Paranormal North Norfolk
Image © David Pashley 2021 (CC-BY 2.0)

The Ghostly Smuggler of Weybourne

Weybourne Beach
The pebble beach at Weybourne.
(Image © John Salmon 2009 CC-BY 2.0)

The Street, Weybourne
(Image © Evelyn Simak 2007 CC-BY 2.0)

Norfolk is well-known for both its stories of ghosts and of smugglers. The beach at Weybourne in particle was a popular place in the 17th and 18th centuries for boats to drop off smuggled goods.

A local legend states that the village of Weybourne is haunted by the spirit of a former smuggler named John Smythe. This haunting apparently manifests as a whistling noise that is heard throughout the village near drawn time when there is a full moon. There have also been claims that his aspiration appears at the Weybourne’s pebble beach after the whistling has stopped.

According to the legend. One night, John Smythe and his fellow crew of smugglers were “replenishing their supplies” aka smuggling good on to the shores of the pebble beach of Weybourne. John separated from them to meet up with a landlady from a local inn, promising he would be back by a certain time.

While John Smythe was gone, customs officers (who enforce taxation on imported goods) found out about the smuggling and made their way over to Weybourne. The smugglers somehow were alerted that trouble was coming and headed back to their boat, waiting offshore for John Smythe to return.

But as John Smythe lost track of time and had missed his return time, the other smugglers thought he had been caught and rowed back to their ship. While the men were still rowing back, Smythe returned and whistled to attract their attention.

Instead of being rescued, John Smythe found himself cornered by custom officers who were hiding nearby. He headed into the water, knowing the men would not follow him and still in hope the crew would come back to rescue him. Unable to swim, John Smythe would drown, his spirit still whistling for his rescue.


Sources used in article: (n.d.). norfolk ghosts, legends and other supernatural reports - the paranormal database. [online] Available at: [Accessed 21 Apr. 2021].

norfolktalesmyths, A. (2018). A Ghostly Tale: The Weybourne Whistler! [online] Norfolk Tales, Myths & More! Available at: [Accessed 21 Apr. 2021].