There are lots of spooky York ghost stories that come from all over the city. During your next visit, we encourage you to go on one of the great ghost walks around the centre of town. You’ll learn all about the spectres thought to haunt the city.
In the meantime, we thought we’d share some of our favourite York ghost stories with you.
Image credit: Treasurer’s House National Trust
Roman soldiers in the Treasurer’s House
This is one of the most popular York ghost stories – for good reason! Harry Martindale was working in the basement of the house in 1953 to replace the boiler. While he was at work, he was startled by the sound of a trumpet.
As he looked up to discover the source of the noise, he saw a Roman soldier’s helmet emerging from the wall he was working against. The figure fully emerged and was reported to be holding a trumpet, the sound from which Harry could actually hear! Following the trumpet player came a horse and a group of other soldiers walking two abreast. He said that they were carrying round shields, short swords and looked tired and dirty in their green tunics.
Harry at first could only see the Romans from the knees upwards. Later excavations into the basement revealed the remains of a Roman road on which the soldiers were walking, underneath the current level of the ground. That was why Harry had been unable to see their feet!
The tale was first dismissed as Roman soldiers weren’t thought to wear green, or to carry round shields. Further research into the subject has revealed that during the fourth century AD, troops carrying distinctive round shields replaced the Sixth Legion in York.
On your next visit to the Treasurer’s House in York, make sure you take a trip into the basement to see the Roman road. You might even glimpse something more haunting too…
Young plague girl
There’s a house next to York Minster with a small window. Passers-by have often recounted seeing a small girl looking out from the window and wonder who she is looking for.
It is believed that she started to present with symptoms of the Black Plague, so rather than stay with her, her parents locked her in the small room and fled. It seems that to this day she has never left and is still hoping that her parents might return.
Haunted library in the Yorkshire Museum
There have been multiple sightings of an elderly man in a distinctive frock coat in the library in the Yorkshire Museum. The figure is said to be frantically searching for a lost book and unhappy to be caught in the act.
The museum’s caretaker was the first to report a sighting in 1953. He was starting a shift early on a cold September morning and knew there should be nobody else in the museum. However, he heard hurried footsteps in the library, so went to investigate.
As the caretaker entered the room, he saw a figure dressed in old fashioned clothing. The figure was muttering to itself, saying “I must find it, I must find it.”
The caretaker cleared his throat to announce his presence and informed the man that the museum was closed and that he shouldn’t be there. As the words left his mouth, the figure disappeared completely. The caretaker searched the whole property for him, but never found a trace.
He isn’t the only one to have seen this figure either. Mildred, a cleaner for the museum, has also reported a sight of a man in old fashioned clothing. She was cleaning the floors when a man walked past her and right through the locked doors into the library.
Since the staff were incredibly concerned by their sightings, a team was put together to investigate the figure. They spent time in the library hoping to see the figure themselves. While no man appeared, they did witness a book fly across the room.
The old library is now the museum gift shop, so if you see a man searching for a book on your next visit, don’t interfere…
The Black Abbot
The Black Abbot has been seen walking around the Museum Gardens and St Mary’s Abbey remains at all times of the day or night. The Abbot shows absolutely no interest in the comings and goings of living humans in the gardens and continues on with his regular routine. If you’re lucky, you could catch snippets of him about his business and you enjoy the gardens.
The 1st Duke of Buckingham
George Villiers, the 1st Duke of Buckingham, lived from 1592 to 1628. That hasn’t stopped him though! He’s said to haunt the Cock and Bottle Pub, harassing ladies in the establishment.
In life, he was known for his debauchery and that appears to continue on long after his death. Women have reported being manhandled in the toilets of the pub. The landlord has even had to chase the ghost away from watching his wife in the shower!
When not causing chaos for women in the pub, the figure of George can been seen sitting in a chair next to the fireplace. The Cock and Bottle is built on the former site of George’s alchemical laboratory, which is thought to be why his ghost haunts the place.
Roaming Marmaduke Buckle
The final of our York ghost stories is a sad one. It follows the wandering spectre of Marmaduke Buckle who can be found in The Snickleway Inn and La Piazza on Goodramgate. Marmaduke lived in the building between 1697 and 1715 and had a severe physical disability.
His wealthy family offered him little protection when others of the time accused him of witchcraft. Poor Marmaduke found himself unable to go on with his life hidden away and persecuted. He carved 1697, his birth date, 1715, his death date, and his initials into a beam and hung himself. He was just 18 years old.
You can still see the carvings in the beam today in the attic of La Piazza. And that’s not the only part of Marmaduke’s sad tale to remain. His ghost moves between the buildings, slamming doors and flicking light switches. He’s even thought to have attempted to push someone down the stairs in The Snickleway.