Satanists and ghostly monks have all had the run of St Mary’s Church, Houghton-on-the-Hill in Norfolk, says TRACY MONGER
St Mary’s Church is on a hill in-between north and south Pickenham, it was left to ruin in 1937. Gloria Davey rediscovered it in 1992, with signs of satanic worship being practised. Sir Bob, Gloria’s husband set up watch most nights to deter any visitors. The stone grave of Robert Say (rector during 18th century) was destroyed and his bones were removed in the late 1990s, it was thought to be the Satanists. Later, it become apparently that the church had other visitors of a ghostly kind.
The church has two Carmelite friars but normally one is seen and has appeared during restorations. A visitor to the church on a tour, standing by the south door, asked who the rude, robed guy was, as he just walked off without speaking, maybe she met one of the friars. Another time a farmer with a combine harvester thought he was going to run someone over wearing a long brown coat. When he got out to check, there was no one there.
During a restoration of the north window, workers reported seeing a monk; he walked through the south door, paused and left. During a prayer meeting before Christmas 2003, a monk was seen. The two friars lived in a house built by Lady Mary Neville, near to the church. They held a mass for her husband’s soul, until Henry VIII’s campaign. Sir Robert Neville was executed at Craven in Yorkshire for holding a criminal conversation with a lady. The lady was thought to be the queen and he was buried in the south aisle of the church.
Was a ghost seen at Houghton-on-the-Hill?
Just recently a picture was shown to a visitor of the church and the visitor said, I just saw that woman in the churchyard, she just walked by.
I have investigated this wonderful church a few times and outside we have activity such as; noises of rustling, footsteps, breathing, screams have been heard. Figures have been seen, including black shadows. Different colour lights seen, people being touched. While some people were outside the south side window, it lit up, like a candle had been lit and a witch has been sensed.
Inside the church, we have sensed a male and a female. Figures and shadow figures has been seen moving around the church. Different colour lights have been seen and banging, tapping, footsteps, the door handle being moved have been heard and people being touched. While asking questions one night, we heard noises that seemed to be in response, at the same time the KII was going off and we have had other KII activity on other occasions.
During WWI, a returning Zeppelin dumped its bombs into the churchyard, causing damage to the chancel and the top of the tower. After the church was discovered, Sir Bob spend every waking hour restoring the church and the churchyard.
During restoration, painted texts were found from Elizabethan times and underneath those paints were some of the best Saxon paintings of Western Europe.
The church was once the centre of the village, which is now deserted. The church was built with some Roman remains thought to be from ruins of a roman settlement. The last wedding was in 1925 and the last baptism in 1933. Prince Charles has visited the church.
If you are in the area, this church is worth a visit.