Norwich's Historical and Haunted Buildings, Norwich

Norwich's Historical and Haunted Buildings (Self Guided), Norwich

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. ***PH***
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Norwich's Historical and Haunted Buildings Map

Guide Name: Norwich's Historical and Haunted Buildings
Guide Location: England » Norwich (See other walking tours in Norwich)
Guide Type: Self-guided Walking Tour (Sightseeing)
# of Attractions: 11
Tour Duration: 2 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 3.2 Km or 2 Miles
Author: Maia
Sight(s) Featured in This Guide:
  • Norwich Castle
  • St Julian's Church
  • All Saints Church
  • St. Stephen's Church
  • Maddermarket Theatre
  • St. Andrew's and Blackfriars' Halls
  • Strangers Club
  • Samson and Hercules House
  • Augustine Steward House
  • Norwich Cathedral
  • Maids Head Historic Hotel
Norwich Castle

1) Norwich Castle (must see)

By 1075 Norman troops had demolished about 100 Saxon homes to create room for a wooden fort and motte in the town of Norwich. In 1094 work was begun by King William (The Red) II, third son of William the Conqueror, on the stone keep which would become Norwich Castle. King Henry I completed the work on the stone keep in 1121.

The keep was built with two floors. Access was gained by an external stone staircase on the east side to a foyer building called the Bigod Tower. Hugh Bigod, 1st Earl of Norfolk, was Constable of Norwich castle. An area around the castle, known as the Fee, was set aside for defensive purposes.

Walls on the ground floor were surfaced with flint. White limestone was used on the upper level, which was intended to be the Royal Palace. The upper floor was in two parts: the great hall and the royal residence. There was a walkway or fighting gallery on the outer walls.

Early on, parts of the Castle were used as a prison. The castle continued mainly as a gaol (jail) until 1887, when His Majesty's Prison Norwich was opened at Mousehold Heath and the Castle was bought by the city to be used as a museum.

The conversion was carried out by architect Edward Boardman. Prison cells were removed. Flooring and balconies installed. Arches reinforced the newly glazed roof. The exercise yards became gardens and the cell blocks spectator galleries. The museum officially opened in 1894.

The Museum and Art Gallery exhibits are diverse. There are ceramics, porcelain and silver objects and paintings of the Norwich School. Historical artifacts are Roman, Egyptian, Saxon and Viking. There are tours of dungeons and battlements and there is a cafe.
St Julian's Church

2) St Julian's Church

St Julian's Church was built in the 11th and 12th century. It is an early round-tower church, one of the 31 surviving parish churches of a total of 58 that were built in Norwich after the Norman conquest of England.

Julian of Norwich, a 14th-century anchoress, took her name from the saint of the church, which was dedicated either to Julian the Hospitaller or Julian of Le Mans. Her anchoress's cell was in a corner of the churchyard. The church was attached to the priory at Carrow Abbey and the prioress and nuns appointed the priest and maintained the church. It is speculated that the Prioress Edith Wilton and her provided the anchoress with her writing materials.

Julian of Norwich's cell did not stand empty. In 1428 Julian(a) Lampet moved in the cell and she was there for fifty years during which time Margaret Pygot was the prioress.

By 1845 St. Julian's was in a very poor state of repair and that year the east wall collapsed. After an appeal for funds, the church underwent a ruthless restoration. It was further restored in the 20th century, but was destroyed during the Norwich Blitz of 1942, when in June that year the tower received a direct hit. After the war, funds were raised to rebuild the church by the architect A. J. Chaplin, and it reopened in 1953, mainly to act as a Shrine Church for Julian of Norwich.

It now appears largely as it was before its destruction, although its tower is much-reduced in height, and a chapel has been built in place of the long-lost anchorite cell. The flint building has stone and brick dressings with a pantile roof. It consists of a nave, single-bay chancel, a south chapel with vestry with a circular west tower. The tower includes a bell from around 1500 which was rehung in 1992.

The church has an organ dating to 1860 by Henry Jones, which was installed here in 1966. A specification of the organ can be found on the National Pipe Organ Register.

The Friends of Julian have a shop and lending library in a hall at the corner of the street.
Sight description based on Wikipedia.
All Saints Church

3) All Saints Church

All Saints' Church, Norwich is a Grade I listed redundant parish church in the Church of England in Norwich.

The church was largely built in the 15th century, when the nave and north aisle were added but the Chancel dates back to the 13th century. The un-buttressed tower was also built in the 15th century but had extensive repair work done in the 19th century, with the top stage of the tower being added in 1913.

There is an Anchorhold attached to the church that served religious hermits who chose to live their life separate from secular society. The city records from 1287 to 1288 show that servants of the anchoress were charged with ‘stopping up the Cockey (blocked the common drain) so that no one can pass by there’. It has been suggested that this was done in an attempt to cover up that either the anchoress or her servants were engaged in trade, something that was forbidden for any anchoress.

It used to house a spectacular ornate font that featured carvings of saints arranged around the bowl and base. This was moved to St Julians Church (Norwich) following All Saints' being made redundant in the parochial reorganisation in 1973.

