There’s no shortage of haunted places in York, it being ranked as the most haunted city in Europe, if not the world. Every little alley and historical street are said to be stalked by spirits. Among the more famous phantasms are “Mad” Alice Smith, who patrols Lund’s Court (formerly known as Mad Alice Lane, for obvious reason), and notorious highwayman Dick Turpin, who haunts the site of his hanging near York Racecourse.

    As there’s no precise method of measuring how many ghosts inhabit a place, there are plenty of claimants for the title of the most haunted building in York, with many of them being pubs. We’ve picked out some of the most interesting spots around the city – absolute must-visits if you’re looking for York’s spookiest sites.

    1

    York Dungeon

    Experience the frightening and funny horrors

    • Families

    A visit to York Dungeon will take you through 2,000 years of York's dark history with a comedic twist. This attraction features funny historical characters that can take the whole family through different eras of history that let you see, hear and smell York's historic horrors. 

    From the Viking invasion to Guy Fawkes' Gunpowder Plot to Dick Turpin's time as an infamous highwayman, the live shows here are sure to delight. The special effects work and commitment of the talented actors have won this attraction awards in the past, so you won't find shows like this anywhere else in town.

    Location: 12 Clifford Street, York YO1 9RD, UK

    Open: Daily from 10 am to 5 pm

    Phone: +44 (0)1904 632599

    Map

    photo by Kaly99 (CC BY-SA 3.0) modified

    2

    Ye Olde Starr Inne

    York’s oldest pub

    • History
    • Nightlife

    As the name suggests, Ye Olde Starre Inne is said to be the oldest pub in York. While it certainly holds the title of the venue that has been licensed the longest (since 1644!), there’s some dispute over which pub is in the oldest building. The grade II-listed Olde Starre Inn on Stonegate also claims of being York’s most haunted pub, with a couple of black cats being among the resident spooks.

    In terms of its credentials as a pub, Ye Olde Starr Inn is fairly conventional. Expect typical British pub grub and a good selection of beers. Being in a busy part of town and with its various claims to fame, the pub is naturally particularly popular with tourists, though it has its share of local regulars (other than the ghosts), too.

    Location: 40 Stonegate, York YO1 8AS, UK

    Phone: +44 (0)1904 623063

    Map

    photo by Malcolmxl5 (CC BY-SA 4.0) modified

    3

    The Treasurer’s House

    A beautiful building with a very long history

    • History
    • Photo

    The Treasurer’s House is a Grade I listed building and, as the name suggests, was once the house of York Minster’s first treasurer. The house and its beautiful garden were later bought and renovated by a wealthy industrialist but now belong to the National Trust. The luxurious interiors are well worth checking out.

    The house was originally built over a Roman road – Roman-era column bases were even unearthed during renovations, one of which can be seen in the cellar. You may also find some famous ghosts down there. In 1953, a plumber working on the house saw a carthorse emerge through a brick wall, followed by a slightly shabby column of Roman reserve legionaries.

    Location: Minster Yard, York YO1 7JL, UK

    Phone: +44 (0)1904 624247

    Map

    photo by dun_deagh (CC BY-SA 2.0) modified

    4

    York Minster

    The historical heart of the city

    • History
    • Photo
    • Budget

    York Minster is one of the most important religious buildings in England – the seat of the Archbishop of York. Among the largest of its kind in Northern Europe, it retains its title as the tallest building in the city (at 236 ft) thanks to an obscure but still faithfully honoured local law. While there have been churches on the site for a long time before, the current building dates to AD 627.

    Of course, with so much history comes a lot of ghosts. Among the most popular stories comes from the 1920s, when a couple of tourists were approached by a sailor. He whispered to one of the women and then departed. It turned out that she had made a pact with her brother, stating that the sibling that died first would come back to confirm the existence of an afterlife. Her brother had been killed at sea but returned to honour the pact.

    Location: Deangate, York YO1 7HH, UK

    Open: Monday–Saturday from 9 am to 4.30 pm, Sunday from 12.45 pm to 3 pm

    Phone: +44 (0)1904 557200

    Map
    5

    The Golden Fleece

    Spend the night at this haunted pub

    • History
    • Nightlife
    • Unusual

    The Golden Fleece is one of the many pubs in York claiming the title of being the most haunted. The pub’s most famous spook is that of Lady Alice Peckitt, wife of a former Lord Mayor of York, who used to live next door. Other resident spirits include that of a Canadian airman who fell to his death from an upstairs window, as well as One-Eyed Jack, who sits in the bar with a pistol in his 16th-century red coat.

    As pubs go, it’s quite a pleasant one. It’s in a convenient location with 4 cosy bedrooms upstairs. Do you dare spend the night? If not, maybe just enjoy the extensive selection of wines and local ales, as well as a varied menu of snacks and meals.

    Location: 16 Pavement, York YO1 9UP, UK

    Phone: +44 (0)1904 620491

    Map
    6

    Yorkshire Museum

    Learn about Yorkshire’s history from as far back as the dinosaurs

    • Couples
    • Families
    • History
    • Photo

    The Yorkshire Museum and the beautiful gardens surrounding it is a historical highlight of the city. Through an extensive selection of artefacts, the museum tells the story of the region right back to the Jurassic era. The museum also incorporates the historical structures around the main museum, including an observatory, the ruins of an 11th-century abbey and the York Art Gallery.

    Being a historical structure, the museum naturally has its share of ghosts. The most famous is a man in Georgian clothes, who is reportedly very interested in a particular book from the museum’s library. He repeatedly pulls it off the shelf, always on Sunday evenings.

