Do you believe in ghosts? Here are 10 of York’s spookiest spots
Wednesday Salvos queue not featured x
Spooky season is upon us and if your workload and deadlines haven’t scared you enough then perhaps some of these places in York will. Known to be home to many ghosts and chilling tales, there are many places you can choose to visit in York. From outright ghost-tours to pubs, it’s pretty hard to go anywhere in York without a bit of history haunting you. So here are 10 spooky spots in York you need to know about:
York Minster: Spooky siblings
The beautiful York Minster has been an important building for over 1000 years. Riddled with history, it only makes sense that a ghost story would slip in somewhere.
The most famous ghost story dates back to the 1820s. During a tour of the Minster, a ghoulish figure in a naval uniform is reported to have wandered up to two ladies separated from the rest of the tour. The spirit is then said to have whispered in one of the women’s ears. But it is rumoured that the naval ghost was in fact the lady’s brother who died at sea and was honouring a childhood pact the siblings made whereby they would tell the other about the afterlife.
Another ghost, Dean Gale is also rumoured to haunt the Minster. Aged 26 at his death in 1702, he is said to sit in pews and listen to sermons.
The Treasurer’s House: Roman roaming
A Grade One listed building now owned by the National Trust, the building once lived in by York Minster’s first treasurer is said to be haunted by Roman ghosts.
In 1953, a plumber named Harry Martindale heard a horn sounding closer and closer whilst he was working in the cellar. Suddenly a legion of Roman soldiers alongside a phantom carthorse emerged from the walls, described by Martindale to be cut off from the knees. This description makes a lot more sense considering he shortly after discovered that the house is built on top of a Roman road, the Via Decumana, 15 inches below the cellar!
The Golden Fleece: Creepy regulars (not you though xx)
This pub claims to be the most haunted one in York, and with reports of a ghost in each room, it’s a pretty solid statement. If the sign outside the building leaves you feeling sceptical then you’re not alone. Even one of the managers thought the stories were a load of nonsense until she experienced some paranormal activity herself. With at least 14 ghosts said to haunt this pub, it is no wonder the site was investigated by the Most Haunted team in 2005.
These ghosts include Lady Alice Peckett, the former York Mayor’s wife who lived next door, rumoured to wander the corridors and staircases in the night by hotel guests. A WW2 Canadian Airman has been spotted spooking the pub too after he fell to his death from the top floor . Perhaps the most prominent ghost is One-Eyed Jack, numerously sighted sitting in the bar with his pistol and wearing his red 16th Century coat.
The York Museum: Book hater?
Named by some as one of the “most infamous of York ghost stories” is the sighting of an Edwardian ghost in 1953 by the museum’s caretaker. Mr Jonas, who lived with his wife in the basement of the museum, apparently heard footsteps in the rooms above and when he went to check it out, he saw a ghost of an Edwardian man.
Presuming at first he was a visitor locked in after closing, he went up to the figure and as soon as his hand touched his shoulder, the man disappeared. There are rumours to have been other sightings of this ghost, and he is also said by Museum staff to be interested in a particular book on the display shelves. Every sighting of this book flying off the shelves is said to always happen on a Sunday evening! Creepy, and consistent.
The York Theatre Royal: Nun of your business
This Georgian building is said to be haunted by a ghost known as the Grey Lady. This ghost haunts the dress circle, a room said to be once part of St Leonard’s Hospital run by an order of nuns. The story is that a young nun fell in love with a nobleman and after the scandalous discovery of the pair being lovers, she was punished by being bricked up in a windowless room with no escape. Although a harrowing story, sightings of the Grey Lady (the nun in her grey habit) in the dress circle is supposedly a good omen for that night’s theatre production.
Not sure how well I’d perform if I’d just seen a ghost but get it I guess xx
The Snickleway Inn: A bit sad really
Another pub, yay! Now, this Goodramgate venue is thought to be home to several ghosts. There are reports of the ghost of a young girl sitting on the stairs watching customers. Honestly, people-watching must be quite fun in the afterlife tbh.
Not as relatable is the sad ghost story of Marmaduke Buckle. Born in 1697 (a fact made clear from his etches), Buckle ended his life in 1715 in a room above the bar after struggling to get through life after being accused of witchcraft as a result of his multiple disabilities. He has been spotted roaming through the pub and reportedly seen through a window upstairs.
Ye Olde Starre Inne: One word, meow
This pub has ghosts too! I’m sensing a bit of trend here. But this ghoulish pub-crawl doesn’t make you look like a complete alcoholic if it’s in the name of ghost hunting.
This pub used to be a coaching inn in 1644, with parts of the building being much older. The cellars are recorded as being used as makeshift hospitals for soldiers during the English Civil War. This makes sense when considering the screams of Royalist soldiers being heard in Ye Olde Starre Inne.
The most interesting ghosts in this pub though are the cats! Four-legged ghosts are reported as being seen in this pub following the local legend of two felines being bricked up inside a pillar between the door and the bar. Canine guests in this pub have been said to randomly start barking at this pillar. Not just there to annoy dogs, according to legend this practice (common across Yorkshire) has superstitious motivations: to protect a building against fire and bad luck.
Again, a bit weird but you do you boo x
35 Stonegate: Shop ’til you drop (dead)
This is a bit of a weird one and I’ll explain why. The building dates back to 1482, but records suggest parts of it might have been here for at least 1000 years. Apparently, there have been at least 14 ghosts thought to reside here, supposedly stirred in 1999 when renovations took place. Makes sense I guess, unless they’d heard about the plot twist in The Sixth-Sense that came out that year.
The most documented ghost is known as Tom who haunts the second floor. 35 Stonegate is currently an Oliver Bonas shop which is weird because it doesn’t scream haunted. So next time you pop in, it might not be the prices that scare you.
I wonder what Tom thinks about the new autumn range.
Mad Alice Lane: Wonderland looks different here
The last place on my guide is Mad Alice Lane, somewhat unique and linked to a tour where you can ask any questions you might have.
This “snickelway” is now called Lund’s court, linking Swinegate and Low Petergate. Supposedly named after Alice Smith, this alleyway is said to be haunted by “Mad Alice”. She was rumoured to have been hanged in York Castle in the 1820s for “going mad” and killing her husband who beat her incessantly. This alleyway has been reported to have been the site of sightings of “Mad Alice” peering out of windows along it.
Whatever the story is, you can follow Mad Alice herself on one of York’s many ghost tours.
There are plenty of other supposedly haunted places in York, and with Halloween looming, town is about to get a whole load creepier, and I’m not talking about the angel halos abandoned on the streets in the early hours of Tuesday morning.
Featured image before edits via Unsplash