'Butler Area' Hauntings
Morley Old Hall
The Grey Lady
'Butler Area' Hauntings
Click thumbnail photos to enlarge Paul D. Clarke is oblivious to the ghostly presence behind him in Dorm 27 (1962 Annexe). The phantom mopper of Dorm 27 gets to work. Both of these photos were taken by Chris Smith, who lived to tell the tale.
Wasn't one of the huts supposed to have a ghost? Also, I'm pretty sure there was supposed to be a ghost in sick bay; I remember a commotion in there when someone caused a panic (in the middle of the night) claiming that they'd been 'visited.'
There was a time in the 1950's when noises were heard in South senior dormitory (29?). Various theories were put forward, including 'ghosts' of former residents, while another was that bubbles of gas were rising from the roots of an adjacent tree and popping as they met the concrete floor. Does anyone remember any more about this event?
Although Hut 29 was bulldozed to make way for the library complex, I think the ghost story remained ... taking Chinese Whispers into account, wasn't that the one about a Colonel's son who shot himself for being a wimp or something? The only other ghost stories were the 'Morley Hall maidservant" who drowned herself, and "The Grey Lady" who haunts beds on the 10th of the 10th and the 11th of the 11th, before finally returning on the 12th of the 12th to strangle the occupant of the 12th bed with a loo-chain!!
From memory and the stories I heard, both 29 and 31 had hauntings/ghosts. As the story goes, 29D was an officers room and the occupant had shot himself in the foot during D Day to get out of the fighting. He was medevac'd to Morley. His family disowned when they found out what had happened and he killed himself in that room. The story was that at night there was a shuffling and tapping of a cane heard in that room.
Regarding hut 31, the room there was 31A. According to the story, some mornings the furniture was found thrown across the room. I heard that the staff even tried to set a trap, with rings around the desk legs and chalk dust on the floor. In the morning, furniture all moved but the rings and chalk dust untouched. Anyone know any more that that?
One night in the end room of dormitory 29, being ‘South House,’ a day just before the Christmas holidays, we all had everything packed beside our beds. I had some Wellington boots, that I couldn’t find any room for in my suitcase, tied together and placed on top of my locker next to my bed. In the middle of the night, being in a jokey kind of mood, I decided to play a trick with these boots by continually pushing them off my locker onto the floor and sitting up in bed in surprise at the event, as did the entire room upon hearing the noise.
After a few times of doing this, everyone was in a right state. I just claimed that they jumped off the locker by themselves. Successive resulting shouts of bewilderment/fright by everyone eventually aroused the attention of our housemaster, Mr Wrench, a music teacher who happened to have as interest in ghostly phenomena and suchlike. By this time the whole end room was in uproar, and of course I played along with it all.
After settling us down eventually, Mr Wrench said he would look into the matter in due course, subsequently taping various noises from time to time after the holidays were over, and he declared that dormitory 29 was haunted. Word soon spread, of course, and the legend of the College ghost was born, with other huts also reporting ghostly phenomena, like footsteps sounding in the dormitory walkways with no one there.
I do subsequently remember an occasion when I had left some school books inside the Tech. Drawing classroom and that, when I went to retrieve them, before I could open the door I heard footsteps inside that stopped as I entered. Needless to say I didn’t hang around once I had collected my books! It is also worth remembering that this particular building once served as the main Path.Lab/Morgue in the days when it was the USAAF Hospital. Even the sinks with the long elbow-activated tap levers were still in place when it was uses as the Tech. Drawing classroom.
The above account was published in the 2005 Newsletter and this response was received very soon afterwards:
Your correspondent's article is, I'm afraid, pure invention! I and the likes of Chris Lester and Ian Jenner lived in the said end room and witnessed the "phenomena" from day one. In full it consisted of knocks and scraping sounds, and something akin to water dripping. Wellies dropping from lockers .... nonsense! Also the room was never in uproar nor was anyone ever bewildered or frightened! Finally, the housemaster at the time was 'Bill Bailey' as we called him, so it would be easy to check MY facts against the self-styled legend maker in your pages.
P.S. I believe the tapes are still around. My daughter listened to them during her incarceration in the 70s.
