York is an incredibly old English city, located in North Yorkshire. It was first founded by the Romans, then Viking settlers, and then finally the English. Because of this constant change over of residents, religion, and tradition, the city has a colourful and far reaching history making it a popular stopping spot on a tour of England. It also happens to be one of the most haunted places in England if you are a fan of scary stories and ghost chasing!
We had an incredible time in the city even if we were freezing by nightfall and yes, we even did a ghost tour and it made me rethink every place I had been that day.
Clifford’s Tower was the first stopping point. It is the 13th century ruins of and the largest remaining part of York Castle and naturally, it is supposedly haunted. The original timber building on the same site was burned down in 1190 after a Jewish group were besieged in the tower and committed mass-suicide before the tower was burned down by an angry mob. Not exactly a nice story but the ruins are still well-visited nonetheless. It is somewhat on the outskirts of the main city area but it isn’t hard to find and it’s a stopping point worth checking out.
After the tower we made it to the historical area of York, including where some of the most haunted pubs in Britain are located. The Golden Fleece was one of the places we passed, and of course, it claims to be the most haunted public house in York. I thought it just looked kind of quirky during the day but when we were in Lady Pecketts Yard, behind the pub during the tour that night, all the lights went off at one point. I’m hoping it was just an electrical fault.
Next to the Golden Fleece is Sir Thomas Herbert’s House, a heritage listed building in the Tudor style that is well worth seeing, even if only to question how it still remains upright.
The Shambles was the next stop. It is a wonderful area to wander through and definitely the busiest part of York. It is a picturesque street of old butcher stores, designed in a particular way that they could hang their meat from hooks outside without it being in direct sunlight. The street, full of well preserved 14th and 15th century buildings, is now home to many little independent shops and too many Harry Potter themed shops to count. You can definitely see how this street inspired Diagon Alley! It was here that we had lunch, at the Guy Fawkes Inn, but there are many other pubs and restaurants you could also check out, or sweet shops if you only require a snack.
The York Minster is one of the largest cathedrals in Northern Europe and it has existed in some form since the 600s. It is a spectacular building to survey and takes a good while to walk around. The structure is a great example of Gothic architecture and shockingly, it is also allegedly haunted. The Minster is also a good reference point in the city if you happen to get lost.
By late afternoon we made it to the York City Walls. Initially built by the Romans, and restored by the Danes, the City Walls of York are quite impressive and still largely intact. They offer great elevated views of the city and are drum-roll…completely free to walk across. We followed the walls around the York Minster, taking in breathtaking sunset views of the Cathedral as well as squirrel spotting in the park below.
Ghost Tour time. By the evening, after a traditional York roast dinner, we began our Ghost Tour. Over two hours we followed the twists and turns of York’s medieval alleyways, listening to tales of sightings and superstitions. There was a definite change in atmosphere once the sun goes down in York, or maybe it was just the change in weather (we were there in January so sub-zero temperatures may have impacted the mood)? Regardless, even the most sceptical of our group were intrigued by the end. There are multiple ghost tours on offer in the city so you will have no trouble finding one to try.
Of all the places we went to Mad Alice lane, now Lund’s Court, had the most haunted vibe. It is a lane way in York on the Shambles that, unlike the others, is largely avoided by locals and tourists alike. When in the alley way we were told a story of a local girl who had lived in the house next to the lane. She could allegedly roll her eyes back into her head when in a rage and her parents kept her inside because of this, though people could still see her in the alley way through the window. I’ve also heard other versions that she was impacted by the plague. I have no idea if the story is true or not but I can tell you that I was not feeling the area and to make matters worse, all the windows in the lane are glossed so you cannot see through them clearly, owing to past haunting’s apparently. Needless to say, we were eager for our tour guide to keep moving.
York is a fantastic city to visit and I really enjoyed my time there. With its well-preserved medieval architecture and endless amount of pubs, the city is like a living museum, filled with people keen for a chat and to share a haunted tale or two. Every new lane takes you on an adventure and whether you believe it is haunted or not, the stories are well worth a listen!