

We wrote an entire post on haunted pubs in Norwich, so I’ll just list a couple of our favourite pub ghosts here to whet your appetite!

Mr Harris (Last Pub Standing): Mr Harris is the ghost of a former Drayman (one who delivers beer to a brewery) to the pub. These days, he keeps to himself and is often spotted in a corner of the pub smoking a pipe and drinking a pint. He typically appears around the time he would have finished his Drayman shift and is identifiable by his flat cap and short stature (and his pipe, since it’s illegal to smoke indoors anywhere in the UK).

Lord Sheffield (Adam & Eve): Lord Sheffield was an English nobleman who fought in the 1549 Kett’s Rebellion. When he was stabbed during battle, other fighters brought him to the inn where the Adam and Eve pub now stands. He took his last breaths at the inn, and is said to still inhabit the pub. However, he’s totally friendly and is mostly just seen ringing the tavern bell when the pub is empty.

Read: 17 Historic & Haunted Pubs for a Spooky London Pub Crawl (Plus 2 Crypt Cafes)

2. Railway Station

Since you’re likely to arrive by train, this seems like an appropriate place to start after the pubs (and going forward I’ve tried to arrange them as you might come across them if heading from the station… kind of).

The ghost that haunts the Norwich railway station is one of my favourites because it’s so random. Supposedly the station is haunted by the ghost of a very large rat-like creature. The ghost is said to have foul smelling breath and rather large teeth, much like a rat.

I’m not really sure where this rat-ghost has been seen, but I’m not gonna lie, I’m kind of inclined to believe it’s just a regular rat.

Although I did read somewhere, which I now can’t find again for the life of me, that one report at least had a witness see the rat ghost turn into a rat-human hybrid creature. Which, admittedly, is slightly harder to explain away. Buuuut, the station is at the foot of Prince of Wales Road (which is lined with clubs and notorious for residents behaving badly while drinking), so it’s fairly easy for me to believe the witness was just really drunk.

3. Silver Road Residential House

On Silver Road in Norwich there is a residential house that’s meant to be considerably haunted. However, further research reveals there’s a bit of controversy around the entire haunting.

A former tenant stated that the house was haunted and that they had experienced paranormal phenomena while living there. According to her claims, on several occasions she heard unexplainable noises, lights often turned on and off by themselves, strange figures often came at her in the dark, and at one point she received a phone call on her mobile from her unplugged house phone only to answer it and hear static.

Whether you believe all this or not, members of the Norfolk Paranormal Experience Group (NPEG) apparently investigated and didn’t find anything. Due to the tenant moving out, they were unable to return to the house. One of them, Tracy Monger, wrote this response to an EDP24 article about the investigation.

4. Norwich Cathedral

Norwich Cathedral Grounds, with Cathedral in background

The main ghost story related to Norwich Cathedral actually made it into the news. It was a photograph taken in 2015 by a woman named Kerry Launders of a ghostly figure, which many said looked like a bishop. It became widely believed to be one of the bishops buried within the cathedral grounds.

Another ghost story comes from 1736 where a man reportedly saw the ghost of a martyred priest walking around Erpingham Gate (one of the entrances into the Norwich Cathedral grounds). After seeing the ghost, the man then ran back to his inn (likely the Maid’s Head Hotel), where he told the landlord what he’d seen. 

The traveller described the ghostly figure. Upon hearing the description, the landlord of the inn responded that it sounded like the Rev. Thomas Tunstall, a Catholic martyr. Tunstall was hanged, drawn and quartered just outside what was likely Magdalen Gates and his body parts displayed throughout the city.

It doesn’t seem he’s been seen since, so hopefully that means he found peace.

Lastly, during some renovations of one of the cathedral’s buildings (not entirely sure if it was the cathedral itself or one of the buildings on the cathedral grounds), supposedly tools and other items began to move of their own accord. Again, not sure what this means. I can’t tell if they just started hammering around at random, or if they moved from point A to point B, but they began to move. However, this all stopped as soon as church officials were brought in to check it out.

5. The Maid’s Head Hotel

Exterior of the Maid's Head Hotel, home to two of Norwich's ghosts

The Maid’s Head Hotel is one of the most famous buildings in Norwich. It was originally built in the 13th century – and though renovations have been done since, it is still in the original building.

