Norwich's Haunted Buildings, Norwich

Norwich's Haunted Buildings (Self Guided), Norwich

The long and sometimes bloody history of Norwich has left its mark on the city in the form of spooky happenings. Indeed, nearly half of the local population have reported experiencing throughout their life something paranormal. Add to this a mildly alarming number of UFOs spotted on the outskirts of Norwich, and you get one of, if not the most haunted area in the UK.

Needless to say that in a city such as Norwich there is no shortage of places notorious for strange sightings. Over the years, these locations have lured the brave-hearted anxious to get high on adrenaline from direct encounters with the unknown. One has to admit though, that for the most part, the ghosts of Norwich seem to be rather harmless.

Among the top spots in the city where, on occasions, one can either see ghosts or hear the weird noises they make, are:

Norwich Castle – currently a museum, a former gaol and a site for public hangings; reportedly haunted by the ghost of Ketts Rebellion leader, Robert Kett, himself;

Maddermarket Theatre – this beautiful building, originally a Roman Catholic Chapel, is said to be the home to the ghost of a monk, one of Norwich’s friendliest specters, as well as a bunch of other restless spirits;

Stranger's Club on Elm Hill – the site of one of the worst fires in Norwich's history (1507); the street itself, arguably one of the prettiest in England, also has a dark side to it with the sightings of three different ghosts (victims of those trapped inside the burning house);

Samson and Hercules House – infamous for several sightings of the Lady in Grey (called so for her ragged grey clothing), plus some other ghosts;

Augustine Steward House – found next to the Samson and Hercules House, this building is also haunted by the Lady in Grey ghost, a young girl who died here;

Norwich Cathedral – its long and storied history goes back almost a thousand years; the cathedral's main paranormal story is a photograph taken in 2015 of a ghostly figure, believed to be a local bishop buried here;

If you appreciate the rich culture of stories – ghostly or otherwise – with some spooky element to it, make the most of your visit to Norwich by checking out some of its most haunted locations on this self-guided walking tour!
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Norwich's Haunted Buildings Map

Guide Name: Norwich's Haunted Buildings
Guide Location: England » Norwich (See other walking tours in Norwich)
Guide Type: Self-guided Walking Tour (Sightseeing)
# of Attractions: 7
Tour Duration: 1 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 1.4 Km or 0.9 Miles
Author: Maia
Sight(s) Featured in This Guide:
  • Norwich Castle
  • Maddermarket Theatre
  • Strangers Club
  • Samson and Hercules House
  • Augustine Steward House
  • Norwich Cathedral
  • Maids Head Historic Hotel
Norwich Castle

1) Norwich Castle (must see)

Norwich Castle was founded some time between 1066 and 1075 by William the Conqueror, the first Norman king of England, in the aftermath of the Norman conquest of England. Early in 1067, William embarked on a campaign to subjugate East Anglia, and it was probably around this time that the castle was established.

To clear space for the fort (which initially took the form of a wooden motte and bailey) the Normans demolished about 100 Saxon homes. In 1094 the construction was begun by King William (The Red) II, third son of William the Conqueror, on the stone keep which would later become Norwich Castle. King Henry I completed the work in 1121.

Parts of the castle were used as a gaol (prison), from 1220 to 1887. This was until Prison Norwich was opened at Mousehold Heath and the property was converted into a museum. The Museum and Art Gallery officially opened in 1894. The displayed here historical artifacts – of Roman, Egyptian, Saxon and Viking origins – include ceramics, porcelain and silver objects as well as paintings of the Norwich School.

The dark history of the castle, however, (as a gaol, it was routinely used for public hangings) today manifests in the form of ghostly sightings. Among them a floating skull, a mythical king (Gurgunt), a rebel leader (Robert Kett), and an old lady dressed in black.

The king is believed to have been buried within the hill of the castle with all his riches after falling into an eternal sleep. The woman is said to have been hung for murdering her husband. The museum staff sometimes spotted her in the art gallery under the castle mound, and prior to them, in 1820, terrified prisoners at the castle reported seeing her floating off the ground.

