Weird Suffolk: The ghost of a monk that haunts a Victorian hotel on Lowestoft’s High Street

Bayfields formerly the Anchor Hotel, Lowestoft. PICTURE: Jamie Honeywood

Bayfields formerly the Anchor Hotel, Lowestoft. PICTURE: Jamie Honeywood - Credit: Archant

When the hooded ghost at a Victorian hotel on Lowestoft’s High Street pays a visit, he brings a blast of icy weather with him. Weird Suffolk investigate the story of the ghostly monk and rumours of underground tunnels and secret passageways.

He’s an unusual visitor to a Victorian public house in Lowestoft, but it’s fair to say that the monk’s reaction to finding the historic high street venue serving alcohol was somewhat chilly. Lowestoft’s High Street is crammed with supernatural lodgers, from a grey lady seen in a cellar to a woman wearing a long dress and mob cap seen in on an upper floor of fine red brick house and a monk who ended his own life and can still be seen in one of the windows of a house on the street late at night to saucy George, the ghost with an eye for the ladies who haunts a popular diner.

The Royal Falcon Hotel at the end of the High Street once hit the news after trying to get insurance against damages caused by a poltergeist and of course just off the street is Rant Score which has been plagued by a host of unusual activity, from the appearance of Black Shuck to haunted tools to an unexpected chill in the air in the office at a frozen food factory.

In 1976, when the High Street pub and hotel was called The Anchor (most recently, it was called Bayfields), there were reports of a ghost being seen in the bedrooms in the building, a figure dressed in a monk’s distinctive robe, his appearance accompanied by a drop in temperature and gusts of cold air.It was the same figure which had been seen by a sailor sleeping on a couch in the hotel’s lounge during World War Two who was awakened by a blast of icy cold air and, when he opened his eyes, saw the outline of a hooded figure standing in the doorway which disappeared when he moved. The same hooded apparition had also been spotted at a house which once stood nearby, but was demolished in the 1960s, and at Mariner’s Score, opposite the hotel.

The Borderline Science Investigation Group, our very favourite Lowestoft-based paranormal investigators from the 1970s and early 1980s, found out about the other-worldly guest at The Anchor and three members spent a cold, damp night locked in the cellars, where other activity had been noted by the landlord, who reported having seen “an inexplicable figure” in the cellar and watched a door open and close mysteriously.

In the group’s quarterly journal in Spring 1976, the following notes were made about the investigation: “At 3.30am a noise was heard in the cellar and the temperature dropped by 1.5C and did not pick up again for two hours. Then, at 4.45am, gentle footsteps were heard, but the investigation team could not decide if they originated inside or outside the building. “After the all-night vigil by BSIG investigators at Lowestoft in the cellars of the Anchor Hotel, it was decided to try and reproduce the mysterious footsteps heard by the team in the early hours of the morning. On Sunday, May 30th, two BSIG members visited the Hotel and tried to recreate the gentle footsteps that had been heard in the cellars. Unfortunately no really conclusive results were obtained, although the investigators were able to establish that it was not possible to hear the footsteps of people walking by in the street above…

“While the three investigators were in the cellars, two other BSIG members tried to ‘project’ a ghost into the cellars. During the night they pictured a hooded figure and tried to project the image to the investigators, whose minds it was hoped would be in the right state. This attempt was completely unsuccessful.” There’s honesty for you.

For hundreds of years, there has been a long-held belief that much of the northern end of Lowestoft is built on top of the remains of a monastery, but there is no concrete evidence to suggest that this is, in fact, the case.There are, however, crypt-like cellars which have groined roofs and arches under some of the High Street buildings, although they are likely to be merchants’ cellars from the 14th and 15th centuries. Another rumour suggests these cellars were linked by a network of tunnels which connects one side of the High Street with the other and St Margaret’s church, half a mile away.

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Had the monk crept from medieval St Margaret’s to the High Street and been unable to find his way back? Now closed, the hotel’s secrets are hidden behind the locked doors – does the ghost still haunt the bedrooms and cellar there?

For more Weird Suffolk stories click here.

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