History, Beer and Ghosts in Norwich

Norwich Ghost Walk
History, Beer and spooky tales from folklore – Three of my interests and is there a better place to explore them than Norwich?

The Adam and Eve Pub

Starting off at the Adam and Eve which itself had all three in abundance.  People have been sampling fine ales here for 1500 years and a saxon well apparently still exists below the lower bar floor.

Adam and Eve Pub Norwich  Adam and Eve Pub Norwich

At the bar there is a fine selection of ales, from Cambridge Bitter, to Adnams to a Wolf Brewery straw beer.  We tuck into some rather large and splendid meals whilst enjoying a our first ales of the evening.

Lord Sheffied is the famous ghost to be found here, during Robert Kett’s rebellion in 1549 (I’ll come on to this later) the King’s men were overthrown and Sheffield had attempted to surrender in a polite way but had his head knocked off by an over excited peasant.  His ghost remains in the building, and on sampling their food and ale I would imagine he is in no rush to leave.  Today as well as supping fine ale it’s reported that he runs his fingers through your hair or taps you on the shoulder, and makes tankards swing on the walls.  Other spooky goings on are the spectres of some monks who once lived and worked here.

The Norwich Ghost Tour

Norwich Ghost Tour Man in Black

The Norwich Ghost Tour Host - I suspect the light circles are on my lense and not orbs!

It also provides the starting location to the rather excellent Norwich Ghost Walk – a two hour walk of history and ghosts through the streets of Norwich.  Here we meet our guide – the 150 years old “man in black”.

Norwich has had it’s fair share of blood shed in it’s history and one of the early locations on the tour is the Cathedral.  Back in the 1200s there had been a riot here, with disagreements between the cathedral workers and men of the city. According to our guide, to try and keep things quiet the main gates had been closed.  An innovative young lad suggested the idea of burning the gates down, a suggestion that would have her burned alive, and she still walks the grounds today, her feet covered in smoke.  In fact – in a very physical form she walks the grounds tonight for the pleasure of the Ghost walkers and decides to pick on me, just my luck that she mistakes me for the Bishop who burned her and I offer my apologies to her for the burning.

Norwich Cathedral

Norwich Cathedral

The cathedral itself is magnificent, built from 1096 in local flint and stone from Normandy, inside it contains some great carvings of green men and over 1000 painted bosses.  Just outside the Cathedral is a statue to the very brave Edith Cavell, a nurse from WW1 executed in 1915 by the Germans for helping British prisoners escape.

The tour moves on to the Norwich cinema complex, the cinema itself is built within some of Norwich’s oldest building and a phantom captured by a photographer can be seen here.  http://phantomsandmonsters.wetpaint.com/page/Photo%3A+Ghost+Debuts+at+Norwich+Cinema

Norwich Cinema City

The identity of the spectre remains unknown, but one would presume he is thrilled to have such a cinema and restaurant in his building.  Continuing through Norwich the tour combines eerie tales, history and an element of street theatre to bring it all to life.

Almost at and end the tour brings us to Fye Bridge where ghosts of witches are seen carrying their faggots – piles of wood on which they would later be burned.  They were also dipped in the river here to confirm that they were indeed witches, but it’s not just witches that are dipped into the river, “lollards” a name that I have learned means those who stood against the church.  Further reading has taught me that a woman guilty of just nagging could find herself dunked into the river!  This brings us onto Magdalen street and potentially the most haunted building in Norwich with poltergesit activity, footsteps and cold spots.  The tour concludes back at the Adam and Eve pub with more tales of the supernatural – I haven’t covered them all here as I wouldn’t want to ruin it for any other ghost hunters, but if you have a free evening in Norwich I’d recommend it.

Near to our guest house The Kings Head on Magdalen Street had more than enough beers to keep me happy, no surprise that it has won awards for it’s beer!

