Norwich is a city steeped in a history that stretches back through the centuries, and you’ll find more than just important landmarks and charming architecture. Beneath the cobblestone streets and centuries-old buildings, a haunting presence lingers – a testament to the city’s rich, sometimes turbulent past. In this enigmatic city, tales of restless spirits, eerie apparitions, and unexplained phenomena abound.
Join us as we embark on a spine-tingling journey through the most haunted places of Norwich, where shadows whisper secrets and history comes alive in ghostly form. Brace yourself, for these are not tales for the faint of heart.
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While we have never had any encounters with ghosts ourselves, there have been many reports of strange sightings in Norwich over the years. Luckily, for the most part the ghosts in Norwich seem to be mostly harmless.
This list includes what we consider the most haunted spots in the city. You can get a google map to help you locate these places here.
Also, check out our post on the most haunted places in Norfolk.
While Norwich Castle is now a museum, the site has a dark history as it has been a gaol and also a site for public hangings. There are several ghosts that haunt Norwich Castle including a floating skull, a mythical king, a rebel leader, and a woman who was hung for murdering her husband.
From time to time, there have been sightings of a floating skull around the castle keep. It seems to only be visible for a few moments before it disappears.
The skull is believed to be Robert Goodale, who was hanged at the castle in 1885 for murdering his wife. Somehow when he was hung his head was separated from his body like it had been cut off by a knife.
Ghost of King Gungunt
The keep of Norwich Castle sits on a pre-existing mound. It is believed that this mound is where King Gungunt was buried before Roman times. His ghost has been seen still sitting there with sword in hand, along with his gold and silver treasures.
When Queen Elizabeth I came through Norwich in 1578, she was told of his legend. It was alleged that King Gurgunt tried to step forward from the crowd to speak to her but wasn’t able to because it started to rain and the Queen ran for shelter
Ghost of Robert Kett
Robert Kett who led a group of 10,000 rebels in what is known as Kett’s Rebellion in 1549. He was charged with treason and gruesomely hung from Norwich Castle.
There have been numerous sightings of his body hanging in a cage from Norwich Castle over the years. Some have also seen him around the Castle Mall loading bays which were built directly below where his body would have hung.
The Black Lady (sometimes also called the Victorian Lady)
Another ghost that has been seen at Norwich Castle several times is a lady dressed in black Victorian clothing. 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 grounds of Norwich Castle and in the art gallery that was once part of the gaol.
The Black Lady is thought to be Martha Alden, who lived in Attleborough with her husband. On the 18th July 1807, she murdered her husband by cutting off his head and then took her husband’s body to a dry ditch in the garden with help from Mary Orvice. Two days later, they both moved his body to a nearby pond and the body was found.
Martha claimed she killed her husband because he had been abusive, threatened to kill her, and was drinking away their inheritance. Still, she was convicted and hanged on the 31st July 1807 in Attleborough. Her body was handed over for dissection. Soon after a ghostly figure was seen on the castle hill and identified as Martha.
Adam & Eve Pub
The Adam & Eve dates back to 1249. It is the oldest pub in Norwich and is haunted by the ghost of Lord Sheffield, who fought in Kett’s Rebellion. The English nobleman, who led the King’s forces against the rebels, was stabbed during battle on 1 August 1549. Other fighters brought him to the Adam & Eve pub where he died.
At the pub, there have been many reports of hearing footsteps, getting tapped on the shoulder, feeling someone running fingers through their hair, without anyone seen doing the acts. Many think it is the ghost of Lord Sheffield. If you do visit the Adam & Eve, do not leave any items unattended. Car keys, cigarette lighters, and mobile phones have disappeared only to reappear in the spot they had been lost a few days later.
Maids Head Hotel
Dating back more than 800 years, the Maids Head Hotel claims to be the oldest hotel in the UK. While Queen Elizabeth did not stay at the hotel during her visit to Norwich, it is believed she attended a banquet here. The Maids Head is a Grade II listed building and home to two ghosts – the Grey Maid and a former Mayor of Norwich.
If you would like to stay at Norwich’s most haunted hotel, you can check prices and availability here. Read Tripadvisor reviews here. Also, check out our top picks for hotels in the Norwich city centre.
Alternatively, you might want to check out afternoon tea at the Maids Head Hotel.
*Learn more interesting facts about Norwich.
The Grey Maid
A former hotel maid, wearing a grey uniform no longer used by current staff has been spotted wandering around the hotel. She is said to be in her late 60s but no one knows exactly who she is.
The grey maid is also accompanied by a lavender scent. She peeks into bedrooms, goes to the downstairs bar, then disappears into the cellars. Her visits tend to happen when work is being done on the building, leading staff to believe she is just making sure the standards are being maintained for old times’ sake.
*Don’t get the Grey Maid confused with the Grey Lady who haunts the Augustine Steward House nearby.
Former Mayor of Norwich
The hotel’s second ghost is a grumpy old man, thought to be a former mayor of Norwich who enjoyed the hotel bar. He spends most of his time in the courtyard where he has been seen furiously pacing around, shaking his head, and mumbling to himself. His appearances usually only last a few minutes before he fades away.
