Haunted Hotspots of Leeds

Here at TYPE, we’re all for getting into the spirit of things for Halloween. So we’re going to be publishing a few blog posts between now and Halloween, to get into the spirit of things.


As a city, Leeds has a history that goes all the way back to the fifth century. With a past that goes back that far, it really isn’t shocking to find out that some of the city’s more well-known landmarks have a bit of a reputation for hosting some paranormal visitors from yesteryear that still like to make their presence heard.

With Halloween being the designated spooky holiday, we thought we’d put together a list to embrace our city’s haunted heritage.


1. Temple Newsam

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The first manor house was built on the Temple Newsam estate between 1500 and 1520, even though there was a building recorded on the site recorded in the Doomsday Book in 1086- so it’s history spans over a millennia. Due to this, it is quite unsurprising to learn that the five-hundred year heritage that the manor house sits on has just one or two literal skeletons in the closet.

The Temple Newsam ghost walk has been an attraction for those seeking answers for many years; with many claiming to have seen apparitions of the house’s main ghosts: The Blue Lady and Phoebe Gray.

The Blue Lady is the ghost of fourteen year old Mary Ingram, who still wanders the corridors of the house in search of a necklace that was stolen from her by highwaymen. She was so traumatised by the event that she eventually just died.

Tragically, Phoebe Gray was a sixteen year old servant at the house, who was murdered by another servant, William Collinson, in 1704. She was strangled one night in a drunken show of strength- and you can apparently still hear her body slumping onto the floor at the time she died if you’re still walking through the house.

2. Kirkstall Abbey

Photo Credit: Aiden Allan

The now-ruined Kirkstall Abbey was established in 1152, and stood until the Dissolution of the Monasteries in 1539. It was reduced to ruin in the seventeenth century, when most of the stones were removed to contribute to other buildings in the area. The ruins that are left are creepy enough, without knowing about the unearthly beings that remain in both the Abbey and neighbouring Abbey House Museum.

The Abbey House Museum is said to be haunted by a manifestation of an Abbott- although, you are apparently more likely to hear him than see him. Furthermore, the Abbey is believed to be haunted by a Monk, who was driven mad after his brother was killed by highwaymen- you can still see him walking around the Abbey ruins to this day.

Finally, the grounds of the Abbey are said to be occupied by a young entity called Mary. As the story goes, she saw her lover commit a murder and turned him in. She is often seen with a dog, but nobody knows if the two are connected.

3. City Varieties Music Hall

Photo Credit: Martin Leodis

The City Varieties might be one of the city’s most cherished (and oldest) music venues, but that doesn’t mean that it has been left untouched by the supernatural. At least three ghosts occupy the stalls and boxes, and all sorts of strange sightings have been reported over the years.

Superstition within the theatre says that if a red-haired woman is seen before a show, it will go well. There have also been reports over the years of a piano playing late into the night, and some show goers have felt someone’s hand on their shoulder during the performances.

4. Leeds Town Hall

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Leeds Town Hall was once a hub of activity within the city- it housed a court and police cells, as well as the other important businesses of the city. Today, it still stands tall on the city’s skyline, over 150 years since it first opened.

The Bridewell cells were located underneath the Town Hall, and are reported to still be home to the ghost of one of the most notorious prisoners- Charles Peace. Peace was formerly a joiner, until he fell on hard times and turned to petty theft, and later, murder. When he was convicted of murder, he was held in the cells until his execution at Armley Gaol in 1879.

5. The Leeds Library

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Not to be confused with Leeds Central Library, The Leeds Library is tucked in between Paperchase and Co-op Bank on Commercial Street. It’s the oldest serving private library in the UK, and you can still join the library, offering a unique experience to it’s members.

So the story goes, the library is still home to an unearthly employee. The head librarian in 1884 crossed paths with an entity that moved “with a strange, shuffling gait” whilst working late one evening. It later emerged that the figure matched the description of his predecessor: Vincent Sternberg. After this encounter, Sternberg continued to get under the skin of his successors- with many librarians hearing strange noises in the years following.

6. Thackray Medical Museum

Leeds. Thackray Medical Museum, adjacent to St James's University Hospital, built in 1858 as the Leeds Union Workhouse Infirmary. Leeds, UK, 6 May 2016. If you like this, please scroll down my feed for more photos of Leeds and nearby. About half of my photos are from Yorkshire. Please also feel free to Follow me on here and on Facebook (link in bio). Thanks! If you're already one of my Followers, please scroll down my feed for any pics you may have missed in the last few weeks since the new algorithm was brought in. #Leeds #LeedsLife #IGersLeeds #iloveleeds #ig_leeds #leedsthroughalens #discoverleeds #scenesofyorkshire #igersyorkshire #yorkshirelife #yorkshiregram #beautifulyorkshire #loveforyorkshire #aov #createcommune #fatalframes #thephotosociety #ukpotd #mybritain #explore_britain #capturingbritain #workhouse #Victorian #19thcentury #architectural #visualsgang #exploretocreate #createexploretakeover #createexplore

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Photo Credit: Zap Coffey-Brittain

Thackray Medical Museum is quite literally haunted by the ghosts of it’s past. The former Leeds Union Workhouse building was home to nearly 800 paupers, before eventually becoming a hospital towards the end of the nineteenth century- but it was ravaged by epidemics, which claimed many lives.

Many ghosts and ghouls are rumoured to be walking the halls of the building, with some even claiming to have experienced poltergeist activity. This, paired with bangs and knocks on the walls, temperature drops and a perpetual feeling of dread, are ghostly transmissions to our world.

There have also been many sightings of a nineteenth century woman, who has been dubbed as the “grey lady”. The creepiest thing, however, is the number of people who have allegedly been grabbed by these spirits- clearly something to make your hair stand on end.

7. Armley Mills

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Photo Credit: Jonathan Bliss

Armley Mills is a place that has a tragic history and the specters to match. It isn’t a secret that child exploitation was rife within the mill at the height of the industrial revolution- long hours resulted in the deaths of many children in tragic machine accidents.

Due to this, some unearthly entities still occupy the building. There is reported poltergeist activity too- doors have been known to fly open and slam again, cotton bobbins have moved of their own accord, and there have been reports of people being pushed by unseen hands.

The museum is also occupied by quite a few other entities. Many museum patrons and members of staff over the years have reported hearing people whisper in their ears, and have also heard a child crying. Some have also experienced a feeling like their clothes are being tugged- as if a child is trying to get their attention.

There are also other apparitions- a Victorian woman, dressed in black, is often seen roaming the place, believed to be in search of her child. In addition to this, there is a tall figure seen, clad in a black top hat and cape- but it isn’t clear who he is.

8. Old Leeds Dispensary

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North Street is home to a few good things. For starters, TYPE HQ. However, the entry to the street is occupied with the derelict, Grade II listed shell of what was the Leeds Dispensary. The building is four levels, and some of the old wards still remain. For a place associated with so much tragedy and illness, is it really surprising that it has some unearthly visitors?

Before the building closed, both staff and patients reported to have seen a “suit wearing figure” roaming the corridors. There has also been many reports of groups of children running all over the place. There is definitely almost solid proof that the place is quite the hive of paranormal activity.

 


Special thanks to Leeds Photography Group, who allowed us to use some of their member’s photos in this blog post!

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