Headless Horses and Horrible Hounds


By Glynn Burrows


ON BIG BLEND RADIO: Glynn Burrows shares some of England’s famous ghost stories. Watch here in the YouTube player or download the podcast on PodBean.


Ghost stories abound in England and many of them are so fantastical, they make the Harry Potter films appear to portray real life.

Our first story relates to one of our most famous Queens, Anne Boleyn. She was born in Blickling Hall in Norfolk and because she didn’t provide King Henry VIII with a son, he had her beheaded. Her ghost is said to return every year on the anniversary of her execution, and she is said to arrive, with her head in her lap, at the house in a coach driven by a headless horseman.

Sir Thomas Boleyn, Anne’s father, is also said to haunt the area, having been cursed for taking no action to prevent two of his children from being executed by Henry VIII. Each year his ghost has to attempt to drive his coach and horses across 12 bridges before cockcrow. His frantic route takes him all around the countryside and, just in case that isn’t enough, the horses are all headless.

Felbrigg Hall is another beautiful house in Norfolk and one of its inhabitants was William Windham III. He was a real bibliophile, and his ghost is said to be seen in the library, reading the books which he didn’t have time to read while he was alive. The story of his demise is very sad indeed, as he was present when a fire broke out in a friend’s library and William was very badly injured trying to save books from the flames. He died a few weeks later. 

Yet another of our beautiful houses, at Oxburgh, is home to a story of a jilted lover. A Countess roams the North Bedroom and staircase, and the story goes that she killed herself by jumping out of the bedroom window and drowning in the moat. Visitors have seen a woman dressed in Tudor style walking on the grounds, even though there were no costumed volunteers around at the time.

One of Norfolk’s most famous ghosts is Black Shuck. That is the name given to the black dog which is said to roam the coast and countryside of North Norfolk. Just one of many ghostly black dogs recorded in myth and legend across Britain; this version describes how his howling makes your blood run cold and, if you catch a glimpse of him, it is a sign that you will die within the year.

Some ghosts are horrible, but others are much less frightening.

The legend of Fiddler’s Hill tells the story of a violinist who decided to investigate a ghostly monk who would be seen each night, coming out of a tunnel that appeared to run between Binham and Walsingham. The fiddler and his dog wandered into the village of Binham and, after hearing tales of the ghostly monk, decided to investigate for himself and collected a band of villagers to watch him and his dog enter the tunnel hoping to locate the Priory’s spectral visitor. Before he disappeared into the tunnel, playing his fiddle, he instructed villagers to listen out for his music so they could follow his progress as he walked underground. At Fiddler’s Hill, the music stopped. No one was brave enough to venture into the tunnel in order to see if the fiddler was safe and after a long wait, the fiddler’s dog appeared in a sorry state: his tail between his legs, shivering and whining. The Fiddler was never seen again.

  • A Staunge and terrible wonder
    A Staunge and terrible wonder

The same night, a violent thunderstorm battered the area, and the next day, the passage entrance had been completely destroyed. The Thetford and Watton Times of April 15, 1933 added an extra layer of intrigue to the story: “Is the old legend of Fiddler’s Hill, Warham, true?” it began, “What appears to be surprising confirmation of it has been brought to light by Norfolk County Council men working on the roads. They have discovered in a mound at the crossing of the Wighton and Stiffkey road and the Binham and Warham road, the skeletons of a man and a dog.”

One place which always shows up in horror films is the misty, overgrown graveyard and we have thousands of them in the UK. Many graveyards, cemeteries, and burial grounds have fantastic memorials, with carvings of angels and other objects.

As many of our Churchyards have been used to bury the dead for well over a thousand years and are surrounded by ancient trees and hedges, they often become overgrown and are frequently quite dark and have that classic old movie feeling.

Saying all of that, I don’t know of any ghost stories based in a graveyard, they are all in houses, pubs, and other buildings or surroundings, so, if you want to see a ghost, avoid graveyards!

Glynn Burrows is the owner of Norfolk Tours in England where he provides customized, private tours and also helps his clients trace their English family history. If you are thinking about taking a vacation to England, visit www.Norfolk-Tours.co.uk

Norfolk Tours in England

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About the Author:

Glynn Burrows is the owner of Norfolk Tours in England where he provides customized, private tours and also helps his clients trace their English family history.

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