Who haunts The Shambles York?

the shambles york
Shambles York

The Shambles in York attracts many visitors. Other cities claim streets with the same name (such as Manchester and Worcester), although I biasedly believe ours is the best! This ancient, cobbled lane is a museum, if you will, where tourists can step back in time. It’s easy to see why Anna and I want to film ‘Anna and Amy Investigate’ here

Shambles York Is Haunted

It’s not unreasonable to assume the Shambles York is haunted when considering it's long, unbroken history. Visitors may hope to see a spectral butcher or two still trying to sell their wares, or perhaps get an unexpected whiff of rotting meat as they dodge other tourists along the lane, but accounts of paranormal activity are surprisingly few. A well-dressed man wearing a bowler hat haunted the Shambles up until the 1940s when, for reasons unknown, he retired from such sport. More recently, an incident was caught on camera in the York Shambles Tavern when boxes and glasses fell off a shelf with some force. Anna and I would love to investigate there!

York Shambles and Apparitions

I heard an account of another apparition while indulging in a glass of vino at the Golden Fleece one day. This pub is across the road from the Shambles. An elderly chap struck up conversation and asked what I did for a living. I was awarded a wry smile when I told him I write about ghosts.

‘Appen you’ll know about our Margaret then,’ he said.

‘Our Margaret’ turned out to be Margaret Clitherow. This former Shambles resident married a wealthy butcher in 1571 before converting to Roman Catholicism three years later. The authorities little cared who she married, but they did take issue with her newfound faith. Margaret’s refusal to attend Protestant services saw her imprisoned for periods of time. She was arrested for the last time when they heard she was hosting Mass above the shop on the Shambles. Margaret refused to plead for fear of implicating friends and family in a trial and was executed in 1586. She was beatified in 1929 and canonized in 1970.

Bar Convent in York claims to have Margaret’s hand, but her body has never been found. The man told me she haunts the Shambles, searching for her earthly remains for he had encountered the spectre one morning while out buying a paper.

His determination to believe it was Margaret Clitherow inspired me to include her in my Porter Biggleswade series. Porter Biggleswade is a paranormal investigator who lives on the Shambles. She often sees Margaret’s ghostly form sidling up to unsuspecting visitors, wanting to know if they’ve seen her body. Well, there’s nothing wrong with a little artistic license. Perhaps Anna will be able to verify the man’s account when we film there.

Shambles York Ghosts are not well documented

I find it interesting so few ghosts are documented from the Shambles, yet the Golden Fleece is apparently brimming with them. With over five hundred years in the bag, this former coaching inn has had plenty of time to acquire spectres. Talk of figures disappearing through walls, rattling keys, disembodied footsteps, and people being touched are but a few of the things said to plague this ancient hostelry.

Haunted Shambles York

Specifics include a ghostly figure alleged to be that of Lady Alice Peckett (wife of a former Lord Mayor of York,) who roams the corridors in the early hours. A Canadian Airman who fell from an upper window also makes his presence felt along with ‘One Eyed Jack’, bearing his 16th century red coat and pistol. Roman soldiers aren’t exclusive to the Treasurer’s House cellar it turns out, for their ghostly forms prowl the pub’s basement. They are presumably walking the original ground level of Romano-British York, rather than showing a preference to haunt dark, dank places.

So, while some of the shops on the Shambles maybe haunted, accounts are sadly lacking. Perhaps proprietors feel uncomfortable advertising the fact for fear of scaring people away, or they’re so used to the antics of their ghostly squatters they simply accept it as part of Shambles living. Whatever the reason I would be interested in hearing from anyone who has experienced paranormal activity along the cobbles. And, you never know, ‘Anna and Amy Investigate’ may expose a few secrets too!