Haunted Places to visit in Bristol this Halloween
If you are looking to be spooked this Halloween or are just interested in the darker history of Bristol, then read our list of some of the most haunted spots in the city. There are goosebump-inducing tales of the supernatural and mystical goings-on, so, keep reading if you dare…
Halloween is traditionally the time when things go bump in the night. In the Bristol area, there are decade-old stories of ghosts and ghouls haunting homes, churches, pubs and a variety for other places at all times of the year.
On clear, moonlit nights, there are stories of a headless horseman circling Ashton Court Estate. Also, ladies dressed in grey and even phantom hounds. While workers were carrying out renovations on the mansion, they said they would arrive each morning to find their equipment scattered about, no matter how neatly they had left them the night before.
A phantom monk dressed in grey is said to lurk around Bristol Cathedral and nearby Central Library, always appearing around 4.30pm. He is not to be confused with All Saints’ second ghost, a monk dressed in black who was spotted walking down the church aisle around Christmas 1948.
A solider was executed on College Green. He had been condemned to death and promptly executed for deserting an England / Scotland conflict, the trooper now drifts around the green in the early morning hours.
During the first year of opening in 1975, many strange sightings were witnessed at Bristol Fire Station. Over time, experienced fire crews have reported seeing odd characters in the building, and on one occasion the Cook chased a figure out of the kitchen. It is thought that the reason for these ghostly encounters is because the fire station is built on the location of an ancient 12th Century Knights Templar garrison.
The famous Bristol Old Vic is the country’s longest continuously running theatre, and its past has some eerie secrets to spill. The spectre of Sarah McCreadie, a long-serving Theatre Manager who worked there over two hundred years ago, is said to haunt the front of house area. A security guard and his dog once followed her down the box office steps out of the building. Sightings of her have often been accompanied by the smell of lavender.
The busy train station of Bristol Temple Meads formed the backdrop for a dramatic act of passion and heartbreak in October 1917. On Platform 5, Private Albert Cross was returning to active duty in France. He was saying goodbye to his wife Bessie when she told him she had fallen pregnant by another man. He coldly shot her with his rifle and handed himself into the police.
Brunel’s world-famous ship, the SS Great Britain, is reportedly still occupied by many spectres of former passengers and crew from its two centuries of public service. The most famous is Captain John Gray, who disappeared on 26th November 1872 during a voyage to Australia. Legend has it that he committed suicide by leaping from his cabin window. His hobnail boots can still be heard scratching the ship’s deck, scraping and banging on the wooden floors as he stomps up and down the boat.
Other sightings include a sailor who is rumoured to have fatally fallen from the rigging, and Mrs Cohen, a young bride who died on board the ship just weeks after her wedding. In 2005 a whole group of workers claimed to have seen a mysterious woman walking the Promenade deck just a few days before the ship’s public re-launch.
The presence of these spirits is so strong that TV’s Most Haunted said the ship is one of the ‘top-five’ most haunted places they’ve ever been.
Nowadays Christmas Steps is a characterful, historic shopping street. It is open all year round, despite its seasonal name. Once known as Knyfesmyth Street after the tradesmen who plied their wares, this narrow medieval lane was also briefly renamed Lonsford’s Stairs for a Cavalier officer killed on the steps during the Civil War. Other ghostly sightings include a young Victorian girl and a woman dressed in black who joined an inhabitant at their dinner table. Back in the 1660s, the Gallows were also here. People walking towards Colston Street have heard a man screaming for his life at the location.
The famous landmark, the Clifton Suspension Bridge, was designed by one of the Bristol’s best-known historical figures, Isambard Kingdom Brunel. Fewer know, however, that the engineer never lived to see the completion of this one of his most grand and iconic projects. His distinctive top-hatted figure is said to walk the nearby paths of Leigh Woods, and to stand at a viewpoint over the gorge, as if overseeing the construction of the impressive suspension bridge.
Sadly, many have chosen to end their lives by jumping from the towering bridge into the shallow river valley that runs through the gorge below. These days there are signs up around the bridge, urging those in distress to call the Samaritans for help before making that irreversible leap. Regularly, Bristolians travelling across the bridge have reported seeing glimpses of dark silhouettes near that fateful drop. The ghost of a young man, dressed in modern clothing, has been seen many times hurrying through Leigh Woods, in the direction of the bridge.
This historic pub has been a popular drinking spot for actors, seamen and even pirates since 1664. Paranormal activity is said to take place on the upper floor with staff describing having heard a disabled boy with a metal plate on his leg crying and pulling himself around the old wooden floorboards.
Robinson Crusoe is allegedly based on Alexander Selkirk, a shipwrecked sailor, whom author Daniel Defoe met in the Llandoger Trow. Robert Louis Stevenson’s, Treasure Island was also supposed to have been inspired here too.
More recently, its supernatural intrigue has brought the old tavern TV fame, when it appeared on SKY Living’s “Most Haunted Live!” back in 2007. The show made the claim that there are actually more than 15 ghosts haunting the premises. Little documentation is available about many of these spectral characters…
Hauntings and old things often go hand in hand – so next up we have Bristol’s oldest unsolved murder in Bristol’s oldest cinema, the Odeon on Union Street.