As for the rebel leader, Robert Kett, he was accused of high treason for leading a peasant revolt, now known as Kett's Rebellion, and was hanged at the castle after being tried at the Tower of London. Over the years there have been reports of an apparition of his rotting corpse hanging outside. A wall plaque placed at the entrance to the Museum in 1949 commemorates the 400th anniversary of Robert Kett's execution, saying: “This memorial was placed here by the citizens of Norwich in reparation and honour to a notable and courageous leader in the long struggle of the common people of England to escape from a servile life into the freedom of just conditions.”

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

For extra fun there are tours of dungeons and battlements; and there is a café.
Maddermarket Theatre

2) Maddermarket Theatre

The Maddermarket Theatre is a British theatre founded in 1921 by Nugent Monck. The building was constructed in 1794 as a Roman Catholic chapel, but it changed roles often over the years. After it functioned as a chapel but before its use as a theatre, the Maddermarket was a baking soda factory, a grocery warehouse and a Salvation Army hall.

The theatre gets its name from the medieval market that once stood on this site. One of the primary items sold at this market were madder plants, which create scarlet dye popular in the wool trade. Madder plants can still be found near the front entrance of the Tudor-style building.

The Maddermarket Theatre is particularly known as the stomping grounds a famous Norwich ghost. The ghost of a monk has been seen around the building and across the stage. Doors that inexplicably open and close, costumes that go missing and props that are moved are blamed on this ghost.

The monk has also been credited with saving the life of an actress who was nearly crushed by falling lights. He is also said to comfort actors who forget their lines with a warm embrace.
Strangers Club

3) Strangers Club

The Strangers Club was founded in 1927 as an entertainment venue, primarily for out-of-towners who were strangers to the city. Members of the Strangers Club are mostly business professionals, doctors and lawyers. The club has hosted many notable names over the years, including Queen Mary.

The club was founded in the home of Augustine Steward, which was erected around 1540. Previously, the spot was occupied by a house built in 1303 for merchant John Butt. However, much of the neighborhood was burned to the ground in 1507, including the house. The only remainder of the 1303 home is an arch that leads to the Club terrace.

The club's location on Elm Hill makes it a popular spot for those hoping to catch a glimpse of a ghost. Elm Hill is thought to be one of the most haunted areas of the city with two ghosts who regularly roam. One makes its home inside the club.

The 1507 fire caused a family to be trapped inside the house previously owned by John Butt. While the father of the family was able to free his wife and children, he was lost to the flames. Patrons of the Stranger's Club often hear his footsteps in the attic.
Samson and Hercules House

4) Samson and Hercules House

The Samson and Hercules House is a home that was built by Christopher Jay in 1657. At the time, Jay was mayor of Norwich. It is called the Samson and Hercules House due to the porch that used to host statues of Samson and Hercules. Those statues were removed and replaced with replicas sometime during the 19th century.

The home was altered into a Tudor style, but after being damaged during a 1952 fire it was remodeled to have its original appearance. The house was used as a nightclub, a lobster restaurant, and then a Mexican restaurant. It is now home to the Mortgage Advice Bureau.

The Samson and Hercules House has experienced numerous ghost sightings. The home was built above a plague pit where some 5,000 bodies were buried. As such, many visitors have reported strange phenomena and visions of being buried alive.

The Lady in Grey is sometimes seen in and around the Samson and Hercules House. The Lady in Grey is the nickname given to the little girl who died within the Augustine Steward House.
Augustine Steward House

5) Augustine Steward House

The Augustine Steward House was built in 1530 for Augustine Steward. It is famously known for being haunted by a young girl now known as The Lady in Grey.

Norwich was overcome with a plague outbreak in 1578. The custom at that time was to board up houses that contained the plague to try to isolate it from the public. The Steward house was boarded from the outside, and then opened five weeks later.

Both mother and father had died from the plague but their daughter was unaffected. However, starving from being boarded up with her dying parents, she had to resort to cannibalism to stay alive. She then choked on the human remains and also died inside.

The ghost of the young girl is often seen in the area, but mostly remains attached to the Augustine Steward House. She is also known to open and close doors and randomly move objects. Visitors can now attend an escape room in the lower floor of the home.
Norwich Cathedral

6) Norwich Cathedral (must see)

Norwich Cathedral is an Anglican cathedral featuring primarily a Norman style.