Day Two

The Castle

Norwich Castle

I opted against shopping and headed in search of history by myself today.  Next up for me is Norwich Castle – built on earthworks 21m metres high.  Today the castle looks newer than many properties build in the last few years, and that’s due to the resurfacing work in the mid 1800’s as the original Normandy limestone was very corroded.  This is said to now be the most well preserved example of such a castle outside of Falaise in France.

Inside Norwich Castle

This was William the Conquerors only castle in East Anglia and it stands impressive and proud on top of a large mound.  It appears to have been used as a gaol from 1220 to 1887 at which point it became a museum.  Today I pay my few pound entry and investigate the main part of the keep – what I liked about Norwich Castle is that the carcass of the castle seems to have been left as is and the exhibits and “museum” features are standalone within that – sometimes when castles become too decorated and turned into theme parks the atmosphere can be dead ruining the experience.  The castle itself was built as a royal palace but no royals seemed to take up residence (clearly this was in the days before Wherry beer was so readily available in Norwich!)  Inside there are histotical, art and natural history exhibitions, and a very big Polar Bear- ROAR.

Norwich Castle Dungeons

For just a few more pounds you can have a guided tour of the dungeons, something well worth the extra cost.  You can experience the small holding rooms when the innocent and guilty would await trial and see the stocks that would have displayed bad people in the market square for you to throw tomatoes at them.  Or, for those who’d been whipped you’d be allowed to rub salt into their wounds, our history really is quite a horrible on I thinks to myself.  They’ve even got a collection of casts from the heads of villains (death masks) from the time when they would research if the bumps on your head would indicate if you were a bad person.  The dungeons are reported to be haunted by it’s previous inmates.

The castle dicthes as pictured below are now pleasent to walk around and anoutdoor theatre has been set up.

castle bridge

The castle itself is reported to have ghosts – a lady in a black dress who floats around the grounds and a floating skull.  It’s also the location where Robert Kett (after his revolt) was hung on the castle walls – his ghost is still said to be seen wandering round below.  At times public executions at the castle could attract crowds of 12,000 and the train service would profit nicely from the number of travellers.

Lollards Pit

Bridge Inn Pub Norwich

The most gruseome place in Norwich’s history may well be  Lollards pit, a chalk pit from the days of the cathedral construction, I’d read my book so I went to find it.  In the 15th and 16th century many were burned here for their religious beliefs, with 50 burning during the reign of Bloody Mary. Thomas Bilney also met his end here for heresy during the reign of Henry VIII.

Today I found that there is no more than a plaque to mark the location – the pit is filled in and the land is being used for a much better purpose, a pub.  Spook wise the cries of the victims are still said to be heard, and a feeling of heat.  Just across the road is Bishops Gate bridge, said to be haunted by withes crossing it carrying their faggots to their fate.  Both sides of the bridge there are neat pubs – I sample some more Wherry in the Red Lion.

Bishopsgate Bridge Norwich

Bishopsgate Bridge - the oldest bridge in Norwich

Cow Tower

cow tower norwich Not too far from BishopsGate is the Cow Tower – a historic military tower sitting on the side of the picturesque river Wesum.  Badly damaged during the previously mentioned Kett’s rebellion in 1549 – a revolt during the reign of Edward IV in response to an act concerning the enclosure of owned land.

I’ve mentioned this rebellion a few times and it does appear to be one of the most significant events in Norwich’s history when many folk from towns around stood up, fought and died for what they thought was right.  Kett was from Wymondham and led a march on Norwich with an army of thousands against the King’s troops resulting in a bloody battle and many deaths.

Today I can’t get in the tower but it’s still an impressive sight to look at.

Fat Cat

In the Fat Cat Pub Norwich

No ghosts to to found here but possibly one of the finest selections of ales you’ll find in town.  My favourite being the Vanilla and Almond Stout from Wentworth.  I like my beers dark!  The Fat cat lives up to it’s reputation as having a fantastic collection of ales, as did the Kings Head near our guest house and the Adam & Eve pub.

Norwich lived up to expectations, rich in history, spookyness and lots of beer.  I didn’t see a single ghost, but I enjoyed the beer and tales from history and folklore.

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