There are few things in Norwich scarier than the LCR on a Tuesday night. I wouldn’t necessarily say that Norwich Ghost Walks is one of those things but nonetheless last week I found myself, and a few friends, trudging through the city’s streets behind a man in a black cape detailing the macabre tales behind Norwich’s quaint medieval veneer.
Around forty soon-to-be ghostwalkers congregate in the car park of the Adam & Eve pub as the walk begins with ‘The Man in Black’ introducing himself.
Thought to be the oldest pub in the city, the Adam & Eve was host to one of the sixteenth century’s most famous uprisings, where 15,000 farmers and peasants rose against Lord Sheffield and the local nobility in Kett’s Rebellion. A butcher from Cromer armed with a meat cleaver dealt the final blow to Sheffieldwho died in the pub’s bottom bar.
The Man in Black tells us how the pub played witness to dancing tankards, dripping blood onto the bar, over the centuries since. “It’s never been scientifically analysed”, the Man in Black insists, “but this is a ghost story, and so it must be blood”.
The route takes ghost-walkers through the medieval heart of the city over two hours, covering Tombland, Elm Hill, and finishing by circling the Cathedral’s estate.
Tombland, we learn, was blighted by the plague and is thus home to six of the city’s plague pits. The Man in Black says these victims had “no requiem, no epithet, no headstone.” It is no surprise, he adds, that the area is host to so much spectral activity. He’s right – well, about the neglected status of the plague pits at least. There is hardly any sign that the large lavender pits in the court between Palace Street were filled with the bodies of thousands (4,500 roughly) of plague victims in the early modern period. Instead, they lie inconspicuously amongst quirky bookshops and tea rooms.
The walk is full of obscure tiddbits about the city, for example that ‘tombland’ isn’t a signifer of the area’s morbid history but is derived from Nordic and means “open space”.
The night dipped into panto-esque theatrics, with multiple “ghosts” popping up. A furious Benedictine monk appears to call the crowd scum for example.
An evening of ghost stories, haunting histories and autumnal air, this really isn’t to be missed.