Prince Edward, known by the moniker ‘The Black Prince’ is also reported to have been a frequent guest of the hotel. Apparently he liked to entertain there after jousting competitions. (By the way, if you don’t know who The Black Prince is, you should watch A Knight’s Tale… it’s not really about him, but he features in it and it’s great…)

The hotel is entrenched in history. Members of both sides of the Kett’s Rebellion stayed here before the fight, the city’s first Masonic Lodge was established on site and in 1637, the hotel was recommended as a safe place to wait out a plague outbreak.

In 1684, Thomas Bedingfield was murdered by Thomas Berney nearby following a night of debauchery in the hotel bar. Although I cannot find how he was killed, presumably he was stabbed following a drunken brawl.

The Ghosts

But onto the ghosts! The Maid’s Head is often listed as one of Norwich’s – and Norfolk’s – most haunted spots. And in fact, it is home to two distinct ghosts: The Grey Maid and a former Mayor of Norwich.

The Grey Maid – not to be confused with the The Grey Lady who haunts the building across the street (below) – is believed to be a former hotel maid. She is said to be in her late 60s and identifiable by her grey maid’s uniform – thus the name. Although this particular uniform was used in the 17th and 18th centuries, it is not used in the hotel today, making her definitively not a current member of staff.

Apparently no hotel maids have died on site because no one knows exactly who she is. However, she appears frequently throughout the hotel – though she favours the hotel bar – and is always reported to be cleaning or straightening up as if she still works there.

When she is finished, she heads towards the hotel bar – if not already there – and vanishes into the basement.

She is said to be friendly, though rarely has any direct contact with staff and guests.

By contrast, the hotel’s second guest is a rather grumpy old man; one who apparently resembles a former mayor of Norwich who was also rather fond of the hotel bar.

This ghost spends most of his time in the hotel courtyard. Here he furiously paces, shaking his head and grumbling under his breath, oftentimes about passersby. It’s safe to say, most people avoid him.

6. Augustine Steward House / Samson and Hercules House / Tombland 

Exterior of the Augustine Steward House, a Norwich home with a terrifying history

This next ghost is believed to be the spirit of a young girl who died in the Steward House (pictured above). It’s grim, so this is your fair warning.

In 1578 the city of Norwich was suffering from a plague outbreak and all of the residents of the Augustine Steward house were believed to have died. As was commonplace at the time, the house was boarded up to let the disease run its course and ‘die out’ so as not to infect anyone further.

When they pried the boards off of the house over five weeks later, they discovered that the bodies of the mother and father had peculiar marks all over their bodies. Not only that, but both bodies had several pieces missing. At first it was assumed that rats had discovered the bodies and began to eat them.

But the reality was so much worse.

Tragically, one member of the family had not died from the plague. The daughter (I can’t find the names of the residents anywhere) was still very much alive when she was locked inside with her dying parents.

With no food or water for weeks, the poor girl was forced to succumb to cannibalism. Now I think in extreme cases of survival, cannibalism can become inevitable, but I imagine this only made what was happening more traumatic for her.

To make a sad story worse, the girl wound up choking on the flesh of her parents and died.

Since the tragedy, the ghost of a young woman wearing ragged, grey-coloured clothing has been spotted throughout the Tombland area. However, she predominantly haunts the old Augustine Steward House, regularly opening and closing doors and moving around random objects.

The building next door (currently, at time of writing a Cocina Restaurant, but it has previously functioned as many different bars, restaurants, etc over the years) has also reported several sightings of ‘the Lady in Grey.’ 

A Few Fun Facts

1. At the bottom of the Augustine Steward House is the escape room company, Cryptic Escape. They currently run an escape room appropriately named “The Haunted”, in which intrepid ghosthunters can attempt to solve puzzles in order to help the spirit of the young girl find rest. It is not suitable for players under the age of fourteen.

2. It should be noted that while the name Tombland sounds sinister, the actual origin isn’t dark in the slightest.

Tom is actually Old English for ‘open’ or ‘empty.’ Meaning, really, it was just a relatively open space at the time. Which makes sense as the Tombland area was once a large market area.

Still, the name tends to inspire at least a little bit of fear. Which may be why Tombland seems to be particularly haunted.

3. Apparently the Augustine Steward house inn is where Lord Sheffield stayed just before the Ketts Rebellion. If you don’t remember him, he was mentioned in the pub section: he was brought to and died at the inn of the former Adam and Eve pub, which he still haunts today.

