Colchester Ghosts

Colchester has a lot of ghosts in a lot of buildings.  As Britain's oldest recorded town I guess it isn't surprising that there are a fair few buildings in the town with resident spooks!

The Red Lion Hotel

In the heart of the main road is the Red Lion Hotel, a building that dates back to 1465.  It is famous for 3 main ghosts.

The first of the ghosts is believed to be Alice Catherine Millar and she is mostly seen in rooms five, six and ten or in the kitchen. On occasion she is seen walking back to what once would have been her bedroom via a wall which would have originally had a door in it! In fact, the door was bricked up because of Alice’s ghost! Reports of her presence date back to the 1800s and the owner back then was so terrified of Alice’s spirit that he ordered her bedroom to be bricked up in an attempt to stop her haunting his inn. However, as evidenced by the fact that she now simply walks through the wall, this was not at all effective! Alice does not normally interact with people, she is just seen walking, but on one occasion the hotel’s assistant manager was asleep in his room when he awoke feeling like a bolt of electricity had passed through his body. As he sat up he saw a rocking chair in the corner begin to move and a woman slowly appeared in the chair. She asked if he was alright and on his reply that he was she vanished into thin air! It is believed that Alice was actually murdered in the hotel in 1638 which is why her spirit is still tied to the property.

The next ghost that guests report seeing on a regular basis is a little boy who tends to hang around in the parliament room. It is usually other children who catch a glimpse of him leading many people to believe that he is just looking for a playmate. The little boy ghost has also been known to make an appearance in photographs taken by people who stay at the hotel.

Last, but by no means least is the ghost of a hooded monk who is believed to have perished in a fire at The Red Lion Hotel several hundred years ago. He tends to materialise in the early hours of the morning and is most often seen in the reception area or walking along the corridors. It is believed that on the night of the fire, the monk was attempting to rescue children that were in his care. Perhaps he is still checking in to make sure all of the children are safe when he roams to corridors?

The Old Medieval Red Light District And a Very Rude Ghost

Before you get too excited this is now Vineyard Car Park, but it was once a notorious area. Today if you are hungry visit the Fulin Chinese Restaurant. Enjoy your meal but It is in this area of the town we find a rather rude ghost.  You maybe enjoying your meal, but if you go to the toilet beware!  This building is haunted by a ghost called "His Nibs", he enjoys manifesting himself to people when they are sitting on the loo!


Scheregate Steps

Inside the castle walls, we arrive at the bottom of Scheregate steps.  This area is bursting with ghost stories.  One such haunting is in Greenlands vodka bar, built in the 1500's, you may be alarmed to know that upstairs the ghost of a woman walks along the first floor.  The even more disturbing thing is the floor goes through her legs!  From her knees down she appears to be imbedded in the floor boards.  Nobody on the ground floor has ever seen her feet sticking through the ceiling though.

Travelling up Eld Lane you will end up on Head Street, Headgate was the main entrance for people going into Colchester.  Steeped in history Colchester was a parliamentarian town back in the middle of the English Civil War.  The leader of the Royalists, Sir Charles Lucas, set his offices up in what is now Ellison's Solicitors, back then it was The Kings Head Hotel. A ghost soldier from the civil war has been seen walking in front of the doorway of Ellison's, people have even heard his hobnail boots clinking and clanking on the ground. However nobody knows if he is a royalist or a parliamentarian.

Fox and Fiddler Pub

The Fox and Fiddler pub, just a few doors down from the Playhouse (now a Wetherspoons), is home to a very cheeky prankster of a ghost.  Her name is Sarah.  She was a chambermaid who died in the 1640's. Underneath the pub are ancient cellars which are linked to part of a tunnel system under the town.  The highway men of Colchester used to come to this pub, and so did perhaps one of the most feared men of all time - Witchfinder General Matthew Hopkins. He found Sarah hiding, dragged her kicking and screaming to the cellar entrance where he then chained her to a wall and bricked her up alive.  She has haunted this pub ever since. Sarah has been seen by many members of staff, she has long blond hair, a lace cap, white pinnifore and a black dress.  She doesn't like anything being moved in the attic - it used to be her room. The people who own the pub now have a good relationship with Sarah.  However when they went on holiday and left a friend in charge, she didn't like him.  To make her feelings known Sarah distracted the people wiping up the glasses behind the bar.  They went to investigate what the strange tapping noise was coming from the bottom bar and as they looked one by one they heard the glasses falling off the bar and smashing on the floor!