    Location: Museum Gardens, Museum Street, York YO1 7FR, UK

    Open: Daily from 10 am to 5 pm

    Phone: +44 (0)1904 687687

    Map
    7

    Snickleway Inn

    A cellar full of evil spirits and good ales

    • Nightlife
    • Unusual

    The Snickleway Inn is one of the many pubs in York claiming to be the most haunted in the city and, indeed, the country. It’s one of few that includes a malevolent spirit in their claim, with an undefined presence of “great and utter evil” in the cellar – perhaps a result of having been used as a Royalist magazine during the English Civil War. Gentler apparitions include that of an elderly man seen walking through the back wall.

    Fortunately, the cellar also contains something more pleasant – a healthy supply of English ales. The clientele is mostly old locals (other than the aforementioned ghost, of course), but the occasional niche music nights liven up the atmosphere a bit.

    Location: 47 Goodramgate, York YO1 7LS, UK

    Open: Sunday–Wednesday from noon to 11 pm, Thursday from noon to midnight, Friday–Saturday from noon to 1 am

    Phone: +44 (0)1904 656138

    Map

    photo by Chabe01 (CC BY-SA 4.0) modified

    8

    York Mansion House

    The first purpose-built Lord Mayor’s house in England

    • History
    • Unusual

    The York Mansion House is the home of the Lord Mayors of the city during their time in office – basically, York’s own 10 Downing Street or White House. The grand building itself dates back to 1725 but some of the artefacts you can see inside are even older. For example, the house contains one of the largest civic silver collections in England, including a chamber pot dating from 1669.

    The Mansion House turns into a haunted house during October as it hosts a family-friendly ghost tour in the run-up to Halloween. While exploring the historical rooms and seemingly endless curiosities, you might encounter some spooky sounds and creepy goings-on yourself.

    Location: St. Helen’s Square, York YO1 9QL, UK

    Open: Wednesday–Sunday from 10.30 am to 5 pm (closed from Mondays and Tuesdays)

    Phone: +44 (0)1904 553663

    Map

    photo by Neil Espina (CC BY 2.0) modified

    9

    Barley Hall

    A great glimpse into medieval life

    • History
    • Photo
    • Unusual

    Barley Hall is something of a hidden gem in York, being found down the very narrow Coffee Yard alley off Stonegate. In fact, it used to be hidden behind a modern façade, until its ancient skeleton was revealed during extensive renovations. Originally dating from about 1360, the hall has had a series of prominent owners throughout its history but is now a living museum of medieval life.

    If you visit around Christmas, you might be treated to tales of ghosts and ghouls. Among them are a white-faced woman with a manic laugh and the lost boy of York – a child of aged 10 or 11 who is regularly glimpsed from the corner of visitors’ eyes.

    Location: 2 Coffee Yard, York YO1 8AR, UK

    Open: Daily from 10 am to 5 pm

    Phone: +44 (0)1904 615505

    Map

    photo by Fingalo (CC BY-SA 2.0) modified

    10

    York Theatre Royal

    An old theatre with a modern design

    • Families
    • History
    • Nightlife
    • Unusual

    The York Theatre Royal is a grand old building near the Minster, but it has a modern interior providing a comfortable and enjoyable evening. Built in 1744, the theatre is a Grade II-listed building that has been refurbished several times through its long history. You can expect to see dramas, comedies, musicals and performances by stand-up comics and conversations with celebrities.

    You may also see a ghost or 2 at the York Theatre Royal. The room behind the dress circle is said to be haunted by the Grey Lady – a lovestruck young nun who fell for a nobleman. When her blasphemous romance was discovered, the story goes, the nun was bricked up in a windowless room. She seems not to hold a grudge because sightings of the Grey Lady are considered a good omen in the theatre.

    Location: St Leonard's Pl, York YO1 7HD, UK

    Open: Hours vary by showtimes (closed on Sundays)

    Phone: +44 (0)1904 623568

    Map
    11

    Henry VII Experience

    Discover medieval York at Micklegate Bar

    • Families
    • History
    • Photo
    • Unusual

    The Henry VII Experience at Micklegate Bar, as well as the corresponding Richard III Experience at Monk Bar, together tell the story of the Wars of the Roses. The family-friendly museums are an excellent introduction to medieval York and the beginning of the Tudor dynasty.

    The bars themselves – extravagant gateways through York’s striking city walls – are fascinating attractions, though Micklegate Bar has a somewhat gruesome past. Once one of the main entrances to the city, it was where the heads of traitors were displayed after their former owners had been hanged, drawn and quartered.

    Location: Micklegate, York YO1 6JX, UK

    Open: Daily from 10 am to 4 pm

    Phone: +44 (0)1904 615505

    Map

    photo by Tim Green (CC BY 2.0) modified

    12

    35 Stonegate

    Possibly the most haunted house in the UK

    • Shoppers
    • History
    • Unusual

    From the outside, 35 Stonegate is a perfectly nondescript building – just another shop along a popular street of them. However, its unremarkable exterior conceals what is said to be the most haunted house in York and possibly the entire UK. While the property has previously been featured on various ghost-related TV shows and used to take full advantage of its reputation, it has since been renovated for use as an ordinary shop.

    It’s said that a house has stood on the site for over 1,000 years (though the current building was constructed in 1482) and that it now contains at least 14 different ghosts. Among them is a balding monk, an elegant Georgian lady, and a black-clad prankster known as Tom.

    Location: 35 Stonegate, York YO1 8AW, UK

    Map

    photo by Malcolmxl5 (CC BY-SA 4.0) modified

    Ben Reeves | Compulsive Traveller

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