On a summer’s evening, during a 1946 screening of Rudyard Kipling’s “The Light That Failed,” five gunshots rang out in Theatre 3. No heads turned, and nobody in the audience was unduly alarmed, as the shots were part of the film. Later, the cinema manager, Robert Parrington-Jackson, was found dead, lying on the floor his office, a gunshot wound to the head, and no weapon in sight. The shots in the film had disguised the sound of a real murder. The scene could have looked like an attempted robbery, but nothing had been stolen from the victim or even touched. The keys to the office safe, into which the cinema manager had recently deposited his life’s savings, were still in his pocket.
Speculations were wild, and police followed leads to a suspected jealous lover. Still, the case remained cold until nearly 50 years later. The son of a man known as William ’Billy The Fish’ Fisher, turned up at a Cardiff police station in a state of distress, with a report of his father’s deathbed confession. Billy the Fish, a petty thief from Wales, had admitted to the killing of Robert Parrington Jackson.
But the case remains officially unsolved, and the ghost of Mr Jackson is said to still haunt the cinema. Visitors to Screen 3, have seen the manager appear in the third row and in the corridor leading to the entrance of the screen itself. There have also been reports of ‘cold spots’ and unexplained banging.
A monk used to hold mass on the Oldbury Court Estate at a time when Catholics were being persecuted, and so to hide from the authorities he would clamber into a small space called the Priest’s Hole. On one occasion he became trapped and starved to death and is now most often sighted by the footbridge, only to fade away into nothing when approached.
Back in the 18th Century, murderous highwaymen frequented this road in Clifton. Formerly known as All Gallows Lane, the junction at the top of Pembroke Road (where it meets Clifton Down) is said to be haunted by a dwarf highwayman called Jenkins Protheroe. The thief used to rob people near this location, and when he was eventually caught in 1783, he was hung on the site of his crimes and buried on the grass junction at the top of the road. Protheroe’s ghost can be seen climbing down from the gallows on misty evenings.
St Nicholas Market is nearly 300 years old and is a must-visit stop for the Christmas Markets. However, its historic scandal is ingrained on the décor. Around the outside of the main hall, there are a dozen heads all looking in towards the middle, apart from two, which are turning their heads to look at each other. Rumour has it this is because those two women were the wife and mistress of the building’s architect, John Wood. So, a bit of bad blood there then!
All Saint’s House on the corner of Corn Street, where you find St Nicolas Market, also reports spooky goings-on. Mr and Mrs Jones, who lived in the vicarage, in April 1846 were so plagued by a nocturnal poltergeist that Mrs Jones leapt out of her bedroom window in fright. Jones was reported by the Devizes and Wiltshire Gazette of “being certain…that we will die if we sleep another night in the house”.
All Saint’s Church, next door to All Saint’s House, was built in the 12th Century. It is believed that one of the monks murdered by Henry VIII’s troops in the 16th Century haunts the church, protecting the hidden valuables from the King’s troops. Air raid wardens in World War II claimed to have seen him walking through the pews talking to himself…and the treasure has never been found.
Dower House – the yellow castle-like building that drivers will recognise from the M32 approach into Bristol. Back in 1760 a 17-year old girl called Elizabeth Somerset, the Duchess of Beaufort, fell from her horse and died due to a broken neck. Walkers have reported hearing a horse galloping around the grounds near the monument built to commemorate her at the top of the hill.
If this isn’t spooky enough, throughout the twentieth century, the property was used as a mental hospital. Though the institution closed its doors for good in 1988 and since, the building has been converted into 12 flats.
One of the country's oldest Coaching Inns, the Rummer Hotel occupies a listed building in Bristol’s medieval Old City. Once frequented by hugely significant historical figures like Elizabeth I and later, Oliver Cromwell, the establishment is rumoured to be home to several spirits. A tour visiting in 2007 witnessed the torso of a man standing in front of the open fireplace while they were enjoying a meal and there have also been sightings of a ghostly young girl… The Rummer was also the location of the first-ever Freemasons meeting in 1735.
The White Hart pub originally formed part of St James’ Priory and dates back to 1674. It was the scene of a murder in the 1700s when two brothers had a brawl over land in the main bar area. The brother who was killed is said to haunt the building to this day, and strange orbs have been witnessed on the pub's CCTV.
After all that excitement, you might like to settle down somewhere that’s sure to be fun and friendly for a good meal or a couple of drinks. Chophouse Bar & Restaurant is not known for being haunted by ghosts, but are haunted by a crowd of satisfied customers!
Chophouse is open for breakfast, brunch, lunch and evening a-la-carte dining, all year round and will offer a warm welcome to any ghost-hunters in need of refreshment. You could even indulge on our Bloodsucker cocktail or mocktail.
Restaurant reservations can be made by calling 0117 304 1020, by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org, or online:
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