The Old Police Station

The local Police station is usually not one of the places that visitors to a town plan on visiting, but we are sure that you will want to make an exception for Colchester’s haunted Police station! You see, the Police station was actually built on top of an ancient burial ground dating back to AD5! No wonder there are some strange things going on! Over the years a large number of people have commented on an uncomfortable and somewhat eerie feeling in the ID parade corridor which is usually accompanied by an unpleasant smell. Some people have even reported that they were touched by unseen hands in this area. A couple of witnesses have seen a grey apparition in the boiler room and there also seems to be a naughty poltergeist in the kitchen who likes to move kitchen utensils around often hiding them only to make them reappear in strange spots a little later!

Hollytrees Museum and East Lodge

Hollytrees Museum and East Lodge are two buildings that lie very close to Colchester Castle.  Both of the buildings are said to be haunted by the same female ghost – a white lady who is believed to be the spirit of Miss Anne Lisle. The woman’s portrait actually hangs in The Hollytrees Museum. Visitors believe that when they look at the portrait, they can feel a strange presence lingering behind them! In addition to the White Lady, East Lodge also plays host to a second female ghost – a grey lady. Her apparition is said to be accompanied by the scent of a very old fashioned flowery perfume. Visitors have also reported hearing running footsteps coming from the gun room of the museum and also beautiful piano music being played despite the fact that there is no piano anywhere in the museum.

Colchester Castle

Colchester Castle was built back in 1069 by William the Conqueror. It is now a Grade I listed building and is said to be haunted by the ghost of Quaker James Parnell. He was arrested in 1656 and imprisoned in the castle following a incident in the nearby Coggleshall Church. The story goes that James Parnell was in the church praying when some form of commotion ensued. This resulted in Parnell being arrested for blasphemy among other offences. The magistrate fined him £40, but he refused to pay and as a result was imprisoned in Colchester Castle. He was treated very cruelly by his captors and was made to climb a rope to retrieve what little food they provided him with. On one occasion he fell while climbing the rope and was badly injured. He was left in considerable pain and his health began to deteriorate quite rapidly. He eventually died but that was by no means the end of his tale. These days visitors to Colchester Castle say that his ghost walks to castle moaning in pain.

Of course the castle was also the scene of the notorious "Witchfinder General" and the castle sungeons and the grounds - now a park - are said to be haunted by spirits tortured by the sadistic Hopkins and his assistants.

The Old Siege House

The Old Siege House is now a restaurant in Colchester which is said to have one room which is extremely haunted. In fact, it is so haunted that none of the staff are prepared to work in that room alone! The hauntings are supposed to be linked to soldiers from the English Civil War. In the 1990s there was a report of a ghostly cavalier marching all the way down East Street and then vanishing into thin air outside of The Old Siege House!

Castle Inn

The Castle Inn has been a public house since the 1600s and no doubt saw its fair share of horrors with the Castle a minute away. During a cellar rebuilding it was found that the Inn was built on an Anglo Saxon burial chamber, and staff and patrons aline have reported doors closing on their own and an occasional uneasy feeling.

Queen Street Brewhouse

This quirky building with its ecletic selection of beers from the world has long been a favourite with artisans and academics, but the building itself dates from the 14th century. No one seems to know the origin of the various ghosts, but patrons agree they are agreeable and well behaved seeimgly enjoying the music and general chatter of the place!

St Botolph’s Priory

One of the many Colchester ghosts which have startled residents of the town for years is one that is linked to St Botolph’s Priory. The ruins of the Grade I listed building sin in a cemetery where some of the local children like to play! However, in 1993 a young local girl was playing in the ruins with her friends when she suddenly spotted a dark figure standing next to one of the tombs watching her and her friends! She was understandably startled, but said that the figure simply smiled at her and then vanished into thin air right in front of her eyes! There have been a handful of similar accounts over the years!

Hostel of the Good Shepherd

On Colchester’s Eat Hill, there stands a building which was once known as ‘the Hostel of the Good Shepherd’. The building is one of the most haunted place in Colchester. Reports of paranormal activity in the building date back to the 1970s when people began to hear unexplained footsteps, strange shuffling and other eerie noises coming from unoccupied rooms in the hostel. There was actually an exorcism performed in the building, but it doesn’t appear to have done any good, since the reports are still coming in!


Castle Inn Colchester

92 High Street, Colchester, Essex, CO1 1TH
  01206 563988

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