What do you picture when you think of a ghost? A sad lonely spirit silently roaming the corridors? Well not at Blickling Hall in Norfolk where not one, but two, famous ghosts have been seen, accompanied by no less than four headless horses and a whole horde of noisy demons!
Blickling Hall is a site with a dark and mysterious history.
In 1437, the hall came into the hands of Geoffrey Boleyn. The Boleyn family wanted power and influence, especially Geoffrey's grandson, Sir Thomas Boleyn, who inherited the building some years later.
Sir Thomas was an ambitious and ruthless man. He worked at the court of King Henry VIII and soon noticed the King's interest in his daughters, first Mary and, then later, Anne.
Sir Thomas did not care whom he hurt to further his ambition and set about encouraging Anne's relationship with the king. However there was one problem, for Henry was already married.
Henry was in love with Anne. She was witty and stylish with striking dark eyes. She was not the type to settle for second best. She refused to become the king's mistress.
She said, "I will be queen or nothing".
The king understood and set about trying to get a divorce from his first wife, Catherine of Aragon.
The Pope refused to annul the marriage and eventually Henry declared himself head of the Church of England, allowing him to marry his bewitching Anne.
It was 1533 and, finally, Anne was Queen. She had achieved her ambition and was the most powerful woman in England. However, the King's court was a treacherous place full of gossip and intrigue. Catherine had been a popular queen and many people did not like Anne. Anne was bold and defiant; after all she had the king's support.
At first the marriage was happy but when Anne could not give Henry a son and heir to the throne, the marriage turned sour. The King's love turned cold and he became attracted to a young lady-in-waiting. Knowing that he could not afford yet another divorce, the King needed to think of a different way to get rid of Anne. With the support of Thomas Cromwell, his chief minister, he began a secret investigation, to find grounds for her removal.
The King and the Duke plotted together. At first they considered charging Anne with witchcraft. She had an extra finger on one of her hands, a mark thought to be suspicious. Eventually, though, they charged Anne and put her on trial for treason - the penalty was death.
Anne soon found out just how treacherous the court could be, for even her own father, Sir Thomas, assisted in the trials of those accused with her. Anne's fate was sealed.
At 8am on the 19th May, 1536, at Tower Green, the first public execution of a queen of England was to take place. Anne was to be beheaded.
A large crowd gathered to watch the event. Anne walked slowly to the scaffold. Brave and defiant to the end, she calmly made a speech and kneeling began to pray. A Frenchman, renowned for his swordsmanship, stood nearby.
With one swift slash of his sword, Anne's head was severed from her shoulders, still muttering the final words of her prayer.
A good distance away, King Henry, mounted on his horse, waited for the gun signal that would declare him a free man. On hearing the signal, he galloped to meet the woman that would become his third wife, Jane Seymour.
After her execution, Anne's body was stuck in an old arrow chest, with her head tucked under her arm and buried in the chapel of the tower.
Just three years later, Anne's father, Sir Thomas, also died. However neither Anne's spirit nor that of her father could rest in peace. Anne died a brutal death and, to this day, her ghost is intent on returning to the one place she was truly happy, her childhood home - Blickling Hall.
Each year on the anniversary of her execution, a phantom black coach arises straight from hell; it picks up the ghost of Anne Boleyn and transports her to her childhood home.
Anne's ghostly apparition arrives at Blickling Hall, in the coach, which is drawn by four headless horses and driven by a headless coachman, her own head resting on her lap. Dressed all in white and carrying her head, she glides into the hall and roams the corridors until daybreak.
The driver of the phantom coach is Anne's own father, Sir Thomas. He died a cursed man. His ambition and scheming led to the execution of his daughter. For this, he pays a penance each year and will do so for a thousand years after his death.
On the anniversary of his daughter's execution, after transporting her spirit to Blickling Hall, his headless ghost is doomed to drive his phantom coach over twelve bridges in the county of Norfolk.
The coach must make it back to Blickling Hall before cockcrow. As the death black coach speeds through the night, it is chased by hundreds of noisy demons. Sir Thomas is said to be a truly terrible sight, his head held under his arm with flames pouring from his mouth and, it is thought, very dangerous to speak to.
The bridges that Sir Thomas must cross include Aylsham, Coltishall and Wroxham.
In the 19th century, many locals would scurry home from public houses on that night. Few ventured out after dark, let alone crossed any bridges. Should you be in the area on that night, we would advise you to do the same, for believe me, you would not want to meet the headless Sir Thomas or his equally headless daughter Anne.