Madhouse Plantation - STANTA


War Hero
Ok, I fully appreciate there is already a thread on haunted barracks, but I wanted to seperate this one out for a few reasons.

Madhouse Plantation, STANTA in Norfolk.

As many of you will know there is a fairly large swampy plantation on the east of the area. I used the stanta alot over the years but it was only about 8 years ago that I first had call to go there. Glad I never have had to go since but I have always been interested to find out more about its history. Maybe some folks here can help.

Anyway, we were all set to storm into Eastmere village at dawn the next day and the OC innocently picked madhouse platantion as a harbour. As we first moved in the first thing that struck me was how deathly quiet, dark and miserable it was. No birds singing despite being early autumn (sept I think). The ground is generally swampy with a few causeway paths which we used to get to the ruined cottage that give the the woods its name. Still hadnt given that too much thought at this point, concentrating on job in hand etc... Anyway, we set the platoons up in a wide perimeter around the house and Coy HQ set up in the building itself. Our grizzled old CSM then set the scene with the first story.

He told us that after WW2 a unit had been training in the area and one night a guy on stag was approached by an officer who the guy didnt recognise. Hazy on whether was challenged or not etc... but he was friendly in the usual old officerly way "boots fit? mail getting through? etc..." and then strolled off. Only afterwards did it occur to him that the officer was dressed in WWI style uniform.

Not being a believer in religion, ghosts or any supernatural stuff I laughed it off and got back to battle prep. Anyway, later that evening I did the rounds of my platoon before climbing into my pit for a couple of zeds. As said it was prob sept and not particularly cold weather and had a decent chariot but I woke later with a start feeling unnaturally cold, chilled to the bone and had a very real feeling of something present very close by. Weird as crap and I dont mind admitting it was pretty freaky. Grabbed my IWS and scanned but nothing nearby. The cold chill did pass but I'll admit that when I cut along to Coy HQ for O group soon after I didnt stroll!

Anyway, got on with the job and it was only after endex I was speaking to some of the seniors (risking endless abuse obviously...) and then some more stories starting coming out. Sgt X had been a tom in recce years ago and they were tasked with a CTR on Madhouse planation. They reported back seeing 1 x Pax moving around the cottage only to be told later that the enemy was in another loc and no other units on training area.

From digging a bit further it seems the basic history behind the cottage is that during WW1 it was used to house officers with shell shock to recuperate. But this is not like the Redeption film with a nice country mansion with doctors, nurses, therapy and poetry. This is a cottage miles from anyway in the middle of a dark swampy wood. Small wonder that apparently some of the poor guys topped themselves. RIP. I still am skeptical on the whole ghost thing but if ever there was a place where a tortured spirit might not be ready to move on it would be a place like this.

As we left Eastmere in company snake all those years ago I remember vowing to myself that one day I would try to find out a bit more about the history behind the place. What can I say? Its been a busy few years... however it occured to me to make a half-arrsed start through this thread.

If anybody has any other tales / rumours / facts about madhouse plantation then please share them. Also if anybody has any tips on where might be able to find records relating to this then interested to hear. I suspect that would be a tough one though, its a pretty dark chapter and unfortunately I am sure many of the secrets have gone to the grave.
Fell in the swamp up to my chest once in that area. Wasn't impressed! Not sure on the records but i do know what you mean about it being a strange sort of place!
Madhouse is not a nice place to be at all! You are right in saying it is always cold, no birds singing etc. I did an op in Madhouse house about 11 years ago. We couldn't wait to get out of there, it just felt creepy.
vague stories of someone being hanged near there once? or hanging themsleves? something like that.
cant find anything on google about it, only a Norfolk place names list and a citation for designation of Madhaouse Plantation as a site of special scientific interest


I was harboured up there a few years ago. As I slept fitfully between stags I was violently awoken by a ghostly figure wearing WW1 battle dress. He dragged me from my gonker and took me deeper into the woods where we encountered several other aparitions.

My ordeal lasted for several hours as I was violently sexually assaulted with everything from a Lee Enfield cleaning kit to a huge ghostly penis.

At some point I must have passed out as I was later woken for my next stag, back in my dossbag but covered in some sort of ectoplasm and feeling strangely fulfilled.
Dug in there as part of a def ex on my JNCO cadre in '74. Some of the old 'n' bold toid me the same kind of stories. The OC told us it was a hospital for shell shock victims during WW1 and was then an isolation hosp for those who could'nt be cured and were though to violent or mad for such places as Netley. Feckin wierd place all the same.
"Madhouse Plantation" was/is part of the Thetford training area. It was so named because it was the sight of a Victorian asylum, which during WW1 was taken over by the Military and used to house shell-shocked Officers, out of the way of the public. When the War Office took over the area in 1938 the asylum was demolished, but the foundations were still visible.

