Hubble bubble toil and trouble

Tadcaster Travelodge

Mickey the Mini at Travelodge

Sunday, our last day in York. We packed up the Mini and said goodbye to Travelodge. We set off for York, celebrating the fact our £4 car park ticket didn’t run out til 2:30. Free parking! Except the police were blocking the roundabout, turning people away from the road. There had been an accident the other side of the tunnel. Guess what was the other side of the tunnel? Gold star! Our free bloody car park. We’re not called Calamityville for nothing. York’s car parks made a mockery of us that weekend. So we had to turn around and navigate ourselves to another car park. We say ‘we’, we mean ‘Neen’. We thought we’d been so clever when we saved all car park information to our Nexus for the trip. Except the document viewer decided to crash on only one document. Guess which one? That’s right. The car park info. We thought parking would be cheaper on a Sunday. We were wrong. Seems not even car park robbery takes  a day off. The castle car park would cost us £10 for four hours. We left. We worked our way to the second one we’d tried on Friday night. This one was £8 for four hours. Better, but it didn’t take the sting out of losing our free parking. We comforted ourselves with the fact that staying 5 miles outside York meant we only paid £21 a night for Travelodge between the three of us. Our first stop was the witches’ shop, Eye of Newt.

35 Stonegate

35 Stonegate

This time we were on time to do the tour. We thought it would be a guided tour with a group. We were happily wrong. We were allowed to wander the house by ourselves and listen to the audio guide. It was motion sensitive so when it finished, we were able to stay in each room to do our own thing, like EVPs and random dance routines. There are apparently 14 ghosts in the witch shop, which stands at 35, Stonegate. The house itself was built in 1482 but it’s believed a house has stood here for over 1000 years. Many of the ghosts became active after renovations made by owner Jonathan Cainer when he bought it in 1999. Queen Victoria apparently had tea there once so we all sat on the settee for a group photo and adopted ladylike poses. You’ve seen our photos in the playground, skirts hitched above our knees. There’s nothing ladylike about us 😀 We moved on to the hall where the ghost of a little girl has been spotted. Neen said “little girl,” which started an impromptu rendition of Green Day’s ‘Little Girl’ from Cat. Then we conducted an EVP session and Cat asked the girl to copy the rhythm she knocked on the dresser. Five seconds later, there was a response. Now we don’t hold much credibility to taps heard on paranormal shows. They usually take place old buildings that make a lot of noise. Heating pipes often make tapping or banging noises, floorboards creak etc. But this tapping copied Cat’s rhythm. We haven’t played the footage back on the cameras but we were recording on the DVR. It did pick something up but it’s very faint as the DVR was the other end of the hall to where we heard the tapping. Then Cat heard faint voices sounding like they were upstairs. We assumed it was the audio from a tour ahead of us. Turned out, we were the first tour. Though when we got upstairs, we could clearly hear voices from the people outside that we couldn’t hear when we were downstairs. This is the most likely explanation for the voices. The DVR didn’t capture them.

35 Stonegate

the nursery at 35 Stonegate

We were so enthralled with the house and talking to the ghosts that we kept missing where the audio told us to go next! The spookiest rooms in the house are in the attic. They are pitch black, which adds to the ghostly atmosphere and the floors are very uneven, with the nursery room even slanting. Luckily we have now gone pro with night vision, so at least Neen could see where she was going, even if we couldn’t. The nursery room was the creepiest. There is nothing creepier than child ghosts and empty cots. One room is filled with mirrors – our worst nightmare. Forget ghosts – having to stare at our multiplied reflections is far more unsettling. We were soon distracted by a camera which projects your ghostly image onto the back wall. It only showed our heads, which resulted in an impromptu and bad performance of Queen’s Bohemian Rhapsody. We’re sorry Freddie. We murdered it in the most horrific way. The next room was the dining room, which was above the street. We stood in the window, shouting at the peasants below. They walked past the shop, unaware of our terrifying presence. So this is what’s it’s like to be a ghost. We could have fun with this. We scratched at the windows, cursing the peasants and begging them to free our trapped souls. Then Lynx’s jaunty text tone sounded, resulting in another random dance routine. Then we spotted a mirror opposite us and one behind us, creating a ‘wormhole’ effect. So naturally we took a photo of us ‘trapped’ in the wormhole. We did another EVP session, but got nothing.

