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Lynn News


Published on Friday 15 October 1999 01:00

A HERITAGE group staying in Downham’s Crown Hotel while re-enacting a suffragette movement rally met with some spookier characters from the past – two ghosts!

One member of Northampton Heritage Centre woke up to find a ghostly deformed child leaning over him, while the sounds of a party were also heard at 3am –but there was nobody in the room the noises came from.The members had been invited by Downham and District Heritage Trust to turn the clock back around 90 years and stage a debate on whether women should be given the vote. They stayed in the hotel over the weekend of October 9 and 10.Heritage Centre director Mrs Jenny Thompson said the member who woke up to find the ghost over him was “shocked”.She said: “Two or three members, myself included, heard the party at around 3am and there was no-one there, but just listening to it it was quite a party!”Hotel manager Mrs Nelleke Hayes said she had not seen the ghost of a deformed child, but had heard the party noises on previous occasions.Mrs Thompson said the suffragette debate was set in 1911 and the issue was discussed by members dressed in Georgian clothes.After the argument, the suffragettes collected about 200 signatures on a petition demanding representation for women.Despite fighting for the vote, the suffragettes did back down over one battle over the weekend.They had originally planned to chain one of the members to the town clock as a protest but this plan was scuppered when West Norfolk Council’s market inspector refused to give them permission.Mrs Thompson said members of the centre hoped to return to Downham next year to do another re-enactment.

Lynn News

Castle Rising

Ghost hunters to reveal proof of castle hauntings

Published on Tuesday 31 March 2009 11:29

THE experts investigating paranormal activity at Castle Rising are holding an open meeting to showcase their evidence and generate debate on the subject.
Archaeologist and historian Norman Fahy and former telecommunications engineer Malcolm Chambers are inviting fellow investigators to join them at the meeting ahead of a new season of events at the castle.
The duo have worked extensively at the castle and Mr Fahy has photographed and witnessed many occurrences during his seven-year watch as head custodian.Mr Chambers owns an array of electronic sensing devices which have been used to capture paranormal activity and he hopes to continue this work in the future.
Castle Rising has a good reputation of haunting and the team has developed an impressive portfolio of evidence.
The meeting will be held at the Castle Rising Reading Room from 7.30pm tomorrow.
Admission costs 2 which includes light refreshments and all proceeds will go to the St Lawrence Church fabric fund.
The duo will be holding a series of events at the castle from Saturday, April 18, where members of the public can take an active part in paranormal investigations of the castle.                                                               

Lynn News

Haunted hospital

Published on Tuesday 7 December 2004 09:23

A flying squad of clergy are set to visit a former hospital in Lynn to lay to rest spirits that a group of ghost-hunters claim to have made contact with in the haunted building.
The Bishop's Delivery Team, from the Bishop of Norwich's office, will conduct a blessing of the town's former St James' Hospital after years of reported unearthly goings-on at the historic building.
And the Lynn News can reveal that the 150-year-old Extons Road building, which now houses the offices of West Norfolk Primary Care Trust and some clinics, is apparently home to a whole host of restless souls.
Mysterious Worlds, a team of 12 paranormal researchers from Cambridge, including scientists, carried out a ten-hour study of the old workhouse on the night of Friday, November 19, at their own request.
It followed claims over the years from staff, cleaners and visitors of "ghostly experiences, uncomfortable feelings and things going bump in the night", PCT communications manager Richard Humphries said.
"You could say that this is in line with the NHS's duty of care to all those in its charge, living or dead!" he added.
The paranormal investigation took place mainly in the dark, using infra-red cameras and night-vision equipment to check for movement and orbs – said to be the first manifestation of a spirit presence.
Thermometers were used to test for cold spots and special meters to check for variations in electromagnetic fields.
Mr Humphries, who accompanied the investigators, said it was the three psychics in the group "who provided the most entertaining aspect of the night".
He said: "As the team entered the rear door, one psychic claimed that the spirit of a boy was waiting near reception. The boy gave his name as Sidney, said he was 11 in the early 1900s and that he had never known any other place.
"He said he was very attached to someone by the name of Lewis, who worked in the building with someone called Fisher. The boy said he found Mrs Lewis very amusing and entertained himself by hiding small objects in her room."
Mr Humphries said all three psychics agreed that there had been some "troubling deaths" in St James. "Someone had been pushed down the stairs from first to ground floor at the dental end of the building," he said.
And a rape and murder happened on the first floor during the Second World War when three servicemen attacked a young woman. They hid her body near Swaffham, but it was later recovered and buried in Lynn, he said.
Spirits of three men named Jenkins, Jimmy and Badger were said to be haunting the first floor, and the two women psychics agreed that there was an unpleasant aura.
"Badger was said to smoke a pipe and curiously enough during part of the evening there was an overwhelming aroma of pipe tobacco smoke on the main staircase, not attributable to any of the visitors," Mr Humphries said.
All the psychics independently reported that the building had housed patients evacuated from London during the 1940s Blitz – a fact verified later by old hospital documents not available to the public and not widely known, he said.
The only significant orb recorded – the spirit of a man called Henry – was in the first- floor printer room.
But there were plenty of cold spots, and particularly along the ground-floor corridor. This was said to be patrolled by a nurse called Margaret Matthews, whose spirit had returned to the building to watch over everyone.
Two investigators checking the electromagnetic fields were standing about six feet apart in that corridor when one of the meters suddenly reacted wildly for several seconds followed by the next meter – and then one of the fire doors closed on its own, Mr Humphries said.
The staff dining room end of the building was said to be haunted by the spirit of a hooded figure who does not like women.
Mr Humphries stressed that an exorcism had not been asked for as there had not been any problems with the "spirits", and that the Mysterious Worlds team had approached the Trust to undertake the work.


