- Behind the scaffold-covered frontage of a city centre
property lurk tales of floating paper and typewriters working by themselves.
- For this has an unenviable reputation as the city's most
- A bricked up window above the roof-tops is the key to
the former pub's spooky history.
- Number 19 Magdalen Street, Norwich, was (and maybe still
is) home to young woman named Sara who was murdered more than 100 years
ago in the attic.
- The new owner of the infamous residence was unaware of
its history when he bought the property at auction nearly two years ago.
- But part-time postman Brian Roberts is about to make
his ghostly inhabitants feel more at home, by restoring the former Red
Lion public house to its original Victorian condition.
- "I am going to expose the beams and I have already
taken down some of the 1960s plaster to reveal a flint and brick wall,"
- "The front dates back to 1845 and an architect said
it could have been four cottages originally."
- Mr Roberts plans to turn the ground floor into a craft
shop, with a living space upstairs - including the attic.
- Sara, who was allegedly strangled in the roof space in
1860 when the building was a house of ill repute, is known as a friendly
- She has been blamed for many of the unusual events that
have been reported by businesses which have rented the property, including
Stirling Travel, Oxfam and Ron's Reptiles.
- Staff at Oxfam had the biggest scare when they found
one morning that all the women's garments from a bin bag of donated clothes
had been taken out and neatly folded in a pile.
- The experience led the staff to use an ouija board to
contact Sara and they even got in touch with the Bishop of Norwich to have
the woman exorcised.
- But Mr Roberts is more fascinated than frightened by
- "I would like to research the history," he
said "As soon as I bought the place someone told me about it. I still
get a lot of people commenting on it and they even want to go up in the
loft where the girl was supposed to be murdered.
- "I have sat in here in the evenings and I don't
sense anything. I only believe it if it happens to me. If it was a violent
ghost I wouldn't be so happy but she is meant to be friendly.
- "I even say goodbye to her when I walk out the door.
And I was going to put a bundle of clothes out to see if she would sort
- Dave Chisnell, known as Ghostly Dave, who has been conducting
spooky walks around the city centre for seven years, thought the restoration
could lead to increased activity.
- He said: "I think it is one of the most believable
ones. It is not just one story that has come to light. It has come from
at least four or five different businesses. If he is going to unblock the
window that could be very interesting."
- But Maxine Wicks, an administrator for Include, which
currently rents the premises, has worked in the building for more than
a year and said that although it felt strange sometimes nothing unusual
- She said: "If I have to go to the fax copier in
the back I quickly turn the light on. Sometimes you get a feeling. I have
never seen anything but I do go round and look sometimes."
- Mr Roberts plans to open the craft shop in April.
- He said: "I'm sure people will be coming in and
asking me if I have had a strange experiences. There seems to be a real
interest in the place."
- Anyone with old pictures of Magdalen Street and the old
Red Lion can contact Brian Roberts on 01603 611016.
- Copyright © 2005 Archant Regional. All rights reserved.