Real World Horror

Gressenhall Farm and Workhouse

For those of you who might not know, I currently live in Norfolk in England (I grew up in Wiltshire, England and spent four years at university in Wales).

Earlier this year one of my close friends came to me with a proposition, to attend a local(ish) ghost hunt at Gressenhall Farm and Workhouse.

Despite being a horror fanatic I’m also sceptical, especially when people want me to believe something and pay them for the privilege. But I pride myself on being as open-minded as I can be, and after the last eighteen months of barely leaving the house, I promised myself I’d take advantage of more opportunities.   

So long ramble short, I attended a ghost hunt last weekend.

It was a unique experience and not one that banished my scepticism. It was, however, good fun despite being bloody freezing (what do you expect wandering around a workhouse at 1am in November) but it was dry and still so bonus points.

We got to explore several areas of the workhouse, including the Laundry, the Cottage, a shop that wasn’t a shop (it looks like a shop now because of museums, but back in the day it was a casual worker dormitory), a boardroom and the chapel.

We also got half an hour to wander around independently and that was great, I got some cool pictures of a place I’d normally only see in daylight hours.

A bit of history

Gressenhall Farm and Workhouse Museum is based in a former workhouse, that was originally opened in 1777 as a ‘House of Industry’. Now the site houses an extensive museum exploring what life was like for those who once lived and worked here.

The building has a lot of history, but the Norfolk Museums website has a handy-dandy timeline.

Chapel

Built in 1868. We started our night off in the chapel, the whole group of around 35-45 people. There was a lot of energy in the room, some people were freaking out, others were utterly thrilled and some people got a bit carried away. There was a lot of tapping (tap twice for yes, once for no etc) from the ghosts in this place.

Laundry

Female inmates did the washing in the laundry. There were many young, elderly and sick inmates so there would have been a lot of washing to do.

While in the Laundry we attempted table tipping but had no luck.

Cottage

The cottage used to house up to five elderly couples, we went in in a small group of six people and it was crowded as all hell.

While in the cottage we did something like a simplified Ouija board, and again had no luck.

Shop

The museum has this space set up like a shop, as the museum isn’t just about the workhouse but also about farming and ‘Norfolk life’ when this was a workhouse this space was a sleeping area for casual workers, aka people who came in seasonally to work the fields at harvest time.

In this space we did a ‘human pendulum’ it was unique, we asked a lot of questions and my friend wobbled back and forth between two of my other friends to demonstrate a response. Our group built a very interesting narrative out of this.

Boardroom

In this room we used an Alice Box it was funny as hell. Alice boxes are basically tablets that throw up random words based on what the ghosts want to say.

Thoughts

Overall, while this did not convince me that ghosts are wandering around the Workhouse, I’m still ghost-agnostic. It was fun to wander around in the dark, it was also really cool to talk to people who were 100% convinced that there were ghosts speaking to us. My favourite bit was getting to explore the workhouse after hours and while I probably won’t do another ghost hunt I will look into more opportunities to go to museums etc after hours.

I'd love to hear what you think, please comment below.

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