Reading Time: 4 minutes
Harrogate is a picturesque North Yorkshire town with a spooky history. Guest writer PAUL FORSTER, local paranormalist and host of Harrogate Ghost Walk, shares some of the town’s most haunted locations
Windsor House, aka The Grand Hotel
Cornwall Road, Harrogate HG1 2PW
The former Grand Hotel building (now Windsor House) dominates the landscape on Cornwall Road, which overlooks the Valley Gardens.
The building, which was completed in 1904 for Sir Christopher Furness, has seven stories, including the basement.
Now an office block, it is plagued by paranormal activity, the most common being a haunted lift. In the 1920s, a young lady was staying on the top floor when, one evening, she dressed for dinner and made her way to the lift.
Pressing the button, she waited a few moments, and then, without thinking, pulled apart the scissor gate. She stepped inside and fell to her death.
The lift had not arrived on her floor. She fell right on top of the roof of the lift and died instantly. Her ghost has been seen waiting for the lift by many visitors and guests over the centuries, and people still see her even now.
A number of cleaners working late at night have witnessed bare-footed men in blue pyjamas wandering around. It just so happens that the hotel was used as a hospital in WWII, and the patients wore blue pyjamas.
The Crown Hotel, Harrogate
Crown Place, Harrogate HG1 2RZ
The Crown Hotel has a long and illustrious history dating back to 1660, when on the site stood a small inn.
Due to the influx of visitors, the hotel grew considerably in size, and by the time Lord Byron brought a bevy of ladies, dogs, and horses to visit in 1806, the hotel was described as being a mini village.
Much of the hotel was rebuilt in 1870 in the style you see today.
A wealth of poltergeist activity occurs in many of the hotel suites situated at the back of the hotel above what is the Victoria Suite, a grand ballroom.
This room was used during WWII as a hospital ward. Many guests and staff have watched in disbelief as a man dressed in an RAF uniform walks across the stage, only to disappear into the wings.
Cedar Court Hotel
Park Parade, Town Centre, Harrogate HG1 5AH
The building, which has stood on the same spot since 1672, has a lot of hauntings, from ghostly servicemen who have been spotted smoking in the attic to a guest who swore they had chased an intruder from their room.
But the best story is that of an electrician who, working there, witnessed a ballroom full of ladies in ball gowns having a tea party.
1-3 Crescent Road, Harrogate HG1 2RS
Hales Bar is the oldest licenced premises in Harrogate and, in my opinion, the most frequently haunted building in town.
This former coaching inn dates back to 1827, and to the rear is a courtyard, former coach house, and stables. It is in this closed yard that you can still hear the unmistakable ‘clip clop’ of horses’ hooves, even though the stalls have been empty for decades.
Stepping inside the pub is like stepping back in time. Dark wood panelling hugs the walls, and blood-red, leather-clad seating booths invite you into their curved embrace.
The bar’s crowning glory are the atmospheric and original gas lamps and cigar lighters, which cast an eerie glow across the bar top.
The bar is home to a naughty poltergeist, who is responsible for picking up glasses and dropping them from a height. You wait for the inevitable ‘smash’ but it’ll never come as none of the glasses ever smash. They bounce a couple of times and then land on their bottom.
The most frequent activity is the ringing of a service bell. In the oldest part of the pub is a small bar, often unstaffed.
On the wall is a small button; press it, and a bell will ring in the main bar area to call the attention of a team member who will duly walk through a door to the small bar to serve you. This bell rings of its own accord. Daily.
A member of the team will enter the small bar area, look around to find it empty, and return promptly back to the main bar.
The Turkish Baths
Royal Baths Building, Parliament Street, Harrogate HG1 2WH
The Victorian bath house is grand, to say the least. With its high Islamic arches and beautifully painted Italian terrazzo tiles, you’d be hard-pressed to believe the place was haunted. But I believe it is the most haunted venue in Harrogate.
Upstairs are thirteen changing cubicles, and the 13th is haunted by the apparition of an old lady with white hair named Ethel. She can be naughty and very nasty, having been blamed for doors opening and closing and chasing people from the room with a deep and menacing muttering sound right into your ear.
The relaxing hot house is home to a number of spectres who wander up and down the steam rooms dressed in Victorian swimwear.
Poltergeist activity is prevalent almost everywhere, from one who jumps into and splashes about in the ice-cold plunge pool to another who moves furniture and slams doors.
Deep beneath the building is haunted by a man in blue overalls who glides effortlessly through closed doors, and those brave enough to go down there complain of the constant feeling of being watched.
Next time you visit Harrogate, book onto the Harrogate Ghost Walk, and be sure to check out PAUL FORSTER’S events page for a Victorian Séance Experience at www.harrogateghostwalk.com
Have you seen a ghost in Harrogate? Tell us about it in the comments section below!