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19 Oct: Phantom coaches at the Royal Arcade

Designed by local architect George Skipper, The Royal Arcade in Norwich is an Art Nouveau masterpiece. Opened in 1899, it was hailed as “a fragment of the Arabian Nights dropped into the heart of the old city”.

The Royal Arcade. CREDIT: Robin Drayton/Geograph

In the arcade's place used to be The Angel Inn, which was later renamed the Royal Hotel. The original stable and stableyard area is now the shopping arcade.

A vibrant hub of activity, the Angel Inn hosted various shows - some more bizarre than others – including a visit by a pair of elephants in 1685 (big news at the time and well worth travelling for), peep shows, operatic performances and freak shows.

Fast forward to the late 19th century, following riots, uprisings, political dramas and speedy stage coach exits to London and the hotel moved to a new site on Bank Plain with the old site being converted into the stunning Royal Arcade that stands today.

A delightful Edwardian passageway with a charming Art Nouveau entrance and lamps – it’s said there is a ghost shop in the Arcade which mysteriously appears and disappears from time to time.

A hairdresser based at one of the units in the Arcade told the Norfolk Folklore Society about a ghostly experience he’d had in the cellar of his unit, where his son would practice the drums, away from sensitive ears.

He spoke of the regular echoes of coaches and horses in the cellar which could be heard quite clearly…in an area where the original stables for The Angel Inn were once based.


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