Weird Suffolk: The ghost of Layham Village Hall
- Credit: Archant
There’s little more quintessentially English than a village hall, it’s the heart of a community, a hub for social activities, the place where parish business is conducted and where villagers gather together.
Generally the villagers in question are still mortal, although at Layham in Suffolk, a spirit is said to mingle with its living counterparts.
Built in November 1928, the hall is beside the village church and its graveyard and was originally known as ‘The Hut’, a name which stuck until 1967.
Used by The Men’s Club as a clubroom, the hall was also available to rent for village functions and was a popular place to meet for dances, whist drives and the exotic sounding ‘mixed club’. There were even ‘smoking parties’ held at the hall, an event long since lost to the smoky mists of time.
In 1967 ‘the hut’ was taken over by a Village Hall Committee and ran smoothly for several years until an administrative breakdown left the kitty with just £2.88 to its name - a new committee was hastily formed and the hall came back into use, running water added in 1974 and a charity status gained in 1986, a year before the calamitous storm of October 1987 left the hall leaning precariously into the next-door field.
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The much-loved building was resuscitated and brought back into village life within six months, where it continued giving good service to the community it served without incident until 2006 when, according to a local resident who was working in the building, something quite extraordinary happened.
The man said that he’d had “a feeling of being pushed and a loss of balance” while in the hall and, as a result, Hadleigh-based team Suffolk and Norfolk Paranormal Investigations were called in to see if they could detect what had caused the spectral jostling.
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Richard Groom, who takes bookings and holds the key to the village hall, said he contacted SNPI after listening to the concerns of a local resident.
“I know Richard Keeble who runs the outfit in Hadleigh so I gave him a call to come and investigate in the village hall,” he said.
“A chap was working in there and said he had a feeling of being pushed and losing balance so I thought it might be interesting for Richard to have a look around.”
Ghost hunting equipment was duly set up and the team bedded in for the night.
Mr Keeble said: “we arrived at the hall around 10pm and immediately felt that something could be there. We set up infra-red video equipment and audio recordings and the temperature was noted - which was considerably cooler within the hall than outside.
“Photos were taken within the building and a few orbs were caught on film. A quiet vigil was held within the hall and during this time the silhouette of a person was seen to walk outside past the windows and seemed to walk down one side of the hall. A short while later this was seen again so a member of the team went outside to see who was about, only to find no one in the area.”
At one point Mr Keeble said a strange feeling of being pushed and a loss of balance was felt when walking past a particular area in the hall and an infrared camera was set up: “this was positioned looking out towards an old church which neighbours the village hall and was left running throughout the evening,” he said.
“When I was outside I felt something hit my head, similar to a small stone being thrown, but nothing or no one was seen to be in the area. It seems the activity was more outside the building - from the direction of the church yard - and the spirit circulated the perimeters of the hall and occasionally came inside to visit. We were asked to get rid of it but couldn’t because it was gone after an hour or so. We would like to return and carry out further investigations in the area surrounding the hall.”
Residents of Layham, however, weren’t quick to convince that their village hall had become the haunt of the undead. David Pratt, chairman of the village hall committee and vice chairman of the parish council, said at the time: “I wouldn’t say I like being in there in the dark but I’ve never come across anything ghostly.”