Whitby has plenty to offer any tourist who dares to stay the night! So is Whitby haunted? These Whitby ghost stories will send a shiver down your spine.
The small town of Whitby in Yorkshire was the setting for the famous Bram Stoker’s Dracula, and its cobbled streets and quaint cottages have helped it to become one of the most well known gothic towns in the world. While Whitby seems a quiet fishing town by day, at night it has become known for its many ghostly apparitions.
Is Whitby Haunted?
We've heard a lot of ghostly stories during our trips to Whitby. It is said that the ghost of St. Hilda, who founded Whitby Abbey is rumoured to roam the Abbey, where she peeks from one of the highest windows. This ghost also gained fame with her mention in Bram Stoker’s Dracula, but she is not alone in her ghostly haunting.
She is joined by Constance de Beverley, a nun who broke her vows of chastity. When this was brought to light, she was bricked up alive inside the Abbey walls, and her ghost is still heard today pleading for her release.
There are more of Whitby’s ghosts found in one of the two lighthouses on its coast. One lighthouse is said to be visited by a one-armed ghost of a man who fell to his death onto the rocks under the lighthouse.
This entity does much more than simply try to scare visitors to the location, he attempts to trip them so they can join him in his death.
Whitby is also home to the Barguest Hound, which is said to be a glowing-eyed hound of hell. This hound is said to roam the streets, and only those who are going to die soon are able to hear it deathly growl.
There are several hotels that are said to be home to many ghostly visitors, the oldest being a Tudor mansion built in 1516. Bagdale Hall is said to be haunted by its former owner Browne Bushell, who was executed for his acts of piracy.
The ghost of Browne is said to roam the halls and stairways and has also been blamed for several reports of poltergeist activity within the Hall.
The streets of Whitby are also home to many ghostly apparitions that are said to meander through the streets after dark. One of the ghostly wanderers is the Barguest Coach, which is pulled to the graves of sailors in St. Mary’s Churchyard by a team of headless horses. The passengers are the skeletons of sailors who make the trip on the third day after the funeral to pay their respects and gather the corpses of the fallen sailors so they can join them.
Whitby’s haunted locations and its role in Dracula have made it a prime location for the goth crowd. Whitby is home to the Whitby Goth Weekend, which is a twice per year gathering of those who consider themselves to be goths.
This bi-yearly festival was begun by Jo Hampshire in 1994 and has grown to accommodate all of the alternative lifestyle followers, including Goths, Punks, Emos, and Steampunks from all over the world. The festival weekend consists of drinking, music, dancing, and shopping, and has become one of the most popular goth events in the world.
For more information visit www.whitbygothweekend.co.uk
5 Haunted Places in Whitby
Whitby is one of the most famous seaside towns in Britain, from its maritime history to the famous Whitby Jet, the town has made it into hundreds of history books. Given how old Whitby is then it is no surprise to anyone when they learn that Whitby is haunted by an array of ghosts that are struggling to cross to the other side. Ghost hunters and paranormal experts from far and wide make sure they put Whitby on their ghost hunt, and you will understand why once you’ve read our list of five haunted places in Whitby.
1. Whitby Abbey
I can assume it will come as no shock to you to learn that Whitby Abbey his haunted by not just one, but two ghosts. As mentioned in our previously St. Hilda has made an appearance in the Abbey ruins various times throughout the years, it is said that she often appears in what’s left of the windows and comes out during the day to look over her Abbey.
Another ghost that is said to haunt the grounds is Constance De Beverly who died in a very tragic way. Constance was a nun at the Abbey when she fell in love with a handsome knight, she fell in love so deeply that she threw her vows of chastity out of the window, this was to be a grave mistake. When her secret was exposed she was bricked up alive inside the walls of the Abbey by means of punishment, people have recalled being able to hear whimpering and screaming, begging to be let out of the walls where she died.
Want to go ghost hunting in the Abbey yourself? You must be mad!
2. Grape Lane
In the days where Grape Lane was more lovingly known as ‘Grope Lane’ due to it being the red light district of Whitby (if you can imagine such a place), there stood a bakery where a tragic story happened to the most beautiful of little girls.
