November 21th, 2012 | Tags: Norwich, Norwich paranormal history,

Norwich: East City residuals

Compared to the rest of the phenomena, the unidentified smell of “aftershave or perfume” was a curiously understated final-straw that resulted in Tracey Monger receiving a phone call. Cue the start of another paranormal investigation for her and her colleagues, this time in a building in East Norwich first mentioned in historical records dating from 1865.

The premises were used as a military hospital, no surprises there. Paranormal phenomena are traditionally associated with locations heavy with the weight of emotion, piled up over years, decades, centuries. What better place?

These are almost all of the clues that I can provide as to the identity of the location in question. Wishes for privacy prevent otherwise, typical in a world where strange phenomena still attract ridicule by association.

Imagine a shadow taking 3-dimensional form, viewed as if through diffused glass and apparently sentient in the way it regards you. Whether a projection from another time, a residual imprint from events past or some “living” entity (outside of our definition of the term), these have been reportedly seen within the premises: walking the old hospital corridors or standing, watching, blankly facing the witness down.

Tracey tells me of her sixth sense, an ability to tune in to the feel of a location or the emotions, personalities and histories of those inhabitants who have transcended their mortality and yet still linger. And of her aptitude in detecting others still.

The Shadow-Person in the uniform of a First World War soldier is not -Tracey feels- the cause of all sightings, there's the curiously "inverted" white shadows too – and after all, how can you positively identify a shadow?

It's the spirits, that Tracey seems to feel the most comfortable with; at least they have some arguably familiar origins and seem to emanate a residue of humanity. Not so the others that she sometimes finds, who present an impenetrable, cold read, and seem – she speculates – to be intruding or somehow overlapping into our world as if a double-exposure, but nonetheless still definitely, unsettlingly there.

The traditional flotsam and jetsam of many hauntings were recorded in the old hospital building: repeated noises and cold breezes, temperature changes, disembodied heavy lumbering footsteps heard upstairs, even sensations of being touched or in one case actually hit.

More unusual were sightings of parts of a figure: just the feet and legs, the rest obscured by who knows what? Or maybe there was no “rest” to speak of, at least within our understanding.

So Tracey and her colleagues set up a CCTV camera to monitor the area around a door overnight, in the hope of catching someone, some thing still on supernatural patrol. The recording was a surprise even considering the nature of the intended subject. Indeed, the footage showed that the camera itself was being moved through a slow, smooth, mechanical twist as if its unyielding eye needed to be focused elsewhere to ensure spectral privacy. They did not want to be seen, or as in other recorded cases may have just had a sense of humour or mischief.

Tracy tells me that she sensed the names “Richard Dunmoor” and “Mary L” with hints that the latter succumbed to a flu-like illness. There was of course the infamous world-wide epidemic of “Spanish flu” after the great 1914-18 war. The disease in fact claimed more victims than than the war itself. Of course without any confirmed dates or a complete name for “Mary L”, any supposed connection is conjecture at best.

An estimated six to seven entities were detected in all, none sinister, collectively united by the desire to stay within the building to which they were attached. Home perhaps?

Subsequent research revealed that a Mary Lincoln was associated with the building according to White's Directory (a volume containing detailed historical data similar to that found by census) and that “Dunmore” was a name historically connected to the area of the city in which the building was located. Both are snippets of tantalising though inconclusive information.

The old hospital was demolished in 2006 and another premises built on its plot. This seems to have driven out most of the attached entities save for the shadow-soldier seen indoors again within the last two years. Obviously of sterner resolve.

Bernard H.Wood

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