West Caister

Caister Castle was built by Sir John Fastolf in about 1420. The Revd John Gunn of Irstead wrote in 1849: ‘The marvellous account of a carriage drawn by headless horses at … Caistor [sic] Castle, is not yet utterly discarded.’ He gives no details of the haunt, but Mackenzie Walcott in The East Coast of England (1861) writes, ‘The peasants believe that at midnight yearly a dark coach, drawn up by headless horses, rolls into the dark courtyard, and carries away some unearthly passengers.’

This is in line with old beliefs in the ‘hell-wain’ which trundled round collecting the souls of the dead, and with many later phantom coaches with unnamed occupants. However, Charles Palmer, in a brief mention of the ‘Headless Horses’ in Manship’s History of Yarmouth (1854), tried to rationalize the tradition, suggesting that, as Geoffrey Boleyn, first of the Boleyns at BLICKLING HALL, bought that manor from Sir John Fastolf, ‘and complained of his bargain’, it might be that the restless spirit of his descendant, Sir Thomas, ‘occasionally extends his drive to Caister’.



Haunted England : The Penguin Book of Ghosts – Written by Jennifer Westwood and Jacqueline Simpson
Copyright © Jennifer Westwood and Jacqueline Simpson 2005, 2008

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