Like Norwich Castle, Norwich Cathedral has a long and storied history going back almost a thousand years. It’s not surprising there have been several ghost sightings including a bishop, a local hero, a Catholic priest, and a mysterious woman.
One of the Cathedral’s ghosts has actually been captured in a photo. This photograph taken in 2015 by a woman named Kerry Launders shows a ghostly figure that looks like a bishop clad in long robes and a tall hat. She believes it was one of the bishops buried within the cathedral grounds.
Sir Thomas Erpingham
Sir Thomas Erpingham was born in Norwich and is known for leading the archers in the Battle of Agincourt in 1415, a decisive battle in the Hundred Years War. Unfortunately, he lost a close friend in the battle, who was entombed in the Carnary Chapel, which is the building between Norwich Cathedral and the Erpingham Gate (named after Sir Thomas Erpingham).
It became a tradition for Sir Thomas Erpingham to visit his friend’s tomb and drink to his health on the anniversary of the battle each year. Even after Sir Thomas Erpingham died people claimed to see him going to the Carnary Chapel on 25 October. This continued for years until the tombs inside the Carnary Chapel were moved inside Norwich Cathedral.
Tunstall was a Catholic martyr who had been arrested for his faith. After he escaped from Wisbech Castle by rope and sought help from Lady Alice L’Estrange in Norfolk her husband Sir Hamon reported him to the authorities. When he was recaptured, they sent him to Norwich gaol where he was tried on 12 July 1616. The following day, he was hanged, drawn and quartered, and his body parts displayed at various places in the city.
Fast forward to 1736, when a traveller saw the ghost of a martyred priest walking around Erpingham Gate, the main entrance into the Norwich Cathedral Close. The ghost he saw seemed to be the same person he had seen in a portrait at the inn (believed to be the Maid’s Head) where he was staying. He asked the landlord who it was and found out it was Thomas Tunstall.
The Burning Woman
There have been sightings of a mysterious woman who floats around the Cathedral grounds. People have said that there is a cloud or mist around her. It is thought to be smoke, which is what gives the burning woman her name.
Her story goes back to 1272 when there were conflicts between those who worked at the Cathedral and the rest of the people of the city. When the Cathedral gates were locked, a group of men tried to force their way in. They were unsuccessful so they resorted to shooting slings of fire into the Cathedral grounds.
While monks and other workers tried to put out the fires, a woman set fire to the gates. The fire weakened the bolts and the crowd was able to get through the gates. Gold and silver was stolen, more fires were set, and a few monks were killed.
The woman who set fire to the gates was later identified. They tied her to a stake in the Cathedral Close and burned her to death as a crowd watched in horror. She is believed to be the burning woman.
Augustine Steward House
Augustine Steward, who was elected mayor of Norwich three times, built this house in 1549. Lord Sheffield actually stayed here the night before his last battle with Robert Kett. Today the Augustine Steward House is home to the Cryptic Escape Room.
The building is haunted by a young girl, who died here. Known as the Lady in Grey because of her ragged grey clothing, she has also been seen throughout the Tombland area.
**The story of her death is horrid. If you’re squeamish, you might like skip ahead to the next one at this point!**
During the 1578 plague outbreak in Norwich all of the residents of the Augustine Steward House were believed to have died. The house was boarded up to contain the outbreak and prevent others from being infected. Tragically, the daughter was still 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. The bodies of the mother and father had peculiar marks all over and had several pieces missing. The young girl died from choking on the flesh of her parents.
Samson and Hercules House
The Samson and Hercules House next to the Augustine Steward House has had several sightings of the Lady in Grey, but that is not the only ghost to be seen here.
Since the early 1900s, the Samson and Hercules House has been a dance hall, nightclub, various restaurants, and now an office for a mortgage advice bureau. Many people were aware that there was a swimming pool in the basement, but not sure how many knew that one of the largest plague pits in the city with around 5,000 bodies was under the building.
Given its proximity to Norwich Cathedral, many monks are believed to be buried in the pit. That may help explain the four monks that were mysteriously only seen by a young female professor from Belgium in a room at the top of the house.
Along with the ghosts, there have been some eerie nightmares reported by girls that stayed in the back bedroom on the top floor of the house where it was the home of the local YMCA. They all dreamt they were being buried alive in a pit of dead bodies.
Even if you haven’t been to Norwich, you may recognize Elm Hill. It has been a filming location for several movies including Netflix’s Christmas sensation, Jingle Jangle, and is arguably one of the prettiest streets in England. The street also has a dark side with sightings of three different ghosts.
Strangers Club Ghost
One of the worst fires in the city’s history almost totally destroyed Elm Hill in 1507. The Briton Arms was the only building to escape destruction. A family was trapped inside their house, which today is the site of the Stranger’s Club, during the fire. While the father managed to help his wife and children escape in time, he died in the fire.
Patrons of the club and its staff have reported hearing footsteps upstairs in the snooker room even though no one is there. This is believed to be the ghost of the father who perished in the fire.
