North Yorkshire has many haunted sites with plenty to interest the professional and casual ghost hunter alike, says ANDY OWENS
Mystery at Middleham Castle, North Yorkshire
Members of the Society of Friends of Richard III have reported many odd things in the grounds and perimeter of Middleham Castle.
Various members have heard organ music coming from inside the chapel, even though it was unoccupied and locked-up at the time.
Staff at the visitor’s centre, housed in a portacabin for English Heritage who preserve this historic site, have witnessed all manner of poltergeist activity.
Two young boys reported seeing a knight on a horse who proceeded to charge through them and then vanished.
A mysterious glowing light appears amongst the ruins, and the sounds of horses’ hooves and those of a battle being fought have also been heard by visitors.
The Lady in White at the Parsonage Country Hotel
The Parsonage Country House Hotel at Escrick, near York. She appears to staff members and, in particular, male guests. One of the most spectacular sightings of the ghost in this 19th century building, was reported in August 1988.
A private party was being enjoyed in the grounds. Hotel porter Wilf Bellamy described how the ghost literally floated above and across the garden and actually through the guests. Because of the number of eyewitnesses and in visible daylight conditions, this must be one of the most intriguing ghost sightings ever recorded.
Night at the (National Railway) Museum, York
On an investigation at the National Railway Museum in York in February 2010, I had two odd experiences: a strange shape which I saw appearing at the end of one of the train station’s platforms, which seemed to be ‘blowing’ in slow-motion, and also a light in the gift shop part of the museum which flashed on and off just after I thought: ‘Wouldn’t it be strange if one of those lights starts flashing on and off?’
Were these incidents truly paranormal? I have no idea, but I still can’t explain them! They are recounted in full in my blog.
The Phantom Monk of Guisborough
Ken Foster, of Middlesbrough, related an extraordinary multiple-witness encounter in 1967 at Guisborough (or Gisborough) Priory, North Yorkshire, and again, with eight eyewitnesses.
He was with Grangetown St Matthews Church Youth Club, hiking in the Cleveland Hills, and sleeping in Guisborough Church Hall at night. The group consisted of four boys and three girls, all aged around fifteen, led by Mary Shelley, the youth leader and clergyman’s wife. One night, they decided to do a ghost-hunt at the nearby priory which was reputed to be haunted.
So, at midnight on Wednesday 5th April 1967, the group of eight stood in front of what remained of the east window of the priory. After twenty minutes of waiting patiently, they grew restless and decided to call it a night, when, as Mr Foster recounted: ‘… a silvery figure appeared at the left side of the window, moved right, then disappeared. It was a fuzzy, silvery grey colour like the effect you get on a TV when it is switched on, but on no channel. This continued at intervals until the figure reached the middle of the window, at which point a powerful shaft of light, almost like lightening, seemed to sweep around us and illuminate the figure, clearly revealing it as a monk in a habit.’
Mr Foster said the light was so strong that it perfectly illuminated the figure, enabling the witnesses to pick out the monk’s cowl and the rope tied round the figure’s waist. ‘This is the most vivid memory I retain of the experience,’ he told me. He recalled that throughout the whole episode, the group was experiencing a weird sensation often reported in ghost sightings. ‘As we all agreed later, it felt like the hair on our heads and bodies were literally stood on end.’
Mrs Shelley put her arms around the children to protect them and then they fled from the priory ‘scared to death’. To get back to the church hall, the group had to pass the right side of the window and cut through the church cemetery. While they were making their escape, they all clearly saw the figure appear in the cemetery watching them leave.
‘In the cemetery, our view of the monk was very clear,’ he said. ‘It glowed like the luminous hands on an alarm clock. I remember one of the group saying: “It’s behind us!” to which Mrs Shelley, the youth leader, replied: “Don’t look! Don’t look!” So, naturally, I did.’
The story was reported in the Newcastle Evening Gazette on Saturday April 8th 1967, and Mr Foster sent me a copy. When interviewed by a journalist, the youth club leader Mrs Shelley said she could not explain the figure or the ‘tremendous’ shaft of light they had seen which swept round from behind the group to illuminate the monk. ‘There was no road behind us,’ she explained. ‘So, it couldn’t have been a car’s headlights and the light was far too bright anyway.’
(There is an entry on the website Wikipedia for Gisborough Priory, which mentions how: ‘In 1966 and 1967, a hundred people turned out to watch – and allegedly managed to spot – a cowled figure…’ * If this is genuine, then it may have been the best multiple-witness sighting ever recorded!)
Have you seen a ghost in North Yorkshire? Tell us about it in the comments section below!
ANDY OWENS is a paranormal investigator and writes the blog Spooky Vocation. He has written several books on ghosts and mysteries and his latest in Ghosts: First-Hand Accounts of the Supernatural. There are 79 original accounts in the book including 30 from Yorkshire. Find out more at https://owensandy.com