Haunted to close: Astrologer gives up the ghost on spooky attraction

The Haunted House on Stonegate
14 Aug 2014 @ 12.57 pm
| History, Shopping
A shopper spots the strange window display at Haunted, Stonegate. Photographs: Alice Lavelle

York’s ghostly attraction Haunted is about to follow its spooky guests into oblivion.

The Stonegate attraction is in the process of being sold by its owner, astrologer Jonathan Cainer, to a property developer.

Its licence to continue trading runs out on Monday, August 25, when it will close. The following day spiritualists will perform ceremonies designed to “place the ghosts at peace”.

Mr Cainer, who lives in Fulford, York, said: “I have sadly had to sell the building due to my need to keep supporting various philanthropic and charitable causes, all of which require high levels of funds.”

Wetherby-based Oakgate Group is buying the three-storey property, 35 Stonegate, for an undisclosed sum. YorkMix understands that the deal has not been finalised but is expected to go through shortly.

Oakgate says on their website that they will be “undertaking sensitive renovation and development of the property to re-let it”.

At this stage, the group has not put in a planning application for the work, although details of the renovation are expected this autumn.

We understand the plan is to keep the building for retail use, rather than change its use to offices or flats.

There is expected to be a lot of interest in the Grade II* listed building in one of York’s most prestigious retail streets.

‘Why I’m selling’

jonathan-cainer-rt“I feel very privileged to have experienced such a close connection to York’s history,” Jonathan Cainer told YorkMix.

“I have sadly had to sell the building due to my need to keep supporting various philanthropic and charitable causes, all of which require high levels of funds.

“I consider it a matter of great personal responsibility to ensure that all spirits, memories, ghosts and other residual ethereal entities connected to this property are fully and properly laid to rest by a team of highly experienced spiritual mediums.

“Future inhabitants and visitors to Stonegate can rest assured that, once these ceremonies are performed, they will have no trouble with or disturbance from anything related to the past of 35 Stonegate.”

Ghostly goings on

Daily Mail astrologer Mr Cainer previously sold his horoscopes from the shop.

He joined forces with his friend Uri Geller, the international mind- and spoon-bender, to relaunch it as the Museum Of Psychic Experience in May 2004.

Visitors originally paid £15 for a tour through “mind-opening experiments, providing a personal encounter of psychic power and potential”.

One such experiment took place in the Water Room where people were transmitting negative thoughts to one glass of water, and positive ones to another. The water was then to be frozen and the ice crystals analysed in Japan for any differences.

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Visitors were tested for their ability to be see into the future, encouraged to try to move objects by the power of their minds and invited to sit in the “aura” chair to see their psychic aura reproduced in colourful lights.

TV psychic Derek Acorah filmed an episode of Ghost Towns Live at 35 Stonegate in January 2006. He was apparently strangled and tipped over the back of a chair by a lively spirit.

In February 2007 the Psychic Museum closed its doors after Mr Cainer revealed only 100 people a week were going through its doors.

It was later reborn as Haunted – “York’s most haunted house” where tourists can pay £7 for tours of the Mask Room, Lantern Room (haunted by a balding monk), Seance Room and more.

So long to the spirits

The Haunted exterior

haunted-stonegate-york-noticeThe last events are now being planned at Haunted. The final Fright Nights ghost hunt at the property will take place this Friday, August 14.

And York Paranormal’s final all-nighter is due on Sunday, August 24 – described by the group as “one last chance to investigate what is probably York’s most haunted house, in a stripped back investigation: bring what equipment you want, we will have mediums on site and we will end with revealing the curse laid upon this very site centuries earlier”.

Rachel Lacy, York’s Ghostfinder General, has revealed that there will be a ceremony at the house on Tuesday, August 26, the day after it ceases trading.

“On August 26, out of courtesy to the new owners and out of respect to the existing ‘excarnate’ occupants, a special delegation of spiritualists and mediums will perform a series of careful ceremonies in every room,” she revealed on Facebook.

“These will place the ghosts at peace, assist in laying their spirits to rest and extend an invitation to them all to forgive and move on from the past so they can take up residence in a more permanent and appropriate area of the afterlife.”

Historic house

The house belonged to glass painter JW Knowles

Number 35 Stonegate is a timber frame medieval building, the front of which dates from the 15th century. Extension further back date from between the 17th and 19th centuries.

Francis Hilyard opened his famous bookshop The Sign Of The Bible here in 1682.

According to John Hutchinson and DM Pallister in their Bartholomew City Guide to York, Laurence Sterne lodged for a time in York, “but whether the first volumes of Tristram Shandy can more properly said to have been published here (1760) under Thomas Hinxman, or at the Printing House (formerly the Bagnio or Turkish Bath) opposite St Martin’s in Coney Street, is debatable”.

The Stonegate premises remained as a bookshop until 1873, when glass painter JW Knowles acquired them “and recast the whole building to suit his tastes, with splendid disregard for authenticity”.

Much of the stained glass in the building is his work.

Unbeknown to the shoppers, the house’s cellar extends a long way beneath their feet into the middle of Stonegate.