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Norwich and Norfolk Recollections

Norwich Ghost Story

Tombland Antique Store

During the plague (14th century) the Tombland Antique Store was then known as the Augustine Stewart house. Residing within was a family who it was thought had died of the plague. The bailiffs of the day therefore, boarded the house up. Months later they returned to remove the boarding and inspect the house only to find that the bodies had been partially eaten. On inspecting the bodies they discovered that the daughter of the family had pieces of human flesh in her throat and realised with horror that they had trapped her alive in the house, when they had sealed it; and that she had subsequently resorted to cannibalism. Her tormented spirit has been seen several times in Augustine Stewart house dressed all in grey. Thus her name 'the grey lady'.

Recollection from the 1840 to 1925

This was before the days of wireless, so, to inform people what the time was in Norwich, schools used to sound their bells at ten to nine and ten to two, factories sounded their sirens when it was time for work, or time to stop (with different notes so that the workforce could recognise theirs), and a gun was fired from the castle ramparts to inform the citizens that it was ten o' clock. The cannon on the castle ramparts was fired by winching an iron ball up and dropping it to fire the gun. This was not a good time to be around the castle because hundreds of pigeons roosted on it and although the pigeons had been born and bred on the castle, the sound of the gun going off invariably caused these scavengers of the cattle and fruit markets to shower everybody in the vicinity with pigeon muck.

If you went to a public hanging in Norwich in the 1850's you would have had to get up very early in the morning; when there was a cold nip in the air. This left no time to have breakfast and by the time you had walked to the castle you were very very hungry. However, a little old bloke from Ber Street with a handcart carrying a tray on top of a charcoal fire always attended these public gathering and the smell from his roasting potatoes used to be a smell you could never forget. If a mother took her baby to these hanging and she was to dress the child in long clothes, it was believed that the child would grow up and not be convicted of a hanging offence. Some mothers kept their children in long clothes until the next hanging was due.

The Artichoke pub in Norwich was believed to have been partly constructed of stone from an old leper house that used to stand there.

Geese were bred in the city and had to be walked to London. To protect their feet they were first shepherded through wet tar and then through sand, which gave them in effect a pair of shoes. Getting them to London was a slow process taking from August to Christmas.

The Old Nest, Norwich football ground (1920) had a stand along the side of Thompson's Chalk Hill works, and at the other end of the ground was a concrete wall called Spine Cop. At the side was the Chicken Run, with wooden palings at the front and 15 to 20 feet behind stood upright sheets of corrugated iron. Behind the corrugated iron were wooden scaffolding poles with wire netting strung between them. This was to stop the ball from going into an enclosed wood yard which was situated behind; and from which the ball could not be retrieved until Monday, if a game was being played at the week-end. Opposite this, was Rosary Road. There were no spectators at this end because the ground had had to be built up and there was a steep incline. Two of the terraced houses overlooking the ground at this end had been bought by the club for use as dressing rooms and offices. To enable the players to get onto the pitch from their dressing room without having to slide down this steep incline, a wooden balcony was built outside of one of the bedroom windows, enabling them to come out of window onto the balcony, down a short ladder and onto the pitch. Part of preparing the first team players for a game, was to get some fresh air in their lungs; this was done by hiring a waggonette on a Friday and taking them for a ride in the country around Plumstead.

Football Supporters Song
                                        To our Norwich City we mean to bring fame
                                        With our Norwich City we'll play such a game
                                        That Fulham and Tottenham will faint at the name
                                        Of the Norwich Canaries - what ho!

Gildengate around 1849 was the roughest area in Norwich. To go down there with any valuables was asking to be mugged. Nobody from that area was able to get a job because of its known inhabitants. The city council decided to renovate the area and change its name to St George's in the hope that it might improve, but it took some time for this to take effect.