The young girl was running an errand for her father, whom she loved dearly, taking his dinner to the bakery to heat up during the summer months, the baker welcomed the young girl he recognised and allowed her to put the dinner in the oven herself. He had his back turned for only a second when he heard a blood-curdling scream. He was horrified to see that the young girl was engulfed in flames after her hair had been set alight by the oven. Unsure of what to do the baker beat the flames from the girl but it was too late, the damage had been done and the girl died upon arrival to the local infirmary, her skin peeling off as she walked. It has been said that her ghost often appears in front of people on Grape Lane with flames surrounding her, and you can still smell the scent of burnt hair when she makes an appearance.
Dare you walk along Grape Lane alone late at night?
How to get there – Grape Lane, Whitby, YO22 4BA
3. St Mary’s Churchyard
Graveyards are extremely eerie places and St Mary’s Churchyard is no exception, even Dracula spent some time amongst the graves. Because Whitby was once full of sailors there came unfortunate times where sailors would die on dry land would have to be buried in the earth (rather than a traditional sailor’s burial at sea). Widows and families of the lost souls would often find that the graves would be visited on the third night of their burial by the Barguest Coach, witnesses to the haunting sight have said the coach is pulled by headless horses and the passengers on the coach are the skeletal remains of sailors which come to pay their respect to the deceased seaman. After the soul of the dead sailor is aboard the Barguest Coach the coach sets off again, riding through the graveyard and then driving off into the darkness towards the sea.
The graveyard can be an eerie place at night, dare you wander up the 199 steps and risk catching sight of the Barguest Coach? Be warned, only for the extremely brave!
How to get there – St Mary’s Church, Whitby, YO22 4DW
4. Bagdale Hall
For 500 years Bagdale Hall has stood proudly in Whitby and in that time has conjured up its own array of spirits that spook the hotel workers as well as guests, but the most prominent ghost is that of Brown Bushell, a pirate that once owned Bagdale Hall. Bushell had a habit of jumping sides during the English Civil War during the seventeenth century, which is a big no in terms of war, whatever side suited him best Brown Bushell would join. The treason got back to the royalists and he was subsequently arrested and then beheaded for his crimes. Since then Brown Bushell has haunted his grounds, his presence is known by the feeling of dread and doom patrons feel when he is around.
Want to test your nerves and brave a night at Bagdale Hall? Good luck, rather you than me!
How to get there – 1 Bagdale, Whitby, YO21 1QL
5. The Western Lighthouse
For years lighthouses have been the subject of many horror stories, we don’t know the reasons why but in Whitby we have our very own haunted lighthouse that saw the demise of an innocent worker who was just trying to make sure sailors were safe.
On a stormy night when the rain was howling and the wind was breath-taking the lighthouse keeper at the time noticed the light wasn’t on in the lighthouse, he knew that this could be extremely dangerous for those out at sea and so he set off to do his job.
The rain-soaked his jacket and dripped whilst he walked up the stairs towards the light, making the steps very slippery and dangerous, but he hadn’t noticed. On his way down the heroic lighthouse keeper slipped, down each step he thumped and by the time he reached the bottom he was dead.
Some ghost hunters have witnessed the brave lighthouse keeper making his journey up the pier towards the lighthouse, and some visitors of the lighthouse have even seen the ghostly image of a man laid out on the floor in front of the entrance.
Want to brave the lonely walk along the pier at night? Look out for the lighthouse worker!
How to get there – West Lighthouse, Battery Parade, Whitby
5 Whitby ghost stories that will make your skin crawl!
Not only does Whitby have various haunted buildings and places but they also have their 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. Or are they just stories passed down through generations? We will let you decide…
1. 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 rush to 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.
Have you heard the Oyster Man's cries?
2. 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.
3. Mary Clarke
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.
4. 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 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.
5. 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, cracked her head open and 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.
Whitby ghost books
There are a number of popular ghost books written about Whitby and the surrounding Yorkshire Coast. This area is full of old tales, ghostly stories and legends of beasts and haunted buildings. Here are some of our favourite Whitby ghost books on Amazon for you to enjoy.
Do you have your own Whitby ghost story to share?
So what do you think, is Whitby Haunted? If you have heard any more creepy Whitby ghost stories, or even if you have had your own paranormal experience in the seaside town, please get in touch using the comments below.