The following notes appeared in the 1957 College Magazine in relation to meetings of the IVth and Vth Form Society:
It is difficult to say which type of meeting proved the most lively; that which generated the most interest was undoubtedly our inquest on the poltergeist. Mr. Wrench, who had kindly come along with Mr. Bailey, began by playing us his tape-recording of the phenomenon (including a recurrent obligato on Jenner's bedspring); this was followed by a number of East House boys giving their testimony on things heard. R. J. Read, the sceptic, then made a bold attempt to disprove their theories, even imputing the noises to someone's tapping his own stomach. No quarter was given on either side, and the whole discussion was, if inconclusive, most interesting.
I would urge Terry to read my article again THOROUGHLY. I never claimed that the original pre-Xmas holiday prank with the wellies to be anything BUT THAT, and I certainly didn't invent it, since it was I who kept pushing them off my locker, rousing the entire end room of Dorm 29 in the process.
Was he in the end room at the same time as myself that night? Somehow I doubt it since he surely would have remembered the occasion. The only people that I remember being in there at the time of the 'incident' I have listed on a sketch plan (below), in the relevant bed areas. Do any of these positions ring a bell with them?
Click to enlarge
End room of Dorm 29 - 15th December 1955
As far as I remember, the end room could accommodate about 8 beds. I can only remember the identities of half of those in that room and their relative positions on the night in question. I wonder if anyone can fill in the names for those beds that are labelled with a query sign?
Whether or not the ghost was a legend is open to debate. It is interesting to learn that the tapes exist. I will have to try and get an 'audio appointment' to hear these (would that be possible if they can be located?). Presumably they would be dated, which may go some way to answering my outstanding uncertainty about precisely which eve of Xmas holiday year my original prank took place.
Yes, Mr Bailey was our Housemaster from 1953 onwards, but he was not always on duty 24/7. On his days or nights off various others stood in for him, such as Messrs. Syrett, Freeman, Wrench et al. Indeed, my Housemaster's end of term report for Spring 1955 was, in fact, signed and written in the beautiful copper-plate script of Dave Freeman, our art teacher at the time, and was so from Autumn Term of 1954 onwards. I believe he stood in, on at least one occasion, for Capt. Rainey who was Housemaster of West House. It so happened that on the night in South House when I played the trick with the wellies, Mr Wrench was standing in for Mr Bailey.
I have attempted to eliminate those times when I was NOT in the end room of Dorm 29:
My first school year of 1952/53 was spent in Dorm 28 (House names as such had not then been conceived).
My second year of 1953/54 was in the main Dorm 29 area for the most part, with the bed space adjacent to mine being occupied by Richard Lusher, then Rodney O'Shea.
Possibly interspersed between those two was the time I slept in one of the side rooms off the corridor, teamed up with Barry Wootton and then Robert Collier.
This type of arrangement may have spilled over into the following school year (1954/55). If I ever there was a time that I wished I'd kept a diary, this is it!
I know that in my final year (from school year start of 1956) that I was in the main dormitory as I remember, just before lights out and after prayers, Mr Bailey announcing that he would be leaving at the end of the School Year to take up an appointment in Birmingham. I have seen references from time to time in WC newsletters that he did indeed leave at that time.
So when was I in that end room? I feel it must have been at some time during the 1955/56 school year, which would place the Xmas holiday eve incident on the night of Thursday 15th December 1955. Now I mentioned that I didn't keep a diary, but my Mother did! That is how I can be so precise about that date (we always travelled home for holidays on a Friday).
I had never spoken about the wellie spoof until that article I submitted to the 2005 WCA newsletter. You will also see that I mentioned hearing footsteps inside the Tech Drawing classroom in the same article (formerly the morgue and Path. Lab.). This incident did did not occur before other ghostly phenomena became talked about. Our form didn't start on Tech Drawing until the beginning of the Autumn term of 1954 (amazing what clues those old school reports can yield and I have the full set of them, some better than others, for the entire 5 years of my WC occupancy!). Moreover, the Tech Drawing classroom, for the first year starting that Autumn term, was in hut 39. This contained the staff room and Headmaster's office off the corridor. This hut was shorter than most, so there was, I believe, only one classroom.
So this adds weight to the probability that the wellie-jumping hoax that I perpetrated took place just before Xmas of 1955.
