GAYLE FIDLER takes us on a visit to haunted Hartlepool in the north-east of England
The ancient coastal town of Hartlepool is located in the north-east of England. The town was once home to an Anglo-Saxon monastery, which was destroyed by Viking raiders. Remains of the monastery were found during later excavation works near where the church of St Hilda stands today.
St Hilda’s Church is also one of the sites where Hartlepool’s most famous apparition is said to have been spotted. The infamous Grey Lady.
It isn’t quite clear from local accounts who the Grey Lady is or was. Some stories say that she is the ghost of nun who fell in love with one of the friars at the monastery. The affair was eventually discovered, the friar murdered, and the nun killed herself in a fit of grief.
Other suggestions are that the Grey Lady is the ghost of St Hilda herself. Once the Abbess of Hartlepool, she later became the founding Abbess of the famous Whitby Abbey, further down the coastline.
Whoever the Grey Lady was, her ghost is still said to be seen in the area of Hartlepool known as The Headland. There are other spirits too. The Grey Lady isn’t the only one who supposedly never left this historic coastal town.
Heugh Battery, The Headland, Hartlepool, TS24 0PS
Heugh Gun Battery was erected in 1860 as a coastal defence to protect the port of Hartlepool. Now the site of a museum, it is the only First World War battlefield in Britain.
On the 16th December 1914, Hartlepool coast was brought under fire from the German Navy. Over 100 people were killed in the attack. Many of them, civilians who were preparing for the mornings work. A missile struck The Headland near to the Battery, this caused the death of the first British soldier in action to be killed on British soil during the first world war.
Reports of a man in First World War uniform walking around the Battery at night have been made. Could this be a spectral soldier still on guard?
The Cosmopolitan Hotel, Middlegate, Hartlepool, TS24 0HY
The Cosmopolitan hotel has a reputation for being one of the most haunted pubs in Hartlepool. The cellars of the pub have entrances to bricked up tunnels which lead to St Hilda’s church and the monastery site. Supposedly, workmen have fled after being gripped by terror whilst undertaking renovation work in the cellars. Bar staff have reported being pushed and a ghostly figure is said to have been seen in the corridor leading to the toilets.
Could the cellars in the Cosmopolitan have been the meeting place for the nun and the murdered friar? Another theory is that the cellars were once a hiding place for the nuns during the time of the Viking raids. Could this explain the strong sense of fear that has been experienced in the cellars? Could it be residual energy from the terrified nuns fearing for their lives from the pillaging Danes?
HMS Trincomalee, Maritime Avenue, Hartlepool, TS240XZ
No visit to Hartlepool should be complete without a visit to the restored Royal Navy ship HMS Trincomalee even if you don’t get to see any ghosts!
Launched in 1817, she is the oldest British warship still afloat and once had a crew of 315 officers and men. There is no doubt HMS Trincomalee has an interesting atmosphere, as she takes you back to life at sea two hundred years ago.
Ghostly goings on onboard the frigate have included mysterious shadows being spotted. Knocks, bangs and footsteps heard when no one else is around. Could these noises be attributed to the old wooden ship settling down for the night, or is there something more sinister that shivers her timbers?
The Blacksmith’s Arms, Stranton, Hartlepool, TS24 7QT
The Blacksmith’s Arms is one of the oldest pubs in Hartlepool. It was originally built as three adjoining cottages in the 1760’s and became a public house in 1821.
The Blacksmith’s Arms is alleged to have its own resident Poltergeist, christened George, by the locals.
George’s antics have included opening and closing doors, moving glasses and smashing bottles. However, George isn’t the only curiosity at the Blacksmith’s.
A window in the pub wall overlooks the local churchyard. It is said that this window, was used by previous landlords to keep a watch over the churchyard from graverobbers. Could George be the spirit of an old landlord still guarding the bodies of the dead?
Camerons Brewery, Hartlepool, TS24 7QS
The current building for this fully functioning brewery was built in 1892, and visitor tours can be booked by contacting the brewery direct.
It is said that several spirits linger within the brewery. The ghost of a staff member who froze to death inside a refrigerated room is renowned for moving objects. A spectral man has been spotted in photographs. A woman can be heard walking empty corridors and phantom dray horses have been sensed in the old stable block. The mysterious beasts have even been known to kick the legs of unsuspecting visitors.
But don’t worry, if you do find yourself under attack, you can calm your nerves at the end of the tour with a pint of Hartlepool’s finest ale.