7. Elm Hill

Sign at the top of Elm Hill, one of the most haunted places in Norwich

Elm Hill – which you may recognise from films such as Stardust – often gets listed as one of the most haunted places in Norwich. There are two ghosts of Elm Hill. One lives inside the Stranger’s Club, while another roams freely.

Norwich, like most of the UK, has survived its share of fires. One of the worst fires in the city’s history surged through Elm Hill in 1507 and destroyed all of the buildings except the Briton Arms. The family that lived in the house which today is the site of the Stranger’s Club, were trapped inside their house during the fire. The father managed to help his wife and children escape in time, but he died in the fire. Today, patrons of the club often report hearing footsteps in the attic even though no one is there. This is believed to be the ghost of the man who perished in the fire.

Elm Hill’s premier ghost, however, is Father Ignatius, a preacher who founded a monastery at 16 Elm Hill in 1863. Father Ignatius was said to be a bit on the fanatical side of religion and anyone who opposed him, or refused to pray with him, was cursed with eternal damnation. You know, a real stand up kind of guy.

He was eventually forced out of Norwich and went on to preach in London and then in the Black Mountains in Wales.

However, by some weird twist of fate, his ghost wound up back in Norwich after he died. Today, he is often seen walking through Elm Hill with a black bible, angrily cursing everyone he crosses paths with to hell.

8. 19 Magdalen Street

Number 19 Magdalen Street changes hands a lot – or at least, it changes faces – and maybe this has to do with the hauntings, maybe it’s just a coincidence… Either way, it’s difficult to say what shop you’ll find there if you head down Magdalen Street.

Nevertheless, 19 Magdalen Street is said to be haunted by the ghost of a woman named Sara. In 1860, the building housed one of the city’s numerous pubs. This particular pub had what was essentially a brothel going on upstairs. It is unknown if Sara was a working girl or led upstairs under false pretenses. Still, a disagreement with a customer ultimately ended with Sara being tragically strangled to death.

It remains unknown what happened to Sara’s killer. But Sara still haunts the building. Staff have reported footsteps in unoccupied areas of the building, dark figures on the staircase and cold spots. A few decades ago, when typewriters were more commonplace, reports of keys typing of their own accord were frequent.

During the early 1970s, an Oxfam shop was located on site and they claimed that the haunting occurences actually led to a decline in volunteers. Apparently the staff of the shop may have even held a séance to get rid of the ghost.

9. Norwich Castle

Entrance to Norwich Castle

Norwich Castle is said to be haunted by the ghost of Ketts Rebellion leader Robert Kett himself (and yes, we have a post that expands more on what the Kett’s Rebellion was, and other dark history about Norwich).

Numerous sightings of his body hanging from the Castle in a cage have been reported over the years. Kett was actually hanged at the Norwich Castle after being tried for treason at the Tower of London. His brother, William Kett was hanged at the church tower at Wymondham, Norfolk.

In addition to Robert Kett, Norwich Castle is home to several other ghosts, making it one of the most haunted places in Norwich – and Norfolk as a whole. The most popular castle ghost is a lady dressed in black. The earliest recorded sighting of the woman in black is from 1820, when prison records state that several prisoners were ‘scared half to death’ by a ghostly woman dressed in black. The woman in black is also sometimes spotted in the art gallery under the castle mound.

King Gurgunt is believed to have been buried within the hill of the castle with all his riches after he fell into an eternal sleep. His ghost is said to also haunt the castle.

Lastly in 1844, the devil was allegedly seen by two people (presumably prisoners) dancing on the walls.

10. 35 London Street

Currently this building is an Edinburgh Woollen Mill shop, and I didn’t find much to suggest the staff have witnessed much since it became such. However, the former manager of the former business (Farnworths) reports experiencing numerous strange occurrences during her time there.

Some of these occurrences include cold patches, wet marks on the floor and finding items in places they were previously not, though no one else was around to move them. She also reported hearing men’s voices in the corridor when no one was there.

Similar stories of hauntings have come out of customers and former staff, although as I said, not so much since the building became the Edinburgh Woollen Mill.

