MIKE COVELL explores the spooky site of the City of York, which some claim is the “Most Haunted City in England”.
Over the years the City of York has gained a reputation for being the “Most Haunted City in England” and has also been labelled “The City of a Thousand Ghosts.” It certainly is a very atmospheric place, and one cannot help but get taken in by its grand buildings that date from bygone centuries. The following is a collection of five locations in York that are allegedly haunted.
Haunted York Minster
York Minster is an amazing building and it is said that the current building dates back to April 12th, 627. Over the years various saints, and supernatural stories are associated with the Minster, and walking around it is as atmospheric as it gets. One of the most popular stories associated with the Minster occurred during the 1920s when two members of a touring group were separated from the rest. Walking alone they saw a man in naval attire watching them, he came over and whispered in one of the ladies ears, then walked off. It transpired that the naval man was the brother of the lady whom he had whispered to, they had once made a pact that whomever died first would come and prove to the other that the afterlife existed. Here was her brother, killed at sea, returning to tell her that there was something after life!
Haunted York Museum
One of the earliest sightings of ghosts at the York Museum occurred in 1953, when the caretaker of the museum, Mr. Jonas, saw a little man who he described as being dressed as an Edwardian. The encounter occurred when Mr. Jonas and his wife had locked up for the day and retired to their basement room when footsteps could be heard above them. Mr. Jonas left the safe confines of their room and went upstairs to check on the museum, he came across a man, who was walking back and forth through the museum. He followed, still believing that this was a living breathing human, and when he placed his hands on the mans shoulder the man vanished! On another occasion Mr. Jonas was accompanied by another man named Finch, when both saw and heard the apparition. The story was reported in The Yorkshire Post, and has featured in several books and publications since.
Ye Olde Starre Inne in York
York boasts numerous haunted ale houses and this has one of the strangest ghostly sightings associated with it. The pub itself dates back to the year 1644, although some historians believe the cellar to be much older, and it is from this cellar that the ghostly screams of Royalist soldiers can be heard. The cellar was used as a makeshift hospital during the English Civil War, and Royalist soldiers were treated here. Another ghost, said to haunt the pub, is that of an old lady dressed in black. It is unknown who she is, but she has been seen to descend the staircase from the upper floor. The strangest ghosts associated with the pub are not, however; even human. They are the ghosts of two black cats that have been reported in the pub and local legend as it that these cats were bricked up in the pillar between the door and the bar. On occasion locals have brought their dogs in while they drink and on several occasions the dogs have growled, snarled, and even leapt towards the pillar, with one even knocking itself out! It is believed the cats were bricked up to protect the building against both fire and ill luck, a superstition that can be found throughout Yorkshire.
Billed as York’s Most Haunted House, 35 Stonegate is certainly an atmospheric location and steeped in history. Stonegate itself stands above the Roman Via Praetoriaand in 1736 Francis Drake wrote of the street, It had this name given as is said from the vast quantity of stone lead through this street for the building of the cathedral’. The current property dates back to 1482, although it has been written that a house has stood on this site for at least a thousand years. Numerous television shows have been to the property and its most infamous ghost is said to be called Tom, who occupies the second floor séance room. Over 14 different ghosts have been reported at the property, many of which were said to have become active during renovations after Jonathan Cainer bought the property in 1999.
The Treasurer’s House
One of the most well known, and certainly my favourite ghost story associated with York comes from the Treasure’s House. The building itself is an architectural mixture dating from both the 16th and 17th Century and is home to a fantastic sighting that dates back to the 1950’s but has its origins in Roman York. An apprentice plumber, by the name of Harry Martindale, was working in the cellar of the building during 1953 and turned to see a column of Roman Soldiers walking with their heads bowed as if walking in defeat. They were walking at knee heights and it is believed that they were walking on the site of an old Roman road. Since then numerous other people have seen the Romans including staff and other workers. My connection to the tale is one that was told to me as a child, and part of the reason why I take such an interest in such matters. My late father had been working in York and was contracted to carry out work in the cellar of the Treasurer’s House. He, alongside his colleague, heard a noise coming from the cellar, not unlike the sound of material flying through the air. They turned and saw the Roman Column and watched stunned and in silence!
MIKE COVELL is a Paranormal Historian and Ripperologist based in Kingston upon Hull, East Yorkshire. He has written for, and featured in, numerous magazines, newspapers and journals discussing both Jack the Ripper, and ghosts. He has featured on BBC TV, BBC Radio, and recently appeared on Prime Suspect: Jack The Ripper which was aired in the UK earlier this year. He has lectured in Hull and around Yorkshire, as well as at the 2010 Annual Jack the Ripper Conference, and for the Ghost Club in London.
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