York, England: The Most Haunted City in the World?

In the October issue of Traveler, we featured Edward Readicker-Henderson’s story on York, possibly the world’s most haunted city. In case you ever are in York and want to do some paranormal investigation of your own, here are the spots you should check out.

The spirit of George Villiers, who inspired the nursery rhyme “Georgie Porgie, puddin’ and pie,” supposedly haunts the Cock and Bottle Pub. Guys, you don’t have too much to worry about. George prefers to appear to naked women. 

Clifford’s Tower, which sits on a hill and provides amazing views of York, was a refuge for Jews in the 12th century when an angry anti-Semitic mob rioted against them. Instead of leaving the tower and dying at the hands of their persecutors, many of the Jews committed suicide. Others died when the building was set on fire. Every year, Clifford’s Tower supposedly turns red, or drips with blood, on the anniversary of the event.

Other famous York attractions are said to be haunted as well. A monk known as the “Black Abbot” roams around the ruins of St. Mary’s Abbey, a Benedictine monastery founded in 1055.

Not far from the abbey stands York Minster, northern Europe’s oldest Gothic cathedral. It is home to the spirit of a deceased parishioner who has been known to attend services. 

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In a small house behind York Minster, a young girl is said to appear in the upstairs window. Story has it that the child started showing symptoms during the Black Plague, so her parents locked her in her room and fled. Some say the girl is still awaiting her parents’ return.

The most talk-about haunted building in York is the Treasurer’s House, also located behind York Minster. In 1953, a man named Harry Martindale was putting a new boiler in the basement of the house. He heard trumpet blasts then saw a legion of disheveled Roman soldiers with their horses. As one might expect, Harry fled the building as soon as possible, but noticed that the soldiers were only visible above the knees. Researchers later discovered an old Roman highway that lay knee deep under the foundation of the Treasurer’s house. It seems that the soldiers were walking along that road.

With about 140 ghosts and over 500 recorded hauntings, York won’t disappoint you ghost hunters out there. But, keep this advice in mind. Just showing up to a haunted site doesn’t guarantee you’ll see a ghost. “I think you’ve got to want to see a ghost,” Mark Graham, who has been leading the Original Ghost Walk of York for 30 years, told Readicker-Henderson. provides “hunting tips” to optimize your chances of a sighting. For instance, familiarize yourself with haunted sights during the day before heading out to investigate at night, and always bring a friend along. You’ll need a notebook to keep track of details, extra batteries for your audio recorder and cameras, and most importantly, patience. The spirits need time to get used to your presence.

Photos: Jim Richardson for National Geographic Traveler