November 15th, 2012 | Tags: Norwich, Norwich paranormal history,

Norwich: Elm Hill strangers

We delve some more into the paranormal side of things in Norwich.

Tracy Monger is telling me about The Strangers Club in Elm Hill, Norwich. She's a sensitive and a paranormal investigator, mapping the residual stains of history that still linger in older, time-worn regions of the city. Elm Hill is draped in its past, wearing the shroud of its ages for all to see. It's an amalgam and document of architecture built since the 16th century, with fragments of earlier times, all laced along a web of winding cobbles.

Projections cast through time's lens are a shadow-play still, here, upon the screen of our modern environment – and in sunken corners, down huddled streets, up in back rooms and across re-shaped contemporary topographies. Sound and vision loop in scripted paths over and over, etched into the stone and the spaces we traverse, ready to perform for those who are unknowingly tuned-in to their channel.

Either that or they are somehow sentient upon their tracks, displaying or calling to be heard for reasons unknown. Frustratingly out of their context, bound by unfathomable rules and still demanding of our attention.

Tracey tells me of those “things that people don't like talking about” in Norwich even now. Elements of the population – the corporeal one, that is – may still worry about “what the neighbours think”, often not wanting to admit their experiences for fear of mockery or being marked apart in spite of a gradual loosening of attitudes towards such things generally. It's largely been down to rumours – blurring into legends – to tell stories of “otherness” that are a step or more removed from their original truths. Not the best source material to lead one's enquiries.

The Strangers Club came in to existence at the behest of six local gents in 1927, intent on establishing a meeting place where out-of-towners could assemble, be entertained and meet with the locals. The building's earliest documented occupancy dates back to 1303. The only surviving element from the 14th century is the club's terrace door (originally a window), the rest of the building and the majority of Elm Hill itself, was destroyed in the calamitous fire of 1507.

During the fire – Tracey continues – a husband managed to lower his wife and children to safety through an upstairs window after the family had been trapped by the flames. Tragically, he was too late to save himself. It is at least a curious coincidence then that a reported modern phenomena in the old premises is the sound of footsteps walking across the upstairs floorboards. As may be expected, upon investigation no one can be found pacing the upper story.

Footsteps are also heard outside in the streets of Elm Hill itself, though whether these have any connection to those heard in The Strangers Club or to other events in 1507 is open to speculation. Such is the often tantalising and undecipherable nature of these things.

Bernard H.Wood

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