Lynn’s most haunted: the ghosts of True’s Yard
King’s Lynn has a rich heritage of eerie stories of witchcraft, murder, devilish apparitions and ghostly sightings, but one place in particular has more than its fair share of hauntings...
True’s Yard Fisherfolk Museum is a heritage site in the heart of King’s Lynn celebrating the fishing community which once dominated the town’s North End - but there are other things besides history hidden in the museum’s lovingly-restored 18th century cottages. True’s Yard is thought to be one of the most haunted buildings in the whole of Norfolk, and curator Lindsey Bavin reports that a group of experts recently estimated the site has at least 37 resident ghosts.
From spine-chilling sightings to unexplainable occurrences, there never seems to be a dull moment at True’s Yard. Visitors have reported seeing spectral children, mysterious shadows, and a dark figure looking out of an empty cottage window.
“On one Heritage Open Day we had two separate visitors report seeing the same figure sitting in a chair in one of the bedrooms,” says Lindsey. “They described it as a young woman with bulging red eyes and red marks on her throat.”
These ghostly glimpses are particularly intriguing as they support rumours that the museum is haunted by the spirit of a woman who was strangled by her father for loving the ‘wrong’ man.
Lindsey remembers experiencing something unnatural herself (while sitting in the very same chair no less) on a Halloween open evening.
“I was sitting in the bedroom in my costume and a man came in and asked if he could take my picture,’’ she recalls. “I agreed, and seconds later the temperature in the room suddenly dropped to the point where you could actually see your breath. It was extremely strange, especially as I was sitting next to a heater! I don’t know if the gentleman experienced it as well, but he certainly left the room quite quickly.”
As well as chills and spooky figures, True’s Yard is home to mischievous spirits with an appetite for causing chaos. A troublesome poltergeist affectionately known as Henry resides in a room where fisherfolk used to live and is thought to be responsible for paintings getting knocked off walls, bulbs regularly blowing and staplers flying across the room.
“You should never bring a stapler into the education room,” says Lindsey, “because there’s every likelihood you might have it thrown back at you.”
Staff have also reported a ghostly boy in the museum’s kitchen who enjoys moving things about.
“There was a time one of our volunteers was alone in the kitchen making a drink for a customer, when the pile of trays on top of the freezer at the other end of the room suddenly came crashing to the floor,” Lindsey remembers. “The trays were fairly solid and stacked on a flat surface so they really shouldn’t have simply slid off.”
The temperature in the room suddenly dropped to the point where you could actually see your breath...
True’s Yard has fascinated many paranormal experts over the years, and many groups have visited to investigate the museum, including “Ghost Hunt East Anglia”, “Chasing the Spirits” and “Ghouls Aloud.”
In 2005 Nottingham’s Bassetlaw Ghost Research Group arrived with five mediums and 10 technicians and found evidence the museum was a supernatural hotspot. The group encountered ghosts in every room they investigated, at one point documenting up to three every hour.
More recently, the crew from the popular television series “Help! My House Is Haunted” filmed on location at True’s Yard earlier this year and experienced more than they’d bargained for. The cast of paranormal experts saw strange mists, felt sudden chills and recorded ghostly voices whilst exploring the museum. An EMF detector was even knocked out of presenter Barry Ghai’s hand when he tried communicating with a poltergeist, and the investigators recorded extremely high levels of paranormal activity - higher than any they’d seen in a long time.
In spite of these rather unsettling findings, Lindsey and the staff seem unperturbed by the ghostly goings-on at True’s Yard.
“I’m honestly not surprised it’s so haunted,” says Lindsey. “In the North End community there was an extremely high mortality rate because fishing was a dangerous profession and diseases such as cholera and typhoid were rampant. Overcrowding made this worse, as some families had as many as 17 children and there was only one pump and one toilet between entire yards.”
The area’s history also has its darker side.
“In 1882 James Stannard was beaten to death by his neighbours the Bailey family, who lived around the corner in Whitening Yard,” says Lindsey, “and don’t forget that we’re just a stone’s throw from the Tuesday Market Place, which was the site of public executions for alleged witches during the 16th century.”
Despite everything, Lindsey and her team have come to accept their supernatural companions.
“The way I see it,” says Lindsey, “is that the ghosts are an important part of True’s Yard and its history.”
And it’s a fascinating history that’s told in an interesting and engaging way. It’s a unique and must-visit local museum, but just remember that even if you visit by yourself, you probably won’t be alone.