Winchester in southern England is rich with historic treasures. Guest writer MONA HERB BOUGHTON takes us on a spooky tour of the ancient city’s most haunted places to visit.
One of the most striking landmarks of Winchester, this cathedral has stood since 1079, and remains one of the largest gothic cathedrals in Northern Europe – as well as one of the largest cathedrals in all of England. There are claims of a procession of phantom monks marching down the cathedral’s aisles, sinking slightly into the floor as they walk. This is believed to be because they’re walking on the old floor of the cathedral before it was raised. Winchester Cathedral’s grounds are further haunted in Cathedral Close, where visitors hear disembodied chanting and catch glimpses of a limping monk struggle to reach the gates.
Tun Bridge, Winchester
Found close to the foot of Wharf Hill, Tun Bridge is a simple stone arch surrounded by an indiscernible mass of branches and leaves and has stood there since 1796 – and the river is deeply twined into Winchester’s history and success, having once been a prominent barge route. Whilst not rife with any particularly bloody history, the picturesque banks surrounding the bridge are said to be haunted by a benevolent spirit. In the early 2000s there was a handful of reports of a friendly golden Labrador who would amble past dogwalkers before simply phasing through the sodden underbrush and fading into the distance.
The Eclipse Inn, Winchester
The quaint visage of the Eclipse Inn, an antiquated dwarf held up by beams of oak, crammed between two more modern buildings houses one of the most famous ghosts of Winchester. A tall and solemn woman dressed entirely in grey watches from the shadows, whilst sounds of hasty construction echoes from outside. On September 2nd, 1685, Lady Alice Lisle was beheaded outside of the pub on hastily built scaffolding. She was originally sentenced to being burned at a stake when it was found that she had given shelter to anti-royalists. In hopes of avoiding outrage, King James II ordered that she be beheaded instead. It probably wouldn’t soothe her spirit to know that she was the last woman to be publicly beheaded in England.
Theatre Royal Winchester
Originally a stop-over point for travelling farmers, the Theatre Royal Winchester was bought, converted into a theatre, and finally opened in 1914 by the Simpkins brothers John and James. This opulent theatre would prove to be John Simpkins’ eternal home though – perhaps because his brother broke his promise to one day include both of their initials in the theatre, instead of just James’. Whatever the reason John’s ghost, supposedly an uptight apparition in Edwardian clothing, walks out of the left-side walls of the auditorium to check for his initials on the stage’s archway. He then slumps through the right-side wall in profound disappointment.
Hyde Tavern, Winchester
Another haunted pub, Hyde Tavern is even older than the Eclipse Inn; although instead of being killed by the wrath of a royalist judge, the tavern’s ghost was killed by cold avarice. According to urban legend, centuries ago, a homeless woman sought shelter from a bitter winter in Hyde Tavern. A cruel man, the landlord refused to let her inside. Her corpse was found, frozen to the ground, in the early, frigid light of a winter dawn. Since then, staff have sworn hearing disembodied groans full of anguish and starvation rattle throughout the tavern, and visitors claim that blankets are pulled off their beds in the middle of the night.
Both a writer and an avid fan of weird horror and inventive fantasy, MONA HERB BOUGHTON has spent the past five years honing her craft in prose, reviews, and articles alike. No matter what she writes though, her work will usually contain bizarre creatures, the undead, or very strange people – in fact, she’s currently working on a story about vampires and birds being as unglamorous as possible. Not satisfied with just a first-level degree Bachelor of Arts, she is now currently studying a Master’s degree in creative writing. You can follow her on Twitter @WifiWitchWrites