35 Stonegate

us in the wormhole

The final room was the seance room, where the ghost of Tom has been seen. We don’t know who Tom is or why he is there. The room was so dark that Lynx kept falling over the chairs as we sat around the table to play with the ouija board. Cat suddenly felt very sick and nearly heaved. But no matter what lows we sink to on the show, vomiting on camera will not be one of them. Despite our best attempts, Tom refused to talk to us. Perhaps he has heard of Calamityville and is waiting for a more prestigious show to associate himself with. Well, we’re sorry Tom. Other shows may have television deals, camera crews and screaming makeup ladies to add atmosphere but we have…well there’s…there was that time when…fine. We have fun. We left the witches’ shop to meet Neen’s friend, Rhian for lunch. Cat’s sickness eased when we left the room and disappeared completely once we were outside. We went to the Ye Olde Starre Inn, which is haunted by an old lady dressed in black who is seen descending the staircase. The pub dates back to 1644, but it is believed the cellar is older. The pub was once used as a hospital during the English Civil War and the cellar was the morgue. Screams of Royalist soldiers have been heard. There are also the ghosts of two black cats. Local legend says they were bricked up in the pillar between the door and the bar to protect against fire and ill omens. Dogs are known to growl, snarl and leap at at the pillars. Luckily The Starre’s chips were vegan (yay!) so we had lunch there. We asked a barmaid about the ghosts, but it was only her second day on the job and she had no idea the place was haunted. Whoops. She called another barmaid over, who told us the story she knew of two lovers. The man was sent to fight in the Civil War and they agreed to meet at the Starre on his return. He died during battle. Their ghosts have been seen wandering, forever searching for each other.

The Olde Starre Inn

behind the scenes at The Old Starre inn

After our delicious chips, we set off to film some pieces about the haunted places we didn’t get a chance to visit. We started with Stonegate – number 41 is haunted by a little girl who fell to her death on the stairs. She’s heard walking down the stairs and has been seen sitting on the shop counter. We walked down Mad Alice Lane, Mad Alice Lanewhich is haunted by Alice, who was executed in 1825 for being mad. The K2 bleeped furiously through most of the lane, the needle shooting off the red. The narrow lane is flanked by buildings and the reaction was probably due to electrical wiring from the buildings. Bedern Arch was the site of a former orphanage. The orphanage’s owner starved the children and didn’t clothe them. When they died, he locked their corpses in a cupboard. One day, he thought he heard them screaming. He became so enraged, he murdered the other children. The next morning, he was taken to the asylum. People report hearing children’s laughter and screams and feeling a child taking them by the hand. Except we couldn’t find Bedern Arch so we improvised. When we say ‘improvised’, we mean we stood on a random street and talked about the story. In hindsight, we probably should’ve done the piece near an arch and not the modern housing estate we found ourselves in. We stopped in College Street, where Neen had acted out her nunly role. Number Five is known as the Plague House. In the tiny window, a child is seen. One story claims she starved to death after her parents died from the plague – they would have been locked in with the red cross painted on the door. Other stories say after she caught the plague, her parents locked her in her room, terrified of catching the plague, then left York.

College Street, York

The plague house (the one on the left). The tiny window is where the girl is seen.

The Treasurer's House

The Treasurer’s House

We stopped outside the Treasurer’s House where an apprentice plumber, Harry Martindale, was working in the cellar in 1953 and saw Roman soldiers walking with their heads bowed. He couldn’t see below their knees, so it’s believed they were walking on an old Roman road. Staff have also seen them. We’ve noticed that a lot of Roman soldier ghosts are only seen from the knees up. There is also a dog, a black cat, George Aislaby, who was killed in a duel, and Frank Green who converted the interior into what it is today. The Tapestry room has an oppressive atmosphere and it’s where the wife of a former owner murdered him after he had one affair too many. Sadly we didn’t have time to go inside. We had ten minutes to get back to the car park – on the other side of town. We dashed through the Holy Trinity church grounds, where the Thomas Percy, the Earl of Northumberland searches for his missing head. He was executed for treason in 1572. He was a staunch catholic. His head was put on a spike on Micklegate Bar, where it remained for many years until it was buried in the church.

Micklegate Bar

Micklegate Bar

We made it to our car park with five minutes to spare. We bid a sad goodbye to York. After 3 amazing days, we really didn’t want to come home and face everything we’d left behind, but our adventure was over 😦 The trip was tinged with a bit of sadness – every time we go away we’d send our Grampy a postcard of our adventures. This was the first trip since his death in November. So we wrote him a postcard anyway and we’re going to laminate it and put it on his grave. Then we will do this every time we go away so eventually he’ll have a book of them. At the least the drive back was hassle free. Apart from the bit where Lynx’s Scholiosis played up so badly we had to switch drivers and regularly stop for her to stretch it. And when a bus broke down and caused traffic chaos as it was winched onto the back of a tow truck. But York, we are not finished with you yet. We will return.

The Shambles, York

us at The Shambles