York ghost hunter Ryan Willis picks out some of his favourite, lesser-known spooky stories
Everyone knows that York is one of the most haunted cities in the UK, with a thousand-year history of people living and dying here.
And some ghosts are veritably famous. You’re probably familiar with the Roman legion that marches through the basement of Treasurer’s House, and with Margaret Clitherow the Pearl of York.
But our new ghostly experience is introducing tourists and locals alike to some lesser known spirits that stalk the streets.
Described as a walking puzzle game like an outdoor escape room, Ghost Quest York is a team game that guides players through the heart of York, solving puzzles, cracking clues, and unlocking ghost stories as they go.
The final puzzle is from York’s spookiest ghost, and players who can successfully crack it are rewarded with a tasty prize!
Here, the Ghost Quest York team have picked out a fantastic selection of ghost stories in the city – here are just some of the ones you may not have heard of before:
The Drowned Sailor
Most often sighted by the grand east window of York Minster, the drowned sailor is said to appear when there’s a mighty storm at sea and the waves are crashing against the cliffs at Flamborough Head.
He first appeared to his sister at the moment of his death. She would walk by York Minster every morning, praying for his safe return, until one stormy morning she was greeted by a ghostly vision of his waterlogged spirit floating as though in water, and she knew he’d perished.
Airman Geoff Monroe
This spooky story dates back to the Second World War, when Canadian airman Geoff Monroe was staying at the Golden Fleece on Pavement, York.
Having had a few too many drinks one evening, Monroe tripped and fell – to his death – from the window on the third floor. Now he appears to guests in the middle of the night wearing his full uniform, and some say he’s still drunk after all these years!
Maid of Stonegate
In feudal Britain, a nobleman and his wife lived on Stonegate, but when he approached the maid of their household with his affections, a secret affair began. In time she became pregnant, and their secret was revealed.
None could have anticipated the murderous rage shown by the nobleman’s wife, but to keep the scandalous news from spreading, they quietly buried the body of the maid, and her unborn child where they still remain under the paving slabs of Stonegate.
Lord Thomas Percy
In the 1570s, Lord Thomas Percy, 7th Earl of Northumberland, was a proud Catholic and stood against Queen Elizabeth I who was passing many anti-Catholic measures into law.
While planning to depose the queen and replace her with Mary Queen of Scots, he was caught and publicly beheaded on Pavement in York. His head was mounted on a spike on Micklegate Bar.
On a clear night, you can see his headless form stumbling down Micklegate, trying to get his head back.
The Treasurer’s cat
Often overshadowed by the tale of Roman soldiers marching through the basement of Treasurer’s House, the ghost of the Treasurer’s cat is one of the most often seen, but least often recognised spirits in this list.
Details of the ghost cat are scarce, but all reports agree that visitors to the tea rooms of the Treasurer’s House are often surprised to see the tail of a cat whisk around the corner, only to vanish into thin air!
No living cats currently reside at the property, but if you visit before 12 November 2023 you’ll see a ghost cat sculpture in the gardens, as part of the Ghosts in the Gardens event created by York BID!
To find out more about these ghosts and many others, treat your friends and family to a spooky puzzle game over Halloween with Ghost Quest York To find out more and book your game, go here.