Whenever I’m walking the streets of Norwich at night and happen to spot a rat scuttling around, I smile. I smile and I wonder. I wonder how rats view humanity. Is it with the same degree of fear and revulsion? Indeed, do they look upon us humans as vermin? Or do they just not care?
Anyway, there is one rat I would not care to meet; a horrible, hairy creature that would certainly fill me with both fear and revulsion. This is the giant rat, which is said to haunt Norwich Railway Station. Here is the testimony of a witness:
“I was walking down platform five when I saw it. It jumped out of the darkness and chased me down the platform. I’ve never seen anything like it in all my life. Oh, horrible it was! All big and hairy! Eyes glowing in the dark, big as dinner plates. Big sharp teeth… and its’ breath. Oh, it was really, really obnoxious. I passed out. And when I came to, it had gone,” said the witness.
And that, it seems, is the sum total of the sightings of the giant rat of Norwich Railway Station. In fact, details are so scant I’m inclined to believe it’s all a big hoax, except, the description is uncannily similar to that of another little-documented and long-forgotten horrible hairy creature of Norwich: The Gildencroft Bogey.
About twenty minutes’ walk from the train station, Gildencroft is an area just off St Augustine’s Street. Today it is home to a park and recreation ground, but for centuries it was a mixture of houses, farmland and wilderness. And lurking in the wilderness was the Gildencroft Bogey. Here is the testimony of a witness:
“I was walking to The Lathes when I saw it. It jumped out of the darkness and chased me down the road. I’ve never seen anything like it in all my puff. Oh, ’orrible it was! All big and hairy! Eyes glowing in the dark, big as tea-saucers. Big sharp teeth… and its’ breath. Oh, verily it was most noxious. Forsooth, I swooned with a fit of the vapours. And when I came to, it had gone,” the witness said.
Sightings of the Gildencroft Bogey continued until the late nineteenth-century and then, just like the Giant Rat of Norwich Train Station, it vanished. Today there are absolutely no horrible hairy creatures left in Norwich. I think. So I wonder if they have retreated to the Otherworld, or wherever they came from, and are no longer lurking in the darkness, eyes blazing, breath noxious, ready to pounce on the human vermin, sorry, lonely wayfarers. Take care, and, please, don’t have nightmares…
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