They say the first bishop of Norwich, Herbert de Losinga, was not without a sin (vanity, most likely). He bought his job from the king, no less, in 1094, for 1,900 pounds. Ensconced in his new see, the bishop wasted no time in building a cathedral for himself, which started in 1096. To make room for the nascent structure, an Anglo-Saxon settlement and two churches were demolished, plus a canal was specially dug to allow access for the boats bringing the stone and construction materials up the River Wensum.

Herbert had barely parked his throne in the nave when he died in 1119, upon which the construction was carried on by his successor, Bishop Eborard, in 1121. It was finally completed in 1145 when Eborard's successor, Bishop William de Turbe, installed the cathedral tower. The entire building was put together with flint and mortar, and faced with white limestone from Caen, France.

Norwich Cathedral boasts a really long nave with 14 bays, and has the second largest cloister in England, exceeded only by that at Salisbury Cathedral. The cathedral's stone spire, measuring at 315 ft (96 m), is the second-tallest in England (also second to Salisbury) was added in 1169. Measuring 461 ft (141 m) and 177 ft (54 m) wide at completion, Norwich Cathedral was once the largest building in East Anglia.

The bosses of Norwich Cathedral in the cloisters – hundreds of carved and ornately painted images of kings, peasants, musicians, soldiers, acrobats, and ladies – are among the world's greatest medieval sculptural treasures that survived the iconoclasm of the Tudor and English Civil War periods.

Before the high altar is the tomb of Bishop Herbert de Losinga. Close by there is a bas relief marking the 900th anniversary of the cathedral. Indeed, Norwich Cathedral has a long and storied history, judging by which it is not surprising there have been several interesting ghost sightings here, including those of a bishop, a local hero, a Catholic priest and a mysterious woman, and not just at night!

The main ghost story related to the Cathedral is a photograph of a ghostly figure, which many identified as one of the bishops buried within the cathedral grounds, taken in 2015. 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). Its description sounded like the Rev. Thomas Tunstall, a Catholic martyr, who was hanged, drawn and quartered just outside what was likely Magdalen Gates; his body parts were displayed afterwards throughout the city.

Lastly, during some renovations of one of the cathedral’s buildings, tools and other items were seen moving of their own accord. It all stopped, though, as soon as church officials arrived at the scene.
Maids Head Historic Hotel

7) Maids Head Historic Hotel

The Maids Head Hotel is an AA 4 star hotel in the English city of Norwich within the county of Norfolk in the United Kingdom. The hotel has been a Grade II* listed building since 26 February 1954.

The Hotel dates from the 13th century and is amalgamation of at least 6 buildings. The main façade faces on to intersection of three streets, Tombland, Wensum Street and Palace Street. The hotel has a total of 84 bedrooms all of which are en-suite. The hotel also has a mixture of meeting and conference room facilities. There is also a restaurant which is called The WinePress @ Wensum. The hotel has two bar areas. The Maids Head Bar features Jacobean Oak panelling and has been reputedly frequented by guests such as Horatio Nelson and Edith Cavell. There is also a second bar which is called the Yard Bar.

Queen Elizabeth I of England was said to have slept at the hotel in 1587. It is reportedly haunted by the ghost of an elderly man, believed to be the former mayor of the city who has been seen shaking his head in the courtyard and the ghost of a former maid, whose presence can be detected by a distinct musty lavender odour.
Sight description based on Wikipedia.

Walking Tours in Norwich, England

Create Your Own Walk in Norwich

Create Your Own Walk in Norwich

Creating your own self-guided walk in Norwich is easy and fun. Choose the city attractions that you want to see and a walk route map will be created just for you. You can even set your hotel as the start point of the walk.
Norwich Introduction Walking Tour

Norwich Introduction Walking Tour

The Iceni tribe predated the Romans in the village of Caistor, near the area of present-day Norwich. In 60 AD an uprising led by Boudica had been put down and Caistor became the Roman capital of East Anglia. Anglo-Saxons settled the town of Northwic in the 4th century. By the 10th century Northwic became Norwich, a prosperous trading center.

William the Conqueror arrived with a bang in 1066....  view more

Tour Duration: 2 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 2.5 Km or 1.6 Miles