Bristol's bewitched buildings

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By Tara Ghias, Third Year, History

The Croft Magazine // Here are some of the most paranormal buildings in Bristol.

It is getting close to that time of the year again. The lanterns are out, the sweets are stocked up on, and most importantly, ghost stories reemerge into our everyday narratives. Halloween is fast approaching and though, because of COVID-19, it might not be in its regular shape or form, there is no stopping the eerie atmosphere swooping through the city.

What better way to celebrate All Hallows' Eve than looking at some of the most haunted locations in Bristol? Officially created a city in 1542, Bristol’s foundations are filled with rich history - from being one of the key centres of British foreign commerce, to its important role in the industrial revolution. For hundreds of years, Bristol has placed itself on the map, and entertained us with a few interesting stories about the supernatural as well. The locations range from churches to old manor houses, to a local pub as well.

Dower house

Instagram / Phoenix Bateman 

First on our list is a building most students have probably viewed coming into Bristol, but very few would be able actually name if asked. Dower House, situated in Stoke Park, is an old 18th Century Georgian house, built in 1553 by Richard Berkeley but is now in Bristol City Council’s possession. The old, yellow, washed-down manor house was the primary residence of the Dukes of Beaufort in the 17th Century.

One of the main sightings reported on the estate is that of a young girl, believed to be Elizabeth Somerset, who died at seventeen, after falling from her horse and breaking her neck; apparent noises of hooves have been mentioned by visitors around the grounds. Furthermore, the property was used as a mental hospital in the 20th century, therefore building its reputation for paranormal activities. During the 1970s, Steve England played around in Stoke Park, and is convinced that the manor house is haunted.

Llandoger Trow

Instagram / Yvette Robinson 

Next upon our list is Llandoger Trow, a pub in downtown Bristol, which has been famously explored by many paranormal investigators for its apparent ghost sightings. The pub’s origins date back to the 16th century when many sailors, and even pirates, would frequently visit the brewery; it is even noted to have inspired Robert Louis Stevenson’s well renowned book, Treasure Island (1883). The pub is allegedly haunted by 15 spirits, most notoriously of a young boy named Pierre, who wore braces, and whose footsteps can be heard echoing through the floorboards.

SS Great Britain

Unsplash / Ian Kelsall 

The SS Great Britain is one of Bristol’s main attractions and a well-known tourist site, with around 150,000 visitors a year coming to see Brunel’s invention. Due to its many years of public service, the ship is haunted by a variety of former passengers and crew members; most notably by Captain John Gray, whose disappearance during a voyage to Australia in November 1872 has been widely debated. The story is that he committed suicide by leaping out of his cabin window, and that now, his boots can be heard against the ship’s deck as he fell overboard. Other sightings include a sailor, who died from an accident in the rigging, and even a young bride, a Mrs Cohen, who passed away only a few weeks after her wedding.

Arnos Manor Hotel

Instagram / Christian Jensen Romer 

Stephen King has immortalised hotels as being a hotspot for supernatural occurrences through his classic telling of The Shining (1980). It would not be a proper most haunted list if we did not look at including a hotel among our contenders; our choice is Arnos Manor Hotel, just on the outskirts of Bristol’s city centre. The hotel was originally built in 1760 as a private home to a business merchant, adjacent to a chapel which was run by nuns as a girls school. The main spirit said to lurk the hallways is of a nun, who committed suicide after discovering she was pregnant, as her body was bricked into the walls of the chapel in order to avoid a scandal. Several guests recounted tales of feeling pressure on their chests as they are held down by an unknown figure.

Do you know a haunted spot in Bristol?

Featured Image: Unsplash / Ehud Neuhaus


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