Being originally from York and spending the most of my life there you become familiar of all the ghost stories, especially in the city centre.

Alot of the tales are common knowledge, some not not so much and the “ghost hunting” (a term I can’t stand) and paranormal entertainment industry are quick to jump on it with Ghost Walks and claims to be a haunted pub, building, etc. Why? It’s good advertising and it brings the punters in right?

When people think of a haunted pub in York most people will think of The Golden Fleece who certainly profit from a claim to be “York’s Most Haunted Pub” and featuring on TV’s like Most Faked – Sorry I mean Most Haunted. Not denying that it may have unexplained activity but ask some of York’s residents about the pubs there and you may be in for some surprises. Over the years and in my younger days I have probably worked at nearly every pub in the city centre. We were lucky enough to investigate two of them through making contacts.

The Artful Dodger bar, formerly Walkers Bar on Micklegate and it originally formed part of a mansion house. Beneath the pub and out of bounds to the public is a cellar over 600 years old. The cellar runs next to the Holy Trinity Church and was frequented by monks from that era. Our team had numerous strange activity down here including all 3 females experiencing strange sensations in their stomach suddenly. It was only afterwards through talking with staff we discovered that area was used for illegal abortions.

We also visited The Guy Fawkes Inn on High Petergate in York which is belived to be the birth place of the infamous plotter Guido Fawkes of 5th November fame. Out the back is the original cottage where we was said to have lived and the church opposite is where he was baptised. Here the team felt drawn to room 6 which we were told later that staff also had strange feelings about this room and as if somebody had hung themselves there. I remember whilst using the spirit board here the initials JJ came up. Through research later we found Guy Fawkes briefly changed his name to John Johnson. Coincidence? Maybe.

We also checked out The Black Swann on Peasholme Green which the building dates back to 1417. Although we were only there couple of hours and unable to conduct a proper investigation, this inn boasts it’s own share of ghost stories.

We need to remember York is a famous city which brings in thousands of tourists every year and the “Haunted” industry brings in big money, and alot of people will try and cash in on it, whether it be a haunted pub, a ghost walk tour or a “ghost hunt” group.

But what of the hundreds of other pubs in York? Because it’s not common knowledge outside of York does this mean they aren’t haunted too? Have a read and see what you think…..

The Snickleway Inn on Goodramgate, formerly The Angler’s Arms claims to have at least 3 ghosts and only one of which is ever seen. Something nasty claims to lurk in the cellar, described as being of great age and evil, whilst the apparition on the stairs is of a little friendly girl. The pub has reports of being filled with the scent of lavender also.


The Cock and Bottle on Skeldergate which is built on land once belonging to George Villiers the 2nd Duke of Buckingham, it is said that his spirit still troubles the staff and customers here. A sighting of an ugly man has been reported here which snatches crucifixes from people’s necks. I spoke with someone who has been here and stated whilst in the toilets a pair of eyes appeared in front of her and watched her.


The Red Lion on Merchantgate claims to be York’s oldest building functioning pub and built on 13th century foundations. There is a priest hole between two bedrooms and legend states Dick Turpin hid here and escaped through a window.


The York Arms on High Petergate. Here a mischievous female spook is said to scare punters in the gents toilets, it is said she could be the famous Grey Lady from the near by Theatre Royal. There are reports of poltergeist activity here also which throws cutlery around, and doors have open and closed by themselves.
The Punch Bowl on Stonegate. Going back to 1675 this pub was a meeting place for the Whigs who drank here. Long ago it was rumored to be a house of ill repute and the first ghost is believed to be of a landlord who died in the 19th century from a fire here. The second spirit however is thought to be that of a young flower seller who was strangled in an upstairs room after she rejected his advances.


The Old White Swan, on Goodramgate and known to locals as The Mucky Duck. The pub is actually made up of 9 different buildings and furniture has been reported to be rearranged in a circle overnight. Worth noting that this was used as a secret meeting place by Papists planning their escape to France. There are also reports of muffled voices, footsteps and a fire relighting itself.


The Olde Starr Inn on Stonegate. The oldest continuously licensed premises in York dates back to at least 1644. The cellar is said to date back to the 10th century and was used to shelter Royalist soldiers who fought at Marston Moor. Their dying screams have been heard calling out in the middle of the night. There are also reports of an old lady seen climbing the stairs who is only seen by children. Dogs visiting here have been said to follow unseen beings with their eyes around the pub and reports are of two black cats being bricked up here, are the dogs sensing them?


The Golden Fleece, A very popular pub with ghost enthusiasts. It dates back to 1668 although the front is mid 19th century. Reports of Lady Peckitt wandering the corridors and moving furniture are reports here. It claims to have 5 resident spirits here who have been known to cause activity.


The Roman Bath on St Sampson’s Square. As the name suggests, it has a genuine roman bath inside the pub! The spectral splashing of water has been reported here and the feeling of something brushing past them. A decorator refused to continue his work due to claiming “something” was down there. There is also one report of a blinding light that filled the pub one evening and it was in the shape of a figure, the light was seen again a few weeks later wich caused the landlord to pack is bags and leave.
The Watergate Inn on Walmgate was formerly called the Five Lions. Back in the 17th century. The cruel sport of cock fighting once took place here, and it was a favourite pastime of a squire who stayed here. It is thought he died here whilst watching the sport. Rumours are his spirit still remains.


The Stone Roses Bar on King Street, formerly known as The Grapes. Believed to once be a house of ill repute and close to the river. I heard a story here from my dad who told me a tale of a group friends having a lock in after hours. One lad went to the upstairs toilets and passed an old lady on the landing. On talking to the landlord he confirmed there was no little old lady staying there and laughed knowingly.

These are just a few haunted pubs in the city of York, talk to the residents if you want ghost stories and not organised tours who take your money.


Have you any stories from a haunted pub in York? I’m sure there a loads, and just because one place or company, etc claims to be the best doesn’t actually mean it is. Ask around to people who know.

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