Haunted York

A JOURNAL DEVOTED TO THE HISTORY, STUDY AND OCCURRENCES OF GHOSTS IN YORK

An Introduction

TO THE HAUNTED YORK WEBSITE

THE ONLINE JOURNAL OF PARANORMAL ACTIVITY WITHIN YORK AND ITS SURROUNDING AREAS

It is our intention, despite its somewhat specific designation, to utilise the Haunted York website to discuss ghosts and related paranormal phenomena occurring beyond it’s ancient walled perimeter. However, we felt that being at the first step of our hopefully long and enriching journey it would be appropriate to discuss the main theme of the site.
I therefore present to you: an introduction (for the subject at hand is far too prodigious to attempt a comprehensive revue) to the Ghosts of York…
However, before starting I feel compelled to pose a question: Where should one begin?
I suggest, if I may be so bold, a place where at least in our unnerved minds we may be calmed by the heady mix of a fine ale or wine; the tavern. There was a time dear reader, long before the days of recent memory (especially if one has indulged in too much calming of the mind) when the city of York had enough taverns within its walls to service an easily bored imbiber with a fresh venue for each day of the year. Despite those heady days being little more than a sublime memory there is, by way of consolation for the intrepid occultist, undoubtedly a ghost for each day of the year, and few would dare to disagree that this estimate is most assuredly an understatement.
From the gatherings of legionnaires during York’s antiquity to the present-day meanderings atop the bar walls, there have been a profusion of supernatural occurrences that have become as much a part of York’s legacy as the Romans themselves: poltergeists; demon dogs; mischievous children; kings, queens, lords and ladies ; the pestilent, the poor and the crippled; murdered and murderers; and, most famously, the spectral manifestation of those very Roman legionnaires hitherto alluded to. The churches are haunted, even York Minster itself; as are the shops, museums, libraries, courts, theatres, restaurants, the streets, even York Dungeon has its ghosts; and so too, of course, do the taverns.
Lamentably, many of these places are no longer practical to investigate. certainly not in person. The museums have delicate artefacts, the retail outlets contain valuable (at least to some) stock, while others are dwelling places containing residents who express an understandable reluctance to the suggestion of a group of marauding spook-seekers traipsing through their property. The King’s Manor, although still open to the inquisitive visitor, is now part of the University of York, yet amongst its beautiful stonework there are phantoms in abundance: seventeenth century casualties of the first english civil war jostle for spectral space with the likes of Henry Hastings; the Earl of Huntingdon; the Black Abbot; Thomas Wentworth, Earl of Strafford and even one of Henry VIII’s tragic queens, Catherine Howard.
However, although one has to demonstrate an elevation of respect, we must not be too downhearted at this state of affairs. As has oft been demonstrated and attested, it is sufficient to attend a number of these locations within daylight hours so as to gain a perception of its unworldly ambience. And periodically, if one is blessed with exceptional fortune, a manifestation will occur during this period, begging the question: are the ghosts actually aware of the hour of the day? As an example, the splendidly monikered Sarah Brocklebank haunts the medieval Micklegate Bar, and has no compulsion with regard to making her presence known either by day or night [1]. In addition there is the haunting at The Antiques Centre on Stonegate, reputably the responsibility of a further young lady by the name of Laura Hodgson, daughter of York’s Gas Engineer during the reign of Queen Victorian; she has appeared to staff during the daylight hours on a number of occasions. On a more scandalous note, the lecherous George Villiers, 2nd Duke of Buckingham, made his presence felt to the female staff and visitors of the Cock & Bottle tavern on Skeldergate for a good number of years whenever the urge took him. Recent years have born witness to a decline in reports but we are ever vigilant as to the reappearance of this groping ghost!
The Eboracum Legion Bathhouse, now a subterranean element of the Roman Bath tavern [2], is home to a supernatural presence that equally has no issue with prowling the site at whichever period of the day suits its desire. Visitors to what is now a museum have reported sights, sounds and an experience of being in the company of something otherworldly; much the same experience has also been recorded at the Richard III Museum in Monk Bar [3].
If the opportunity for first hand investigation presents itself it will no doubt become apparent to the more discerning amongst you that some of these reports are, if one were to be generous, exaggerated. However, many of the reports are not so easy to dismiss and if you’ll forgive the return to the subject of York’s taverns we find the perpetuation of a palpable contest to claim right to the accolade: ‘York’s Most Haunted Pub’ (I myself have spent many a diverting hour attempting to assist with this particular disputation). Notable participants include the Golden Fleece, also laying claim to being the longest sited tavern in York [4] and hosting a number of spectres including the Lord Mayor’s wife, Alice Peckett, reputedly a visitor from her residence next door [5]. In addition, there are reports of a number of visitations witnessed walking through walls and also, most curiously, floating heads.
There is also Ye Olde Starre Inne on Stonegate, the third longest continuously licensed pub in York, bedevilled by wounded soldiers, black cats and a little old lady, and not a stone’s throw from the equally haunted Punch Bowl, which itself lays claim to a profusion of ghosts.
A further contender is the Snickleway Inn on Goodramgate, with the additional attraction of a most remarkable tavern sign, and home to a plethora of ghosts manifesting as sights, sounds, smells and feelings of innate evil. The apparitions at the York Arms on High Petergate have been documented for many years and, more recently, the York Brewery building on Toft Green has itself become a centre for paranormal activity, demonstrating that York’s supernatural heritage is not merely a bygone idiosyncrasy but a continuing and evolving phenomenon.

  1. Situated to the south of the city, Micklegate Bar is the royal gateway to the city and contains a museum: The Henry VII Experience.
  2. If the sound of a live musical troop excites you then the Roman Bath’s most notable programme of events is available for perusal via the excellent tizyorkmuzic.com website.
  3. This bar is located to the north of the city.
  4. The Golden Fleece, whose name derives from one of the city’s prominent trades of the thirteenth to the seventeenth century, is mentioned in the City Archives of 1503.
  5. Although known as Lady Peckett, Alice Peckett was not a member of the aristocracy, for in York there was a tradition regarding Lord Mayors and their spouses: “He is lord for a year and a day. She is lady for ever and aye”.