Not only does Whitby have various haunted buildings but we also have our own set of ghosts who just can’t get to the other side, either that or they enjoy spooking tourists and residents. Some of the tales in this piece are upsetting, which could suggest why these spirits feel unrested; whether they’ve perished horribly or still have unfinished business, we’ll never know why they stick around, but they do.
The Oyster Man of Whitby
In a time where oysters were a quick meal for the poor a scruffy gentleman known as the ‘Oyster Man’ would do his rounds and sell his latest catch to punters in the pubs in Whitby. Staggering around with a heavy oyster sack on his back the old man would yell “Oysters alive-oh!” and people would recognise his call and get their cheap dinner.
One cold evening the man entered the Golden Lion Inn, a pub that was always on his route but this time it was different, John Smith was in town and was looking for a fight, he zoned in on the poor Oyster Man.
After yelling some insults the Oyster Man packed up his oysters and began to leave, but couldn’t stop himself from grunting some insults of his own to John, John heard and a fight ensued. In self-defence the Oyster Man pulled out his knife and stabbed John, killing him. He was never convicted of any crime but he did live with the guilt for the rest of his life.
On cold nights you can still hear the Oyster Man with his call “Oysters alive-oh!” as his ghostly remains still walk the streets of Whitby.
Wesley Family Ghost
John Wesley was a very popular man among Whitby, his family was well respected and he completely adored Whitby, but they had one secret. It is believed that the Wesley family had their own ghost, one they were so fond of that they set a place for the spirit at the table during dinner. The ghost was considered very friendly, and very popular in the family, but when John Wesley died the ghost became anguished and would often be seen visiting places where John frequented.
It is believed that these days the ghost hangs around the chapel steps and persuades passers-by to enter the chapel as they linger by.
In a tale not for the faint hearted, we hear the story of poor Mary Clarke whose life was cut short as she perished in flames.
Sources differ as to why Mary was in the baker’s that day, some say she was there during winter to keep herself warm, others say that she was there during the summer to heat her father’s dinner up, either way, what happens next remains the same.
The baker on duty at the time turned to see the body of Mark Clarke engulfed in flames as she ran in panic, as she ran outside the flames took over her body and began burning her flesh down to the bone.
The poor girl had no chance by the time the baker had beaten the flames out of her, but still, she was breathing and he carried her to the infirmary as her skin peeled off and fell to the floor, leaving the stench of burning flesh and hair behind them.
Mary died only an hour later but her spirit still hasn’t found rest. She appears on Grape Lane some evenings, the first clue of her appearance will come from the smell of her flesh and then you will see flames, that is when Mary will appear. She stares into the eyes of those who see her, leaving a lasting impression.
Professor Renfield and the Vampire Dwarves
Many years ago on Tate Hill sands, you would have come across an elderly man performing the most celebrated Punch and Judy show you could have seen. Spectators were shocked at how lifelike the puppets actually were, but what they didn’t know was that the ‘puppets’ were real, in fact, they were vampire dwarves.
Every spring Professor Renfield would make an appearance, he’d leave in the autumn and no one would know where he would go, or where he even came from. You see, Professor Renfield had another secret, his show was just a ruse to get children to feed his little monsters. Every show they would pick a victim, then later that night they would take their silent horse drawn carriage and kidnap them, the fate of the child was is too terrible to describe.
Eventually, they were arrested and brought to trial, though before they could be sentenced Professor Renfield and Punch escaped!
It is believed that Professor Renfield and Punch still haunt the town, capturing children and feasting on them.
The Landlady of the White Horse and Griffin
During the late 19th Century, a cruel woman looked after the White Horse and Griffin. It is said that she could make her mind up about someone within a look, and most of the time she would take a dislike to someone. One night whilst walking down the outside steps she slipped, cracking her head open and being left to slowly bleed to death, alone as she had lived her life.
Reports of feeling uneasy and unwanted have come from guests of the White Horse and Griffin, almost as if there is an invisible entity telling them to leave – most believe that it is the old landlady.