Introducing the Most Haunted City in Europe
Imagine a place – a modern city – thriving, bustling like any other, picturesque by day, council decorated with flower beds or Christmas lights. Medieval walls enclose it, and if you place your hands on the stones, you connect with a colourful history of battles and bloodshed. The chill of the north-east wind stirs through you.
There’s something in the air – something otherworldly, slightly unreal, subtle but compelling. There are rumours and strange coincidences, even magic if you are open to experience it, and many tales of ghosts, spirits and all manner of psychic phenomena. Could this be the most haunted city in Europe – the city of York?
In this blog I recount ghost stories gathered on my travels as a storyteller, many from Stonegate, which I feel is the most haunted street in York, though of course, it is a pretty long one! For every square inch, the place seems to be teeming with ghosts, including three pubs.
At one time, it is said that York had a church for every week of the year and a pub for every day. Every Halloween, I explored several of these pubs that boast spirits of the non-liquid kind, with my Haunted Pub Tour, the first of its kind in York.
Stories researched include popular ones from the 1970s John Mitchell’s book “Ghosts of an Ancient City.” This was the book which indirectly led to the ghost walks – the tours that tell the stories of ghosts, and which have been taken up in virtually every town in the country.
Besides a rich tapestry of spirit tales, York’s vibrant Viking, Roman, Medieval and Georgian history provides us with a legacy of legendary characters. Dick Turpin, Guy Fawkes and Richard III have all walked its streets.
York has a plethora of museums and attractions, hidden passages and bizarre happenings, all of which lead to stories, sought after by tourists. Many people who are drawn to live in York start life as a tourist, as I did.
I first stood on Lendal bridge and saw the awesome Medieval towers of the Minster when I was ten years old. I had travelled by train for the day with my mother, from my home town Leeds. So began my love affair with one of the most wonderful cities of England. When we went to Cliffords Tower, I looked up at the ancient walls and a feeling ran through me that I belonged here.
In 2002, I moved to York. I became a storyteller. I believe in ghosts but I don’t need to convert anyone to think like me; I am happy to share the stories and let them inform you, entertain you, maybe give you hope beyond this world, but if you only find them amusing as a sceptic, the best of luck to you.
Stories – any stories, whether completely true or not – always contain some truth within them and their primary purpose in many cases, is simply to entertain us.