Terry states in his reply in the 2006 newsletter that he 'witnessed the phenomena from day one.' But can he state when his 'day one' was? I too can remember Chris Lester and Ian Jenner, but only when they, and Terry, were in the main dormitory, sometime between 1953/54 and/or 1956/57.
All that I can say regarding the phenomena Terry describes is that I never heard the knocks, scraping sounds or water dripping. I only heard about various oddities like luminous feet walking the length of SOME OTHER DORMITORY (possibly 31). And, of course, those footsteps in the Tech Drawing classroom. As I was alone at the time I have no independent evidence that can back up this claim.
Concerning the wellies jumping off the locker? I know that to be true because I pushed them off myself.
Subsequent phenomena? I played no part in that; probably coincidental.
Self-styled legend maker? A legend is a non-historical narrative of uncertain origin. I know why the boots jumped off the locker - I pushed them and pretended that they did so themselves. Others in the end room that night might have believed me. But by some means or another it may have unconsciously generated a heightened sensitivity in others, leading to a type of chain reaction of spectral observations that may have been genuine. After all, I certainly didn't make up a story about hearing footsteps in the one-time morgue!
So if what started out as an innocent Xmas joke makes me a 'self-styled legend maker,' then so be it!
I came across this on a site related to Hethel airfield (now the home of Lotus cars):
It is sixty years since the end of the war, but deep in rural Norfolk residents claim that more than memories are still active. Legend tells how a crew member of a USAAF Liberator badly wounded on a mission flying from Hethel was transferred to the nearby military hospital at Morley, where sadly he died. Local residents recount of how, at night, the spirit of the airman still walks between the hospital (the site today for Wymondham College) and the old base at Hethel.
Morley Old Hall
A few of us were once on Sunday walks when by accident we ended up at Morley Old Hall. None of us had heard of the place, but it was completely derelict and obviously just waiting to be explored. I can’t remember who I was with, but recall going up the stairs with one other person and into a room. Suddenly we were both overcome with a feeling of panic, ran down the stairs, out of the house and we never went back.
A couple of years later, after I had left Wymondham, I was watching a programme about ghosts on Anglia Television when I heard them mention Morley Old Hall, which apparently had a reputation of being haunted. I could feel my flesh creep as I had been unaware of its ghostly past.
The following week there was a follow-up on TV as some viewers had rung in to say that they had seen a mysterious figure in the background of the television picture.
We found this on the internet:
In 1964, Anglia TV filmed a documentary at an alleged haunted 16th Century manor house, Morley Old Hall in Norfolk. Anthony Cornell demonstrated how a ghost hunter worked. After a night’s investigation, he was interviewed in a room where the ghost was said to have appeared. He concluded there was little evidence for the haunting. Five people contacted the TV company to say they had seen a "hooded monk" between Cornell and the interviewer, Michael Robson. Although Robson could see nothing when he re-ran the film, he decided to broadcast it again, asking viewers to write in if they saw anything strange. Twenty-seven wrote in, fifteen saying they saw a monk or priest – one a hooded skull...’ (from 'Ghosts' - Ed. Peter Brookesmith)
The location of Morley Old Hall - click to enlarge
The Grey Lady
There is a Grey Lady who haunts Fry Hall
on the 10th of the 10th
on the 11th of the 11th
and on the 12th of the 12th.
On the 10th she sits on your bed ...
On the 11th she tickles your feet
and strokes your head ...
On the 12th she strangles you with a bog chain ....
I'm in the 12th bed.
I declare myself already DEAD!
by Joanne Burt (Yr 8) - 1992
The only ghoulie I remember was the Grey Lady from Morley Hall and, what a shame, we've just missed the day. On the eleventh of the eleventh, at eleven o'clock, the seconds pass by, tick tock, tick tock. Out of the mist she comes and hurls her bog chain. And oh! She has struck, she must do it again! Or something. Aaaghh, something just touched me on the shoulder ... oh, morning darling.
I heard that the Grey Lady used to reside in Fry. We also had 'Thump-Drag' and various other spooks. Apparently (and I'm sure someone with far more knowledge of the site history than me will confirm or refute) Fry was built on the site of the crematorium, which explained why we had all the ghosts. Either that, or they stayed in Fry because they liked the, er … social atmosphere! [The Hospital buildings 'under' Fry were the Barber's Shop and the EENT Clinic! - Ed.]
Wymondham College Remembered