Colchester is Britain’s oldest Roman city, so it is no surprise that the city is host to many ghostly residents. NIA JONES checks out five of Colchester’s spookiest places…
The Red Lion Hotel, High Street, CO1 1DJ
The Red Lion Hotel has a long history with the paranormal, dating back to 1465; the hotel is one of the oldest buildings in Colchester. There are three ghosts that haunt The Red Lion Hotel; the first is Alice Catherine Millar, who was murdered in the hotel in 1638. Alice’s apparition is seen mostly in room’s 5, 6, and 10, also in the kitchen and walking to her old room and through the blocked wall where the door once stood.
The second spooky resident is a small boy, who has been seen numerous times in the parliament room, he appears more frequently to children, and has been known for him to appear in photos taken by visitors too. A hooded monk who died in a fire at the building several hundred years ago is the third ghost refusing to leave The Red Lion Hotel; he usually appears in the early hours of the morning, often in the reception area and in the corridors.
Holytrees Museum and East Lodge, Castle Park, CO1 1UG
In the vicinity of Colchester Castle, these two buildings are said to be haunted by a female White Lady ghost named Miss Anne Lisle, whose portrait hangs in The Hollytrees Museum. People have presumed that she is the ghost that haunts the museum because some people have felt an eerie presence behind them while viewing her portrait.
East Lodge is said to also be haunted by the Grey Lady, the smell of a very strong old fashioned floral perfume accompanies her apparition. Phantom footsteps are often heard running in or near the museum’s gun room, beautiful piano music is heard being played in the building and there is no piano in the museum.
Colchester Castle, Castle Park, High Street, CO1 1TJ
The Grade I listed Colchester Castle was constructed by William the Conqueror in 1069. Quaker James Parnell is said to haunt the castle. In 1656 he was arrested and imprisoned in Colchester Castle for an incident which happened in Coggleshall Church.
James Parnell was praying when a commotion ensued, he was arrested for blasphemy and other offences. He was fined £40 by the magistrate, but he refused to pay and returned to Colchester Castle.
Due to the cruelty of his gaoler, he was forced to climb a rope to get his food, James fell from the rope and was badly injured, his health deteriorated quickly and he died. His tortured ghost is said to roam the castle, his pained noises echoing in the walls.
The Old Siege House, 75 East Street, CO1 2TS
One of the rooms in The Old Siege House is said to be so haunted that the restaurant’s staff refuse to work in the room on their own. Siege House and the surrounding area is said to be haunted primarily by soldiers from the English Civil War and the Puritans. In the 1990s, the ghost of a cavalier was seen marching down East Street by a petrified witness, the cavalier vanished into thin air when he reached The Old Siege House.
The Fox & Fiddler, St John Street, CO2 7AA
The Fox & Fiddler is said to be haunted by the ghost a young chambermaid called Sarah. The story goes that the Witchfinder General, Matthew Hopkins was responsible for the death of Sarah in the 1600s.
They say he dragged Sarah kicking and screaming down to the pub’s cellar where he bricked her up in a disused tunnel under the pub.
Never the less, Sarah is said to be a mischievous and fun loving ghost who likes to play pranks on the pub’s staff and patrons. Several staff members say they have even seen Sarah’s ghost, she is described as being short in stature, with blonde hair and wears a white lacy hat and a maid’s outfit.
EXTRA: ‘Ghost’ captured at Colchester, according to 1883 news report
We’re found an article from the Chelmsford Chronicle, dated Friday 12 October 1883, called “Capture of a ‘Ghost’ at Colchester”.
“Residents in the vicinity of Serpentine-walk, North-street, Colchester, have been considerably exercised lately by alleged supernatural appearances at uncertain intervals.
Saturday night, at the ghostly hour of 11.30, as a man named George Pike, in the employ of the Great Eastern Railway Company, was going home along Serpentine-walk, which has come to have the reputation of being haunted, he lighted upon the presumed visitant from the nether world, in the form of female, clad a white nightcap, and wrapt as a bleached shroud.
The face presented the appearance of having been artificially whitened, and altogether the aspect of the figure was calculated scare a body-snatcher, had risen before the astonished eyes of one of those individuals who flourished half a century.
The man Pike, on seeing it, exclaimed, “This is the ghost, isn’t it.” No reply was vouchsafed, but the figure beat a rapid retreat down the walk, and its interrogator had the temerity to follow.
Opposite Mr. Strowlger’s house caught her, and to prove her tangibility, gave her a good shaking.
The ghost thereupon found voice, and begged her captor to let her go. demanded her name, which was given, and in reply question to her reason tor resorting to antiquated practice, she said her husband was “going wrong,” and she was then looking out for him to frighten him.
She was finally allowed to depart on promising never to repeat the experiment, so probably no more will be heard of the North-street ghost.”
That’s from over 130 years ago – we wonder if that kind of behaviour happens in Chelmsford anymore?
Tell us what you think in the comments below!