Chester is one of England’s oldest and most haunted cities. It was founded by the Romans in approximately 70AD, making the dwelling almost two thousand years old. Since its establishment, the people of Chester have witnessed vast changes and human disasters of epic proportions, including invasions, wars, famines and plagues. Today, Chester is internationally renowned as one of the UK’s chief paranormal locations, with stories of ghosts, demons, witches and supernatural creatures stretching back across the centuries. Here’s a list of our favourite paranormal stories from Chester:
(1) Sailor Ghost – Watergates Crypt, Watergate Street:
Watergates Street in Chester is one of the oldest streets in the U.K. Some historians believe that the early medieval buildings that stand on the street were constructed upon the ruins of much older Roman buildings. Many of the buildings on Watergate Street and Watergate Row are a mash-up of different periods and styles, with buildings literally growing, layer on layer over the years. It is not unusual for buildings to have floors and rooms that date from eras separated by many hundreds of years.
Some of the buildings on Watergate Street have medieval undercrofts that are still accessible. These are basically large cellars, that were used for storage. The largest and best preserved undercroft is Watergates Crypt, which today houses a wine bar and restaurant. The Crypt is said to be haunted by a long deceased sailor, who has often been witnessed crossing the floor of the cellar, emerging from south wall and then disappearing as he reaches the other side of the room. The spectre is quite a passive and un-intrusive ghost. There are no known examples of the apparition interacting with living humans or the modern surroundings in anyway, leading many paranormal experts to believe that this ghost is more like an echo than a conscious entity.
(2) Suicide Victim – Public Toilet, Frodsham Street:
Frodsham Street is a busy and historic shopping street, which sits just outside Chester’s city walls. A popular location for day trippers, the street hosts a plethora of major high-street shops, many housed within beautiful historic buildings. The public toilets on Frodsham Street are an important and frequently visited facility. However, many who step foot inside the male WC are totally unaware that these toilets are reputed to be haunted by one of Chester’s most disturbing ghosts. It is alleged that the toilets are haunted by the spirit of a young man, who is believed to have committed suicide either inside or near the facility. Witnesses describe the man as being in his late teens or early twenties. His clothing implies that he died in the 1950s or early 1960s, though not much more is known about his true identity.
The apparition is said to have a pale appearance, apart from his eyes, which have been described as vivacious, sparkling and very alive. Nick-named Tom, he is said to appear suddenly in the corner of the room, as hapless visitors relieve themselves at the urinal. He is described as having slashed wrists, which are bleeding profusely onto the floor around him and has on occasions appeared holding a bloodied razor blade in his right hand. Sightings are said to have briefly intensified following a major refurbishment of the Frodsham public toilets in 2011.
(3) Roman Legionary – The Roman Amphitheatre, Vicars Lane:
Perhaps the most famous Chester ghost story is that of the Roman Legion, that is said to pace between the ruins of the Roman Amphitheatre, located at Vicars Lane and what is assumed to have been the site of a Roman watch tower, near Newgate. The earliest known sightings date back to the late Tudor times, but it is likely that the alleged apparition has been seen in the area since the days of the Roman Empire. The ghost is said to be fading over time. Early accounts describe the soldier as life-like, but more recent witnesses state that he is dim and faint.
(4) The Witches of Boughton – Boughton Village, Chester:
The mid-17th Century bore witness to the infamous “European Witch Craze“, a period of frenzied witchcraft accusations, prosecutions and executions, which are thought to have claimed the lives of up to one hundred thousand men, women and children across the continent. Chester did not escape this craze. In 1656, three women were accused of consorting with various demons and evil spirits and using black magic to bring about the demise of their rivals and enemies. Ellen Beach, Anne Osboston and Anne Thornton were all prosecuted successfully and were executed at Gallows Hill on the same day.
In 1898, Michael Goble, a local historian, began investigating and researching the story of the Boughton witches. He is reputed to have claimed that during the course of his research he was visited by the spirits of three demented women, who threatened to bring forth the devil should the historian not pledge to abandon his investigation immediately. Undaunted, Michael Goble continued to pursue his project, but never saw it finished. He died in 1902, whilst visiting Gallows Hill.
(5) The Chester Imp – Chester and Cheshire:
Today, the Chester Imp is best known as a curving in Chester Cathedral. High up in the clerestory window of the nave of the Cathedral you can find a small representation of the Devil in chains. The story behind the Chester Imp is less well-known. Apparently, during the late medieval period, Chester and its God-fearing inhabitants were plagued by regular visitations by the Devil. The creature was spotted all over the city’s confines, striking fear into the heart of the local population. Often, sightings would be followed by some considerable misfortune. Local inhabitants would find their crops withered and their live stock dead. Apparently, the sightings continued for a period of eight years.
One of the best known sightings was made by a monk at Chester Cathedral. He reported seeing the Devil peering into the Cathedral through one of the windows. When he relayed this ghastly tale to the Abbot, who was charged with protecting the holy building, the monk was instructed to arrange for a curving of the Devil in chains to be placed in the Cathedral, so the diabolic creature would be aware of the fate that would confront him, should he ever breach the sanctity of the Cathedral.
Read more ghost stories from around the UK.