Dear Ms Sant,
Whilst in your marvellous City on Saturday I took the attached photograph.
I can only promise you is not a fake. I took the picture because I thought the colours particularly good and deliberately waited for a ‘people free’ moment. I was sure I got it, so was puzzled by the dark image in the bottom right hand corner?
The words above are from an email and photo sent to me in December 2011, informing me of a ghost sighting which the gentleman* believed he'd had, while visiting York.
*Please note: The photo is copyright to the gentleman who didn’t want
any publicity so his name and details have been kept private.
St Mary’s Abbey in the Museum Gardens
in its heyday, was the richest abbey in
the North of England. Tales abounded of
the monks’ indulgences. They drank,
feasted and lived an affluent lifestyle.
Needless to say their way of life changed
when they had to flee, according to
rumours, through a tunnel under Stonegate. Henry VIII was busy overthrowing
the Catholic faith, seizing monasteries and abbeys including St Mary’s. He took
the Abbot’s house for himself and renamed it King’s Manor.
Back to the present where tales float about of sightings of a phantom monk dressed
in black, wandering through the Museum Gardens after dark. Of course few of us
can corroborate such a story since the gates are locked at dusk, though there have
been daytime sightings too apparently.
The gentleman who contacted me and sent me the photo at the top of this page, went on to say:
"At first I thought somebody had wandered into
the shot without me noticing and was going to ‘
remove’ him/her. It’s not though, is it?? Thinking
I might find another picture that revealed the
reason for the shadow, I looked on the internet. I couldn’t find anything as such,
but was taken aback to see there have been many sightings of the ‘Black Abbot’
at St Mary’s.
Any thoughts at all please? Both the preceding and subsequent shots do not
have similar marks and this one was taken at 160th [of a second], which means
that the bright comet type thing is moving pretty fast. Although deceptive, I
reckon the ‘figure’ stands about the height of a tall person. Also, the image
mostly remains dark when you increase the exposure, which suggests that,
whatever it is, has mass. "
Curioser and curioser...! Well I didnt have an answer for him except that
if he felt he had captured a ghost, to contact the Fortean Times and send it
to them. I seem to think he declined as he didnt want any publicity.
Continuing the monk theme, I once worked at York Library
(now Explore York). I was told one of the librarians had seen, in the
bright morning sunlight, a hooded figure. The librarian was not afraid as
it felt a very natural experiene to her. She watched as the figure hovered
by the window, which overlooked Mary’s Abbey, before melting away….!
Haunted as people are by Whitby’s quaint cobbled ginnels, dramatic cliffs and Gothic abbey, this bewitching resort has its fair share of ghostly hauntings too. Here is just a sample of Whitby ghost stories:
1. An Unfortunate Accident
in the Lighthouse
By day, a stroll on the West pier to climb
this 25 metre high lighthouse affords a
splendid view of Whitby. By night, beware!
The lighthouse is haunted by the tragic
ghost of the former keeper.....
One night he realised the light was faulty, so braving a
terrible storm, he hurried to set things right and help save
lives out at sea. Battling against gusts of wind he made it to
the lighthouse and mounted the long staircase, only to slip on
its rain-soaked surface.
Bump, bump! He fell right to the bottom and broke his bones. His cold wet body was discovered next morning.
Witnesses after dark, have seen the ghost re-enact his demise, by losing his balance and tumbling a step at a time.
2. The fearsome pirate
Bagdale Hall is the oldest building still standing in Whitby, dating back
to 1516. Now a hotel, it was once home to a terrible pirate known
as Browne Bushell.
The Headless Horses and the Coach of Dead Souls
But the most terrifying tale of all in Whitby, concerns the coach of
dead souls, drawn by headless horses no less, and a headless driver through Haggersgate, up the Donkey path by the 199 steps into the graveyard of
St Mary’s Church, a stone 's throw from Whitby Abbey.
From inside the coach, the skeletal spirits of dead sailors seek their ghostly comrades who were denied a burial at sea and instead whose bones were
laid to rest in the churchyard.
The coach speeds up the steep path, its headless horses kicking wildly,
the phantom driver hurling it towards the graves. The skeletons writhe
and murmur, reaching out bony hands to welcome fellow sailor spirits. As
a ghost rises from the grave to join them, the whole coach shudders
and crashes along the cliff, past the Abbey and down, down, down
with a noiseless splash into the North sea.
May the good Lord deliver you if you should brave the witching hour in Whitby!