Common Hall Lane Ghost

Thursday, December 13th 2018

Enlightenment & Amusement with Regard to York, its Surrounding Areas & the British Isles
York Past

feel it incumbent upon me to warn you, dear reader, that this tale may leave you wondering exactly what kind of unearthly manifestations are existing within the heart of york.
    That said, I fear I may have unwittingly cast doubt upon the noble and audacious nature of our patronage, of which I am most humbly apologetic. As such, with no further procrastination, lest us allow our thoughts to move in the direction of the resplendent structure that is known as the Guildhall, itself the location of a number of spectral manifestations and therefore a subject that we will undoubtedly be returning to in greater detail at some point in a future edition. [1]
    Originally a fifteenth century structure forged as an assembly location for the York guilds the original building, alas, was largely destroyed by the second world war ‘Baedeker air raid’ in 1942. Not wishing to allow such an unsporting act of demolition to impede the smooth functioning of York’s commerce it was rebuilt and duly opened with great pomp and ceremony by Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother in 1960.
    A compelling but little know attribute of the Guildhall is the track known as Common Hall Lane; medieval in origin it runs from a watergate at the edge of the River Ouse, beneath the northern part of the Guildhall and orientates in the direction of Saint Helen’s Square.
    In January of last year the local history group York Past And Present were undertaking one of their recurrent and most exemplary tours of the Guildhall when an experience left them notably discombobulated. Following the group’s congregation in a nearby tavern, where it must be made clear at this juncture that no more hardy a brew was partaken than coffee, they set off to partake in the routine that has proved most successful on previous occasions. The time was eleven in the morning and following the customary and concise historical outline of the hall the group proceeded to fulfil their accustomed route.
With the Guildhall clock chiming its midday notification the gathering of inquisitive souls headed towards the finale of the tour. Common Hall Lane beckoned! A doorway blocks the entrance to the lane which, once negotiated, leads to a small circular stairway and then to the lane itself. At the far end of the lane is a gate that blocks any form of egress to the River Ouse. At the head of our intrepid party was Sue Hogarth, who, having a clear view of an unencumbered prospect took full advantage by taking a photograph.
    Some time later, secure in the comfort of her own abode, Ms Hogarth was perusing her tour photographs prior to making them available to other members via the club’s journal. [2]
    Studying the image of Common Lane, she could see that up ahead, silhouetted by the rays of light streaming in from the river Ouse entrance, were three cloaked figures. Further scrutiny revealed that in addition to the inexplicable figures there was, conversely, a complete absence of the gate, as if, for the briefest of moments during the taking of the photograph, the gate had dissolved to allow for the appearance of our spectral individuals.
    I have absolutely no doubt that you, our most undaunted of readers, will wish to make a full and scholastic viewing of all the photographs without fear of impunity and I therefore beseech you go, with all haste, to the journal address quoted in footnote one and without hesitation confer your opinions upon this humble periodical via our esteemed letters’ page.

  1. Further information concerning York Guildhall at the History of York website –

By Sue Bingham, York Past & Present

“It was the last section of the tour. Everyone in the group were waiting to
come down the stairs into Common Hall Lane and while it was quiet and no
one was around I thought I would get a photo.
It was empty. There was only the tour leader and myself there. So I took the
shot. All I could see was the tunnel and the light from the river end.
I certainly never saw any silhouettes or figures. It wasn’t until I got
home and looked at the picture that I realised the figures were there.”

Sue Bingham. From the York Mix article published on February 9, 2015.

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