11. Maddermarket Theatre

Exterior of Maddermarket Theatre in Norwich City Centre

The Maddermarket Theatre in Norwich is beautiful building dating back to 1794 when it was built as a Roman Catholic Chapel. However, by the 1900s, the building had been deconsecrated for many years and no longer functioned as a chapel. Due to its vaulted ceilings and ample seating room, director Nugent Monck realised the building’s potential as a theatre.

In 1921, Monck converted it into the Maddermarket Theatre, and it still houses plays today.

It’s also home to the ghost of a monk, who is considered to be one of Norwich’s most friendly specters. Although he is also quite mischievous, as well, and enjoys messing with the actors and actresses by hiding props, particularly wigs, and moving costumes before shows. Like most ghosts, he also opens and closes doors at random, sometimes during performances.

However, he once saved the life of an actress from a falling light by pulling her out of the way. He is also said to comfort people who forget lines, even going so far as to hug a young man who was nearly in tears.

12. The University of East Anglia

UEA Campus Ziggurats

The University of East Anglia (UEA) – where both Jeremy and I attended uni – is said to have several ghosts. The most haunted building on campus is Earlham Hall (now the Law school).

Earlham Hall was the childhood home of Elizabeth Fry, a prison reformer. Since we love dark stuff, it’s probably worth mentioning that due to her Christian faith and philanthropy, she has been called the ‘Angel of Prisons.’ She also used to be on the Bank of England £5 note.

Today, it is said that the genial ghost of Elizabeth’s older sister, Catherine (who raised her after their mother’s death) wanders the halls. In addition to Catherine’s friendly ghost, there are reports of an angry ghost, believed to be the spirit of a maid who committed suicide in the building.

Lastly – for Earlham Hall – when the building was being renovated in 2013, a “witch stone” was discovered inside the wall of the building with a pentacle and ‘666’ painted on it. Although this could indicate that witchcraft was once practiced there, it might also have been placed there to ward off evil.

Paranormal experiences have also been reported at the Environmental Science building and the Dean of Students building. These occurrences include weird lights, ghostly figures and strange sounds.

13. Bonus: Blickling Hall

View of Blickling Hall, the most haunted place in Norfolk
Image by Brian Snelson on Flickr, (CC BY 2.0)

So, to my mind, Blickling Hall isn’t in Norwich (it’s in Blickling). But technically Blickling is in Norwich, and as it is considered to be the most haunted site in Norfolk, I’m gonna include it. It’s my blog, after all, so I make the rules. Plus, I like the idea of making this list 13 haunted places in Norwich rather than 12.

Bickling Hall – which is the only one on the list I’ve never been to, or even walked past – was the birthplace and childhood home of Anne Boleyn. In case you are unaware, Anne Boleyn was the second wife of Henry VIII, and the first of his wives to be beheaded.

There are several theories behind Anne’s downfall. Some accuse her former ally, Thomas Cromwell, of wanting to dispose of her for financial reasons. Others hypothesize the king was merely bored of her, or angry at the lack of sons.

Whatever the reason, Anne was accused and convicted of adultery and high treason. Several men were accused of having affairs with the queen. Although initially none admitted to the crime, several later pled guilty, likely due to torture or the promise of freedom or a lighter sentence.

Most insultingly, Anne’s brother, George, whom Henry had denied a place in the palace, was also charged and convicted of sleeping with his sister. This added the charge of incest to both their sentences.

Both Anne and her brother were sentenced to death and locked up in the Tower of London until they were beheaded.

Anne was beheaded on 19 May 1536, two days after her brother. She is reported to haunt Blickling Hall every year on the anniversary of her death. She has been spotted carrying her bloody head under her arm, and arriving in a coach driven by headless horsemen and four headless horses!

Thomas Boleyn, Anne’s father, is also believed to haunt the grounds in penance for indirectly causing two of his children to be murdered. He arranged Anne’s marriage to Henry, so presumably he felt a lot of guilt. Also, apparently flames and/or blood spouts from his mouth depending on who you ask.

In addition to Anne and her father, Blickling Hall is home to three other ghosts: Sir John Falstofe (a knight who was supposedly the inspiration for Shakespeare’s character Falstaff), Sir Henry Hobart (whose dying moans can be heard in the West Turret Bedroom on the anniversary of his death), and a lady in grey who has been seen about the estate by several visitors, but little else is known about her. 

Have you been to Norwich? Seen or heard about any of these ghosts? Are there any we missed? Let us know in the comments!

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