Father Ignatius was a preacher who founded a monastery at 16 Elm Hill in 1863. He was a bit aggressive and cursed those who opposed him, or refused to pray with him. The people of Norwich feared he was working with the devil so forced him out of the city and made him promise not to return.
He never came back to Norwich, until after he died. His ghost has been seen walking on Elm Hill with a black bible, angrily cursing everyone that passes.
Wright’s Court Ghost
During the diphtheria outbreak in the late 1800s, many died but the gravediggers were on strike. The bodies were collected and piled on top of each other in alleyways and courtyards since there was no one to bury them. Eight bodies were placed in Wright’s Court, but when the gravediggers came back to work, the body of the old lady that had been on top of the pile, had disappeared.
The owners of the antique shop that is above Wright’s Court have seen the shadow of an older lady pass by their window. They have also had occasions when they have heard the shop door open and bell ring, then when they go to serve the customer they find that no one is there. Could it be the lady who died of diphtheria all those years ago?
The pub we now know as Lollard’s Pit (previously called the King’s Arms) was built between 1620 and 1670. It was the site where heretics (like Lollards) and other offenders were punished during the 15th and 16th Centuries.
The prisoners had to walk the streets lined with people then cross the Bishopgate Bridge. They were held in what is now the pub’s cellar before they were burnt at the stake. The bodies were put into the pit, which is located in the garden.
While there haven’t been any reporting sightings of ghosts at Lollard’s Pit, many people have heard screams and whimpering coming from the pub. Some people have also reported feeling a sudden rush of heat as they walk from across the car park. Could this have something to do with the flames that used to burn in the pit?
Last Pub Standing
The 1904 Licensing Act, Second World War, and widespread slum clearances of the 1960s led to a significant decline in the number of public houses in Norwich and King Street more specifically – from 58 pubs to just 1 (the Kings Pub formerly known as the Nags Head) in 2014. It shut down too, but has since reopened as the Last Pub Standing.
The pub is haunted by several ghosts but the most well-known is Mr. Harris, a Drayman (person who delivers beer for a brewery). He wears a flat cap and keeps to himself, but is often spotted in a corner of the pub drinking a pint and smoking a pipe (even though it is illegal to smoke indoors anywhere in the UK). Some have also seen a Victorian Lady, who is in her 60s wearing a burgundy dress with her hair in a bun.
19 Magdalen Street
The antique shop with its blue facade may look like a normal shop, but it’s definitely one of the most haunted places in Norwich. There have been reports of odd occurrences in the building over the years that have led to many businesses vacating the property.
During the 1800s, it was home to the Key Merchant Arms public house. The ground floor was used for drinking, and the upper floors were reserved for gentlemen to “entertain” their ladies.
Sarah was a young girl who came to the inn with a gentleman, not realizing his intentions. When Sarah tried to fight him off, he strangled her and left her body in the room. Her ghost has been seen in the window of the room upstairs where she was murdered. It was actually bricked up from the inside years ago, but the window sill and frame remain on the outside of the building.
Over the years there have been multiple reports of haunting in the building. For example in the 1990’s, when it was home to Ron’s Reptiles, a fire exit sign that was attached to the wall flew across the room and hit the owner so hard he had to go to the hospital for an x-ray.
The Rosary Road Cemetery was the first non-denominational cemetery in the country. It’s a rather large cemetery with some notable burials including members of the Colman family, surgeon Emanuel Cooper, and painter Leslie Davenport. There is also at least one remarkable ghost.
Visitors have met a friendly and helpful gardener who has introduced himself as Joe Torris. While the cemetery does not have anyone working for it with that name, there is a gravestone for him. He died in 1849.
Cow Tower has been a dungeon where in some cases prisoners were left to starve to death. It is not haunted by any of the prisoners but instead a ghost called Blunderkist who was a soldier from the Middle Ages.
He is believed to have died in a battle on Christmas Eve. Ever since then, Blunderkist has returned on Christmas Eve to ride around Cow Tower four times on his horse warning people about war.
Norwich Railway Station
The ghost that haunts the Norwich train station (NRW) is a bit different than the other ones on this list. It looks like a very large rat-like creature with foul smelling breath and rather large teeth. Seeing real rats is bad enough!
The Maddermarket Theatre stands as the creative hub for The Norwich Players and also works with a multitude of local arts organizations, community groups, and educational institutions to deliver captivating performances. The theatre’s origins trace back to a different era when the very building served as a Roman Catholic chapel. Remarkably, the area where today’s stage manager resides was once a confessional booth.
Given this storied past, it comes as no surprise that this Norwich theatre carries whispers of a ghostly but benevolent monk within its walls. This spectral figure has, on more than one occasion, come to the aid of those treading the boards, helping locate misplaced props and missing wigs. In a particularly harrowing incident, the apparition intervened to save an actress from harm’s way, pushing her aside just in time as a light fixture plummeted to the ground.
Ghosts in Norwich
As you can see, Norwich is the home to many ghosts. Luckily, most are friendly. You can visit haunted pubs, haunted hotels, and other spooky spots around the city centre if you dare. No need to wait for Halloween!
Grab your free haunted Norwich map here.
If you enjoyed this post, be sure to also check out our list of the best Halloween events in Norfolk.
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