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31 Oct 2023: Can you see the shadow figure amongst the graves…?

She stands almost at the shoulder of the man making a Christmas visit to his wife’s grave: a shadowy figure dressed in black captured in a teenager’s photograph.

Can you make out the shadowy figure in the distance?

Taken in the late 1990s, the young photographer (now in her late 30s) had been trying to document the wreath left for her grandmother, while her grandfather took a moment alone.

He can be seen on the gravel path that leads away from the Christmas tree, wearing a dark suit and the photographer remembers that the visit was in the morning, before lunchtime.

What she cannot remember, is seeing a woman in a long black dress standing next to her granddad, wearing what looks to be Victorian or Edwardian clothes.

“I was 12 or 13 at the time I took it and I was at St Faith’s Crematorium [just outside Norwich] with my Grandad, who is in the picture to the right,” she said.

“I was taking a photo of my Nan’s wreath. I’m not sure what type of camera it was although I know that it had a film which had to be developed.”

It was only after picking up her photographs that the young woman realised there was something strange in this otherwise normal scene, captured in 1997 or 1998.

“She does look a bit scary! I have been back since and obviously a lot has changed over the years. The photo was taken at the back of the crematorium near where they keep the book to sign in the chapel.”

The transparet figure appears to be wearing a long black dress...

St Faith’s Crematorium in Horsham St Faith opened in 1935 and stands in 20 acres of Broadland countryside. It’s a common belief that if anywhere is going to be haunted, it will be a graveyard, filled as they are with the dead and filled as we are with images from horror films and Halloween.

But those that believe in ghosts point out that spirits are far more likely to be tethered in death to a place that meant something to them, rather where they end their journey on earth.

Troy Taylor, author of Beyond the Grave, says: “Cemeteries gain a reputation for being haunted for reasons that include the desecration of the dead and grave robbery, unmarked or forgotten burials, natural disasters that disturb resting places, or sometimes even because the deceased was not buried properly.” Others believe that ghosts in graveyards may well be spirits who were attached to the area where a graveyard is built before it came into existence.

Located in Manor Road, the St Faith – or Norwich and Norfolk crematorium – was built on the site of a Poor Law Union Workhouse which was destroyed by fire in June 1922. Thankfully, none of the 49 inmates were injured, but this was a place where the sick, infirm and elderly went to spend their final years, a place where death was commonplace.

Could this figure be associated with the workhouse?

Sceptics will point to the fact that ghost photographs lend themselves to interpretation: we are urged to look for natural causes (dust particles, flash reflection, mist, smoke, steam, rain, snow, a lens shadow, street lights) or for pareidolia, the phenomenon where the mind perceives a familiar pattern where none exists, like animals in clouds.

We say: take another look…

  • NFS would like to thank the owner of this photograph for giving us permission to use it.


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