Lynn News

What ghostly secrets does the 150-year-old St James' Clinic hold?

Published on Tuesday 4 July 2006 10:27

To mark the 150th anniversary of Lynn's St James' Clinic, reporter Amy Collett has delved into history archives opened to the public for the first time to tell the tale of one of the town's most fascinating buildings.
These days you're more likely to visit Lynn's St James' Clinic get your teeth checked out, see a nurse, pick up a prescription, or to see the family planning clinic.
But in Victorian times, the impressive Extons Road building earned a reputation as one of the most famous workhouses in the country.
The building which is now home to the headquarters of West Norfolk Primary Care Trust has just celebrated its 150th birthday.
Sadly, the financial state of the health service meant staff couldn't organise a special event, but the PCT still endeavoured to mark the day by opening its history archive to the public.
With today's creature comforts, it's difficult to imagine life at a workhouse, even with the help of Charles Dickens' vivid description in Oliver Twist.
But a peep into the archive reveals life was pretty good at St James'. Originally housed and named after St James' Chapel, it was often scandalised by the easy life enjoyed by the inmates, and the abundant food and tea on offer.
By the early 1800s, St James' Workshop, as it was known locally, had become notorious for its lax discipline, and able-bodied men were allowed out to find employment in Lynn. They were a familiar sight in their blue Scotch caps trimmed with yellow ribbons.
References are made to it in a number of traditional English folk-songs – including The Captain's Apprentice, which tells of a poor boy taken from St James' in the 1850s, and apprenticed as a cabin boy in a ship which belonged to a workhouse guardian.
The boy, 15-year-old Robert Eastick, was so badly abused on his first voyage that he took his own life – which outraged Lynn families at the time.
In August 1854, part of the old building in County Court Road collapsed, killing two people. Rather than try to repair it, a new one was erected in 1856 in Extons Road – the one which still stands today.
It was designed by architects James Medland and Alfred Maberley, and completed by local builder Charles Bennett, at a total cost of 13,545.
It had beds for 468 inmates, and a further "vagrants and receiving" ward was built in 1882 for 1,250.
An article entitled The Medical History of Lynn, which appeared in our forerunner, the Lynn Advertiser newspaper, in February 1864, also made reference to St James' "beautiful chapel", and said the workhouse had taken the lead with the introduction of a hot-air Turkish bath.
Like many workhouses, St James' was eventually converted into a hospital, until finally closing in 1985.
But even when converted, it never quite lost that air of misery and gloom. And so it should not be surprising to hear that the odd ghost still haunts it corridors.
It's said the building is home to a whole host of restless souls, and a visit from a team of ghost-busters almost three years ago followed years of reported ghostly experiences and things that go bump in the night.
The paranormal investigation revealed there had been some troubling deaths in St James' – including a rape and murder in the Second World War.
One psychic claimed there was a spirit of a young boy called Sidney in the reception area, and the spirits of three men named Jenkins, Jimmy and Badger were said to be haunting the first floor.
All three psychics independently reported that the building had housed patients evacuated from London during the 1940s Blitz – a fact verified later by old hospital documents not available to the public and not widely known...

