Haunted: Thetford Priory, Thetford, Norfolk
Stewart | On 01, Jul 2017
The Hauntings of Thetford Priory
You probably won’t be surprised if I told you that Thetford Priory is said to be haunted by ghostly monks!
Back in 1937, visitors to the priory ruins heard phantom monks reading, chanting and singing in Latin.
In the summer of 1992, a group of teenagers whilst walking through the priory grounds heard the clicking of keys and then witnessed an apparition of a monk run past them!
The most famous Thetford Priory sighting happened to Christian Jensen-Romer, Axel Johnston, Darren Lorking and David Aukett in 1987…
In fact, they relayed their terrifying tale in the Ghosthunters documentary called Ripples in Time.
Which you can view on YouTube here…
Christian has written a detailed post on his blog about his paranormal experiences of that night.
You can read his account below or on his website at this link…
“It was 1987 and I was at a wargames meeting with four friends, all aged about the same as me – I was the youngest at just about to turn 18. We were driving through a town called Thetford in Norfolk, England, when one of us needed the loo badly, so we turned in to a cul-de-sac off the flyover which runs through the middle of town, looking for an alley or something for a call of nature!
At the end of the lane we stumbled across one of those delightful secrets English medieval towns spring on you – flanked by modern housing estates we found a medieval Priory, laying in ruins, built of the local flint stone and clad in ivy. A sign in the car park informed us that it was Thetford Priory, a victim of Henry VIII’s Dissolution of the Monasteries in the mid-C16th.
Well we were not that enthralled by this (we were from Bury St Edmunds with its beautiful monastery ruins), but we wandered through the evening light – it was about 8-8.30pm on a warm August day, (August 8th 1987) which in England means it is still light, day in fact – and eventually found a secluded part of the ruins, where the urgent business could be undertaken behind a bush. As the other chaps gathered we turned to look at the ruins one last time.
It was then we became aware of a joker wearing a black sheet over his head, pretending to be a ghost. I think it was Darren who saw him first, and remarked on this guy in a very light hearted tone – he was looking at us from a first storey (that one above the ground) window, and was obviously watching us. Now if you imagine someone whose skill at Halloween costume making seems to go as far as throwing a bed sheet over his head, well that is what we saw – at least that is what I think I saw!
Darren, being the most headstrong of us said ‘let’s scare him!’ and charged forwards, towards the facade of the building, which has one large arch and a smaller one in which there was a staircase up to the room we had seen the chap in. As I followed, partly to restrain Darren, partly in a spirit of Scooby Doo ‘and I’ve of gotten away with it if it wasn’t for you pesky kids’ I’m not sure what I was thinking.
And then we saw him coming down the stairs – the sheet billowed out like a woman in a ball gown, and there were three dark spots on his stomach area. At least that’s what I saw, and as I was running – well I was not the most observant. We threw ourselves up the staircase at the guy, who was now well within reach, halfway down the stairs; which is why our impact with the flint wall at the back of the room came as a surprise. No stairs existed.
There was no floor in the room the figure had stood in. I struck my head, as did Darren. We were both nauseous, and I felt like I might vomit a few minutes later. There was also a distinct feeling of coldness, and I completely lost the plot.
What had the others seen? Well everyone agreed that there was a very real and very tangible staircase. They all also agreed that there was a figure, though David described it as a smoky mass – but if he did not think it was a joker in a sheet, why did he not challenge our statement before? Axel said it looked like a monk – but any shadow can look like a monk, hence the hundreds of spectral monks said to prowl English towns. Marcus later described the figure as like spiderman in a black costume.
Anyway on the way back we had a curious mix of nausea and extreme emotional reactions, along with a strong feeling of being cold, and a lot of shakiness. Eventually we got home (16 miles) and on the way David forbade us to discuss what we had seen. Only David had any previous belief in the paranormal, and he suggested we created independent signed testimony. . The statements were kept, and then compared – it was then that the fairly major differences in the description of the figure first came to light – apart from an agreement on the staircase, the figure being male, and wearing black, there was however a complete consensus on the order of events.
There was one more rather bizarre aspect to this sighting – as we left the Priory we had a sense the building was in somehow rebuilding itself, making its self more real, around us. Axel shouted ‘jump the walls – break its reality’. We missed that off the documentary – it sounded too sensational. Yet it was exactly what I felt, and evidently Axel too, and as I ran for the car I also felt as if with every step I was plunging deeper in to mud or wet sand – possibly a physiological response to extreme fear, the legs turn to jelly sensation.
At this point I had a major crisis of belief. At that point I was an absolute atheist materialist and advocate of scientific reductionism, despite my family’s firm belief in spooks etc, maybe because of it. The experience convinced me that people did see ‘ghosts’ – that experience is genuine. What those ghosts are – hallucinations, tricks of the light, abnormal mental phenomena, ESP, spirits of the dead, demons cavorting, whatever – I did not and still do not have sufficient data to judge. It just became obvious to me that people had profoundly unsettling experiences which were hard for those who had not been there to relate to, and which lead you to question your sanity, your place in the world, and what the heck really happened.”
Christian’s ghostly experience is surprisingly not that uncommon at Thetford Priory.
Many people have reported trying to speak to a figure that appears to be dressed up as a joke only to get a shock of their lives when the figure disappears into thin air!
One such pair was Margaret and her daughter who are locals to Thetford…
They were sitting on a bench in the priory grounds on a fine summer’s day when they witnessed a ghostly apparition of a monk with his head bent and his arms tucked into his habit slowly gliding by the old kitchen.
Like others, for that moment Margaret believed it was someone trying to scare them…
So she quickly ran to confront the figure only to discover that he had disappeared!
Now, one common theme amongst these ghostly stories is that they all happen in the summer.
So, if you want to witness the ghostly monks of Thetford Priory, why not pay a visit to these great ruins on a fine summers evening?
Frank Meeres (2010) Paranormal Norfolk. Amberley
LUMLEY CASTLE: A Haunted Castle You Can Actually Stay the Night In!
The ghost of Lady Lily Lumley is said to haunt the castle.
Phantom children are often heard playing on the top floor.
And a ghostly apparition of a man has been seen sitting at the bar.
It’s said that a ghost known as Black Jack often plays pranks on startled guests!