On being made redundant in 1973, Norwich Historic Churches Trust took it over and immediately spent £8000 on making it watertight. From 1979 it housed the All Saints Centre, a community centre set up by Jo Cook. It was used as a place to serve the community and to provide Christian hospitality for the less-advantaged. The church was improved during this tenancy to include a commercial standard kitchen and a first floor room in the aisle. This was originally designed to house the Diocesan Mothers’ Union, who moved out in 2003.

The church faced an arson attack in 1992, following which there was a large cleaning and redecoration.

The All Saints Centre closed in 2015, when it was reopened as an antiques centre and tea room; All Saints Antiques Centre. As of 2021 these tenants are still occupying the building.

A gallery was installed at the base of the tower to provide a platform for bell ringers to practice. The Norwich Diocesan Association of Ringers use this as one of their churches on the first Tuesday of every month.

The church contained an organ dating from 1861 by Corps.
Sight description based on Wikipedia.
St. Stephen's Church

4) St. Stephen's Church

St Stephen's Church is a parish church of the Church of England in Norwich. The church was first documented in a 12th century royal charter. The church became a pilgrimage site after Richard Caister was buried in the chancel in the 15th century. Richard Caister was an English priest and poet in the late 14th and early 15th-centuries, and was the confessor to the English mystic Margery Kempe. From 1402 to his death in 1420, he was Vicar of St Stephen's Church.

The church has undergone major rebuilding and renovations since the 16th century. Both the chancel and the nave were rebuilt in 1522 and 1547, respectively. The English Civil War damaged a large portion of the church in 1648, which had to be restored. The church was fully renovated in 1858 and again in 2009.

The most distinguishing feature of St Stephen's Church is the tower. Made from flint and white stone, the tower has a checkered effect. Unlike most churches, which feature the tower at the west end, the St Stephens Church tower is above the main entrance.

St Stephen's Church is Grade I Listed. Visitors may attend one of the Sunday services or they can stop at the church cafe. It is open Monday through Saturday from 10 AM to 3 PM.
Maddermarket Theatre

5) 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.
St. Andrew's and Blackfriars' Halls

6) St. Andrew's and Blackfriars' Halls

St. Andrew's Hall and the adjoining Blackfriars' Hall is a Grade I listed building in Norwich, dating back to the 14th century. They make up the most complete friary complex surviving in England. They make up the most complete friary complex surviving in England. The complex is made up of several flint buildings. The centerpiece is St Andrew's Hall. The halls are now used for conferences, weddings, concerts, beer festivals and meetings. The maximum capacity is 1,200 people. It is one of the Norwich 12 heritage sites.

In the mid 13th century a religious order called the Friars of the Sack settled in Norwich, in the parishes of St. Andrew and Peter Hungate. By the early 14th century, the group was in decline. In 1307 the Dominican Order, also called the Black Friars because of the colour of their habit, took over the site by royal licence under the condition they cared for the last remaining friar.

The first church and buildings were destroyed in 1413 in a serious fire which destroyed a large part of the city. The second church building which survives today was completed in 1470, with St Andrew's Hall forming the nave of the new church. There is also a Blackfriars' Hall as well as a crypt, chapel and cloisters.

During the Reformation, the site was saved by the City Corporation, which bought it from the king for use as a 'common hall.' Since then the complex has been used for worship, as a mint and as a workhouse. It has been used regularly for civic occasions since 1544, when the first Mayor's feast was held for the inauguration of Henry Fuller. The Norwich Triennial Festival, the third oldest in the country, began here in 1824.
Sight description based on Wikipedia.
Strangers Club

7) 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

8) 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

9) 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

10) Norwich Cathedral (must see)

Herbert de Losinga, bishop of Thetford and first bishop of Norwich, was not without sin. He bought the bishopric of Thetford from the King in 1094 for 1,900 pounds. He then transferred his cathedral seat to Norfolk, specifically, Norwich. Ensconced in his new see, he wasted no time in building his own cathedral. Work started in 1096.

What was his sin? He bought the job, from the king, no less. His monks were distressed by his sin. He hustled off to Rome to be forgiven. Success! He was allowed to return to Jesus with his bellyful of forbidden fruit. Who could judge him? It was a crazy time. Herbert had barely parked his throne in the nave when he died in 1119.

The work was carried on by Herbert's successor, Bishop Eborard in 1121. It was completed in 1145 when Eborard's successor, Bishop William de Turbe, installed the cathedral tower. The cathedral was put together with flint and mortar and faced with white limestone from Caen, in France.

The cathedral has a really long nave with 14 bays. The transepts have no aisles. The east end holds an apse with an ambulatory. The ambulatory grants access to two circular chapels. The Norman tower was at last installed by 1145. It is adorned with lozenges and arcading. The stone spire was added in 1480. The early Norman style is intact.

The nave roof was struck by lightning in 1463 and the roof burned. The nave replacement roof has an intricate vaulting featuring short stone ribs with bosses carved and painted in various forms. The kings, peasants, musicians, soldiers, acrobats, and ladies carved and painted on the bosses are, by turns, humorous or frightening.

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. The chapels are; The Goldwell Chantry; the Jesus Chapel and; St. Andrew's Chapel. The famous Erpingham Window celebrates Sir Thomas Erpingham who fought in the Battle of Agincourt in 1415.
Maids Head Historic Hotel

11) 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