Where did Ghost Hill get its name?

Ghost Hill is a place in Taverham, near Norwich.

This is a (slightly edited) version of my
original article first written in December, 2000

I used to live on the back of Ghost Hill, which, once upon a time, used to be waste land (and a BMX track), and I always wondered why it was called Ghost Hill.

I have also always wondered whether on same BMX track, after the start did anyone ever manage to overtake? Because overtaking involved riding into waste high grass from which few returned… but I digress.

“I can find out on the Internet,” I thought. Alas, I found one person’s memories of Knight Rider and 1984, but nothing else about the Ghost Hill, Taverham.

The photograph is of Ghost Hill Wood (taken in December 2000).

I thought perhaps the children at the first school are told every year about Ghost Hill and tell tall tales about the bendy tree (it can’t be old enough to have served as a gallows), but apparently not (that or the kids are not paying attention in classes).

When I was 10 I watched an elderly gentleman scanning the field with a metal detector and he dug up a rusty old .303 cartridge. He believed the field to have been a practice range for soldiers around about the time of the First World War. This might be true since during the First World War large numbers of soldiers were billeted in Taverham (some at Taverham Hall or the old paper mill). Most were put up in tents alongside the Fakenham Road – hence Camp Road next to Pip’s Chips (if that’s what the chippie is still called).

Bunnett Hill

A trip to Norwich Record Office dug up a map printed 1891 and this shows the land between what is Orchard Bank and Shakespear Way today as Ghosthill Plantation. This is a bit of a surprise to me because as we all know Ghost Hill is over by the school..!

I’ve scanned in a wodge of map; zoom in by clicking on the map:

In 1845 Francis Greene Bradshaw Esq. was the landowner of the plot marked 28, and the occupier was Bunnett (or Burnett?) who was charged rent in lieu of tithes for 5 acres, 0 rods and 4 poles of land. The record only shows that the land consisted of hills and arable. This ties up with Ghost Hill formerly being called Bunnett Hill.

I found one little book about Taverham, published in 1969, which makes a single reference to Ghost Hill Plantation – there was no Shakespear Way or Norgate Way, and certainly no Cameron Green then. The lower half of Cypress Close was built in 1965 but that was about it.

No ghosts, just the usual histories of Taverham Hall, the paper mill and a little piece about silver fox farming. However, in Mr Norgate’s book he does point out that on a map dated 1826 (by A.Bryant) “Hanging Wood” on the way down to Ringland has no connection to gallows – the name refers to the trees that were “hanging” on the steep ground. I cannot think of a similar reason where Ghost Hill could have earned its name.

On another map the plots above 28 and 29 were labelled glebe which probably indicates it was owned by the clergy. A lot of this information gleaned from A History of Taverham by Thomas B.Norgate, 1969 (available on the shelves at Taverham Library).

A couple of years after posting this (about 2002) I received a nice email from Mr Charles Jarvis which gave lots of information – Updated: Where did  Ghost Hill get its name includes Ghost Hill in 1985 (before it was built on, remember the sand humps?)

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4 thoughts on “Where did Ghost Hill get its name?

  1. […] Mumbles from Planet Dan Occasional mumbles « Where did Ghost Hill get its name? […]

  2. Steve says:

    I used to live in Drayton in the 80s before all the new houses were built. The locals told me that Ghost Hill got its name from a battle the Saxons had with the Danes, way back. I seem to recall being told that on a foggy night you can still hear the Vikings banging the flat of their swords against their shields.

  3. Peter Wilson says:

    As a child (age 10) i used to live in cyprus close until 1980. We used to go across the fields to Ghost Hill wood and would often look for people who had metal dectors to see what they could find. The stories of a practice range were the same as we were told which is why peple went their with thier metal detectors.

    However the story we were always told was about the hanging man not found for months.

    Now as a kid we used to be able to scare ourselves quite easily… but sometimes the metal detectors would go mad.

    I have not been back to that area since 1980 and looking on Google maps looks like the whole area is now houses, whch was always going to be the case as there was a road put thru the fields unmade for years. But a shame if the actual wood has been lost.

    • Dan says:

      Hi Peter, the woods are still there but all the fields have been long built on (in the early 90’s).

      It’s only just occured to me that a map dated 1891 refers to Ghost Hill Plantation, but this story about Ghost Hill would be from 1914-1918… So the name must predate that.

      Happy memories!

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