Spooks for sale! One-of-a-kind Ghost Shop to open on historic York street

The York Ghost Merchants will open in an old shop on Shambles. Street photograph © Allan Harris on Flickr
11 Aug 2019 @ 6.21 pm
| Business, History, Shopping

Many York shops are said to be haunted. But none have actually sold ghosts – until now.

The York Ghost Merchants shop will open on Shambles in a few days, offering residents and visitors a ‘refreshingly different kind of souvenir’ – your very own, unique ghost.

It’s a genius idea for a city said to be among the most haunted in Europe.

Mysteriously, the owners are not revealing all quite yet. But YorkMix has learned…

  • the shop will have an authentic Georgian interior
  • it will sell a huge range of unique ready-made ghosts
  • and host ghost-making workshops on the first floor.

Historic home

All change at number 6 Shambles. Photograph: Richard McDougall
Dating from the 1780s, number 6 Shambles has been a bakery for many years – first as Via Vecchia, and more recently as Pinder & Scott, which closed in May.

Now though, it is being converted into The York Ghost Merchants – with an authentic Georgian interior complete with panelled walls, antique fittings and secret cupboards.

They have even rediscovered an original fireplace during the refurbishments.

The shop is due to open on Friday (16 August). That’s when you can buy your very own York ghost.

A few weeks later the ghost-making workshop will open on the first floor.

In the meantime, they are looking to recruit staff. If you are interested in joining the team, send your details to [email protected].

You can also follow the York Ghost Merchants on Instagram.

The York Ghost Merchants story

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There’s a lot of history behind the York Ghost Merchants, the new owners tell us. Here they share the story…

It is a little known but fascinating fact that York is home to a proud tradition of ghost making that stretches back many centuries.

In the 1400s, pilgrims visiting the Beckett shrine at Canterbury could buy York Ghosts carved from oak to protect them from evil. Centuries later, sailors in Nelson’s navy would whittle scrimshaw York Ghosts supplement their meagre earnings.

York Ghosts are an integral – although undeniably obscure – part of our island story.

The production of York Ghosts was traditionally overseen by The Sorrowful Guild of Master Ghost Makers from their shop at No. 6 Shambles, first occupied in 1780.

After a century of inactivity we are delighted to report the Guild is busy once again, with the Shambles store open for business under the name The York Ghost Merchants.

The current Guild Masters – Messrs Bloodworth and McArthur – are determined to revive the once great York ghost industry so that all might enjoy their wares.

They believe too many visitors leave our fine city with only knick-knacks and gee-gaws as souvenirs; the Guild are committed to providing a high quality, creative alternative.

The York Ghosts reference York’s reputation as “the city of a 1,000 ghosts” and our (admittedly unofficial) status as the most haunted city in the country – and perhaps even the world.

Margaret Clitherow – is she one of Shambles’s ghosts?

As well as choosing from a huge range of unique ready-made ghosts of delightful design, customers can – by appointment – participate in ghost-making workshops held on the first floor of the Guild’s Shambles shop.

Here, for a modest fee, senior Guild member will share time-honoured methods and arcane practices, so that customers leave with a unique ghost created by them to their exact specifications, ready in 40 minutes (opening October 2019).

In short, those seeking an unusual gift or quirky alternative to mass-produced tourist tat will find what they seek at The York Ghost Merchants, No. 6 The Shambles.