The story goes that a patrol on exercise went into "Madhouse" one night, leaving one guy behind. Whilst he was sitting there this Officer appeared and started talking to him. The guy then realised that the Officer was dressed strangely, in riding boots and breeches. The Officer walked off saying "I'll send someone for you" and disappeared. This guy was going frantic when the patrol got back
as posted by RedCapSarge
A quick check of Google Earth reveals that one of the places where I froze my backside off during a Regimental E&E ex a few years ago was Madhouse - to no ill effects. I do remember some rubble and foundations though.

However, STANTA is a pretty spooky training area through and through...
And remember the bloke allegedly crucified upside down in the church on the trg area. Spooky.
PoisonDwarf said:
And remember the bloke allegedly crucified upside down in the church on the trg area. Spooky.

wasnt that supposed to be bollox though? a regurgitation of a WW1 story from France?
Was up to my neck in this marsh too, inevitably on a freezing winter night at stupid o'clock. I tried to aim for a part submerged log, slipped off and fell forward. Started sinking rapidly under all the weight i was carrying and started to genuinely believe it was endex for me. Somehow managed to get my foot on something solid under me which gave me just enough push to get me within arms reach of my mucker. Because it was a tactical infil all the the panicing and rescueing was done without a sound, that was until my CSM gave me a viscious bollocking for carrying a dirty weapon, the same CSM that was in front of me when i went in and turned his back on the whole drama. Any respect i had for that bloke was immediately blown into orbit at that precise moment.
Anyway back to the point in hand, I had a blair witch moment when I was doing a night navex here on my own once and as i was bimbling through a plantation (can't remember which one) i fell flat on my face after tripping over something solid that was overgrown. When i started pulling the vegetation away i realised i had just tripped over a clump of grave head stones. there were three (maybe 4) of them. Scared the living sh*t out of me. A closer inspection showed they were graves for horses, couldn't make out the dates though and they were in the deepest part of the training area. That's absolutely gospel, so be careful where you dig your shell scrapes!
Stanta is quite a spooky place. A lot of history there which isn't immediately evident.
Spoke to a friend about this place who is a bit of a nerd about such places. He informed me that a temporary hutted camp was put up there in '41/42 for US flyers who were thought to be on the verge of flipping out, a sort of septics Sandy's home and some of these blokes reported strange events. He has promised to give me web links which I will pass on.


So how often do I need to turn up in my WW1 uniform at odd hours of the night to keep the myth alive?
msr said:
So how often do I need to turn up in my WW1 uniform at odd hours of the night to keep the myth alive?

Once a month? Every halloween is a must too!
Been to madhouse a number of times in the past few years. Even though I only started hearing the rumours about six months ago, I always thought that it was a spooky place. As stated previously it is pitch dark and unnaturally silent.

I was there last week on an ATR final ex, nothing has changed. I got a little geographically embarrassed whilst checking the sentries (couldn’t see my hand in front of my face and the comms cord had snapped, honest :oops: ), so I walked away from the harbour to loop round and come back in at the 6 o’clock position. I must have been about 100 metres from the harbour when I heard a high pitched scream. Immediately remembered the stories, proceeded to brick it and contemplated sprinting through the wood back to my nice safe doss bag, probably not the best plan ever, but circumstances persist. Then I saw a small shape darting out the wood onto the track. F**king Muntjacs’, those little deformed deer things that run around the area, the whole lot of them should be culled. Still, it’s a horrible place.

Never, never going through that wood by myself, or without a big f**k off torch again.


War Hero
I've been digging into this some more and some academic from middlesex university who I think studies UK asylums (or maybe one of his personalities pretends to...) didnt have any immediate records of it. However he did point me towards some documents he found from Norfolk records office. There was a document from the 1770s that refers to the old madhouse near tottenham. So obviously there is a bit of history of insanity going back to well before then. He didnt have anything on the more recent history up to WW1 and 1938 as Bossdog suggested. I will keep looking every now and then as sure there must be something more somewhere. Maybe locked up in some MOD vault. But yeah, as with the others I am pretty sure I won't be doing any nightime field trips their without calling ghostbusters.

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