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Spooky goings-on at Priory Centre

PUBLISHED: 10:16 20 March 2008 | UPDATED: 10:39 03 July 2010

STRANGE lights, the movement of a wooden cross and a séance which brought back two spirits - yes, say paranormal investigators, The Priory in Great Yarmouth is well and truly haunted!

The locally-based SNPI Paranormal Investigators had aimed to track down the spirits of an Egyptian princess and ghostly monks which are said to inhabit 12th century The Priory.

STRANGE lights, the movement of a wooden cross and a séance which brought back two spirits - yes, say paranormal investigators, The Priory in Great Yarmouth is well and truly haunted!

The locally-based SNPI Paranormal Investigators had aimed to track down the spirits of an Egyptian princess and ghostly monks which are said to inhabit 12th century The Priory.

Members of the team - Jeanette Southgate and Val Dover from Yarmouth, Christine Turner from Caister and Richard Keeble and Elise Joiner from Suffolk, decided to investigate after hearing reports of sightings of monks. Then when they heard the story of an Egyptian mummy linked to the building, they couldn't resist the opportunity of spending the night in the hope of catching a glimpse of a ghostly apparition.

The priory dates back to 1101 when it was established by Herbert de Losinga to serve the neighbouring St Nicholas' Church.

The monks were of the Benedictine Order and their life was dedicated to worship, education and the care of the sick and poor. Amongst the visitors who stayed in the Priory were Richard II in 1382 and Mary Tudor in 1514.

In 1852, a school was founded by Rev Henry MacKenzie with the Great Hall used as its assembly room. The school, St Nicholas Priory, has now moved premises and the old Priory building is now home to Great Yarmouth Community Trust.

It was in the early 1900's when strange goings-on were reported to have occurred in and around St Nicholas' Priory School.

It began after a casket containing an Egyptian mummy was donated to the school.

Not long afterwards, a bad smell emanated through the classrooms and the school was searched from top to bottom for the cause. Floorboards were ripped up in the search for a possible rotting rat, but the location of where the smell was originating from could not be found - until the finger was pointed towards the mummy's casket.

And, when it was opened up, it was found its contents had been rotting, probably due to the damp or air getting inside the casket.

The decision was taken to bury the casket and its contents in the churchyard of St Nicholas.

According to ancient customs, the burial of mummified princesses should only be done at midnight, so the casket was taken out through the back door of the Priory and its grisly, rotting contents buried in the darkness of the night.

The casket was resealed and returned to the school.

Soon after, the neighbouring vicarage and St Nicholas' Church were disturbed in the night by strange knocking sounds on their doors, but when people went to investigate, no one could be found.

The acrid smell also reappeared within the school and this time there was no doubt it was the casket.

Once again it was opened and it was found that in the haste to bury the princess in the dark, a limb had been left behind!

Hurriedly, the remains of the Egyptian mummy were unearthed and the missing limb placed carefully beside it… and the knocking noises stopped.

The paranormal investigators went to the Priory with equipment in tow, for their all-night vigil.

They set up infra-red camcorders and stealth cameras which they left running for the duration of the night at various locations within the building. Trigger objects were also set up in various rooms.

At one point during the evening, the team felt they were being followed by the ghost of a monk, whose name came through as Joseph.

During a séance in the main hall the spirit of a man, who had had an accident involving his horse, came through. He told them his legs had been severed by the wheels of a cart his horse had been harnessed to - the horse spooking, and the heavily-loaded cart had run over his legs. The poor man had bled to death.

Another spirit to come through during the séance was Charlie. He claimed he had been looked after by the monks of the Priory; in exchange he had sold reed dolls for them on the market.

During the vigil a few light orbs were caught on camera and it was found one of the trigger objects - a wooden cross placed on a table in the Buttery Room - had slightly moved.

The ghost of the Egyptian mummy didn't make an appearance, but as to whether the Priory is haunted. SNPI certainly think it is!

To read more of this report and other investigations carried out by SNPI visit their website at www.geocities.com/spookhunter9, or if you think your home or workplace is haunted and would like SNPI to carry out a free investigation, email snpinorfolk@aol.com

If anyone has any further information on Joseph or Charlie or have any other stories of ghostly sightings witnessed at the Priory, contact Jeanette at snpinorfolk@aol.com.

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