TRACY MONGER investigates the eerie past of Grosvenor Shopping Centre in Northampton
The Grosvenor Shopping Centre at Union Street, Northampton, was built in 1976 on an earlier site of the Grey Friar’s monastery. Sir Richard Gobion founded the original Franciscan Friars site in 1226; it was transferred to a new site circa 1235 and built by 1258. The monastery was dissolved in 1538 and granted to Richard Tavemer in 1544/5.
The site is thought to have covered about four acres and contained at least a school, precincts, two cloisters and a church. The house was the largest in Northampton. Timber was used for construction. Archaeological excavations in 1972, uncovered parts of the church and other periods of building were also noted. Burials were discovered in the church. Decorated and plain tiles, jettons, coins, pottery, a bronze seal and a single fragment of a flint blade was found.
The first Duke of Buckingham, Humphrey I Stafford, died on 10th July 1460, during the War of the Roses while in charge of the Lancastrian army. He died during the battle of Northampton against the York army. He was buried at the Grey Friars in Northampton.
The shopping centre is locally known for its ghostly sightings of a monk and the monk is mainly seen when the centre is closed. During Victorian times, local residents of houses and the local newspapers reported a grey hooded figure, which was thought to be a monk seen in this area.
A few years before the shopping centre was built, there was a shoe shop on the same site. A man went into the basement and saw a grey figure moving. The man thought it was a shop assistant, so he went to talk to the assistant but there was no one there. In the north delivery corridors of the site, people have a feeling they are not alone.
It is thought that the Abington Street entrance was where the gardens of the monastery were sited and the monk is often seen here. A chocolate shop had a unit near this entrance. Some mornings the staff would go in and the chocolate boxes were everywhere, like they have been thrown around. However, some people would disagree it was the monk, as the monk is thought to be a benign spirit.
It has been suggested that the monk looks out for the workers of the centre, to make sure they come to no harm – this of course is debatable. When a worker went to check a fuse box in the dark, underneath the centre, he did not take a torch and tried to wedge the door open with a broom to allow light to see. The door shut and this happened twice, he proceeded to say ‘okay Grey Friar, you win, I will fetch a torch. When the worker returned, he wedged the door open, but this time the door stayed open. Maybe the monk was looking out for this worker or he did not wedge the door properly.
TRACY MONGER, Spooky Isles East of England correspondent, is a paranormal investigator with Mysteries of Paranormal Research Association (MOPRA), based in Norwich, Norfolk. You can follow her on Facebook here. Read her articles for Spooky Isles here.