The magnificent Blickling Hall that stands today was built during the reign of King James I, by the Holbert Family, on the ruins of the old Boleyn family property. Blickling Hall has topped a National Trust poll as the Trust's Most Haunted Building.
During the Second World War Blickling Hall was requisitioned by the RAF and served as the officers mess for the nearby Oulton air base. It was at this time that the estate was passed to the National Trust. Blickling Hall was in the possession of the Boleyn family between 1499 and 1507. There is a statue and portrait of Anne Boleyn in the Hall, the statue is inscribed "Anna bolena born here 1507".
Anne Boleyn, daughter of Sir Thomas Boleyn and niece of the Duke of Norfolk, was lady-in-waiting to Catherine of Aragon the first wife of Henry VIII. Henry had been married to Catherine for 18 years when he became besotted with Anne, determined to marry her he sought to have his marriage to Catherine annulled. Unfortunately, Pope Clement VII refused to annul the marriage, but Henry was not to be denied.
Henry VIII had Parliament pass a law abolishing appeals to Rome on the subject of marriage. Thomas Cranmer the Archbishop of Canterbury declare the marriage illegal and void. This was to eventually lead to Henry VIII declaring himself "the Supreme Head on earth, under God, of the Church of England" in the Act of Supremacy, the break with Rome and the Reformation in England.
Henry VIII married Anne Boleyn in a secret ceremony, but she was unpopular with the masses who considered her to be an upstart, a schemer and a witch. She bore Henry a daughter, Elizabeth, but failed to produce a son and within 3 years Henry had tired of her and determined to rid himself of her. She was arrested on a charge of treason by adultery with a number of young men, including her brother George. George and the other men were found guilty of adultery and plotting to kill the king, they were all beheaded.
Sentenced to death by her own uncle, the Duke of Norfolk, Anne was beheaded on the 19th May 1536, on Tower green outside the Tower of London by a skilled swordsman specially imported from France specially for the occasion. This was her husband's one merciful concession to his fallen Queen.
Anne Boleyn's ghost appears in the grounds of Blickling Hall dressed all in white, seated in a ghostly carriage that is drawn by headless horses, spurred on by a headless coachman. Anne too is headless, holding her severed head securely in her lap. On arrival at Blickling Hall the coach and driver vanish leaving the headless Anne to glide alone into Blickling Hall where she roams the corridors and rooms until daybreak.
Her brother, Lord Rochford, also appears on the same night, he too is headless although he doesn't enjoy the comfort of a carriage, for he is dragged across the surrounding countryside by four headless horses.
Sir Thomas Boleyn, who stated his belief of Anne's guilt at her trial has not found peace in death. Every year, for a thousand years to do as penance, tradition says he is obliged to drive his spectral coach and horses over twelve bridges that lie between Wroxham and Blickling.
On one occasion, a member of staff who was walking into the long gallery, at the far end of the library, noticed that there was a lady reading a book. The woman was wearing a long grey dress and she was sitting at a table. As the steward approached, the woman seemed to fade into the background. The mystery woman had vanished completely by the time the steward got to the table. She looked at the book that the ghost was reading, it was a book of Holbein's paintings and it was open at his painting of Anne Boleyn. Anne's ghost has also been witnessed by visitors and staff roaming the lawns outside the Blickling Hall.
The ghosts at Blickling Hall are not just witnessed by humans. A dog has also reacted very adversely to one of the rooms. The animal belonged to a member of the National Trust who was a warden at the Hall. The dog would never cross the threshold of the room, but would stand in the doorway, snarling, with its heckles raised. It was the room in which Henry Hobart, the 4th Baronet, died after being mortally wounded in a duel.
The phantom of Sir John Fastolfe, the 15th century knight who became the model for Shakespeare's Falstaff, was a previous owner of the property. His apparition has been reported by some visitors to the Blickling Hall.