Lynn News

30 ghosts in one house: A True's tale

Published on Friday 28 October 2005 11:50

With only three days to go until Halloween people's minds turn towards ghosts and other things that go bump in the night. Lynn has its fair share of legends and haunted houses but one building turned out to be crammed full of ghouls after a specialist team spent the night there. Our reporter finds out more...
Many people who have been to True's Yard Fishing Museum have been convinced it is haunted but no-one suspected just how many ghosts had made it their home.During a "ghost-hunting" expedition earlier this year one medium was left retching and heaving after he got such a strong sense of the many spirits there.
The museum was visited by Bassetlaw Ghost Research Group after the team heard True's Yard, which is all that remains of Lynn's old fishing community based at the North End, was haunted. They claim the building was home to an incredible 30 spirits.
The team, which is based in Nottingham with 'paranormal investigators' from across the country, and is dedicated to finding proof that ghosts exist, contacted the museum after some Lynn residents told them it was haunted.
Gemma Cousins (23) was the manager at the time of their visit and she believes there is something out there.
She said: "A lot of people know True's Yard has always been haunted.
"Quite a few times I've smelled pipe smoke when there was no-one else around or got the chills in a warm room.
"Bassetlaw asked me if they could stay overnight so I gave them a tour around the building. They looked everywhere, in the loft and the cupboards.
"Immediately on walking in they started sensing things in places where I didn't particularly like to be myself."
Miss Cousins said some people have told her they had seen a young boy who didn't know he was dead and was waiting for his parents in the old fisherman's cottages at the back of the museum.
Women in particular were able to see him and she believes this may be due to a maternal instinct.
The research group, which comprised of five mediums, ten technicians, and a dog, went to the museum at around 8pm and stayed until the early morning.
They brought a lot of equipment with them including infra-red cameras, camcorders, sound recorders, and special devices to detect slight changes in the atmosphere.
Miss Cousins left them there for the night and when she returned in the morning she said the cottages and the museum, which had been home to a pub before, were full of smells like alcohol, smoke, and vomit.
She said: "When I came back it was like a different atmosphere altogether, it was just weird. It has made me believe there is definitely something there."
The mediums told her there were 30 ghosts that came up during their visit. Some of them were just visiting and wanted to show the team their pictures in the museum. They were very proud at having their pictures up.
Miss Cousins added: "The team believes that a murder had happened in the attic of one of the cottages and when they went inside a voice had sworn at them and told them to leave immediately.
"A medium told me what happened was a girl had fallen in love with someone who her father didn't think was suitable and they got into a scrap.
"He strangled her by accident but her death was covered up."
The team said there was a poltergeist called Henry who refused to leave the building and they believe he was the spirit of a pressganger.
They also claimed the museum was home to several youthful spectres including two young boys and a girl in the museum, and the ghosts of some young people playing outside. Miss Cousins said: "The two young boys were waiting for their father to come in from the docks and the medium told them that they had actually died and had to move on.
"The ghosts played a few pranks on them, opening cupboards and slamming doors."
True's Yard's new joint manager Miss Joanna Barrett has only worked there for a couple of weeks but is keeping an open mind.
She said: "I'm not exactly a sceptic but I am more of a 'have to see it to believe it' sort of person.
"Having said that, sometimes when you are locking up for the night it can feel a little eerie.
"We have had people who say they have definitely felt things but it depends on whether you can sense the atmosphere."
A full report is still not yet available from Bassetlaw but after their visit True's Yard could be a little less crowded
Several of the ghosts were told to move on by the team and are believed to have passed into the great hereafter.
But staff at the museum still say they can hear what sounds like footsteps upstairs when the building is quiet, and should you feel a sudden chill while spending a visit, there it may be more than a gust of wind...

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