Mummies are often the feature of horror stories in which they come to life and intend to cause harm or lay curses upon those around them. However, as you may know mummies are in fact simply well preserved dead Egyptian royalty sealed in a tomb just like somebody might be buried in a coffin at a cemetery. It is perhaps simply the ominous darkness and labyrinth style of the pyramids in which they were buried that caused them to be a figure of horror above any normal corpse in a graveyard (read my articles on mumification progress in the Ancient World Category). However, this legendary tale takes place in Yarmouth in the UK in the early 1900s some 20 years before Tutenkhamen's tomb was discovered in the desert plains of Egypt which sparked the image of mummies as an icon of horror.
St.Nicholas' Church in Great Yarmouth used to be attached to a school and a history teacher kindly donated an egyptian mummy which stood in the Science room at this school, sealed tight inside its coffin. However one day the school and surrounding area began to stink awfully, not a bad smell like a stinkbomb, but a smell of death and decay that was so strong the school had to be closed temporarily as no one could work. After searching for what seemed like an age the teachers finally considered that perhaps the seal on the coffin had been damaged somehow, perhaps by a spillage of a chemical in the science lab, and that it was the smell of the thousand year old dead Egyptian Princess that was stinking out the school. The local vicar decided that the remains could be buried in the church cemetery but that it should be done in the night so that the public did not see as it might start horror tales among the children and even more superstitious local people. As the corpse was thousands of years old, even having been mummified it must have produced a truly awful smell so the vicar and a few volunteers quickly emptied the coffin's contents into a new coffin and buried it in the church graveyard. The mummy's coffin was shut and resealed and returned to the classroom. With the smell now gone the school returned to normal and no one but a few volunteers and the vicar knew that the mummy had been removed from its coffin.
However, the matter was not resolved. Later that night the vicar heard a tapping at his door and went to answer it only to find there was no one there. Assuming it to be a prank from some local children he returned to bed but the tapping awoke him again later that same night and, answering the door with his wife also, stepped outside and looked around but could see no one in sight, no sign of children running from his door. Confused the vicar spoke to some of his friends in the town only to discover that they too had endured the exact same tapping mystery. Some people walking throygh the graveyard at night also heard a tapping noise coming from around the church which stopped when they approached and continued when they walked away. The police began to keep a tight watch on the local children to ensure they were not playing pranks, yet still the tapping continued with no sign of anybody at the door.
The mummy's burial could no longer be kept a secret and people began to find out, labelling the tapping a curse from the mummy for being disturbed. Further to this the smell returned to the school and this time, the vicar and school decided that the coffin should be opened in front of everyone in daylight to remove any arguments of curses and show that they had done nothing wrong. To their surprise the coffin was not empty! It seemed that in their rush to move the body they had left one of the Egyptian Princess' arms in the coffin. Restoring the arm to the rest of the corpse the smell and tapping sound stopped, which was a positive for the local residents but yet also created the legend of the mummy's tapping because it was now linked with the arm left behind. We'll never know whether it was some people taking advantage of the mummy situation to play pranks and scare people or whether there was something more supernatural at work, but either way, the mummy's tale soon came to and end and no one was harmed, but it is still a mystery and stands as a legend. What's your opinion on it? We'd love to know, just leave a comment below.
IMAGE: http://gallery.nen.gov.uk/assets/0601/0000/0056/church0014_mid.jpg - St. Nicholas' Church in Great Yarmouth, though the school is no longer attached.