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Norfolk prepares for Anne Boleyn’s visit

Blickling Hall. CREDIT: Siofra Connor

Born at Blickling, in a medieval manor house now occupied by the famous hall, Anne Boleyn was famously beheaded on the orders of Henry VIII after she failed to bear him an heir.

The ill-fated queen is said to return on the anniversary of her execution every year on May 19, arriving outside the hall at midnight in a carriage driven by a headless coachman and led by spectral horses.

Within the carriage sits the tragic Queen, her white dress stained with the blood that drips from the head she holds in her lap. Once at the hall, some accounts say the vision disappears, others that Anne steps down from the carriage, her dripping head tucked under her arm, before she glides into the hall where she spends until sunrise roaming from room to room.

And hers is not the only Boleyn-family-based supernatural schedule that repeats itself on May 19 each year: two other Boleyn ghosts are said to haunt Norfolk the same night, her father and brother. As the story goes, Sir Thomas Boleyn has been given a dreadful punishment for being too weak to challenge the King and simply standing back and watching both his children executed.

He must, legend has it, attempt to drive four headless horses across 12 Norfolk bridges on the eve of May 19 before the clock strikes 12: and he must do it while carrying his own head under his arm. The bridges include those in Coltishall, Aylsham, Hautbois, Burgh, Meyton, Oxnead, Blickling and Wroxham and stories say that flames could be seen shooting from his severed head while others say the coach itself is pursued by shrieking demons as it charges through the darkness. Cursed to continue his challenge for 1,000 years, other versions of this tale maintain Thomas is compelled to complete his task more than once a year and that the bridge count has risen to 40.

Black Shuck has also been seen crossing Coltishall Bridge. Not on the same night as the Boleyn coach though. CREDIT: Siofra Connor

Poor George, who died at the hand of an executioner just two days before his sister, has also been seen in the Norfolk countryside on this most haunted of nights. He is said to suffer a terrible ordeal in which his headless corpse is dragged across the hedges and ditches of the county by four headless horses.


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