Haunted House York is situated on the world famous and historical Stonegate, one of the original roman roads into York’s heart. 35 Stonegate has seen over 2000 years of history and the current house has seen life flowing through York for at least 500 years.
In the late mediaeval period the site was owned by the monastic foundation of Bramham. The front of the house was constructed in the late 1400’s and it was in 1482, the house came into the possession of Francis Hildyard. For the next two hundred years the house would be a booksellers and later a publishing house, the name of which was “The Sign of the Bible”. The hanging wooden bible over the front door has remained a feature of Stonegate ever since.
35 Stonegate was at the heart of York’s reputation when it was known as the intellectual capital of the North of England. Many books were published at Stonegate including “Tristram Shandy” and later “Elergy written in a country churchyard”. It was indeed the birthplace of modern English literature.
In September 1835, Princess Victoria (later Queen) visited the shop and even took tea in the back parlour of the bookshop. She distinguished them as “Printsellers by Royal Appointment”.
By 1873, the future of the house looked doubtful since the last printseller, Robert Sunter had died with no heir. A new chapter in the house’s history began when John Ward Knowles purchased the house and began to renovate and reorganise the house, it would become the Knowles family home for the next 120 years. The house also became the hub of artistic activity with Knowles interest in photography and stained glass which he created and renovated. Many of the windows within 35 Stonegate are still stain glassed and in excellent condition.
John Ward Knowles lived and worked here until his death at the age of 93, and his sons continued the business up until 1953. In 2007 the doors on this incredible building were opened to become “Haunted” – York’s premier REAL ghost attraction!
There has been proven habitation of over a thousand years on the site of the Haunted House York and the current house has been standing since 1482. With that amount of history it was bound to have a few restless spirits!
Probably its most famous ghost is that of Tom who is said to linger in the Séance Room on the second floor. The room is wooden paneled each with delicate carvings of flowers…and two demons. During a visit to Haunted for Derek Acorah’s Ghost Towns, a terrifying possession took place during which Derek was dragged backwards against his will.
Fright Nights medium, Ian Doherty described Tom as “a tall man who was attired totally in black and wears a hat. He was running a knotted leather cord between his hands. There was a lot of secrecy surrounding this man and a connection with the number thirteen. The atmosphere changed markedly, so much in fact that a member of the group insisted that the lights be turned on as they were scared.”
Jonathan Cainer took over the building in 1999, during an interview with the “This is York” website it was stated, “Initially, after buying the building, he was aware only of a handful (of ghosts). A couple in one of the back rooms and a distraught lady who used to hang around in the kitchen. And there was a male presence that one or two people had seen.
Then Jonathan began to renovate the old building. This involved digging in the foundations. The workmen must have disturbed something. “Suddenly we couldn’t move for spectral figures,” Jonathan said. “It was like Piccadilly Circus.”
To date there have been over fourteen different ghosts reported by mediums, psychics and attendees during our events. They range from a balding monk in the Lantern Room, to an elegant Georgian Lady seen in the Dining Room. In the Séance Room there have been six accounts of poltergeist activity and two manifestations.
Fright Nights began to organise overnight ghost hunts and similar events at Haunted in early 2006 and have been continually impressed by the level of paranormal activity.
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